A simple method to get rid of nightmares
In 1981, Baud and I found a book by Patricia Garfield called "Creative Dreaming" (in French : "La Créativité Onirique : Du Rêve Ordinaire au Rêve Lucide", Ed. La table Ronde) which was about the teachings on dreams from different cultures (ancient Greece, American Indians, Senoï and Tibetans) and contained a method to get rid of nightmares. We both had some, and as the method was simple, we decided to try it.
It consists in writing down one's dreams on a little note-book beside the bed, so when one wakes up, one tries to get memories of the dream and writes some words just to remember it later. One has to have the desire to remember the dreams and, to get rid of the nightmare, say inwardly before sleeping : "I must face and defeat danger in dream."
The next day, one describes every dream with as many details as possible, gives it a title and index it with a number and the date. Then if the dream was not satisfying, we can studdy solutions we could have chosen in the context to modify it to our advantage, and decide that the next time, we shall choose another issue, and write it down as well. One has to remember that everything is permitted in dreams, and that we can decide of the events; for instance, in front of a danger, we can transform ourselves, like Merlin the Wizard, or call some friends for help, or realize that we are in dream and we do not want this scenario anymore, etc. Then, one can follow the evolution of the recurrent nightmares, the theme of which often comes back, and see how we can change it from a dramatic issue to a comfortable one for us.
This is a summing up, as there are exercises in the book.
My nightmares changed the following way : at the beginning of trying the method and exercises, I stopped being the victim of violences, but became the aggressor, attacked the guys who were attacking me and killed them. They were not properly speaking nightmares, and stopping undrgoing was great. But it was still quite violent and bloody, which was not satisfying. I had several dreams of this kind, until one day, I met an aggressor with a gun. I watched it, the gun became all soft, melted, and I burst out of laughing in front of him, and he found himself kind of stupid. Then I felt sympathy towards him, and felt he had done a good joke to me with his melting gun.. This was the end of the nightmares.
Baud had a similar evolution, but without passing through the aggressive step. His nightmares were merely about army : he was back into the barrack and realized he never left the army, which turned into a nightmare. One night he was in the barrack, in presence of the colonel, and took his military papers, tore them into pieces, threw them at the colonel's face and went away from the barrack. This was his turning point dream.
Sometimes after at the hospital, came a young patient who had nightmares every night : she had been raped some years before and every night was living it again in dreams . So she was very anxious to go to sleep and, awaking by night after a nightmare, she often tried to kill herself.
Baud told her about the method and she was interested. She read the book, got interested in her dreams and began to note them. Every day she was telling him about the new one and how she had managed then. First this changed her attitude towards dreams, because she had a way to act on them, and did not feel powerless anymore in front of them. After about one month, she dreamt she had met her rapist in the elevator of the hospital and gave him a monumental thrashing. This ended the series of the nightmares, and her problems with sleep. She went out sometimes after and never came back.
As a result we also found out that the change of behaviour in dreams had repercussions on our awaken life : instead of acting as victims, we changed our mental attitude and stopped seeing such situations as dramatic and hopeless to look for ways to get out of them. This did not change the facts by themselves, but made our situation much more comfortable psychologicly, and helped in different circumstances to change their issues.
A suivre …
Isabelle and Jean-Louis Baudron
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