2-8-00 17:08:15 -0400 (EDT)
Although I certainly had dreams, I only really remember the nightmares: the standard childhood theme of being chased and being unable to run away because I moved in slow motion, and a singular terrifying nightmare I had when I was ill with a high fever. I recall my sister saying that she had "chase" nightmares, too, which sparked some interest in me. I don't recall my family or community placing any especial value on dreams, although I did later find out that my mother had had a few psychic dreams in her own youth, so she may have paid more attention to dreams than some other moms.
In high school, I spontaneously had a few lucid dreams which also involved flying, which fascinated me. The real turning point in my interest in dreaming, though, was a "Big Dream" regarding heaven / afterlife / God which had an enormous impact on me. In college, I took a course on "Altered States of Consciousness" which covered dreams. One of the texts was Patricia Garfield's CREATIVE DREAMING, which renewed my interest in lucid dreams. I've kept a dream journal and studied dreams ever since. I think my initial goal was to actively cultivate lucid dreams, with two sub-goals: to use them as a springboard to mystical experience or higher consciousness, and to use them as a tool to eliminate my frequent nightmares, which were troubling me at the time.
Both connection to the Divine and a mental discipline to develop a higher level of consciousness. At the same time, I also viewed them as sources of deep personal psychological insight.
I suppose my focus has shifted more to the psychological insights to be gleaned from dream study, since the nightmare issue was resolved long ago and I put a lot less emphasis on lucidity now than I used to. (And am less consistent in my journaling these days.) Now, dream study has become more of an end in itself. I'm just fascinated with it and want to try to understand the underlying mental processes and states of consciousness involved.
At least two universities (well, at least one faculty member at each institution ) actively tried to dissuade me from devoting much energy to dream study. I think I might have pursued dream research as my main profession had these institutions not viewed dreams as an inappropriate area of intellectual inquiry.
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