While driving across our beautiful state earlier this week, obsessing about problems and desperate for creative insight, I turned on the radio. Iowa Public Radio, to be precise, and a program about lucid dreaming. That’s when you’re in a dream and know it. There is even such a thing as dream yoga in which adepts reportedly develop remarkable facility.
The discussion also recounted a wide range of dream research and anecdotes. Abraham Lincoln had a dream premonition of his assassination shortly before the tragic event. Sting and Johnny Cash, to name but two, have had songs come to them in dreams.
Solutions to important math problems have appeared in dreams. Or moments after a sunrise awakening. (Which brings to mind the incredible underpinning mathematics seems to provide our universe. Hmm, brains certainly aren’t rectilinear…)
One of the cofounders of Google had his flash of insight appear to him in a dream. A Nobel winning chemist whose work had to do with the chemical transmission of nerve impulses in the brain owes his prize to a dream.
“Sleeping on it” works. A study was done in which a problem requiring a creative approach was presented to two test groups. One group got the problem early in the morning and allowed half a day to solve. The problem was given to the second group shortly before bedtime with the answer due by noon the next day. Second group was far more successful.
Brought to mind two of the most incredible dreams I’ve had. Both occurred during visits to my terminally ill brother.
The first was when I joined him at a beautiful secluded meditation retreat in the mountains of Oregon. He had been diagnosed just weeks prior. He looked fine and acted fine, but wasn’t.
We arrived at night in a blizzard. My emotions were roiling and after meeting his friends, both enrobed monks and lay people, I slept in my clothes it was so cold. Wood heat. My dreams were of such utter tranquility that I awoke with a smile certain that all would be ok. And he was during the next seventeen months during which I visited him several times.
When I arrived for what proved to be my last visit though, his condition had worsened dramatically over the short interim since my previous appearance. I was so shaken that upon first seeing him I called the nearby Golden Gate Bridge something other than that. Clearly the end was near. Couple weeks. He could see that I was shocked and joked about my mistake. I was nearly overwhelmed.
Several of his fellow Tibetan Buddhists were there with us. That night I dreamt that my wife was giving birth to another child, another girl and I was in the next room waiting for the announcement. There was some sort of muffled commotion and I went in.
Those about me were sobbing. The baby had been born, but wasn’t yet breathing. It looked healthy and was clean of all birth fluids and blood etc. I held her and talked softly to her. She smiled and began to cry. We were all overcome with joy and so that was what we decided to name her – Joy.
Next morning, amazed at the tone and nature of that dream given the situation and my mental state, I recounted it to my brother. He said “I’m tellin’ ya man, there’s somethin’ to this stuff…”
*Interviewee was Robert Waggoner/International Association for the Study of Dreaming.