The Truth About Dreams

Vernon Coleman






Dreams sometimes make no sense whatsoever.

Imagine that you have a huge skip - similar to one of those ugly metal monstrosities which people hire when they have a lot of rubbish to throw away, but much, much bigger. Now imagine that your skip is filled with all the things you have ever possessed. Everything. Clothes, toys, furniture, books, records. Everything has been mixed up thoroughly. Now you put your hand into the skip and drag out three items. The first three items that you touch. Those items will all relate to your life. They will have some meaning. They may bring back memories. But they won't necessarily be connected.

That is exactly how your mind works and that is exactly how dreams operate. Dreams do relate to past experiences and emotions. But the experiences and emotions which have triggered the dream may be recent or they may be very old; and they may, or may not, be connected. Professor Francis Crick, who won a Nobel prize for his work on the structure of DNA, has claimed that when we dream our brains are having a spring clean - getting rid of unwanted or unresolved ideas, thoughts, information, plans and, most of all, emotions.

That is why interpreting dreams can be so difficult; why only you can do it properly; and why it is so easy to produce an interpretation which is thoroughly useless and inaccurate.

Trying to isolate bits and pieces from the memory is an impossible task - like trying to unravel a million balls of string. People remember what happened, what they have read, what they have heard and what they think they have read or heard - in a huge mess of memory. Tip toeing your way through that mass of memories is an exceedingly difficult business.

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In an average sort of night the average sort of person spends between one and two and a half hours dreaming. Heavy people spend more time dreaming than thinner individuals. And many different foods are reputed to produce better dreams. The two best known are cheese and oysters.

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When you go to bed tonight you will probably lie awake for a few minutes before you fall asleep. Most people do. By and large the older you are the longer it will take you to drop off.

But falling asleep isn't quite as simple as you might think it is.

Once you've managed to relax and get rid of the physical tensions and accumulated mental cares of the day you'll slowly become more and more drowsy.

Then, gradually, you'll drift into a fairly light sleep and then, eventually, into a deep sleep that will last for between 30 and 60 minutes. This whole pattern of drowsiness, light sleep and deep sleep lasts for around 90 minutes before it starts all over again.

During an average sort of night's sleep you'll go through this cycle four or five times.

But after the first sleep cycle there's one important difference. Each new cycle begins not with a period of simple drowsiness but with a very special type of sleep during which your body will be very relaxed but your brain will be buzzing.

This is paradoxical sleep - also known as Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep for the simple reason that while you're in it your eyes will move rapidly below your closed lids. There are other physical changes which characterise REM sleep. The most important one is that your heart will beat faster. The male penis often becomes erect.

REM sleep lasts for between 10 and 30 minutes at a time, and it's during REM sleep that you enter dreamland; an insane, unstructured world where there are no rules and no constraints; where nothing is impossible and where the limits of your imagination are pushed beyond infinity.

In your dreams you have total power and no power at all. You can fly, you can walk through walls, you can walk on water and you can speak a thousand tongues. But you cannot run when you are threatened; you stand frozen in the face of death and you are rendered speechless when help is just a call away.

What are dreams?

Do they have a purpose?

Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychiatry claimed that during our dreams our unconscious minds express our doubts, desires and hidden wishes. He explained that in our dreams we use symbols of varying obscurity to disguise our true feelings and he argued that most of our dreams have some sexual significance. It is, he argued, our sexual fears and anxieties which are the driving force behind our lives in dreamland. (Incidentally, for the record, Sigmund Freud gave his first formal lecture on dreams on 14th May 1900. There were three people in the audience.)

Over the last few years, however, it has gradually become more and more clear that the truth isn't quite as simple as Freud imagined.

Your personality - and your circumstances - have a greater influence on your dreams than Freud ever imagined. The truth is that the psychoanalyst who doesn't know you well enough is likely to draw dangerously inaccurate conclusions from your dreams.

The person best equipped to `read' your dreams - and draw meaningful, useful conclusions - is the person who knows you best. And that's you.

By studying your dreams carefully you should be able to make some sense out of what may seem, on the surface, to be a psychological rag bag of emotions, experiences and imaginary happenings.

