Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dreams in the Twilight Zone

Art reflects life and Twilight Zone is no different!  Today’s dreamer has a striking example of art, life and the capacity of dreams to show us more than our waking eyes can see.

Dear SMYD,

I just saw a rerun of an old episode of Twilight Zone titled “Twenty-two.”  In it, a woman is hospitalized after having a nervous breakdown.  She tells anyone who will listen about her recurring dream.  In the dream, she wakes up in her hospital bed, thirsty.  When she reaches for a glass of water, she knocks it off the nightstand and the glass breaks.  Then she hears footsteps and follows a nurse down the hall and into an elevator.  They wind up in the hospital’s basement, at the door of Room 22.  The nurse turns to her and says, “Room for one more Honey.”  Turns out, Room 22 is the morgue!  She runs away, screaming.

When she’s released from the hospital, she goes to the airport to catch a plane and she learns her flight is #22.  Then she’s thirsty and again breaks a glass.  She follows people up the ramp to the airplane and when the stewardess at the top turns to her, she looks just like the nurse in the dream!  And of course she says, “Room for one more Honey!”

The woman runs screaming.  The plane takes off and she watches it crash. 

Now here’s what happened me:  I dreamed several times of finding my refrigerator door left open and stuff spilled out of it onto the floor.  Then I saw the window in my back door broken in a sunburst pattern.

One evening I came home from work and the gym after dark.  All seemed normal as I went through the house until I came to the kitchen where, just like in the dream, the door to the fridge was hanging open and a bunch of its contents scattered on the floor.  The back door was open too and the window was broken just like in the dream. 

The police said it was probably teenagers who broke in and made the mess, taking only food and beer. 

It makes me wonder if Rod Serling had a recurring dream that came true!


TZ Fan

Dear TZ Fan,

Thank you so much for sharing your remarkable experience and for the reminder of Rod Serling’s appreciation of the power of dreams.

Not much explanation is required as the events of your dream played themselves out so literally in your waking life. 

If you had written before the actual break-in, we would be talking about the need to secure your house (a literal/real world application of your dream) as well as the need to review any immature (teenage) habits you have that make you careless, wasteful and inconsiderate of property (a metaphorical application of your dream).

Come to think of it, Dear Dreamer, you might want to look at that metaphor.  Is a juvenile pattern of behavior leaving you vulnerable to a sudden loss of sustenance?

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get a handle on recurring dreams

Recurring dreams can be upsetting and frustrating until you make sense of the pattern of their recurrence.  Once the connection to recurring events in waking life is made, the dream’s message for the dreamer is easier to see.  From there, the dream will usually disappear.

Dear SMYD,

My family is wonderful and has always been very supportive of everything I want to do.  My mom and dad are there for me no matter what.  And my three older brothers are so helpful and protective.  I hate to complain, but it kind of gets to me sometimes.  They are all so eager to give me advice and tell ‘the best’ thing to do even if I don’t ask!  Family dinners and special events almost always turn into guidance sessions for me whether I asked for help or not.

I followed your suggestion and began making notes about a recurring dream of mine.  I’ve noticed that I have the same dream after these intense family get-togethers.  It’s a little different each time, but usually goes like this: 

I drop my contact lens.  No big deal.  I lean down to look and there it is on the ground at my feet.  But when I reach down to pick it up, I see another lens close by.  Is that my lens, or is the first one the right one?  Then, when I look a little farther, I see five or ten lenses, and then hundreds and thousands of lenses scattered out around me.  I don’t know what to do.  How can I be sure which lens is the right one?

I always wake up feeling confused and upset.  I know the dream is related to the family meetings, but what does it mean?


Dreading Thanksgiving

Dear Dreading,

Good work!  By connecting the recurrence of this dream to your family’s ‘support’ sessions, you have made great strides in understanding its metaphor.

You mentioned that each of your family members is bent on being helpful to you by offering advice even when you don’t ask for it.  Your dream uses your contact lens as a symbol for how you see things.  In the barrage of help from your family, you lose your own point of view – drop your lens.  And when you go to retrieve it, there are so many alternate points of view – lenses – that you come away confused and unsure which way to look!  No wonder you’re upset.

