HPIM0541.JPG Early last summer I accepted a last minute invitation to visit a friend who lives two hours away for a barbecue. With no planning I jumped in my car and soon I was in my friend’s kitchen helping her rinse greens for a salad, while others prepped the grill and set the table. I spent the day playing with a little boy on the tire swing under the Chestnut tree, eating chicken hot dogs with the group, and later driving to a lake where we kayaked under a serene blue sky. Floating there on the lake in a small blue boat, my yellow  paddle pushing me past the white flowers sprouting from lily pads, I felt my heart pulsing with joy.

This past winter, when I felt cold or lonely, I would remember that day—the painterly light animating the tall grasses in the field behind my friend’s house, the trees, and the buttlerflies whispering on the breezes, and the easy company of old and new friends, and the peace of paddling on that glimmering lake.

The day was sweet. But reflecting on it and savoring it in the months that followed, was even sweeter.

I don’t need to convince you that paying attention to happy moments like this one, and savoring them afterwards, adds joy to your life. Such a day can enrich our lives just by having happened, and by being remembered. Or we might go a step further and try to learn something from it: This is what happens when I take a chance and say yes to a last minute invitation, for example.

But you might need convincing if I told you that a dream is no different, that by simply savoring a sweet one, or studying a troubling one, you can learn lessons and increase the joy in your life. You might argue, “But my dreams are not like a serene summer day with new friends.” You’ll say, “My dreams are anxiety-infused, nonsensical, and bizarre.”

Yes, my friend I’ve had days—I mean dreams—like that, too.

Let’s take the days, first, because we all believe in those. For example there was the day a friend who’d always been sweet and cheerful turned argumentative and angry. Or the day I took my seat on the ferry for a weekend getaway only to realize, that I’d left my wallet at home. Or the one where my students refused to listen to me and I came home hoarse from asking them to quiet down.

I could choose to ignore those days because they too are bizarre, nonsensical, and anxiety-infused. But I’m not that kind of person, and since you are reading this, I’m guessing neither are you. Instead, I reflect: What happened? How do I understand my friend’s sudden change in behavior? What did I learn about my inner resourcefulness from embarking on a trip with no identification or money? How can I speak to my students so they will want to listen?

Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s easy to see that we can learn from our experiences rather than turn away from them, and that this is the way to grow and become more skillful at navigating what life throws our way. And you can do the very same thing with your dreams.

Forget for the moment about archetypes, analysis, ids, and super egos. Look at your dreams as experiences you can choose to dismiss as random hallucinations, or mine for wisdom, emotional insight, and original perspective.

Working with dreams is no more complicated, than what you do naturally with your waking experiences. Simply pay attention to what happened last night, when you drifted into sleep and entered into other dimensions of consciousness.

 Try This:

  •  This week, accept your dreams as experiences. Period. Remember: interpreting and analyzing dreams is only one of many ways to respond to them.
  • As you reflect on your dream notice: What new places did I see? What new, unusual, or unexpected abilities or facets of myself or others did I encounter?
  • Is there anything from your dream, perhaps a color, character, situation, or feeling, that you’d like to savor or reflect on?

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Tzivia Gover, Certified Dream Therapist, is available to help you understand the meaning and messages in your dreams. Visit her at www.thirdhousemoon.com to view her upcoming workshops and for summer dreamwork discounts.