There are four stages of existence, when you are awake, in deep sleep, in the dreaming state and the last one is the Turiya, the indescribable. Generally all of us experience the first three stages every day of our lives. Reality exists in all these three states of existence. Neither of them is more ‘real’ than the other. In fact the spiritual texts consider the awake state to be a Dirgha swapna, an extended dream!
Dreams have always fascinated us, it is almost magical that we go to another world as we sleep. Most of us see 5-6 dreams every night. These are the ordinary dreams triggered by whatever you were doing during the day or what was on your mind as you went to bed. If your mind was in turmoil or emotions were agitated or you were more into material/sensual things, your dreams would be haphazard and disconnected. Or you might see too many dreams, thus disturb your rest cycle. (Your body/mind/soul rejuvenates only during the deep sleep/sushupti phase.) If you have had a peaceful relaxing day and were contented as you went to bed, your dreams would be less troublesome and you will experience more deep sleep time.
Dreams are special as you are both the actor and the audience. You feel the emotions of only the actor. You feel like/dislike and attraction/repulsion while acting out your dream. But as the spectator you are merely the witness. Thus the ancient Rishis considered the dream phase as an important component for creating the Sakshi-bhav, the mind-set of the Witness. If you can bring this witness-mind-set into your waking state too you have achieved your spiritual goal.
Your dreams are dependent on your personal nature and inclinations. If your mind has achieved steadiness you get prophetic dreams of events to come. People who do regular spiritual practice often get guidance in such dreams. You can see significant events from your past/parallel lives which have a bearing on your present situation. Sometimes you can see your past life’s self telling you what to do. Your sub-conscious mind can give you creative or intuitive hints during dreams. The dreams seen early in the morning are the most useful of the lot. This time before sunrise is called the ‘Brahma muhurt’ and is extremely auspicious. Your ancestor spirits often communicate via dreams. If you are exceptionally spiritually inclined, you can see deities or your source of faith in your dreams. In the Indian context seeing dreams of Rishis or Gurus is very auspicious. Often you will be given valuable guidance in such dreams.
If you can control your mind you can also control your dreams. If you have achieved this you can complete significant karma in this way. Then you take on the role of the puppeteer as you direct your actor/puppet self in the dream scenes. The potential of dreams in this respect is limitless.
You mind plays games with you. If you analyse the working of your mind, you will realise that your mind does only two things 1) Imagine and 2) Discriminate. An out of control mind prefers to ‘imagine’ more than ‘discriminate’. e.g. your boyfriend has vanished, phone unreachable. You wonder why. You think he has ignored you. You start feeling hurt. You get upset. You waste your mental energy. You don’t feel like eating dinner. You meet him the next day and he tells you that he was at the hospital because his grandmom fell ill. You are concerned and you both talk normally. Things are rosy and you feel in-love again! But do you appreciate that you let your mind drive you nuts just because it ‘imagined’ things?
Keeping your mind in control starts with not letting it run wild imagining things, but forcing it to discriminate, analyse logically.As per Ayurved, the science of life and the living, there are three tendencies of the mind and body, called Pitta, Vaat and Kapha. Each one has one of these in excess again depending on our horoscopes. You would be surprised to know that your dreams are also linked to these, if you have dreams of light/fire you are pitta dominant. You will experience ‘heat’ in your dreams. If it goes out of balance completely you dream horrifying scenes and your forehead can get hot. If you body is Vata dominant at that time, you will see scenes with sky, winds, flying in space. If you tend towards the Kapha your dreams will be of water bodies. An easy way to balance out your Kapha-Pitta-Vaat is this. If you know from your dreams that one of these is out of balance. Then for one minute before you go to sleep do this tiny thing, Sit comfortably, back and neck straight. Close your eyes, focus at your third eye/ajnya chakra and visualise the following.
- A red dot – Pitta dosha will be balanced
- A black dot – Vaat dosha will be balanced
- A white dot – Kapha dosha will be balanced.
In terms of the vital energy, the udan pran is responsible for vivifying the subconscious mind who creates our dreams. If you engage in activities which regulates udan pran you will see a difference in the dreams you see. Try it out!
If you are suffering from some medical conditions then keeping track of the dreams you see, can help in determining how the disease is going to unfold. Eg if you are suffering from cold and you dream of water, it means your cold is worsening. If you are suffering from diarrohea and dreaming of cold stuff will indicate that it is going to get worse. If you are suffering from problems of the lungs, and you see yourself running or in a windy area etc the condition will get worse. So use the power of your dreams pro-actively. If you are suffering from a medical problem, you can try this simple experiment. Choose one photograph of yourself from your healthier and happier times. You should be smiling and looking visibly happy/healthy. Keep this at your bed-side table and look at it for a minute or so before you sleep. Your sub-conscious mind will ‘remember’ this past healthy state and work to get you back to this. Try this for 21 days and evaluate for yourself.
Those few minutes before you sleep are very important. Whatever you do in these few minutes will have the maximum impact on your sub-consciousness. This will be replayed in your dreams. So use this time wisely. A couple more tips. You are in bed and falling asleep, try to visualise a silvery full-moon at your third eye chakra during these couple of minutes. This will increase your life-span. Visualise the gold disc of the sun for an energetic/youthful mind and body.
Dreaming is essential for mental, emotional and physical health. Dreams are an essential self-diagnostic tool. Keep a dream-diary at your bed-side table and write a few keywords as you wake up so that you will remember your dreams. Analyse your dreams over time, you will learn a lot about yourself. If you get negative dreams for extended periods of time, take it as a signal that something is going wrong and actively work to set it right.