Example: ‘I have my own baby who is lying in a cot in a bedroom looking very weak and pathetic with eyes closed. I know that he or she is getting weaker and weaker through lack of food and care. In fact the baby seems to be dying.
The feelings of guilt are terrible because I know it is my responsibility to do something to make it well. I keep saying to myself I must go and feed that baby—but I don’t. I just keep worrying and feeling guilty’ (JC). Because of circumstances we may not have been able to satisfy all our babyhood needs—we may have been weaned earlier than we wanted, our need for attention may have been unsatisfied—and these are shown as a baby in our dreams, as with JC. Dreams such as the above show how we sense the need of this pan of us to be cared for and nourished.
If some of these earliest needs are not met in some way, the development of our enthusiasm, our pleasure and ability to be involved and self-giving, may be cunailed.
Example: ‘I am 48, have two children in their late teens and definitely DO NOT want another baby. Nevertheless I have a recurring dream in which I am always in labour, experiencing no pain, and although there are nursing staff I am in some sort of laboratory, although everything is very pleasant. I never actually give birth and when I wake I always have a vague feeling of disappointment’ (VI). This dreamer’s conscious decision to have no more children is in conflict with her biological urge for another baby.
Example: My mouth was full of what looked like liver. It was also coming out of my left ear. When I turned away from the mirror I saw medical people in caps and gowns who kept telling me to bear down. I then gave birth to a baby out of my mouth. I am an invalid and very sick at present’ (Mr MS). This man’s dream is about preparation for death.
The baby is the extraction of all that can live on after his present life is left behind in death. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The life cycle of a bird has so many similarities with important human stages of maturity we frequently use it to represent oneself, as in the example. Pauline uses the bird to depict her own urge to be independent of her mother’s influence, opinions, likes, dislikes and decisions. Later in the dream her mother hands Pauline the ribbon to hold, suggesting an offer of independence. As soon as she lets go of the ribbon, a huge black bird attacks the ribboned one.
The ribbons are a reference to Pauline’s own girlhood. When she lets go of her girlhood, moving towards independent womanhood, she feels threatened by the internalised negative side of her mother, such as her possessiveness—the black bird. Internalised means all the standards, self controls she learned from her life with her mother, which she now carries within her even if absent from her mother.
General: Imagination; intuition, the mind; thoughts, our spiritual longings; expanded awareness—in this form, perhaps a large bird which can fly high. Because wider—or spiritual—awareness means looking beyond the usual boundaries of what we see, this may be painful. Hatching from the egg; our birth and infancy.
The nest: home; family environment; security, even the womb. Leaving the nest: gaining independence. Making a nest: home building; parental urges. Flying: rising above something; independence; freedom; self expression.
Freud said the bird represents the male phallus, and flying means the sexual act. Many languages use the word bird’ to mean woman. In Italy it alludes to penis.
The bird is also used to denote the sense of death and survival. Bluebird: especially represents the spint or soul after death. Baby bird: our own childhood, as in the following example.
The old lady is once more reference to the mother, to whom the bird is first connected before moving on to the difficulty of independence. Example: An old lady made room for me to sit at the end of one of the three seats of a bus. As we drove away a very large chicken-size baby bird flew in. It had short stubby wings and yellow down, but flew expenly. I believe it first landed on the lady and chirped squeakily. But in its squeaks it actually spoke, saying it had lost its mother. It sounded as if it were crying (Andrew). Idioms: charm the birds from the trees; a bird told me; bird has flown; bird in the hand, bird of ill omen; free as a bird, odd bird. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
A dead body, death of someone we know: very often, as in the example, the death of some aspect of our outer or inner life. Our drive to achieve something might die, and be shown as a death in our dreams. Lost opportunities or unexpressed potentials in ourselves are frequently shown as dead bodies. All of us unconsciously leam attitudes or survival skills from parents and others. Often these are unrecognised and may be shown as dead.
