As Shakespeare’s Hamlet says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” He continues, "I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams." - Hamlet, II.ii.
So, how should we deal with our nightmares? Well, it’s really a matter of perspective. Any dream, including a nightmare, can be a useful experience. They may allow us to deal with unresolved issues in daily life that we haven’t allowed into our waking consciousness. Such unresolved issues can affect many aspects of life, including health and relationships. A nightmare can show us to heal these unresolved issues. So in this context, we should celebrate them!
From another perspective, a nightmare can be an interrupted dream, because we can get so frightened that we run away and try to avoid the experience. But if we learn to confront the underlying issues inside the dream space, we may be able to stop them from entering into our waking reality. This might require us to take action during our waking life, depending on the dream.
You can use the active dreaming technique of dream re-entry: imagine that you are going back into your nightmare and change the circumstances so that there is a positive outcome. This will assist to heal the unresolved part of your life that was the source of the nightmare. Ask the unwanted guest for its message - it might be there to help you. Or invite a dream ally to go into the dream with you, to guide and protect you. This could be a dream teacher, a dream companion, a powerful animal guide, or even your guardian angel.
By re-entering the dream, we can find out the nature of the nightmare. Is the dream intruder really someone who could literally break into your house, a possible health problem, or an aspect of yourself trying to get your attention. If your dream house has an infestation, could your body have a condition needing medical attention?
Nightmares can be a gift in the way that a watchdog barking can alert us to something that needs our attention. Although sometimes what we are fleeing from might be an aspect of our own power.
In our current situation, many of us may have to shelter in place. This could make it a creative alembic, or alchemical crucible, where we can transform and grow ourselves for the better. Similar to a butterfly’s chrysalis, the caterpillar transmutes itself, before emerging shining from its space of deep dreaming.
Dreaming, both the light and dark aspects, help us to awaken to a deeper reality and connect with our deepest selves.