I’m running down a hallway, having just demanded that the woman I was handcuffed to be locked away. I then sequester myself in a private cell, safe for the moment. The woman in the dream is actress Patricia Arquette who stars in the TV show, Medium. Later in the dream, I’m writing down on a pad of paper the sentence, “What keeps you going?”
It’s 4 a.m. and I’m writing down this dream on the pad I keep by my bed. As a lucid dreamer, I’m able to make decisions in the dream state, and to remember my dreams with greater clarity than normally available to the dreaming mind.
Having analysed my dreams since childhood, I’m clear on the meaning. I had been considering a change in focus to my career that would cut me off from my intuition (represented by the actress from Medium) and also limit my creativity severely (putting me in a cell in the dream) by playing it safe. My subconscious painstakingly wrote out the sentence it wanted me to consider carefully. As anyone knows who dreams lucidly, writing something down in the dream state can be hard work, since letters seem to move and shift with the tide of the human mind.
I was a teenager when I first picked up a book on the subject of lucid dreaming, written by Stanford University professor, Stephen Laberge. My dream recall (I can still remember dreams I had when I was eight years old) has often rivalled my memory of waking life, and I’d learned early on how to be completely present in the dream state in order to make conscious choices as to how I reacted – including waking myself just before being trampled by a wooly mammoth!
Laberge’s techniques deepened and extended my ability to stay conscious to the point that I learned how to slip into dream imagery and out again without losing consciousness. More than a parlour trick, knowing how to maintain awareness in the dream state means getting the most out of the information that your subconscious has to offer.
Historically, dreams have given forewarning and inspiration to the recipients. Elias Howe invented the needle on the sewing machine based on a dream he had of savages attacking him with spears. Each spear had a hole in the tip, thus giving him the solution as to how the needle should be threaded.
Tibetan buddhists use dreams for spiritual development, with the aim to realizing enlightenment in the dream state.
My dreams have proven useful over the years, providing direction on practical and spiritual matters. It seems a shame that so many of us spend a considerable amount of time sleeping and never utilize the dream state to its full extent.
To improve your dream recall, here are a few tips:
1. Keep a pad of paper by your bedside and write down your first impressions in the morning before you get out of bed. Record images, emotions, phrases that pop into your head – even if they seem nonsensical. Doing this signals to your subconscious your willingness to hear what it has to say. Over time, you’ll get more information. Today, my recall often involves writing down as many as seven dreams in the morning in considerable detail.
2. Tell yourself as you fall asleep that you will remember your dreams. Your subconscious is open to suggestion and will offer more information as you persist with this affirmation.
3. As you start to fall asleep, stay aware of the images that arise. Notice when the things you see appear to be dream imagery rather than what you would expect to see in waking life. Tell yourself, “I’m dreaming.” It will help you to stay conscious in the dream state.
Dreams are doorways to a rich inner terrain that offers guidance and ideas the waking mind is too busy to realize. Plumb your mind for the treasure it has to give. Dream.