By Suzanne Leopold, Living Mavens
Contributing Author, Conscious Reminder
Dreamland should be that wonderful place where everything works out for you that normally never happens in real life. Dine with your celebrity crush, go on a cruise together, become famous and live happily ever after until you wake up.
Still, no one wants those recurring nightmares about turning up in your birthday suit at work, your boyfriend cheating on you or falling from a 20-story building in a world where there is no ground. In fact, considering how many nightmares a person is likely to have these days, wouldn’t it be much nicer to control your dreams? Simply getting a good night’s sleep for once so that your brain can relax enough to dream at all would be even better!
Let’s take a look at how to have a better dream life and wake up feeling better than you did yesterday. You might even be able to resolve difficult life problems in your dreams too!
People throw the word “dream” around so much that its meaning gets a bit muddled. Here’s what the professionals have to say about it:
What are dreams, and why do we dream anyway?
According to Psychology Today, the clinical definition of a dream is any “clips, images, feelings and memories that involuntarily occur during the REM — rapid eye movement — stage of slumber.” It’s common for most people to have even multiple dreams in one night, but not everyone remembers them.
Researchers have proven that dreams are often your brain’s way of processing the biggest worries that you were thinking about before you fell asleep. The more stress you have in your daily life, the more likely you are to have bad dreams. However, some psychologists have also begun to believe that dreams can help you confront the problems you have trouble facing while you are awake, helping you to find new solutions to those problems and resolve them in your sleep. Others have had experiences in which a powerful dream can even assist them in letting go of past traumas.
Do dreams really mean anything at all? If so, how can you tell?
We have many different kinds of dreams. Some of them are worth paying attention to, and some of them can just be our brain processing things and cleaning itself out. For example, if the dreams you remember from last night are basically a crazy rehashing of what happened to you yesterday — and it feels like nonsense — then it probably is just your brain “venting” about your day. However, if you have a dream that gives you very strong emotional reactions or a dream in which someone gives you a warning about something, then those kinds of dreams are definitely worth writing down in a dream journal so that you can reflect on them later.
Your dreams will often fall into one of these categories:
- Prophetic — You see a future scenario in vivid detail.
- Recurring — You’ll visit the same place again and again or relive the same experience on several different nights.
- Precognitive — Your dream shows you a real event before it happens to you in real life.
- Inspiration — After a long depressive streak, you suddenly see your life in a new way because of original insights seen in your dream.
- Visitation — You see someone who has died or a loved one who is far away and interact vividly with them in your dream as if they are actually with you.
- Nightmares — The dream forces you to face your greatest fears.
Can Dreams Change Our Lives?
Have you ever had the feeling that the universe was trying to tell you something, but you have no idea what that is? During our waking state of consciousness, we have so many things and people distracting us that we can lose touch with our own inner voice. The Llewellyn Journal describes how it is easier to get in touch with your subconscious while dreaming because there are no other distractions and our everyday biases are not interfering with our experience of the dream. We can experience all of our emotions without logic suppressing them. That’s why many psychoanalysts believe that studying your dreams can help you heal your spirit and become a stronger person.
The International Association for the Study of Dreams has recorded more than a hundred inspiring stories of people who’ve had life-changing dreams, and they’ve published these true stories in the book “Dreams That Change Our Lives.” For example, one woman was facing severe depression after going bankrupt and dealing with major problems in her job. After she had a dream in which she almost died, she found a renewed inspiration to take charge of her life again within the dream itself. She woke up with a new outlook on life and now runs three profitable companies.
While life-changing dreams are great, how do you interpret them?
You can find hidden meanings in your dreams through various methods of dream interpretation. Numerous books from psychoanalysts like Freud to shamanic healers exist to offer you different approaches to dream analysis. However, every good interpretation ultimately depends on what you feel as a result of your dream. Creating your own dream journal is one of the best ways to start.
How to Keep a Dream Journal
Becoming mindful of your dreams is the only way that you can start understanding them. Start with a notebook and pen by your bed, or you can also try a dream-logging app on your phone. Some people prefer recording their dreams as voice memos.
