Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dreaming the Answers

In some dreams, life makes sense. In others it comes apart. Each type of dream has power. Our challenge is to remember those dreams and harness that power.

I often remember dreams, and while most are mundane, some are utterly fascinating. More than twenty years ago I began taking a few minutes soon after waking to write down the most dramatic ones, and until the last few years, I stored them on my computer (now they are hand-written in my paper journal).

Yesterday I found several “dream” files I hadn’t looked at in years. These were all dreams in which I had some sort of breakthrough in understanding. In an especially vivid one, I surprised myself by explaining a bizarrely compelling concept of God to people who held to a belief I had come to consider outmoded. I knew in the dream that they would not understand what I was saying, but I felt better for having a clear and coherent explanation of my position that respected the fact that they still clung to the one I had reevaluated.

Rereading that dream account and others stored with it was fascinating. I remember what I was thinking when I wrote them, and while I still agree with that point of view, I see how much farther down that road of thought I’ve come since then. Reviewing them gave me a better sense of the time flow of my evolving understanding or belief system, and the thought stages I’ve been through on my path to now.

Not all of my dreams are conceptual breakthroughs like that one. Some are simply weird. If they are weird enough to stick in memory, I often become aware of mental connections or attitudes I’d never thought of before, or I’m led to question assumptions I had mindlessly adhered to. More than once the solution to a problem has occurred to me in just such a way. Other times problems that have been gnawing at me so subtly I hadn’t actually noticed become apparent enough to deal with.

Writing about these dreams is important for me because the writing forces me to remain focused instead of drifting off to think of something else. Any tangents are arbitrarily dream-related. This focus wrings the dream far dryer than it otherwise would be. The ability to look back and reassess the dream years later is a terrific bonus, especially because dreams are indeed puzzle pieces, and you may not be ready to use a specific piece when you find it. I have a few dreams stored away, waiting for the time when they will finally make sense, as I know they ultimately will.

Write now: recall a dream and journal about it. Since you probably don’t have one in mind at the moment, use the power of suggestion for a night or few until you do have a memorable one. Journal about it.

Photo credit: Magnus Akselvoll

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