Introducing Dream Medicine
The practice of discovering insight from our dreams and then integrating the energies into the healing of mind, body and spirit is good medicine...
Introducing Dream Medicine
Working with dreams is good medicine. It is a practice of discovering insight from our dreams and then integrating the energies into the healing of mind, body and spirit using those healing dreams.
The power of healing dreams has been recognized since ancient times. Dreams were credited in the earliest known medical book, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, dating back to the third century BC. They were held in high regard by both Greek and Roman physicians including Hippocrates, Aristotle and Galen of Pergamum. By the second century AD, there were more than 300 active temples for healing throughout Greece and the Roman Empire. Most of these were dedicated to the god, Aesclepius. In these temples, the primary healing practice was the use of dreams as a vehicle for both diagnosis and treatment.
With the fall of the Roman Empire and throughout the Dark Ages, the importance of dream healing began to fade and remained dormant for centuries. By the 19th century there was growing awareness of the existence and importance of the “unconscious.” Then at the beginning of the 20th century, through the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the “healing dream” was reexamined. The importance of dreams as a major factor in the healing process was once again acknowledged and appreciated.
Today, working with dreams and dream healing is practiced not only by many psychiatrists, analysts, and psychologists but also by physicians in the integrative medicine movement, a growing movement that brings together alternative and complementary practices with standard medical care. Larry Dossey, M.D., in his book, The Reinvention of Medicine, advocates the use of dream medicine as part of the diagnostic process. Bernie Siegel, M.D. is a surgeon who for many years has encouraged patients to explore their dreams. He joins Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., Andrew Weil, M.D. and many other physicians who teach complementary and integrative healing practices, including dreams, to students in medical schools.
In the 1980's, psychoneuroimmunology researcher, Candace Pert, Ph.D., discovered that even tiny immune cells have receptors for neuropeptides, which she nicknamed “molecules of emotion”. She emphasized that for maximum functioning of the immune system, it is important to free any emotions that are blocked and to find creative expression for all emotions. Working with dreams is a process for approaching this goal. Candace Pert has worked with her own dreams for many years.
The Nightmare as a Medicine Dream
Can a nightmare be a healing dream after all? Dreams highlight inner conflicts that produce hidden stress. Dreams help to identify fear, anger, loss of control, and other attitudes and emotions that produce stress and inhibit immune functioning. Nightmares are therefore particularly important. Nightmares help pinpoint issues, attitudes and emotions that need transformation. When nightmares are confronted, the symbols and energy they carry begin to transform in a direction of strength and resolution. These transformed attitudes and emotions positively affect the immune system.
*Though dreams spotlight fears and conflicts, they also lead toward a sense of hope and a sense of purpose. Research shows that a sense of hope and purpose correlates with immune enhancement.
*Working with a "medicine dream" over time brings an experience of a compelling movement toward completion and wholeness; an experience of a growing synthesis among conflicting thoughts and patterns of behavior. Research confirms that a sense of unity and harmony corresponds not only with enhanced immune functioning but also with multiple indicators of good health.
*Working with dreams over time evokes a strong sense of connection with awesome supportive Presence. Carl Jung called this powerful, central energy the Self. Jung taught that encounter with this awesome “numinous” power is the primary path to healing experience. Dreams often bring a sense of connection with this healing power. Such experiences affirm that working with dreams is good medicine.
Additional information about her work with cancer patients can be found on her web site, www.healingpowerofdreams.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and invites your comments and suggestions.
About the Author
Every aspect of working with dreams positively impacts immune functioning.