It’s time to assert yourself with those who love you a little too much, Dear Dreamer.  Consider establishing some ground rules for discussion of your life before you go home for the holidays.  Let each person know how much you appreciate their input, but stand your ground.  You are not their project and no longer need the kind of hovering intervention they insist upon.  You will need to be skillful in changing the subject and maintaining a happy attitude while sidestepping their well-intentioned but overbearing advice.

Sweet Dreams to You!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dream Interpretation - Get serious about dreaming

Research indicates that everyone dreams every night.  In fact, those who are sleep deprived, and therefore dream deprived, show symptoms of hallucinations in their waking lives!  Not everyone remembers his dreams though.  Like today’s dreamer, some people report not remembering any dreams for long periods of time.

Dear SMYD,

I am interested in my dreams and I think they’re cool, but I go for weeks and weeks without dreaming.  My friends are always talking about their dreams, but it’s almost six months now since I can remember even a little piece of a dream.

I put a note pad and pen beside my bed so I could write everything down.  I even keep my cell phone there so I can use it to record a dream.  (I did this once but it was pretty hard to understand my voice!  Too sleepy I guess.)  If I have an acidy snack before bed, I don’t sleep very well, so no dreams there.

Also, I’m a little worried about what might be happening subconsciously since I fall asleep with the TV on the science fictionchannel most of the time.  Sometimes I wake up in the night and the scariest things will be going on in the movies on that channel – werewolves howling and stuff like that.  Once, I dreamed about someone warning me to get out of the way and when I woke up, the guy on the TV was screaming, “Get out of the way!”  That’s about the closest to a dream as I’ve had in a long time.

What’s the best thing I can do to get my dreams going?


Missing My Dreams

Dear Missing,

Let’s start here:  You are dreaming every night.  That fact that you are not remembering your dreams may be due to any number of factors.  Let’s review the things you have mentioned.

You’ve taken a good first step in dream recall by having a pen and paper close by your bedside.  And, with practice, you may get better at speaking into your cell phone or another recorder.  But that’s the limit of your positive bedtime habits!  The other habits you mention are working against dream recall.

If you must have the TV on, a better practice than sleeping with it on through the night would be to set the sleep timer.  Then you can fall asleep as you are accustomed, but the TV will shut off and the creepy programming won’t intrude on your dreams or your subconscious.

Rather than snacking on any old thing that’s in the fridge, consider stocking a few soothing items – chamomile tea or even milk oryogurt, for example – and making them a part of your bedtime routine.  The structure will enhance your sleeping and dreaming success.

Next, do a little pre-writing before you settle in.  Use that pen and paper to write a brief rehash of a circumstance or issue that is concerning you.  Your Dreaming Self will soon take note of this and offer some insights for your benefit.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dream Interpretation: Slow down! Change the oil!

If we think of our bodies as the vehicles we employ to get around in this world, it makes sense that our dreams will often use our cars as metaphors for our bodies.  What better way to illustrate physical and health issues that need our attention?  Today’s dreamer shares an excellent example:

Dear SMYD,

If I’d known how long I was going to live, I wouldhave taken better care of myself!  That saying from the ‘60’s, I think, kind of sums up the position I’m in now.  At 63 years old, I am still relatively young given life spans these days.  But I have lived hard, had a lot of fun, and now I’m paying the price physically.  For one thing, I’m too heavy.  I’ve had multiple serious surgeries to correct back problems among others and I have a regimen of daily medications that would impress just about any team of doctors.  To quote another rocker, “What a long strange trip it’s been!”

Over these years of reckless living, I have had various versions of the same dream many different times and I’ve always wondered about it.  Last week it went like this:  A teenage boy has taken my yellow Jeep without my permission.  He’s out for a joy ride again.  Even in the dream I know he’s done it before.  Every time he takes it, he has a wild time and brings it back with some damage.  Usually it’s something small; sometimes it is cosmetic damage; other times it’s a crunched up fender or something mechanical that needs to be repaired.  In this version, the police catch him and bring him and Jeep back to me.  When I see them, I scream, “I told him I’ll kill him!”  So this version seemed more intense than the others. 

