Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Playing Soccer or Hockey in my Dreams

After reading and discussing thousands of dreams from research and program participants one thing that stands out consistently is that fact that dreams are culturally relevant. When examining the dreams of Canadian men they often find themselves playing out their waking day issues as a hockey player in a hockey game. Interestingly, the same issues get played out with the dreamer as a soccer player in the dreams of Italian males. The scenes and settings completely follow the continuity hypothesis for the dreamers and their particular culture.

Similarly, the dreams of Canadians have the theme of "Tim Horton's" (a popular cofee house chain) while Italians have themes of towers, the sea and food such as pasta.

In a recent study conducted in Canada and the United Arab Emirates it was found that the UAR dreams had significantly more images of religious and spiritual imagery than did the Canadians (Salem et al., 2010). This is particularly important given the differences placed on religious practices between the two countries.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and salient themes in dreams is this cultural element. A better understanding of the role of culture in dreams can perhaps help predict cultural themes for specific groups and possibly help dreamers understand how culture plays into their own waking day decisions.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why bother paying attention to dreams?

One of the most common comments I get from readers is that they don't remember their dreams so why should they even bother paying attention to them? Also, if dreams are so important why aren't they remembered upon waking and why is the message not clearer to the dreamer?

All of these questions point to the same notion; people often see themselves as purely "physical beings" in the world. They see themselves in terms of their jobs, their health, achievements, failures, and all the things that they can see or measure. One's home, physical appearance, purchase, or even travels are ways that one can construe "who they are". If someone is ill or unemployed, in a healthy relationship, or not, these become the ways that define the person. From the moment people open their eyes after sleep, they begin to think about Thieu physical world issues. Getting to work, taking the kids to school, paying the bills, calling a friend; all of these behaviours fill the day and fill the mind.

There is however,another level of being that is often unnoticed. That is the inner world of each person; the emotional level of processing. This inner world is unknown and at the unconscious level of being. This is also the level where decisions are made and life paths are taken. The unconscious is often felt as a drive or push from within that directs one's life even when there is no awareness of that push. People get into relationships, get ill, make career choices, and life plans completley unknowingly. Awareness of these circumstances may begin to occur when something goes "wrong". When the relationship ends or the job isn't working out then awareness of these life patterns may occur. So how does this relate to dreaming?

Dreaming is a process that allows the dreamer insight into the unconscious mind. Dreams provide a glimpse into the emotional energy that is pushing life circumstances into certain directions. The feelings that underlie all the waking day circumstances such as sexual attraction toward the boss or deep rooted anger toward one's mother are all forces that dictate how waking life will play out.

The most important reason for paying attention to one's dreams is that it will allow the dreamer to get to know the inner life that is responsible for the waking life that is occurring. The inner drive that dictates one's life will be revealed in the dreaming mind. So to pay attention to one's dreams is to really begin to understand and befriend the pure essence of being alive and that which is responsible for all of waking life.