Nikkis Nature

A Place For Sharing Holistic and Healing Insights


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The Reality of Dreams

Last week I was explaining to a client how realistic dreams are to us when you really think about it.  In fact, I told her that they are simply different realities that you get to experience.  We discussed the fact that measured brain waves in REM sleep have been shown to look the same as waking brain waves, with the exception of those in charge of the full levels of arousal.  In other words, if you are running in your sleep, you get to experience the sensations of running fully, as though you had done it in physical reality.  (Sadly, though, because your muscles were not actually moving your body into running, we can’t wake up skinnier and get our workouts completed during the middle of the night!)  Anyway, that very night, with this conversation fresh in my mind, I was dreaming of driving my car.  In the dream I drive up a hill that leads to a bridge and as I am about to drive over the bridge I notice that the middle of it is missing, and if I drive straight ahead on my current path, I would plummet through to the water below.  At that point of realization, I become lucid, meaning I realize fully that I am dreaming.  I know that in this state I am actually laying in my bed, but am consciously still in the dream scene, and have full control of the scenario.  With the knew confidence brought about by becoming fully conscious of both realities, I artfully tilt the car over to the right so that I’m driving only on the two passenger side wheels, scraping along the small ledge that exists at the bottom of the bridge’s outer wall.  After crossing successfully, I remember the conversation with dreams that I had with my client about experiencing sensation fully in a very real way.  I decide to test this so that I can get more evidence to support this information that I am telling people.  I now choose to see the road as a roller coaster and the car as the roller coaster cart.  As I come off of the bridge I imagine that I’m just cresting over the highest point of the coaster track, about to go down that steep, steep, rushing section of the ride that gives you the biggest lurch in your gut.  I purposely want to find out how fully I experience that group of sensations.  As the cart starts to speed down, I feel it all.  My stomach heaves, I feel the complete combination of thrill, exhilaration and letting go that is so familiar with this activity, right along with the rushing wind in my  hair, the difficulty in keeping my eyes fully open at that speed, and the clenching of my grip on the metal bar across my waist.  I feel every one of these sensations, with all of the accompanying emotions, knowing that I’m actually laying in bed.  Right after the cart levels out, I feel so satisfied with my findings that I decide to wake up so I can go write this down.  I was thrilled with my ability to carry out the experiment before I lost hold of the lucidity of the dream.  But mostly I was thrilled to be able to continue to relate with confidence that everything you’ve done in your dreams, you have experienced fully, and that is therefore an integral part of who you are.  You should be amazed and inspired by the times you have flown, jumped, swam, survived fearful situations, helped others, traveled to unknown settings, communicated with animals…. all of it.  There is much more to be learned from every single one of those experiences, but I hope at least that you realize that this is not the only reality in which you exist.  If this intrigues you, feel free to contact me anytime to join in a personal or group dream work session…. you will be glad you did!  Wishing your brightest dreams come true,

Nikki

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Meditation and Dreaming

Meditation and dreaming are two of my all-time favorite pastimes!  I recently read a study that showed a correlation  between people who meditate daily and increased frequency of dream recall over those who did not meditate.  I love this thought, and think it is wonderful, and here is why.  We know already of other studies that are showing that meditation has all kinds of other health benefits such as trends toward lowered blood pressure, lower stress, lower anxiety and more.  We also know that there is actual evidence of improved brain matter in those meditate over those who don’t.  Remembering all of this reminds me that this is another tally mark in the column of dreams being important to our health.  If meditation brings about an increased awareness of our dreams, and meditation actually improves the structure and function of our gray matter, then it may be true that the sharper, more aware mind is the one that is able to access and use dream images.  There was also a study done that showed that people who meditated were more likely to have universal archetypal images appear regularly in dreams moreso than those who didn’t.  The people that did not have a mediation practice were more likely to have images from the course of the day appear, instead of deeper, more universally meaningful symbols.  The bottom line for me is that practicing meditation helps me to hone a sharper, more aware mind, and so does my practice of dreaming.  I call it a practice because my dream life involves setting intentions for my dreams at night, writing down all of the dreams that I remember, and acting upon the images from my dreams throughout my life as I am able.  I know that this practice has sharpened my mind as I see my memory improving, and I have been able to have an ongoing sharpened sense of awareness related to life’s synchronicities.

I have been able to gain innate “knowings” from dream images that formerly in my life I might have dismissed as nonsensical or confusing.  My dreams have become like the tarot deck of my self, clearly standing for specific approaches and providing guidance that I don’t even know how to ask for.  Also, just as some of my best creative ideas and inspirations have come to me during moments of clear meditation, my dreams seem to be a limitless source of creative images and forces.  Both meditation and dreams help me to find clarity and groundedness in my self, through different approaches.  I was taught that more dreams than we realize are actually precognitive dreams, and I have found this to be completely true.  Some dreams may show us the literal future, but oftentimes a dream show us the future symbolically, through metaphor, or through clues or parallels.  I will give an example of this in my dream life.  In my dream, I’m walking along a high cement curb, and I’m behind my mother, trying to catch up because I feel she is going to try to do something unsafe.  I see her get ready to jump off of an edge, and yell “No, Mom!  You’ll get hurt!”  I catch up to her, and she stops what she was doing.

