Do you dream? I have just returned from a weekend with colleagues where we worked with each other’s dreams. The experience brought home to me once again the importance of dreams, and how they can inform us. We were guided in our inquiry by a book, Dream Language: Self-Understanding Through Imagery and Color, by Robert J. Hoss. Although there are many books on the market about dreams interpretation (some good, some bad), dream work with a therapist or in a dream group is most beneficial.
Hoss relates the various kinds of dreams we may have. We are all familiar with the term nightmare, but he gives several classes of nightmares. They may be the result of trauma, medical issues, stress, or severe threat to self-image. There are even those who suffer chronic nightmares not linked to a specific trauma.
Trauma-related nightmares, where the trauma is repeated in the dream can, in the right circumstances become the means for resolution of the trauma.
We need to take care, of course, how we interpret dreams. They are most often not to be taken literally. Dreams are rich in metaphor and hidden meaning. Just as fairy tales and other stories rely on symbol and metaphor and are not literal, all the more so are dreams.
Many of us wonder about whether dreams can be pre-cognitive, clairvoyant or telepathic. Or do several people ever dream similarly and simultaneously? The answer to all the above is, Yes!
While I have never experienced a collective dream, I have had clients who have. In such cases two or more people have very similar dream experiences. One couple dreamt of large buildings tumbling and planes crashing weeks before September 11. Their case was an example of both pre-cognition and collective dreaming.
Most importantly, dreams may have a spiritual aspect. Consider how many sacred, religious texts have references to dreams that were transformative for the dreamer. We too can have spiritually transformative dreams!
Sometimes a griever will experience a spiritual transformation where the beloved returns in the dream, giving a healing message.
Whether we meet our beloved in our dreams or not, we always encounter ourselves, we greet parts of ourselves which we perhaps have not acknowledged before or have forgotten. Our dreams can inform us on proper action in our waking lives. Perhaps we sleep to dream so that we indeed can re-member ourselves, that is, integrate the forgotten fragments of ourselves that make us whole. In this sense all dreams are: pleasant dreams!