Development Of Interest
The survey did not focus on the development of interest. However, with so many interviews available, it would be a shame not to take a look at what respondents told about this.
This chapter approaches the development of interest in two ways. First, it will estimate how dreaming affects the definition or reality. Second, it will take a look at the development of dreamwork methods.
Definition of reality
I assume that there is a close relationship between the definition of dreams and the definition of reality in general. For example, if one beliefs that telepathy is impossible in general, then it should also be impossible while dreaming. Vice versa, when telepathy seems to be possible in dreaming, it can no longer be maintained that telepathy is impossible in general.
One way to estimate changes in beliefs would to use the "life's a dream" scale that was suggested in the Groups And Types chapter. There isn't enough data to do this systematically, but the scale does reflect how I tend to determine how much of a change somebody made.
Two groups of respondents will be looked at more closely: lifelong dreamers and young adult starters.
Where it concerns development of interest, those who have been working with their dreams for decades are especially interesting. The group of natural dreamers has 14 dreamers who are now estimated to be over thirty. I made short summaries for all these 14 lifelong dreamers. For as far as possible the summaries mention points in the development path, outside influences like books, the definition, and the dreamwork approach.
To group the summaries I've come up with three headings, related to ways in which interest develops over time. The headings are strong starters, clear turning points, and gradual explorers. Differences between various respondents aren't very clear cut with respect to these headings, so you're advised not to draw any statistical conclusions.
Haunter Learned lucid dreaming as child from his grandmother to resolve nightmares. Used lucid dreaming as playing ground throughout childhood, studied psychology, did sleep and dream research, now into psychic research. Dream inspired art.
Eily Many precognitive dreams and learned early on that dreams were giving good information. Used dreams for training life skills. Dreams play a decisive part in life events and decisions.
Sharri Lorraine Story-teller with support from dreaming steph-father. Married husband who was into Edgar Cayce, started writing dreams down. Traveling astral realms and developing psychic skills, spiritual teachers, now sees dreams as the place where reality comes from.
Laalaa Developed relatively broad view on dreams as a young child, symbolic dreams usually easy to understand, spiritual teachers, developing precognition skills.
clear turning points
Patricia Grace Used dreams first as a creative source for poetry, learned the analytic potential of dreams through psychotherapy, discovered how to combine Tarot with dreams. Took up belly dancing after two dreams suggested this. Shares dreams with friends.
Dreambat Always experimented with dreaming. Became more interested in the imagination during work as a counselor. Consulted psychotherapists who learned him more about dreamwork. Sees dreams as an important partner.
Martha DiChristi Strong dreams as a young child, as late adolescent dreamt about her own future. During mid-30's again strong dreams, also had a dream that shed light on an important life situation, which finally awakened a strong interest in dreams and reality in general. Now considers actions in the dream world as having direct consequences for life.
Enderdog Always took dreaming seriously. Learned to see dreams as much more than imagination through Ackankar. Now dreams are as real as consensus reality, though they defy description in everyday language.
Vicky Story-teller, discouraged by parents to tell dream stories. Consulted a clueless school counselor and later a good psychiatrist about nightmares. Had years long psychic awakening, partially while studying psychology. Has come full circle with definition of dreams, back to childhood definition of alternative realities.
Cedar Rose Fascinated by dreams as a young child, writing dreams down long before reading Strephon Kaplan-Williams. Dreams are now more integrated in daily life.
Cyndi Has struggled long to come to terms with nightmares and other dream / sleep problems. An important and first precognitive dream changed her concept of dreams. Jungian approach. Now strongly dedicated to provide dream education.
Jason Always had strong interest in the unexplained, though does not mention psychic aspects of dreams. Used dreams first for entertainment, then as a means to reach greater awareness about events in his life and as a warning system. (not sure whether he really is 30+)
Josephine Learned more about dreams from other people as well as through shamanism. Started writing them down relatively late. No direct mention of psychic aspects. Mutual (lucid) dreamer.
Berthe Bogers Enchanted by the magic stories that dreams are. Inspired by books. The dead can be met in dreams. Aims to express dreams in creative ways in daily life.
