Healing With Dreams
The Ancient Greek Hospitals: Healing Dream Centers
In the west, healing power was sought through the intercession of a god. Aesclepius was the healing god of the early Greeks. Legend has it that he was once a real person with a gift for healing. He was made a god in the Greek culture, and by 300 B.C., people often prayed to him for their healing needs. The Greeks named their healing centers after him by calling them Aesclepions.
Aesclepions were often situated in beautiful and restful locations. They would have spa-like amenities such as healing waters and baths fed by hotsprings, gym facilities for strengthening the body, a healthful food menu, and priests or counselors who invoked the healing power of Aesclepius to interpret the dreams of the people who came to be healed.
One such person was Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine," who gained many of his insights on healing from observing how the healing process worked in conjunction with dreams. He used the dreams of his patients to help them tap into this process and heal their ailments.
Re-discovering the Healing Energy of Dreams
Scientists and dream experts are discovering the connections of dreams to healing. For example, in her authoritative and ground-breaking book, The Healing Power of Dreams, Patricia Garfied, Ph.D. connects dreams with illness, healing and wellness. Based on her own experience with injury and extensive research, Dr. Garfield definitively lays out the ways that dream imagery and metaphor can warn about the on-set of illness or trauma, describe health crisis points, and indicate the pathway to recovery and wellness.
She considers that dreams are a significant, yet often overlooked informational resource which can provide nightly visual representations of what the body is undergoing, whether it is illness, healing or well-being. Learning how to work with dreams allows the person to see:
- How his or her illness or trauma is manifesting itself in the dreams, and to work with these images in taking a road back to health.
- How wellness is expressed in dreams, and how it can be maintained through the information of dreams.
A modern Aesclepion provides a setting for the exploration of dreams as an important component to health and the healing-whether it is in a therapist's office, a classroom, or a person's home. Ideally, a modern Aesclepion or Healing Dream Garden would be in a carefully chosen environment which would be conducive to relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation. This would be a restful, beautiful place supported by a person knowledgeable about dreamwork that encourages the dreamer to seek guidance from dreams to get a better perspective on their own health, and ways to improve their health, what foods to eat, or what exercise or meditation program to adopt. Ideal components of a modern aescelpion would be:
A spa where the dream seeker could physically unwind and undergo massages and other therapy designed to relax and rejuvenate.
- A garden or green area where the dream seeker can relax, read or meet with the dream mentor.
- A welcoming place to stay for a few days to several weeks that is away from home and the regular routine, such as a resort-type hotel or bed & breakfast. This place should be able to provide healthy and appetizing food on a regular basis for the duration of the dream seeker's stay.
- A beautiful geographical setting located in a scenic spot such as by the ocean or overlooking a valley.
- The presence of a dream coach or mentor trained in dreamwork to work with the dream seeker initially to set up the program, and then to facilitate the program with the dream seeker. To see how coaching can benefit you, click here.