Practical dreaming, is that an oxymoron? Let's explore and find out. There's nothing wrong with dreams that move the dreamer along spiritually. Each of my books devote chapters to spiritual dreams. But, likewise, I see nothing wrong with, and lots right with, dreams that help the dreamer along in the mundane, practical areas of their life. We can all use help with health and safety, finances, career, creativity, interpersonal relationships and personality growth.
Back in 1959, when I was a young mother and teacher, I drove sixty miles round-trip to work. After surgery a fellow teacher, Mabel Olsen, asked me to pick her up part way to shorten her drive. We choose a parking lot in front of some stores as the spot to leave her car.
We met there daily at 7 am. One morning Mabel phoned me before I left my house and asked me to meet her around the corner on the residential street. She said that she felt badly about taking up space in the parking lot all day. That morning while Mabel was getting into my car on the residential street we heard an enormous CRASH! When we got back by the parking lot we saw a small airplane upside down in the corner of the lot where we would have been.
I stopped the car, stared at Mabel and asked her how she'd known. 'I dreamt it last night,' she said,'But I didn't tell you because I thought you might think it was silly to pay attention to a dream. I didn't know if it would really happen.'
In case you are having trouble accepting that warning dreams occur consider the case of the Titanic. The British Society for Psychical Research has records of four precognitive dreams reported before the sinking of the Titanic. Two passengers with tickets for the maiden voyage dreamed of drowning and cancelled their trips. Two other passengers reported dreams of drowning but went anyway and did drown.
That practical dream launched me on a life-long, self-directed, in-depth study of dreams. I soon discovered the Edgar Cayce dream interpretation work. He was a trance clairvoyant who interpreted over 600 dreams while in trance. His interpretations acknowledged the practical side of dreaming. He made many statements like this one, ' The dreams as we see that come to this body, with their lessons, are the experiences necessary for the entity's ...better develoment mentally, morally, spiritually, financially, see'' This is from Cayce Reading 136-15. He frequently mentioned physically as well.
I tabulated the dreams in the Cayce series and found these percentages.
11% Health and safety - diet, exercise, warnings etc.
14% Financial and job related - real estate, investments, spending etc.
27% Interpersonal relationships - family, co-workers, friends.
20% Personality or character - too much or too little ego, etc.
4% Creativity - project design, marketing etc.
9% Concept understanding and thinking - What's it all about'
15% Spiritual development - purification and even cosmic consciousness.
This article is about some dreams that have helped people in these various areas of their lives.
You will also learn something about how dreams use a visual picture image to stand in for a related or associated non-visual concept. Dreams also take what we would say, including jargon, slang and figures of speech, and make a picture of it. Often to understand we have to take the picture and put it back into words, the verbal message.
One of the best known Biblical dreams offered physical guidance. I mean the Pharaoh's dream of seven fat cattle and seven fat ears of corn devoured by seven lean cattle and seven parched ears of corn. Through the warning from this dream the Egyptian nation stored up food ahead of their seven year drought and were saved from starvation. Very practical.
We all have this source of practical guidance speaking to us every night. It might be as simple as this woman's dream. She was enjoying a vacation with the usual food fun.
"I am in the hotel dining room at a table with my in-laws. (The in-laws
weren't really with me). A little pig, wearing a dress, walks into the room.
I know it is my pig. I think it is so cute. I can hardly wait to take it home
and share it with my children. Then I realize it is cute now because it is little, but if I take it home it will grow and grow and become
a big, fat problem."
This was a gentle nudge from her dream-mind. It is okay, with in the law, to be a little piggy while on vacation. But a big, fat problem if you keep it up at home.
We often dream about what is on our waking mind. A young bachelaor was living in an apartment but had started checking out condominiums. He was thinking it would be a good idea to start building up some equity. After a day of condo searching he had this dream.
"A hand appears and shows me a business card. On the card is the
address of the condo I'd like the best. The hand then gave the card to one of the girls I have been dating"
He bought the condo. A year later he married the girl in the dream. Still later when they had a baby he was really glad he'd bought that condo. They now had enough equity to buy a house for the family. I call that practical financial guidance.
A dream student of mine and her husband were planning to buy a half acre in San Diego County, build a house and retire. They gave a realtor a price range and he showed them some lots. They said they'd let him know. During the next week the wife had this dream.
"My husband and I are buying a bird's nest. It looks very soft and
cozy. I am especially impressed with the lovely tree it is in. "
When they went back the next week-end she asked the realtor about lots with trees. He told them they had some but they would cost more than they'd mentioned. They looked anyway and bought one in a hollow to build their little nest. They got a much pleasanter homesite and it was financially wise too.
Pansy Essman was a grandmother with an assemblyline job in a factory. She and her daughter brought the first grandchild home from the hospital together. They gave Baby Letha her first bath. The baby was frightened. She screamed and kicked and all of them got soaked. That night Grandma Pansy had a dream.
"I went to my closet and took out a sponge-like pillow shaped to
hold a baby's body. I used it to give Letha a bath and she loved it.
I woke up and realized I had the answer to the problem many mothers have with newborns "
After six months of research Pansy had the colorful,
non-allegenic sponge she needed. She formed her own company, Pansy Ellen Baby
Bathaids. Soon they were manufacturing 20,000 baby bath pillows every month. Pretty practical financial dream guidance wouldn't you agree'
A great deal of adult life is spent on the job and many dreams concern the dreamer's work life.
Jean, a secretary for an oil company executive brought this dream to my class. She asked one of the most common questions, 'Why did I dream of 'So and So', I haven't thought of him in thirty years'? Here is her dream.
"My boss and I are up on top of an old oil rig. It is very wobbly and
shaky. I look down and there is Mr. 'So and So' looking up at us."
