16-8-00 15:21:59 -0400 (EDT)
During childhood, my dreams always seemed more real than consensus reality. I day-dreamed a lot and often had lucid dreams. I was in the habit of bringing information and "stories" revealed to me in my dreams into my waking life. My parents viewed me as a highly imaginative person and initially nurtured my story-telling ability; for it was very clear to everyone that my dreams and the stories I told were intricately related. In essence, when I told a story, I was not making it up as everyone thought, but rather relating directly what I had experienced either in my sleeping state or while "day-dreaming".
By the time I was 11 or 12, my parents began to worry that I lived in a fantasy world and could not tell the difference between it and reality. They therefore discouraged me from talking about my dreams and telling stories and suggested that I keep a journal instead and start writing down my stories, from a writer's point of view. This I did, and still do today, but the loss of my story-telling ability left a profound mark on me. I don't think that my parents or the larger communities that we came across understood the significance of dreams and their purpose. We traveled a lot during my childhood, living amongst various expatriate communities in different countries. There were so many socio-political problems in these groups and countries that there was very little room to explore or talk about anything to do with the inner life.
Paradoxically, sleep disorders are very common in children of expatriates and it is generally recognized that this is due to a sense of displacement. Yet, if the recognition was there, the attitudes towards such disorders were blase; wetting the bed or sleepwalking were considered minor problems next to the more serious psychological effects of living in a closed, protected community while the rest of the country was either at war or gripped by famine, drought, etc...
I have diverged a little from the original question of dreams but this is because I think that if any attitudes existed towards them amongst the expatriate community, they would basically have been seen in the same light as the sleep disorders- an acting out of anxiety, but not serious enough to warrant any real attention.
I was first motivated to pay more serious attention to my dreams around the age of 15, when I started having frequent nightmares. I went to speak to my school counsellor about them, but he was no help at all so I tried to work through them on my own - with little success. I had no access to books or resources about dream interpretation, so the nightmares continued to haunt me for about 2 years. Then they suddenly disappeared, but I had kept a journal and years later, when the nightmares started again and I was able to analyse them, this journal made me realise that what was in fact happening was a psychic awakening that I did not understand or know how to control. I say this now because looking back, the "nightmares" can in fact be seen as what some call astral travel or out-of-body experiences. In later years, when I was studying psychology, I tried to analyse these nightmares in the light of clinical / scientific research and ended up seeing a psychiatrist, in the belief that these dreams / nightmares were a manifestation of pyschosis. I was lucky to find a psychiatrist / therapist who did not try to influence me with his beliefs but rather encouraged me to explore these dreams according to my own beliefs and values. What emerged after two years was a deep awareness of my inner world and my attunement to the spiritual. I am still trying to find the particular path that will facilitate the expression of my "dreams" and visions, but for the past four years I have been able to give them a significant part in my daily life without being "distracted" from ordinary activities.
As a student of psychology, I initially defined dreams as a realm of the mind in which we act of unresolved issues in order to either release anxiety or find a solution. I now believe that this is only partly true. There are many different types of dreams and I would say that they can represent many different inner spaces. Some dreams are definitely a way for "Spirit" (our soul, God, the ancestors, etc..) to communicate with us and guide us. Other dreams are definitely nothing more than a whole lot of residue material from our waking life being processed by the subconscious.
At different times in my life I embraced different concepts relating to dreams, depending on the particular area of life I was most absorbed in at the time. I have now come full-circle, back to my childhood place, where the dreamworld/ inner world is a place to connect to alternative realities and my experiences in this place are translated into stories that teach us more about ourselves.
The main benefit of dreaming for me now is that it points me to the issues/ areas of life I need to explore further. As such, dreams play a very large part in my life. I no longer think about a problem; I simply put it to my subconscious before I go to bed and when I wake up, I immediately record what I dreamt. Invariably, the dream either sheds light on the problem and presents angles I had missed or offers a possible solution. I also have many dreams in which i interact with spiritual beings. These are therefore not dreams in the narrow sense, because I believe that these beings are not creations of my mind but actual entities that exist in other dimensions. I am however a part of them, in the spiritual sense. I say this because I do not mean to imply contact with extra-terrestrial beings of any kind. I interact with dreams very differently now to when I first started paying attention to them (childhood apart). I no longer see them as simply projections that reflect my state of mind, but rather as communication tools - tools to communicate with all facets of Self. My definition of dreams has changed accordingly. I now define them as the primary means by which Spirit makes contact with our conscious minds. (Spirit encompassing the soul, God, the collective unconscious/ ancestors,...)
I think this survey is very good and look forward to reading the results. I am intensely interested in dreamwork and although I have only just started studying dreams from the point of view of transpersonal psychology, I have had the opportunity to share a few of my insights with clients I was coaching. I would be interested to know what the survey will be used for and whether there are other participants who would be interested in starting a group to share thoughts and further insights about the results of the survey.
Thank you for the opportunity to participate!
Return to the results page.