Emotions and Mood

Emotions and thoughts are, almost without exception, the major source of human misery or happiness. One could say that physical pain, difficult events, outer persecution are more certainly causes of misery, but this is only true where they stimulate agonising emotions. The extraordinary nature of human beings shows that in even the most severe cases of physical pain or social deprivation, a swing of mood from depression to laughter and joy, actually reduces or removes pain and brings a positive attitude towards what previously appeared as impossible odds. Research has shown that the physical condition of our body also changes. See Avoid Being Victims

The emotion or feelings shown or hinted at in your dream is immensely important in understanding your dream and your living reactions to daily experience. Without understanding these reactions, you are almost living your life imprisoned in a dark room. Many peoples dreams are haunted by terrible fears, demons, devils or monsters. But these are all images dreams clothe your fear with – the images of devils and demons are not the cause if your fears, but the fears are the creators of the devils, demons, ferocious animals we dream of. See Masters of Nightmares 

Norman Cousins a Living Example

Norman  Cousins was at one time the editor of Newsweek in America. He was invited to Moscow as the chief guest in a national conference. On arriving he was taken to his hotel and told that a limousine with chauffeur would collect him early the next morning to transport him to the conference.

The limousine arrived on time and they set off, only to arrive at the wrong hall. There followed a frantic search for the right conference hall which lasted for hours. As Norman was the main guest, when he finally arrived the assembly were still awaiting him. With apologies and explanations the conference then began.

That night Norman did not sleep well. On his way home he noticed a heaviness in his legs. This did not disappear once home and working, but became much worse. Medical examination showed that he had an illness related to the collagen in his body. Collagen forms the connective tissues in the body, such as ligaments and tendons, and gives firmness to the flesh. Norman’s illness s was severe, and he was hospitalised.

In the hospital his condition degenerated. One day one of the doctors on his case left a note for a colleague who was to examine him later. Being puzzled and troubled about his condition Norman opened the envelope and read the note. It said, I feel we are losing Norman.

This was naturally a great shock to him. He had not realised how serious his illness was. Understanding now that the doctors felt doubt about being able to help him, he made efforts to help himself. He carefully considered his activities during the last year. It was obvious as he reviewed them that the year had been particularly stressful, culminating in the tension in Moscow. So his next step was to ask his wife to bring him books about stress. As he read through them he saw that in essence they were saying that during stress our glandular system produces substances which enter the bloodstream and have a destructive effect on the body and its health. During periods of pleasure and relaxation the glandular system produces substances which enter the bloodstream and are constructive to the body and health.

Norman was then faced with an enormous decision – whether to take his health into his own hands. He decided yes, and had himself discharged from hospital and taken to a hotel apartment. He was in such physical pain he could hardly move, so had to remain almost immobile. He had friends set up a cine film projector and screen near his bed, and had them show all his favourite comedy films. In his bed he chuckled, laughed and roared at the antics of the great film comedians, and he discovered that for every hour of laughter, he had an hour of release from pain.

Over the following days his condition radically improved. That is to say, even such fundamental things as the condition of blood, which was part of his illness, changed for the better. During this period he also took very high doses of Vitamin C, which he had been told aided healthy collagen formation in the body. In two weeks he was back at work, his pain and illness gone. He had fought the battle of physical pain and negative emotions and had won.

In dealing with the destructive and depressive side of our emotions, dreams are a constant demonstration of an almost unbelievable fact. When we casually watch someone thinking or sharing their thoughts with us in conversation, a thought or feeling appears as a transitory, ephemeral thing. Yet in a dream, every thought, every shade of emotion is immediately a physical reality.

Even if we observe thought and emotion from the outside, they are not as evanescent as they at first appear. If we keenly observe the person, changes of facial expression, body posture, heartbeat, respiration and facial colouring occur as the thoughts and emotions shift.

