Reclining Buddha

“Predictions for 2014?” Look to your Dreams!

“Predictions for 2014? Look to your Dreams!

Tabloid headlines offer this time of year “startling” predictions of what the stock market will do, which world leaders will change, sports outcomes, or even disaster prediction. Some of these are fabricated cookbook style using actuarial data (like the way insurance companies figure rates.) Yet on a less startling scale, many people use dreams as rehearsal for real or imagined life situation, use dreams to solve problems, or dream of events in pre-cognitive fashion.Sometimes this occurs on a large scale. Charlotte Beradt wrote a compelling narrative through interviews of pre-holocaust Germany called The Third Reich of Dreams: Nightmares of a Nation. In it, she describes the way in which the Nazi clampdown on open communication and the threat of secret police affected the dreamscape. Similarly, Carl Jung recounted a dream of a blood drenched Europe before World War I. However, many apparently prescient dreams are not so ominous.

In a recent dreamgroup, a client shared a dream that came true, at least in part, the day afterward. When I checked in with her yesterday, a couple of weeks after the initial report, she said she recalled having that dream but could not remember anything about it now. “It happens pretty frequently, at least two or three times a year.” It is no longer remarkable to her. In most larger dream lectures or groups I have done, say, fifteen or more people, someone invariably has a story about a family member that has seemingly clairvoyant dreams of deaths in the family. But instead of recounting the documented instances of possible ESP related to dreams, the post will examine more subtle sleep phenomena: Finding answers in the dreamtime.

Sleep on It ~ Solving Problems sans Conscious Awareness

Have you ever tried rally hard to remember a name during a conversation with someone else? Then later, while driving home, or maybe in the shower the next day, it comes to you unannounced? You weren’t even thinking of conjuring up the name of the person, or that restaurant you like, or the book you read last. month. Dreams work that way. Recovery works that way too. Sometimes they come together. A few examples:

In his book, Teach Yourself to Dream, Michael Fontana suggests that asking the unconscious mind for help is as simple as “holding in your mind the problem before going to sleep, feeling relaxed and confident in the knowledge you have no need to worry about the solution during the night.”

An acquaintance of mine related to me on the patio of his Wyoming homelast fall a dream from his undergraduate days. He added that it was still fresh and memorable although nearly forty years have passed and that he has since relied on sleep in this way:

I solve a lot of problems while I sleep and have done so for all my adult life. My dreams are vivid and often allegorical and I enjoy interpreting the ones I remember – they provide a rudder for the way I make big league decision. Occasionally, my dreams still solve empirical problems and that’s rewarding. Most times, the solutions are correct or lead me to a similar solution that’s right.

Night School: An Example of Problem Solving in Sleep

I asked him to write down and send me his dream from long ago, and he sent me this synopsis:

I had signed up for an advanced class that was an elective for geology majors. It was a challenging course titled ‘Optical Mineralogy’ and was offered by my mentor once in a while. I felt privileged to be one of the five students admitted. All the things I’d learned from earlier courses in geology and chemistry were called into play to meet the requirements of the course.

Stereopic Micrscope
Stereopic Micrscope

[For the Final Exam, the] professor provided us with eight vials containing unknown minerals that had been ground to dust-sized particles. Our task was to write the names of any five of the eight samples on a piece of paper. We had a week to do so. I probably spent 40 hours in the microscope lab that week. The evening before our results were due, I’d nailed down the names of four of the samples. I stayed in the lab until the early hours of the next morning trying to figure out why one of the unknown minerals exhibited conflicting characteristics when viewed in different ways.

I went back to our apartment and crashed for a couple of hours. When I woke up, I realized that I’d dreamed the answer of why  the characteristics conflicted. My dream told me that the crystal lattice of the mineral had been subjected to enough heat and pressure to change its physical structure  in subtle ways – that It had been distorted by metamorphic processes. I also knew the name of the mineral. It was a garnet.

Garnet (Virginia)
Garnet (Virginia)

I immediately went to the lab and confirmed what I had learned in my dream. I turned in my answers to the exam in the morning and was delighted when our grades were posted and I found that I’d named all five of the minerals I’d selected correctly. The professor later told me I was the only student to submit a name for the garnet sample.   – Bob J.

Bob’s story may be somewhat more complex than remembering the name all seven dwarfs or the fifth Spice Girl, or the spice your Aunt Dot used in that summer salad last year, but the process is equally simple. Bob relaxed, and while not thinking directly about the challenge, his answer came. All the work Bob had done gave him the information he needed, yet during sleep there was a refiling and reordering of the information that made his knowledge relevant and useful.

Reclining Buddha
Reclining Buddha

Application to recovery from Alcohol /Drugs, Trauma, or Process Addictions:

Recovering persons sometimes hear informal suggestions like “Don’t try to tackle your whole life problem at once,” or “Pause when agitated” so that the right answers can come. Intuition can become automatic and reliable. Psychologically speaking, the beauty of answers presented in the dreamtime is that they do not come from the Ego, the controlling part of self. It is that part that rationalizes, justifies, and defends what turns out to be poor decisions or unhelpful approaches to solving problems – more concerned with being perceived as right than actually getting things right. In years of hearing other people’s dreams, and working with my own, I have come to believe that dreams offer us the chance to get unstuck from what our waking minds think that they know. So you don’t have to be clairvoyant, just attentive. The best part is, you can relax and sleep while working on major life decisions!