Kelly Sullivan Walden On How Paying Attention To Dreams Can Make You A Better Person

"We would be naked and in the dark without dreams, basically."

"Maybe later at some point, I'll tell you my Nicki Minaj dream — but that's another story for another day," Kelly Sullivan Walden teased during a phone conversation earlier this week. While the woman who has come to be known as "Doctor Dream" didn't go further with that story, she did voice her opinion that if we would pay attention to our dreams, the world would be an entirely different — and much better — place.

Walden — a bestselling author, certified clinical hypnotherapist, and magazine columnist — already thought dreams are powerful and can change lives, but this belief was cemented upon getting thousands of submissions for Dreams and the Unexplainable, a title she worked on with Chicken Soup for the Soul Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Amy Newmark. Of those thousands of submissions, 101 made it to publication.

"It's so affirming and, of course, it doesn't get reported on in the news, so you would never know because all this bad stuff is happening [in the world]," Walden told A Plus. "In the bubble of time I got to read these stories, I felt like I was kind of put in a space of grace. I was aware that there is clearly something happening here that's beyond our five senses that is good and comes to us when we least expect it."

One such example of dreams doing this, Walden explains, is with one of the stories from Dreams and the Unexplainable — specifically "Three Questions" by Aurora Winter. In this story, a woman overcomes grief after the sudden death of her husband after he appears in a dream and asks her three questions (hence the title) that help her move on. She goes on to use this story to help others as a grief counselor.

"Dreams are a bridge from our conscious mind to our subconscious mind, our logical mind to our more fantastic imagination, and they are also a bridge over troubled water that can help us get an insight that can heal a broken heart," Walden said, admitting to having heard Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on the radio the morning of our interview.

For those who would turn their nose up at the thought of dreams being important, who say they don't have time to pay attention to them, or that they're too important or too busy to do so, Walden has a thought for them to mull over.

"The filament in the light bulb came to Thomas Edison in a dream, and that sparked so much of the electricity we take for granted. Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, [the idea] came to him in a dream," Walden explains. "We would be naked and in the dark without dreams, basically. So many inventions and so much of the great music, art, and films [came to people in dreams]."

It's for this reason Walden believes that paying attention to what happens in our head at night is important — even if we don't understand what is happening in them at first.

"If we want to thrive and become the 2.0 or 3.0 versions of ourselves, we really don't have a choice but to pay attention for at least a few minutes every morning to what we're dreaming about," Walden said. "Most people discard dreams because, if they do remember them, they don't make sense at first and we just say 'that's weird' and move on. If we would at least think of them as a strange clue helping us crack the code of how to become a better version of ourselves — a more productive, more peaceful, more connected version of ourselves."

Walden said when people come and tell her about their dreams, she helps them decode what is going on and to tap into their own wisdom to understand it in their own way. She doesn't like dictating what their dreams mean and, instead, uses these dream therapy sessions to help her clients uncover their own answers.

"I hope [this book] gets people thinking about their dreams," Walden added. "Once dreams are on your radar and you realize there's something important to them, you'll start to remember them. Then they can start benefitting from this incredible, vast richness that is right under our nose — right under our pillows. It is right here and we can use it."

Follow Kelly Sullivan Walden on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, you can visit here to sign up for your free Dream Declaration Meditation.

And you can learn more about Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable here.

(Full disclosure: Chicken Soup for the Soul is the parent company of A Plus.)

Cover image: Roberto Nickson / Unsplash

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