Example: ‘During my teens I was engaged to be married, when I found a more attractive panner and was in considerable conflict. Consistently I dreamt I was at my fiance’s funeral until it dawned on me the dream was telling me I wanted to be free of him. When I gave him up the dreams ceased1 (Mrs D).
If the death is of someone we know: frequently, as in the example, desire to be free of the person, or unexpressed aggression; perhaps one’s love for that person has ‘died’. We often ‘kill’ our partners in dreams as we move towards independence. Or we may want someone ‘out of the way so we do not have to compete for attention and love.
Death of oneself: exploration of feelings about death; retreat from the challenge of life; split between mind and body.
The experience of leaving the body is frequently an expression of this schism between the ego and life processes. Also death of old patterns of living—one’s ‘old self.
The walking dead, rigor mortis: aspects of the dreamer which are denied, perhaps through fear. Dancing with, meeting death or dark figure: facing up to death.
Example: ‘I dream I have a weak heart which will be fatal.
It is the practice of doctors in such cases to administer a tablet causing one painlessly to go to sleep—die. I am completely calm and accepting of my fate. I suddenly realise I must leave notes for my parents and children. I must let them know how much I love them, must do this quickly before my time runs out’ (Mrs M). This is a frequent type of ‘death* dream.
It is a way of reminding ourselves to do now what we want to, especially regarding love. Although the unconscious has a very real sense of its eternal nature and continuance after physical death, the ego seldom shares this. We have an unconscious realisation that collective humanity carries the living experience from the life of the dead.
The farmer roday unconsciously uses the collective experience of humanity in farming. What innovation he does today his children or others will learn and carry into the future. Idioms: dead and buried, dead from the neck up/down; dead to the world, play dead. See death and rebirth under archetypes. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
If the boy is older—in his early teens—then it is a sign that hard work will bring great reward.... Gypsy Dream Dictionary
If you are about to take a vacation, your dream may simply reflect your excitement at the thought of the holiday. But if you are not going on holiday, the dream implies that you have reached a transitional stage in your life and the dream hotel mirrors how you feel about this change of circumstances. Perhaps you have recently moved to a new area, or a relationship has broken up and you are adjusting to your new single status. Was the hotel a bright, uplifting place or was it depressing and dirty? All these details will help you with the interpretation. Bear in mind, too, that hotels, although advertized as home from homes, are in fact impersonal places run by others—so do you yearn for anonymity or do you dread losing your identity? If the hotel has a gymnasium, this suggests challenges, finding ways to gain new skills, or concerns about your physical health and well-being.
If you were in a public house or bar in your dream, this suggests the sociable, easy-going side of yourself, as a bar or pub presents an arena in which you can overcome your inhibitions.
If there was a jovial atmosphere, this can suggest a wish to be less isolated in waking life or a new, optimistic approach to life. If, however, there was a brawl, this can suggest repressed emotions boiling over into anger. Drunkenness also suggests loss of control, a desire to forget the past, or an avoidance rather than a facing of emotions. An inn is like a pub, but with the difference that it offers a place to sleep overnight. It also suggests a more tranquil, rural environment, perhaps pointing to your desire to deal with repressed impulses from the unconscious in a secure, secluded environment. (For dreams of restaurants and canteens, see also FOOD AND DRINK.)... The Element Encyclopedia
Once upon a time not so long ago, an inventor was struggling with a major problem. His name was Elias Howe, and for years he had been trying to solve this problem, so that he could complete a machine he was building—a machine that would in time change the world. He was missing a small but vital detail, and, try as he would, he just couldn’t figure it out. Needless to say, Howe was a very frustrated man. One night, after another long day of fruitless work on his project, he dreamed he had been captured by fierce savages. These warriors were attacking him with spears. Although in the dream he was terrified he would be killed, he noticed that the spears were unusual looking: each one had an eye- shaped hole at the pointed end. When Howe woke up, it hit him like a brick: he had actually dreamed the answer to his problem. His nightmare was a blessing in disguise. He immediately saw that the eye of the spear could be an eye in a sewing needle, near its point. Elated with the discovery, he rushed to his laboratory and finished the design of his invention: the sewing machine. The rest, as they say, is history.
