Q: All my life I have had vivid dreams at night. Many of them are really pleasant and some are quite scary. I have never had anyone to talk to about them, so I stopped paying attention to them. Recently, I have noticed that more people are becoming interested in them and there are even classes on dream interpretation. What do you think about this?
A: I find dreams to be a very captivating subject. You are lucky that you have such an active dream life. While sleeping your waking mind rests and your unconscious awakens and goes to work. Your conscious-waking mind depends on limited data from the five senses and rational thinking. Your unconscious, however, is an unlimited reservoir of knowledge beyond time and space. Dreams help you process experiences from previous days or years; reveal deeper insights beyond the grasp of your waking mind; and offer glimpses of future possibilities.
In the morning write down your dreams. Then ponder their connection to the current events and issues in your life. See which images in the dream (persons, places, animals, and any symbols) you are drawn to. Explore your associations with those pictures. How do you feel when you are back in the dream? Dreams often reveal hidden and unacknowledged aspects of our inner life, offering a completely new viewpoint. Many spiritual traditions teach that dreams are the window into the soul. Dreams are best understood by talking about them with someone who is interested and can ask you questions. You can do dream work with a good friend or spiritual teacher, in therapy, or in a dream group. A helpful book to begin the process is Inner Work by psychologist Robert A. Johnson. Sweet dreams!
Q: I often have strong hunches about things. I don’t know where they come from, but all of a sudden when I am thinking about something or when someone is talking, I will get a feeling that will give me an answer to my question. Sometimes it is as simple as avoiding a traffic jam by taking a different exit, or even which stock to buy. At other times I won’t be able to figure something out rationally, but if I quietly pay attention to myself, I’ll understand the whole issue without analyzing it. I find this amazing. They used to call this women’s intuition. But, I am not a woman and I am a scientist. Can you comment on this?
A: This is very exciting! It’s wonderful to read your description of how intuition works in your life. You are attentive to your unconscious mind, the direct source of knowledge. Since you are respecting the flow of information from within, your inner guidance will continue to offer insights.
There are many ways in which the intuitive mind works: a picture in the mind, a feeling or hunch—a knowing from the gut. Some people get a message, a voice from within revealing a truth. A simple example of intuition is when you are strongly thinking about someone and in that moment they call you. Or when you are very connected with someone, you will have the same thought at the same time. Your minds are linking or tapping into the one reservoir of truth. By listening to our intuition, we enhance its possibilities. Meditation is one of the best ways to open our intuitive awareness. As we get quiet and more aware of our inner world, it reveals and responds to our questions. Many discoveries and theories have arisen out of deep intuition or dreams. To help you further you can read Awakening Intuition by Frances Vaughan, Ph.D.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in Palo Alto and San Francisco. (650) 325-8393. www.wholenesstherapy.com