As mammals, we sleep a third of our lives. We usually think of sleep as a time for our body and mind to take a rest from the activities of the daytime… but could this third of our lives be used more efficiently? Could we use this time to solve problems, get more creative and even practice for events like speeches and job interviews? Could we use it to receive guidance on important life matters? I reached out to Judith Costa, a Jungian-trained dream interpreter with a Masters in Analytical Psychology and Psychotherapy, to find out how we could make the best use of our nightly slumbers. She is an interesting woman with a depth of knowledge and a passion you can feel when she talks about the subject of dreams. Judith is also knowledgeable and trained in reiki, astrology, coaching, meditation and past life regression therapy.
Judith tells me that dreaming is vital. During this time, our unconscious takes over and starts making sense of the events and feelings that happened throughout the day, keeping us psychologically healthy. “Dreams normally seem silly to people” she explains. It’s true; many of us see dreams as a bunch of nonsense and illogical situations happening in strange places. But dreams can also speak the language of the unconscious, which communicates through symbols. In fact, dreams are always speaking to our conscious about current events in our lives. “It’s not as random as we think,” Judith tells me, “far from it.” There are always messages trying to reach us… first, dreams whisper, then they may shout, and then scream– which is normally experienced as a nightmare. Nightmares are the final resort for your unconscious trying to tell you something and to get you to pay attention to a situation in your life.
Dreams can also relate directly to health. For example, stress may be indicated by being chased, or the lack of dreaming could be a sign of depression. When there is psychological pressure or an imbalance, dreams become less frequent or stop altogether to help ease the distress that the mind is already dealing with.
Judith has had first-hand experience with dreams serving as a warning about her health. Judith remembers a particular dream where she saw a big red circle, which stuck in her mind clearly the next morning, but she didn’t make the connection right away. When she got to class, they discussed “The Red Book” by Carl Gustav Jung, and then at lunch she received a gift wrapped in red paper. These synchronicities made her think they were connected to the dream in a more trivial, fun way, as she had been studying the concept of synchronicities in Jungian theory. Judith then forgot about the dream until a couple of weeks later, when she fell down some stairs and for the first time in her life hit her head so hard she became unconscious. After the accident, she understood that the dream was literally telling her to slow down in her busy life and to stop in the form of a big red circle just like a stoplight.
Here are Judith’s generous tips on how to get started in catching and understanding your dreams:
Make the intention. Say to yourself before you fall asleep, "I want to remember my dreams".
Keep a journal solely dedicated to noting your dreams. Having a journal on your bedside table and open to a blank page with a pen sends the signal to your unconscious that you want to remember.
Be present with your dream. When you wake up, it’s easy to lose your dream when you reconnect with reality. Instead, stay still and relax, focusing on a detail or moment in your dream and letting it rush back to you.
Write your dream down once the details have come back to you in a relaxed state. Write it quickly and don’t let yourself add details or rationalize. Stay true to the dream even if makes no sense.
Notice how you feel when you wake up, as this can be a good indicator what the dream is trying to communicate. Are you angry, sad, worried, happy or excited when you wake up? Also, look for patterns such as recurring themes, objects, people and places in your dream. Take note.
Sharing dreams is a powerful way of gaining insight. A trusted outsider can be more objective and see the dream more plainly, giving the possibility of insight you might have otherwise not gained.
Catching dreams on a regular basis takes times. It’s like building a muscle: the more you practice, the more dream recall you will have. Judith started only remembering one dream a week, which over time escalated to several dreams a week. Now, she remembers several dreams from a single night.
Catching your dreams is the first step to utilizing the connection with your unconscious and is the basis for applying their meaning to your life. Once you become adept at noting your dreams on a daily basis, the fun can begin, and you can start using the dreaming process to receive ideas and answers from your unconscious mind.
Judith runs workshops regularly where you can start taking your dreams to the next level by using an array of different tools. Check out her site for her next workshop and more information at www.judithmcosta.com.