Table Of Contents
Chapter 1 Two Interconnected States of Consciousness
Chapter 2 The Scientific Reality of Dreaming
Chapter 3 Origins and Decline of Dreamwork in the West
Chapter 4 The Return of Dreamwork
Chapter 5 Dreams and Reality
Chapter 6 Types of Dreams
Chapter 7 Lucid Dreaming
Chapter 8 Dreams and the Unconscious
Chapter 9 Purposes of Dreams
Chapter 10 Interpretation of Dreams
Chapter 11 Hidden Benefits of Dreamwork
Chapter 12 Risks of Dreamwork
Chapter 13 Dreams and Health
Chapter 14 The Mechanics of Dreamwork
Chapter 15 Dream Study Groups
From CHAPTER 2 - The Scientific Reality of Dreaming
The human body undergoes several chemical and physiological changes when going to sleep. Sleep itself consists of four different stages, excluding REM periods. Each sleep stage has its own characteristic brain wave patterns. Brain waves from REM sleep resemble waking consciousness more than do other sleep stages. In REM sleep the brain continues sending messages to muscles along the same neural pathways, but the interrupting paralysis prevents the body from physically acting out the dreams. . . . The change in chemistry between the sleeping and dreaming brain is dramatic and decisive. Chemicals that enable waking consciousness to direct thought and engage in analytical reasoning are suppressed. The resultant state of dreaming consciousness bears several striking similarities to waking psychosis. . . .
From CHAPTER 5 - Dreams and Reality
How is it that the places or people in dreams are any less “real” than those in waking life? Reality and dreams are, in the end, interconnected. Dreams give meaning to waking reality, and waking reality provides the stuff from which dreams are made. Dreams tap deep into the individual and collective psyches, bringing forth oceans and universes of information and knowledge. Dreams provide experiences, often more interesting and moving than anything occurring in waking reality. . . . In dreams, a person can love and hate to a degree as intense as in waking life. Humans seem to learn best through experience, and dreams can provide this fertile learning ground. Dreams are communications between universes separated from each other yet participating in a common unity.
From CHAPTER 7 - Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming only occurs during REM sleep and combines REM sleep with conscious awareness. A lucid dream state can be verified by scientific corroboration. While literature on lucid dreaming dates back to the 19th Century, widespread acknowledgement by the scientific community that lucid dreaming is fact not fancy dates back only to 1979. While engaged in REM sleep verified by laboratory observation, Stanford University researcher Stephen LaBerge signaled with eye movements that he was in a dream state and was aware that he was dreaming. Eye movements were necessary because, while in the REM sleep stage, the body of a normal person becomes virtually paralyzed below the neck and speech mechanisms are disabled.
The first step toward success in lucid dreaming is to realize that you are alert, conscious, aware, and dreaming. Awareness of the dreaming state changes the dream and arouses your mind’s critical faculties. The natural tendency is to awaken, but it is an inclination you can resist. It is important not to get excited and not to focus too intently upon any aspect of the dream.
Most lucid dreamers tend to awaken almost immediately. Many, however, retain or develop sufficient mental control to remain in the dreaming state with conscious awareness intact.
From CHAPTER 8 – Dreams and the Unconscious
Simply stated, the unconscious is the repository of all of the thoughts, ideas, emotions, aspirations, and facets of internal human existence that lie outside our awareness. In contrast, the ego is that part of the self with conscious awareness. If we regard the ego like a thin sheet such as we perceive the surface of the ocean, the unconscious would be the vast reaches of everything below. Unlike the ego, the unconscious is unbounded by time and space. In waking and in sleep, the unconscious maintains vigilance, bringing into awareness such matters as the ego may need to know about the past, present, or future.
Dreamwork is the one of the most important resources we have for accessing the hidden wisdom of the unconscious. Dreamwork as properly practiced is not about dumbly and blindly following the cryptic dictates of the unconscious as revealed by dreams. To the contrary, it is about obtaining increased knowledge and wisdom. It is about owning our true feelings. It is about cautiously seeking illumination to exercise free will more intelligently and more effectively. Dreamwork is the portal to the unconscious, and the means for constructing the bridge from there to here.
From CHAPTER 10 – Interpretation of Dreams
Great art resembles great dreams, so it should come as no surprise that the interpretation of dreams is far more art than science. The best of dreams tend to be ambiguous, operating on several different levels and lending themselves to several different meanings, sometimes contradictory but equally true. The language of dreams is the language of symbols and stories. Symbols can be insanely contradictory and paradoxical. For instance, in a dream a swastika may represent a sacred Hindu icon, the Nazi Third Reich, or both at the same time. Perhaps it is the artistic bent needed that explains to some degree the hostility displayed in many scientific circles toward dream interpretation. Traditional science prefers certainty over ambiguity.
The language of dreams is also the language of art, literature, and religion. Dreams often play out like parables, which are allegorical stories of instruction. Parables help to uncover deeper truths and have long been a favorite of religious teachers. Like parables, dreams use symbols, double meanings, unexpected protagonists, and ambiguities; dreams often yield surprise results that upend waking expectations. Dreams touch upon your deepest emotional wisdom.
From CHAPTER 11 – Hidden Benefits of Dreamwork
Dreamwork sharpens and hones intuition. There is a gradual integration into awareness of many elements of your unconscious mind. You give hunches closer attention. You often perceive more subtle nuances in the consequences of choices. Inner voices previously drowned out by the fog of consciousness seep into awareness. Your intuition honed, slips of the tongue, by your or by others, may provide clues as to underlying feelings and motivations. Decision-making may improve as you acquire a greater appreciation of the richness and complexity of life. Decision-making may paradoxically become more difficult for the same reasons. There is an increased receptiveness to a broader range of waking experiences and an expansion of freedom of choice. Few who travel the dreamwork road consider turning back.
From CHAPTER 13 – Dreams and Health
Dreamwork, health, and healing were recognized as intertwined threads in the cord of human life throughout the ancient Mediterranean. Health and wellness are among the earliest documented purposes of dreamwork. Hippocrates (460 - 377 BCE) is traditionally recognized as the father of Western medicine. He was a native of the Greek island of Kos, where stood the chief temple to Asclepius, the God of Medicine. In the temple, dreamwork was an integral practice for health and healing. Hundreds of such temples were scattered throughout ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and Egypt. Devotees would come to the temples as a sort of counterpart to our modern retreats, except there was a pronounced emphasis on dreams and dreamwork. Hippocrates was a dreamworker who used dreams as a diagnostic tool. The culture of dreamwork and healing was no flash in the pan – it endured for over 3,000 years before being swept away by the version of Christianity that was finally adopted during the decline of Rome.
From CHAPTER 14 – The Mechanics of Dreamwork
One secret of incubating dreams is to think about the subject for which dream inspiration is desired. The key to recalling dreams is to be in a receptive mode. There is a give and receive dynamic. Your unconscious mind gives the dream, and your conscious mind receives it. Your conscious mind must not overstep and presume to make the dream, too. The dream will come. You will dream, and your unconscious mind ultimately knows best what kind of dream you need. Your conscious mind should therefore direct itself to creating a state of receptivity that will facilitate recall of whatever dream should come. The unconscious has a subversive sense of humor, however. In one study, subjects told to avoid thinking about a certain someone before falling asleep were more likely to dream of that person than subjects asked purposefully to keep that someone in mind.