How to Sleep Your Way to Insight

I was running--faster than I ever run. A part of me couldn't believe I was running so fast. It felt good until I had to stop--up ahead I saw a barrier, and Ito stop. I was feeling out of control, finding it difficult to decelerate my speed. As the barrier got closer, I barely had time to think about what would happen if I crashed into that wall...
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I was running--faster than I ever run. A part of me couldn't believe I was running so fast. It felt good until I had to stop--up ahead I saw a barrier, and I needed to stop. I was feeling out of control, finding it difficult to decelerate my speed. As the barrier got closer, I barely had time to think about what would happen if I crashed into that wall...

Then I wake up.

Dreams: we all have them, and we remember them some of the time. Dream life is a fun universe you get to enter every night, and sometimes you'll remember the places you visit.

Dreams have been an area of intrigue since the beginning of time. Philosophers, poets, writers and psychologists have written at great lengths about their meanings, virtues, significance, and insignificance. Many artists, writers and inventors credit their dreams for their ideas and inventions.

Imagine if your dreams could help you grow your business, figure out problems at work, and solve relationship problems?

According to Gayle Delaney, Ph.D. --they can. And she's not alone in her research. Her work is so powerful that even Stanford Business School has received her work into their business program.

That's mind-blowing! A top notch business school being open to something that most people would blow off as flakey and irrelevant? Obviously the results are powerful, and they work.

If you learn to heed the advice of your dreams and learn to understand the messages from your dreams you'll have access to "The 24-hour mind" as Delaney puts it. You'll have access to a greater repertoire of insight to help you make better decisions for your business and life.

Based on my research of Delaney's work, and my own experience integrating this work into my life, here is a step by step process to access the wisdom in your dreams:

1. At night actively decide that you want to remember your dreams. Having this intention will help increase your chances of remembering your dreams.

2. If you have a problem you're dealing with, you can set an intention that you'd like your dream to give you insight on the issue you're facing.

3. Have a notebook beside your bed where you jot down core elements of your dream upon awakening.

Moreover, if you go to bed at night with the intention to receive insight about a problem you're having at work or in your business, often when you wake up, whether you dream or not, you'll find that you have insight to solve your problem. Or you may find that you receive a very obvious dream with the answer. If you don't, make sure you go through the rest of the steps below.

4. Once you've woken up more fully, sitting with your morning coffee, write more about your dream. Write out as much detail as you can.

5. Return to what you wrote and start noting the core plot, people, things, interactions and feelings that unfolded in your dream. According to Delaney there are six basic categories to be aware of: Setting, People, Animals, Objects, Feelings, Plot/Action

Here's the interesting thing: often as you start to write out the descriptions, you'll already start to receive insights and ahas. Whatever insights you receive are correct. Trust your gut. In dream-work only YOU can accurately understand the meaning of your dream. So trust the insights that pop up as you go through this first process.

6. If you're dream isn't making too much sense, or no insights automatically arise, begin to write out/talk out loud more about the dream. Basically summarize the story, and especially how you felt during the dream. As you repeat the dream--you'll often start to gather insights.
Delaney talks about making bridges. This means asking yourself the question: does this remind you of anything else in your life? For example, in my running dream--there was more to the story, there were two other people who weren't running and they got to the same place I needed to get to.

When I reflected on the dream, I knew the message for me was that I didn't have to run to get to where I was going. Even if I slow down my pace I'll still accomplish my goal. So even if your dream doesn't make total sense at first, by asking the question "What in your life does this remind you of ?" -- that might give you the bit of insight you need to make a decision in your life that will lead you to live a better life. Often leading a better life comes down to little pivots in your daily actions that bring more harmony to your day.

7. Often there will be parts of the dream that you feel you can't make sense of. That's OK. Often as you sit with the dream over the course of the next few days more insights will come your way. Just like in a meditation: sometimes during meditation insights arrive, other times insights only come later, like when you're in the shower or off on a bike ride.

Take note of any core lessons you receive. For example if your dream tells you to slow down, and if this is something you obviously need to do in your own life--heed that advice. Other times your dream may help you solve a problem at work, or help you see that a certain business partnership is not a good idea.

The most important part in dream interpretation is that YOU the dreamer are interpreting the dream-story and images for yourself. Whatever meaning a person, place or plot has - that's the significance. For example: a car might mean freedom to one person and a major hassle to somebody else. If a car shows up as the major object in your dream: ask yourself what does a car mean to you? Whatever it means to you is the key insight you need to help you navigate your waking life with more wisdom and ease.

Please note that I've shared a very simplified version of this dream work. I beelive that even with this simplified process you'll find yourself gathering new insights to make better decisions in your life and work. But of course, if you're intrigued in this stuff as much as I am, check out Gayle Delaney's books, audios and website.

Ultimately there's a beautiful mystery to life, and making better choices goes beyond a pro and con list. By daring to be open to the realms of mystery--our intuition and trusting ourselves, we will live a more harmonious life.

I believe meditation, time in nature, and self-reflection are necessary to make strong choices from within. Dreams are another powerful gateway to gaining insight in your life.

If you're looking for further support to gain insight and clarity--I offer clarity sessions to help you gain clarity in your life and work. Click here for details

Tova Payne is a Writer, Teacher and Consultant based out of Vancouver BC. She integrates mindfulness with business and creative work, teaching people how to innovate their work from the inside out. For a free Meditation Audio and E-Guide on The 5 Keys to Start and Finish Your Projects-Sign up at


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