All lifelong dreamers taken together, the majority clearly is ahead of the consensus view of reality. My impression is that this has alwasy been the case, even before they took up dreaming. What dreamwork adds is direct personal experience with the magic aspects of life. It does seem that dreamwork can help to shift the view of reality.
Books are rarely important with this group, which makes sense because either there were few or no books available when they were young. Nowadays there are many good books available, so it would be logical to expect that there will be more dreamers in the younger age groups. There aren't though.
Young adult starters
There is a group of 24 respondents who started developing their interest in dreams as a young adult. They are all self-starters. Some respondents started (well) after thirty. However, to limit the number of summaries, only the more outspoken interviews of young adults will be presented below. By leaving the few older adults out, the respondents in the remaining group are also more comparable.
Once again headings are used. As the number of years experience with dreams is less, the headings focus directly on the type of change experienced as a result of dreaming.
Time Red Started dreaming after reading Garfield. Open definition of dreams. Considers dreams proof that we are all connected.
Valley Reed Impressive dreams as a child. Read Jung at 23, began meditation and studying self awareness and metaphysical teachings. Life saving precognitive dream at 25. OBE and astral traveling experiences, ancestors, guides. Learnt a lot through involvement with the ASD. Uses movement, painting, and drawing to better allow dream experiences to come to life. Still has new and different dream experiences.
Shmucky_Bard_Boy Moving to the city opened up resources for learning about dreaming. Definition went from nightmares during childhood to now a combination of the ultimate virtual reality, a place of inspiration and a portal to worlds beyond our own.
Rod Noticed that TM resulted in better dream recall. Some interest in lucid and mutual dreaming. Considers dreams as real as consensus reality, a magical place and a source of guidance.
Simon M. In school and university interested in paranormal and the nature of reality. Noticed synchronicity between dreams and waking life. Interest in dreams grew into using dreams for recreation and trying on different personalities in dreams (Simon is a writer). Has come to see the world as a psychological phenomena.
Deedee As a child discussed dreams with parents and friends. Started working with dreams after reading Faraday at age 18. Precognitive and past life dreams. Dreams show purpose of life. Learned new ways of working with dreams, e.g. returning to dream and Delaney's dream interview.
Liudmila Valls Stumbled across Jung while looking for a solution for a depression. Initially dreaming was no success. Now discussing dreams is important for self-awareness. Works with about two dreams a month because the insights require important action or change of attitude. Mentions Delaney.
Stoeffel Tried psychoanalysis because of disturbing dreams, no success. Later not happy with the way life was going so turned back to dreams for answers. This time successful. More elaborate definition of dreams.
Curt Encountered Seth books in college, interested in dreams for self-understanding. Level of interest changes all the time, books help. Learnt new dreaming skills at ASD conferences. Definition of dreams has become richer.
Dawn Heard about dreams at meditation group. Discovered that dream interpretation could provide valuable answers. Sees connection between meditation and dreams.
Gloria Interest sparked after attending a dream workshop, started reading books. No expectations. Approach changed from emphasis on ego to other characters and elements in the dream.
Dianne Discovered that the unconsciousness can solve problems. Symbolic approach, impressed by creative potential of dreams (music, architecture, poetry). Now able to use dreams more constructively and greater respect for their function.
Tjitske Wijngaard Interest started after reading Faraday. Psychology student, dream courses. Admires dreams, uses dreams for personal reflection. Now interacts with dreams in more different ways.
Mirjana Diary gradually evolved into a dream journal at age 20. Read many books that helped to raise interest in dreaming. Definition changed into fuller one.
The young adult starters as a group seem to be more varied in how dreams affected their view of life, although all of them are likely more progressive than the general population. Probably the most important shift made by young adult starters is the discovery that dreams are more than just dreams. Many mention that over time they also develop a better understanding of the nature of dreams and reach a more comprehensive definition of dreaming.
Self-starters tend to be more focused at psychological aspects. Those who are interested in psychic experiences are usually not very interested in psychological aspects.
As could be expected, young adult starters feel that books helped to learn better dreamwork methods.