What’s your take on a repeating dream like this?


Love My Yellow Jeep

Dear Jeep Lover,

You say you love your Jeep, but if you accept the likelihood that your dream is using it as a metaphor for your physical body, it becomes evident that you are abusing it!

As you described in the background for your recurring dream, you have done little to care for your body, pushing it to the limit multiple times over the years.  Your dream suggests that the teenage part of yourself, young and irresponsible, continues to follow this immature pattern in spite of the numerous warnings of damage in your dream, not to mention the actual damage and patchwork of repairs you have endured as a result of such a careless lifestyle.

In the most recent iteration of the dream, the adult owner of the Jeep, the 63-year-old you – the police officer who “brings in” the kid - screams desperately that you cannot survive such a heedless way of life much longer. 

Your devil-may-care persona may be attractive to some Dear Dreamer, but reality is shouting that you are on the short path to a young, good-looking corpse.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Can dreams see the future?

If you share an experience like that of today’s dreamer, you will likely be met with similar tales told back to you by members of your audience.  While seemingly fantastic on the one hand, their ubiquitous presence around the world makes precognitive dreams like this one some of the most intriguing.

Dear SMYD,

I had a cousin, Dave, who was born the year before I was.  We were very close growing up.
One day he told me of a recurring dream:

He is driving in a car on a country road.  There is an accident and he is killed.

He explained this when I was about 16.  He said he had this same dream 2-3 times a year for as long as he could remember.  He told me that he knew he would die this way and that he would be young.  Dave told me that I was the only one he had told of this dream, as he did not want his mom to worry.

He didn’t seem frightened by the dream.  Resigned to his fate would be the most apt description.
One day I got a phone call from my brother.  He said, "It's about Dave."

That was all he had to say and I knew what had happened.  Some of the details of the dream vs. reality differed, but there was a car accident on a country road and Dave was killed.  He was 24 years old.
I am now 61 years old, yet that memory has stayed with me.

If that one is not a nightmare, I don't know what would be.


Still Missing My Cousin

Dear Missing,

What an amazing life experience for both of you with such a dream. 

Most of us have heard examples of dreams like Dave’s – dreams that presage future events – from family members or friends, if we haven’t had at least one of our own to ponder. 

Consider that Abraham Lincoln reported a dream about his own assassination and a second about his funeral at the White House.  It's hard to discount the implications in this extremely clear case, yet many people still do.

Similarly, Mark Twain was unsettled by a dream of his brother’s death which came to pass as it had in the dream. 

Please note:  Not all precognitive dreams are about death.  For example, golfer Jack Nicklaus found a new way to hold his golf club in a dream.  AlbertEinstein first dreamed about his theory of relativity, then developed it in waking life.

Conversely, not all dreams of death are precognitive.  Most in fact are metaphors for dramatic change – death of the old self prior to rebirth.

While Dave’s dream could easily be categorized as a nightmare, it better fits the description of a precognitive dream, detailing the ‘facts’ of a future event, and doing so repeatedly.  In addition, Dave seemed more accepting of it and less frightened by it, as he would have reported in a nightmare. 

Sorry for the loss of your cousin, Dear Dreamer.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nightmares and night terrors – two different things

About 6% of children experience night terrors.  Their symptoms are similar to those described below.  Almost all children outgrow the propensity by adolescence.  When adults have night terrors, it’s considered to be a sleep disorder and a very unpleasant one at that.

Dear SMYD,

My husband has the worst nightmares of anyone I’ve ever heard of.  He wakes up screaming!  Once our neighbors even heard him it was so loud!

He doesn’t seem to have any trouble falling asleep, but several times a month he bolts upright in the bed, sweating and his heart is racing.  Mostly he yells, “NO!  No!”  But other times I can’t understand what he’s saying.  It’s scary to me!

