For as long as I can remember, I knew there were messages in my dreams.
The first dream I remember is from about age 3. My bedroom was on the second story, and just outside the double windows was the flat roof of the porch below. In my dream, our house was on fire, and I had to get all of my stuffed animals and dolls out the window and on to the roof. I was desperately trying to do that, when I realized the fire would just spread to the roof, and I and my beloved dolls would not be safe. I froze in place, paralyzed with uncertainty as to what to do. Then, I woke up.
Around this time, my parents were fighting continually, at least when my dad was home. I would sit at the top of the stairs, out of sight, and listen. I didn’t understand the details, but I did know that things were on dangerous ground with the two people I loved most in the world, and on whom my survival depended.
So, the dream about the fire was not really surprising, even to my 3-year-old self.
Over the years, I have used my dreams to guide me, and they always present me clues to my current emotional state and my unconscious desires and fears. Inevitably, nightmares about being violated would present themselves when I needed to exit a relationship. Tornadoes always signal a huge shift in perspective, circumstances, or both. Houses in my dreams always represent my whole Self.
But, it wasn’t until I heard Dr Wayne Dyer say this that I started to consider sleep and dreams an actual spiritual practice:
“Go to sleep with visions of what you love. Let your dream vision marinate overnight. Wake up with your positive, hopeful thoughts in place, ready to guide you through a day in which you step ever closer to the life you dream of. “
Dr Dyer pointed out that whatever you think about in the last 5 minutes of sleep stays with you all night long. So, if you are worrying about your day ahead or fuming over the day just passed, that will follow you into your dream consciousness and set the stage for the next day. Your brain will tend to think that if you are giving valuable energetic resources to this thought or set of thoughts, you must like them and want more of them! So, it will help you have more experiences that generate those thoughts.
However, if, in your last 5 waking minutes, you focus on thoughts you truly do want more of, your subconscious will deliver those instead. Your subconscious cannot tell the difference between what is “real” and what is “not real”. It thinks it’s all real. And, it doesn’t understand sarcasm. Believe me.
This, then, was the beginning of my serious use of sleep and dreams as a form of spiritual practice, and over the past year, these are the processes and practices that I have used to help further my personal journey into self-discovery and enchantment:
- Prepare for sleep.
The last thing I do before I go to sleep is start a running list of all the things I am grateful for. If I come to a place where I can’t think of any more, I make stuff up. Often, my mental list goes a lot like this: I am grateful for my bed, I am so grateful for my pillow, I am grateful for my clean nightgown, thank you so much for the sweet little apartment we live in… and so on. If I get stumped, like I said, I will make up stuff. It’s stuff I want to have, but don’t physically have yet. For example, I am so grateful I got that $2 an hour raise, thank you so much for the money for the car repairs that I needed, it makes me so happy that my husband and I took that weekend trip…and so on. I keep this up for as long as I can or until I fall asleep.
These thoughts marinate overnight, and I wake up feeling refreshed and optimistic the next morning, like I just spent several hours hanging out with my best friend doing fun stuff.
Also, before I head off to dreamland, if there is a particular issue or question weighing on me, I will ask my Higher Self (or you can ask God, the Angels, or whomever you feel most comfy with) to help me find the answer in my dreams. Famous people have used this technique to solve famous problems. It’s a tried-and-true method for uncovering answers you didn’t know you had.
- Work with dreams.
I write three pages, longhand, every morning in a notebook (thank you again, Julia Cameron!). I do this before I do anything else, so my dreams are still fresh. Lots of people say that you should write them down even before you get out of bed, but that doesn’t work for me. Having to pee is not conducive to remembering much of anything but having to pee.
When I write, I write down everything I can remember, no matter how small. Experience has taught me that even the little things matter in dreams. If you have prepped before sleep with a question you wanted to have answered, you are more likely to discover that answer if you write it all down. The physical motion of writing seems to unlock even more detail than you might originally think you remember.
Then, I read over what I wrote, keeping in mind my question, if I asked one, or recent life events. Dream symbol interpretation is a whole other enchilada, so I won’t go into that here, except to say that I have become very familiar with my own dream vocabulary in just this way.
- Use dozing time.
When I don’t have to wake up to an alarm, I love to just wake slowly, and laze in bed, half asleep, until it feels good to get up and get going. In this between-time (or liminal time), you can very easily access and direct your subconscious. It has been during these times that I make the most serious breakthroughs. For example, the first time I accessed a past life, I was in this state and thinking about what I might have done with my life if I had gone to college instead of getting married.
There are several things I might do to take advantage of this liminal state: put on headphones and listen to a guided meditation; grab a crystal and focus on healing, clearing, and harnessing a particular chakra; send Reiki and loving energy; let creative ideas bubble up; visualize my day; or explore an alternate or past life.
- Lucid dreaming.
This is a new practice for me. So far, I have managed to become lucid, but not do much beyond that realization. My goal is to become very adept at manipulating the dreamscape so that in my waking life, it feels like second nature to alter my reality. Remember, your mind cannot tell the difference between wake time and dream time, so it will do what you tell it to do whether you are sleeping or not.
There are some crystals that are said to aid and enhance this process, and I use a couple of them: amethyst, which I find very strong and a little overpowering; blue kyanite recommended to me by my friend, Laura; and labradorite, which is called the Seer’s stone and is super helpful in a wide variety of ways besides this one. When I use them, I usually just use one at a time, and I either place them in my pillow case or sleep with them in my hand. I will keep you posted as to the progress of the lucid dreaming venture.
I love to sleep, and I love to dream. Being the compulsive Seeker that I am, now I can use that love to my advantage. And so can you.