strong emotional dreams and how to stay mindful

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    During my waking hours I take effort to stay mindful in all that I do. However, every once in a while I have a strong emotional dream that throws me for a loop. Dreams that bring me back to my abusive childhood (an issue I addressed when I took refuge in the Buddha). When I wake I double my meditation time and treat those strong emotions at tenderly as I can. However, I do admit that it does throw me an emotional “curve ball” when I least expect it.

    Does anyone have any insight on strong emotional dreams and any possible usefulness they can have in a practice of mindfulness? I am assuming it is all part of my suffering that can transformed to joy and happiness.

    Namaste my brothers and sisters and thank you in advance.



    Are you able to look back at your abusers with compassion for their side? Such as “ah, given the same circumstances, that could have been me”? Sometimes our dreams help us find freedom by exposing unhealed hurts. Otherwise, just a dream, nobiggie, eat some breakfast, breathing. Right?

    Instead of doubling efforts, consider meeting your uncomfortable emotions as “slow passing thoughts”. Nothing to do, empty, have no hold on us, teachers, manure that grows the lotus.

    If this is all known already, then its just a matter of peaceful abiding. They come, they go, wind in the front door during the dreams, out the back door with the breath. Namaste.

    With warmth,

    The Ruminant

    Dear Breathing,

    I saw this post yesterday, and felt like I needed to respond, but I was overcome by fear of saying the wrong things. I’m not a Buddhist (although I’m also not un-Buddhist-like). I haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced, so I can’t truly relate. I am sorry for all the suffering you have gone through on your journey.

    After the most peculiar sequence of events, I am now awake at 3.44am after waking up from the most horrific child abuse related nightmare (complete fiction, but scary) and having to calm myself down by going through some actual events that have happened to me, which I was thinking about before I fell asleep. I’m not going to get into the details, as they don’t matter, but I feel compelled now to share couple of thoughts that came to me during tonight.

    Reconnect with the reality after the dream. Not just today’s reality, but also to accept what has happened before. Turn to the child within, who’s probably feeling scared after being reminded of the past, and say something like “Yes, it did happen, I’m sorry and I refuse to carry shame over what has happened.” Something that has been suppressed and hidden for a long time has a need to be acknowledged before it can go away. I am sure that you have been working on this before, but if it does come back again, then acknowledging and accepting the reality would hopefully bring some release. Also, I think that it’s important to acknowledge the child within and his suffering. When we are children, we don’t have a strong voice and what we would’ve then most needed is someone to acknowledge and listen and validate. As an adult, you can give the much needed attention to your own inner child.

    Sleep and dreams serve a purpose. We need all of it, the deep sleep and the dreams states, to keep ourselves sane. When we rest, the brain is tended to, and everything that we have been thinking of or have experienced will go through inspection. Mostly new stuff, sometimes old. Even the things we don’t want to think about, and sometimes especially the things we don’t want to think about. I have occasionally these dreams where all the rage I’ve been bottling up as a child and teenager will come out in the most aggressive ways. At first they scared me, but now I look at them as something that keeps me sane. Sure, it takes a while to calm down afterwards, but it’s also good to put the dream into perspective and not necessarily seek any bigger meaning in it.

    I hope you will find a way to face the emotional turmoil.


    Thank you all for your insight and feedback. Although I try to stay in the present. I do have a deep fear in the back of my mind of the emotional pain returning to me. It is a horrible darkness and is similar to quicksand. It lies to me, makes me feel horrible about myself, makes me feel hopeless and unable to breathe. Since I started practicing mindfulness, it hasn’t returned. But I still have bad dreams, though not as often.

    The Ruminant

    Quicksand is an interesting metaphor, because your chances of survival depend highly on how you respond to it. If you panic and believe that you are powerless, the more likely you’ll sink further in. However, if you respond with calmness and use your skills, you can maneuver yourself out of it.

    You have been practicing mindfulness, so you already are more skillful and have more knowledge of survival than many others. Chances are that you have much better skills at handling the emotional pain if it comes back. Ironically, what makes pain really painful is when we fight back and refuse to face it. If we’d allow pain to just make it’s way naturally through our mind and just examine it instead of fighting it, it would feel more like sorrow and sadness.


    I just wanted to add some small thoughts, I have not experienced what you have in life and it sounds like you are making excellent progress with being mindful. I do however experience many vivid dreams and also used to suffer from sleep paralysis and it may be worth looking at how you go to sleep to help deter or reduce the dreams. I dream of many terrifying things, most of which I have never actually experienced like dying in a Tsunami and they often leave me exhausted and emotional the next day.

    Everyone is different but some of the things you may already be doing or may have no effect but I would perhaps try certain things out for a while and document any changes. For example the position you sleep in, if I fall asleep whilst on my back I am more likely to have vivid dreams or the sleep paralysis. I also believe that dreams often come from what has been the last thoughts in my mind before I go to sleep so reading suitable books or listening to suitable music that would have a positive impact may be worth a thought. Also what you eat in the evening, some foods for example cheese or caffeine may be having a negative affect. I am trying to meditate before I go to sleep each night, I find it helps me sleep and I have a “good” sleep. Just food for thought anyway. I hope you have a wonderful day 🙂



    Greetings Breathing ~~~
    From my own experience, I had to realize how much control I was freely giving up to my painful past. I was in a dark abyss and there was absolutely no one there to pull me out. Since it was me who fell into this dark hole, it would me to pull myself out. For awhile I had to start all over again, I got rid of all my negative friends and change the channel on my inner radio. I was able to find positive energy all around me and goodness began to flow inside of me.