The list of what dreams can do for you seems endless. We’ve touched on a few of these benefits of dreaming in the preface and introduction. Now let’s go into a bit more detail. I want you to get really excited about your own dream potential. And, once you realize the possibilities, I think you will.
The history of dreams is filled with stories of famous people who have called on their dreams for help, or who have received help unexpectedly from their dreams. Here are a few more interesting stories to illustrate the point:
The physicist Niels Bohr, who developed the theory of the movements of electrons, had a dream in which he saw the planets attached to the sun by strings. This image inspired him to finalize his theory.
The great Albert Einstein reported that the famous theory of relativity came to him while he was napping—a good reason for taking frequent naps!
Author Richard Bach, who wrote the bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, was stuck in a writer’s block after writing the first half of his now-famous novel. It was eight years later that he literally dreamed the second half and was able to complete his book.
Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman told reporters that his classic film Cries and Whispers had been inspired by a dream.
Another writer, the well-loved British author Robert Louis Stevenson, was quite dependent on his dreams for ideas that he could turn into sellable stories. Stevenson has related in his memoirs that after a childhood tortured by nightmares, and his successful efforts to overcome them, he was able to put his dreams to work for profit.
A born storyteller (though he started out as a medical student), he was accustomed to lull himself to sleep by making up stories to amuse himself. Eventually, he turned this personal hobby into a profession, becoming a writer of tales like Treasure Island. He identified his dream-helpers as “little people,” or “Brownies.” Once he was in constant contact with this inner source, his nightmares vanished, never to return. Instead, whenever he was in need of income he turned to his dreams:
At once the little people begin to bestir themselves in the same quest, and labour all night long, and all night long set before him truncheons of tales upon their lighted theatre. No fear of his being frightened now; the flying heart and the frozen scalp are things bygone; applause, growing applause, growing interest, growing exultation in his own cleverness . . . and at last a jubilant leap to wakefulness, with the cry, “I have it, that’ll do!”
Stevenson wrote his autobiography in the third person, not revealing that he was the subject until the end.
Stevenson further states that sometimes when he examined the story his Brownies had provided, he was disappointed, finding it unmarketable. However, he also reported that the Brownies “did him honest service and gave him better tales than he could fashion for himself,” that “they can tell him a story piece by piece, like a serial, and keep him all the while in ignorance of where they aim.”
Stevenson’s Brownies are a perfect example of dream helpers just waiting to be called upon. A particularly famous example of the work of Stevenson’s Brownies is the tale The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As he explains:
I had long been trying to write a story on this subject, to find a body, a vehicle, for that strong sense of man’s double being, which must at times come in upon and overwhelm the mind of every thinking creature. [After he destroyed an earlier version of the manuscript . . .] For two days I went about racking my brains for a plot of any sort; and on the second night I dreamed the scene at the window, and a scene afterwards split in two, in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers. All the rest was made awake, and consciously, although I think I can trace in much of it the manner of my Brownies.
Although Stevenson did the “mechanical work, which is about the worst of it,” writing out the tales with pen and paper, mailing off the stories to publishers, paying the postage, and not incidentally collecting the fees, he gave his Brownies almost total credit for his productions.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a British poet, was accustomed to taking a sedative derived from opium (legal in those days). One afternoon after taking a dose he was reading and fell asleep over his book. The last words he read had been, “Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built.” When Coleridge awoke some three hours later he had dreamed hundreds of lines of poetry, which he immediately set to writing down. The opening lines of this poem—one of the most famous of all time—are:
Unfortunately for posterity, after writing only fifty-four lines of the two to three hundred he had dreamed, Coleridge was interrupted by a caller, whom he entertained for an hour. When he returned to complete the poem, he had lost all the rest of what he had dreamed! In his diary he noted that it had disappeared “like images on the surface of a stream.” Even so, he had written a masterpiece. This true story, however, emphasizes the need to record dreams upon awakening, a subject we will take up in chapters 5 and 6.
