Ahh, dreams, they can excite the senses in so many ways; pleasure, love, sadness or even dread and they can all appear in the same dream! What does all this mean or does it mean anything at all? We can be sure that since man took his first nap there was a dream. There are almost as many theories and interpretations on dreams as there are cultures. Of course, many ideas about dreaming have evolved as we grew in understanding of the workings of our mind. But what about the spiritual nature of dreams, where does that come in? Are we receiving messages from the other side, future predictions, omens mixed in with a combination of our own thinking process
History of Dreams:
Dreams have been recorded in many areas of human history through the ages and even today, remain a mystery of human experiences. There is in the museum of London a 4,000 year old major papyrus from Egypt containing the belief and knowledge of that time on the subject of dreams. Based on this document, dream research was conducted in Greece, Rome, Egypt and Mesopotamia where dream interpretation was considered an art requiring intelligence and sometimes, divine inspiration. References to dreams began to appear in literature and art. Many philosophers and physicians treated it as a form of science. Dreams were thought to come through either as clear messages, or containing symbols, which required interpretation. It was during this time that “incubation” became popular.
The dreamer would sleep in a sacred place in expectation of a dream that would provide a solution to a problem for which the dreamer desired guidance. Dream-books listing images and their meanings began to appear and become circulated. Historians reported leaders’ famous dreams that affected the course of events. Very few ancient writers were skeptical of dreams and the profession of dream interpretation was an honored one. Ancient dream traditions and beliefs can provide perspective for consideration of more recent theories of dream interpretation.
Throughout the Bible, for example, are many references to dreams, which shows the importance of them to the people of those times. Other holy books no doubt share these types of references. Here are just a few examples you are most likely familiar with:
- “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.” Genesis 41:15
- “For God spiked once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction.” Job 33:14-16
- “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I, will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:” Joel 2:28
- “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream.” Matthew2: 12 –13
- “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” Matthew 27:19
During the Middle Ages when people were obsessed by their belief in witches and Satin (popularized by the Roman Catholic Church) dreams were often interpreted as demonic. The art of dream interpretation reached new heights during the 8th century A.D. in the Arab world where dreams were looked upon in a more sober light. Sleep began to be thought of as a simple physiological state, and dreams were the consequence of an overload of acidic substances in the stomach or dehydration of regions of the brain. By the 19th century, influential people began to consider the phenomena of dreams – coming full circle in.
So what is a dream?
We have all heard of Sigmund Freud, a physician from Vienna. He believed dreams and their symbols were the primary road to our unconscious mind. His interpretations seemed to overemphasize the sexual symbolism but his theories did lead other professionals into looking into the importance of our dreams. C.G. Jung took dream interpretation even further by connecting our dream state with the “collective consciousness” of the Universe. By doing so, this enlarges the meaning of dreams to being able to warn of danger, future events and possibilities. Simply put, a dream could be defined as a connection of our mind, body and spirit.
When we go into sleep mode, our conscious mind and physical body are at rest. Our brain wave patterns slow down and basically rest so that our body can heal and re-energize itself. Many cultures believe it is during this time that our soul leaves the body to reconnect with the Universe or Spirit, sort of a going home to visit, then returning when we awake. Scientific studies have shown that we dream every night but rarely do we remember anything once we wake up.
Steps to Remember Dreams:
- Before falling asleep ask that you remember your dreams. You need to put the intent in your mind.
- Have a notebook handy to write down your dreams in. If you are awakened in the middle of the night by your dream WRITE IT DOWN! Guaranteed if you don’t, you will most likely forget it when you get up in the morning.
- You can use a recorder to keep track of your dreams if you find this is easier. Many find they do not leave anything out as they can speak faster than they can write. However, you still should write this down, as it will make analyzing it easier to do.
- Keep proper sleeping habits. Irregular sleep, poor sleep conditions (bad mattress, pillow) will interrupt your dream patterns or have an influence on them.
- Relax yourself completely before going to sleep. Example – listen to relaxing cd, do deep breathing, self-hypnosis to relax your physical body.
- Be aware of the main thoughts you are having before going to sleep so you will know it these thoughts are what you dream of. As well, if there is a particular issue you want uncovered in your dream, place that thought on your mind being careful not to over think as you will keep yourself up!
- If you are able to wake naturally (without an alarm or someone waking you) you are more apt to remember your dreams.
- Getting the proper amount of sleep will enable you to remember dreams better as well. Too little or too much will prevent these memories.
- Since our mind, body and spirit all work together, proper nutrition is important in remembering our dreams.
As with all good things, you will need to practice this but before long you will be pleasantly surprised at the results. By recording your own dreams, paying attention to the activities during the waking hours around your dreams, you will be able to successfully bring meaning to the symbols and signs you receive while resting.