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Dream Therapy, Lucid Dreaming, and How to Heal Your Life

Updated on October 16, 2017
TessSchlesinger profile image

A reader of medical research and the life sciences since 1966, Tessa often reports on the latest research in those fields for others.

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming is the state of being able to influence your dream despite still being asleep. You act as if you are awake, in full control of your intellectual ability, but you change your dream. So, if you are dreaming of trolls chasing you, you can step in, grab a machine gun, and shoot the lot of them. Trolls disappear.

Source

What Is Dream Therapy?

Dream therapy is a method of changing deeply ingrained unconscious patterning through dreams. There are different methods utilized when therapists, patients, and various people attempt to use dreams to determine issues and to heal those issues. Common to all of them are keeping a dream diary and writing down dreams first thing in the morning.

Later, those dreams will be analysed to determine what they mean.

Lucid Dreaming Is a Validated Technique

Dream Analysis

Entire shelves of books can be found detailing what various symbols mean in dreams. Carl Jung came the closest to understanding what dreams mean. He said that the meaning of a dream was different for each person, that the symbols used in the dream meant something different for every person.

Let me give you an example of that.

For some twelve years I dreamt of snakes every night. I was surrounded by them - a foot deep in them. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get rid of those dreams. I bought a dozen dream books. They all said that dreaming of snakes meant sex. So I had more sex or less sex or sex with different people during the following six months. The dreams did not go away.

When I chanced upon Carl Jung’s interpretation I said to myself “I am both scared and fascinated by snakes. What else do I feel the same way about?” The answer was immediate. “People.”

That night, I determined that if I dreamt about snakes again, I would take out a huge automatic gun and shoot the whole lot of them. I fell asleep, completely focused on getting rid of those snakes, once and for all. I visualized that gun in my hand and concentrated so hard that I fell asleep while still concentrating.

During the night, I became aware I was dreaming of snakes. I saw them all around me – a lucid dream. I picked up a gun. It turned out to be a pop gun, and when I shot the snakes, only two or three ping pong balls came out. The snakes scattered.

The next night I determined I would have a bigger gun. That did not happen. It was still a pop gun, but there were now very few snakes.

I never dreamt of snakes again.

What did happen was that, in real life, my fear of people immediately disappeared, and from that day on, I started speaking to people.

It was the beginning of my interest in treating deep-down problems with dream therapy and lucid dreaming.

Cosmic Egg by Wojtek Siudmak
Cosmic Egg by Wojtek Siudmak

Methodology

Lucid dreaming is not easy to trigger. You have to be focused just before you fall asleep on the thing you want to dream about. You also have to want to do something in that dream. It’s difficult to be sufficiently focused to trigger the lucid dreaming mechanism and to be sufficiently relaxed to fall asleep.

However, there is precedent for it.

When we are in deep intense prayer or in deep intense meditation, the mind is concentrated on only one thing. For whatever reason, when this happens, the body is relaxed. When the body is relaxed, we fall asleep.

Probably because I had spent many years in intense prayer in my search for God (at that time), I found that kind of total concentration quite easy.

Dream Diary and Interpretation

One of the most difficult things about dreams is that if you don’t write them down, they disappear. They disappear within an hour of waking up. It is vital to have a dream diary and to write down every aspect of that dream in the morning immediately after waking up. If you don't do that, it will be difficult to recall later on.

Here’s what you need to note when writing down the dream.

  1. Immediately note down the various emotions that you felt during the dream. One way of establishing what the symbols mean is to find out where, in your real life, you feel those same emotions.
  2. Write down the sequence of the dream. Take note of colours and shapes. Ask yourself if those resemble any situation or place in your current life.
  3. Write down the people and animals in your dream, plus anything you have noted about them. Ask yourself if any of those people or animals resemble someone in your current life. Remember an animal or a monster can represent a person.

Carl Jung and Dream Symbols

Triggering the Right Dream

The human mind has an unconscious aspect where it stores everything that is not constantly referred to. Within that filing system lies bad experiences which have set templates for what we believe, and how we respond to future situations.