I asked her several questions about this man such as his name, character traits, physical traits, occupation etc. It turned out he had owned and operated the concession stand at their local beach. After some discussion it came to light that Jean's boss was rigging things at the company in a dishonest way As a result he was rising to the top in the company. Jean knew about the illegal
maneuvering but had made concessions about it because her job seemed to depend on it.
The dream seemed to indicate that the situation was getting shaky. So, Jean got herself another job, and none too soon. Her boss was found out and toppled from his position. Another case of practical dream information.
Cindy was disgruntled at work and was considering quitting. But, a good job in a medical lab would not be easily replaced. Her dreams gave her an idea where the problem was and how she could fix it.
"I am at work. It is late afternoon, just about quitting time.
I have long black hair (my real hair is brown and shorter). This long black hair is getting in my eyes and interfering with
"I leave work and on my way home I stop and get a hair
cut. Next morning I arrive at work with short hair and it is blonde. My co-workers clamor around admiring my new short, blonde
"A company nurse comes up and says, "Oh, how great! This is just
what the doctor ordered to grow a new culture. He is sure a culture grown from short, blonde hair will produce a medicine with great
healing power." The nurse took a strand of my hair and went off to start a culture plate."
You see, dreams use visual things that can be associated with the non-visual idea they want to represent. Since hair and thinking both come from the head they are associated by the similarity of location. Cindy's long, black dream hair represented lots of dark, negative thoughts. It was Cindy's own negative thinking that was interferring with her work. Cindy's fault-finding personality was the problem.
The dream suggests that Cindy "cut that out" and "lighten up". If she appeared
at work with a more cultured, less critical attitude her co-workers would admire her. It wasn't easy but Cindy did manage to change her thinking. This dream combined practical career, self-growth and interpersonal guidance.
Probably the most troublesome area of life is interpersonal relationships. People are so
peoplish. But, our dreams will help. Before giving the next dream example I am reminded of something Dr. Ann Faraday said in her book, The Dream Game, "People are often incredulous when they first learn of the dreaming mind's capacity for playing with words. Freud noted it as did Carl Jung and others such as the American psychic, Edgar Cayce."
Sally had only been married a couple of weeks when she had this dream.
"I'm walking through a World War II defense plant. I spot
a photographic negative on the floor. I hold it up to the light and see that it is a picture of my new father-in-law. I start to
throw it is the wastebasket but it is too big. So, I pin it on a nearby bulletin board."
This man she said was very difficult, noone in the family could get along with him. Yes, she agreed he was very defensive and negative and also he was of World War II vintage. Okay, we got the picture. Her dream is shedding light on this man. He is too big a thing in her life to toss in the wastebasket. The dream has a practical suggestion for her. Take special notice of him, pay lots of attention to him. Sally tried this approach. Soon everyone in the family was impressed at how well they were getting along.
New married life requires lots of adjustments. Here is an example from the Cayce files. The dreamer had been married six
monthes. She had the dream on Dec. 10th, right around gift shopping time. She dreamed she wanted to buy her husband something so she went into a store to buy him some ties. She felt they cost too much so decided to buy herself some jelly beans instead.
Cayce, in trance, told her that it was about her need to manifest special relations (ties) regarding her husband. Going back on that when ties are being attempted to be purchased and the turn to herself for physical satisfaction was not good. She needed to pay the price for the new family ties so that "the better relations throughout these periods may be the more perfectly manifested."
Mother's often have difficulty with teenage sons. The mother may complain to the father and then the boy is in trouble with both parents. Such was the case when this mother had this dream.
"It is early morning (Comes the dawn). I am in bed with my husband, biting his ear. Our son comes in and tells me he needs
some change for school. I say, "There is a dollar on the night stand."
"No' he says, "I need change, quarters, dimes,
nickles." I am very upsset with him.
"Then he becomes himself at the age of nine. I remember how he was
my freckle-faced darling and I give him a big hug."
The message she got from that dream was to change her relationship to her son. To stop complaining and to just love him as she did when he was younger. Sounds practical to me.
A young college girl came to one of my dream study classes curious about a recurring dream. She'd been having this dream off and on since she was sixteen.
"A large pair of men's feet come out of the drawers of my
bedroom chest. The feet walk up and down all over me.
Sometimes I know they are my father's feet, sometimes they
are the feet of a boyfriend."
Due to her childhood family life, her idea of male-female relationships was that men dominate. She could easily see her dreams were telling her repeatedly that "men walk all over you'. She agreed that it was true. Just as her father had "walked all over" her mother and herself, she didn't feel it could be any other way. As suggested by the drawers in her bedroom boyfriends took advantage of her sexually because she allowed it.
This dream really helped her understand the pattern, where it came from AND that it didn't have to be that way. This was a great psychological breakthrough for her. She became more self-protective and assertive and men began treating her better, more respectfully.
Creative problem solving is a practical feature of dreams. The "Sleep on it" advice has been around for centuries. Elias Howe when he was trying to design a sewing machine began by using a needle like the hand sewing needle, one with a hole in the blunt end. It wasn't working. Finally one night he dreamed some natives were prodding him along with spears. They were taking him to boiling the pot. Just before he woke up he noticed that each spear had a hole in the pointed end.
Not having heard of Freudian dream interpretation he did the practical thing and applied the idea to his design problem. The rest is history. Aristotle once said that the key to dream interpretation is resemblances. The spears and the sewing needle resemble each other. They share shape qualities both being long, narrow and pointed. Their functions and location are different but differences don't count. It is similarities that we use to make associations awake or asleep.
Practical dreaming is not an oxymoron. To be a dream and to be practical is by no means a contradiction in terms.
The dreams in this article, unless otherwise noted, are from my files and my books,
SLEEP ON IT!
The Practical Side of Dreaming, and Sex, Symbols and Dreams.