Q&A: Drinking and Dreaming … Do They Mix? (CV*)

Tzivia:

Over some glasses of Chardonnay and a beautiful farm-to-table vegetarian dinner last night, one of my dinner guests once again asked if the wine would impact his dreams. So, I guess it’s time to repost this Q&A from the S’News Archives. And my Q to you, Dear Dreamers … How does a nightcap affect your dreams?

Originally posted on All the Snooze That's Fit to Print:

English: A glass of port wine. Français : Un v...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Q: I like to have a glass or two of red wine in the evenings, but I’ve heard that alcohol can affect your dreams. Is that true?

A: In a word, yes. Drinking wine before bed is likely to affect your dreams. But is this good or bad, and should you change  your drinking habits because of it? I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Common wisdom says that drinking wine at night may relax you and help you fall asleep, but it negatively impacts the quality of sleep overall by causing you to wake in the middle of the night and have trouble returning to sleep.

This is obviously problematic in terms of getting a full and deep night’s rest, but it can also negatively impact your dream life. Here’s why:

During the course of the night we move through various sleep cycles, one…

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Q&A: Bad Dreams? Good News.

Q: I follow you on Facebook and am interested in joining one of your dream groups. The timing is especially good because I’m going through a big change. My husband recently moved out after over twenty years of marriage, and I think it would be good for me to join a group. Here’s the problem, though: I only have bad dreams. Why would I want to sit around and talk about them?

Signed,

Bad News Dreams

A: Dear Bad News,

I truly empathize with your situation. Well, half of it anyway. You see, some six years ago, my partner of nearly 20 years moved out, just after my daughter went away to college.  I was blindsided by all of the changes … well, I knew my daughter would be going to college, but everything else knocked me off my feet. I knew my partner and I had problems, but I thought we could work through them together. Even more, I was totally unprepared for the emotional pain that the breakup unleashed in me. I’ve always been a strong, independent woman, but now I was reduced to seemingly unending tears. And yes, I had my share of disturbing dreams, too.

However, unlike you, Bad News, I’d long ago learned that my bad dreams were really good news. You see, awake we can distract ourselves with Netflix, Facebook, outings to the mall and back issues of the New Yorker. But asleep and dreaming, it’s just us and – well us. Those nightmares show us what we might be shutting out during the day. I knew if I looked mine in the eyes, they’d reveal what I needed to see. I knew, too, that unless I did, I’d get the bad news in more bad dreams, over and over, until I finally relented and paid attention.

This is kind of a tough sell, I know, but I want to sell you on it. Not because I want to sell you on a dream workshop, but because I’ve stood where you’re standing now—and my dreams showed up for me like a best best friend who’s not afraid to call me out on my denial, my bravado, or my bad behavior; a friend who, with all the love in her heart, will tell me what I don’t want to hear.

So, when I received your question, I wondered how I could convince you of the merit of looking into those dark dreams in a group of supportive others. I thought I could tell you what my therapist told me: “The only way out is through.” But I so much hated it when my therapist told me that that, that I figured you’d hate it too. Then I thought of all kinds of profound stories I could tell you to drive home my point. And then I thought, just tell her the dream.

So here it is — a dream  I had when I was in the depths of my despair after my breakup:

I am stranded at the side of a highway in the middle of the night beside an abandoned tollbooth. My car is gone. I’m all alone.

Then, I hear a disembodied voice telling me to look up to the sky. But I see only black emptiness above.

Look closely, I’m told. All I see is darkness.

Keep looking, the voice instructs.

Little by little I make out the tiniest pinpricks of starlight.

Finally, those little hints of light increase until before I know it the lights are intensifying and magnifying.

Now I am looking up into the most beautiful display of light; a combination of fireworks and falling stars all mixed up with a sense of cosmic celebration.

And wouldn’t you know it, I woke up feeling happy.

Happy, not because my situation had changed, but because now I understood: There’s no way, out, I realized, except (well, yes, my therapist was right after all) through.

I had to stand in the dark and look directly into the biggest scariest void in the universe (that void was in my heart, not the sky, you understand). It wouldn’t happen all at once, or even according to my timeline, but eventually I’d be happy. Truly happy. Maybe again. Maybe for the first time.

That’s what we do with our dreams, Bad News, we look them in the eye–even if it’s the eye of a Cyclops, or the eye of a raging storm. We squint till we find the pinprick of light in that anxious or scary or terrifying darkness. And you know what? It’s always there: a glimmer of hope that, if we let it, eventually grows into a light show that dazzles even the most frightened heart.

So, why would you want to sit around and talk about your bad dream? Because your bad dream, Bad News, joins someone else’s bliss dream, and someone else’s crazy repeating dream about mail stacking up on the stoop of her childhood house (oh, that one’s mine … well, anyway), and we put them all in the circle and we find our way through to the healing seed that’s in the center of each one. And then that seed grows.

