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!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Brain soup is good for you


Many dismiss dreams as the random firing of synapses; sort of a fireworks of the brain, letting off of steam and nothing more.  Today’s dreamer seems to fall into this group of dreamers.

Dear SMYD,

What’s all the fuss about dreams?  I think people read too much into them!  Here’s the way I see it:
Every night scenarios of my previous day and thoughts still anchored inside as I go to bed combine to make what I call “brain soup…” the ingredients are tied together in a flavorless mass. 

Don’t give too much attention to the night’s nonsense!


A Skeptic

Dear Skeptic,

Certainly many manage their lives and personal growth without the assistance of their dreams.  Some eschew help from any source, seeking a sense of independence and self-sufficiency even when faced with complex problems and emotional dilemmas they’ve tried unsuccessfully to resolve on their own. 

I’m reminded of the ramps built for handicapped access to public buildings.  Certainly, the elderly, those in wheelchairs and others needing assistance, got it when the ramps were put in place.  But maybe you’ve noticed that many able-bodied folks use those ramps too. 

So it is, or can be, with dreams.  They provide easy access into original and inspired problem-solving that eludes us during waking life.

No one is required to take the ramp and delve into the creative language of metaphor.  No one is mandated open another perspective into the work of his or her daily life and relationships.  But those who do find a rich resource there for the asking, a wealth of insights and possibilities laid out for them to consider and implement as they choose.


I’m so glad Robert Lewis Stevenson worked with scenarios from his dreams as he created many of his stories and novels, most notably his masterpiece, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Mozart and Beethoven both heard compositions in their dreams before bringing them into existence in the waking world. 

Dimitri Mendeleyev saw the basic elements of the physical universe in a dream and woke to create the first model of the periodic table. 


Albert Einstein credited a sledding dream with providing his early understanding of the principle of relativity:  “You could say, and I would say, that my entire scientific career has been a meditation on that dream!”

On one point at least, Dear Dreamer, your assessment of dreams proves true:  In each of the famous cases of dreams’ contributions cited here, those dreamers of towering intellect and talent had examined the problems facing them from every viewpoint they knew and understood in their waking lives.  When they laid their heads on their pillows, those scenarios and thoughts still anchored in their brains went to work, applying the wisdom and creativity of the dreaming mind to offer up new ways of deciphering clues and unraveling mysteries.

Thank goodness for our Brain Soup!  Anything but a flavorless mass.

Sweet Dreams to You!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dream to boss - You're not funny

Recurring dreams can be the most upsetting of all dreams.  We almost always wake from them confused and frustrated.  Why do I keep having this dream?!  The good news is that recurring dreams’ link to waking life is one of the clearest. 

Dear SMYD,

To keep things anonymous, I will only say that I am in a high-powered, high-profile career.  I have a lot of authority and a lot of responsibility.  It really is a great job that carries with it respect and a good paycheck.  I love the job and all the perks of being the one people look to for direction.  My words carry weight. 
But one thing I don’t like about the job is that I always have to say the right thing.  I can never relax and say what I’m really thinking.  I have to be politically correct all the time.  If I make a joke, people take it the wrong way.  I get complaints that almost always start with:  “A person in your position…”  I have been directed to apologize for things that should add levity.  So it is a stifling in that way. 

Anyway, I have had this dream many times over the years.  It varies in some details, but is without a doubt another version of the same dream, again and again:  I am dressed for work but I seem to be the mailman (I am NOT a mailman!).  I have only one letter, but for some reason, I cannot get it to the addressee.  No matter how many places I take it, no one wants it.  I am very frustrated by this, but I keep trying to deliver the letter.  I feel confused since it’s a perfectly good letter, nothing like the bill collector or the IRS.  I wake up lost and bewildered.

What do you make of this dream?


Just Kidding

Dear Kidder,

Recurring dreams have a timing mechanism that is straightforward – they recur when the dreamer repeats a particular pattern of behavior.  Often the behavior is negative or self-defeating in some way.

One strategy for getting a clear understanding of the meaning of a recurring dream is to write it down when it happens.  Coupled with that, make note of the events of the day or days before the dream.  Chances are excellent that you will quickly recognize the pattern of your dream’s recurrence.
If you make a note of your dream the very next time you have it, it seems likely that you will see your dream of an undelivered message (the letter) recurs when you have some pent up humor that you must stifle at work. 

Clearly, your jokes do not belong in your serious, professional setting.  But you have a sense of humor that’s itching to get out.  Find an outlet for your humor, Dear Dreamer, before you crack wise one time too many!

Sweet Dreams to You!