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We all know what a nightmare feels like, right? My most memorable nightmare was unwittingly inspired by Anne of Ingleside, the sixth of the ‘ Anne’ books by L.M. Montgomery. In my dream, the green silk dress that Anne didn’t wear because she was angry at her husband Gilbert, came to life and danced on my mother’s bed, then lunged at me right before I awoke, gasping and petrified.

I have a lot of horrible dreams – or at least, that’s what people tell me when I recount them. But very few of my dreams are considered (by me) to be nightmares. A dream is only a nightmare if I wake up trembling, panting, heart racing, and either sleep the rest of the night with the light on or pull the sheets over my head, too scared to reach for the switch.

How often does that happen? About once every two or three years. All the other dreams – about digging up skeletons, zombies haunting my closet, being friends with the Angel of Death, nuclear holocaust, being bitten by poisonous snakes – are only nightmares to the people I describe them to. My dream experiences, no matter how horrible, are usually detached and muted, as if they were happening to someone else. In fact, I frequently liken my dreams to watching movies.

I’ve always taken my emotional distance from my dreams for granted, but lately I’ve been wondering, why? Why can I experience such awful things with stoicism and aplomb? I believe the answer lies in meditation.

I began meditating, and doing other forms of spiritual practice (Tai Chi and other mind-body modalities) at around 11 years of age. I haven’t always kept up with it, but particularly during my teen years I was very serious about meditation. During the years when my friends were drinking and dating and dropping water balloons off overpasses, I was sitting in my room, focusing on my breathing, getting lost in a candle flame, visualising my muscles relaxing, picturing myself floating in an empty space, and brushing intrusive thoughts away from my mind like lobbing a beach ball.

Is it possible that that practice of a quiet mind, mindfulness, and detached observation transferred to my dreamscape? I think so.

  

Resources:

A  blogger uses meditation to aid nightmares – on unc.edu

Nightmares – on insomniacs.co.uk

How to have fewer nightmares – on howtodothings.com

One Response to “Meditation, nightmares and lucid/detached dreaming”

  1. [...] Natalie Anne Lanoville put an intriguing blog post on Meditation, nightmares and lucid/detached dreamingHere’s a quick excerptWe all know what a nightmare feels like, right? My most memorable nightmare was unwittingly inspired by Anne of Ingleside, the sixth of the ‘ Anne’ books by LM Montgomery. In my dream, the green silk dress that Anne didn’t wear because … [...]

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