Posted by Kelly Sullivan on May 22, 2013
What would chocolate be without bitter cacao and sugar?
What would music be without notes and silences between?
What would a rainbow be without rain and sun?
I see now that there can be no love without loss, no joy without sorrow;
no peaks without valleys.
Nightmares happen to everyone. Even the best people on the planet have them. In fact, I’m sure Mother Theresa had plenty of them! Here are two thoughts to alter your paradigm about nightmares.
1. Nightmares are your friend.
2. There is no such thing as a bad dream.
Allow me to explain. Albert Einstein said this is the most important question you can ask: “Is this universe friendly?” After decades of research Einstein found the answer to be an unequivocal “Yes.” In other words the entire universe is conspiring on behalf of your greatest good—this would include the obvious blessings and those that come in deep cover (i.e. nightmares.)
Think about it, we are not encouraged by our families, schools, governments, nor the media to embrace death…no! We are encouraged to preserve an idealized Teenage Dream (ode to Katy Perry) and to “make it” in the land of the living. Yet, according to mystics and shamans (men or women of power and wisdom) if we can’t embrace death, the shadow, or at least the not-so-pretty aspects of life, then we can’t fully live. This is why nightmares are so important to understand…and even to celebrate…in the light of day and in the darkest hours of our sleep.
During the late 1940s, Calvin S. Hall, a researcher at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, compiled over 1,000 dreams and analyzed their content. Out of those dreams he found anxiety to be the most common emotion, with negative emotions reported more frequently than positive ones. Most remembered dreams, it would seem, are bad dreams. Which, we could say, is a contributing factor as to why most people don’t go out of their way to remember their dreams.
Certain nightmares are more common than others. According to Dr. Patricia Garfield of Montréal, Canada, dream expert and author of “Creative Dreaming,” dreams of being chased are experienced by 80 percent of the population, while over 60 percent dream of falling. Other common nightmares relate to being naked in public or late for a test.
Listen here to an interview I did with Dr. Patricia Garfield about this.
While undoubtedly unpleasant, these nightmares are not necessarily a bad thing, according to Ann Veilleux, a therapist at Harmónia Madison Center for Psychotherapy.
“A nightmare exposes things that perhaps you haven’t expressed in your life-—perhaps fears you didn’t know you had,” Veilleux said. “It’s an outlet and also a way of learning about yourself.”
Nightmares serve two functions in that they are either helping you rehearse for how you might handle a potential worst case scenario; or they are assisting you to vent out limited beliefs, dysfunctional patterns, or traumas lodged in your psyche (like a blood-sucking tick living rent free in your body). It never hurts to look at a nightmare from both perspectives so you can evaluate which is most relevant to you.
Here’s the basic Dream Alchemy Formula:
A.) Re-envision your dream in the waking state.
B.) Imagine redirecting your dream to unfold in a way you would have preferred.
C.) Repeat several times until the nightmare literally becomes a sweet dream.
For example, Sara, who dreamed her car was falling off a cliff, said, “In my dream, instead of my car falling off the edge of the rocky mountain road, I would prefer the road to be wider, better paved, and not so perilous. I’d also be driving slower, steadier, and paying more attention to the road I’m on instead of being distracted by my fascination with driving further up the mountain!”
From this dream re-direction you can derive Sara’s ambition (drive) has self-destructive tendencies, and she would be well advised to shift gears in order to find a more manageable, sustainable way of navigating her career path.
Conduct your own dream alchemy experiment…describe your aha.
Join the conversation! Post your dream on Dreams Cloud, then tweet it using #DreamChallenge.
Excerpted from It’s All In Your Dreams (Conari Press). Once you buy your copy, click here to receive fr*ee dreamy gifts throughout the month of May.