Keep a notebook and pencil by the side of your bed and write your dreams down whenever you can. Keep a record and look for recurring themes. You'll be amazed at what you'll be able to learn about yourself, your ambitions, your hopes, your fears and your anxieties. On the pages which follow there are some key guidelines designed to help you unravel your dreams successfully.

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You may think that you never dream. You may never be aware of your dreams.

But you almost certainly do have a dream life.

Recordings of human brain waves show that we all go into dream mode when we fall asleep.

But we're only aware of our dreams - and only able to remember them - if we happen to wake up while we are still in REM sleep.

If you regularly wake up at other points in your sleep cycle - when you're in deep sleep or light sleep for example - you'll be totally unaware of what has happened during the periods you spent in REM sleep.

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Freud claimed that dreams always had a sexual theme.

If you dreamt of anything tall, long, thin, hard or pink he'd claim that you were thinking of the make sexual organ...

If you dreamt of anything wet, warm, soft, hollow, tubular or receptive he'd claim that you were thinking of the female sexual organ...

If you dreamt of anything round, ball shaped or globular he'd claim that you were thinking of the female breast...

If you dreamt of a gun firing, a voting paper being pushed into a ballot box, a train entering a tunnel, a wave breaking on the shore, a climber scrambling up a mountain or a runner breaking the tape he'd claim that you were thinking of sexual intercourse...

If he couldn't think of a sexual explanation for your dream Freud (who was obsessed with sex) would explain it away by saying that you were sexually repressed.
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Your dreams can tell you a lot about the inner workings of your mind.

If you have difficulty in remembering your dreams:

* write down what you do remember - you'll find that as you write things down so more and more details will become clear.

* keep your notebook and pencil by the side of your bed so that you can write your dreams down without getting up - the more you move about the quicker the memories of your dreams will disappear.

* don't strain too much to remember a dream - if you chase a dream it will be as elusive as a rainbow.

* if you find it difficult to write down your dreams try drawing or painting them.

* set your alarm clock for 90 minute intervals throughout the night - or vary the time of your morning `call' - the chances are that this way you'll manage to wake up either during or immediately after a dream. Remember that if you don't wake up during a dream you won't remember it.

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You should look for the unexpected in your dreams.

While you are in REM sleep, your mind will move at lightning speed - jumping from one thought to another at a tremendous pace.

This inevitably means that thoughts, ideas and images trigger off an endless variety of new thoughts, ideas and images.

The result can be that when you wake up you may find yourself dreaming of something bizarre and apparently inexplicable.

The chances are, however, that if you look hard enough you will find an explanation!

To see just how your mind works when you are dreaming try a simple `word association' experiment.

Think of a fairly simple word for example.

Let's try SHOE.

Now, working as quickly as you can, say out loud the other objects or thoughts that this word reminds you of.

So, you might end up going something like this:

SHOE, FOOT, HEEL, ANKLE, JOINT, MEAT, BUTCHER, MURDERER.

Within the space of a few seconds you've moved from a fairly harmless item of footwear to a frightening image of a killer.

All this may make you suspect that you'll never understand your dreams. But don't give up! Unravelling associations and following the trail back to the thought which inspired your dream won't always be easy - but it's often rewarding and fascinating.

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Dreams aren't just built out of word associations.

Sometimes dreams can be created out of outrageous puns or out of everyday sayings.

If you are washing your hair in a dream you may be trying to forget a man who's played an important part in your life (`I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair').

If someone is attempting to strangle you in a dream could it be because he (or she) is a pain in the neck in real life?

If you dream of jumping into a swimming pool then maybe you are apprehensive about a new job or new responsibilities (`jumping in at the deep end').

If you dream of being in a small, unstable boat then maybe you are conscious of - and perhaps worried by - the fact that you've been `rocking the boat'.

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The late Dr Christopher Evans conducted a number of surveys into the dream habits of men and women. His results - and conclusions - were described at some length in his book Landscapes of the Night.

