The official site of the sleep-deprived

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Can Dreams Diagnose Health Problems?

About 2,400 years ago, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who’s sometimes called the Father of Medicine, postulated that the body was able to sense the coming of disease before said disease took hold and impaired the body. Often the dreamer received a warning regarding the illness––in a dream. According to Hippocrates, who also knew a fair amount of astrology (like all learned people of the time) the appearance of the sun, moon, or stars in a person’s dream symbolized his or her physical state. If the stars in the dream glowed brightly, said Hippocrates, the body was in good shape and functioning as it should. However, if the stars seemed dull––or if a cosmic disaster of some sort occurred in the dream––it meant a disease was developing in the body.

Holistic medicine proposes a body/mind/spirit link––the three levels of being cannot be separated. Even allopathic medicine now recognizes that the mind and emotions  influence physical conditions. Before an ailment, whether it’s a common cold or cancer, manifests physically it may have existed in a nonphysical form for quite a long time. If we accept a body/mind/spirit connection, it’s seems reasonable that in the dream state we might get clued into something that’s gone amiss, long before the information filters down into our waking lives.

 Signs and symbols in your dreams may warn of potential health problems, although those warnings are likely to be cloaked in symbolism. Here’s an example. During a very busy period in my life, I dreamed I was driving dangerously fast and wrecked my car. Cars, in dreams, often represent the physical body and your direction in life. My dream was warning me that if I didn’t stop pushing myself so hard I could damage my health.

Sometimes our dreams suggest cures when we’re ill or offer advice about how we can heal ourselves physically and emotionally. Dreams connect us with a level of awareness some people call the Akasic Records, a cosmic data bank that holds all the knowledge that has ever existed. The great psychic Edgar Cayce never studied medicine, yet by tapping into the Akasic Records in his dreams, he discovered remedies that helped thousands of people.

Sometimes our dreams illuminate health problems that could develop if we don’t take corrective action. Dreams also may tell us that a treatment we’re undergoing is right or wrong for us. A colleague of mine once dreamed she stopped her car at a gas station. Instead of pumping gasoline into her tank, the attendant used a hose-like apparatus to suck out decaying matter that was clogging up her car. At the time she was undergoing a healthful, cleansing program and her dream told her that the process was working.

If you want your dreams to give you advice about a health situation, ask for insights before falling asleep. Record your dreams and keep a log of dream symbols, as Hippocrates did, to understand how your subconscious speaks to you. What do your dreams tell you about your health? Have you gotten advice in your dreams that you’ve applied to your own health situations? Have your dreams helped you to avert physical disease, or perhaps nip it in the bud?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spiritual Hives

In one of my first posts I admitted to an obsession with searching for the next big thing. I’m convinced that once I find the thing my life will change so profoundly that it will redefine my very existence. A new king-sized mattress came close. Bio-identical hormones came closer. But there’s always an intangible something still missing that I can’t quite put my finger on …. so, I keep looking.

For way too many years I’ve been addicted to anything and everything self-help. A definite off-shoot of the thing. With unwavering certainty, I know that the next book, the next tape series, the next DVD, the next Omega workshop or Brother Dyer live appearance – will be the thing that finally leads to my personal satori. Even my blog partner, Skye, half-jokingly talks about the need for an intervention and 12-step program. Hmmmm.

I’ve always thought that reading self-help books before falling asleep was the way to go – let the sub-conscious mull it over, construct an action plan and all that. So the other night after an hour of reading the latest and greatest about becoming a new and improved, excuse-free me – there was no way I could fall asleep. I couldn’t sleep because my mind was frantically trying to assimilate, organize, and somehow not forget what I had just read – the tips, the quotes, the secrets, the exercises, the 4 main categories with the 14 essential bullet points … I was an information-overload mess.

At any given moment I’m trying to be compassionate, feel gratitude, be in the now, focus my attention, let go of judgment, watch my breathing, work through my fear, let go of attachment, feel love toward everyone and everything,visualize, keep my ego in check, lose my self-importance, meditate, find my life’s purpose, take responsibility, manifest my destiny, stay balanced, get in touch with my higher self, and, oh yeah, remember that visualization without feeling doesn’t count – all done in a blissful state of joy, while understanding that it’s nothing but a universal, holographic dream anyway.

