“Trust in dreams, for in them the gateway to eternity is hidden.” (KHALIL GIBRAN)
Dreams and their purpose
Consider dreams like home movies that each person produces in response to their daily experiences. These movies are meant to clarify certain situations and support the person. With sufficient knowledge, they can become a sort of spiritual guide, since oneiric thoughts are a window to the subconscious where, frequently, hidden feelings and repressed needs are stored without us realizing.
Even then, there are people who question the importance of dreams. Some scientists, for example, believe that the content of dreams is simply a random mix of the many electronic signals the brain receives. Others, however, find all types of messages in even the simplest dreams, and end up distancing themselves from daily reality in favor of oneiric activity.
Neither extreme is advisable. Each dream is undoubtedly a journey into the unknown, but, at the same time, modern psychology has allowed us to understand a good part of their structure. One of the conclusions drawn from the study of dreams confirms this: dreams can be a priceless aid to the imagination, but above all when it comes to solving problems. You just have to know how to listen to them, because their content tends to have a direct relation to the emotional challenges you are experiencing.
It is known that in times of crisis, our oneiric production increases significantly, both in quantity and intensity. Should we consider this “surplus” to be positive? Yes, as long as one makes an effort to remember and interpret the dreams, since, as we will see further on, they have a valuable therapeutic potential.
For example, if a couple is going through a critical phase, remembering and analyzing usually helps them understand the subconscious reactions they have to the situation. In other words, dreams are an excellent tool to get to the bottom of emotional conflicts. Knowing the causes is an essential step to resolving the problems, regardless of what course you take.
The English psychologist David Fontana, whose books have been translated into more than twenty languages, said it clearly: “In listening to my patients’ dreams in therapy sessions, I have observed how, often, these can take us right to the root of the psychologic problem much quicker than other methods.” Although, we shouldn’t fool ourselves: dreams are a mystery that can rarely decipher everything. But if a certain level of interpretation helps us understand ourselves better, what more can we ask for? From a practical point of view, our own oneiric material can be very useful.
Well-known writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, William Blake, Edgar Allan Poe, and Woody Allen have had faith in this, acknowledging that part of their works have been inspired by dreams. The discoveries of Albert Einstein or Niels Bohr (father of modern atomic physics), among other celebrated scientists, had the same origin. In any case, these examples shouldn’t confuse us: no dream can tell you what path to follow through symbolic images without the intellect to decipher them.
Prosperity, precognition, and pronostics
What’s more, judging by some documented cases, we can even reap material gain from dreams. There is proof of some people that had premonitory dreams managing to earn significant sums of money thanks to their oneiric “magic.” The most spectacular case was in the fifties, when an Englishman named Harold Horwood won a considerable number of prizes betting on horses. His dreams transmitted clues as to the winning racehorse to bet on. Unfortunately, these types of premonitions don’t come to everyone. However, anyone has the opportunity to discover the greatest treasure of all—knowledge of one’s self—through their dreams.
We’ve all experienced the feeling of having lost control of our lives at some point. We might feel like others are deciding things for us or that we are victims of our circumstances.
However, many psychologists disagree with this. That is, they argue that daily events are not coincidences but rather meaningful deeds that reflect the inner state of the individual.
Dreams and thoughts
According to these experts, luck is a pipe dream, something that does not exist, since that which we consider the result of coincidence is none other than the natural manifestation of our thoughts and attitudes. We are basically creator, not passive receivers or victims of the events that unravel in our lives.
An example that illustrates this idea perfectly is the story of the old man who threw rocks into the sea. One day, someone asked if he ever got bored of the simple game. The old pebble thrower stared at his questioner and gave an answer he’d never forget: “My small stones are more important than they seem, they provoke repercussions. They will help create waves that, sooner or later, will reach other other side of the ocean.”
What does this have to do with dreams? It’s simple: as we’ve just seen, we are the only ones responsible for our daily experiences, no matter how hard that is to believe. Therefore it shouldn’t be too difficult to take control of our lives; we just have to listen to the messages in our interior, that is, our oneiric thoughts, of which we are ultimately the authors.
In this way, thanks to dreams, our two existences—conscious and unconscious—can work together to make our lives more creative and free. An important part of this process is getting to know and understanding better the process of thought. One of the most beautiful and commonly used visualizations in yoga reminds us of this: “In the bottom of the lake of our thoughts is a jewel. In order for it to shine in the light of the sun (the divine), the water (the thoughts) must be pure and crystal clear and calm, free of waves (excitement). If our water is murky or choppy, others can’t see this jewel, our inner light…”
But it’s not that simple: it’s often difficult to discern the connection that unites wakefulness with sleep, between what we think ourselves to be and what our oneiric fantasies say about us. In any case, if our search is passionate and patient, constant and conscious, it will result in the discovery of our true Self. Therefore the interpretation of dreams cuts right to the heart of the message conceived by and for ourselves (although not consciously). It is important to learn to listen to them (further on we will discuss techniques for this) when it comes time to unstitch their meaning and extract the teachings that can enrich our lives.
In this way, when we have to make an important decision, we can clear up any doubts through a clear understanding of our most intimate desires. Although it may seem like common sense, this is not that common these days, since most people make decisions at random, out of habit, or by impulse.
Put simply, the idea is to find your true identity and recognize your wounds, fears, and joys through dreams. Never forget that the subconscious, although hidden, is an essential part of our personality. Dreams are fundamental for understanding the Self, since they are a direct path to this little-known part of ourselves. Their symbolic content allows us to recover repressed emotions and gives us a map to the relationships that surround us.
Nightmares that put us to the test
Sometimes the messages they bring us are not so pleasant and take the form of nightmares. However, although it may be hard to accept, these nightmares are valuable warnings that some aspects of our life are not in harmony with our deepest Self and thus need our prompt intervention. Nightmares are proof that self discovery is not always pleasant. Sometimes it’s necessary to feel this pain in order to find out what you really are and need.
On the other hand, dreams give creativity a free rein because, when we sleep, we are free from our day-to-day worries. Therefore, even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person, keep in mind that all the scenes, symbols, and characters that appear in your dreams have been created solely and exclusively by you.
It’s often very helpful to record dreams in a notebook (we will explain how further on) in order to later analyze them and apply their teachings to daily life.
It is quite the paradox; the human being awakens their most intimate reality precisely when they are sleeping.
Carl Gustav Jung, who dedicated his life to studying dreams, developed this metaphor: “People live in mansions of which they only know the basements.” Only when our conscience is sleeping do we manage to unveil some of the rooms of our magnificent house: rooms that may be dusty and inhospitable and fill us with terror and anxiety, or magnificent rooms where we want to stay forever.
Given that they all belong to us, it is reasonable to want to discover them all. Dreams, in this sense, are a fundamental tool.