Here are some of the conclusions he reported:

* 11% of men and 8% of women say that they dream only once a month.
* 13.1% of men and 8.7% of women say that they dream once a week.
* 26.8% of men and 22.3% of women say that they dream 2 or 3 times a week.
* 14.6% of men and 15.4% of women say that they dream once a night.
* 34.4% of men and 44.9% of women say that they dream several times a night.
* 79.6% of men and 72.4% of women say that - on the whole - they enjoy their dreams.
* 4.2% of men and 8.6% of women have nightmares often.
* 72% of men and 72.3% of women have nightmares occasionally.
* 22.8% of men and 13.3% of women never have nightmares.
* 66% of men and 78% of women have dreams which clearly portray anxiety.
* 27% of men and 40% of women have dreams which involve the sea.
* 53% of men and 59% of women have dreams in colour.
* 85.7% of men and 72.1% of women have sexual dreams.
* 26.4% of men and 31.6% of women claim to have dreams about the future which come true.
* 67% of men and 75% of women have recurring dreams.
* 27% of men and 38% of women dream about famous people.
* 49% of men and 44% of women have dreams of violence.
* 71% of men and 76% of women have dreams of falling.
* 69% of men and 75% of women dream that they are being chased.
* 38.9% of men and 43.4% of women hear music in their dreams.
* 57% of all people questioned said that they regarded dreams as helpful or beneficial in some way (presumably, either through liberating or exposing unconscious fears).

(NB these figures don't always add up to 100% because some people never dream - or didn't answer the relevant questions.)

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Since Freud started to analyse our dreams nearly a century ago scores of researchers and authors have published books and scientific papers on the subject. Medical libraries contain shelves full of dream analyses.

There are, inevitably, an apparently endless number of dream themes. While we are in REM state sleep the human imagination knows no boundaries - there are no impossibilities.

But some themes do recur time and time again. I have compiled a list of the 25 most popular dream themes and I've included my analyses of what these dreams most commonly mean.

You'll see from my comments that it isn't always easy to draw specific conclusions from a dream - there are often several possible interpretations.

To find out what your dreams mean you need to understand something about your life, your problems and the way your mind works. The more you get to know yourself the better you will be able to interpret your dreams successfully.

And maybe that is one of the big advantages of studying your dreams: gradually you will learn and understand more and more about your own fears, anxieties and attitudes.

To analyse your dreams successfully you need to be a bit of a psychiatrist and a bit of a detective. Neither profession demands more than a little patience, a little basic common sense and a little curiosity.

1. Sexual
Sexual dreams are probably the simplest to understand. They do, however, vary enormously in their content. Some are merely mildly erotic and romantic; others, however, are overtly, outrageously lusty. It is not at all uncommon for dreamers to create pornographic scenes which produce blushes when remembered.

One very respectable lady reported that while she was pregnant (and unable to have sex for medical reasons) she regularly dreamt that she took part in sexual orgies with the members of her husband's local cricket team. The orgies seemed to last all night and the lady reported afterwards that during each dream she had sex with every member of the team - apart from her husband.

Some dreams are far less satisfying than this. For example, one woman reported that she had an enduring sexual fantasy in which she was approached each night by a handsome hunk of a man who regularly turned into dust every time he took her into his arms.

Sexual scenes in which a woman dreams that she is raped by one or more men are also fairly common.

The pregnant woman's dream was inspired simply by her sense of sexual frustration. In her real life she was not allowed to have sex with her husband so in her dream life she sought satisfaction with every male apart from her husband.

The woman whose dream lover turned to dust was probably re-enacting unhappy live affairs of the past in which anticipated love affairs turned to nothing.

And the women who dream that they are raped are almost certainly struggling to balance their natural sexual feelings with attitudes towards sex which they have learned from parents, teachers or religious leaders. A woman who dreams that she is raped doesn't really want to be raped, of course. But, in dreamland, rape seems to offer an ideal solution: she can have sex - and even enjoy it - without taking any responsibility for her actions.

2. Falling or flying
Some people find dreams in which they can fly exhilarating. Others find them terrifying.

Frequently dreamers `see' themselves plunging headlong down a ski slope. Then the slope turns into a cliff edge. And they find themselves flying.

Other dreamers may find themselves falling out of an aeroplane without a parachute or taking a trip over the Niagara Falls. Itís also fairly common for dreamers to fall off mountains or out of windows. In some cases the fall seems to be inspired purely by gravity. In others the dreamer discovers that she can fly.

