By Anupama Bhattacharya June 1999 You could seek in it hidden desires, mystical revelations, chaotic thoughts or states of consciousness. Or you could simply cross the threshold, open your eyes and live in the real world as you’ve never lived before. The dream or the vision is yours, so is the choice SYMBOLS & INTERPRETATIONSSnakes: In Indian tradition, moving snakes symbolize the stirring of kundalini. In Freudian terms, snake is a phallic symbol. Jung, however, interpreted snakes as symbolic of the conflict between conscious attitudes and instincts. Houses: According to Freud, dreaming of houses indicates the desire to visit a brothel. In Jungian terms, a house is a representation of the self and its rooms are personality aspects. Birds: For Freud, birds are phallic symbols. For Artemidorus and Jung, birds are images of the soul, the desire to be free. And their condition in the dream indicates the condition of the soul. Flying: For Freud, once again, this indicates sexual activity. Jung suggests that flying symbolizes confidence, liberty and transcendence. In modern terms, flying dreams symbolize exceptional ability. Exhibitionism: In Freudian terms this indicates a desire for uninhibited sexuality. For Jung, it indicates vulnerability and a message from the unconscious to be less self-conscious. Being chased: Most dream interpreters agree that this seems to suggest childhood fears or present pressures and threats. Failing: For Freud, falling symbolizes sexual inability. In modern terms, falling represents a fear of loss of control. Horses: According to Freud, horses symbolize the sexual drive. Jung noted that horse dreams could often be indicative of health conditions. Horses can also represent clairvoyance and fertility. Climbing: Freud interprets this as the desire to have an erection. For Jung it is a transition from one stage of life to another. Modern psychoanalysts believe that climbing dreams reflect the effort required to meet a challenge. IT`S A MYSTICAL DREAM WHEN…It seems to have a unique, and often surreal, world of its own that most doesn’t correlate with your perception of the normal world. There is no connection between your everyday associations or experiences and the dream. It is surprisingly real. In fact, a part of you might actually wonder if it is not really a dream but vision of a different reality. Some images continue to recur each time you have the dream. Though the context or the symbolism may be different, it often leaves you with more or less the same kind of feeling—be it contentment, ecstasy, joy, pain, sorrow or wonder. It doesn’t make sense if you try to interpret it in ordinary terms. WORK WITH YOUR DREAMSEach night, just before you go off to sleep, tell yourself that you will remember your dreams. Keep a small notebook near your bed and each time you wake up from a dream, jot down the key words so that you can remember it in the morning. Maintain a dream diary. Every morning, write down the content of your dreams in minute detail. Date and time them as accurately as possible. Try and remember if events of the previous day have any connection with the images. Take each main constituent of the dream separately. Try free association-write a string of words that come to your mind when you think of a particular dream image. Leave some space after each dream so that whenever a connection or interpretation strikes you, you can jot it down. Put all the associations together and see if you can find a pattern emerging that relates to your life. LUCID DREAMINGLucid dreaming can happen to you spontaneously. It may also take ages. Here is how you can prepare yourself for the experience: As you drift to sleep, repeat an affirmation in your mind that you will become lucid in your dreams and will be able to guide yourself through the unsought realm of the dreamworld. Throughout the day, ask yourself whenever you begin to take things for granted: ‘Could I be dreaming now?’ Pretend you’re dreaming. Use your imagination to create a dream and explore flying, time travel, bi-location, other dimensions, or something equally fantastic. Several times a day, stop and ask yourself: ‘If what I am experiencing now is really a dream, what would it mean?’ Meditate regularly. Participate in dream groups. People with a regular forum in which to explore, appreciate, interpret, and share dreams tend to naturally become regular lucid dreamers. In the stillness of the night, when not a sound breaks the hushed silence, they timorously creep into your mind. Fragile, flittering forms—often more real than reality—seek you out from the deepest abyss of your soul and open for you a vista of visions—nonsensical, terrifying, fantastic—and sometimes, just sometimes, hauntingly beautiful. You wake up with a lump in your throat that threatens to cascade down your eyes, a lingering nostalgia for something near, yet eternity away. But weren’t you closer to believing, even then, that somewhere, all that you saw was real; that, beyond the tangible truth of ticking time, you had lived one moment of timeless infinity? Perhaps that’s the secret. The chance to glimpse beyond. Why else should we take a dream, those phantasms of the chaotic unconscious, so seriously? Why indeed! It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to figure out that much of our dreams are a cocktail of the obvious and not-so-obvious fancies and aspirations of everyday life. True, they are garnished with exotic ingredients—your dream self might suddenly swap identities with a cat, or the harmless road you are walking on might metamorphose into a kaleidoscope of light—all giving you enlightening glimpses into your psyche. Dreams are, nevertheless, dreams. They wouldn’ even qualify for the preliminary round of an aspiring vision contest. Unless you get lucky… COSMIC LONGING In the dreamworld, luck is a matter of practice. The more you seek visions, the more you get them. In fact, strictly speaking, even the most mundane of your dreams can be perceived as a revelation. And why not? If all that we do—eat, sleep, laugh, run, work or procreate—is in essence a spiritual quest, shouldn’t each living moment truly be a miracle? B.S. Goel, Indian psychoanalyst and author of Psychoanalysis and Meditation, agrees. ‘All dreams reflect the desire of the jiva (individual consciousness) to merge with Shiva (cosmic consciousness).’ And since the jiva knows itself as the body, the spiritual desire manifests as a desire to please the body. Not quite what Sigmund Freud would say, but close enough. Like Freud, Goel also claims that most dreams reflect repressed desires, the strongest being sexuality. But he goes further. ‘Since the spiritual desire of merging with the cosmic consciousness is repressed with birth, erotic dreams are a common phenomenon.’ And a person trying to tap his spirituality is more prone to such dreams. Freud’s latent and manifest content of dreams holds true here as well. ‘We all have a subconscious defense mechanism that makes us hide the yet unclear aspects of our personality.’ And the clues, says Goel, lie not so much in the symbols—which vary from person to person—but in the emotional content of the dream. He, however, condescends to give Freud his due: ‘Freud could not see the basic spiritual need, but he did see the cluster around it.’ He goes on to describe one of his dreams, where he saw two identical images of himself making love. ‘The civilized man is split inside,’ he explains. ‘The dream shows that the opposition between the two is diminishing.’ It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how Freud would analyze this dream. And there, according to Goel, lies his limitation. But then, Freud was of the opinion that the unconscious contained little more than unacceptable and painful thoughts. THE DARK PSYCHE As long as Freud had his way, dreams were limited to quasi-therapeutic analyses. As expected, a lot of muck was vomited out by the psyche. Dreams then were full of giveaways. A tree for secret erotic desires, a hat for Oedipal tendencies, a pillar for adultery, a bird for a phallic symbol. Freud’s student-turned-rebel, Carl Gustav Jung, changed all that. If only Freud hadn’t insisted that Jung’s dream of a house with skulls in its cellar indicated a secret death wish! Though Jung reluctantly agreed with his teacher—even accepted that he may have had a secret desire to see his wife dead—seeds of suspicion were sown. What if Freud was missing the point? After all, hadn’t he distinctly felt that his journey down a house in the dream represented the various layers of the mind? Freud and Jung. Two masterminds in the field of dream analysis. Ironically, Jung found his bone of contention after analyzing his dreams the Freudian way. What he discovered was equally revealing. Research indicates that a person falling asleep shows a steady pattern of alpha waves on the electroencephalograph (EEG). These are accompanied by regular breathing, slow pulse rate and a drop in body temperature. This is the non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Dreaming takes place in the REM state, which occurs at least five times a night. REM is marked by intense motor activity, increased pulse rate and a brain pattern similar to alert wakefulness. Jung believed that during the REM state, the mind gets in touch with the unconscious, which not only contains the ‘personal unconscious’, with its repressed desires and fears, but also the racial memory and experiences of the collective unconscious. He also steered clear of the Freudian rigidity of dream analysis, believing that interpretations of dreams was largely based on the per
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