Not only artists and writers give their dreams credit for their ideas and inspirations, but many scientists as well (as we saw in the examples of Bohr and Einstein). Psychologist Eliot D. Hutchinson reports numerous cases of scientists receiving information through dreams and says of dreams that “by them we can see more clearly the specific mechanism of intuitive thought,” and that “a large number of thinkers with whom I have had direct contact admit that they dream more or less constantly about their work, especially if it is exceptionally baffling . . . they often extract useful conceptions.”
I personally can attest to this statement, as it mirrors my own experience writing books. For example, when I began work on this book about dreams, I noticed that my dream production immediately doubled; and I have had Stevenson’s experience of “little people,” whom I call my “elves,” and whom I write about extensively in my book for teens called Teen Astrology, telling about how they came to my rescue when I was quite stuck (see chapter 9, pages 249– 252 in that book).
One of the most astonishing as well as fascinating stories is that of Hermann V. Hilprecht, a professor of Assyrian at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. It seems to be a characteristic of those who receive dream help that they have recently been working long and hard and are frustrated. In Hilprecht’s case, he was working late one evening in 1893, attempting to decipher the cuneiform characters on drawings of two small fragments of agate. He thought they belonged to Babylonian finger rings, and he had tentatively assigned one fragment to the so-called Cassite period of 1700 B.C.E. However, he couldn’t classify the second fragment. And he wasn’t at all sure about the first either. He finally gave up his efforts at about midnight and went straight to bed—and had the following dream, which was his “astounding discovery.”
Hilprecht dreamed of a priest of pre-Christian Nippur, several thousand years ago, who led the professor into the treasure chamber of the temple and showed him the originals, telling him just how the fragments fitted in, all in great detail. Although the dream was long and involved, Hilprecht remembered it all and in the morning told it to his wife. In his words: “Next morning . . . I examined the fragments once more in the light of these disclosures, and to my astonishment found all the details of the dream precisely verified in so far as the means of verification were in my hands.”
Up until then, Hilprecht had been working only with drawings. Now he traveled to the museum in Constantinople where the actual agate fragments were kept and discovered that they fitted together perfectly, unlocking the secret of a three-thousand-year-old mystery by means of a dream!
How did this happen? Clairvoyance? Magic? Who was the priest? How was it that Hilprecht seemed to make contact in a dream with someone who had lived so long before him? We will never know the answers to these questions; but we do know from the professor’s own words that this is exactly what happened to him. (It makes you wonder whether Professor Hilprecht was in the habit of paying attention to his dreams!)
No doubt one of the most famous dream sources of scientific discovery was experienced by the German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé, when he was attempting to understand and model the molecular structure of benzene. Like Professor Hilprecht, Kekulé had been searching for the answer for many years and was totally immersed in the problem. He told of a dream he had while he napped in front of his fireplace one frigid night in 1865:
Again the atoms were juggling before my eyes:
My mind’s eye, sharpened by repeated sights of a similar kind, could not distinguish larger structures of different forms and in long chains, many of them close together; everything was moving in a snake-like and twisting manner. Suddenly, what was this? One of the snakes got hold of its own tail and the whole structure was mockingly twisting in front of my eyes. As if struck by lightning, I awoke.
This dream led Kekulé directly to the discovery of the structure of benzene, which is a closed carbon ring. A dream had presented a realization that served to revolutionize modern chemistry. Later, reporting his discovery to his colleagues at a scientific convention in 1890, he remarked, “Let us learn to dream, gentlemen, and then we may perhaps find the truth.” Not the sort of comment one generally expects from a scientist!