Got it? I hope so. ’Cause we’re saving a seat for you.

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

For another take on nightmares, click here.

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Q&A: Help … I See Dead People – In My Dreams

Q: What is the significance of dreaming about someone who has died?

Signed,

Mourning Dreams

 

A: Dear Mourning,

Back when I was 21, I woke from a dream that my Grandpa George was standing in front of a bank of elevators wearing the same rumpled trench coat he wore the last time I saw him. He was upset and asking me for help.

I sat up in a bed I’d built myself, in the second-floor apartment of a drafty old farmhouse in the college town where I still live. Back then I worked part-time in a Greek bakery and was finishing my undergraduate degree. In my spare time I rode on the back of someone’s motorcycle looking for the next adventure. In short: helping the people who I still thought of in that lofty category of “adult” was the last thing on my mind. And helping an adult who was, well, dead? Honestly, I wasn’t interested.

But in the few months since I’d stood beside my father at my grandfather’s grave as my relatives took turns shoveling dirt over his plain pine coffin, I had seen Grandpa George several times. In each dream he was disturbed, disheveled, and asking me for help.

The dreams become frequent and frightening enough that I mentioned them to a friend who suggested I speak to a medium. I needed help from the world beyond, she told me.

As a child, I’d had séances and worked the Ouija board with my friends until we were too scared to sleep. I thought I’d outgrown all that. And anyway, I couldn’t figure out why, if he needed help in the Great Beyond, my grandfather would be picking on me—rather than his wife, his two adult children, or one of his four grandchildren who’d recently graduated college. I decided that Grandpa’s spirit must have gone around to each of us while we slept, trying to get our attention. And I, the last in line, must have somehow left my dreaming mind’s door ajar. And in he came.

Grandpa’s visitations upset me in part because they revealed that my dreams were not just my own creations. Not to mention that they were inconvenient—and costly to boot. If I were to follow my friend’s advice and see a psychic medium, I’d need forty dollars to pay the fee. On my minimum wage salary, that seemed a princely sum.

The money, it turned out, was well spent. The medium found a spirit helper to work with my grandfather, and after that I didn’t see him in my dreams for some time. When he appeared again he was back to his cheerful, tidy old self.

My grandmother died some years later. She visits me in my dreams, too. The last time she was standing at the edge of a golf course; short, hunch-shouldered, and smiling broadly, just as I remembered her—except now she was wearing a loud pink pantsuit and a pair of over-sized black sunglasses that made her look like a comedienne from a late-night spoof. But she has never asked anything of me.

Older now, and wiser myself, I wouldn’t mind a bit, even if she did.

Yes, yes, I’ve done it again. I’ve gone on and on about me and have offered so little to you. But that’s okay, because you knew the answer to your question before you even wrote it down.

You see, Dear Mourning, you already know, as I do, that our dreams of deceased relatives and friends are worthy of our attention. Sometimes they offer comfort; sometimes they reignite our longing. They can be an opportunity to tie up loose ends or an invitation to remember and reminisce. Sometimes they are no more complicated than a cup of tea with an old pal. Other times, action is required.

You know you don’t need to interpret these dreams, but simply to experience them, and to continue to love—or learn to love—those who have left this world.

So how can I help? I can give you permission to believe what you already know about your dreams.

Permission granted.

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

Have a Dream Question? Send it along! I’d love to hear from you.

 

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Q&A: So many dreams … so little time …

Q: I know it’s important to write down one’s dreams, but I have so many each night that writing them all down feels like a part-time job. Help!

Signed,

Time Crunched

 

A: Dear Crunched,

Back when I was in my late 20s I worked as a reporter for a regional newspaper. One day our company sponsored a health fair during which representatives from a local hospital took over a couple of the administrative offices. Each of us in turn was called inside where we were pinched with pincers to measure our body fat, had our blood pressure taken, height and weight checked, and were asked a series of questions about our diet and lifestyle. In return we received a report containing recommendations for improving our health. All this in the name of preventative medicine—and, I’m sure, keeping down our group’s insurance rates.

In any case, after being poked and prodded each of us returned to our desk with a dot-matrix printout containing our health profile. One at a time reporters returned to their desks grumbling about being told they had to cut out their morning doughnuts, or cigarettes, and take up walking or table tennis to help them shed a few pounds. When I returned to my desk, I adopted the same exasperated tone as my weary co-workers and announced that according to my health profile my cholesterol levels and weight were too low and I needed to add more butter and eggs to my diet.

Let’s just say I was not the most popular employee on that particular day.

