Understanding your dreams

Presenter: Katherine
Guest: Julie Anne Michael
Guest Bio: She is a counsellor, a life coach and a dream therapist, and is the owner of the business, The Dream Alchemist.  She believes that thoughts and emotions are a very important aspect of our health and wellbeing and dreams will provide an incredible insight into what lies behind stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Segment Overview: An interesting take to help individuals understand the meaning of their dreams. Julie Anne Michael is a dream therapist and owner of The Dream Alchemist and she shares her knowledge about dreams and answers common questions about dreams in this segment.


Health Professional Radio

Katherine: Today at Health Professional Radio, we have Julie-Anne Michael. She is a counsellor, a life coach and a dream therapist, and is the owner of the business, The Dream Alchemist. She believes that thoughts and emotions are a very important aspect of our health and wellbeing and dreams will provide an incredible insight into what lies behind stress, anxiety and insomnia. Welcome, Julie-Anne.

Julie-Anne: Thank you, Katherine.  It’s good to be here.

Katherine: Glad to have you.  Now, tell us a bit about The Dream Alchemist, your business.  Why did you start this business?

Julie-Anne: The Dream Alchemist really started with me wanting to help people understand themselves and their dreams.  I’ve been working with my own dreams for about 12 years.  What really sparked my interest in dreams was because I had a recurring dream when I was a child, right through my teen years.   I really wanted to find out what that meant and that really sparked my interest to just read about dreams and record my own dreams.   But I really didn’t start doing that until I was in my 40s.

Katherine:  I see.

Julie-Anne:  I’ve just had amazing life changes with just recording and working with my own dreams, and I try to help other people have the same experience.

Katherine: Yeah.  It sounds like you’ve managed to work through your issues in the past with some recurring dreams, and it’s a great way to help other people.  Talking about dreams, where do they actually come from, and what purpose do they serve?

Julie-Anne: Dreams really come from both our subconscious mind and our super-conscious mind, if you like.  Some people will call it the soul; other people will just call it our higher consciousness.  It’s that consciousness that is within us that strives for balance and to actualize us as an organism to reach our full potential.  Dreams occur to not only show us what we’re thinking and feeling during the day, and how that will impact on our life, but they also show us how we may have better health, better work experience, things to do with our career.

They show us the whole spectrum of everything to do with our life.

Katherine:  I see.

Julie-Anne:  It’s almost like a newspaper report coming out of what we’ve thought and experienced during the day.  It’s a reflection of that and an analysis of that as well.

Katherine: Okay.  But why do some people claim that they can’t recall any of their dreams at all?  Some people claim that they don’t dream at all, which we know is not true.  But why do some people, they manage to remember quite a few dreams in one night, and there are others that can’t recall a single one?

Julie-Anne: That’s a very good question.  A lot of people are very resistant to getting out of their comfort zone.  We get stuck in this rut in life, where we think we have to do certain things or we have to be a certain way.  Our dreams will pull us out of that, so that we can become more actualized as a person and live a bigger life, a fuller life.  But just like when we’re walking down the street, some people will see red cars and some people won’t.  It’s really about awareness.

Some people deliberately … well, not deliberately, but subconsciously block their dreams out so they don’t come into their conscious awareness, because they really don’t want to know what’s going on within themselves.

Katherine:  I see.

Julie-Anne:  But once people make the decision that they do want to really look at themselves, there are steps we can take to start remembering our dreams.  It’s like a muscle.  The more that you use it and flex it, the more easier it becomes to use.  We can begin to remember our dreams by just putting the intention there to remember them and to work with them, and record them as soon as we wake up whether we put a journal by the bed and record them as we wake up, or whether we record them on our iPhone or however … to do that.

But as long as we record them in some way, so that we can work with them.  Because once we start to fully wake up, and we really get going with starting our day, we easily forget them again.

Katherine: Yeah, definitely.  I was wondering, some people, they will have a nightmare.  For example, they’ve got a huge exam coming up or they have a holiday, and they dream that they miss the plane or with the example,  they dream that they fail the exam or they turn up naked or something, all these common dreams that people have just before an event.  Why do you think people have these?  Is it due to stress, or is it some preoccupation that they have in their waking life or anxiety, and they carry it over in to their sleep?

Julie-Anne: Yes, it’s usually anxiety.  For example, in the example of the exam, if the person is thinking, I’m going to fail, I’m not going to do well, it creates a stress.  The dream is actually a way of releasing that.

Katherine:  Okay.

Julie-Anne:  But if we really look carefully at what’s in the dream, we might actually find that it’s trying to help us achieve a balance, by trying to show us that we may not fail, or if we do fail, what could be the worst outcome of that.  Our dreams are always trying to reduce our anxiety, not actually create more.