Intensity of development
The experiences of the longtime dreamers may represent how the interest in dreams deepens over time. However, the time period over which the interest grows can be much and much shorter. There are those who are deep into dreaming while still relatively young.
Here are two summaries for young respondents who seem to be natural dreamers:
Hobbes Age 17. Precognitive dreams age 9-11, wrote down major dreams at age 10, started with lucid dreaming age 15 after finding a newsgroup about it.
Jade Aurora Age 17. A strong lucid dreamer as a child, as well as an astral projector and an empath, and writing down dreams since a long time.
Dreamwork - Symbolic dreams
Interesting is the quote from Richard. He had his first impressive dream in 1996. He is happy to just write dreams down.
It was very difficult to work with my dreams, in the first 2 years i've read all the books i could find but that did not do me much good, i guess i was to upset to work with them anyway but even at the worst of times i kept writing them down. Just because i know that the are from my inside whatever they mean.Over time, most dreamers learn new methods to work with dreams. There aren't enough interviews about this to draw any conclusions. Curt says he interacts with dream in many new ways. Gloria has moved towards paying more attention to the perspective of other elements in the dream. Berthe added creative methods like painting, acting and poetry to her collection of methods.
I have been learning many new dream skills in the past few years as a result of attending the ASD conferences, so, yes, I am interacting with my dreams in many new ways. My definition of dreams is basically the same but richer.
My approach to dreamwork has evolved and changed since I first began working with my (and others') dreams. I emphasize a different perspective on the dream than I did at first - less emphasis on the conscious ego's (dreamer's) perspective, and more on the message coming from the other characters and elements in the dream.
Dus paste ik van alles toe dat ik in de boeken had gelezen (aanvankelijk vooral de 'mentale' technieken, door de droomcursussen die ik later ging doen ook creatieve methoden als schilderen, uitspelen, gedicht maken van een droom) en ging uiteindelijk een droomleerjaar doen (cursus in de buurt).
Integration in life apart, dreamers seem often to build an array of methods to work with dreams at a symbolic level. Often, dreamers start out with approaching dreams as stories. Later on, some discover that there are other ways to work with dream, e.g. through movement, painting and drawing. Such methods are said to be more suitable to understand dreams.
I have gotten better information through being involved with ASD, and reading books that relate how to be empowered by your dreams instead of just decoding them symbolically and psychologically. Dreams have a living force in them, tapping into this force and bringing into reality is the challenge of dreaming. [..] It allows me a space to experience complex emotions and desires that often cannot be put into words. Words are often limiting and cannot relay the realities experienced in dreams. I find other forms such as movement, painting, and drawing can allow dream experiences to come to life.
A popular way of working with dreams is by sharing them with other dreamers. This can be done informally, or more formally with dream groups. Instead of quoting all the relevant interviews, I just link them. The number of links show how popular sharing of dreams is.
Dreamwork - Precognitive dreams
Respondents pointed out that they value precognitive dreams as a skill. It isn't hard to guess why this skill is appreciated, though this survey did not result in any specific insights regarding this question.
What is surprising is that few if any respondents mentioned to be interested in learning the skill. Probably not coincidentally, from those who have precognitive dreams, nobody volunteered to share any insights whether they think this skill can be trained. Compared with the strong interest in lucid dreaming, precognition seems to be less valued as a skill. Paradoxically enough, precognitive dreams do turn many into longtime dreamers.
Most dreamers always had pretty open definitions from the start, but over time many feel more experienced and at ease with dreams. For some dreaming means redefining consensus reality.
For individual dreamers it seems that dreaming is an interest that rarely limits itself to a specific aspect. I think this is an important conclusion. Respondents in this group either have something with imagination, or with precognition, or with self-development. Especially the imagination aspects stands out. However, often it is a combination of two or three aspects. This is rarely reflected in popular dream literature, that mostly concentrates on analyzing dream symbols using intellectual methods.
This small group suggests that there isn't a specific path for dreaming development. Respondents started with dreaming all in different ways. Their current positions are alike in that many hold broad and open definitions of dreams, although the way dreams are approached and worked with is still very personal. Some tend towards symbolic, others to psychic and astral traveling, but rarely does one fully exclude the other.