This was the entry in my dream journal that I entered upon waking up.  That same day, I went to work where I am a physical therapist for primarily geriatric patients in a skilled nursing facility.  As I write patient notes at the nursing station I am alerted to the fact that one of our confused elderly ladies has uncharacteristically wandered outside into the cold, wet morning.  No one is around at the moment with me, so I rush outside to catch up with her.  I sprint across the lot, call out her name telling her to stop, and get to her just before she is about to stumble off of a high, rounded cement curb, from which she would not have been able to keep her balance.  Now-  obviously the woman who was about to risk falling on the cement in my waking life was not my mother, but my dream created a parallel scene with a character who is not only familiar to me, but completely worth saving.  There is no way of knowing if I would have been as prepared or acted as quickly if I had not had the dream the night before, but it certainly is an inspiring thought to think that that may be the case.

I have had many other dreams that seem to reflect near future events, as well as many dreams that provide me with insight and guidance for life in general.  I have honed the ability to remember my dreams and to understand them through practice and sharpening of the mind, and this has gone hand in hand with my meditation practice.  Now, you certainly don’t have to have a formal meditation practice in order to get better at remembering and benefiting from your dreams, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

If you haven’t already heard, I am studying dreams as part of my thesis project for my Masters degree program.  I am discovering wonderful correlations between dream recall and other aspects of life, specifically personal connection to nature, and to the amount of value placed on dreaming.  If you haven’t already taken my survey, please do so by clicking on my survey monkey link.  The questionnaire takes two minutes, is multiple choice and anonymous.  This material (if you couldn’t already tell) is important to me, and I hope to help bring the importance of dreaming back to a higher priority in my  community.  Consider your dreams, and as always, I am open to any discussions or questions you might want to bring up!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/dreaming

 

Thank  you for your time and consideration-  pleasant dreams!


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Getting Back In Touch With Your Dreams

Well!  It sure has been a while since I have written an article here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing.  Graduate school work has been steadily increasing and now it is time to dive into thesis work, so it’s not going to slow down anytime soon.  I wanted to talk just a bit about dreams, because although dreams are a topic in which I have always had interest, I never used to contemplate them as a means of health and healing.  As my studies have continued to deepen I have come to believe that our dreams are a reflection of our connection to nature, and since I also believe that our health is a reflection of our connection to nature, it is also true that I believe that dreams are a way of working with our health and discovering greater meaning in the self.  For the past couple of months I have been pretty intensely focused on reading literature on dreams and beginning a search of dream studies to help me with my thesis project.  I have been journaling my dreams daily, and what has happened is pretty incredible.  Before I began with this focus, I would guess that I remembered a dream or two per week.  Not too shabby considering that many people rarely remember anything from their dreams, but anyway, that was my status quo.  Since I have taken on dream work as a personal and professional project, I am waking up each morning remembering three or four long, vivid dreams each morning, filled with symbols and characters and plots of great interest.  I have been making an effort to share dreams with others, and been learning to do so in an effective way.  I have also been learning how to reenter a dream while waking in order to gain more information or insight.

My point in relaying all of this is that I hope to play a small part in helping people to rediscover the importance of paying attention to dreams.  Every ancient culture, and many current non-Western cultures do this, but I think this is the time to cultivate inner practices once again.  Dreaming is one of many ways of exploring the inner self without having to set aside special time for meditation.  We all have to sleep at some point!  I encourage you to take note of your dreams, and I would be happy to be available to discuss them with anyone who is willing to share!  Now, if you are currently saying to yourself that you can’t do this because you rarely remember your dreams, I will suggest a few tips to help begin to bring awareness back to your dreaming life.  The first thing is to make an effort to consciously tell yourself before you fall asleep that you have the intention to remember your dreams.  Another important thing is that it is much easier to recall dreams when you awaken spontaneously than when you are jerked awake by your alarm clock.  Now, most of us can’t get by in today’s world without that alarm to get us where we need to be in the morning, but here is what I have done that has worked really well.  I have stopped using the buzzing alarm on my clock, and switched to using a different tone through my cell phone.  It’s on the charger near my bed every night anyway.  It has an alarm that starts off almost inaudibly, and then very gradually increases in volume until it is loud enough to wake me up.  I’ve found that the gradual increase in sound doesn’t jerk me awake like my old alarm, and I can remember much more from the last dream this way.  (My husband is also a huge fan, as he sleeps later than I do, and is now not awakened unnecessarily by my alarm!)  The other beginning tip, which I’m sure you’ve heard before, is to keep a pen and journal by the bed so that you can write down any important dream details while you are still aware of them.  If you don’t do this, the dream may quickly fade, as most do.  As my advisor at school says it can be like “trying to nail jello to a wall”, this business of recalling dreams.  So, do try to see if you can start recalling them.  Write them down, and don’t worry if they are strange and nonsensical, or even scary.  This is the beginning of a great path to deeper personal discovery that you may be able to benefit greatly from.  Again, I am going to be working with dreams closely from now on, and would love to hear yours.  You can share them here as a forum, or feel free to email me privately for personal consultation and discussion.  I feel that dreams are not just a tool for psychoanalysis, but that they give us messages about our health and how to proceed with our day and even our life.  I also feel that many more dreams are precognitive than you might think, and I will write about how to look at this in a future article.  As always, I love feedback and hope to hear from you.  Sweet dreams!