I’m supposed to keep all these balls in the air every waking moment, yet remain relaxed and detached? I have an in-box of motivation quotes dating back to the early 80s that I can’t bear to delete, reams of inspiring quotes I’ll never read again, every personal transformation guru’s website bookmarked in “my favorites” … this is insane. My obsession with enlightenment is seriously stressing me out.

So that’s it, you’re all going to have to go on the vision quest without me. I need a break. In the true spirit of detachment, I’m hitting the spiritual pause button. I’m going back to reading Stephen King and Architectural Digest, cancelling every emailed motivational quote of the day, deleting Amazon’s s self-help book suggestion of the week, and taking myself off of Oprah’s “Live Your Best Life” mailing list.

I no longer want to live my best life. Right now, I just want to live.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Symbolic or Real?

Most dreams are symbolic. They use symbols to convey information about situations in our waking lives. But sometimes the literal nature of dreams amazes me. 

Two nights before the Chilean earthquake occurred and set off a tsunami in the Pacific, I dreamt a man dropped my cell phone in a glass of water, rendering it inoperable. However, I didn't seem too upset about it. 

The dream accurately depicted a waking-life scenario––one I couldn't have known about in advance. The man I live with was visiting friends in Hawaii at the time. Because of the tsunami, he was evacuated to a remote place inland where his cell phone didn't work. I couldn't help laughing at how my dream described the situation, and let me know there was nothing to worry about. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do you believe in magic?

It's no coincidence that precisely the moment I needed to hear it most, my writing partner, Skye, told me she was editing a book about synchronicity.

Some significant something has been missing from my life lately, but trying to put my finger on it has proven maddeningly mercurial. Then, as she began to talk about the book project it hit me: I'd stopped believing in magic.

I suddenly remembered that synchronicities used to be a routine but welcome part of my life. The incidents were not always mind-blowing in scope, but each one served as an important reminder that although I may be caught up in the ordinariness of the moment, energetic magic was always sizzling around me. I also loved the way synchronicities gave me an electrifying jolt, guaranteed to anchor me in the moment.

But somewhere along the line, it seems I allowed myself to get caught up in that ordinariness and I had stopped paying attention. It seemed so incongruous. How could the mundane have taken precedence over magic?

Call them what you like: synchronicities, omens, affirmations, agreements -- in my mind they are magical reminders that life is so much more; that we are so much more. And they happen because we are inextricably connected to one another.

Within a day of our conversation, I received an email from someone I'd been thinking about for weeks but hadn't communicated with in years. My husband and I talked about a song from the 60s that was meaningful to us - one we hadn't heard since college. That same afternoon the song was on the car radio oldies station. Awhile later I mentioned the title of the blog post I was thinking of writing and within the hour heard the song "Do You Believe in Magic?" by the Lovin' Spoonful. Coincidence?

Yesterday, after a week of flopping around about the unfairness of it all, that nothing is manifesting the way I thought it should, that life was not cooperating, that the universe wasn't listening .... a man who used to work for our company walked into my office. He had come to pick up his W-2 and was waiting to see the business manager. It was a cold day and although he had on a heavy jacket, he was wearing rolled up jeans and pink flip-flops. While he waited he brought me up-to-date on his life.

A series of unfortunate events had left him homeless, with a bicycle as his sole possession. His clothes, including the flip-flops, were items on loan from the Salvation Army thrift store. He was matter of fact about it all, and did not want my sympathy. He seemed to have a good grasp of cause and effect and was taking responsibility for where he was in life.

As I listened to him I silently thanked the universe for this wake-up call. The pettiness and irritation of moments earlier drained out of me. Here was a man who had nothing, but who continued to express gratitude for the only thing he did have - the ability to turn his life around.

Yes, synchronicities are personal - only you can interpret what they mean. But I know in my heart that this was no coincidence. This man had shown up when he did because there was a message I needed to hear.

So, there you go. Just when I'd convinced myself I no longer believed, synchronicities started showing up all over the place.

Just like, you know, magic.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fear: The Greatest Obstacle to Happiness

For most of us, fear is a constant presence. It attaches itself to us like a tick and sucks the life from our bodies and souls. We’re taught to fear from the moment we enter this world, and from then on, as my blog-partner Lyndsey Powers wrote in an earlier post, “it’s fear-speak everywhere you turn.”

We fear failure. We fear poverty. We fear exposure. We fear losing the people we care about. We fear sickness and death. Some of us spend so much time and energy trying to protect ourselves from our fears that we can’t experience joy. Often, however, the things we fear lie far off in the future or may never happen.

