A post for Carl Jung

Just before I woke up this morning, I had a vivid dream. I was on a beach with my mom and I was asking her help with a problem that was bothering me. She gave me the perfect advice that solved the problem and I woke up. My head was turned to the side where she would have been sitting and my hand was reaching out to her. I was surprised that she wasn’t actually there, (she is still in India) and I realized that I had a solution for a problem that I hadn’t even be consciously analyzing. So it got me thinking about how my dreams help with my mental housekeeping all the time.

This isn’t the first time that I have found solutions to my real-life problems in my dreams. Many a times I have woken up with solutions to problems that I have been actively working on and to those that I wasn’t really thinking about. The ones that always fascinate me is when I wake up KNOWING the exact place where a lost item that I had been searching for was hiding. I recall a dream from a year or so ago.In this dream, I was wondering where something was and thinking about the possible places it might be. I considered each possibility and eliminated them one by one until only one remained. I woke up and went and looked at that place and found it was exactly there as I had dreamed. The item was something I had been searching for days. It was eerie and though it had an air of the paranormal, I knew it was just my mind harnessing bits of information from different parts of my memory and putting two and two together to come up with the logical solution.

My husband always complains that he doesn’t have enough dreams or that he doesn’t remember them on waking. I dream every night and remember most of them upon waking. It is such a routine occurrence that most days I don’t give it a second thought. However, a majority of my dreams are borderline nightmares. Pleasant dreams are very rare. I am not talking about intense nightmares that cause night terrors, but more like ones that mainly deal with my fear of something and many a times I am just glad to wake up. My husband often tells me to “take charge” in these dreams and realize that I am dreaming and “direct” my dreams the way I want. I have tried to do that and I have gotten as far as realizing that I am dreaming but I have never been able to direct the course of the dream. Sometimes the fear goes away on the realization, other times I just feel like I have to wait it out.

I have patterns/themes to these dreams that manifest in recurring nightmares. When I was an adolescent, I frequently had nightmares of standing atop something high and being on the verge of falling. Another common nightmare is one in which my chemistry teacher from high school derides me (teachers really need to consider that they can  traumatize adolescents with their words, the effects are very far-reaching). Many of my nightmares have an educational theme to them; I attribute it to my academic struggles in high school. Although I was a straight-A student in college, I was pretty much at the bottom of the class in high school. I often have a nightmare in which I am told that I have to go back to high school to redo my last two years in order for my Master’s degrees to be valid!  Another educational-themed nightmare which really scares me (during the dream) is having to take an exam for a class I never attended. Almost always this dream involves a language class in Tamil. Recently I had this version of  dream with a math class (I blame common core math). Obviously, I have a huge fear of failure in the academic realm.

A few months before I left India, I had a recurring nightmare in which I had come to the US and had lost touch with all my friends in India. In this dream, I had friends in India who think I don’t care for them anymore, that I have forgotten them. Interestingly, after coming here I don’t get that dream anymore. My husband, when he remembers his dreams, talks about crashing his car. I might have had that kind of dream once or twice but it is not a predominant pattern.

My real nightmares, the ones that leave me feeling upset for hours after waking are the so-called pleasant dreams. In those dreams, I am living the perfect life, the one in which I never faced the turning points in life that took me in a direction I hadn’t planned. In these dreams, I am loving my life and I wake up and feel incredibly disappointed that it was just a dream and it wasn’t real. Then I feel upset about the disappointment, because it means that somewhere deep in my mind I  have regrets. Yet another type of dream is one that leaves me frustrated. These are ones in which I have brilliant insights that I don’t recall in the morning. Sometimes I think of amazing story plots that disappear like early morning fog. I have tried to remedy these in two ways. I have tried keeping a notepad next to my bed and writing down stuff either in the middle of the night or immediately upon waking. This has never helped for I cannot make any sense of my notes when I look at them at in the morning. Sometimes, I realize that I am dreaming and I instruct myself to hold on to that brilliant idea. This has a better rate of success. I sometimes remember bits and pieces. I do wonder if the reason I don’t remember these dreams is because I am not supposed to.

I think I will finish up this post with the best dream I have ever had. It was roughly two years ago. In this dream I was lying down listening to music from Lord Krishna’s flute. Someone came up to me and told me to wake up. I replied that I would not wake up, not until Lord Krishna himself came and told me to do so. Next thing I know, HE was next to me addressing me by my name and whispering in my ear to wake up. I woke up and my eyes fell on the picture that hangs in my bedroom in India depicting Lord Krishna playing his flute. I believe that there was something truly supernatural about this dream. Even now I draw strength from it.

What do you dream of?

-AB