Friday, June 22, 2018

How to Read Your Dreams (Part 2) - Much More to Dreaming than We Ever Knew - Nightmares and Psychic Visions

The ability to dream can be one of the most fulfilling aspects about our lives. We could, quite literally, experience anything we want to within the conscious state of dreaming. Though we might be used to the thought, this concept of limitless experience is quite profound.

When we learn about such abilities as lucid dreaming, many doors can open for us. We can go anywhere, be anything, and have nearly any adventure we would like to have, granted we gained the practice and skill necessary to do so. However, in many cases our dreams are not so preferable.

As we discussed in the previous article, it is possible to learn from and to benefit from nearly any dream-time experience. However, what can we do when our dreams bring us fear and panic whenever we fall asleep?

There may actually be a very profound answer.

Nightmares and the Emotion of Fear

For most of us, the phenomenon of nightmares has largely been a mystery for the majority of our lives. These unpleasant nighttime visions can bring feelings of fear, anxiety, helplessness, sorrow, and despair. Most of us would rather avoid these dreams and their subsequent emotions altogether as opposed to examining them.

We may find ourselves inquisitive and curious about many of our dream-time experiences. However, nightmares tend to be part of that experience which most people simply want to go away. Believe it or not, there can be significant benefit to examining these periodic ventures into the depths of our own fears. This brings to mind a rather substantial question: What is fear, and why do we experience it?

To understand what happens to us when we experience the emotion of fear, let's get a definition and psychological take on the subject. This excerpt comes from and discusses the ego itself as a major cause of fear.

The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now. You are in the here and now, while your mind is in the future. This creates an anxiety gap. And if you are identified with your mind and have lost touch with the power and simplicity of the Now, that anxiety gap will be your constant companion. You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection - you cannot cope with the future.

Moreover, as long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life. Because of its phantom nature, and despite elaborate defense mechanisms, the ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat. This, by the way, is the case even if the ego is outwardly very confident. Now remember that an emotion is the body's reaction to your mind. What message is the body receiving continuously from the ego, the false, mind-made self? Danger, I am under threat. And what is the emotion generated by this continuous message? Fear, of course.

Fear seems to have many causes. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, and so on, but ultimately all fear is the ego's fear of death, of annihilation. To the ego, death is always just around the corner. In this mind-identified state, fear of death affects every aspect of your life.

The point that all fear can be traced back to a fear of death is important, in my view. It is also important to realize that fear is a choice of perspective and may stem from an unconscious decision to refrain from confronting certain aspects of our minds, emotions, our memories, and the various experiences we have in life. This brings us to the subject of trauma and how these past traumas can resurface during dream-time.

Confronting Hidden Issues

As we may know, it is always important that we confront the issues which bother us most in life. Unfortunately, it is all too common nowadays that people stuff their trauma and bury it under mountains of distractions, diversions, and excuses until we forget that these issues exist at all. Yet despite our incessant attempts to stuff these traumas away, these have a way of confronting us and demanding our attention so that we do our due diligence of healing and resolving them.

Related links - How to Read Your Dreams (Part 1) – A Comprehensive Guide to Dream Interpretation - Know Your Dreams, Know Yourself

Psychological trauma could be described as the unique experience of some event in which our ability to integrate our emotional experience is overwhelming. Typically, this results from some threat to our life, our physical health, or our sanity. These traumas are commonly ignored by those unwilling to confront them, but this ignorance typically comes with extreme detriment.

Naturally, the body and mind have a way of encouraging us to face and to heal from our traumas and this encouragement can typically come through nightmares. In their own way, our nightmares can actually clue us into issues which we did not know (or did not want to know) existed within us. And if we are diligent and attentive, we can read into these unpleasant experiences in order to realize and resolve the issues confronting us.

Let's read what Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond has to say on the subject.

Traumatic Nightmares

Our modern word nightmare derives from the Middle English nightmare (from night, night, and mare, demon), an evil spirit believed to haunt and suffocate sleeping people. Therefore, in today’s world, when we speak of a nightmare we mean a frightening dream accompanied by a sensation of oppression and helplessness.

Moreover, the oppressive aspect of the nightmare can give a good clue about nightmares in general, for in psycho-dynamic terms nightmares are graphic depictions of raw, primitive emotions such as aggression and rage that have not been incorporated into the conscious psyche. Thus we tend to encounter these “ugly” aspects of our unconscious lives as terrifying dream images in whose presence we feel completely helpless.

Nightmares are quite common in childhood because this is a time of our emotional development when we all have to come to terms with, well, raw, primitive emotions such as aggression and rage. Once these raw emotions become incorporated into the psyche through socialization and language, nightmares tend to dissipate naturally.

