Sunday, 4 June 2017

Working with Hypnos and the Power of Sleep and Dreams

This lunar month I have been working with Hypnos, the Greek god of sleeping and dreaming. Sleep and dreams are something our society does not view as particularly sacred. While we all need to sleep, our society encourages a poor relationship with it. I have heard many people speak with pride about how they can get by on a lack of sleep. Things like "oh I just need 5 hours a night" I've heard said on more than one occasion like a badge of honour. Personally I need 7 - 8 hours a night, or I am not a happy camper. I get physically ill and am the worst cranky pants. I simply can't function without my good friend Hypnos.

Waterhouse - Hypnos and his brother Death
We also often end up with a poor relationship with sleep, due to certain factors in our modern society. Shift work can really mess things up for many people. Its hard for most of us to sleep during the daylight hours. There's also artificial lighting, and in particular the blue lights from computers and smart phones that wreak havoc on our ability to sleep. Distractions like watching TV in bed or looking at the computer, can keep us awake and stimulate us rather than relax us. Many doctors recommend sleeping in darkness without lights for most benefit, as darkness helps our bodies produce melatonin a hormone needed for restful sleep.

Besides the direct health benefits of sleep, like feeling more vibrant, improved immune function and ability of the body to repair itself, it also improves our mental and emotional health. We are more alert, happier and relaxed when we get a full night's sleep. Then there's the often overlooked aspect of dreams and their role in our psychological health. Many studies have shown that without dreams, people go crazy, we need to dream in order to function well. I think that the benefit of dreams goes beyond a psychological level and is spiritual as well. Many people believe that dreams are just the mind sorting through the days events and information, and I think that it does do that, but I think it is also a way to access deeper subconscious truths. It can even be a source of inspiration and messages from the other side or the gods.

So how can we improve our relationship with Hypnos?

Make Sleep Sacred Again
The best way to do this is to set up a nightly routine for yourself. Experts often recommend turning off the computer and putting down the phone at least an hour before bed, and getting the TV out of the bedroom. Think about what relaxes you, and what you would like to include in your routine. Suggestions for a routine include possibilities like:
-Taking a bath before bed
-Reading a book
-Sex (other exercise is not recommended, but sexual activity helps relax people)
-Nightly prayer or meditation
-Pulling a tarot card
-Journaling at the end of the day

Dream Work
Of course working with Hypnos means working with our dreams. Many people insist to me that they do not dream, but of course everyone does. Remembering our dreams is a challenge, but it is a skill that can be developed. I recommend putting a paper and pen by your bed, and writing what you remember immediately on awakening. Before you go to sleep affirm to yourself three times that you will easily remember your dreams upon awakening. It may take a few days, but many have found this technique does help. Another trick is to drink water before bed. When you wake up in the night to go to the bathroom, write down what you remember right away, you'll be surprised what you recall.

Keeping a Dream Diary
When keeping a dream diary, obviously you will be writing down your dreams. Write down your dream in full, all the details, even if they seem silly or unimportant. You can draw sketches as well. When you have time later, go back and break down the dream into its elements. Break it down into season, time of day, setting, colours, numbers, symbols, people, dialogue and actions. List them out, and then one by one go through what each of those things symbolizes to you. Then go back through the dream replacing the symbol with what your meaning is, you will be surprised what you might find. You can use dream dictionaries to help, but your association should be first and foremost. I suggest using one based on Jungian symbolism, rather than superstitions.

Do you have a sleep routine? or keep a dream diary? Let me know how you work with Hypnos.


 

2 comments:

  1. Every so often I get inspired to keep a sleep diary as I do have fascinating dreams. My mother used to do dream interpretation. But as with many things I start with good intentions and usually fall by the wayside after some weeks. The book and pen are still there but just not being focused on.
    The last time I did this which was only a couple of months ago I dreamed about my (estranged) sister twice in a short while. It shook me a bit as I love her dearly and wanted to know what these dreams meant.
    If I get library books out I often don't read all of them but do find lots of helpful snippets. I liked your comment about looking for the jungian meanings. I might follow that one up some more. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad this was helpful to you. I'm on and off about recording my dreams too, and want to be more consistent.

      Delete