Last week I had a very strange dream. The type that feels real but where things are just slightly off.
I 'woke' to see my son standing in our bedroom door, which was odd as John still sleeps confined in his crib. The scenario continued and slowly moved to our living room where Pablo Escobar was sitting and casually smoking a cigar. Then I knew for sure I was dreaming!
It got me thinking about the meaning of dreams. This particular one of mine was likely inspired by the recent 'baby proofing' of our home, designed to help keep our young son safe. Add in some late-night TV watching, and voila, my dream. As much as closing our eyes each night can be a trip down the wormhole, many specialists believe there is a lot to be learned from our nightly visions.
Dr. Montague Ullman, a well-respected expert in dream studies once said "Dreams are ordinary only in the sense that everyone has them. What makes them extraordinary and qualifies them as exceptional human experience are the gifts they bring to our lives if we learn how to receive them." Ullman's research looked at dreams as having potential healing power and powerful social significance.
Many experts recommend dream journaling as a way to tap into the power of our dreams. This could, for example, reveal recurring patterns which would then reveal something that we can then address in our waking hours, such as hidden fears or desires.
To start dream journaling, write in a notebook before bed a brief synopsis of your day, then make the intention to remember a dream before you go to sleep. Keep the journal close so you can record something as soon as you wake up. Take note not only what happened in the dream but how you felt when you woke up, happy, sad sacred, etc., as this adds important context.
Want to know what your dreams mean? A dream dictionary can aid with interpretation, and some people even enlist the help of a qualified dream specialist to discover meaning. While these tools can help, ultimately, only you can interpret what your dreams really mean, adding in the context of your individual past and your present waking life.
Ending up with more bad dreams than good? To reduce nightmares and have a more peaceful sleep, try the following:
1. Avoid the Cayenne: By staying away from hot and spicy foods in the evening, your digestive system won't be acting up as you're trying to rest. Dieticians recommend people avoid consuming alcohol and spicy foods at least two hours before going to bed.
2. Supplement with B6: Although all B vitamins are good, B6 is a sleep powerhouse in terms of calming our nervous system and regulating melatonin. Research shows approximately 1/3 of Americans are deficient in the nutrient.
3. Aromatherapy: The smell of essential oils such as lemon, clary sage and lavender can be calming and encourage peace in the body and mind. A study on lavender oil, in particular, has shown the scent to actually calm the nervous system and change brain waves to a more relaxed state.
4. Calm Down: Add some aspect of stress reduction to your waking hours to reduce your levels of stress. This could be yoga, meditation, or good old fashioned resolution.
The only problem is despite these tips, I keep having a recurring dream of consuming wings and beers with my guy friends... I guess I'll have to keep dreaming.
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