February 27, 2007

Listening to Our Dreams

I'm a dreamer. I find my dreams reflect what's going on in my life, both practically and emotionally.

I dream about the things I did, the things I want to do, and the things I'm afraid to do. I dream about the things I've felt, the things I want to feel, and the things I'm afraid to feel.

I remember at least one dream every morning. Sometimes, I remember many. When my sleep is not solid, I remember dozens. I have recurring dreams, and dreams that stay with me all day after I wake up.

I listen to my dreams. I think it tells me about who I am. But the trick is not to get caught up in them. It's easy to do, much like it's easy to get caught up in my self-talk.

I used to have insomnia. I'd fall asleep fine at first. Then I'd wake up at 3 or 4 and wouldn't be able to go back to sleep for up to two hours. When morning finally came, I was exhausted.

Sometimes, my dreams wake me up in the middle of the night, and they have hijacked all rational thought. I'm convinced an alien is in the house, or my children are going to sleepwalk into the street.

One day, when I was awake in the middle of the night, I realized it was the perfect time to meditate. I didn't have anything at all to distract me. It was quiet. I had all the time in the world. I was going to be awake and potentially freaked out, I might as well take advantage to alone time.

Since I made that decision, I haven't had any insomnia. Not even once.

I would count my breaths, or chant a mantra in my head, with the acceptance of sleep or staying awake. Either way was fine. I am rarely awake more than twenty minutes or so.

I realized that my dreams were making my inner dialog run unrestrained, and it was my thoughts - my fears - that were keeping me awake. And my biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. Once I took away that expectation - that worry - sleep came much easier. And in the meantime, I got to have some precious quiet alone time that I hardly find time for.

My dreams used to haunt me. Meditation by counting breaths has made a difference in teaching me to disattach from my dreams, while at the same time being fully aware and accepting of their content.

Dreams have a lot to say about who I am, and where my life currently is. Being able to step away and look at them with a bit of distance is a great way to listen to them. And make sense of them. And it's a great way to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.

1 comment:

tania choi said...

wow,i didn't realize anyone else had 3am night wakings. i am on the brink of hiring a shrink at that time to talk me down the ledge because all my craziest fears get resurrected then.
i will try that meditation.
let you know it works.