The Hidden Power of Dreams
by Denise Linn
The following excerpt is taken from the book The Hidden Power of Dreams, by Denise Linn. It is published by Hay House (March 2009) and will be available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com
The Mysterious World of Dreams Revealed
Dreams for Children
A golden pool of melted butter floats in my morning oatmeal. My finger, finding a chip in the earthen bowl, idly plays with its rough edges. My ten-year-old daughter is in the middle of an engaging conversation concerning her dream exploits of the night before. I’m enjoying our family’s breakfast dream sharing. When Meadow shares her dreams, a hazy look crosses her face as she vividly remembers the intimate details. Her dreams are usually long-winded sagas full of intricate details. They sometimes appear to span generations. She also pays close attention to details in her daily life. David’s dreams are usually succinct and to the point—much like his personality. My dreams are usually active and whimsical.
When we take time to share our dreams and assist one another in understanding their secret messages, the quality of the day is more balanced. For each of us, our dream sharing is extremely significant for the consolidation of our family energy. It provides Meadow with a sense of acceptance and a deeper understanding of herself. She claims that she’s more apt to remember her dreams and use their messages when we take this time to share our dreams over breakfast.
It isn’t uncommon that when children recount their dreams, adults will nonverbally communicate that they aren’t to be taken seriously. And when our children have had a nightmare, we rush to reassure them, saying, “Oh, it’s just a dream. It doesn’t mean anything.” However, listening to your little one’s dreams—even in the middle of the night when you’re longing to crawl back into bed—can have an inspiring and transforming effect on your child’s life.
It’s important to communicate to your children the significance and value of their dreams. You want to encourage your child’s interest in dreams. Never, ever, correct or criticize the child’s behavior in the dream or belittle any of his or her feelings about it. Let your children know that you enjoy hearing about their dreams exactly as they occurred. And at the same time, it’s all right to encourage a child to confront the beasts or other scary things in their dreams. Teach your children that they can call on a dream guide or guardian angel to help them out of a threatening situation.
Savanna, one of my daughter’s young friends, told me that she was afraid to go to sleep at night because she thought scary monsters would come in the dark. I gave her a pointed quartz crystal that I’d programmed for use as a dream crystal. I told her that as she went to bed, she should hold the crystal in her hand and say out loud, “I command that all dream monsters leave now!” Savanna later informed me that since using the dream crystal, she hadn’t experienced any nightmares and sleeps peacefully through the night.
It’s valuable for children to feel empowered through their dreams. Let your kids know that they can have control over their dreams. If they have difficulty with this and have already attempted to change the course of their dreams without success, it’s important to continue providing encouragement. Your children may feel worse about themselves because they haven’t been able to alter their dreams. If this occurs, have them either act out or draw a specific dream and then create a more powerful and positive ending. Your emphasis should be on the flexibility and changeability of dreams. Listen carefully, and tune in to what your child needs in the moment.
Also let your children know that they can use dreams to develop a talent or ability that can then be incorporated into their daily lives. For instance, they can say before going to sleep: “I’d like to become a better swimmer [or skater or artist and so on]. Give me the dream that will help me accomplish this goal.”
To help your children with their dreams, obtain a “dream book” in which they can record dreams. It can be a notebook, scrapbook, diary, or even a few blank pages stapled together. Allow your children to select what appeals to them the most, and explain that this will be a special book to be used only for dreams. Children can write about their dreams themselves, or, if they’re too young, you can jot down their dreams for them. Then have your kids create a drawing of their dream alongside the story. They may want to draw a picture of how they were feeling or how they wished the dream had ended.
The dream book can also be utilized when children think of additional stories regarding their dreams. For example, if your son had a disturbing dream, he can go back into the dream and rewrite it, making himself the hero. Help him understand that it’s all right to revisit the dream and make it end exactly the way he wished it had. Let him know that even scary things in the dream can be changed.
It’s crucial for parents to give their children enough time and space to interpret their dreams. It may be difficult at first for kids to figure out what their dreams mean; however, by simply allowing them to share their dreams, you’ll empower them in their daily lives.
As you talk about the interpretation of your dreams, your children will feel safer discussing what they believe are the meanings behind their dreams. Dream guidance should be very gentle, and children should never feel that they’re being pushed.
If your daughter (or son) has recurring nightmares, you can help by giving her crayons and paper and encouraging her to draw the object that scares her. When she draws the monster or scary creature, she can put it in jail, make it look silly, or even add in a dream guide who’s bigger and more powerful. By doing this simple exercise, the child feels empowered, rather than victimized, and the nightmares often cease.
If your children have difficulty in either scaring off the monsters or believing that they can change any part of a dream, you may wish to become a “dream champion.” By doing so, you actually begin to fight the battle for your child in an improvised drama until he or she feels safe or empowered enough to take over and “finish” it.
