Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sweet Dreams - The Messages in our Dreams

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”
"When you find a dream inside your heart, don't let it go. For dreams are the tiny seeds from which beautiful tomorrows grow."

In my blog post on 'Life Enhancing Dreams' I talked about how we direct our life through our dreams, desires and outcomes, explored the difference between dreams and outcomes and described how to integrate the head, heart and gut (enteric) brains to help you begin to create the life you dream about. In today's post however...

"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions." 
"Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you."

I want to explore dreams and dreaming from a different perspective. I want to describe and share evidence and ideas about dreams as messages from our multiple brains; dreams as deeply intuitive communications from our heart and gut brains. But first a true and chilling story...

Dreams that saved a life!

In early 2011, Oprah Winfrey decided she wanted to run an issue of her magazine solely devoted to the power of intuition and how to tap into gut instincts. Her magazine editors and researchers began searching for true and verifiable stories about people whose lives had been saved by hunches and messages from their deep intuition. What they found are some amazing stories, and these are detailed in the August 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, but the one that really stands out is the experience of Trisha Coburn.

Trisha was 46 years of age and living a successful, healthy life, when one night she had an intense and disturbing dream that ultimately saved her life. In the dream she was standing at a barbed-wire fence and a group of frail and scary people on the other side were trying to tell her something in a language she couldn’t comprehend. For the next couple of weeks she had the same dream recurringly, and each time the number of people in the dream increased and looked more and more desperate. The dreams were so disturbing she would wake up crying. She knew something was wrong.

So Trisha called her doctor and scheduled a full physical workup. But the results came back negative and her doctor was convinced Trisha was healthy and over-reacting. Still the dream came back, this time with 100 people, all wailing, screaming and pleading in their strange language. A few days after that, the same dream occurred one last time, but in this dream the fence was empty, there was no one there.

This was so disturbing to Trisha she went immediately to her doctor again and asked him what he thought was the deepest place in the human body. After he told her it was the colon, she demanded a colonoscopy. Even though her doctor was against it because she had no symptoms and no family history of colon cancer, Trisha insisted.

And fortunately for Trisha, she listened to the messages from her dreams. During the colonoscopy the gastroenterologist found aggressive and fast moving cancer throughout her colon. Her life was saved. A message from her gut brain that all was not well, communicated via dreams, allowed her to find the cancer and have it removed before it killed her. The surgeon later told her if she’d waited another two months, the prognosis would have been grim.

What a chilling and powerful story about the power of dreams for tapping into your deep gut wisdom!

The gut dreaming...

Every night, as you sleep, your head brain goes through periods of what is known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep is a normal stage of sleep, occurs approximately every 90 minutes on average, and is associated with the act of dreaming. It’s believed by many neuroscientists and sleep researchers to be an integral part of the learning process and plays a major role in the integration of memory, experience and knowledge. A recent study at the University of California, using brain scans, showed that during REM sleep, memories are being reactivated, put in perspective and integrated. It was demonstrated that REM sleep acts like a form of overnight balm, soothing the emotional experiences of the previous day.

Fascinatingly, the gut brain also goes through a process akin to REM sleep, only in the gut this is known as RGM (Rapid Gut Movement) sleep. Approximately every 90 minutes, while you sleep, the gut goes through periods of RGM. It is suggested by some researchers that this is a time when the gut and head are communicating and integrating the knowledge and experiences of the day. It has also been noted by researchers that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other inflammatory bowel disorders suffer from poor sleep patterns, experience abnormal amounts of REM and RGM sleep periods and report more intense and prolific dreaming compared to control subjects.

Based on these insights, it is likely therefore that dreams are important ways in which the gut brain communicates to the head brain and allows intuitions and ‘gut wisdom’ to surface into consciousness. As the esoteric wisdom traditions maintain, your dreams contain messages from your gut and heart. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is suggested the gut communicates about its state through dreams and when it’s infected with intestinal parasites the dreams have specificity about what sort of parasite exists in the gut. Ancient Taoist TCM texts say that, “When one has small intestinal parasites, one will dream of crowds; when one has long intestinal parasites, one will dream of fights and mutual destruction.”

Messages from the heart...

Now here are some more amazing and somewhat 'spooky' pieces of evidence about messages received from dreams. These however, are about dream messages from the heart and what is most fascinating is the level of specificity that must be contained in heart brain memories for the messages to contain such incredible details. I hope you find them as intriguing as I did when I first read them.

As described in my book 'mBraining', after a heart and lung transplant operation, dancer Claire Sylvia discovered that her new organs were not the only thing she inherited. As detailed in her fascinating biography ‘A Change of Heart’, one night, five months after her operation, Claire woke from a vivid and entrancing dream. In her dream, she met a man named Tim L. and formed a strong bond with him. As the dream unfolded, it became time for Tim to leave, and just before he did, Claire and Tim kissed and during the kiss, Claire inhaled Tim into her and awoke, knowing that she and Tim would be together forever.

