Ask Tzivia: Nightmares– Trick or Treat?

October 28th, 2015 by

Ask Tzivia: Why Nightmares are treats, not tricks, from the dreamworld (A Halloween Guide to dreams)

Tzivia Gover, Certified Dream Therapist, is here to guide you through your dreams. Beyond Freud, beyond Jung, this is a whole new perspective. Tzivia is the author of several books, her latest “Joy In Every Moment” is fresh off the press.  Appointments in person, by phone or Skype, are all available through online booking. Check out her site for further information.

TzQ: In a recent column you offered tips for remembering dreams. I’m thinking of taking your advice so I can increase my dream recall, but the few dreams I remember are nightmares, and with Halloween coming I fear this will only make matters worse. Should I just wait for a cheerier time of year to dream?


Scared of the Dark!


A: Dear Scared One,

You couldn’t pay me to go into one of those haunted houses where ghouls dripping with fake blood throw rubber snakes and spiders at visitors. I avoided watching The Godfather for decades because I’d heard about the scene with the horse’s head, and I can’t even watch the news after sunset. In short: I don’t do scary.

But when it comes to dreaming, we really don’t get a choice, do we? Every night it’s as though you enter a multiplex—only you don’t get to choose which movie you’re going to see: One night you can dream Antonio Banderas is sweeping you off your feet, and the next night you’ve got a starring role in the Nightmare on Elm Street.

But unlike cheap Halloween thrills, or cheesy horror movies, your nightmares are actually inviting you to wake up to important truths about your life. Usually they are trying to help you see something you are avoiding dealing with in waking life. If you can muster the courage to pay attention to them, discuss them with a friend or therapist, or do a little dreamwork with them on your own, you will likely find the gift in the nightmare that makes the heart-stopping fear that woke you in the wee hours worth the price of admission.

Of course no one looks forward to nightmares, Dear Scared One, but when they come, there are ways to lessen the fear factor and amp up the healing. Here’s how:

  1. Say your prayers: You don’t have to be religious for this one. In fact my favorite all-purpose prayer is, “Thank you.” Yes, simply counting your blessings before bed counts as a form of prayer, and doing so will help ease your way into pleasant dreams. But since there’s no fool-proof nightmare deflector, you’ll also want to say my second favorite prayer: “Please help me.” In this case you’re asking for help in the form of protection and divine guidance as you drift into dreams.
  2. Invite your nightmare to tea: If despite your prayers you end up with a scary dream, use journaling or guided meditation to revisit your nightmare from a place of power. Re-play the dream in your imagination, but this time turn and face the monsters, attackers, or pursuers. Ask that fanged beast what message it has for you, and it might just transform into a playful puppy. (If you can get lucid in the dream, you can take care of this bit of business while you are dreaming!)
  3. Empower yourself: If you feel queasy about encountering the nightmare figures again, arm yourself with a secret power or helper animal who’ll have your back while you get to know the ghouls or ghosts that haunt your dreams. Remember, with dream re-entry or active dreaming you are in charge. The dream phantoms can’t hurt you now.
  4. Who (or what) is chasing you: If you have a dream that you are being chased, ask yourself what is pursuing you in waking life. The answer might be an emotion you’re avoiding dealing with, or a tense situation you are ignoring, etc.
  5. Dreams of death: If you dream that someone is trying to kill you, or that someone is dying or being killed, ask yourself what part of yourself is ready to “die” off or be released. Remember, dreams of death and dying are rarely literal, as dreams speak in symbol and metaphor most of the time.

So, Scared One, no need to postpone your Dream Recall Project. In fact, I hope that this Halloween you will entertain the notion that frightening dreams can be agents for health and healing instead of conveyers of pure terror. It’s possible (actually it’s probable) that they have come to wake you up to important truths that will help you live a more joyous and loving life.

Until we meet again, may you get plenty of treats and nary a trick. And may you dream & be well.



To learn more about your dreams come to an upcoming dream workshop at CLINIC on Weds. evenings 7:30-9 p.m. Oct. 21, 28, or Nov. 4


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