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I have a question regarding Nightmares
February 15, 2006
10:44 pm
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mamacinnamon
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February 15, 2006
10:46 pm
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mamacinnamon
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woops. It would help if I put my question down wouldn't it. lol

My question is.... When you have nightmares what are some things you can do to get past them. I am talking about recurring nightmares that will just not get out of your head. That are consuming you.

How do you get past them? How do you stop having the nightmares?

Your opinions are greatly appreciated.

February 16, 2006
2:33 am
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Worried_Dad
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Hi mamaC,

I love it when people ask about stuff I actually know something about and dont have to give advice like "abandon all hope, etc."

This one you can actually do something about. Short story: Embrace your dreams. Learn about your dreams. Remember your dreams. Talk about them.

Long version….

I was a little boy who was plagued with nightmares so bad that I couldn’t even stand to go to bed I was so scared. My parents thought I was nuts.

Over the years, I learned a few tricks that helped me feel better about my dreams and that changed the nature and quality of my dreams. Mind you, when really tough stuff happens, in real life, I still will have nightmares, but they don’t “take me out” the way the used to.

My dreams had always been plagued by evil women-monsters who were totally powerful and quite…well, they were monsters. Poor kid. Then my dreams got even worse.

I started having nightmares about the devil and going to hell. They started when I read my Mom’s book of cartoons in which a woman asks her lawyer “My husband keeps telling me to go to hell, do I have the legal right to take my children?”

Now mind you, it was not so wise for my parents to have exposed a little kid to Hell—themed religion (Baptist, Methodist) in the first place, much less have let me have access, at age 5, to an adult-themed cartoon book.

But my Dad gave me insight. He helped me understand that I started having those dreams soon after reading that book of cartoons.

Insight # 1: Our dreams can reflect what is going on in real life and reflect things that stimulate our imaginations.

Treatment # 1. My Daddy told me that when I said my prayers at night, I could ask God to spare me from having bad dreams.

Outcome: It really, worked! After that, in my bedtime prayers I always asked God to not let me have any bad dreams.

Long-term outcome: By the time I became a teenager, I observed that if I forgot to say my prayers at night, the nightmares would come. Asking God to stop the nightmares worked but did not remove the inner source of the nightmares. Still, it was very interesting that if I prayed—no bad dreams…No prayers,---bad dreams.

Insight # 2. What we think about and intend just before we go to sleep can have a powerful affect on what we dream about. I believed God was the boss of the universe and that he loved me, and he was happy to do me the little favor of protecting me from bad dreams, so it worked. Native Americans sometimes used dream catchers to do the same thing.

As I became a young adult the devil dreams faded away, and if I said my prayers, I didn’t have dreams. The bad dreams I did have became more complex, science fiction action dramas….

I was plagued by dreams of maniacal serial killers with knives and axes and sharp things breaking into my house and trying to kill me. In my dreams I always ended up trying to get out of a window or something. I read something about lucid dreaming and how we could change our dreams if only we could recognize that we were dreaming and choose to dream something else. One night, I had another home-invasion slasher dream…and I just got tired of running. I turned around and faced my pursuer and I fought with him, took away his knife and killed him with his own weapon. A few nights later I did the same thing in my dream of the axe murderer who broke into my house. After that, my years-long series of nightmares featuring knife/axe wielding maniac trying to kill me stopped. Just like that.

Insight # 3:

Sometimes, a scary dream is pointing out something that we ought to turn and fight, rather than run away from. As long as you run away, you will always be on the run. Once you have defeated an “enemy” you have done the work the dream is asking you to do and you can be done with it.

Around age 26, I had healed from religion, gone practically atheist, and through study and reading was finding a new paradigm of spirituality in Nature and Native American philosophy. When I was a kid, we used to say “Everyone is your brother, in God’s way.” My scientific studies had shown how at a very real level, that is more or less true at a biological level. All life is connected. Then I read a novel by Orson Scott Card called “Red Prophet,” which is an alternate history/fantasy that asks, what of the Messiah had come to the Indians before the civil war.

Soon after that I had an amazing dream where I was held in a prison camp under gray skies. I fashioned for myself magic wooden swim fins with articulated flappy joints, which I used to fly up and out of the prison, up, up, up and finally over the cloud cover. Suddenly, there was a brilliant blue sky above me, and the sun was so bright and so white, its light penetrating everything, including me. I was in the presence of God.

From way up high I could see a great, primordial forest—the trees were miles tall and poked up out of the clouds. I spread my arms like wings and glided down to one of the tallest trees and landed on it, clinging like a marmoset. I felt my connection with the living world, and knew that I was part of and connected to something ancient and powerful and holy.

The prison I had been in was just a tiny little illusion. I jumped from the mighty tree, spreading my arms like wings, and glided, in a spiral, down through the clouds, back into the gloomy weather, and back right into the prison yard I had just escaped from. But I was happy, and smug. Because I knew that the True World was not inside that fence and that I could leave whenever I wanted. That was the real beginning of my spiritual life as an adult.