There are some strange variations on this general theme. For example, one dreamer reported that although she could fly very easily in her dreams she could never manage to get more than a few feet off the ground. This meant that she had to be very careful to avoid trees, telegraph wires and other obstacles.

Another dreamer reported that the earth seemed to have lost its gravitational pull and she could `walk' in great bounding leaps - bouncing along like an astronaut on the moon.

Interpreting these dreams can be very difficult.

Successful flying is usually regarded as a dream analogy for sex. And it may be. If you are nervous about flying then maybe this is merely a sign that you are nervous about some expected sexual encounter. If, however, you really enjoy your flying then maybe you like sex a lot - and want more of it.

But I don't think that flying is always inspired by sexual feelings. There are many other possible explanations.

It may be, for example, that you feel that your whole life is `taking off'. Perhaps you don't want to come down to earth. Maybe you have your head in the clouds. Or could it be that you want to get away from everything, to get on top of your problems?

If you are falling rather than flying in your dream then this may imply that you feel that your life is getting out of control. You could, perhaps, have jumped in at the deep end. Maybe you're having second thoughts about some decision you've made. Perhaps you're falling out of favour with someone who is important to you.

Finally, it's worth remembering that some psychologists who have studied dreams do claim that sometimes there can be very prosaic explanations for dreams of this type. The sense of falling or flying can, they say, simply be triggered off by nothing more complicated or sophisticated than a bout of indigestion after a heavy late night meal.

3. Running away - and/or being chased
I suspect that everyone is familiar with this dream.

In one of the commonest variations on this theme the dreamer finds herself struggling to run. But somehow she doesn't seem to be moving. Her legs are moving but her body is standing still. It is as though she was standing on a moving pavement or running in deep sand.

Sometimes the agony is heightened by the fact that close behind someone is chasing. The only cheerful news is that the person who is chasing never catches up.

It isn't difficult to find explanations for this type of dream. Just look carefully at your life.

Maybe you feel that you are stuck in a rut? Maybe you want to go on to do something else with your life but you feel that you are being held back by someone or something?

Perhaps your life is unfulfilling and too restrictive?

Perhaps you really want to break free from your chains?

Once you've identified the reason for the dream you can decide whether you want to take hold of your life and change it - or whether you prefer to accept the restrictions and accompanying frustrations rather than take the inevitable risks involved in making a break.

4. Nakedness
When you find yourself naked in your dreams it is invariably in the most public and most humiliating of circumstances.

You may suddenly find yourself sitting on a lavatory in the middle of a crowded railway station. Or wandering stark naked in a busy department store. Or struggling to cover yourself with your hands while pedestrians point at your nakedness in the street.

Often dreamers find themselves appearing quite naked at parties where everyone else is formally dressed. They may look around and see that they recognise many of the other party goers. Embarrassed and humiliated the dreamer finds herself fixed to the spot. Her friends and acquaintances look down their noses at her.

Dreams of this kind usually suggest that you feel inferior or incompetent in some way. If there are specific recognisable faces in the crowd then those are the people who make you feel inferior.

Quite rarely dreamers may find that they enjoy being naked in their dreams. They do not feel embarrassed at all but, on the contrary, flaunt their nakedness.

Dreams of this kind suggest that you have gained confidence and feel sure of yourself.

5. Royalty
The Queen commonly appears in her subjects dreams. Usually she is dressed in her full regalia - with the crown fixed firmly on her head.

Think carefully about how you responded to her presence. And then realise that the Queen (or whichever member of the royal family it was) was almost certainly representing someone who plays or has played an important role in your life.

So, for example, the Queen may represent one or both of your parents. Or she may represent your boss at work or a teacher at school.

Your attitude towards the royal presence reflects your attitude towards the individual whom she represents.

Were you frightened of her? Or did you find, to your pleasant surprise, that you got on with her very well?

Finally, and rarely, some dreamers see themselves as royalty. This usually suggests a rather inflated self-opinion I'm afraid - though it may simply reflect your feeling that you deserve to be treated with more respect by those around you.

6. Finding money
In one remarkably common dream the dreamer is standing in a telephone kiosk. Suddenly the coin box starts to spurt money. Within seconds there is money all over the floor of the telephone box.

