What are nightmares? An alternative perspective.

I’m running. My heart is beating out of my chest and I am drenched in sweat. I try to scream out but nothing seems to come out of my mouth. My legs seem to be moving like I’m wading through mud and I’m about to be killed….I shoot up out of bed soaked, shaking, anxious and terrified.

That was my EVERY NIGHT for many years. Sound familiar?

I’ve never been one to record my nightmares or analyse them. They were just too complicated and to be honest, I really didn’t want to remember them.

I’d just had a whole bloody night of it!

None of the research I’ve found around what nightmares are have made any sense to me, until a few years back. I want to share this theory with you. This isn’t the right answer, there isn’t one. This is just another take on nightmares and one that makes some sense to me.

Nightmares are where our subconscious gets to play out what needs to be processed and what has the most momentum, from the previous days, years etc.

Like a ball rolling down a hill, there is a force behind undigested emotional experiences. This is what keeps the trauma alive, causing distress, until the power behind the memory or experience is exhausted. When we go to sleep, whatever has the strongest momentum, is what will present itself as a nightmare. Often in abstract forms, feelings and emotions. It can’t be literal, as we often don’t have a clear picture of our traumatic experiences, only feelings and emotions that are therefore expressed as obscure and strange objects or representations.

Nightmares come to us, often as strange images and feelings and are at times senseless. The point is, not to make sense of them when you wake up. Don’t continue to feed the momentum with your thoughts. Just acknowledge that your higher consciousness has been processing some difficult stuff in your sleep (think of it as free therapy time), that is too hard to process, and not the right time, when you are awake.

Imagine trying to sort out all of your trauma when you are going about your day. It’s impossible.

Here is the most important thing:

ON WAKING, THANK YOUR HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS FOR DOING THE WORK AND FORGET ALL ABOUT YOUR DREAM. GIVE IT NO MORE MIND. NO MORE ENERGY.

If you have woken up in a state and can’t snap out of it, you can use a technique such as snapping a strong rubber band around your wrist. Say STOP! to yourself and your thoughts. You are most likely going to have to do this repeatedly and may not succeed the first few times. It will get easier.

Do this as many times as you need to, to snap out of your funk, remembering that you are likely addicted to the hormones of stress (which are as addictive as heroine) and your body and mind will fight you. You have to be stronger.

Then breathe.

Wrap your arms around yourself and take nice long breaths right into your belly. Make them smooth and long. Let the breath roll over from your inhalation to your exhalation, with no edges. Imagine you are at the beach. The sun is shining and the sea is crystal clear. The waves are rolling in and out, just like your breath. Stay here for as long as you can.

Open your eyes and say: TODAY IS A GOOD DAY. LIFE IS GOOD. I AM WELL (Or something that sounds right to you).

DON’T START YOUR DAY WITH A NEGATIVE THOUGHT! TAKE CONTROL!

My nightmares are once or twice a month now rather than nightly. I have learnt to self soothe and calm myself down and try not to buy into the story.

I hope this helps 🙂