In war and terror-torn times, dreams, more than ever, are our best friends. Intuitions, insights and effective plans of action hidden from ordinary waking awareness animate our sleeping body's mind. Even nightmares and violent dreams carry within them potent seeds of awareness, accurately informing us of challenges we need to meet in the wake of disaster.
Given the potential value of our dreams in helping us heal our current malaise, I talked to some experts to find out more about how to remember and work with our nighttime creations.
"People can look at the events of September 11 as a "daymare' and ask, "What within the collective psyche of humanity is speaking to each one of us about the underlying cause?' Any anxiety-producing event that comes to us, including a dream, should be looked at with the question, "What does this bring about in me?' The first step is to witness and watch our feelings. If it's a recurring dream or nightmare, visualize a new ending. This is especially powerful before sleep.
"We can't always change what's out there, but we always have the choice of our perspective . More info on working with nightmares is available at our Web site, www.dreams.ca."
CRAIG WEBB, Dreams Foundation
"Nightmares are normal responses to an abnormal event. People have been having nightmares with scenes of war and chaos. Sometimes positive healing goes on -- like a dream of a plane crash where people survive. Remember, something that barges into your bedroom, for example, is something that wants to be integrated into your psyche.
"Having nightmares may be an opportunity for self-knowledge. If you don't know yourself, you tend to react in fear or rage. If you know yourself, you're less likely to be overwhelmed. You're also less vulnerable to manipulation. We don't know the truth about the war, and there is no objectivity on American TV."
SHIRLEY MA, Jungian psychoanalyst
"People who have a vitamin B6 deficiency can't remember their dreams upon awakening. You've gotten enough when you remember your dreams. I usually give 100 to 200 mg daily, and you should take a B50 complex and 10 to 15 milligrams of zinc with it. Don't take B6 right before going to bed -- you'll feel like you've gone to an all-night movie. It is possible to take too much B6 -- tingling in the feet and hands has been reported from doses of 200 mg daily over 3 years."
BRYN WAERN, MD
Traditionally when people were looking to delve into their unconscious, they used hallucinogens. Nowadays we use calming herbs that give easier access to your subconscious dream states. Lavender, mugwort and hops can be put in your pillow and will affect the body through aroma. If I were going to make a dream infusion, I would put 3 or 4 leaves of Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) in a litre of boiling water. You could also add half a teaspoon of skullcap. Catnip helps with nightmares -- 10 to 30 drops of tincture at bedtime. Some may be overstimulated by it."
LINDA SMITH, herbalist