What is emerging in your dreams during this pandemic? For many of us, our dreams have become more vivid, more complex, and often fraught with images, stories and emotions that are not part of our usual dream repertoire. The fact that many of us are off our usual routines, changing our sleeping and waking habits to correspond with now working from home, also means that we may be remembering our dreams more often. Some folks may be sleep deprived as they struggle to balance work and child-care, but many are catching up on much needed sleep in our chronically sleep deprived culture. This means more hours of REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep; the part of the sleep cycle in which we have our dreams.
More Nightmares Now?
The corona virus has changed not only our outside world, but our inner landscapes and dreamscapes as well. Our dreams are darker, scarier, and sometimes more memorable than we would wish them to be. For example, for the first time in my life I screamed out loud in my sleep. When my husband asked me what happened, I responded simply, “I had a nightmare”. I didn’t remember the content, but the emotion sure came through loud and clear.
By paying attention to and working to understand our dreams, we have a window in what our minds, bodies, and souls are telling us, and what they need right now. If we process our emotions and our dream stories, we can bring renewal and healing and more peace to our own waking lives, and potentially the lives of others around us. Our dreams provide us with a processing option. Working through a fear in our dreams, or after we wake and realize it was a dream, helps to desensitize us to some extent; and to rehearse or practice if you will, what we need to do in our waking lives.
Common Covid-19 Nightmare Themes:
There are some common pandemic themes that seem to be emerging. One of the main emotions is anxiety. Some are having terrifying nightmares about the end of the world in some form, others are dreaming of metaphoric images of bugs, of swarms of locusts, of termites eating away at the wood and the house coming down. There are other dreams where the main theme is vulnerability or exposure. One woman dreams, “I am getting dressed to go out, but all of my clothes, even the soles of my shoes have holes in them”. Another dreams, “I have a dangerous secret, and I am afraid that any minute I will be found out and exposed”. The virus brings us face to face with loss and death, literally and figuratively. Grief is a little death, and we are all grieving the lost parts of our lives right now, whether or not we personally have loved ones who have died. One dreamer reported crying “buckets of tears” in his dreams and filling his living room with a small lake. It reminded him of the scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice had cried when she was her normal size, but then drinks the potion that makes her small and ends up swimming in a pool of her own tears. Some dreams have biblical proportions of the Passover plagues, Jesus crucified, or the Tower of Babel.
Balancing Nightmares with Dreams of Hope and Reclaiming Life
And to balance these out there are also dreams of faith and hope for the future. Last night, 3 days before Passover and 1 week before Easter, I had this dream: “A young man lost his necklace of the Hebrew letter Chai, which means Life, and has the numerical value of 18. I found his necklace and returned it to him and he was very appreciative”. What does it mean to dream of “Life”, or losing Life and having it found and returned to you? Or to dream of returning to someone a part of a life he had lost? I hope that in some small part my work contributes to helping people connect to their life force, which is never really lost. I view this dream positively, that there is hope and faith that we will prevail, that we will heal, that our world will recover. What can we all do to preserve our life force, and help others to do so as well? A necklace rests on our chest. In this dream, the Chai, or Life, was on the chest of the young man. A great symbol for intentional deep breathing, clearing our lungs, or healing from pneumonia-related illnesses.
The Power of the Numbers: 19-1=18
I was also struck by the numerical sequencing of “Covid 19”, and Chai, or Life, (L’Chaim, means “to life”) which has a numerical value of 18. So, what one thing do we need to release, or let go of, or transform so that we move from virus and illness back into Chai or life? Ask yourself that question for yourself, your family, and our world. Is it greed? Or self-centeredness? Or fear? Or; more prosaically social gatherings right now? Take my dream, and your dreams into your own life, listen to their messages, and use them for healing our lives and our planet.
With great blessings,
Linda Yael Schiller, MSW, LICSW, is an international speaker, psychotherapist, author, and dreamworker. Her book “Modern Dreamwork: New Tools for Decoding Your Soul’s Wisdom”, 2019, Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing, is available in both e-book and print. Learn more at www.moderndreamwork.com or https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Dreamwork-Tools-Decoding-Wisdom/dp/0738761826/
Linda regularly teaches dreamwork skills to helping professionals, clergy, at corporate events and for the interested lay person both on-line and in person.
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