Everyone knows that getting a good night’s sleep is key to living a healthy, balanced life. But what about getting a good night’s dream?
Dreams are survival skills. They give us something to hope for, something to strive for, and something to wake up with, to keep in our heads and hold in our hearts.
If we choose to see dreams as the proactive forces that guide us to our true aliveness, dreams become a powerful tool. Here are five ways that dreams make us feel the most awake.
1. Dreams give us vision
Our dreams can take us from chaos to clarity, and eventually to concept. Keep a dream journal to start understanding the language of your unconscious. Look for recurring symbols that may offer a meaningful perspective on an issue you may be struggling with. After a night filled with vivid dreams, jot or doodle down as many images or thoughts you can remember. Symbols may emerge as guides in your daily life, as well as creative allies, leading to self-realization and fulfillment.
2. Dreams can bring direction to our detours
We’ve all had things in life that haven’t worked out as we planned — a breakup, a breakdown, a loss, a setback — everyone deals with “detours” in their path. A detour is many things — unexpected, a nuisance, difficult, hard to grapple with, frustrating — but it can be beautiful. When the road looks like a dead-end, our dreams can create new pathways for us to travel along. Dreams help us find the beauty in “not knowing” by bringing images and sensations into our awareness that we might not be able to grasp onto ourselves, when trying to navigate our detoured route. Dreams have the power turn our “detours” in life into everyday blessings.
3. Dreams give us faith that healing is possible
They show us the potential of the human spirit. As Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger, says, “I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma. I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening — a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation. I have little doubt that as individuals, families, communities, and even nations, we have the capacity to learn how to heal and prevent much of the damage done by trauma. In so doing, we will significantly increase our ability to achieve both our individual and collective dreams.”
4. Dreams fuel the fierce drive to bring our passion into the world
Dreams come from our innermost desires. They tell us not necessarily how we’ll get there, but why we need to get there. Once we have the “why”, the “how” will work itself out. All we need is that fierce conviction that can only come from dreams to act as our compass. Keep dreaming — Remember: Martin Luther King Jr. once gave a riveting “I have a dream” speech. It was NOT the “I have a plan” speech! How can it create the world of your dreams?
5) Dreams remind us who we are
Our dreams are the seeds that God plans for us, where our intuition whispers to us, and where we can find an anchor to our place in the world — even if we are “displaced” from it. In our dreams, we can find our way back home. After almost losing my own life, my dreams are now my safe place, where I can mingle with myself and with God. They are my Velcro to the universe and an ever-flowing fountain of faith, replenishing my trust in life whenever circumstances may make me afraid. Dreams dreamed me back into life.
Dreaming to Survive
I learned the rejuvenating and transformative power of dreams firsthand. After my life-saving surgeries at 18 years old, I gained life back after my coma, but lost the only world I knew. Defeated, my “inspiration” became worn. and my imagination lost its bubbliness, fizzling into “survival mode.” Eventually, through my dreams, I learned to re-trust those buried-away fantasies and ideas in my mind, and allow them to send me soaring for the day, taking a risk and daring to believe again. Dreams reminded that “Amy” was still in there. I dreamed my “aliveness” until I felt that aliveness in my body and flesh. It took time, but thankfully, dreams are an ever-renewing source — a source that rebuilt my faith.
Or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. himself once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Dreams inspired me to take that first step.
Thank you, dreams, for inspiring faith, dreams, and all the power they hold for our world. The greatest gift we can give to each other is little steps in faith, trust, compassion, and bringing our dreams to light.
Watch Amy’s TEDx video here.
See the artwork that was created by Amy on her detour. Learn about her speaking, or catch her touring Gutless & Grateful, her one woman musical, to theatres, colleges, conferences and organizations nationwide. Learn about her mental health advocacy programs for students, and find out how to take part in the#LoveMyDetour movement, and learn about her upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour at www.amyoes.com and catch her one-woman musical in New York City in August 6th, 2016.
Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright. She works individually with her innovative creativity coaching, business, speaking, and social media courses. As creator of her one-woman musical Gutless & Grateful , the #LoveMyDetour Campaign, which was the subject of her TEDx Talk, she’s currently touring theatres nationwide, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness and Broadway Theatre for college campuses and international conferences. Subscribe to her newsletter for updates and free excerpts from her upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, available December 2017. Get your free creativity e-book at amyoes.com/create and a free guide to getting a TEDx Talk at amyoes.com/discover.