05. Chapter 17: Healing With Dream Imagery

Imagery and Ancient Medicine

My own experience led me to study more about dreaming in the ancient world when people routinely sought healing guidance from dreams and from the divine power which showed itself in dreams.
In the original Hippocratic oath, doctors swore by gods of healing, including Asklepius.
In ancient Greece, dreams and visions were the most common method of inquiry into the cause and cure of disease. In the temple of Askleapius diagnosis of illness and healing took place during that state of consciousness just prior to sleep, when images come forth like frames of thought projected on a movie screen.
Galen documented and recorded a description of the effect of an image and the imagination on health. He believed one could study the records of a patient’s imagery and dream content and learn important diagnostic information that could help doctors help their patients learn to heal themselves and help patients bring their bodies and minds back into balance. [Coxe, Dr. John, ed. The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1846), pp. 215-16, 620-21.
Paracelsus, Renaissance physician, credited his own understanding of the laws and practices of health to his conversations with women healers. He wrote a book, Diseases of Women, in which he noted:

Man is his own doctor and finds proper healing herbs in his own garden; the physician is in ourselves, and in our own nature are all things that we need....Man has a visible and an invisible workshop. The visible one is his body, the invisible one is imagination [the mind]...The imagination is sun in the soul of man...The spirit is the master, imagination the tool, and the body the plastic material...The power of the imagination is a great factor in medicine. It may produce diseases...and it may cure them... Ills of the body may be cured by physical remedies or by the power of the spirit acting through the soul.
The Body Believes in Pictures
Waking or sleeping, imagery—mind pictures—is the way we send messages to our body. The pictures we send can be used to harm or to heal. When they are used consciously for healing we release the most creative and powerful potential of our subconscious. When healing pictures come in a dream, they are gifts. Mind pictures, whether from our waking reality or from a sleep dream, provide an intention for healing which empowers the imagination to transport healing messages to the body. These messages become an active prescription for healing.
It is important to realize that healing is not always the lengthening of life. Sometimes healing is the final balancing of life. Healing is as important in the preparation for death as in the healing of the body to continue in active life. We need to learn how to use healing imagery for both the return to active life and to use healing imagery for preparing the mind and body to enter a new passage.
[In SHE WHO DREAMS, this chapter explores healing exercises Wanda developed from her dream imagery - "Going into a Waking Dream," "Turning Dream Prescriptions into Medicine," "Using your Healing Image as a Meditation," "Body Scanning" using dream images, "Making a Tape from your own Waking Image or Sleep Dream," and working with imagery while exercising or playing. Follow the links to purchase SHE WHO DREAMS from Amazon, from the publisher or visit your favorite bookstore.]
Wanda believes:
“I’m not only alive because I dream; I am the dream I choose.”

dreams