Traumatic nightmares, however, can also occur as one of the many symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Repetitive, intrusive nightmares following a trauma often contain symbolic themes that mirror the original trauma and relate to threat to life, threat of abandonment or death, or loss of identity. Although exploration of these themes in psychotherapy can promote improved personal adjustment, the nightmares may continue to persist despite any symbolic interpretation.[2]

Therefore, traumatic nightmares need to be treated differently than other dreams. It’s not enough just to “know” intellectually the psychological reasons why you have these nightmares. An event is traumatic because it disrupts your previously secure—and illusory—sense of “self.” And so, to heal from a trauma, you must take the initiative to make conscious changes in your life to accommodate the traumatic shattering of your illusions about life and identity.

Systematic desensitization, for example, as part of a multidimensional treatment for PTSD, may be of special help in reducing traumatic reenactment.[3] An even more effective way to “sow the seeds” of new ways of thinking and acting is Imagery Rehearsal Therapy.

According to current theories, nightmares can be a key medium to help us examine the sources of our fears and anxieties. We may think of these nighttime ordeals as problems to be solved. This may be the case. However, it is important that we remember that, just as Dr. Richmond suggests, these nightmares contain the solution as well as the problem which necessitates it.

It may be that just as our childhood nightmares are resolved over time, our current trauma-induced nightmares may resolve to some extent as well. However, it must be stated that just because our symptom of the nightmare disappears does not mean that the issue is completely resolved. It may simply be that this issue has been stuffed away in our subconscious.

Though Dr. Richmond may believe that the issues which dreams reveal can simply become incorporated through social conditioning and normalization, this may only be partially true.
Within current society, there are set norms and standards by which the general public functions. These norms could last for decades on end without any realization of a need for change. As we might imagine, some of these norms—such as going out with friends on a weekend evening—are considered normal and most of the time, healthy. However, other norms—such as using alcohol as a numbing agent to escape from life's problems—can be particularly harmful.

In this case, incorporation of personal issues into social norms may not be the healthiest course for dealing with traumatic dreams. It may serve as a substitute for our nightmare experiences. However, there is not typically a better way to solve a personal problem than to face it head on. With this in mind, it may be better to examine the contents of our dream-time difficulties as opposed to simply letting them get brushed aside by current social norms.

This may have been Richmond's perspective, and I do intend to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case. His experience seems particularly balanced. Yet even still, I still feel it necessary to make this clarification, as the statement is not made within this series of excerpts from Dr. Richmond's book.

In the last excerpt, the topic of image rehearsal therapy was mentioned as an effective solution to chronic nightmares. On this subject, here is another excerpt from Psychology from the Heart, by Dr. Richmond.

Imagery Rehearsal Therapy

The raw emotions of repetitive, intrusive nightmares can be “tamed” by a simple, easily learned technique called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT). If you have multiple recurring nightmares, select just one for the IRT process and use the process every night until the nightmare has been resolved; when that nightmare has been resolved, repeat the process for other nightmares.

1. Write out the text of the nightmare. Tell the story, no matter how frightening, in as much detail as you can remember.

2. Create a new ending for the nightmare story and write it out. Be careful, however, to make the new ending peaceful. Remember that the nightmare is grounded in emotions such as raw anger that have been provoked by a trauma. The point of a new ending is to “tame” the emotions, not merely vent them in violence and revenge.

A woman had been raped. She had a recurring nightmare of being pursued by a dark figure. In the nightmare, she ran and ran, and, each time the nightmare recurred, she always woke up, sweating and gasping for breath, at the same point. So she decided, as a new ending, to stop running and confront the figure. In a subsequent dream, when the pursuing figure appeared, she turned to him and said, “Who are you and what do you want?” And here’s where her unconscious surprised her. The man replied, very politely, “You dropped this, and I have been trying to give it back to you.” He handed her a package. She asked what it was. “It’s your faith in human goodness,” he said. She woke up. And the nightmare never returned.

3. Rehearse the new version of the story in your imagination each night just before going to sleep. Do this as close as possible to your falling asleep without any other activity between the rehearsal and sleep.

4. Perform a relaxation exercise. Do this immediately after the rehearsal, as a way to fall asleep peacefully. You may use any technique with which you are familiar. If you need to learn a relaxation technique, try Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Or just use the Breathing Warm-up from the Autogenics Training if you need to get started as soon as possible and don’t have the time to learn something more complex.

Up until this point, we may have considered nightmares to be inescapable, unfortunate, and unchangeable absolutes in our lives. For most people, the thought to actively learn from and eventually resolve nightmares may be largely non-existent. However, according to Dr. Richmond's research, these exercises are not only helpful, but are almost guaranteed to succeed, granted the proper amount of attention and dedication is applied.

