“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the Spirit
set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
REMEMBERING YOUR DREAMS
Modern science teaches us that every night nearly everyone dreams, often multiple times. Yet for the vast majority of people these nighttime experiences completely vanish upon waking. As we make our daily transition from sleeping to waking consciousness an opaque wall abruptly separates our nighttime excursions on the spiritual planes from our daytime waking consciousness. For most, our nighttime experiences in the spirit are lost except for occasional fragments. This does not have to be. With a little attention, discipline, and practice skills can be developed which will allow us to more fully recall of our nighttime spiritual experiences.
Before we get into specific recommendations on this topic it is important to understand that many individuals who experience difficulty with dream recall, and with poor sleep quality (for they often go hand-in-hand), do so because they do not extend to this most important nightly phenomenon a sufficient degree of respect, attention, and care. In the modern world it is not at all unusual to encounter people who are quite neglectful, even dismissive, about sleep. Such attitudes are very destructive to human soul and spirit. These attitudes are so destructive that it is no wonder that, for many, dreaming is confused, dream recall is very limited, and sleep is either disturbed or inadequate. Thus, the first suggestion we want to make, especially for those who want to develop their Christian spirituality and to work with their dreams is to be far more attentive to this daily retreat that takes us away from the turmoil of daytime waking consciousness and into the healing embrace of restorative sleep.
Sleep is far more important than most realize, it is far more delicate then many care to admit, and it requires far more nurturing and care than is commonly recognized.
With these considerations in mind our first suggestion is that greater care must be taken to effect a smooth transition from the activities of the day to those of the night. It is important that we prepare properly for sleep, for high quality rest and meaningful and coherent dreams are not something that just happen willy nilly.
We must prepare not only our physical bodies, but also our minds and our souls so that we can make the best use of the nighttime hours to achieve high quality sleep and get the most out of the time that we spend on the spiritual planes. In general, this means devoting a greater amount of attention to the hour or so just before retiring in the evening. In this time it is best to create, to the extent possible, an atmosphere of devotion, quiet, and calm. For those who desire to strengthen their connections to the Christ this is the most important time of the day, for it is here where we create a receptive state of mind and begin to open to his presence. Without some period of preparation just before going to bed (fifteen minutes, at the very least), meaningful contact with the divine spiritual realms will be very difficult to achieve, and dreams will likely be reflections of the turmoil of daytime waking consciousness, and as such will be of very limited value.
To improve the quality of your rest and your dream recall we suggest that you:
1. develop a daily spiritual practice, a portion of which should take place in the time immediately before going to sleep.
2. Go to bed early (9 pm is best, but no later than 10 pm—recall that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight).
3. If you awaken very early in the morning, and are fully rested, then get up and begin your day—it is best not to sleep too much.
4. Record your dreams every day.
With daily habits structured along these general lines you will create the necessary conditions to achieve deep restful sleep and to strengthen your awareness of the Lord’s guidance and instruction, your dream experiences will become deeper, and they will be more coherent and more comprehensible.
Now, our behavior during the daytime hours is important as well. It is here where we want to avoid indulgence and the many temptations and distractions which keep us floating on the surface of life. Listed below are some of the more common behaviors that distract us, dull our minds, and darken our consciousness, thereby placing significant limits on our access to the divine spiritual planes. We suggest that you do your best to avoid:
eating too much food at any time, but especially later in the day. For a high level of dream recall, it is best to sleep with an empty stomach.
using drugs of any kind (see below for more detail). Please note: If you take prescription medications, please follow the advice of your doctor.
dissipating vitality, wasting time and energy.
going to bed too late at night.
getting too little sleep.
experiencing emotional and psychological drama or trauma.
experiencing high levels of anxiety, stress, and tension.
hyper-stimulating the nervous system by watching television, gaming, or working on the computer late into the night.
engaging in extreme activities, watching violent entertainment, or experiencing too much noise, especially discordant music at any time, but especially in the few hours before going to bed.
Regarding drugs, it is best to avoid them completely. All drugs are toxic to human consciousness, all drugs have a corrosive effect on the human soul and spirit—this includes both legal and illegal drugs.
Nearly everyone is well informed about the harmful effects of illegal drugs, but what is not generally known is that legal drugs are no better. From the point-of-view of human spirituality there are no beneficial drugs, no matter their status before the law. Please understand we are not referring to prescribed drugs within the context of modern medicine—these are a separate category. Rather we are talking about those drugs dispensed from street corner shops, in every hamlet, village, town and city.
In this context, the more common legal drugs that adversely effect sleep and dreams include: alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, and all over-the-counter medications, especially the so-called ‘sleep aids’. There are also a number of “foods” that have a drug-like effect on human consciousness and these ought be avoided as well. Among the most common of these are chocolate, refined sweets (sugar), high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, too much salt, some of the harsher chemical additives commonly found in manufactured foods (corn chips and deli meats, for example).
Consumption of the above mentioned legal drugs and foods should be minimized or eliminated for anyone who desires to improve their connections to the divine spiritual realms and benefit from the Lord’s nightly instruction found in their sleeping dreams.