Norman Cousins shows how his mental and emotional life literally embodied themselves in his glands and tissues. So he could either destroy his body with his feelings, or regenerate it. All of us, in a similar sense, sculpt our body, its posture and overall condition, with our thoughts and emotions. Obviously this is a complex situation, because our sexuality, food, environment and genetic background are also powerful factors. The influence of mind must not be buried and obscured by these other factors though. And we must not forget either that there are few places we can gaze on that are not materialisations of human thoughts and feelings. Every house car building, road, article of clothing, hedgerow, book or film, even human society itself, is a materialisation of thoughts and emotions. The changes in society, fashions, architecture, are also expression of changes in the human psyche. All these things are first felt, thought and planned before being materialised. When we come to dreams, this is even more obvious and immediate. Research into the human mind, from various directions, demonstrates this. Snakes in dreams are excellent examples of this. See snake

Fear as a Way of Life

This dream from Mrs. J.W. has the theme of not being able to put the light on while feeling anxious. She says:

It started when I was six years old and living with my Mother and brother in my grandparents house, after my mother’s divorce. In the dream I am alone in the house. It begins to grow dark and switch on the light. It is very dim so I go to another room and try another light. This light is even dimmer. I carry on like this until in the end I am in virtual darkness and very frightened.’

On the same theme here is another of A.T.’s dreams.

‘At the bottom of the hill was a lodge house. This was said to be haunted. I did not feel frightened, but I did feel the need for light. I found some matches, but they were very difficult to light. I tried to light candles, and eventually succeeded, but they were not very bright, and it was still dark. A cat moved in the darkness. It did not frighten me. Using a candle I tried to light gas lamps noticed in the light from the candles. They were as difficult as the candles, and no brighter. Then I noticed electric lights, found I had some money and put it in the meter and switched on.’

The obvious anxiety in the dreams manifests itself as the physical reality of the lights being dim. A.T. is able, step by step, to deal with his anxiety through the dream symbols. First matches, then candles, next gas, then electricity. the confidence generated by the money enable him finally to dispel his anxiety by switching the lights on. Or rather, his dispelled anxiety enables him to change the physical reality of the dream. This demonstrates one of the fundamental ways human beings have dealt with negative (and therefore dangerous to survival) emotions. They use some object, person or ritual exterior to themselves to help them stimulate their own pleasure or confidence. Norman Cousins used films. Doctors commonly use a placebo to help patients feel confident in face of anxiety about health. Religious symbols or personages have been perhaps the most widely used means of helping people meet the anxieties life confronts us with. Perhaps some people substitute power of money as their means to combat uncertainty and stress. A.T. gains his eventual confidence by combating uncertainty and stress. In many dreams, however, a loved or respected person helps us transform our dream world from darkness to light, or anxiety to pleasure. Or else realisation or a change of heart brings it about.

Example: As I began the exploration I thought of how ‘down’ I had felt recently. I had a ‘black’ day on Christmas morning for instance. So as the session began I felt it was the influence of other people causing such feelings. Then I saw that it was not other people, it was myself. I begin to feel a wave of dizziness and sickness. I say to myself that I recognise this as the past. I mean by this that such dizziness arises from the old anxious, angry, emotions and conflicts I used to be under the thrall of.

In earlier times, and still today in some cultures, the level of faith or belief was so high, that talismans, charms, holy relics, religious blessings and symbols were potent means of healing anxiety and physical health. It is quite ridiculous to laugh at the primitive as superstitious who uses these practical and effective measures. Such things were the powerful placebos of the day. Perhaps we, with our use of tons of sedatives, millions of gallons of alcohol each year, laugh because since we are blessed and cursed with a questioning rational mind, we no longer have easy access to faith, and are thus a readier prey to anxiety. And unlike animals, who do not have the abstract symbols of speech to remind them of illness, death, failure and loneliness, we cannot forget them, but live with them always.

