Electric Dreams

Dream Trek

Decathlon Dreaming

Linda Lane Magallón

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 Magallón, Linda Lane (1999 July). Dream Trek: Decathlon Dreaming. Column. Electric Dreams 6(7). Retrieved on July 11, 2000 on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

In Western culture, there is a deep bias that dreams "just happen" to us; that they are an automatic product of our sleeping psyches. With such an attitude, there is little recognition of the skills and arts related to dreaming.

But even if we simply want to recognize that we dream, we must invoke the skills of memory and cognition. To record the dream on paper and to report it to someone else involves the arts of writing and story-telling. Some folks have poor memory of dreams; some record just the bare bones, the nouns and verbs. Descriptive adjectives and adverbs that paint emotions, feelings and color into the black-and-white outline go missing. It makes for a very boring dream report! I really enjoy listening to and reading dreams where the dreamer spent some time and effort to narrate the details and draw out any story elements. Most definitely, it is an art and skill to be a good dream reporter.

Almost anyone with the slightest interest in dreams will begin to utilize more than one skill or art. There is a growing number of "3 R" triathlon dreamers: those who Recall and Record their dreams and then Relate their dreams to other people in a dream group.

Then there are the embellishers. They interpret dreams, using a potpourri of techniques from free association to definition dialogue. They use the literal arts of dance or drawing, ceramics or singing to express the dream. Some even modify behavior via cognitive, visualization and artistic therapies. But all this activity occurs after the dreaming is done. After we wake with the dream product. The dream is used as a launching pad for waking arts and skills.

But there are also those unsung heroes who are not satisfied with the approach that makes dreamwork and dreamplay an after-thought. Some motivating factor urges them on, to venture into the unknown. It's they who have caught the sense that dreaming is a wondrous opportunity to be explorers of the greatest frontier of all: inner space. As they stretch their wings in preparation for flight, these dreamers discover that they are gathering a repertoire of pre-dreaming arts and skills. They are becoming decathlon dreamers. The more I come into contact with these dreamers, the more impressed I am with their patience and tenacity.

It is a fiction that it takes an extraordinary person to achieve an extraordinary dream, unless you define "extraordinary" as a solitary event that spontaneously happens to a one-shot wonder. I'm not talking about those folks who have one or two amazing dreams that they treat like rare hot-house plants for the rest of their lives. I'm speaking of those dreamers who have tasted enough delightful dreams to develop a hunger for those same dreams when they experience a drought. Who miss their wonderful dreams as they would an absent friend.

To the casual observer, it may seem that such dreams are fortunate gifts of unexpected grace. Wild flowers in the field of dreams. But as I watch these super dreamers in action, as I hear what they do before they dream, I discover that they nurture, fertilize and prepare the ground for the emergence of their lovely blossoms. What a healthy endeavor: to tend the garden of the mind.

Before dreams begin there are host of incubation activities that result in better dream recall, a special type of dream or a change in content. Dreams will indeed perk up when we water them with attention before we go to sleep. We can process day residue, set aside problems, encapsulate troublesome emotions to clear the ground of toxins and support the emergence of creative dreams. We can use self-suggestion, stimulate ourselves with imagery, rehearse dream dramas, set goals before we go to sleep to provide the building blocks for dream construction and growth.

Dreams can be cultivated. What that takes is interest, enthusiasm and practice, practice, practice. Decathlon dreamers interact with dreams in much the way that an athlete prepares for a sports events, in the way an artist sets up her easel, in the way that an environmentalist cares for the ground of our being.

Before we sleep.