There are many variations on this rather bizarre theme.

The money may come from a bank or from a parcel or from just about any other source.

This dream really isn't very difficult to unravel.

It usually suggests that you are short of money - and are dreaming of a windfall.

7. Love affair
A dream love affair is very different to dream sex.

Dream sex is usually purely physical - lustful rather than loving. A sign of need for physical rather than emotional satisfaction.

On the other hand a dream love affair is usually a sign of a need for greater emotional contact and support.

If you have a dream love affair then it usually suggests that your current relationship lacks the warmth that you need.

Do not be too startled if your `dream' partner turns out to be someone whom you know but don't really fancy in real life. It is the existence of the relationship, rather than the choice of partner, which is significant.

8. Missing a train
You can see it in the distance. It starts to move out of the station. You run faster. The train starts to pick up speed. You are running as fast as you can move. You reach out. You just manage to grasp the door handle. You open the train door. You're about to climb aboard. But the train has picked up too much speed. You cannot get aboard.

Breathless, you stand and watch as the train pulls away without you. The train can, of course, be a plane, bus or boat.

What does it mean?

It is, after all, a common enough dream. It can mean several things.

It can mean that you don't have confidence in a current plan or project. It can mean that you are worried about failure (`missing the boat'). And it can mean that in your heart you may feel that a current project may not be worth all the effort. Do you want to `get away from it all' - or would you really rather things stayed as they are?

If you catch the train (or boat, or bus, or plane) then you are probably feeling fairly confident about your plans for the future.

9. Stars and personalities
If your dream is populated with famous people - film stars, TV celebrities and well-known politicians - there can be many explanations.

It may be that you would like to move in more exciting circles. Perhaps you find your life rather drab and uninteresting. Maybe you would like to add a little sparkle to your daily activities. Your dream may be nothing more than a pleasant form of fantasy escapism.

Think carefully about how you responded to the famous people in your dream. If you treated them as equals then that suggests that your self confidence is high. If, on the other hand, you felt very inferior in your dream then that suggests that your self esteem is low.

Finally, don't forget that famous people can find their way into your dreams simply because they are famous. The people in your dreams have to have faces. If their behaviour is relatively insignificant then the identities of the people in your dream is insignificant too.

10. Boats
Dreams about boats are commonplace. To learn anything from your dream you must remember a little more about the boat. Was it floating happily and comfortably? Were you enjoying yourself?

If so then that suggests that you are happy with your life.

If, on the other hand, the boat was sinking or leaking then you may feel `all at sea'.

And if the boat was rocking try to work out who was causing the rocking? Who, in other words, was `rocking the boat'?

(Puns really do play an important part in your dreams). If you can identify the person who was rocking the boat then you may be able to learn a little more about your real life.

11. Death
Dreams about death and dying aren't always gloomy.

If you dream that you are dying then you may simply be looking forward to a new beginning, a rebirth, a new life. Perhaps you are about to start a new job or maybe a new relationship has just begun.

If you dream that someone who is close to you is dying then that may suggest that you are worried about losing the person you are dreaming of from your life.

A dream about being buried may mean that you feel that you are being held back or `buried' by drudgery or daily responsibilities. You may feel that you are being dominated or repressed in some way.

12. Crowds
If you dreamt that you were in a crowd then the chances are high that all the other members of the crowd were simply different facets of your personality.

We all contain numerous different aspects to our personalities. We can be optimistic and pessimistic, cheerful and gloomy, greedy and generous.

Think carefully about the crowd you were in. Was one particular person in the crowd dominant? Were there any disputes in the crowd?

If so then you may be able to `see' the various parts of your personality warring with one another. You may learn a great deal about your attitude to life.

13. Historical scenes
There are no time barriers in dreams. You may find yourself living in another century - backwards or forwards in time.

You may even find that you can move through the years with great ease.

One dreamer reports that in her dreams she regularly finds herself watching the days of a calendar fly off as the days pass by.

By itself time travel is of little significance but the fact that you have chosen, in your dream, to live in another time may suggest that you are unhappy with your present circumstances and would like to escape. You may have chosen another period in history because you find the rules and mores current and more acceptable. You may find a different time in history more romantic or more exciting.