It is difficult to access those memories when they are buried in the unconscious mind. That’s one of the biggest issues with psychotherapy. Counsellors and therapists can’t access those memories either.

In the days when I didn’t know what was preventing me from writing, I asked my brain just before I fell asleep what was holding me back (a long, long time ago). The next morning, I wrote down my dream. I then attempted to figure out what the various symbols meant. There were always people chasing me, all of them attempting to harm me and stop me from getting to where I wanted to go.

I eventually looked at each figure in the dream. I wondered who they were, and I tried to establish if they were particular people. It turned out each of those figures had something about them that corresponded to someone in my own life. When I looked at that, I found out that each of those people had said something that stopped me from attempting to do anything.

Consequently, I did two things. I approached each of those people, plus I designed a method of action in my dream. In my dream, I drew thunder from the sky and hurled it at each of them. They stopped trying to kill me (that was what was happening in my dream).

In real life, there were all sorts of denials. I let bygones be bygones. Sometimes forgiveness is the best option.

I started writing shortly thereafter.

Everybody Dreams!

We all have six or seven dreams every night. Mostly, we can't remember them.

Getting Rid of Bad Dreams and Changing Behaviour

There are two ways of dealing with the content of the dream. One is lucid dreaming and the other is approaching the people or situation in your real life. I do both.

In order to utilize lucid dreaming, spend a day or two designing a dream that will replace the old dream. If there is a lot of running away from something, there’s no shame in turning around and drawing lightning and thunder from the sky and scattering the lot of them! It doesn’t really matter what your method is. The point is that you want to stop that particular dream.

When you stop the dream, what you’re doing is eradicating that template. When it is gone, you will be amazed how easy it becomes to form new behaviour. With the old dream (patterning) in place, it is virtually impossible to change behaviour.

Changing a real situation is real life can be more difficult. If you're working on patterning concerning early experiences with your family, and you would like to discuss it, they may not be so keen to go there. Sometimes people are just in denial about a situation. You can’t force them to accept things as you see them. That’s why you do your best, but you have to accept that while you can change your patterning, it is not always possible to change someone's attitude towards you.

If you would like to use this methodology, it takes about three or four days to figure out what the dream means and design a dream to insert through lucid dreaming.

Source

Behaviour Change Due to Lucid Dreaming

You need to prepare for three or four days of being willing to go to sleep every night to introduce your new design dream into your old dream. I have never known it to take more than four days for my behaviour to change.

In the days when I was seeing two psychologists (over a 30 months period), both told me at the end of it that they had never seen anyone change as much as I did in such a short period of time, and that what I accomplished was nothing short of miraculous. They both told me that it generally took ten years for someone to undergo the amount of change that I had undergone in about a year. They also told me that they learnt a tremendous amount from me.

So, I whole-heartedly advocate lucid dreaming as a way of healing your life and memories.

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    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 4 weeks ago from Ohio

      I've been lucid dreaming since I was a teenager. I had to teach myself because of recurrent nightmares. Well I changed my nightmares and no longer have those. I am having a recurrent dream every night lately. I want to figure it out before I change it, lol.

    • Necento anto profile image

      nicci 4 weeks ago from ukraine

      Hello Tessa, nice article. Today my question was answered. I always had full control of my dreams and never woke up scared in the middle of the night because I am able to influence my dream and see what I want to see. Just never knew it was called lucid dreaming. Thanks for the information

    • pen promulgates profile image

      Imran Khan 4 weeks ago from Mumbai, India

      Hi Tessa, I am fascinated by this article. It's thrilling to know that one can actually deal with its dreams by framing a mindset to tackle/combat.

      I will try that. Thanks.

      Your real life experiences breathe life into this article.

      Until now, I didn't even know any such thing existed.

      You are right, dreams mean something. For Instance,

      As per our rituals, snakes that attack in dreams mean the person has done some wicked deeds. A single snake can mean you have an enemy, and if you are just surrounded without threats by the snakes, it implies your fortunes might expand.

      A great article! Well done.