Saturday, March 6, 2010

When Bad Dreams Happen to Good People

I had the gestalt of asking my FB friends to pose questions; this wonderful one came right through from a good friend, yay!

"There's this one nightmare I remember bits and pieces of, that woke me up so panicked in the morning and had me calling everyone to make sure they were okay. Obviously, we all don't want horrible things happen to us in our lifetime, I wondered if the future and determining what happens, if the same applies to scary nightmares and dreams. The main focus of the nightmare was a war that I was witnessing in which I saw people who I was really close with dying all around me. Is it the metaphor of the dream, that eventually you will see someone dying or dead in front of you or that it could be I actually witness something like this? I guess, I remembered this more so today even though I had this nightmare in college, because of what happened a month ago where I found a dead body. So, I do wonder that if along with good dreams in predicting the future, that bad dreams can do the same and what kind of precautions could be taken against those."

I've posted before about nightmares and icky dreams (check the titles of older postings if you'd like to read those). If people remember a dream vividly, often it's a nightmare. Frankly, the point of a nightmare is to get your attention. It's like "I'll tell you more nicely, if you're paying attention, but if you're not, I think I can get your attention". That's why I'm fond of saying that some dreams have scared the pajamas off of me.

But I never get tired of this subject, so I welcome this friend's question: Do bad dreams predict the future, as well? Short answer, yes. Also short answer; it's not necessarily a future that will be, it can be a future that might be if warnings are not heeded. Depending on the level of importance to your spiritual, emotional or physical well being and those of others, often ones you love, dreams will come on strong with their message. That's why nightmares are a blessing.

Here's another example from my own dream experience of nightmares: I'm driving my Montero, going South on I95, going to Fairfield, I think. I crash. Next thing I know I'm looking at the Montero, frame bent in two and walking on the road where many people are milling around, some sitting at a picnic table.

I won't go into everything with this dream, but here was my feeling about it. There were many waking life similarities and it felt very "real". Walking around after the crash told me I might be dead in this scenario. I woke up agitated as from a nightmare, though I've had worse.

1. I called my mechanic and booked an appointment for the Montero, it was time anyway. 2. I asked myself pointed questions about the state of my health, could I be crashing on life's busy highway? In other words, I treated the dream message as if it could be literal or symbolic and acted in a way to honor the dream's message either way. I payed attention.

The mechanic said the car was fine, but I had the dream again a month later. I took the car in again and this time he found something, (sorry, don't remember what but I could find out if you've got to know) that warranted my staying off the highway so as not to travel those speeds until I either payed the megabucks to get it fixed or get it replaced. That's when I bought our new car. I haven't had that dream or any remotely like it since. I think it was a possible future crash that the dream helped me to avoid. Quien sabe?

So, I try to not fear my nightmares or the possible message. Sometimes someone who loves us has to say what we don't want to or can't hear without help. The biggest thing is to know, as most good dream teachers will say, that dreams come in the service of our best interests, just the way good friends do. If they've resorted to scaring us, well they've got a good reason for doing it that way. (Disclaimer: Please read my earlier post on nightmares for my view on post-traumatic dreams).

If my friend's dream were mine, I know it's important to write the dream out, as much as I remember, as vividly and with as much detail as I can discover in the process. When you set about writing a dream from memory, perhaps from many years ago, the important thing is to let the story flow. Write as it comes to you, make no judgments and have no fears; let it flow. Whatever comes is good enough, accurate enough and meaningful enough to yield dream gold.
Give this college dream a title; first one that comes to mind. Draw a picture from the dream; let that flow.

Then I might ask myself, was that dream from college preparing me for the experience of finding a dead body, (not an everyday experience to be sure)?

It might be yes; it might be no. Either way, a nightmare that makes a big impression on us is a big dream that can give great guidance, potentially. Write it, ponder it, observe your waking life. Is there something this dream is cautioning me to avoid? Is there something about relationships with these people. Is the death about transformation somehow? Does this dream use these people to say something about me. Maybe I need to continue the dream, see what happens, take control in my imagination as my dream self of the situation, dialogue with the characters, learn more.

There's so much we can do to get the message; here's a great excerpt from the dream series I produced with my husband and Robert Moss, The Way of the Dreamer, on this very subject:

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