Throughout my practice I have worked with dreams to help others develop an inner connection with their intuition.
Right-brained-ness is that part of your brain that knows things and makes connections but doesn’t have a connection to language because language is a left-brained thing. Dreams are often right-brained in nature and so they seem inexplicable from a left-brained perspective.
Images in the dream are representations of holistic things and not just one-dimensional.
Smells and touch are right-brained – it’s part of what happens with babies they make connections to mom through their right brain capacity because they haven’t developed language yet.
Have you noticed how certain smells can evoke intense memories moving you precisely to the moment in time that connects with the smell?
Certain smells for me instantaneously evoke images of my childhood, my grandmother, and powerful experiences from my past. This is a negative too for individuals who have experienced trauma – often the last image to be released is the smell of the persecutor or what smell was around them when the trauma occurred.
My daughter, when reading will often stop and look at the illustration to assist her in consolidating the pictorial and written information presented. She is, like her father and I, predominantly right-brained. A gift and a curse really – it allows for an extraordinary style of gathering information but can be distracting and difficult to control as a young person, especially in our left-brained dominated world.
If not observing her closely, this stop-and-start style of reading could be misinterpreted as an inability on her part to read, when in reality it is a style through which she incorporates information. She is strongly right-brained, and so utilizes illustration and holistic processing to fully incorporate information.
Dreams come to us through our unconscious to assist us in problems that are difficult to resolve or process. Jung would use the process of dreaming to access what he called the collective unconscious by considering the problem on which he was working before going to sleep at night.
Many of us automatically use this same method to resolve our problems. When we have something that is bothering us, that is nagging us in the back of our minds, we will find that we have strange dreams that will help us to resolve the conflict. The problem is in the background of our thoughts. In Dreamtime this becomes the focus of our unconscious so that we can gather information that is outside of our thinking style – this is where right-brained information can be utilized and provided.
Interpretation of the dream information can be problematic. If we try to understand right-brained information, or holistic information, from a left-brained perspective then we will lose the illuminating information of the dream.
There are books written about the meanings of various images in dreams – but I find this is a left-brained approach to a holistic problem. Yes, certain images are from the collective unconscious and therefore may be part of a list of meanings, but for the most part meaning is personal and individual. Much like meaning of words in language, images take on specific meanings to specific people due to their life experiences and culture.
So how can dreams increase or develop our mindfulness? By making connections about images in the dream that are holistic and personal in nature, as well as being open to the right-brained nature of information gathering.
Recently I had a very interesting dream that may be illustrative of this.
I cannot write out all of it here but will attempt to give the general information and how it pertained to the problem; there are many minor elements to how this dream was presented in my unconscious that are helpful and instructive to me, but to present the entire analysis would take too much room.
The dream is of me in a classroom in a large city with many professionals in the field. I am the focus of a test. Flowers are presented and I am to make comments, observations about them. I do, including identifying changes in the smell of one of the flowers when presented with the other. Additionally, I incorrectly name one of the flowers. The incorrect name is a reference to a play I studied in college about a woman’s cleverness to change individuals’ belief systems and to develop an integrated union that results in peace. The smell is of cloves and this has a number of important meanings with respect to the problem and chinese medicine. The flowers are herbs that I use in chinese medicine to treat lung, heart and liver channel issues that might result in cardiovascular problems. Although I originally mis-quote the name of one flower I later identify it correctly and win the prize.
The identified lesson, stated in the dream, had to do with perseverance in investigation, observation of the changes when the flowers were combined, and how it is important to know the effects of things individually and in combination.
Upon awakening my holistic analysis of the information allowed me to use the meaning of the flowers within the context of my chinese medicine training and the meaning of the play from my understanding of having studied it in school as well as my psych training. The dream was answering a question I had been struggling with about an anomaly in my breathing – giving me information about how to address it from a chinese medicine perspective while simultaneously providing holistic information about other aspects of what was contributing to the identified problem.
Looking at the various paradigms of each part of the message – the meaning of the flower, the meaning of the flower within the context of both homeopathic and chinese medicine, as well as the meaning of the smell and of the mistaken name of the flower – and integrating these provided a multidimensional answer to the identified problem.
This integrative approach increases and develops mindfulness.
Not all dreams are this profound. Many are just snippets of the day, but using your dreams to develop mindfulness is highly effective and will increase your understanding of yourself and how you are in the world.
One of my favorite sources for working with dreams is a book called Inner Work by Robert Johnson, an extraordinary Jungian therapist and writer. His book discusses the general concept of lucid dreaming but focuses more on how to work with your own unconscious to understand the messages in your dreams.
Sweet and mindful dreams.
See you tomorrow.