John Henry Fuseli, "The Shepherd's Dream," 1786. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I'll bring all your dreams alive...for you.
—Olivia Newton-John, “Magic”
Tell us about your recurring dream. Are you late for a test in high school? Are you naked in high school? So where’d you go to high school?
Okay, enough with the high school, but seriously, let’s talk dreams. Are your dreams so vivid you awaken and you’re momentarily disoriented by the fact that they’re not, in fact, real? Do you visit the same places night after night in your dreams? Have you ever dreamed about a loved one who has passed and awakened to wonder if just maybe his or her spirit really was there in the dream, trying to send you a message?
Laurel Clark gets it. No, like, really, she gets it—she can tell you what your dreams mean. She’s a regional director of the School of Metaphysics, where, she said, “dreamwork is a fundamental part of our course of study.”
This weekend, Clark and her oneirophile (look it up) colleagues are offering a fascinating once-a-year opportunity: you can call something called the National Dream Hotline and experts will interpret your dreams for you.
To quote the press materials, “the 27th Annual National Dream Hotline begins April 24 at 6 p.m. until April 26 at midnight. The School of Metaphysics will be interpreting your nighttime dreams for free. If you have been itching to know what that crazy dream you had last week means, call us at 314-645-0036.”
Here’s our chat with Clark about unlocking the mystical power of dreams.
What’s happening this weekend?
This is called the National Dream Hotline, and it’s the 27th annual one. It’s a wonderful event. We open our phone lines Friday night and they’re open through midnight Sunday. Teachers and students are on hand around the clock to interpret dreams and answer questions at no charge.
How does this benefit people?
First, everybody dreams but not everybody remembers their dreams; they’re kind of a hidden treasure. Every night when we go to sleep there’s all this mind activity. Our dreams can give us guidance and inspiration and help us solve problems. People throughout history have had dreams that inspire art, creativity and business ventures. The Salt March Mahatma Gandhi did was inspired by a dream. Supposedly General Patton used dreams for battle plans. There are many ways people can use them for guidance and inspiration and to help other people.
What is the biggest misconception about dreams?
I think probably the biggest misconception is that dreams are literal. What we have learned through our research with the School of Metaphysics is that dreams are symbolic and every dream is about the dreamer and every person in the dream can be interpreted as an aspect of the dreamer. For instance if in a dream somebody is going to kill you and you need to run from them, it’s not literal, the person symbolizes an aspect or part of you. Death symbolizes change. You’re aware that you need to change but you are running from it. It helps people when they learn the language that dreams communicate with to apply those messages and cause change in their waking lives.
It seems there are common dream scenarios that people share.
One really common dream is for adults of any age to dream about being back in school and they can’t find the classroom, or they have to take a test and they realize they haven’t been to class all semester, something like that. Those dreams mean they’re aware there’s some kind of lesson they should be learning and they’re not really getting it. Another common dream is a car, which symbolizes the physical body. Car dreams are health dreams. People will dream about being out of control or in a car crash or traffic jam. Those have to do with a waking life out of control that affects one’s physical life, or will happen soon in physical life. It can be a warning to pay attention before they crash. Maybe they’re burning the candle at both ends and not eating right. If they pay attention they might not wind up in bed with the flu and slowed down.
What is the School of Metaphysics?
The word metaphysics means the mind. “Meta” is above and “physics” meaning the laws of the physical world. Metaphysics has to do with the laws of creativity and universal laws. The school teaches the particular application of those. We teach students to develop mind skills such as concentration, undivided attention, meditation, memory, listening, intuition, listening, visualization…There are about 15 branches of the School of Metaphysics in the Midwest. We’re headquartered in Windyville, Missouri, about 50 miles northeast of Springfield. The St. Louis branch is in Maplewood. I am a teacher at the School as well as a regional director and a past president. Dreamwork is a fundamental part of our course of study so I started learning how to interpret dreams at my first class in 1979, and I’ve been doing that for 36 years now.
Do you have a favorite song or movie about dreams?
I really like the movie What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams. I think it’s probably pretty accurate in terms of what can happen when someone who has died can come to you in your dreams. I had a couple of pretty profound dreams where my husband who had passed away came to me. I wrote a book that highlighted some of those experiences. It’s called Intuitive Dreaming. I’m also leading an intuitive dreaming workshop this Saturday afternoon. It’s about dream inspiration and insight. It’s at a place called Createspace on Delmar in U. City.
What about flying in a dream? It’s always felt like a great blessing to me, and a very powerful experience.
That gives you the experience of freedom that is your real nature. Most of us feel we’re restricted by certain things in our waking lives. The truth is the only restriction comes from our own limitations. Flying happens when people experience a breakthrough or an aha moment in their waking lives, when people realize they have a lot more freedom than they thought they did.
Do you think the passed loved ones who appear in dreams are really them?
My experience is that there’s a feeling with a dream like that that’s very profound. Most people have a sense that it really is that person, but they’re afraid to talk about it because they don’t want someone to talk them out of it. Most people can feel the presence of that person.
What is the significance of daydreams?
Dreams and daydreams are related. The difference is that daydreams involve the conscious mind, and nighttime dreams are coming from the subconscious or inner self. They’re both visual and involve imagery. People who learn how to consciously visualize often find their daydreams reflected in their nighttime dreams.
How do you feel about lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming means being aware in a dream you’re dreaming. Many people are fascinated by that because it gives them the experience and awareness that there’s much more to us than bodies and brains. It’s one of things we teach our students. We teach them how to understand the guidance dreams are giving first. Then, one of the benefits of lucid dreaming is having awareness of the dreaming itself and being able to make decisions while in the dream state.
Can it help you after you wake up, too?
Yes. Let’s take the dream I talked about before. You’re being chased by someone running after you to kill you. If you become lucid and realize it’s a dream, you can turn around and face that person and say, “Who are you and what do you want?” Then you find out. People who do that find out the fear dissolves and a threat becomes a friend.
Some dreams are so vivid that they seem more real than waking life. You wake up and you’re left with the puzzle of reality.
Puzzle is a pretty good term. At the School of Metaphysics we’re motivated to teach people how to interpret their own dreams, to teach how you can solve the puzzle. The reason they’re vivid is because the self is much more than we experience when we’re awake. People learn how to put on masks when they’re awake. The vividness of our dreams is a window into the whole self. That’s why some feel really good—they connect us with who we really are. The more we understand, the more we can integrate the inner self with the outer self and live more holistically.
The 27th Annual National Dream Hotline begins April 24 at 6 p.m. until April 26 at midnight. The School of Metaphysics will be interpreting your nighttime dreams for free. Call 314-645-0036. For more info about this weekend's hotline, go to dreamschool.org.