By Madhu Tandon February 1997 What we dream about may have a bearing in the world of reality. Often dreams which appear meaningless are actually reflections of our everyday life and its problems Keeping Track of Your Dreams• Before falling asleep, spend five minutes in relaxing yourself and telling yourself that you have a dream to remember at night. If there is a specific problem to which you want an answer, ask your dreaming intelligence to give you a clue. • Keep a special notebook with a pen next to you just for your dreams and a bedside light or a torch which would be handy to note your dreams without disturbing others in the room. • If you wake up from a dream, lie still and let yourself take a few moments to relive the dream as fully as possible. • Then write down the dream. Don’t worry about grammar or syntax, but try and record the dream in as much detail as possible. It may be a good practice to date your dreams. The most important feature of every dream is the atmosphere; mood or feeling it leaves in its wake. Make a note of these. • Write down any associations you may have with the dream images—people, situations or objects in the dream. Also make a note of any significant event, conversation, or thought you may have had the previous day. The more you pay attention to your dreams the more responsive they will be to you. • If you can’t interpret your dream, don’t worry. After some time read your record. You may find a common thread or pattern that will help you in understanding your dreams. Many dreams have special significance. Either the images or colors are very vivid, or the sense of beauty and love is overwhelming. These are the dreams which the dreamer will recall 20 years later with as much vividness as when they occurred. Thrice in three months, Bernie Bell, an Indian Christian settled in Delhi, India, had the same dream. All she saw was a banyan tree standing on a small plot of land. Soon after, she and her husband John, a Lebanese settled in India, moved house close to what is now the Escorts heart Institute and Research Center in Delhi. There she saw something familiar: a solitary banyan tree on a plot of land, similar to the one in her dreams. A week later, she had the same dream again: but this time, standing near it with hands folded and a halo round her head was the Virgin Mary, saying to her ‘Yaadro’. To Bernie, the word meant nothing. She mentioned the dream to John, who was amazed. ‘ ‘Yaadro‘, in Arabic, means May it Happen, or may it come to pass. But how did you dream of a word in my mothertongue?” Bernie was convinced that her dream carried a significant message: in essence, that the plot of land was meant to be theirs. They hoped to open a beauty parlor there one day. It seemed impossible; Bernie was earning all of Rs.1,200 a month as a beautician, while John was looking for a job. On Bernie’s insistence, they traced the landowner, who had already committed the plot to a grocer. That night, Bernie had another dream in which the Virgin Mary stood on a huge sphere Earth crushing the head of a large snake. In her hand was a beauty parlor which she handed over to Bernie. Bernie awoke convinced that the Virgin Mary, by crushing the snake, had crushed the obstacles in her way to getting that land. Three months later, a miracle happened. The landlord came to offer them the land. Stunned, John asked him why he had changed his mind. The landlord said ‘ My brother owns the rear half of the land. He feels that if I give the front portion to a grocer, the value of his land would drop. Both of us feel a beauty parlor would be better.” John confessed that he had no money. The landlord said that they could pay him in installments. Bernie’s card reads ‘Yaadro Beauty Salon, Sarai Juliena”. In the center of the card is an emblem of the Virgin Mary with a halo around her head, hands folded—just as she appeared in Bernie’s first dream. The banyan tree outside the salon now stands as silent witness to the belief that dreams do come true. But what was Bernie’s dream? A fantastic coincidence or a guiding finger that pointed her in the right direction? Bernie, in talking about the fascination dreams have for her, says: ‘There are many things we don’t know about ourselves. But there is another part within us, which knows. That part which knows speaks to us through our dreams’. Bernie has very succinctly given the gist of the power of dreams and their relevance to our lives. We believe that all our solutions come from our waking, rational self. That is not the full picture. The range of our dreaming intelligencestretches from a dream like Bernie’s which guided her towards a future event, to those that deal with our every day anxieties, fears and problems. Dreams direct, warn and help us in a manner entirely different from our waking self, throwing light on an existing dilemma