This dream was so vivid, unusual and exhilarating that on awakening, Claire felt as if she’d finally integrated her new heart and lungs within her. She says she woke up knowing that Tim L. was her donor and that parts of his spirit and personality were now within her. This deep sense of knowing started her on a quest to find out who her donor really was and after months and months of frustrated research and searching she finally made contact with his family. And the kicker to the story… the donor’s real name was Tim LaSalle.

What an amazing story! Definitely worth reading. It’s also backed up by medical research that shows that severed vagus nerves can, after several months, reconnect and re-innervate the cardiac nervous system of the new heart. Obviously, in Claire’s case, her new heart connected strongly and was able to send messages in her dreams to help her accept and integrate her new heart brain.

Finally, here’s another heart chilling and incredible story from the literature on personality changes after heart transplants. In this example, an eight year old girl received the heart of a ten year old girl, but sometime after the transplant, the young recipient began to have vivid nightmares about an attacker and a girl being murdered. Concerned about her young daughter, the mother took her to a psychiatrist who became convinced that with nightmares so detailed and real they appeared to be genuine memories. The psychiatrist recommended they contact the police, and presciently, it turned out the ten year old donor had been murdered.

According to the literature, the recipient’s violent reoccurring dreams were so vivid and accurate, and she was able to describe the events of the horrible encounter and the murderer with such detail, police were able to apprehend and convict the killer. An incredible story that makes you wonder just how much intelligence and specificity the heart brain and its memories have.

Dreams as communications...

So it would seem that dreams can serve as messages from our multiple brains, that dreams can sometimes be deeply intuitive communications from our heart and gut brains to our head brains. This is probably why we say things like 'Sweet Dreams' when we wish someone to have a good night's sleep. What the neurolinguistics of this common saying indicates is that we are future pacing the gut brain to do a gustatory experience of  'sweetness' (taste is a key sensory modality utilized by the enteric nervous system - we have taste buds not just on our tongues, but spread throughout our GastroIntestinal system) and thereby send positive messages in our dreams rather than messages of fear and anxiety that can lead to nightmares.

As you know from my last post on the Prime Functions of the multiple brains, the gut brain is responsible for monitoring safety and threats, both external physical threats and internal ‘semantic’ or psychological threats. So if, before sleeping you put yourself into a hyped up vigilant state, if you ruminate over perceived injustices, or focus on upcoming fearful events, you’ll find that your gut brain will kick into threat monitoring mode and your brains won’t be able to do deep high quality sleeping. You obviously also shouldn’t eat rich and complex meals just before sleeping. Anything that disturbs or distracts the gut brain from calm sleeping can detract from how restful and ‘sweet’ your sleep and dreams can be.

Instead, as you lay in bed, just before drifting off to sleep, do Balanced Breathing and fill you heart with peace, love and compassion. Then breathe these up into your head and down to your gut. Fill all your brains with calm, peaceful love. Talk kindly and lovingly to your brains and ask them to do high quality and integrative sleeping. Directionalize your brains respectfully and then filled with warm feelings of safety, love and peace, gently drift off into a refreshing night of health-filled sleep. And pay attention to your dreams, especially the vivid and memorable ones. They are likely to be important messages from your multiple brains and you ignore them at your peril. Indeed, listening to the messages from your dreams just may save your life...

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Learn more...

If you'd like to learn more about how to communicate with and integrate your head, heart and gut brains, grab a copy of  'mBraining - Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff'. In it you'll find simple and powerful techniques for tapping into your intuition and using sleep and the wisdom of your heart and gut brains for integrated decision making.

smiles and appreciation,


  1. Grant, this is fascinating. I look forward to trying out more of your techniques. Thank you, too, for the link to that issue of "O" magazine. I rarely read it, though I enjoy it when I do. The article by Martha Beck was interesting and a perfect fit with this excellent post.

  2. Hey Jean, thanks for the positive feedback, I really appreciate it. I've gotten quite a few private emails already about this blog, sharing details of various dreams, and especially recurring dreams. Many of them are very obviously messages to do with prime functions of the gut and heart brains. Fascinating stuff indeed.

    smiles, Grant

  3. Very interesting Grant - reminds me of the dream I had when I was doing my Masters in Accounting. I dreamt that I failed my exam, but that the lecturer would ask me to do a supplementary assignment, and would pass me. The precise thing happened a few weeks later. It was like a message, intuition or just god speaking to me, that all will be well. There is so much more to dreams that I want to explore.......

    interesting also re the donors and how that transfers across the dreams of the previous soul.......very very interesting...thank you :)

  4. Thanks Matt, I appreciate your connection and comments.

    smiles, Grant

  5. fantastic posting of dream messages

    1. Thanks Anna, really appreciate your comment.

      smiles, Grant

  6. Interestingly for me Grant the times I have remembered dreams have been metaphorical and very clear, like the time I woke with the message about a bun in the oven! That's a term I understood to relate to pregnancy. Sure enough after many many tests the doctors told me my results were borderline! What, I'm a bit pregnant was my response and sure enough I was, it just took a bit of time for the message to filter through hormonally


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