One of the most common things people ask me is: aren’t dreams just your mind going over what’s happened in the day? And the truth is, yes they are. Dreams reflect our experiences back to us, often through metaphorical imagery and language, presenting them as intriguing puzzles that are seemingly impossible to understand. During the day, we focus predominantly on thinking and actions, the real and the rational.
We use the internal resources that help us carry out our lives. While this is happening, our bodies are experiencing our lives through feelings and sensations and holding on to these experiences. You know that when you feel excited you might get a butterflies sensation in your stomach, or that when you are happy you smile. Did you also know that when we feel scared our intestines go paler? During the day, our conscious mind filters out most of our experience while our bodies are constantly processing and its when we dream that we get a chance to look at this more subtle information in more detail. Here are some of the things we can uncover when we look more closely at our dreams:
1. We get an outside perspective on our lives. Even though we often get very caught up in our dreams, the fact that we wake up from them and are able to record them gives us an opportunity to look at things differently. For example, you might dream that a bear is chasing you. The you in the dream feels scared, helpless, and trapped. By looking at where you feel like that in your life, you can get clarity and insight. By connecting with the feelings in the dream and the felt-sense, you can become more aware of those feelings.
2. Imagine that while being chased by the bear you’re saying to yourself I should be stronger . . . I should be able to get away but I can’t . . . this wouldn’t happen to other people. Sounds like your inner critic is having a great time telling you that you’re no good and you’re not strong enough. This voice can be paralyzing and by seeing it in our dreams, we become more aware of it and it loses its grip on us and we are no longer scared and unable to find a solution.
3. Taking the dream more literally, what are you running away from? Sometimes dreams are showing you something you are avoiding. What happens if you face the bear? You can dialogue with it and use many techniques to face something you would rather not.
4. Everything in the dream is part of us. What if you are the bear or a tree in the woods or the bird flying overhead. When we connect with can access new parts of ourselves. If your habitual way of dealing with fear is to run, what might it be like to roar and chase like a bear instead? Or to view the problem from above like the bird or from the still and rooted place of the tree.
5. Not only are dreams pointing us to resolve issues in our lives, they often reflect to us when a resolution has happened and we are ready to move on. We normally know this has happened as we wake up feeling differently about a situation.
6. When people say sleep on it, there is much truth in that expression. Our dreaming process can often do a lot of untangling for us and give us dreams that help us make clearer decisions.
7. Regular dream work gives you access to more insight and lets you release blocked feelings and can definitely make you happier!