or a future event. The old adage, sleep over it, is based on the belief that sometimes having gone to sleep with indecision or anxiety, we wake up remarkably clear headed and full of hope. This happens because our dreaming intelligence has offered us a convincing point of view, which, without known why, we can trust implicitly. It is now recognized that the purpose of sleep is not only to rest the mind and body, but also to dream. Radhika has a horror of bats. Twice she dreamt of thousands of bats lifting her off the ground. She awoke in complete fright. Nightmares may well be a way of drawing our attention to an emotionally charged situation in our lives. Dr. Manju Mehta, a clinical psychologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, says: ‘We dreammuch more when we are upset. Our mind is active and looking for a solution. Our dreaming mind keeps us in touch with thoughts and feelings which we may normally not acknowledge. In dreaming about them, we ventilate our deepest emotions and purge ourselves of many disturbing feelings.” Dreams not only tell us about our fears, but also help in conquering them. African tribes use dreams for this purpose. A fearful youngster is expected to go to sleep visualizing a hunt, lucidly imagining how he will vanquish the animal. For a few nights nothing may happen. Then if he dreams of charging, spear in hand, and killing the animal, he would be cured of all his earlier fears. That is what lucid dreaming has been used for in recent times, to help control and conquer fear and anxiety. Lucid dreaming is realizing that you are dreaming. Apart from the dreamers knowing that they are dreaming. Another characteristic of lucid dreaming is that the colors and details are far more vivid than when you are awake. It is often the fantastic nature of the imagery, which causes the dreamer to exclaim: “This is impossible. This must be a dream.” And it is to these dream we turn to for answers. For our conscious mind can reason with our problems only upto a point. To look for real solutions we have to call upon that deep power within us which holds the answer. There seems to be a guiding intelligence at the helm of our dream life, telling us about the hidden truths of our life. By bringing these truths to our awareness, it enriches our life with meaning. Nita Berry writes books for children. She went to Goa for a holiday where the problem of the sea being polluted by industrial waste was being debated. She had also read that the fish were eating the industrial waste and becoming resistant to it, while the humans who ate the fish were falling sick. One night she dreamt the entire plot of a story concerning this subject. She woke up and wrote the story. It won the prestigious Shankar’s prize. Dreams are like a friend who accompanies us often from childhood to death. At each of these stages we experience fairly typical dreams; their themes being remarkably common through the specific content may vary. Children often dream of outings, picnics, playing in water, holidays or receiving a gift. In their anxious moments they may dream of a threatening figure looming large over their little lives. Adolescent dreams often deal with the awareness of growing sexuality, while in youth, dream may reflect new interests, or the compulsion to establish competence and mastery over the environment. Around mid-life, many people encounter dreams of choice, of decisions, of new directions. Old age dreams may reflect the fear of confinement, illness and dependency. Dreams can also provide important clues to the state of our bodily health. Kasatkin, a psychiatrist at the Leningrad Neurosurgical Institute, showed that by correctly interpreting dreams he was able to predict the onset of a serious illness long before it could be diagnosed medically. A man dreamt that he was continuously being prodded in the lower part of his left lung. A month later doctors found a lesion at exactly the same spot. Kasatkin has found that people who undergo surgery may have had warning dreams at least two weeks earlier. It is as though the knowledge of the boy’s imbalance has already registered somewhere within us, and our dreams attempt to bring this to our awareness. Dr. Mehta observes. ‘Dreams are very important warning signals of what is about to happen. I dreamt of my sister-in-law’s pregnancy a night before it was confirmed by her telephonically from Australia. I also had a clear warning dream of my mother’s impending death.” When we stand at a crossroad in life, to make a choice, or even to seek a new path, dreams can help point the way. Twenty-six year old Ajit recounted the period when he was dating Roshan to whom he was thinking of proposing. In his dream, Roshan asked him ‘Our interests aren’t similar, so why should we?’ Ajit said that
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