This article was originally published at Provokator Magazine, April 2008, Prague.
There are three types of dreams experienced by human beings. The first are otherwise known as the desires or great goals that will complete our lives if we follow them through. The second and third type of dreams happen while we sleep: the “junk” dreams that are the vestiges of our daily lives and experiences being processed and discarded, and the “healing” dreams that are messages from a (sometimes) mysterious place that are guides to lead you forward on your spiritual path. Certainly, the latter two could use some further explaining.
One of the more controversial figures of dream theory is the psychiatrist Karl Jung, the first Western man in history to actually encourage his patients to take note of their dreams. He knew very well that, and was inspired by, indigenous and tribal peoples from around the world used dreams as tools for a number of different means to ends. However, he (and they) have made it clear that not all dreams have the same function in our lives and our dreams are very personal experiences that need to be explored on a case by case basis.
The so-called “junk” dreams are those that leave your mind immediately upon waking. You may remember you dreamed during the night, but the details and feelings are wholly absent. These dreams are useful for processing the events of the day and letting go of them. We do much of our letting go during sleep and these dreams serve a vital function despite their understated title.
“Healing” dreams, as Jung and others postulate, are quite a different matter. A healing dream is one of those vivid-as-life dreams. One where, upon waking, you are confused because you actually thought you were awake already. Or one where the images, feelings and events are so incredibly lifelike that you could never in your life, well, dream of forgetting the details. With healing dreams, even if you wake up not remembering the details but with a distinct feeling throughout the core of your being, a feeling you cannot shake for the day or days after ― that, my friend is a Healing Dream.
Where a Healing Dream comes from is up for debate. Native Americans and indigenous peoples from around the world see these dreams as messages from our Creator, Angels or the Spirits of the departed. They say if you dream about someone living you must tell them. If you dream about someone who as passed away, you must listen because they have something important to say. When you waken from a Healing Dream you must pay attention because something inexplicable, something mystical has chosen you as a messenger to receive a vital piece of information.
In the old days, tribes would regularly sit together and share these important dreams because they believed the dreams meant something profound that would provide guidance not just for the dreamer but the community as a whole. Jung was not so clear on where exactly these dreams came from, but he agreed they were not to be taken lightly; they are worthy of self-reflection and discussion. Indeed, he was certain these kinds of dreams were life-changing events.
“Hold fast to your dreams,” Langston Hughes once wrote, because you just never know when your dreams, any of them, might save your life.
©2008 Sezin Koehler