Here is the story of another scientist. Otto Loewi, who won the 1936 Nobel
Prize in Psychology and Medicine for his discovery of how the human nervous system works, credited this discovery to a dream. Prior to Loewi, scientists had assumed that the body’s nervous impulses were the result of electrical waves. However, in 1903 Loewi had the intuition that a chemical transmission was actually responsible. But he had no way to prove his theory, so he set the idea aside for many years. Then, in 1920, he had the following dream:
The night before Easter Sunday of that year I awoke, turned on the light, and jotted down a few notes on a tiny slip of thin paper. Then I fell asleep again. It occurred to me at six o’clock in the morning that during the night I had written down something most important, but I was unable to decipher the scrawl. The next night, at three o’clock, the idea returned. It was the design of an experiment to determine whether or not the hypothesis of chemical transmission that I had uttered seventeen years ago was correct. I got up immediately, went to the laboratory and performed a simple experiment on a frog’s heart according to the nocturnal design:
Its results became the foundation of the theory of chemical transmission of the nervous impulse.
Interestingly, Loewi had previously performed a similar experiment, which combined in his dreaming mind with the new idea, creating the successful result. This is an excellent example of the ability of dreams to combine with previous dreams, or with actual events, to produce fertile new ground.
These are some of the stories of famous people who have used dreams to solve problems, enhance creativity, and even make money and win important prizes. They are all evidence of the vast human ability to make use of dreams. As you draw upon your own dream life and develop skills in both dreaming and interpreting your dreams, you will become an advanced teen dreamer. Think of your dreams as a school where you are continually learning new skills and developing new aptitudes, reaching ever higher levels of achievement.
As you pay conscious attention to your dreams, and then use your dream symbols in your waking life, you will be integrating yourself, creating the greatest artwork of your life: your whole and unique Self.... Dreampedia
As I mentioned, you spend about a third of your life sleeping. If you have a life span of seventy-five years, you’ll be asleep for twenty-five of those years. Imagine! Yet, despite the prevalence and common experience of sleep, only recently did science begin to understand what it is all about.
Although dreaming and its causes are still a matter for speculation, brain wave studies provide important information about sleep itself. In a normal night, a person passes through four different stages of sleep, identifiable by brain wave patterns, eye movements, and muscle tension.
In the first stage, the pattern of the brain waves goes from what is known as beta, or normal waking consciousness, to alpha, the first step into sleep. The beta phase is 13 to 26 cps (cycles per second, the speed of the oscillations in the brain wave cycle), during which you are awake and fully functioning, studying, working, socializing. The alpha phase is 8 to 13 cps, a state of deep relaxation during which you are still aware of your surroundings, whether with eyes open or closed. It is the precursor to sleep and the stage reached during light meditation. Alpha is the sort of somnolent state we might go into on a long train ride when we have been staring out the window at a monotonous landscape for hours and are lulled by boredom and inactivity.
During the alpha stage, heart and pulse rates slow down, blood pressure drops slightly, and so does temperature. Your muscles are in a relaxed condition and you experience mental “drifting.” Images described as hypnogogic may float through your mind, seemingly unrelated to anything or else variations of what you were thinking or doing just before going to bed. These hypnogogic images can be vivid, as if drug-induced. Sometimes these images are quite meaningful and may startle you back to the beta state. When this happens, you may experience your muscles jumping back to the ready-to-go stage, a common happening that is called the myoclonic jerk.
Stage three is called theta and is represented by 4 to 8 cps, the same rate you display during periods of intense daydreaming (when you can actually forget where you are) or deep meditation. This stage of abstractedness is sometimes called a brown study. In the theta state, you are neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Yet you are in a light slumber, and, if not disturbed, you will fall asleep. The brain wave pattern of theta is characterized by rapid bursts of brain activity. Sleep researchers believe that theta is truly a sleep state, but when disrupted out of this state many subjects report that they were not asleep but merely “thinking.”
Researchers believe that it is during the theta stage that most dreams occur.
Dreams are recognizable to an observer by what is called rapid eye movement, or REM. The eyeballs move back and forth like someone watching a tennis match under their closed lids. Researchers originally discovered REM by watching cats sleep, and if you observe either a cat or a person sleeping, you will notice their eyes moving back and forth. A cat or dog may twitch as if running, but during REM a human’s muscles are virtually paralyzed. The period of REM ordinarily lasts for several minutes at a time, switching on and off. If you awaken during a REM period, you will most likely remember your dreams easily and in great detail.