If now we have the rational mind, we cannot find health and confidence so easily in the old type of faith and symbols, what can we do? Looking at the many primitive societies who have been robbed of their social and individual health by the white men destroying their beliefs, we must learn a lesson. Perhaps the first step is the realisation that we ourselves are primitives who have robbed ourselves of our old religions by daring to develop a sceptical rational thought.

Hyone and I have received dreams from people in many parts of the world, and a huge number from people in Britain. A general summary of these dreams shows that people are frightened of their emotions and unconscious mind. We may laugh at a primitive frightened of ghosts, spirits and Ju Ju, but we are frightened of ourselves. Our rational mind may look at a talisman or St. Christopher medallion and see it as a useless piece of metal or material, which cannot heal us. How though, can we emerge from the prison walls of our own modern superstitions and fears? It is therefore important that you read and digest What we need to Remember about Us.


Examples of Transcending Yourself in Dreams

Here is a dream showing one man’s experience of transcending his past.

‘I was in a large prison cell with three other men. The dream seemed to cover a very long period of time, and we were never allowed out of the cell. We ate, slept, lived and defecated in the one room. At first I was consumed with anger against everything and everybody who had put me in that cell. I would stand glaring out between the bars. Gradually I realised that all my anger was completely ineffective. The only person who was hurt or ill at ease because of it was myself. The warders only got delight from it. So I stopped being angry. After that, it became obvious that I was also the only sufferer of my other difficult feelings, such as that of being trapped, or unsatisfied without activity. I dropped these too and they felt like old ghosts melting away, no longer haunting me.

‘One day as I sat on my mattress I felt the last ghost drop away. Everything, even my jailers were forgiven. It felt like a plug or block had fallen away inside me, and a great torrent of joy rushed up within me, filling me, pouring out of me. So great was this pleasure that I cried out involuntarily, and felt my face was shining as if from a light. My cell mates were disturbed by the powerful feelings radiating from me, and called the jailer. They all stood at the door of the cell staring at me, while I sat motionless and radiating. I knew that nothing could ever be the same again. I was completely free, even though I remained in the cell. What had burst out of me had entered into each of the other men, and they were changed too.’

This dream of Tom’s dramatises one of the basic ways of reaching psychic health, namely, self transcendence. The dream illustrates one of the most terrifying and yet amazing aspects of human existence, that we are forever the prisoners of our own mind or awareness. There is no secret door through which we can escape from our own being, perhaps not even by death. There is no otherness to travel to, no exterior to enter, no state to experience that is not, in the end, our own experience, our own self. Our own concepts and attitudes are our own prison bars our door to freedom.

Lucid Dreaming and Insight

Let us consider this by comparing the next two lucid dreams. To be lucid means to have, in the actual dream, waking self awareness and the ability to reason and direct one’s activities.

The first is dreamt by Frederick Van Eeden, and reported in A Study of Dreams.

‘On Sept. 9, 1904 I dreamt that I stood at a table before a window. On the table were different objects. I was perfectly well aware I was dreaming and considered what sort of experiments I could make. I began by trying to break glass, by beating it with a stone. I put a small tablet of glass on two stones and struck it with another stone. Yet it would not break. Then I took a fine claret-glass from the table and struck it with my fist, with all my might, at the same time reflecting how dangerous it would be to do this in waking life; yet the glass remained whole. But lo; when I looked at it again after some time, it was broken.

This is reasonably typical of most lucid dreams. The person is aware they are dreaming, and can experiment or play with the situation. For instance they can fly, change the colour of a wall, make it disappear entirely, or create an object by willing it. This is interesting, but not very useful or instructive. Richard Corriere and J. Hart have pointed out that one can move beyond lucid experience of symbols into what they call the Transformation dream. Here is an excellent example of this type of dream. It occurred to A.T. during a period of light sleep.