Katherine: Okay, I see.  But some people will argue that some of these dreams, because they’re so distressing while they have them, that when they wake up, that they haven’t had a very restful sleep.  Can dreams occur, recurring dreams anyway, occur during a traumatic experience?  Are there any triggers that trigger recurring dreams, recurring nightmares?

Julie-Anne: Yes.  Recurring dreams happen because there’s something that is out of balance in our life.   It’s that soul’s way of saying to us, “Hey, pay attention to this.”   The same with nightmares.  If we don’t pay attention to the dreams that we have as recurring dreams, then they will become more and more intense, until we actually do something about them.  The nightmare’s not there or the recurring dream’s not there to cause us anxiety.

It’s just there to say, “Hey, pay attention to this and fix this in your life, so that you can be free of that anxiety that it’s causing internally at this point.”

Katherine: Yeah.  It sounds like it makes people think, why am I having this recurring dream?  It might force them to actually think about getting some help for it.  You’ve mentioned before that disturbed sleep over a prolonged period of time actually brings on physical symptoms.  If people don’t address them, the root cause of them, maybe there is a psychological issue.  That’s the reason why they have this sleep disturbance, and other health issues might occur physically as well.  What have you seen in your clients?  Any examples of this?

Julie-Anne: Yes.  A lot of people can suppress things, and when that can’t be suppressed any longer, because that creates a lot of energy, and sometimes can create illness in the body.  When that can’t be repressed any longer, it has to surface and it starts to surface in our dreams.  That can trigger some of those recurring dreams and nightmares.  Because it’s repressed, the person has not wanted to deal with things.  It may be abuse or any kind of situation like that.  It could be childhood things or violence or anything like that, and they’ve repressed it.

But to achieve that balance and be stress free, at some point it has to come out, and we have to face those fears.  It actually takes a lot more energy to bury it than it does to let it go.

Katherine: That’s a great way of looking at it, actually.

Julie-Anne: Yeah.  It affects out health as well.  It may not be pleasant to face some of these things, but it will be better in the long run to do it, because it’ll be l better for the person’s health.  Disturbed sleep can cause all sorts of problems.  You know when you’ve not had a good night’s sleep, you’re very much less effective the next day, actually lowers your IQ somewhat.  It really makes us prone…just even just having a few nights of bad sleep, it makes prone to accidents around the home or at work or even while driving.  Our concentration isn’t there.

But if this goes on for any length of time, we start to get aches and pains in the body.  We start to feel ill.   It suppresses our immune system, and it affects our endocrine system.  It affects our mood and we can become depressed.  There’s all sorts of side effects from not having a good night’s sleep.

Katherine: Yeah, I see.  You mentioned work.  There are some professions, for example, nurses.  They do shift work, and it’s important for them to get a good night sleep when they can.  At the best of times, a lot of us complain about not getting enough sleep.  But especially for people like nurses, they really, really need to get a good night’s sleep, because their roles are so demanding in their workplace.  Are there are any tips that you can give shift workers to better fall asleep?

Julie-Anne: Yes.  The main thing is to be relaxed when you fall asleep.  To let go out of the mind of absolutely everything that you’ve experienced on your shift, and just taking some deep breaths.  Just allow all of that energy to drain out of your body.  Just allow it to leave you.  It also helps to create a bedroom that’s restful as well.

Katherine:  Okay.

Julie-Anne:  Especially if they’re shift work and it’s day time, you might want to draw the blinds.   I don’t have a problem, because I can sleep at any time of the day.   I will it, and I don’t have a problem with falling asleep …

Katherine: You are lucky.

Julie-Anne: Yes, I actually do.  But I find that being relaxed and just allowing the mind not to go wandering through everything you’ve done during the day, and just focus on something pleasant.  Even listen to some nice music, classical music, or even doing a meditation just before sleep is really…

Katherine: I see, yeah. Okay.

Julie-Anne: But it’s really important to think about something very pleasant.  Because once we fall asleep, we actually travel out of our body, and we don’t want to be going back to the hospital.  We actually want to go somewhere where it’s going to rejuvenate us.

Katherine: Yeah.  I can see that.  For people who do have some serious sleeping issues such as insomnia, what therapy options are there?  How do people get help?

Julie-Anne: I really believe that insomnia is created by an internal anxiety.  Just addressing that anxiety will help people to solve their issues with insomnia.  Going to a dream therapist, a counsellor or someone who specializes in insomnia, and work with that.

Katherine: Right.  Well, thank you so much for joining us today.  It’s been really interesting to get some insights into people and how they dream. Thank you so much, Julie-Anne.

Julie-Anne: Thank you, Katherine.  It’s been a pleasure.

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