    The biggest step was learning how to forgive myself for all of my flaws and imperfections. I was able to forgive all of the people who brought pain and suffering into my life and walk away from them. I make a choice everyday to do good not only for me but for others as well. Two years later I would be diagnosed as Bi-Polar2 and I still have highs and lows but I refuse to be defeated or lie down in a pit of self pity or shame.

    Be good to yourself and allow love to consume you like a fire, then you can share that same love onto those around you. Be well and walk in peace.


    Thanks guys.

    Hey Breathing77

    Thanks for your post. I am going to offer an off the tangent perspective here but it may well work for you. First of all, congrats for taking refuge in Buddha. However, Buddha is not going to come down to help you. He sends people and healers at every junction who guide us along the path to unlimited happiness and unconditional love. I am not a Buddhist personally but I love all gods and god like forms 🙂

    Dreams are an extension of us. It is a state when our subconscious mind does what our conscious mind is not able to do while awake. If you are having recurrent but intermittent strong and emotional dreams, your subconscious mind is processing the same issue again and again as it is not able to find a solution to the problem. I guess in your case, it could be some childhood trauma or abuse that you talk about.

    Compassion is a great way of solving a lot of things in this world but we also need to be practical when it comes to human psyche. If you can combine some professional form of treatment along with a dose of mindfulness, I believe your healing will be expedited. You have not come into this world to suffer, mate !!!! You have come here to resolve your unresolved issues in the fastest way possible so that you can enjoy the life and its joys 🙂

    When we have been traumatised for a long period of time and when we keep holding onto past traumas dear to our heart, our brain undergoes a chemical transformation. This chemical reaction creates a havoc in the rest of the body. Some people notice the physical symptoms quickly while others take a while to manifest diseases or illnesses.

    According to eastern medicine, emotional or vivid dreams can often be due to sub optimal liver function and believes that the emotion of “repressed anger” is one of the causes. Unfortunately, Western medicine doesn’t pick up sub-optimal liver function until the disease is advanced and it doesn’t believe that emotions have any effect on our organ functioning. Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in the skilled hands is excellent at correcting energy balances of all the organs in the body and it focusses especially on the liver as it is the powerhouse of the body. Within couple of sessions, you will notice a huge change in your well-being and energy levels. Even your meditation sessions will benefit from this surge of life force energy. It also helps with restful sleep.

    Another therapy, which can assist you greatly to erase the unresolved trauma is hypnotherapy. Again, in the right hands, it can provide an excellent resolve for many psychosomatic conditions.

    I attach a you tube of a heart chakra meditation, which should go a long way to help you get a good night sleep. It requires only 10 mins of your time before you doze off. Don’t chuck it out until you have tried it at least once. If it works, you can use it nightly.


    And lastly, no amount of mindfulness or meditation is going to help us resolve our issues until we are willing to fully let go; forgive ourselves and others for the pain; practice acceptance for our existence and offer unconditional love to self and others. I would like to offer an illustration here and see if it resonates with you at a deeper level. If it does, it will help to bring an instant relief to your worn out mind.

    When a bank lends us money for a home mortgage today, it expects us to pay our monthly payments until it the whole sum is paid off over 10-30 years. Suppose we meet up with an accident and leave the body – who is going to repay the Bank ? Well, either one of our relatives if they are the guarantor for the property or the Bank will resell the property to get its money back. The money transaction will balance out by hook or crook so that we owe ZERO to the bank and BANK has 100 percent of the cash it lent us (the balance sheet principle) . Similarly, if we plant a seed of tomato today, in a few weeks time, we will get a tomato plant in its place. There wont be a mango tree in its place, will there ?

    Universe works in a similar fashion if you are willing to entertain this idea for a few more minutes. Every action has a reaction – be it in this lifetime that we can remember or a previous one, which we cant remember. Karma and Dharma are based on this principle that everything balances out in this Universe – we get what we sow. God is not responsible for our suffering or circumstances. Just because we cant remember what we have done 50 years ago (perhaps in an another body) doesn’t mean that it did not occur. We often get too attached to all the bad traumas that occur to us in this life. This is all to be blamed on the loss of memory that occurs at birth and we do not recall what we were doing prior to entering the womb – well, some still remember but most of us humble beings do not have any recollection. We take all negative experiences as a self punishment instead of realising that our actions (past or present) have to balance out somewhere. The IN has to = OUT. When this realisation occurs with growing of consciousness, unconditional love starts to become the essence of our life. We realise that hey, we are all one and same and wah lah, all resentment and sorrows leave us and life feels like a joyful ride :).

    Does this make sense ?

    You will be in my prayers tonight and I hope you will continue to find the help and guidance that you need to continue on this life journey and beyond.


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