Friday, 24 May 2013

What Dreams May Come

If you spend a night at Cottarton, you can be sure that the first thing that Amber will ask you in the morning is not whether you slept well. Most people sleep soundly here. But, “Did you have a dream?” If you did, then we’ll sit down and talk about it. If you didn’t, then why not??

On June 8 we’re holding a workshop on dreams and dream interpretation at Cottarton.

We take dreams seriously, even if our culture tends to ignore them. How often do you hear someone say, “It was only a dream” Emphasis on only meaning fictional, made up. Untrue.  Or we point to someone we regard as totally unrealistic, out of touch with the real world and say about them, “She’s a dreamer.”   “Dream on!”  “He dreamed it up”. “People who dream need their heads examined.” 

 In our world, dreaming has certainly got a bad rap. Like seeing UFO's, it’s something that respectable people don’t do. You wouldn't ask a candidate for a job whether he is a good dreamer and then hire him based on that strength. Unless his job was to sleep on beds, to advertise them as giving you a good night’s sleep. People who pay attention to their dreams certainly ought to be doing something more productive with their time.

Chagall: Time is a River without Banks

Most psychiatrists also share this attitude toward dreams. If you’re bluesy or you hear voices, the last thing a psychiatrist wants to discuss with you is your dreams. They wouldn’t know what to do with them anyway. More and more, modern psychiatry has become wedded with neurology and pharmacology. In the sixties we used to say, “It’s all in the mind” but these days the psychiatric mantram is “It’s all in the brain”. Dreams are caused by misfiring of neurons, bad connections. They're a result of something electrical gone haywire; of no diagnostic use. Yet all the brain scans, electrical traces and other brain studies have yet to help us understand ourselves: who we are and what we need to be doing.

Is the brain good for anything other than frying?

It wasn’t always that way. In the Bible, dreams were the way that God communicated with people. Remember Jacob’s ladder, Pharoah’s dreams, interpreted by Joseph, the dream of the three wise men, Pilate’s wife. In those days dreaming was serious business . Not only people had dreams but they acted on them. The few times that they didn’t, resulted in misfortune. Didn't Caesar ignore Calpurnia's mightmare, go to the senate and get assassinated? 

Blake: Jacob's Ladder

Each morning Amber and I discuss our dreams from the previous night. At times the meaning is plain. You’re in a car moving too fast, with no brakes. Of course, you need to slow down in your real life. But more often we’re faced with a language that initially makes no sense to us. A dinosaur pulls a bus, changes into a gangly man called, Ronnie. A shark about to swallow you turns into a lion. It’s not that you’re crazy, but your deepest self is trying to engage you in conversation. Unfortunately your Self doesn’t speak English. It uses the only language it knows, the language of the night.

Sometimes in a dream we fly to far away places, speak to friends who have died, visit exotic localities. And different times, even the future. I’ve had a few dreams that certainly foreshadowed events to come.

Many people say that they don’t dream. I suspect that dreaming is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Pay attention to the few dreams you remember and you’ll find that more will come. The more you correspond with a friend, the more that friend will be inclined to write to you. Interpret dreams and you’ll discover vast spaces inside you that you didn’t know were there. And the adventures? Flying is one of them. If you want to fly like Superman or exercise a super-power, try it out in a dream.