Life as a Doula, Journey of a Woman

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dreaming the Real

"The Dreamer is the person responsible for the continued existence of the people as a psychic (that is, tribal) entity.  It is through her dreams that people have being; it is through her dreams that they find ways to function in whatever reality they find themselves...the dreamer, who is the mother of the people, not because she gives physical birth,...but because she gives them life through her power of dreaming." ~ Paula Gunn Allen, The Sacred Hoop (1986)
.Every so often, most of us wake up in the morning with a fascinating, multi-layered drama still playing in our heads. It’s so realistic, so complex, charming, funny, scary, beautiful, artistic, colourful, moving.  What does it mean? Why did you just dream that?  My dreams feel like such a part of me, and so relevant and important despite seeming to make no sense at all, that I don't accept the theory that they are nothing more than the irrelevant wanderings of my off-duty mind. That is the mysterious thing about dreams, they feel so familiar and important as well as appearing random and mad.
The reason that dreams use such a different method of communicating their meanings is that the messages dreams convey arise from the old, intuitive part of the brain, rather than the logical neocortex that controls thinking and language. Dreams are visual, imbued with feelings, and use visual and language puns, often showing humour and lateral thinking and a creativity that often eludes me in waking life, especially when I'm sitting at my keyboard.
For this reason dreams are a valuable tool for problem solving and in the area of personal growth and creativity, as well as being something enriching to enjoy. Dreams are inextricably linked to our innermost physiology and hormones, where body and emotions meet. Have you ever felt tension and stagnation around daily issues give way to fresh energies and creative solutions in tune with your menstrual cycle or the cycle of a woman close to you?  Dreams and our female cycle reflect one another, weaving their beauty through our lives, bringing depth and colour, tension and release, energy and creativity in a way that can be felt by those around us.
 Recording dreams 
If you want to start logging your nightly adventures in dreamland, the most important thing to realise is that dreams are very, very easily lost upon waking.  Lots of us experience waking with the knowledge that you have just undergone an in depth and meaningful dream experience, and at the same time perceiving that the details are slipping away. Dream details recede more rapidly the more the conscious mind gropes for them. All that remains is a feeling, as all-pervading and at the same time formless as a mist.
The reason for this is that memories of waking events are laid down in the brain along certain nerve pathways. Memories of dreams are not laid down in this same way, however. In fact, memories of the vast majority of dreams are not laid down at all in any kind of automatic way.
To create the memory of a dream, the dreamer must lay completely still (any physical movement or interruption will disturb the process) and mentally ‘go over’ the dream and in this way, commit it to memory. Interestingly, when you do this, you may observe that the dream has a different chronology than expected, and it can be difficult to decide which event came first, as though it happened in a circular or spiral time rather than linear time, or as though all events occurred simultaneously. Go over the dream in your head (pretend to your partner that you’re still asleep as conversation at this point will destroy the moment) until you have all the details clear. Its nice to remain in this wonderful meditative state for as long as it takes to relish and enjoy the feelings of the dream; we don’t always accord our waking emotions this fullness of expression and experience, but try to just dwell in the dream as much as you can.
Then slowly, slowly reach for your recording equipment of choice, which you will have placed as close to your bedside as possible. A voice recorder is great, or you may prefer pencil and journal, as I do. Be as detailed as possible, the devil is in the detail here.  Even seemingly unimportant elements are there for a reason and have a message of their own to convey. If a particular colour is prominent, include it in your description. 
For those who don't remember dreams at all:
  • set your alarm to ring 90 minutes into your sleep
  • when you wake, record what is in your mind, then reset alarm for 90 minutes time
  • repeat as often as you can stand!
  • remember gratitude for any results, this usually prompts a recall habit that lasts.