Sometimes he thrashes around like he’s running in his sleep.  I’ve had to duck to keep from getting hit more than once.  One time he stood up on the edge of the bed and I thought he was going to run out of the room.
When this happens, it takes a while for him to even recognize me.  He won’t talk to me or answer my questions.  No matter how hard I try to tell him everything’s going to be OK, he’s inconsolable. 

Then he kind of snaps out of it and says he doesn’t remember anything except trying to get away from something or someone who was going to kill him. 

We’re both afraid to fall asleep!  What should we do?

Afraid to Sleep with My Husband!

Dear Afraid,

You have described the classic symptoms not of nightmares, but ‘night terrors.’

Many parents have rushed to their child’s bedside in the dark of night after hearing the screams of night terrors.  Most children will fall back to sleep after being assured that mom or dad is close by to protect them.  Next morning, most kids have no recall of the events of the night before.  Thank goodness, young ones typically outgrow the night terrors.

Only 1 to 3% of adults experience night terrors.  In adults they are considered a sleep disorder.  They do not occur during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep associated with the dream state where a ‘normal’ nightmare might occur.  Just as you’ve described, the details of what was terrorizing the sleeper are rarely recalled.  In more extreme cases, sleep walking and more dangerous activities have been reported – using kitchen appliances, leaving the house and even driving a car!

Your husband might try a before-bed snack as some research indicates that those experiencing night terrors may be hypoglycemic.  It’s uncertain how low blood sugar might be contributing to the terrors, but it’s worth trying as the correlation is documented. 

Also, some have experienced success in breaking the cycle of night terrors by waking themselves up a few minutes before they typically fall victim to the distressful event.  So, if he usually starts screaming at 2AM, set the alarm for 1:45, Dear Dreamer. 

If the night terrors continue, it’s time to visit the doctor.  Some medications have been effective in treating this disorder.

Sweet Dreams to You!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Scary dream? Good for you!

Our dreams come in service of our health and well-being – even the scary ones. 

Dear SMYD,

About a month and a half ago, I was turned down for a supervisor position at my job and moved from one supervisor to another.  My new supervisor is great but my old supervisor and I had issues. She started rumors and tried to hurt my reputation.  I'm working hard to rebuild a positive reputation again now.  I was shocked that someone who called herself my friend (my old supervisor) would be so nasty to me.

Then I started having this recurring dream.  Basically, it starts off that I'm in the hospital with a headache and the doctor tells me I am having a baby.  My first feeling when told I was having a baby was shock and disbelief.  

Next thing I know, I have a baby that is about 6 inches long!  I felt warm and happy when I saw the baby the first time, but worried that the baby is so small.  It looks very premature.  The hospital sends me home with the baby even though I keep telling them the baby is too premature.  Once home, I keep checking the baby's pulse and feel for breathing.  I was afraid I or someone else would hurt the baby.  I never can tell if the baby is alive.  

This dream is very frightening to me and I can't seem to sleep because of it.  Can you help?

Afraid to Sleep/Dream

Dear Afraid,

I'm sorry you had to endure so much unpleasantness at work and in your recurring dream.

It’s important to note a parallel occurrence – Your difficulties at work and your new job began about six weeks ago and the baby in your dream is about six inches long.  This is a tip off to your dream’s topic.

Babies in dreams often signal hope and new beginnings.  Your dream suggests that there is more faith in you at work than you currently believe.  They entrust you with a new baby – a new position.  But it's hard for you to believe that you have new life at work.  You can't believe the baby is alive.

In fact, you keep checking to see if it's true that this new baby, this new life/opportunity, is alive and well under the circumstances.  You're afraid that somehow you will hurt the baby.

There is also a fear that someone else will hurt the baby.  This is a reflection of what happened to you – a trusted person surprised you and hurt you.  Your dream reflects your fear that this will happen again in your new position.

After such a stressful time it's hard to get back to believing in yourself and trusting others, Dear Dreamer. 
Your dream offers an urgent affirmation through repetition that you are well thought of and have a true start fresh in your new role.  Don’t ruin it with constant worry.

You may have follow-up dreams, but this frightening dream most likely will not recur again now.  

Sweet Dreams to You!