My favorite poet, the 14th-century Persian Sufi master Hafiz, put it this way: “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.”

Fear is the voice of the ego. The ego’s goal is control, and it achieves its objective by keeping us in a perpetual state of near-panic. The ego (backed up by 24/7 bad-news media) tells us the world is a frightful place, filled with suffering and evil, and there’s nothing we can do about it. But what if that’s not true? What if the ego is lying to save its own skin?

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of fear. I know I’m not alone. A shaky economy, war, natural disasters, and a host of other perils have sent lots of ordinarily strong, stable, sensible people into a tailspin.

So a few nights ago, I appreciated the encouragement and affirmation a dream offered me. In it, I was driving along a winding road after a major windstorm. Branches and debris were strewn all over the road. I dodged most of them, but finally came upon a large, fallen tree that blocked my path. I tried to go around it and over it, to no avail. The only answer was to get out of the car and attempt to drag the tree out of the way. Now, I’m a small woman and this was a BIG tree, and I had no hope of budging it. But as I took hold and started to pull, surprisingly it came away pretty easily. The obstacle wasn’t as great as it appeared. Hmmmm.

I like to think Brendan Francis was right when he said, "Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.”

How do your fears show up in your dreams? Do closet monsters disturb your sleep? How do you deal with them?


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Pursuit of Joy

Last week, my writing partner on this blog and I enjoyed a cold winter evening with a group of friends––eating, drinking, and being merry. We laughed so much that by the end of the evening our sides and faces hurt. As I drove home, I realized how important laughter is and how often we forget to put joy first in our lives.

That night, I dreamt about driving along a narrow, icy road bordered on both sides by snow banks twice my height––an apt symbol for my currently restricted life. Finally I emerged at a beautiful beach, where I saw windsurfers riding the waves. Even though the ocean was pretty rough, the surfers seemed to be having a good time gliding up and down the watery peaks and valleys. Watching them, I thought, “That looks like fun. I could do that.”

Of course, most of you know that water symbolizes the emotions. Waves represent the ups and downs, the crests and troughs, of our emotional lives. The windsurfers in my dream enjoyed riding those waves––even when they capsized they laughed, then got back on their boards and tried again.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about joy. What’s its source? Where can we find it? Why is it lacking in so many people’s lives? Why do some of us seem to connect with it naturally, while others seek it desperately, yet unsuccessfully? How can we recapture it when things go wrong, rather than giving up?

I’ve thought a lot about my related dream, too. How succinctly and vividly our dreams speak to us, and how often they give us hope. My dream showed me that peaks and valleys are all part of the ride––you can’t surf on calm seas. It also said I don’t have to stand on the sidelines observing joy. Fun needn’t be an occasional experience, it’s available to us anytime, all the time.

Where do you find joy? What prevents you from embracing it? What can you do to experience more joy in your life? We invite you to share your thoughts and dreams.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Watcher, continued

I really hope you’ll humor me on this one because I’m still stuck on the theme of my last post about “The Watcher.”

As I mentioned previously, many of us are able to wake up at whatever time we designate (right down to the minute) without an alarm clock. The question that’s been keeping me awake lately is that if time is a man-made concept and our conscious minds are asleep, who’s actually watching the clock for us?

Articles I’ve researched on the subject say only that yes, it’s been determined in controlled studies that this is something we should all be able to do. A statement which is always followed by “but it is unclear how the brain keeps track of time,” or “how the brain manages to keep track of the hours is unknown.” Well, my point exactly.

I’m having trouble believing that it’s the brain keeping track of hours via circadian rhythms or hormone levels or whatever. If that were true, how is it that it still works even on the first night of daylight savings time (yet another contrived human invention)?

But now there’s a new twist – instead of just waking up at the prescribed time, the characters in my dreams have started telling me it’s time to get up. They’ll interrupt whoever is speaking to announce “it’s 5:30” (my normal wake-up time). Or if I lie down to take a short nap, I’m warned by a disembodied voice that “okay, it’s been 45 minutes.” I half expect to see an etheric someone standing there with squinty eyes, giving me a motherly finger wag …

If I can learn to compose myself before my eyes pop open – my next step is to unearth some personal information about these timekeepers. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? Do you have a name? But most importantly, how did you end up with this thankless job anyway? ;-)