14. Leaving
Itís common for dreamers to imagine that they are leaving someone or something.

And there can be great significance in this.

Maybe there is someone - or something - in your life that you want to get away from.

You may be fed up with your job.

Or a relationship may have floundered irretrievably.

As with most dreams the `leaving' dream is more significant if it occurs regularly.

A one off leaving dream may simply suggest a temporary unhappiness or dissatisfaction. But if the dream recurs regularly then it suggests a more chronic, long term unhappiness.

15. Water
Dreams in which large amounts of water play an important part - seas, lakes and so on - are not at all unusual.

Sometimes those who dream in this way have a fear or dislike of water and, in particular, of drowning.

Sometimes the water is present only because it allows free movement - and in a dream free movement is vital. If your dreams take place on the sea or on a lake it may well be that the specific circumstances (e.g. whether or not you are in a boat and the identities of and relationships with your companions) may be important.

16. Violence
Dreams in which violence takes place occur frequently. Often there is pain and blood too. Sometimes the violence comes from a wild animal, sometimes from an unidentified but human attacker, sometimes from an identifiable human attacker and sometimes from a monster of some kind. In some dreams the violence is mixed up with sexual experiences or threats.

Often the dream can be explained by a specific and acknowledged fear - inspired, maybe, by some real experience or by a film or book.

So, for example, after horror films have been shown on television it is very common for otherwise healthy and normal individuals to have bizarre dreams in which monsters based on those which appeared in the horror film take part.

The craze for supernatural films, which reached a peak a few years ago, inspired thousands of nightmares.

Sometimes violence in a dream is inspired by feelings of guilt. The violence is a punishment that is expected and may even be regarded as deserved. For example, someone who has been taught that sex is evil may suffer from violent dreams after enjoying a forbidden sexual relationship.

17. Maggots
If you have a dream in which writhing maggots play a significant part then you should look at your life very carefully.

There may be some part of your own personality which you find repulsive. The maggots may represent the part of you that you think of as rotting. Maybe you feel guilty about something that you have done - or not done. You may have acted dishonestly - or covered up the dishonest actions of others.

Alternatively, the writhing maggots may represent a scandal in which you were involved - a scandal which may not have become public. You may be aware that there is something rotten in your life.

18. Films
Dreams are often based on films. Obviously the nature of your dream will depend upon the nature of the films you normally watch. If you love films by obscure French directors then the chances are that your dreams will involve scenes and characters from those films. Similarly, if you watch a lot of romances then your dreams may involve romantic films.

The chances are, however, that the film will merely provide the backcloth for your own actions. To `read' your dream properly you must look carefully at your own actions - and the actions of those around you.

19. Parents
Our parents play a very important part in our lives. But they do not always appear in a straightforward way in our dreams.

In a dream you may see your parents as royalty or as figures of authority.

Alternatively if your parents do appear in your dreams they may represent individuals who have some power over you.

Often, however, when your parents appear in your dreams they are there because you are struggling to overcome some conflict with them - or with your conscience.

If you have done something which you suspect that your parents would disapprove of then they may appear in a dream to tell you off or punish you in some way.

20. Parties
If you find yourself dreaming of stuffing yourself with rich foods and wines then you be subconsciously aware that you are behaving in a greedy way in some respect of your life.

Maybe you are taking too much out of a relationship - and not putting enough back in.

Or if you find yourself at a party where everyone else is eating and drinking but you have nothing to eat or drink then you may feel emotionally deprived in some way.

Your dream may show that while everyone else seems to be satisfied you are left frustrated and starved of affection.

In dreamland food and drink often represent emotional rather than physical needs.

21. Travel
If you are for ever dreaming of travelling then you are probably dissatisfied with your present life. You want to get away and try something new.

You should be able to find out from your dreams exactly what it is that you are trying to escape from. Try to `see' what you are leaving behind when you go on your travels.

You should also be able to tell whether or not your travels look like being successful.

Try to remember whether you arrived safely at your destination.

22. Doctors
Sometimes, just sometimes, when you dream of visiting a doctor, or dream of being ill, it is a sign that there is something wrong with your health.

