“Now when those experiences [of vivid dreams] during deep sleep first come to the notice of the student his next task must be to sense them as clearly and vividly as possible. At first this presents great difficulty the perception of these experiences being exceedingly slight. The student knows very well, on waking, that he has had an experience, but is completely in the dark regarding its nature. The most important thing during the initial stage is to remain quiet and composed, and not for a moment lapse into any unrest or impatience. The later is under all circumstances detrimental; it can never accelerate development, but only delay it. The student must cultivate a quiet and yielding receptivity for the gift that is presented to him.” ~Rudolf Steiner
Remembering Dreams and Visions
Dreams, flashes, and visions can come to us is various circumstances. They usually happen during sleep, but can happen at any time. They almost always happen only when we are very relaxed and receptive.
In the classic Science Fiction Movie Forbidden Planet, Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Mobius states, “What man can remember his own dreams.” He doesn’t ask it as a question, but states it as if saying “no man can remember his own dreams.” In actual fact, it is a question. The answer to the question is “Spiritual adepts, among others.” The spiritually trained student tends to remember his dreams more than the average person. And anyone can increase their chances of remembering their dreams by simply telling themselves before they doze off, “I will remember the dreams I have tonight.”
Relax and Be Patient
Steiner correctly advises us to not “lapse into any unrest or impatience.” A lack of patience is one of the greatest detriments to having spiritual dreams and remembering them. Actually, a lack of patience is one of the greatest problems for all spiritual growth and development.
Another thing that can help with remembering dreams and visions is to write down what little we do remember after we wake. After doing that for a while, we will start remembering more. If you don’t want to write it down, you can keep a small digital recorder handy and record the dream instead.
Understanding Dreams and Visions
I didn’t include in the quote the part where Mr. Steiner talks about how spiritual dreams are often full of symbols and allegory, but he does discuss it. Remembering the dream is only half of the problem. Now we have to figure out what it means. A good dream dictionary can help with this, but doesn’t have all the answers. While many symbols have the same meaning for most of us, sometimes a symbol has a different meaning to certain individuals. For example, seeing bread or eating bread in a dream is generally symbolic of coming wealth or good fortune. But if you are gluten sensitive, it may represent illness to you. Where it really get complicated is that not all dreams even have meaning. Some are just nonsense that may be the result of something you ate that evening. Beans, for example, are reputed to cause nightmares.1
Flashes, Visions, and Intuition
Beyond dreams, there are flashes, visions, and intuition. They may all have significant meaning and happen at any time. But they can also mean nothing.
A flash is a quick image that suddenly pops into your head. Or it may be a spoken word, or a scent. This may be a warning coming to you from the spirit world or your own subconscious mind. Even more than dreams, it is hard to know when these flashes are significant. If you are sitting in an airport and get a sudden flash of a plane crash, you might want to change your flight. On the other hand, an image might pop into your head because you associate it with a song playing in the background that you may not even be aware of. What Jung called “synchronicity” often happens in this form. You hear the name of a person you haven’t heard from in years, and a few minutes later they call. Or you hear a little of a song in your head, and then the same song comes on the radio.
Visions can happen at night or during the day. They will almost always happen when you are relaxed. It is difficult to tell a vision from a dream. There are different definitions and opinions. The general rule is that a vision is some spiritual insight that is intended to help you develop your spiritual self. A dream may be about anything on any level.
Intuition doesn’t involve vision at all. It is usually just a feeling. You’re offered a business deal and it just doesn’t feel right. You have a feeling that tomorrow is better day to maker a trip than today. This intuition is usually accurate and we should pay attention to it. Like dreams and visions, the spiritually developed person will have more of it than the average person.
1Nightmares – This comes from an old German belief that a dream about a horse, especially a mare, was a bad omen. This somehow became generalized so now all scary dreams are called nightmares.