My favourite chapter in Patricia Garfield’s ground-breaking book, ‘Creative Dreaming,’ is the one about the Senoi dreamers, whose dream-practice is designed ‘to make life better.’
In this tradition, if you have an unhappy or disturbing dream, you create a happy outcome for it, either by going back to sleep and dreaming it on, or through creative visualisation when awake.
If every time you have a bad dream you bring it to a satisfying resolution, soon your dreaming mind will start to follow the pattern you have consciously created, and difficult dream situations will always be resolved within the dream.
This practice doesn’t only make your dreamlife happier, it makes your waking life better too, because it works as a kind of rehearsal, an empowering opportunity to experience yourself as someone who confronts their fears and finds their courage and ingenuity in difficult situations.
One of my most common nightmares when I was younger was fear of falling from high places, and that fear was reflected in my waking life. First, I learnt to handle it in my dreams and then, building on that imaginative experience, in my waking life, so that nowadays I love the exhilaration of pushing through the fear to reach the heights.
This is exactly what we do when we write fiction. We put our characters in difficult situations and imagine them forward to a place of resolution. These fictional situations emerge, like dreams, from our deep unconscious, and like the Senoi dreamers, we transform them in imagination in order to triumph over them.
Has your dreaming or writing ever helped you to face a deep fear and feel empowered?