Do I have to Explore My Dreams?

Over a beer recently a friend of mine surprised me the comment, ‘I think you will be disappointed in me.” I asked him why he would possibly think that. His response fascinated me. “After I attended your dream workshop, I decided that I had absolutely no interest in going more deeply into my dreams. I am quite happy with them the way they are.”

After a reflective sip of pale ale, I reminded him of a hypothesis I had encountered that on some levels dreams are a powerful inner mechanism for change and healing without any attention being paid to them at all.

Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., a leading sleep and dream researcher at Chicago’s Rush Medical Center and author of The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives,” did tests in a sleep clinic on depressive patients. She would wake them every dream cycle (about six a night) and ask them what they were dreaming about and then allow them to go to sleep.

She observed that the type and nature of dreams influenced their mood the next day. In fact some went to bed mildly unhappy, and during the night if their dreams shifted from a similar state at the beginning to a happier state by the end of the night, they would wake in a better mood than when they went to bed.

We do not control our dreams (unless we practice lucid dreaming) but nature generally doesn’t create without reason it seems a logical conclusion to assume that they have a reason for being. This deduction in and of itself does not require us to consciously explore dreams. Many people consider them to be an adjustment process where we unload clutter from the busy mind.

Some dreams simply seem to be a compensatory entertainment for lives that have become too distracted, busy and out of balance. Some are anxiety bleeding from the unconscious yet I am convinced that many dreams have value for guidance and growth if we choose to explore them. Dreams that have a lot of emotion, with strong and distinctive personalities from our lives, as well repetition are normally meaningful from a symbolic level

I reassured my friend that of course I was not disappointed in him. We must all follow our own inner compass and trust that our unfolding lives will show us the way. I have no choice. My dreams are a window into my unconscious and my Soul, if I disregard them I may miss out on the wonder of the inner journey.

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