I don’t generally remember my dreams. Through my life there have been some salient ones – including a couple that were so prophetic that they questioned my beliefs around what dreams actually were.
Most of the time all I remember when I wake up are simply snippets – interesting scenes cut out of the context of the entire dream. For example, one night earlier this week I awoke recalling two brief unrelated sequences. In one, I was cradling my maternal grandmother – long-ago deceased and rarely in my conscious thoughts – and telling her how much I loved her. In another, I was bouncing around a room full of people singing the song “There Is Only Love” (written by my friend Michael Gott – a beautiful song frequently used in many New Thought spiritual centers).
In my conscious mind the next day, I saw no connection between these pieces of dreams. In describing them here however, it’s easy to see that some aspect of them that night related to my feelings of love. As I have frequently written here, it is my belief that love is an evolutionary force. Its power is embedded within us calling us out of our experience of separation from the rest of the world and towards our sense of unity with it. The more I love my wife, Mary, or my dog, Harmony, the more I am feeling connected with something outside of me. It cascades from those close to me further out there in the world to include more and more “others”. I know that I really loved my grandmother and she loved me. That love we shared is duplicated over and over again within my life. Ultimately, the more I open myself to love, the more I feel connected to the universe – the more I experience the truth of my oneness with everything.
Sleep and dreaming have long fascinated me, going back to when I first discovered in my undergraduate psychology studies our necessity to have REM sleep and the ill effects when we were deprived of it. A recent article in Time magazine does a good job of summarizing current research in the area of the importance of sleep. A couple of key takeaways from this article are that (1) our bodies and brains do important physical maintenance work while we were sleeping and (2) modern life has led to an epidemic of humans not getting enough sleep. No surprise on that second point. [2017 update: Here’s another good link to review…..”The Sleep Judge“]
I understand the motivation to try to cram as much activities into a day as possible. I, too, have succumbed to the temptation to minimize my sleep so as to get more “stuff done”. We have all felt that there “just aren’t enough hours in the day”. Yet, I also have come to realize that such a tactic of cutting back on sleep may be backfiring. You and I are both spiritual beings as well as physical ones. Although my ultimate truth may be that I am this interconnected spiritual oneness, I must also honor that I am moving through this physical experience with this body that has its evolutionary history and certain innate patterns. One of those evolutionary patterns is the necessity of sleep.
Current sleep research offers that our physical bodies need adequate sleep time to create antioxidants to clean up toxic free radicals created in our brains during the day. Repairing our muscles, skin and bones occurs during our periods of rest. There are some theories that suggest that sleep and dreaming aids in memory retention. Some believe that dreams are a form of communication between our subconscious and our conscious awareness. No matter how you look at it, sleep is essential to our physical will being.
Yes, we all have goals and aspirations. It’s easy for our lives to be full of things we want to accomplish – be they inner driven such as our spiritual or intellectual growth or outer driven such as career accomplishments – but no goals can be accomplished if we don’t take care of the physical vessels we were gifted as our means of navigating this life. As we create our goals, they should include improving our diets, exercise and – getting enough sleep.
As we remember that there really is only love, let this power of love connect you not only to the world out there but also to your most intimate connection with the physical world – your body. Give it the gift of enough sleep – it might just give back to you the gift of loving messages in your dreams.