‘I am in a landscape and notice that everything is brown, the whole world is brown and lifeless. There is also a feeling of solemnity or dullness. I have enough awareness in the dream state to wonder why everything, the world of my dream, is so brown and dull. As I ask this I begin to become more and more aware of the feeling which the brown expresses. It is a feeling of seriousness – life is so serious and there is no room for humour or fun. The feeling deepens, real as a thing in itself’ real enough, clear enough, to look at and understand. In fact I understand it is my father’s attitude to life that I have unconsciously inherited. It is all so clear. I realise how anxious he always felt about life, and how I had also inherited this, which led me to be such a ‘brown’ person, and so serious. I see too that I do not need to be either brown or serious.

‘Then the landscape changes. There are trees plants and animals in brilliant colour. I wonder what this means, and the landscape begins to spin until the colours blend and shimmer. Suddenly my body seems to open to them, as if they are spinning inside of me, and with a most glorious feeling a sensation of vibrating energy pours up my trunk to my head. With this comes realisation again. I see how stupid I have been in my brown, anxious existence, how much life I have held back. The animals and plants are the different forces in my being which blend into life energy and awareness. I have a sense of being able to do almost anything, like loving, writing a song, painting, telepathy, or speaking with the dead. This sparkling vibrating energy is life itself’ and can, if I develop it through my desire and effort, grow into any ability or direction. I wake then with a wonderful sense of my possibilities as a person.

Frederick Van Eeden remained within the symbols of his dream and manipulated them by being lucid. A.T. transcended the symbols into direct insight and personal growth by being lucid. Of the two, the experience of A.T. offers more practically useful possibilities than that of Van Eeden. A.T.’s experience also demonstrates very clearly the direct connection between personal attitudes, thoughts and anxieties, and the symbols, mood, colour and drama of the dream. The prison dream of Tom’s, in a slightly less intense manner shows the same thing. The prison, or the brown world, in the dream are physical realities in which the dreamer is totally locked; yet like the hero in a mythological adventure, the dreamer can transcend that world if they find a way of altering their habitual mood or attitudes. Tom did this by letting go of old angers, frustrations and feelings, and A.T. did it through having insight into the situation and allowing change to occur. If we consider that some people stay in self-defeating, self punishing, unhappy inner attitudes all their life, the image of the prison is very accurate. A very large number of dreams we receive are from people who have a recurring, anxious dream for most of their life. While the attitudes, such as vengefulness and loneliness are still felt and accepted as necessary, in one’s own mind they are as real as brick walls and steel bars to imprison us. See Avoid Being Victims

Changing You by Changing Attitudes

Often such emotional tones or moods are unconscious. The feeling state is so habitual we accept it as the reality of who we are. Having been in that situation all our life, we take it that the world is brown, non satisfying, without joy, or lonely. We accept the reality of our inner world as if it were as unchanging as the outer world. Yet the outer world is changeable. If our house is dull we can redecorate it, pull down a wall, and move to another house. Our inner world is much more plastic. Yet many people believe that is the situation they were born with and say, “Well that it who I am”. Here is a very strong dream showing how the dreamer, Maureen, ‘was trapped and found change.

‘I had made my home in a small disused stone cow shed. I had lived there for years and never went out. There was no toilet or washing facilities so I and the shed were in a terrible condition. But I wouldn’t move out because I had a feeling of irritation and resentment against the world. I suppose I felt as if I were punishing the world for whatever I felt it was guilty of. Friends, living in a nearby house, frequently urged me to leave, but I wouldn’t. But after years I began to soften. I could seethe world got on with its business despite what I was doing. I was the person who suffered from my own squalor, so I agreed to leave. My friends were delighted and immediately took my clothes to put in a washing machine and I rather shyly began my new life. Shy because of what a fool I had been.

