49. The Power of Dreams

Good morning and welcome to your forty-ninth meditation. What is the importance of dreams? Do you believe that they are just nonsensical jumbles of impressions, incoherent syntheses of all of your thoughts and sense memory from your waking life? Or do you believe they hold a depth of meaning that we are incapable of grasping while awake, that, when correctly interpreted, can reveal something to us about ourselves, or about reality, that we otherwise never would have known? Wherever you stand on this issue of the nature of dreams, their meaning or lack thereof, it would seem an awful waste to ignore them outright. This is because, as you know, we spend approximately one third of our life asleep. That means most of us sleep for around 25 years throughout our lives! And much of this time is spent dreaming. That is a lot of life to simply disregard. And while the objective measure of time we spend dreaming is great, dreams are case-in-point evidence of the theory of psychological time. In other words, the time-scale of a dream can be a lot larger than the objective duration of time in which the dream takes place. We all have had the experience of waking up to our alarms in the morning, hitting snooze, falling back asleep, and living what feels like a lifetime in the five minutes between alarms. And however unintelligible dreams may be on their face, they amount to real experiences to which we have real physical and emotional responses. This is obvious when we wake up shaken from a nightmare, or soothed by a pleasant dream. We carry this energy with us throughout our day, and it thus inflects our waking lives, however consciously. This is one reason why it is so important to make sure your pre-bed routine is filled with positivity. This could mean thinking of things that excite you, or imagining yourself realizing your desires. On the other hand, if you are occupied by painful thoughts, you can imagine the healing of the wound that is the source of those thoughts. This could mean thinking of a loved one who is suffering from an illness and imagining them in a state of convalescence; or, if you don’t have enough money, picturing yourself with plenty; or if you are experiencing anxiety with no discernible source, imagine it draining out of you with each exhale as you drift off to sleep. This bedtime practise will set the stage for the work that your dreams do while your conscious mind is taking a load off. 

And much good work has been done in this state. Indeed, many of the world’s most important discoveries have been thanks to skilled dreamers. Paul McCartney wrote his timeless melody “Yesterday” in a dream; Mary Shelley conceived of Frankenstein, one of the most influential novels of all time; Dmitri Mendeleev settled on the final arrangement of the periodic table while asleep; and Einstein famously dreamed up the Theory of Relativity. 

Whether or not you believe that dreams have meaning, positive bedtime routines will mean that the experiences your body and mind undeniably undergo while you sleep will be more likely to reflect that positivity, and so leave you better rested, happier, and better prepared to take on the following day. And, who knows, maybe your dreaming subconscious will guide you to a brilliant discovery that will change your life and the world. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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