Now right before you fall asleep, make a few quick notes about your day. Record anything you wish you had a better solution for. Repeat to yourself a few times, “I will remember whatever I dream about tonight.”
Then in the morning, set aside the first few minutes you are awake to try and recall your dream. What’s the last thing you remember? Then think backwards to what happened before that. When it’s clear in your mind, then start writing it down.
Write freely. Describe everything you remember, especially where you were, who was with you and how you felt. Dreams are very personal, and different symbols can have different meanings for each person.
Name your dream. Imagine it’s like a chapter in your story. The name should summarize the theme you felt in your dream, making it easier for you to sort through your dreams later.
Reflect, review and interpret. As you reflect on the dream later, you can look up symbols from your dream in a dream dictionary to start giving you some ideas of what they mean. However, a dream dictionary is just a starting point. It’s up to you to interpret what your dream means. You can look for patterns in your dream journal that can alert you to something in your life that needs more attention.
Can we control our Dreams?
Yes, the good news is that you can control your dreams if you practice.
Scientists proved that lucid dreaming — where you have full awareness that you’re dreaming and can modify it — was a real phenomenon back in the 1980s.
Now experiencing a lucid dream can happen in different ways. Some researchers used electrical scalp stimulation to alter the brainwaves of people while they slept. When they woke up these people, some of them did report becoming aware that they were dreaming from within the dream. While this method is not foolproof yet, it has potential that others are likely to develop further in the future.
Many other techniques exist to train your mind to learn how to have a lucid dream naturally. For example, you can try the “wake up and go back to bed” method. All day long while you are awake, get in the habit of doing “reality tests” every hour or two. Try to push your finger through the palm of your hand or pinch your hand, for instance. Then when you go to bed, set your alarm for two hours before you normally wake up. Keep the alarm clock near you so that it’s easy to turn off. When the alarm goes off in the morning, turn it off but only open your eyes for a second. Then relax your body and try to sleep again while your mind stays alert. This process will help you slip into a lucid dream, and you will recognize it when you do a reality test in your dream.
Get ready for a good night’s sleep to help you dream!
1. Rub essential oils on your feet!
Some of the best oils to help you relax and calm the nervous system are:
- Roman chamomile
2. Bathe in bath salts.
You can even use them in a foot soak if you don’t want to take a full bath. While you can buy bath salt blends, you can also just use a small handful of Epsom salts or even baking soda in your bathtub if you want to keep it simple. The salts will help draw out toxins from your body and relax your aching, tired muscles.
3. Prepare your eyes to unwind from those screens.
Set your computer and smartphone or device displays to “Night Shift mode” or something similar that changes the display colors to warmer tones after sunset. It’s less of a strain on your eyes and helps you fall asleep faster. Best of all is disconnecting from your screens completely for at least one or two hours before going to bed.
Do some light yoga if you can. Otherwise, try to at least sit on the floor, cross your legs and bend forward to stretch out your neck and upper back. Hold your bedtime stretches as long as you can to let go of the tension that your body is holding onto from your day.
5. Practice relaxed breathing techniques.
Gradually slow the breath. Try to make your inhalations and exhalations become the same length. Then increase the length of your inhalations and exhalations by a few seconds each. After a few more minutes, start pausing for a second in between inhalations and exhalations.
6. Wear an eye mask and ear plugs.
Sounds and lights can be too stimulating at bedtime even if they are distant sounds and dim lights.
For more help in relaxing at night to have better dreams, check out our meditation candles, prayer beads and singing bowls. They’ll help put you in a much calmer state of mind before going to bed. With all these tips, techniques and sleeping aids, we wish you all have the sweetest of dreams tonight!
About the Author: Suzanne Leopold started Living Mavens in 2016 to share some of the products and techniques that help her focus inward and transform her life. With over 15 years of exploring energy and manifesting modalities, she is passionate about creating a life she loves and sharing her discoveries with others. To learn more on how to consciously create a life you love, go to www.livingmavens.com
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