“Dreaming liberates perception, enlarging the scope of what can be perceived.”
The Art of Dreaming
The last stage is delta; at 0 to 4 cps, it is the slowest and is evident during the deepest part of the sleep cycle. This is the state when you are totally out and even a ringing telephone or alarm clock may not wake you. Teens often experience this deepest level of sleep in the early morning hours, which is why they are often hard to wake up for school. Teens actually do better when allowed to sleep late: you function better, learn better, and generally feel better when you are able to “sleep yourself out.” It’s unfortunate that teens are often mandated an early rising time for school or even before-school activities, such as sports practice. It’s not only how much you sleep, apparently, but also when you get your sleep that counts.
People awakened from the delta stage of sleep will feel disoriented and only half awake, and they will want nothing more than to go back to sleep. If, for example, a need to visit the bathroom wakes you from a delta sleep, you may bump into the furniture or the walls, even though you know your way around. During delta, there are no eye movements. It is also the time that sleepwalking occurs. As most everyone knows, a sleepwalker can move around unerringly, as if awake, and should be left alone unless he or she is in danger. If not awakened, sleepwalkers almost always make their way back to bed without a problem, and when they do wake up they have no memory of their nighttime excursions.
An average complete sleep cycle lasts about three hours. For the first hour and a half of the cycle the sleeper moves from a waking state to light sleep to REM sleep to deep dreamless sleep. The cycle reverses itself in the second half, returning upward (so to speak) from the deep sleep of delta to the lighter theta- alpha stages. As brain activity rises, so do blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. In warm weather, you may be awakened by feeling hot as your body temperature returns to normal. This is always a clue that you are in the process of waking up, and it’s a good sign to be aware of so that you will focus on your dreams and be ready to take notes on them.
Every night you go through three or four complete sleep cycles of ninety minutes each. The first REM period of the night lasts five to ten minutes. During each cycle, the REM is repeated, lasting longer as the night progresses, while the time between the cycles gets shorter. Your last REM can be as long as an hour, and this is prime dreamtime with excellent chances for good recall of your dreams. What this means in practical terms is that, if you sleep for seven hours straight, half of your dreamtime will occur during the two hours before you wake up in the morning. An additional hour of sleep will give you an additional hour of dreaming! This is a powerful argument for getting to bed early enough to get eight hours of continuous sleep. Of course, these figures are based on laboratory averages and may not hold true for every person—you are an individual and will sleep and dream in your own way. I have found that I dream twice as much as the average reported by sleep studies, sometimes with less sleep than the average, sometimes with more.
None of these states of consciousness—beta, alpha, theta, delta—are foreign to us. We cycle through all four of them during the course of twenty-four hours, slipping in and out of them, mostly without noticing. For example, during normal beta wakefulness, you may drift off into a daydream or reverie, thinking about tonight’s date or tomorrow’s picnic, and enter the alpha phase for a while. The phone rings, or a friend speaks to you, and you snap back into the beta state.
Or you could be driving your car along a monotonous route with little to pay attention to and slip for a few moments into the theta phase (lots of people fall asleep at the wheel for a few seconds and then quickly recover) only to flip back into beta as you see a sharp curve up ahead or hear another car honking. Everyone has had the experience of “dropping off” for a couple of seconds during ordinary everyday activities (or, perhaps, lack of activity).
For those who want to pursue dream studies, it’s important to pay attention to these alpha-theta states. There is a twilight zone where you are neither asleep nor awake but are alert to slight disturbances. It’s here you may catch a dream as it is forming, and it is in this state that you are best able to give yourself instructions for remembering your dreams-to-come and for “programming” dreams to fulfill specific purposes.
Use the following exercise to track your own personal sleep patterns. Following the format given here, keep a record of your sleep habits for two weeks in order to prepare for the exercises throughout this book. You’ll find out a lot about your sleep needs, when you dream, and your level of recall. Over time, even from day to day, you may find differences that are worth noting. Then, if you want to continue the process, record your sleep habits in a separate notebook.... Dreampedia