It is an interesting point to note that nightmares can bring us a mirror experience of our own treatment toward others. Within these experiences, we end up receiving a largely identical emotional experience to that which we have subjected others to in waking life. This is particularly interesting because, by all appearances, it parallels the spiritual concept of karmic balance.

Finding the Deeper Meaning

Whenever we forgive, we are removing the power of the original emotional wound to be of detriment to our own lives. In essence, we are constantly experiencing the other side of the experiences we give to others.

Perhaps there is some aspect of the subconscious mind that is collective in nature. In other words, there may be some aspect of the mind which directly relates to our interactions with other people—and may even directly connect to other individuals—on a subconscious level.

According to Dr. Richmond, when we learn to resolve the conflicts within our waking experience, we can free ourselves from unpleasant nighttime mishaps in dreams. Yet even though we might resolve our emotions and behavior, our dreams may still provide us unpleasant issues. In this case, Dr. Richmond has some helpful perspectives.

Other Troubling Dreams

Sometimes people complain of having disturbing dreams with unpleasant images, despite leading a seemingly peaceful waking life. And so they wonder, “What is my unconscious mind trying to tell me?”

There can be several reasons for such dreams.

First, the dreams could be unconscious advice. Maybe in some way you are betraying yourself, forgetting something, or not fulfilling a potential. For example, persons on the edge of a midlife career change may have dreams about being in school and searching for a missing classroom, or they may find themselves in a class about to take a final exam while realizing that they completely forgot to attend the class all year. Thus the feeling of panic in the dream points to the real feeling of panic in their current life about something being neglected or “forgotten.”

Second, the dreams could be an admonition, based in guilt. Imagine, for example, that you are embezzling the bank for which you work. Then you start having dreams about burglars breaking into your home. Well, the dreams are simply a depiction of something happening to you that is similar to the hurt or moral injury you are inflicting on someone else. This same dynamic often occurs in children’s nightmares: in waking life, children often experience angry feelings toward their parents and yet lack the cognitive capacity to express these feelings openly; so, in unconscious guilt, the anger becomes turned against themselves as threatening nightmare images.

Third, the dreams could be hints of a repressed trauma. As I say above, nightmares often accompany the emotional pain of a traumatic event experienced in adulthood. But if a trauma in childhood is repressed, dreams reflecting the emotional intensity of the trauma can persist throughout life—as a repetition compulsion—until the trauma is eventually brought to conscious awareness and healed.

Fourth, the dreams could be psychic premonitions. This is a rare phenomenon, but it does happen to some persons. In fact, it happened to me at least once. Nevertheless, my advice here is to ignore these dreams. After all, if they don’t provide sufficient details about when, where, and to whom the event will happen, so that the event might be prevented, then what good are such premonitions?

In the dream, which I still remembered vividly when I woke up, I saw several persons in a small river canyon playing in the shallow water and even sliding over a small waterfall. Suddenly a huge surge of water came down the river and carried everyone away with it. The next morning, at breakfast, a headline in a newspaper caught my attention. As I read the article, I must have stopped breathing. Several adventurers, on an excursion in the Swiss mountains to “body surf” in river rapids and waterfalls the previous day, had been killed when a sudden storm surge rushed down a canyon and swept them away.

According to Richmond, the fact that we are unaware of our internal issues does not guarantee that our dreams will be pleasant. Apparently, our subconscious emotions can play a role in our dream-time just as much as our conscious emotions. This makes it important that we prioritize our own self-understanding so that whenever we have such experiences, we are better able to translate and appreciate the messages our subconscious may be attempting to communicate.

Along with these insights, Dr. Richmond's work has quite a few observations on the subject of dream analysis and the possible influences which psychic intuition can have on these experiences. These can be some of the most interesting studies on dream analysis, as they delve into aspects of the human mind which are neglected to a significant extent in conventional psychology.

Related links - Voice to Skull - What You Need to Know about Mind Control Technology

These possibilities realize the question, "Is it actually possible for our dreams to transcend the boundaries of space and time in order to grant us insights about aspects of reality we have never directly encountered?" There are actually quite a few cases in history which suggest just that.

As previously stated, the best way to know the meaning of our dreams is to know ourselves.

Psych Dreams and Influences

Have you ever woken up from a dream and felt that somehow, what you just witnessed was much more than a dream? Perhaps there was not a question in your mind that you just experienced something profound and that you had to tell someone about it, or at least write it down. There may actually be some truth to the principle that dreams can be far more than fun, nighttime escapades. In fact, according to history, some dreams—if applied to the dreamer's life thoughtfully—can actually change the world.

We are likely familiar with the achievements of inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison. As we may have read, Edison made many achievements which impacted modern-day society in lasting ways (though a number of these were stolen from other inventors).

