Dr Patrica Garfield is an expert on dreaming. She’s the author of the best seller, Creative Dreaming, as well as several other books in this field, including Pathway to Ecstasy, Your Child’s Dreams, and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Dreams. Her first major book, Creative Dreaming, created a major social impact because of the fact that she went back and looked at the Senoi tribe of Malaysia, and the unique ways in which they treated their dreams, and suggested that people in the West might learn something from that. Westerners were used to thinking of dreams as something from that. Westerners were used to thinking of dreams as something that happened to you, and then you worked with them. You worked with a therapist, or you discussed the symbols, but you waited till the dream was finished. What was different about Creative Dreaming was saying that you can get ready to dream you can prepare to dream, you can do something within the dream to change your dream. People had just never thought about it that way before. And when they began to try some of these techniques, they found indeed it made a difference- not only in their dreams but in what happened in their waking lives afterwards.
Garfield had been writing her dreams down since she was fourteen and has a collection of thirty or forty thousand dreams by now, there are twenty-some volumes of these dreams recorded. When she was young, she began to notice that just by paying a lot of attention to what was going on in her dreams, things were happening. For example, in one dream, one of the characters, a young girlfriend of hers, said, “do you know I represent sex to you in your dreams?” This is in the dream. And Garfield said, “No.” She said, “Haven’t you noticed I always wear shorts?” At that stage of her life, she thought that was pretty daring. But her dreams began to comment on themselves, and she didn’t realize it, but that was the beginning of what we call lucid dreaming- a dream in which you know that you’re dreaming, and you can change the action of the dream while it’s happening. Many people notice this happening to themselves. For example, one woman told Garfield that when she was little she often had recurrent dreams about the witch, and one night she said to herself.” There’s that darn dream about the witch again. I’m not going to wake up screaming. I’m going to stay asleep and see what happens.” And just a dream. I can wake up if I want to,” While you’re in the dream. This very special state of lucid dreaming can give you a power in yur dream state. It’s sort of like a cybernetic feedbak system. You become aware of the fact that you’re dreaming, conscious of the fact that your’re unconscious. IT seems like a paradox. At first people didn’t believe that his was possible, and now we’ve had a lot of laboratory studies that have proved that in fact some people can learn do this, can even be trained to become lucid in their dreams.
But creative dreaming is more than lucid dreaming. But one leads to the other. In Creative Dreaming she wrote that there are many ways to use the resource within us. Every night when we go to sleep, four or five times a night, out bodies experience this particular physiological state that has psychological symbolic meaning, but we can learn from this. We can actively use our dreams. That’s what she calls creative dreaming- that is, setting up a relationship.
It’s remarkable to think that we spend, most of us, a third of our lives asleep, and a large portion of our sleeping lives dreaming, about four years. Fo0ur years of a human lifetime dreaming. And it’s usually ignored by people. There’s an old saying of the Jewish people in the Talmud, that a dream uninterpreted is like a letter unopened.
Yet most people don’t begin to work with their dreams at all or pay them any credence whatsoever. You obviously recommend that people do just the opposite- that there’s a lot of value to had. Many people though. can’t remember their dreams, or they claim they can’t. Remembering your dreams is a kind of memory skill, and anybody can learn it. unless the person is on heavy drugs or alcohol. Certain drugs-sleeping pills. for example-will actually inhibit the physiological dream state, and when you go off the pills, then you have this terrible condition we call a “REM rebound,” with very frightening nightmares.
Whatever their problems are, whatever they’re coping with, they’ve got some of the answers inside, if they just listen. One would almost think that if our dreams really can reveal the future- and there’s quite a bit of research now that suggests that- then really there should be no problem that a dream would be incapable of solving if we look.
Where certainly is a lot going on in there that we haven’t paid enough attention to and I think it’s really important to listen to our dreams because they’re talking to us.