And so, Dear Time Crunched, all those frustrated dreamers out there in the blogosphere who dutifully place pen and notebook by their beds but either sleep poorly and so can’t catch a dream, or wake too quickly to remember much of anything, are just now taking up their tiniest violins to play for you. Wouldn’t they like to have your problem (and mine too, by the way): So many dreams, so little time, as they say. (I believe my grandmother had that catchy phrase stitched onto a needlepoint pillow on her fainting couch … oh, no, on second thought hers said, “So many men, so little time.” But I digress.)

Fear not, My Dear, you have come to the right place. I shall pull myself up to my full Size 4 Stature and stand up for you. Yes, this embarrassment of dream riches is indeed a problem that must be contended with.

Here’s what you can do so you can keep up with your dreams, and still get to work on time, do the dishes, and fit in an hour of wholesome Public Television in the evening:

  • Invoke the 5-Minute Rule: When it’s time to record your dreams, set a timer for five minutes and write what you can before the chime sounds. Imposing time pressure will force you to choose the dreams or images that are most interesting or meaningful to you. Focus on those.
  • Headlining: Consider each dream and give it a headline. List those, and leave the dream details for another time.
  • Night notes: Rather than record your dreams first thing in the morning, wait till bedtime. Time acts as an effective filter, and by nightfall you’ll only remember the most salient dream scenarios and the most important details.
  • In dreams we trust: Sometimes we worry that if we record dreams selectively—we’ll select the wrong ones and miss out on some gem of dream wisdom. Trust that your dreams are gentler and more forgiving than that. If there’s anything important that you’ve missed, it’ll come back around in another dream, another night.

Now that I’ve helped you manage your dreamtime, I hope you’ll dream up some fabulous new activity to keep you busy during those extra hours in the morning. Table tennis anyone?

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

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Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science Confirm The Healing Power of Dreams

“An unremembered dream is like an unopened letter from God.”

The average person dreams from four to seven times every night. That means that by the age of 80, they will have had between 116,800 and 204,400 dreams. However, most people are confused and mystified by their dreams, and as a result they largely ignore them. When asked why they don’t pay attention to their dreams, many say dreams are too complicated to understand, or that most of their dreams are nonsensical at best and disturbing at worst.

But while dreams may have fallen out of favor in modern Western cultures, people around the world have long known that dreams can help them in down-to-earth, practical matters. In fact, an ancient quote posits that, “An unremembered dream is like an unopened letter from God.”

This traditional wisdom, is now backed by scientific research. Dreams have been shown to help with everything from emotional regulation to increased creativity. And studies show that working with dreams in a therapeutic environment can help people gain insight into problems and issues as well as heal from the loss of a loved one, or recurring nightmares caused by trauma.

In addition, dreamwork promotes concrete, positive changes based on deep understanding of the dream. People from all walks of life, from artists to scientists, have credited dreams with major inspirations and breakthroughs. And everyday people regularly receive guidance about physical health, interpersonal relationships, professional problems, and more through working with their dreams.

As a Certified Dream Therapist and as an individual who has benefited greatly from my dreams for years, I am passionate about helping others learn to listen to and understand their dreams. Toward that end, I am offering discounted dreamwork sessions (in person, by phone or Skype) all summer long, as well as a new ongoing “Listening to Dreams” workshop series that begins on Aug. 20th. For information on individual dreamwork consultations or workshops, please visit me at CLINIC Alternative Medicines or view my web site http://www.thirdhousemoon.com.

 

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Q&A: Working to Understand Dreams

Q: Do you have any suggestions for how I can work to better understand the messages contained within my dreams?

Signed,

Seeking Understanding

A: Dear Seeking,

Did you know that in my other life I’m a poetry teacher? Yes, I teach teen mothers, and other young adults and adults in literacy programs. My students have had a wide range of educational experiences—well, not such a wide range, really. Their experiences range along a narrow band of really bad encounters with the public school system. They have a great deal of trouble spelling some of the most basic vocabulary words, like through and maybe, and knee. And it’s my job to introduce them to the works of Rosetti and Whitman, Plath, and Poe.

I had no formal training in how to be a teacher when I first set foot in a classroom, so I stood clutching my folder of poems before a room full of teens whose babies were downstairs in the daycare, or whose pregnant bellies peeked out from of the unbuttoned waistbands of their jeans.

I decided right away to skip the whole “what do does this poem mean?” discussion. Shakespeare’s “wandering bark,” Dickinson’s “mechanical feet” going round on their “wooden way” were baffling to my students—as they were to me the first several times I read them. Instead I asked: “What does this poem make you feel?” and then “Oh, really? What in the poem makes you feel that way?” After a while I might press further: “Any idea why someone would have written about all this stuff?”

Oh, but you were asking about how to work with the messages in your dreams, right? I guess it was that word work that got me thinking about teaching, because that’s technically what I do for work. And work is hard and I don’t want to work, I want time to play and experience life. And I definitely don’t want poetry to turn into work. Poetry is mystical and mysterious and beautiful and totally accessible as long as no one asks me what it means and as long as I don’t ask anyone what it means.