In this dream, Maureen finds change in a similar way to Tom, by admitting to herself she is the one suffering, not ‘the world’. Her own grubby and resentful emotions arc shown to be physical realities in the dream, in which she has trapped herself for years. Tom and Maureen of course, are not alone in their suppressed anger and resentment against ‘the world’. Many of us have this unfortunate habit, which consumes an enormous amount of our creative energy over many wasted years. If we accept the dream is an indication of what we are actually creating in our life – Tom was creating a squalid prison, and Maureen a rather crappy cow shed. In everyday terms their creative emotions were introverted, creating negative glandular products in their own bodies and leading to no satisfaction. Seeing the transformation A.T. made in his dream, why should we walk when we can fly? Why live in a hovel when you can as easily make a place of beauty, or find home in a wood of glorious trees?

And why exist in symbols when you can transcend into direct insight? See processing dreams

The images in a dream may be the way we unconsciously pictorialise our flux of feelings and the play of internal energy flows. For instance love or sexual drive can give rise to physical movement – as in sexual intercourse. Repression of sex or love also represses such physical movements, leading to tension and conflict, which might be presented in the drama of a dream.

Example: ‘I was with my wife, walking along a street, on holiday with her. But I felt awful tension. It was the sort of stress I feel when I have turned off my sexual flow – as I have at the moment.’ Brian V.

Brian can easily see the connection between the dream feelings and his everyday life. Making such connections may take practice. But the situation could as easily be expressed as a dream image of a blocked river. The underlying feelings would then be less easy to grasp.

Example: ‘ I was in a very ancient crumbling building, confronted by a large stone door, deeply engraved with many designs and creatures. I began to open the door and felt high feelings of anxiety. I realised this was an initiation and I must calm my feelings in order to pass beyond the door. i.e. if I were controlled by my feelings I would run away.’ Derek F.

How we meet the emotions in our dreams illustrates our habitual method of dealing with them. The feelings of anxiety in Derek’s dream were met and moved beyond, but this is unusual. This is because most of us change our direction as soon as there is a hint of fear or pain or even a hint of death. Yet the strange thing is that we cannot die or be hurt in our dreams. Of course we can dream of dying and being hurt, but like a computer game, we emerge non the worse. See Dreams are Like a Computer Game

The amount of nicotine and alcohol human beings consume suggests how poorly we meet anxiety, considering that both these drugs inhibit feelings, and thereby deaden anxiety. Going beyond fear or pain is an initiation which opens doors for us. We might now apply for the job; ask for the date; raise the issue; express the creativity; make the journey abroad, which anxiety previously kept us from. We see this in the next example.

Example: ‘I had a ring on my marriage finger. It was a thin band of gold. I woke up frightened. Angela LBC.

Angela is not married and feels obvious anxiety about the commitment.

Dreams give us a safe area to express emotions which might be difficult or dangerous to release socially. Anger in a dream may be expressing what we failed to discharge in a waking encounter, or it might be our habitual response. It may also be directed against oneself.

Dreams also contain many positive emotions. Sometimes they present a new aspect of feeling which is life enhancing. In the example below the dreamer overcomes the feeling of defeat and death, and in imagery expresses a sense of rebirth.

Example: While heavily pregnant 11 years ago I dreamt I and thousands of Japanese-like soldiers had been at war and lost. Our punishment was beheading. Not wanting to see my comrades killed I went to the front. I felt the cold blade hit my neck, then was dead, outside my body. Dressed in golden armour with a lion symbol I told my comrades they outnumbered the enemy. They won and took my baby from my dead body. BMW – Southport.

Some feeling states in a dream are subtle, and may be more evident in terms of the symbols than the feelings. A grey drear environment suggests depression and lack of pleasure. A sunny light environment with flowers and colour shows pleasure and good feelings. A country landscape depicts quite a different feeling state to a smoky busy city street. We can define these for ourselves using the techniques described under processing dreams.

Whatever feelings or emotions we meet in our dreams, many of them are bound to be habitual responses we have to life. Where these habits are negative we can begin to change them by using Emotions and Mood in Dreams – Techniques for Exploring your Dreams Secrets of Power DreamingLife’s Little Secrets


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