For example, after your child recounts their scary dream you can hold an imaginary sword in your hand and say out loud, “Now I have the sword in my hand; the hairy monster is backing up. Look how afraid he is of this bright sword! I’m so powerful that the monster is starting to run away, but I won’t let him just run because the magic silver in the sword is going to destroy him so that he never comes back to scare you again!” If at any point in the drama you can give the imaginary sword to your child, do so. I’ve found that once the child feels safe and has some sense of control, he or she will often want to finish the job!
One delightful way to introduce children to learning about their dreams is for them to have a “dream visitation” night. One time, when my daughter was young, she invited her friends Savanna and Roslyn to spend the night. These eight-year-olds had never done any dream work previously. Just before they went to bed, I said, “Tonight, why don’t you all share your dreams. Tonight, why don’t you enter one another’s dreams.” Following is what occurred as told in their own words.
Savanna and Meadow and I were walking to a rock shop. Savanna had brought her best crystal, I’d brought an orange one I found on the way, and Meadow had brought a crystal she’d found near her home. When we got to the rock workshop, everyone was cutting crystals into quarters. We sat down and started to cut ours. Savanna was very mad because she’d brought her best crystal, but she did it anyway. We cut them and then we had to glue them back together. Little chips were falling out, and we glued those back in, too. When we were done, we took our crystals and wrapped them up in paper and took them home. Savanna still had her best crystal, but it wasn’t like it used to be. It still had little chips out of it that she’d forgotten to glue back.
Meadow and I were sisters. There was a man who’d kidnapped a girl. I told Meadow about it, and she got so mad she threw him in the swimming pool. Roslyn was watching. Meadow was mad because she liked this man and he’d been pretending to be nice to her.
[This is a condensed version—Meadow’s dreams are epic novels.]
A few days ago, two of my friends were spending the night and my mom said, “You girls can share a dream tonight, if you like.” It didn’t seem like we all shared the same dream, but we all dreamed about each other, and I’m going to tell you about one of the dreams I had that night:
I was with my friend, Savanna, eating at her school cafeteria, and she started punching stuff into the principal’s computer. I found myself and her in the principal’s office, punching all these things into his big computer. Savanna remembered that the principal had all these rules, such as: “You’ll have to die if you mess with the principal’s computer.” Then she remembered that we had to stick our hands in a window thing. We stuck our hands in this window, but when Savanna tried to pull hers out, something grabbed her hand with all these bones on it and it pulled her in.
I grabbed her foot and yanked her out. The principal began chasing us. We ran through all these things through the whole school. We had to do all these things or die. We finally got out.
Roslyn was there and all three of us ran to the town square. I asked them, “Do either of you have a quarter?” They said no.
Savanna said, “A quarter is a lot of money!” I ran up the hill to town and called her mother, Sandra, to see if she could come and get us. And for some reason, I was becoming quarterless during all this. Finally, my mom came, and I told her the story about the principal, and that he was chasing us. She started videotaping him and becoming friends with him. She was kind of the hero of my dreams because she made the principal all happy and then he forgot about chasing us. And then my mom picked me up and asked me how my day was, and I said, “Oh, nothing exciting.” And then Savanna and Roslyn were picked up by Sandra. Everyone was safe and happy at the end of my dream.
[Meadow’s note: “I think the meaning of this dream is to go ahead and take chances, and it will have a good ending. Take chances in life.”]
It was interesting to note that not only did they recall their dreams, but each dream had all three girls in it. Without going into any in-depth interpretation, it’s fascinating that two of the dreams (Roslyn’s and Meadow’s) had the idea of quarters in them, and two of the dreams had a male antagonist who was eventually overcome.
One morning, Meadow (when she was eight years old) asked if she could tell me about a dream she felt was very significant to her. I’ve included it here because it demonstrates a method of dealing positively with a child’s nightmares.
Meadow Talking about her Nightmare
A month or two ago, I had a dream about robbers, and this man, who used to be my mom’s friend, was one of the robbers. I was so horribly terrified. That’s my biggest fear—robbers, coming in and taking things and being there. It was probably the scariest dream I ever had, and I was really frightened.
And then, after talking to my mom about that dream, I got really scared just talking about it. She put out a pillow and said to pretend that it was the robber, so I began chopping him and hitting him with my hands and beating him. Then, the next night, I had another dream about robbers in the house. But this time, I had a plan. If we heard the robbers knock on the door, at the count of three, we’d open both doors—the back and the front doors. We had it all figured out. I woke up and was a little scared, and then I thought about killing the robbers, so I wasn’t scared. I think that was a really good improvement, don’t you?
Then right after that, I had a dream that me and my mom were where this man lives, who had been the robber in my first dream, and we saw this beautiful house. And, that’s where he lived. And my mom said, “Oh, it’s so nice to be back again.” And, I wasn’t mad at this person anymore, and he wasn’t a poo-poo head anymore. So I think I’ve really changed through my dreams.
By showing Meadow that she could be in control of her dream states (that is, by hitting the “robber” pillow), she was able to feel more powerful than her dream enemy, and this feeling carried over into her daily life. Meadow is no longer afraid of robbers.
The man in the moon looked out of the moon
Looked out of the moon and said,
’Tis time for all children on the earth,
To think about getting to bed.
— Mother Goose