Your mind can work in very mysterious ways and if you dream of visiting a doctor then it may mean that there is something wrong with you that you are not yet aware of in your waking life.

More often, however, a dream about a doctor or a hospital will mean that you are worried (perhaps unnecessarily) about your health or about the health of someone who is close to you.

These worries may be based on genuine physical symptoms and fears but they may also be inspired by emotional fears or a sense of personal inadequacy.

23. Animals
Animals appear a lot in our dreams.

You may be the animal occasionally. If so what sort of animal were you? Cats tend to represent feminine instincts whereas dogs represent male attitudes. More important than the animal you appeared as how did you behave? Were you aggressive? In search of affection? Lonely? The emotions you experienced are more important than your physical manifestations.

Could the animal represent a friend - or, more commonly perhaps, an enemy?

Whatever the animal is you should pay more attention to what it does - and how you behave towards it - than its physical form.

24. Blindness
In some of the most frightening of dreams the dreamer will lose her sight - and be unable to find her way around.

Rather than suggesting a genuine fear of blindness this type of dream usually suggests that the dreamer has begun to lose her way in life and is uncertain of what to do next.

25. Gardens
If you dream about working in a garden then you are probably making plans for the future - particularly if you are planting seeds or nurturing new plants.

If, however, the plants in your garden are dying then this may suggest that you have great fears both about the present and the future. You may be worried about what is happening in your life.

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Dreams can sometimes lead to real life tragedies.

Thirty-four-year-old Colin Kemp dreamt that he was fighting Japanese soldiers - and struggling for his life.

When he woke up his beloved wife Ellen was dead. He'd strangled her in his dream.

Such bizarre and frightening consequences are not uncommon when dreams become exceptionally frightening or violent.

Albert Cole-Bowyers spent four years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was tortured with sharpened bamboo poles.

His horrific experiences gave him such violent nightmares that for forty years he attacked his wife while re-living the past.

Eyes staring he would throw his wife, Jane, to the bottom of the bed and jump on her. As a result Jane had to have a disc removed from her spine. For over 30 years she had to wear a steel brace on her back.

Another dream victim woke up to find her husband's hands around her throat. They'd been to see a science fiction film and he'd dreamt that his life was in danger. He believed that he was cornered and fighting for survival.

Women aren't always the victims, however.

One woman tried to kill her husband believing that he was a TV soap opera villain!

***


Hundreds of eminent scientists, writers and businessmen have confirmed that they have had some of their best and most important ideas while fast asleep - in dreamland.

If you've got a big problem and you really can't find a solution try thinking about your problem just before you go to sleep. Try not to get too involved or else you may find it difficult to fall asleep.

While you're apparently asleep your mind will play around with all the possible answers - and may come up with some spectacular solutions.

While you are asleep your mind is uncluttered with conscious thoughts. There are no doorbells or telephones to ring and no hunger pains to distract you. Your mind can get on with solving problems unemotionally and logically; sifting through all the possible solutions like a computer.

Novelists claim that they've extricated themselves from impossible plots while in dreamland. And scientists often report that they've been able to `dream up' wonderfully simple solutions to apparently insoluble problems.

***


Dream researchers have found that many people can choose what they dream about.

All you have to do to dictate the content of your dream is to concentrate on the scene or individual that you'd like to dream about.

As you fall asleep try to make sure that the last thing on your mind is the thing you want to dream about.

There is, however, one snag.

Although you may be able to decide the basic content of your dream you won't be able to plan what happens!

And remember too that in dreamland there are no rules. In your dreams the dead can speak and the living can fly.

Your plans for a night of passion with the super star hero of your dreams could easily turn into something very different...

***


Ever since the stories of Joseph (the owner of the coat of many colours) were first made public thousands of people have claimed that they've `seen' the future in their dreams.

But dreamers' claims have never been taken very seriously.

Joseph's brothers scoffed when he told them that one day they would bow down to him.

And today's dreamers are usually dismissed as cranks or publicity seekers.

But our dreams about the future could contain more truths than we are prepared to admit.

Growing numbers of scientists are now prepared to admit that premonitions may be just as real as vision and hearing.


Copyright Vernon Coleman January 2007
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