So, to answer your question, Dear Seeker: Put your feet up, get yourself a drink with a paper umbrella in it. Stop working so hard. A dream isn’t something to decipher like a message tapped out in Morse Code; it’s the creative musings of your inner poet wooing you with sweet somethings.

But you want to know what it’s saying? So, listen.

Z Tell someone your dream. Your cat will do if there’s no one else around, and if there is no cat, talk your dream into the voice recorder on your phone. Let the images, the colors, the quality of the light, and the sense of movement in the dream wash over you. Notice how you feel. Which parts make you anxious? Which parts make you sigh? Where in your body do you feel it? Let yourself sink into a state of wonder. Allow your curiosity to be piqued. Marvel at the view.

Z Write the dream down, slowly. That’s another way to listen deeply. Grab some color pencils or crayons and sketch it. Wait for the message to unfurl like a morning glory opening to the sun.

Z That might be enough …. but if not … go ahead and dive into each image. Associate and amplify to your heart’s content.

 Z Find a dream group or a dream therapist. (Okay, that’s a little shameless self-promotion there, but a dream therapist has to eat, too, right?).

Z And since I am, after all, a poetry teacher…why not try writing a poem from your dream. You can find instructions elsewhere on this blog by clicking here.

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

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Q&A: Help for the Forgetful Dreamer

Q: I have a hard time remembering my dreams (I usually remember the nightmares). What can I do to help myself remember my dreams? I might remember part, but it gets foggy within seconds after waking.

Signed,

Forgetful

 

A: Dear Forgetful,

I am a woman of a certain age—No, I’m not being coy, I’d tell you my age, it’s just that I can’t remember it.

But seriously. I am at a time of life when I forget a lot of things in my waking life: Where did I put my keys? My glasses? Oh, is that them on top of my head? The dreams however—those I remember.

So, that’s a little pep talk for you, dear Forgetful One: If I can remember dreams, you can too. It’s also my way of opening this conversation up a bit. In waking life we accept that we remember some things and forget others. But when it comes to dreams, we more or less expect to forget. Scientists tell us that low dream recall is the norm because the brain chemicals that support short-term memory recall are tamped down when we’re dreaming. But there must be more to it than that. After all, in cultures that value dreams, people remember dreams on a regular basis—the way we some of us remember the batting averages of every Red Sox player that ever lived, or lines from favorite movies or songs we haven’t danced to since the days of three-piece white suits and disco balls.

My point is this: In our cultures where dreams are considered bizarre or random occurrences void of meaning, guess what—the general population tends not to remember them.

As for you, my dear Forgetful One, you do remember some dreams. You remember the scary ones. No surprise! When dreams really want to get our attention, they deliver something we’re not likely to forget: Breathless chases, sharp-fanged dogs, and terrifying falls from high mountain passes—no wonder some people don’t want to remember their dreams.

So, kudos to you for wanting to recall more of them, despite the fact that the opening sallies have been a bit disturbing. So, how to remember more dreams? That is indeed the question.

For starters, do exactly what you are doing. Taking a genuine interest in your dreams is an important first step. And that means taking an interest in all of your dreams, not just the ones that include blissful flights over emerald green tree tops.

One way to show your dreams that you are paying attention is this: Put a pen and pad by your bed (or your smart phone with the record function ready to go) and record your intention to recall your dreams before bed. Write it down: “Tonight I will dream and remember my dreams in the morning.” Then write down something in your notebook when you wake. Do this for a week or more, and that should get the dreams flowing.

But here’s the thing … you need to welcome all comers. If you get anxious dreams, scary dreams, or seemingly random and bizarre dreams, snippets, sounds … whatever, write them down.

Dreams sometimes behave like teenagers, you see. They test you with their moods, and ugly outbursts—but if you stick with them and let them know you’re listening and honoring all of who they are, they’ll start to share the wise, warm, and loveable souls that dwell deep inside as well. And anyone who’s raised or taught a teen, knows that it’s well worth getting past the nightmare moments to get to the dreamy depths of who they really are.

As for that morning fog, yes, for most people if we don’t grab those dream memories before our feet hit the floor they’re lost forever. So, remember that notebook you’ve placed by the side of your bed? Grab it before you roll over and kiss your sweetie good morning, before you check the time, or get up to pee. Write down whatever you’ve got, and then get going.

I hope this helps clear a little of that dreamy fog away, so you can step onto the Royal Road to your unconscious. & do keep me posted.

In the meantime, may you be well and dream well.

TZ…

…ZZZzzZZZzzzz…

Visit me at Third House Moon for more information about dreams and dreaming.

P.S. You may also enjoy this post about Forgotten Dreams

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