If we have read about Edison's habits, we may recall his periodic routine of taking power naps during the day and consistently receiving insights from these dreams—insights that turned out to be extremely valuable. He would wake up after having a dream, write down his experiences, and many times, he was able to use the information he gleaned from these dreams to solve numerous problems in his inventing endeavors. This happened on multiple occasions, according to Edison's accounts.

Nearly a century prior, famous author, Merry Shelly, claimed that she received the initial vision of her authorship through a very memorable and disturbing nightmare. This nightmare would inspire Shelly to write what is considered to be the world's first science fiction novel, Frankenstein, in 1816.

Let's not forget about two of the founding fathers of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Both of these men actually claimed that the original Declaration of Independence was directly inspired by a dream which both of them had—a dream which gave them the standards by which the Declaration is now based.

Famous musician and song-writer, Paul McCartney claimed to have composed the entire melody of his world-renowned hit, Yesterday, from a dream he had. When he awakened just after this dream, McCartney was able to fully recall the melody and quickly composed his song from that moment on.

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There are many more examples of this unexplained phenomenon of prophetic dreams. Many of these examples seem to inspire would-be public figures to make achievements that impact the world in extremely beneficial ways. This raises a number of very massive questions. Do dreams come from a place within our consciousness that is somehow able to predict the future? Perhaps there is some aspect of ourselves that is tuned into the collective of human consciousness which is able to determine what humanity might benefit.

If this is true it would mean that, to some extent, psychic ability was a real phenomenon and that this unacknowledged ability was actually taking place all of the time to assist the collective of humanity to move forward in various ways. This is one possibility. However, the prospect of psychic connection between humans on a subconscious level yields countless more connotations and possibilities.

If at some level we are all psychic, this means that there is an aspect of our consciousness that transcends space and time. It may mean that at some level, we are all connected and able to interact by means undiscovered by conventional science. This possibility has interested countless people and has been the subject of study within countless spiritual practices.

If this ability to connect with other consciousness during dream time is real, this yields even further questions. For example, who is to say that our dreams could not be influenced in some way by outside parties to assist us in creating our various dream-time experiences?

This possibility of a psychic human race also begs, "If we are psychic on an unconscious level, who is to say that there is not some aspect of humanity that is conscious of this ability?" Just as our dreams can move from a subconscious level to one of consciousness, it could be that this ability of connectivity with other minds can move into consciousness as well.

It seems that near the turn of each century, certain public figures (or would-be public figures) were inspired to make achievements which ended up impacting the following century. This begs the question of whether or not there is some outside influence or perhaps some internal mechanism that we possess which is progressing humanity to greater levels of inspiration and development. This is only a possibility, but it is still worth considering, in my view.

A Helping Hand

In my observation, these apparently psychic dreams could be placed into two different categories—literal and figurative. In both of these situations, dreams may end up inspiring us in some notably significant way. However, it is the literal version of these psychic dreams that tend to be the most profound.

The literal versions of these dreams may come in the form of a loved one delivering some important information to us. There may be no other way in which we may have obtained this information, yet when we wake up, we learn the information is provably true.

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These dreams may actually come in the form of messages from relatives who have passed, from pets who may speak in discernible language to us, or in problematic situations to which we ourselves did not know the answer. Yet these messages have a way of showing up in our dreams at opportune times and assisting us in solving various problems in our lives.

When we consider the possibility that dreams may be deliberately influenced by outside parties, the necessity to assess the possible intent behind our dreams becomes clear. Yet even if these dreams are manipulated to some extent, there may still be some aspect of truth within them, as well as a possibility to benefit from them, according to Dr. Richmond. It is simply a matter of determining how these truths apply to us in the real world.

A Few Thoughts

We may look at the phenomenon of dreaming and realize just how much we have yet to learn and to benefit from these nighttime experiences. Even experiences such as nightmares can have profoundly positive effects upon our lives, granted we give proper attention and energy to understanding them.

With these possibilities, we may realize that fear itself is not our enemy, but our avoidance of that which we fear which truly is detrimental to us. As we may imagine, the longer we run from these fears, the longer it will take for us to heal whatever it is the fear is attempting to teach us.

The possibility that our dreams can be manipulated may be both exciting and in some cases, concerning. However, we might keep in mind that even a manipulated dream may be able to provide us with beneficial experiences. If ever we suspect that our dreams are not our own, we might keep in mind that though we may not be initiating them, some aspect of us allowed us to be impressed in such a way as to have the exterior influence. In this way, we may be able to learn about the intentions of someone else and possibly our own subconscious desire to share in these intentions, if only temporarily.

As stated previously, the potential for our dream-time experiences can be endless, granted we have the discipline to acknowledge and fully consider the insights we might gain from our own subconscious or from other possible sources.

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