Dreams can feel memorising and strange at the best of times, riddled with messages that feel familiar yet obscure – and then there are nightmares. Frightening occurrences which can leave us with echoes in our heart for the rest of our day.
Nightmares can occur for anyone, and actually having a nightmare after a difficult or traumatic experience is often a sign of a healing mind. So how do our nightmares serve us and what are these intriguing and terrifying nocturnal occurrence trying to tell us?
Dream scientists and experts agree that nightmares are often an indication that there’s something unacknowledged or unresolved that requires attention. However, it can be quite enlightening to learn that nightmares and anxiety dreams too, are indications of potential too.
More often than not, negative dreams are signalling towards change and opportunities for growth in the dreamer. You see, a nightmare is actually a dream that is shouting: “Psst (yes, you) look at me, I’ve got something to tell you!”.
It’s reassuring to know that a nightmare is actually just a message from our unconscious minds. The mind uses frightening themes in our dreams to simply get our attention so that we will in turn take a closer look at the theme or issue the dream is flagging, and address it in our waking life. Once we realise that, nightmares may begin to feel less troubling.
The alchemy of troubling dreams
When we experience nightmares, it’s a signal for potential and often where an alchemy can take place, a shift in energetic potential. However, if left ignored, these dreams will continue in some shape or form until they are dealt with.
So if we listen to and then integrate these dreams, we can free up creative possibilities within our minds. This simple act of listening and integration will lead the dreamer to feel lighter energetically, as though there’s a weight been lifted – that’s because we’ve effectively done some spring cleaning, and created space.
Our nightmares are there to help us, they’re a helping hand, a guide and signal of how we can grow. By simply having an attentive heart and paying attention to our dreams, we can begin to see what they are trying to tell us and start to connect more with our inner nocturnal world.
Four ways to work with nightmares
Talk about them: Describe them to a loved one as soon as you wake or tell a friend or your therapist. Talking about your nightmares and dreams out loud can often offer new insights and you may remember more, enabling you to join the dots and take any needed action.
Keep a nocturnal journal: The act of writing down our dreams and nightmares integrates the experience and acknowledges the dream. Also, from recording your dreams, you may start to notice patterns, themes and things these recurring dreams share in common. Again, helping you to piece together a fuller picture.
Try some free-writing: Write for 15 minutes, unedited, about your nightmare. If this feels too challenging, take a break and revisit at another point. Start by making a list of all the aspects that occurred in these dreams and notice any emotions other than fear. And just, write. See what reveals itself.
Rewrite the ending: Try writing the ending you desire. For example, if you keep dreaming of losing a loved one in a crowded street. Write a different ending, one where you find your loved one. Perhaps even try dialoguing with the loved one – ask him or her what they need.
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