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Sleep On It

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Frequently, we tell ourselves or someone tells us, “Just sleep on it,” when facing a decision.  This choice proves useful, getting us rest, time, and the ability to reconnect with our feelings.  We can learn from the wisdom of our dreams.  I know many of you have the experience of awakening with an emotional shift, new insight, or creative idea. 

This writing presents basic tools for dream recall and interpretation, using them as a guide for exploring and enjoying your dreamtime.  For those who have been exploring your dreams for some time, I imagine reading this may also inspire you.  Before you begin exploring your dreams, these are a few prerequisites:

¨     Trust yourself – you are the only one having this experience (you are the only dreamer in your dreams).

¨     Enjoy the process.  Be easy and playfully patient; information will unfold in good time.

¨     Use your friends, groups, books, and other useful resources from time to time.  I suggest refraining from jumping into the pool.  Allow yourself to    become comfortable in establishing routines and tools that fit easily into your lifestyle.

Dream recall is just setting the stage for remembering information from your dreams.  As mattress commercials continually remind us, we spend at least one third of our life sleeping.  Environment is important; make it peaceful and sacred.  Here are several steps to help remember your dreams and find some hidden tidbits of information that open some doors to the intrigue of your dreams.

Take Environmental Steps

Clean and “De-clutter.”  Make a comfortable and conducive space for yourself.

Create peace and beauty.  This could simply involve using elements of light, sound, color, and nature that provide a peaceful space for you.  Objects that bring happy memories are important to incorporate.  For example, if you love water you can bring in pictures, fountains, shells, and stones.

Prepare with Time

Comfort routines are for grown ups as well.  Go beyond a five-minute shower and flossing your teeth.  Take care of yourself as you prepare for sleep.  For example, rub your feet, listen to relaxing music, or remember the happiest moments of your day.

Consider Dream Suggestions

When preparing and falling asleep, aid in your ability to recall your dreams:  create and repeat a simple statement to yourself regarding your dreams.  Some suggestions might be, “I easily remember my dreams,” “I enjoy my dreams,” “I recall what I need to,” and “my dreams bring healing.” 

Awaken and Be Still 

When first awake take a moment and keep your eyes closed and your body still.  Doing so allows you to remain open to an image sensation, emotion, or movement.  You can spend more time in the self-hypnotic state between sleep and alertness.  If you have the ability to recall, that’s great.  If not, that’s fine; information can come during your day because it is now part of you.

Take Notes

Many individuals enjoy keeping a journal or using a mini-recorder to facilitate recall.  If it sounds like fun, try it.  Your ability to remember will increase naturally over time. 


Interpret with Your Own Meaning

For purposes of this article, interpretation is any thought, feeling, or action taken from dream recall that brings personal insight and meaning.  Your meaning or “ah hah” moments, as Oprah would put it, can arrive spontaneously in the midst of your most mundane daily activities.

1) Recall your emotional state when you awake.  For example, when waking with a feeling of peace or happiness, it can give information about your final dream cycle.  A feeling of happiness may indicate that your unconscious mind experienced something positive or that it is feeling optimistic.  If you can gently hold on to this feeling, it can influence your day.  If I awake feeling angry, it doesn’t mean that I am going to be angry all day.  However, it may indicate my emotions and unconscious mind are helping me cope with a situation that I may be experiencing anger.  All feelings are productive; it’s about what we do with them that have the greatest influence on producing effective outcomes. 

2)  Accept whatever you recall without judgment. To learn from our dreams, it’s important not to judge or censor our raw material.  Being open to doing this, allows us to bring forward more information. 

3) Give an appropriate title to your personal home movie.Your dream memory will now have a point of reference and a topic to focus on.  For example, if you dream about flying, and you like to fly, an appropriate title may be “Freedom to Fly.”

4) Ask Open-ended Questions.Using open leading questions is as if you were encouraging a close friend to speak openly with you.  Ask questions like, “Where was I?  What was I doing?  Did any of the scenes appear new, humorous, or special to me?  Did I dream in color or black and white?”  For example, if you remember dreaming in color, this alone may be significant to you.  Perhaps colors may represent the mood you were in. If you had a dream surrounded in pink and that is your favorite color, the context of your dream may be a positive one for you.

5) Ask Specific Questions Each part of your dream relates to you, the dreamer.  The meaning that you make is likely to be unique to you.  The topics that people dream about are universal, but the meaning we give to them are unique to each one of us.  It’s possible that dreaming in black and white is representative of the past.  Ask yourself three questions about every dream:

1.  What did my dream look like?  This allows you to describe whatever you remember in your own words.  It’s like putting together a puzzle.

2.  How do I feel about this?  As you describe the pieces, this is about your emotional state with the dream material.  

3.  Does this puzzle piece have any immediate meaning to me?  Most of the time, your mind may not recognize its significance.  You may get a yes or no, or “I think so,” or “Not that I can tell at this time.”  Be patient, over time significant patterns will form.

In summary, the sequence for awakening your dreams does involve a natural, yet disciplined series of “mindful” activities.  Enjoy creating a peaceful space preparing for sleep, giving yourself permission and the tools for playing and working with the unique fabric of your own dreams.  The rewards are significant and ongoing.  In the process, you may reduce stress, increase your sense of humor, gain insight, and solve problems in your daily life.  So, dream on with meaning; ah, the rewards of being able to just “sleep on it….”

Good to know!

Creative Dreaming: Plan and Control Your Dreams to Develop Creativity, Overcome Fears, Solve Problems, and Create a Better Self, by Patricia L. Garfield Ph.D.; published by Simon & Schuster.                                                                                                                                                                     Dreams are more than just random images  that play in your head at night. Learn to plan your dreams ahead of time and gain invaluable insight.

Use Essential Oils for a better dreams: ORGANIC SLEEPY TIME BLEND - Josiah's Oils Custom blends.
A benefit of using Organic Sleepy Time Blend essential oil is a more balanced nervous system. With reduced stress and a more peaceful, sound sleep, your energy level will increase and you'll feel eager and ready to start each day! The scent of Lavender is said to have a calming effect on the body and it can be used to reduce anxiety, stress and   promote sleep. Organic Sleepy Time Blend helps with nervous tension and stress and helps to create a feeling of happiness and warmth.

The International Association for the Study of Dreams (www.asdreams.org)                                                                                                                           This non-profit, international, multidisciplinary organization is dedicated to the pure and applied investigation of dreams and dreaming. Its purposes are to promote an awareness and appreciation of dreams in both professional and public arenas; to encourage research into the nature, function, and significance of dreaming; to advance the application of the study of dreams; and to provide a forum for the eclectic and interdisciplinaryexchange of ideas and information.


Paula Cellar, MA Special Education, MS Counseling; LMHP (Licensed Mental Health Practitioner); Certified Life Coach from Grow Institute of California, a program designed for counselors and social workers.

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