Dream Power: How to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Lifeby Cynthia Richmond
Ever since the first person woke up yawning and stretching from the first sleep, dreams have intrigued humankind. At some point all of us have been mystified or terrified or delighted by a vivid dream, and we all wonder -- what do our dreams mean? In her inspiring book, Dream Power, Los Angeles Times dream columnist Cynthia Richmond draws on her experience as a therapist and dream counselor to show us how to harness the power of our dreams and make our life goals come true.
Understanding our dreams can give us a huge advantage in all facets of life, Richmond demonstrates -- in work, love, health, and spirituality. "By listening to what your subconscious mind and your spirit tell you through your dreams," she predicts, "you will have all the tools you need to achieve the life you want."
But before we can interpret our dreams -- and change our lives -- we need to learn how to remember them, and so Dream Power begins with a simple tutorial in the art of recall. After providing us with practical, step-by-step techniques for gaining access to our dream lives, Richmond then charts the landscape of dream themes and their rich, perplexing meanings. Most of us have dreams that fall into certain important categories -- dreams of departed loved ones, schools and tests, flying, water, public nudity, and sex. Analyzing more than 200 real-life dreams (some from celebrities such as Jane Seymour and Kelsey Grammer), Richmond reveals the common themes, symbols, and meanings that run throughout them.
Our dreams express universal hopes and fears, and these Richmond explores with warmth and insight. But she also takes traditional dream interpretation an important step further, showing us how to transform our insights into life-changing opportunities. To understand our dreams fully, she insists, we must look deep into our hearts and souls and ask: What do we want out of our lives? What are we afraid of and what do we love? Who are we? The answers to these questions will come to us in our sleep, if we recognize the wisdom and truth of the dream world. "Every one of us has a lesson to learn and a gift to offer to the world," Richmond declares. The wisdom of those lessons can help us make powerful changes in our spiritual, social, professional, and romantic lives. As Cynthia Richmond shows us with authority and inspiration, the path to a better life is only a dream away.
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Dream PowerHow to Use Your Night Dreams to Change Your Life
By Cynthia Richmond
Simon & SchusterCopyright © 2001 Cynthia Richmond
All right reserved.
Welcome to the land of dreams, dream traveler!
Ever since the first person woke up yawning and stretching from his (or her) first sleep, dreams have intrigued humankind. Throughout history, dreams have been believed to be everything from direct communications from the gods to visions of the future, and they have been respected for the important psychological insights they can provide.
Though some insist they never dream, the truth is that everyone dreams every night. In fact, you are capable of dreaming anytime you are asleep but, about every 90 minutes during normal sleep cycles, you enter a rapid eye movement (REM) state during which dreams are especially vivid. Some say that we are actually always dreaming, and, considering the day dreams and fantasy thoughts we have constantly, it may feel that way. However, nocturnal dramas have their own, often symbolic, language. These dreams can last as long as an hour but, sadly, most of these fantastic, often delightful, images are forgotten as soon as we wake up.
Dreams bestow certain wonderful benefits such as stress management, whether we remember them or not. But learning to remember them can help us know ourselves better. Everyone can learn to remember more of their dreams; interpreting their meanings can give us the pulse of our inner health -- mental, emotional, and spiritual. Dreams can even offer advice and warnings about our physical health, since our unconscious mind seems to know the status of every cell in our body. Modern sleep and dream research has established beyond a doubt that people need to dream, and that the dream process is essential to life and to health.
Often, our dreaming mind will take a current situation and greatly dramatize it, to be sure we recognize what is really going on in our waking life. Sometimes, through our dreams, we see creative solutions to our problems. "Why don't you sleep on it?" isn't just a bid for time. Taking a dilemma into the dream state can be like brainstorming with a problem-solving think tank. Often, we will wake up with the perfect solution.
Dreams also reflect our anxieties. Common themes, such as being late to take a test, being nude in public, and falling, are related to times in which we feel unprepared, judged, insecure, or out of control in our waking lives.
Many dream experts also believe that about 12 percent of dreams are precognitive -- that is, they come true. Biblical history and folklore include many stories of dreams that came true and, today, science has authenticated the same phenomena. Skeptics will write these off to coincidence but, for the dreamers who continue to have these experiences, it is much more than that. Some people see into the future, others have personal visions, and a great many dream of earthquakes, plane crashes, and crimes. Some dream of the locations of missing persons, even when they have no connection to the victim and are hundreds of miles away.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), the Swiss-born psychologist, had an extensive knowledge of the world's religions, mythologies, and various systems of symbols. In his study of dreams, he became convinced that common dream themes run through every culture and have done so throughout the ages. He termed this reservoir of information the collective unconscious.
It was Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), however, who began psychology's interest in dreams in 1899 with his book The Interpretation of Dreams. Early in his career in Paris, he came to believe that the cause of neuroses was psychological rather than physiological. Later, in Vienna, he worked with psychiatrist Josef Breuer to develop the technique of free association to unearth the roots of neurosis. We still use free association today to understand our own personal meanings of the symbols in our dreams. Some of Freud's other work is now widely disputed. For instance, he believed that most of the content of our dreams reflects suppressed sexual urges. In today's less inhibited world, many of his theories don't seem appropriate. Still, he described dreams as "the royal road to the unconscious." And modern dream experts are grateful for the importance he gave to dreams as a therapeutic tool.
Some dreams seem trivial. They simply process the events of the day and release them. Most, however, are worthy of interpretation. In my work I have found two main levels of interpretation -- the personal, which finds a very individual meaning to the dreamer alone, and the universal, which reveals universal, spiritual, or expanded meaning. Of course, some dreams can be interpreted in both ways, revealing first a personal message, then a more universal or spiritual one.
Paying attention to your night dreams can help you realize your life dreams and goals. Throughout this book, you will find the real dreams of people who learned about themselves by interpreting their dreams. Using your dreams as tools, you will learn to identify any obstacles to your happiness and fulfillment. And, through your dreams, you can learn to obtain answers to your most perplexing questions. You can actually dream solutions to problems! Some will use their dreams to resolve design or creative issues, finding a plot for a story, for instance, or figuring out a color scheme for the living room. Others will recognize anxiety, depression, or anger they didn't realize they had. Dreams can do all of these things. Learning to remember and interpret them will give you a status report on where you are physically, mentally, spiritually, professionally, and in your relationships. Then, you can use your dreams to explore what you want for your life and how to get there.
So, welcome, dream traveler, to a new world! You will want to pack your journal and a pen for our journey into this enchanted and magical land. Clothing is optional, but comfort is important. No need for a passport -- you already have a free pass and can use it every night. Bon voyage and sweet dreams!
Copyright © 2000 by Cynthia Richmond
Excerpted from Dream Power by Cynthia Richmond Copyright © 2001 by Cynthia Richmond. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Cynthia Richmond is a journalist, board-certified behavioral therapist, author, educator, and speaker. Her column, "In Your Dreams," has been a regular fixture in the Los Angeles Times since 1997. She hosted a daily NBC cable program, State of Mind, for two years and has appeared as a guest expert on Entertainment Tonight, The View, Leeza, Donny and Marie, and many other TV shows. Through dream analysis, therapy, workshops, classes, and TV appearances, Richmond has helped thousands of people create the lives they want. She lives with her daughter in Sherman Oaks, California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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very accessible, makes sense, couldn't put it down until I had read it all.
This book is wonderful! It's simple approach to understanding my dreams is great. I have tried her 'write your dreams down' approach and let me tell you, it works! I am having fun and gaining some personal insight at the same time. Great book.