I've always had an interest in sleep and dreaming. As a kid, I thought that sleep was an alternate, secret life-you could go to bed and experience a whole other world of events, with no repercussions for your actions upon waking. I have always been a lucid dreamer, which added to the fun of it all. (Lucid dreamers are people who are fully aware that they are dreaming while they are doing it, and can change the course of the dream just by thinking about it.) I have spent years learning about sleep patterns and dreams, and have studied all sorts of philosophies behind why we dream. I tend to believe that our subconscious regurgitates everything that happens to us throughout the course of the day while we are asleep, but in a way that is symbolic rather than literal.
In Chinese medicine, however, dreams are said to indicate which organ system is out of whack. Remember when we talked about 5 Phase Theory, a few blog posts ago? If the organs are all in balance, you will have good health and a sense of well-being. If they fall out of balance, which they often do, you have emotional and physical symptomology that manifests in specific ways, according to which organ is dysfunctional.
Each organ system corresponds to certain dream themes. This is why I always ask my patients what they dream about. Certain recurrent dreams can point to an imbalance of a particular organ:
People with an imbalance of the Liver often dream of being angry. It is said that dreams about fragrant mushrooms, forests within mountains, and lying under a tree being unable to get up are also all Liver themes.
People with imbalances of the Lung might dream of weeping, worrying, or crying and flying. They might dream of white objects or bloody killings. They may also dream of seeing strange objects made of gold or iron.
Those with Heart imbalances might dream of laughing, fire, smoke, or volcanic eruptions.
Imbalances of the Spleen might lead to dreams of singing, feeling very heavy, being hungry, building a house, or dreams of abysses in mountains and marshes.
People with imbalances of the Kidney can dream that the spine is detached from the body. They often dream of being immersed in water. Dreams about shipwrecks and being plunged in water (and frightened about it) also indicate Kidney imbalance.
So, think back to the last few dreams you've had and see any of these themes have made an appearance. Who knows? It could be a sign that you need a little energetic work!