The comfort of dreams

When I interviewed Brenda Mallon here in the House of Dreams a few weeks ago, she touched upon the way that dreaming about a lost loved one can bring great comfort for the bereaved.

These dreams happen when a person is most in need of comforting, but dreams can bring comfort in less extreme times too.

When I was about five years old, I dreamt I was riding along my street in a horse-and-cart, on a lovely summer day. The horse was trotting happily, and the cart was full-to-overflowing with gold coins which jumped and jingled, and sparkled in the sun.

Everyone came out of their houses to wave as I went by, and I knew I ought to throw pennies to the poor, but I didn’t. That gold was mine, all mine!

Mine… all mine!

I liked that dream so much I used to deliberately go back into it every night, as soon as I closed my eyes. It made me fall asleep with a smile on my face.

I used to think that dream showed what a horrible person I was – it was a guilty pleasure. But looking back now, I see it’s just the dream of a child in a large family with little money, where clothes were passed down and everything – even the bath water – had to be shared. It was the pure pleasure of experiencing something which was completely my own.

You can re-enter enjoyable dreams any time you like, by simply closing your eyes and imagining, in the same sort of way as you might revisit pleasurable fantasies in waking life.

It isn’t the only function of dreaming and imagination, but bringing comfort and pleasure is one way these experiences can enrich a person’s life.

Have you ever deliberately imagined your way back into a pleasurable dream on subsequent nights?

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8 thoughts on “The comfort of dreams”

  1. What a gorgeous dream story, Jenny. I can just imagine how lovely the dream felt. This is vey apt for me at the moment as I am having lots of these lovely ‘comfort’ dreams. You’ve reminded me too that as a child I used to do the same thing and try to get back into the dream again. Even now, when I have these sorts of dreams, I wake feeling floaty and full of joy – almost as if I have been sprinkled with fairy dust. It’s a lovely feeling, and a lovely post too!

    1. Yes! That’s another thing about these dreams, the way they make you wake up feeling blessed and uplifted.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this piece. Yes, I have often gone back to continue my dreams but more than trying to relive the happy ones, I seem to recall going back to set right something unpleasant that has occurred in a dream!

    1. I do that too, Melanie – it’s a great way to prevent unhappy feelings spilling over into the day. As Abi says above, the emotion from dreams can affect how you feel in the daytime, and that applies to all kinds of dreams and emotions

  3. What a lovely story Jenny and I do think that our dreams can offer us sanctuary when things are hard. But they also offer a place of excitement and fantasy, something that I was reminded of by my 10 year old a few nights ago. She was getting ready for bed and was very excited. When I asked why she replied that she loved her dreams at the moment – full of fun and adventure. For her dreaming is little entering another world. It made me realise that this a world I don’t tap into nearly enough!

    1. Yes absolutely, Carolyn – there are so many functions and benefits of dreaming 🙂 I think children are much more open to dreaming, partly because they don’t try to interpret, but just treat dreams as experiences, often wild, exciting or funny. Talking with your daughter about her dreams may well help you to remember more of yours, sharing them as stories and not worrying about what they might mean.

  4. My sister and I would play a game where we made a list 5-9 things that we wanted to dream about – then choose a number for each other… I used to cheat sometimes and have kittens in all of them, just doing different things… I can’t really remember it working but it was better than worrying about having the nightmares that used to plague me 🙂

  5. What a great game! And a brilliant way of tackling that fear of nightmares. Thank you for telling us about it.

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