Dreams are messages from the unconscious mind, and they are our allies in the quest for wholeness and healing, which is why it is beneficial to pay attention to them, and what they are offering us.Sometimes dreams appear to offer incredibly perceptive, almost psychic insight into people and situations in our lives. Personally, I accept that so-called psychic phenomena are a part of our range of human abilities, although some people don’t agree with this opinion at all.
The ability of the dreaming mind to shock us with its insight may not, however, be the result of some mysterious, inexplicable power, but something far more simple, and understandable.It is all about the difference between what we actually perceive through the senses, and what we consciously remember perceiving. A man walks to work every day down a road lined with lamp posts. When questioned about his walk to work, and asked if he knew how many lamp posts he passed, his answer was that he had absolutely no idea. When asked the same question again under hypnosis, a state, which enables access to information normally locked in the subconscious, he answered instantly, with the correct number.  Which incidentally, was something like 150 lamp posts, and his mind had, without his conscious knowledge, counted the posts and stored that information. 
Everything that happens in our vicinity is seen and recorded by the subconscious in detail. When our conscious perception of a situation does not match what our subconscious knows, it may send warning messages to us, in the form of anxiety, doubts, intuitive feelings that something about a certain situation does not add up. It may also send us a warning dream. In this way, dreams can be used to work on problems in daily life, providing insights and clarity on difficult situations.
Tips for successful recall and recording
  •  Keep recording equipment, pencil, pens paper etc close by so that you don't have to move too much and also as a way of setting your intent to become more in tune with your dreams.
  • Always add the date to your dream record, as well as menstrual cycle day of yourself or partner, moon phase,and any significant events that may occuring in your waking life.
  • Use the alarm clock method detailed above, if you have recall problems
  • Record dreams immediately, don't put it off until later
  • Remain still, eyes closed, whilst you go over the dream in your head
  • Make specific requests to the subconscious for help
  • Thank the subconscious for any help, and ask for more dreams to remember.
Dreams and the Menstrual Cycle 
Dream research, and my personal experience of working with women shows that the dream diaries of women dreamers of childbearing age (and sometimes their partners too) almost unfailingly contain  dreams about ovulation, around the time of that event, as well as symbolic reflections of the physical events, and emotional responses at all stages of the cycle.  
It is as if the dreams naturally reflect bodily events back to the dreamer. In my reflexology work with couples preparing to conceive, and with others working on a health challenges, this communication from deep inside the body can be invaluable. 
 Ovulation is a significant event in the life of women whether they are hoping to fall pregnant, or worried that they might.Typical ovulation symbols in dreams are tiny, precious jewels, sometimes split into two, or four segments. Moons, small friendly animals, fish, babies, pregnancy and the sea all commonly appear, month after month, reflecting the woman’s connection to the forces of life on the planet. Stunning dreams of conception shortly after it's occurrence have been recorded by women, and remembered years later.
The entire menstrual cycle is regularly reflected in women’s dreams, and also in the dreams of her partner. Science has shown that men have no significant cyclical hormone pattern arising from their own physiology, but when a man is in a relationship with a woman, he does develop a cyclical fluctuation of hormones that mirror hers. There is nothing unmanly it is just part of the way we all relate and bond with one another. Around the time of menstruation, the male or female partner, or the woman herself might express the darker creative energies of the time in dreams of Dracula, blood and other disturbing symbols. From personal experience, one of my partners who struggled with feminine energies experienced disturbing bloody dreams just before my period whilst I enjoyed exciting, busy, visually stunning dreams, usually waking to find that my bleeding had started.
 Personal dream symbols heralding my period were swimming with others up to my neck (spot the pun) in a rough sea, under a stormy, expansive sky of stunning colours, with several planets and moons visible. Also, I would dream of dark nights lit up by fireworks, huge old church windows lit up in the dead of night by a shaft of sunlight, and red power animals like foxes and dogs. This reflected my state of entering the dark part of the feminine, where the creative force is strong. It could be at odds with the demands of my everyday life, making me wish to be unavailable to the needs of others, but I found it an intoxicating and transformative energy. The trick is to embrace the natural fluctuations between ovulation, where a woman’s energies belong to the human race, and may be used to create a child, and menstruation, when they belong to herself and may be used to create whatever she may wish.
 Acceptance and inclusion in the dream diary of the subtle yet enormous influence upon society of this natural cycle is a wonderful healing thing, both for individual premenstrual tensions, and for society which largely denies the workings of Mother Nature in favour of our ‘superior’ knowledge. Awareness of the forces of the cycle is crucial for anyone working with women in the areas of personal growth and healing.
Try dream journaling for yourself...
Take a note of the date, first and foremost. My dreams have more than once reminded me of a birthday or appointment that I’ve forgotten. Next, add your cycle date. Day one is the first day of the new cycle, on the first day of your period. If you are in cronehood, the moon phase may well be a new anchor, or the cycle of a woman you see regularly and are close to, partner, friend, daughter. Lastly, include the phase of the moon, as it is interesting to note whether the proximity of this heavenly body has any influences upon your own personal tides (you are, after all, 90% water!) like it does on the waters on the earth.
Leave a space on the page you recorded your dream for any interpretations. You might immediately interpret the dream, or work on it for a while.  You may want to ask for dreams of clarification, or you may wish to add to the interpretation some time later, as life unfolds and other significance is revealed. Good luck, and please leave your comments and experiences to share!
As a note of caution: delving into the world of your subconscious for the first time can be disturbing and in some cases dangerous. Consult your physician if you are disturbed by anything you experience, and confide in someone you trust.
References: The Wise Wound, menstruation and everywoman ~Shuttle and RedgraveWomen Dreaming ~ Brenda Mallon Alchemy for Women, Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle ~ Shuttle and Redgrove
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