Q&A: A Halloween Guide to Nightmares (and why they are treats, not tricks, from the dreamworld)
Q: Actually, I’m glad I don’t remember my dreams. The ones I do remember scare me. Why should I bother to try to have more of them, let alone pay attention to them?
A: If you are leery of scary dreams, you are not alone. But what better time to confront this issue than now, at Halloween, when even awake we are faced with skeletons, ghosts, and ghouls.
I am not going to try to reassure you and convince you that all dreams are blissful and harmonious. The dreamworld is not all unicorns and rainbows, after all. This is one reason that bedtime rituals have historically included prayers and lullabies. These customs remind us that entering sleep is serious business. Eyes closed and physical senses dulled, our bodies are vulnerable, and our dreaming minds and spirits perhaps more so. We never know what we will meet when we close our eyes and drift into sleep.
From time to time you will likely encounter dreams that cause you to sit up in bed, heart racing and breathless, and reach for the light—both literally and figuratively.
You may want to splash some cold water on your face, reassure yourself it was “only a dream” and go back to sleep—and that’s fine. But dismissing these dreams altogether is a lost opportunity.
Nightmares are your soul’s way of waking you to some important truth. Sometimes they contain a warning, and often they are trying to help you see something you are avoiding acknowledging in waking life. If you can muster the courage to pay attention to the dream, discuss it with a friend or therapist who appreciates the significance of dreams (whether or not they are a so-called dream expert) you will likely find the gift in the nightmare that makes the chilling fear you woke with in the wee hours worth having endured.
Here are some tips for coping with nightmares:
- Say your prayers: You don’t have to be religious to create a bedtime ritual that includes expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life and asking for protection and divine guidance as you enter the realm of dreams. Set an intention that your night’s dreams will come in the service of love and healing.
- Wake up in your dream: If you have a nightmare and become lucid enough to think, “This is a dream, I am going to wake myself up,” try instead to turn and face the scary elements in your dream (beasts, attackers, pursuers). Announce to your dream characters that you are armed with Divine Love, and request that they tell you what message they have for you. You might be surprised at how helpful these menacing creatures become.
- Arm yourself with Love: If you have a nightmare and wake up without becoming lucid, use journaling or a guided meditation to take the steps suggested in #2 above: First arm yourself with Divine Love (imagine you are draped in a cloak of Love, state that you choose Love, or use any other symbol of perfect Love to bring with you into your waking dream), then face your nightmare and ask who or what those scary creatures are and what they have come to tell you.
- Who (or what) is chasing you: If you have a dream that you are being chased, ask yourself what is pursuing you that you are fleeing from in waking life. The answer might be an emotion you’re avoiding dealing with, a relationship issue you are neglecting to confront, etc.
- Dreams of death: If you dream that someone is trying to kill you, or that someone is dying or being killed, ask yourself what part of yourself is ready to “die” or be released. Remember, dreams of death and dying are rarely literal, as dreams speak in symbol and metaphor most of the time. However, if you sense that the warning that comes to you in a dream is literal and real—by all means, check it out! You are ultimately the most trustworthy expert when it comes to your own dreams. Dreams work on many levels, and it’s wise to consider all of the possible meanings and messages.
So, this Halloween, I hope you will reconsider those scary dreams. It’s possible (actually it’s probable) that they have come to wake you up to important truths that will help you live a more joyous and loving live.
Happy Halloween dreamers!
If you’ve had a nightmare (or any dream that piques your interest and curiosity) and if you want to explore its messages or meanings contact me for a dream consultation. Say you read this post and get a Halloween discount of 10% off your dreamwork session!