A leading voice on modern spirituality, Emma Mildon has traveled the world studying everything from auras to aromatherapy. This week, we're sharing her expertise in a series on how to decode your dreams and apply their insights once you wake up. To learn more, check out her new mindbodygreen class, The Essential Guide to Dream Interpretation.
A nightmare is a dream that usually causes the dreamer to stir and wake up feeling anxious and frightened. Often triggered by trauma or stress, nightmares are united in their unsettling nature that often bleeds over into waking life.
Nightmares sometimes occur because the dreamer refuses to acknowledge or accept a particular situation he or she is experiencing. Studies out of the University of Colorado Medical School have found that most dreamers who have regular nightmares have a family history of psychiatric problems, suffer from mental illness themselves, or are in rocky and unstable relationships. Interestingly enough, the studies also found that many people who identify as creative souls are more prone to nightmares.
I can personally vouch for that last bit; I've had some pretty twisted stuff kick off in my dreams. No matter what the stressor in one's life might be, we store emotional baggage in our chakras and energy centers, which can spill over into our dreaming states and cause—you guessed it—even more flippin' stress.
Nightmares are often an indication of a fear or hurt that needs to be acknowledged, confronted, and healed. The dream is a way for our soul to make us take note of the lessons that need to be learned and the issues that need to be resolved.
So how do you put a plug in your nightmares and become a nightmare ninja? Here are three of my top tips:
1. Eat foods that are easy to digest.
Foods such as alcohol and cheese can ferment in our digestive system, breaking our sleep cycles and causing us to have restless sleep. This can result in a hyperactive mind, more dreams than usual and, more often than not, nightmares. Be cautious of what you are eating a few hours before you turn in for the night, and scope out foods that are easy to digest.
2. Protect yourself with trinkets and talismans.
There is something comforting about having a protective force around you to prevent night creatures from invading your sleep sanctuary. Peace out, boogie man, and take that, stupid nightmares. There are a few spiritual objects that can protect you while you rest, including dream catchers or crystals like obsidian, onyx, and clear quartz. Keep them under your pillow or on your nightstand.
3. Create a safe space.
Don't let yourself go to bed stressed out about tomorrows to-do list. Create a sleep shrine that allows your mind, body, soul, and subconscious to truly relax and rest. Listen to calming music or think about positive aspects of the day you just completed. Add in some aromatherapy oils like lavender, sandalwood, or ylang ylang, and you have yourself a sweet-dream sanctuary.