You will spend one third of your life asleep and much of your time asleep will be spent dreaming. Do you yearn to have more access to remembering and understanding your dreams? Do you want tools to enhance your ability to work with your dreams to understand their meanings and messages? Working with your dreams can be fascinating, healing and enlightening and having the tool of self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy can open the door for remembering and working with your dreams. Once you are remembering your dreams you will discover that there are a variety of types of dreams and each dream has several levels of meaning.
Types of Dreams
Some dreams are related to your daily life. A dream can relate to events or situations that are a part of your normal activities. These dreams often have familiar people, environments and memories from your past or present life circumstances. These dreams may support dealing with the anxieties of your life or help with problem solving about things you are consciously or unconsciously worrying about in your waking life. Dreaming about past events will likely be connected to things that are needing attention and healing from that period of your life. In these daily life types of dreams, we are trying to process or organize what happened or will happen and they often give us creative approaches or solutions to problems.
Recurring dreams are the psyche’s way to really get our attention. In my dream work experience, a recurring dream will usually stop once the dreamer has taken the time to work with the dream and get the messages the dream offers. Also, in this category of dreams is what is called a serial dream. These are dreams that have the same theme, characters or feelings that have continuity and seem to evolve from dream to dream. These dreams are like sequential chapters in a book. Serial dreams will often be bookmarks for the dreamer to understand her own growth and evolutional process.
Nightmares are potent dreams that also have the effect of getting the dreamer’s attention. Most dreamers who have nightmares usually awaken from the dream so they are sure to remember the dream. When the dreamer works with the nightmare and understands the important messages the dream offers, the fear generated from the nightmare can be transformed into wisdom and healing. What appears to be the “boogeyman” in the dream can be a dream helper who “wakes up” the dreamer to something that is important and needs attention.
Some dreams are spiritual or other dimensional. Dreamers have this type of dream when they have a premonition, share a visitation with a person who has just died that the dreamer didn’t consciously know is dead, or have dreams that bring guides or spiritual messages to consciousness. Also, in this category of dreams are dreams that may be past life memories. These dreams often leave the dreamer with a feeling of really having “been there”; a feeling that the dream is more real than life.
Another type of dream is a lucid dream. In lucid dreams the dreamer is aware that she is dreaming and is able to direct the dream consciously for a positive outcome and dream experience. Lucid dreams are empowering and teach people how to bring the sense of empowerment into their daily lives.
Basic Dream Work Guidelines:
· All dreams are for teaching you something that you don’t already know.
· All dreams may have many levels of meaning for the dreamer.
· All aspects of the dream are parts of the dreamer as well as representing aspects of daily life in the past, present or future, Aspect of dreams can also be in the form of metaphors and archetypes.
· The dreamer is the only person who can know for sure what the message and healing of the dream is. When someone offers an interpretation of a dream for someone else’s dream, she needs to own that she is interpreting the dream as if it were her own.
· Using dream dictionaries or symbol books for understanding dreams may be helpful, but the dreamer’s symbols are related more to her own psyche’s template than just to archetypal interpretations. Symbols in the dream may have common meanings but those meanings may not fit the dreamer’s experience of the symbols in the dream. And because symbols have different meanings in different cultures, the standard cultural meaning may not fit for every dream.
· Dreams speak in the language of metaphors, symbols and archetypes.
· Dream work engages the dreamer in coming to her own “felt sense” or understanding of the dream through an “Aha” experience of “getting it” for herself. The dreamer knows when she has the teaching and healing of her dream because she feels it and knows it through her body.
Using Hypnosis to Remember your Dreams
The first challenge for working with your dreams is remembering them. Commonly, my students and clients tell me that they would love to work with their dreams but that they rarely remember them. Here is a simple proven exercise you can do before bed to activate your dreamer and to bring your dreams to consciousness when you awaken.
Place a voice recorder or a pen and pad of paper by your bedside. While in bed and before going to sleep, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you exhale, let go of the busyness of your day and allow yourself to become still and relaxed. Mentally invoke the part of you that creates and remembers your dreams to be present. Tell this part that you want to speak with it, to connect with it and honor it. Ask it for dreams to teach you and heal you and your life. Tell it that you will make an effort, pay attention, and record or write down whatever you experience upon awakening, whether it is in the middle of your sleep cycle or when you awaken in the morning.
Engage in this exercise each night and when you awaken, lie in bed for a few minutes and notice what you sense in your body, feel any emotions and notice any images or thoughts or words that come to you. Record them or write them down. The initial impressions upon awakening are most likely echoes of dreams and by focusing on them and staying with them, often a dream image or a snippet of a dream will come through. Thank your dreamer for whatever comes. By engaging in this practice you will strengthen your “dream muscles” and open the door to remembering your dreams.
To engage in dream work you do not need to remember a full dream. You can work with one image or even a thought or feeling that you have upon awakening. To enhance accessing and working with the dream image you can use self-hypnosis or have a hypnotherapist facilitate your dream work process.
Dream Work Techniques with Hypnosis
There are many hypnosis techniques that enhance dream work. For instance, the dreamer can re-enter the dream in a hypnotic state to explore or revisit the dream. Through re-connecting with the dream through hypnotic consciousness, the content or the details of the dream can be revivified or clarified for the dream work. To re-enter the dream the dreamer either uses self-hypnosis or the support of a hypnotherapist to focus on whatever initial dream elements you have to work with and then step into the dream and embody the consciousness or character who experiences the dream. Through hypnotic dream re-entry you can explore the setting, “talk” with the characters, feel the feelings and sensations, move forwards or backwards in the dream, or “commune” with the symbols to discover their meanings. In dream re-entry it is important to allow what comes in the process, even if you feel that you are making it up, because, in hypnosis, you are working with the same part of the psyche that made up the dream in the first place.
Also, in hypnosis the dreamer can experience symbol amplification by choosing one or more symbols in the dream to understand. The dream worker can, in hypnosis, become the symbol or talk with it or “try on” the traditional meaning or cross cultural meanings of the symbol to discover which meaning fits for the dream. In hypnosis the dreamer can ask the symbol, “What message do you have for me?” Or, “Why are you in my dream?”
If the dreamer wants to know the ending of a dream that was interrupted because the dreamer was awakened before the dream came to a conclusion, the dreamer can re-enter the dream to hypnotically “dream” the ending.
Another wonderful use of hypnosis in dream work is to incubate a dream. By using self-hypnosis before sleep, the dreamer sets an intention to have a dream that will teach about or heal a specific issue in the dreamer’s life. The dreamer can choose a focus on whatever she feels she needs to be more self-aware or empowered in her life.
Your dreams are truly a doorway to more self-awareness, to problem solving, to accessing the archetypal and spiritual realms and to healing and learning. Since the state of hypnosis is a link between the waking and sleeping states of consciousness, using hypnosis for dream work can greatly enhance remembering dreams and engaging in the process of uncovering their wisdom. Dream work will inform, inspire and enhance your connection to Self.
Holly Holmes-Meredith is a Doctor of Ministry and a licensed Marriage family Therapist who trains hypnotherapists at HCH Institute in Lafayette CA. Learn more about hypnosis and its many therapeutic uses by reading her other blogs on Past life Therapy, Spirit Releasement Therapy, Manifesting your dreams and more.
Visit www.HypnotherapyTraining.com to learn about HCH Institute and its California state approved and registered certification trainings and classes for personal growth in hypnotherapy, energy therapy and parapsychological studies. And listen to her pod cast and samples of Holly's Hypnosis CDs which are available on-line.