Insight # 4:

Our dreams reflect the world outside of us, and ALSO the world inside of us. They show our worst parts and also our best parts. What we fear. What we crave and desire. What we aspire to be. Our smallest frightened child and our mighty warrior and enlightened mystic all have a part in creating our dreams.

Around age 30, I joined a “dream group.” It is kind of like a book club, but you talk about your dreams instead of books. The format of that was…..

First, notice that it is easier to remember a dream if you talk to someone about it soon after you dreamed it. It also helps a lot if you write down your dreams every day. Create a “Dream Journal.” Capture as much detail as you can, and try to note your emotional reactions….”I saw a dog and I felt afraid,” etc. Sometimes, using colored pens can help.

Then we would get together once a week for the dream group. Everyone would choose a dream to read/describe. They would then tell the group what the dream meant to them. Then the group members would offer their insights about a person’s dream. One tool that we used (not my favorite one, but it was valuable for learning) was to interpret every thing and person in the dream as part of yourself.

So if you are being chased by a wolf through a forest and trip on a tree root, the exercise is to ask “what part of you is being chased?” “What part of you is a wolf?” “What part of you is the forest, or tree root?”

The dream group really changed my relationship with my dreams. I got to hear how other people’s dreams worked, and it made dreams into more of a normal, shared experience rather than just 8 hours of psychosis that only I had to endure. I got to see how other people’s dreams resembled my own, in content, or theme, emotion. For example, dreams with sexual content seem to be common. Also, being lost, losing things, fighting. Women’s dreams seem to be longer and have more detail than men’s dreams, and featured color more often.

And my dream began to change, and how I thought and felt about my dreams changed. I would still have outlandish or even violent dreams, but when I woke up, it wasn’t with an experience of horror, or terror, but more one of “This is amazing, I can’t wait to tell someone about this.” I didn’t have a real “nightmare” for more than ten years after that.

After that, I began choosing to shape my dreams consciously. It was kind of like the prayers for no bad dreams, but more intentional. One dream that kept bugging me was of a giant, angry red haired woman chasing me and trying to kill me. She was a GIANT and I knew that if she caught me, she would kill me.

One day, I got tired of running. Instead, I turned around and hugged and kissed and made love with the murderous, red haired giantess who was chasing me. She instantly transformed into a soft, vulnerable, loving red-haired giantess, and our love making was truly a tender act of love and reconciliation. I never dreamed of her again after that.

Insight # 5:

Sometimes a scary dream is trying to show us that something we are running from, or maybe a part of ourselves that we are alienated from, is actually a part of ourselves that we should stop running from, but instead face and embrace and love. The red haired giantess was chasing me because she wanted to be united with me….And COOSING to respond differently to her instantly changed the quality of the dream, and eliminated the “need” for that dream.

I still wondered about the “woman-monster” dreams that had plagued me in early childhood, and I asked my mother if she had any idea. My mom told me that she and Dad had left me with a really bad nanny for a few days or a week when I was little, and that when they got back, something really, really, horrible had happened….and soon after that, I started having the woman-monster dreams. I cried for weeks after my mom told me that. But then I felt better.

Insight # 6:

Our dreams contain reflect experiences, thoughts, and feelings that we may not be conscious of, sometimes about events that we don’t even remember. If we can discover the events, become conscious of the thoughts and feelings driving specific dreams, we resolve the “problem” posed by the dreams.

Well, there are a couple more, but hopefully I have piqued your interest. I recommend that you make friends with your dreams, and harness the power they contain.

February 16, 2006
6:47 am
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hbdude2k
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you can go to dreammoods.com to inturpt your dreams. Its really cool to find out what your dreams mean. It looks like worried-dad has some great advice. I had no idea nightmares got to some people like that. good luck....

February 16, 2006
8:12 am
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mamacinnamon
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Thank you WD for the insight. Have missed you here and hope you are well.

Hbdude: Thanks for the site. I'll check this out.

The dreams are being had by a child. This child was molested by a family member; member is now in jail. She has one recurrent dream in her sleep, but is also having what she calls dreams when she is awake; about this family member trying to get her.

We have done music on when we go to sleep; light in the bathroom left on so the room is not dark; praying to God to take the dreams away; redirecting the thoughts to something else; removing anything from her room that might remind her of the person.

We are hopeful to have the child into counseling soon, but not sure when that will happen.

Again, thanks for the insignt to you both. I welcome any additional information you or anyone has to offer.

🙂

February 16, 2006
9:09 am
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hbdude2k
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Good luck mama....I will check back with you in a month to see how things are going for you....I would love to know what you will be doing for the nightmares.....

February 16, 2006
5:34 pm
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mamacinnamon
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Hbdude:

Thanks. I am hoping she is in counseling next week.

February 17, 2006
4:39 am
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das033
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wow! worried dad, I liked the way you broke that down. Very well done!
very well understood!

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