Your dreams, what you hope for and all that,
it’s not separate from your life. It grows right up out of it.
— Barbara Kingsolver
People have always been fascinated by dreams. What are dreams? Where do they come from? Are they merely chemical changes in the brain? Are they nature’s way of helping us practice survival skills, and assimilate experiences gathered during the waking hours? What about dreams that seemingly predict the future? Can the spirits of people and animals talk to us in dreams?
In recent years, scientific studies have made use of neuroimaging equipment to study brain activity during REM sleep (the stage of rapid eye movement), a time when dreams are most commonly reported. In such studies, the images of brain activity recorded during REM sleep are compared to neuroimages taken when the subject is awake.
During wakeful consciousness the visual cortex, located at the back of the brain, becomes highly active. When dreams happen during REM sleep, the visual cortex shows similar activity. Neuroimaging has also revealed that the same visual pathways activated during dreams and conscious wakefulness become similarly active when we visualize or imagine something in detail.
Communications Utilize the Brain
Consciousness is not restricted to the physical brain. Communication of intelligence and energy may utilize the brain, making it possible for our senses to see, hear, feel, and smell, just as a computer screen enables us to transmit, watch, and listen. The computer is not the source of the message; it is merely the mechanism that transmits the communication.
I have had dreams that made me understand that the fear of death isn’t what led me to become a doctor; and when I had symptoms that could have been because of cancer, I was told in a dream, “but you don’t have cancer.” And I didn’t.
The following story by Audrey Carlson may challenge your beliefs, and will certainly touch your heart, for it shows that when love exists, dreams do come true.
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The Bridge is Love by Audrey B. Carlson
Despite the happiness in our household, my husband always reminded us that he was outgendered and outvoted by the female majority. Bruce would jokingly raise both hands for the male constituency, against those of his two daughters, two female dogs, and me. We were blessed with much laughter and joy. Tragically, all this would change when our daughter Elizabeth was murdered. After she was taken from us our lives spiraled downward.
Desperate to find some way through the anguish of our loss, I embraced anything that might help. Shortly after Elizabeth’s death, Bernie Siegel entered my life. He became my mentor, teaching me important mantras to live by. One came from Thornton Wilder’s Bridge of San Luis Rey.
Bernie pulled the tattered book out from his collection. Having seen better days, it was secured with a rubber band. He thumbed through worn pages and then pointed to a passage. The single line spoke volumes and resonated deep in my soul: “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love.”
As I drove home, I remembered those words. I knew that keeping those whom you love in your heart and mind, and maintaining your unwavering, unquestionable belief in their presence, keeps love alive forever. As I repeated the phrase, I noticed the sky was unusually blue, almost crystal clear, except for the area directly above me where a long, connecting bridge had formed between two large clouds. Stunned, I pulled over and stopped the car. It was the bridge of love!
The Invitation to the Bridge
I soon became immersed in studying the spirit world. One day I asked Bruce to consider inviting Elizabeth into his dreams. Bruce, an engineer, saw things as black or white and struggled with the gray of the spirit world. I suggested that he merely invite Elizabeth into his dreams and trust the process. But his puzzled look made it clear he needed help.
“Okay,” I said while looking at my husband. “Elizabeth, would you please come to Dad in a dream and — metaphorically speaking — hit him over the head with a frying pan and say to him, ‘I am right here, Dad!’ ” Bruce smiled. I repeated that he didn’t need to understand but should just trust the process.
Months later Elizabeth came to Bruce in a dream. Standing close to him on fresh green grass and holding a standard poodle puppy close to her heart, she said, “Daddy, here is the little boy dog you always wanted. When your life changes, he will come to you as a gift.” Elizabeth put the black puppy down, and it scampered over to Bruce.
Bruce suddenly woke and couldn’t go back to sleep. Waking me, he related the dream, which had been powerful and profound, and his emotions were palpable. I told him to remember her words, “When your life changes...”
Two years after Elizabeth’s death, Bruce took early retirement. We decided to visit my mother in Florida, and so we boarded Giselle and Charlie Girl, our two standard poodles, with our breeder, Ann Fisher. Ann had been a breeder for over thirty years and had a full house of poodles.
The Connection from the Bridge
After returning from Florida we went to Ann’s to pick up Giselle and Charlie Girl. Inside her house, Ann gave one command, and all of her poodles came to attention — all except one. This black poodle ran straight over to Bruce, jumped into his lap, plopped two giant paws on his shoulders, put his nose against Bruce’s nose, and began the most heart-wrenching sobs I’ve ever heard from a dog.
Bruce, also feeling intense emotion, held the dog close, and a few seconds later Bruce began to cry. Then Ann cried. Something incredible was happening here — something that needed to be understood. Ann took a deep breath and began to explain the unexplainable.
Three weeks before Elizabeth was killed, she had come to Ann’s to pick up Giselle from a grooming appointment. Ann mentioned there was a new litter of puppies, and Elizabeth asked to see them. She picked up all the puppies, one by one, saying she was looking for just the right male dog to buy for her dad. She found him, only to be told he was the pick of the litter and had already been spoken for. Disappointed, she returned home with Giselle. Elizabeth never told us about what she’d been planning to do.
Aries, the male puppy that Elizabeth had desired for her dad, came back to Ann two years later to be put up for rescue. He was the same dog that had come to Bruce in the dream and was now in his lap, crying to finally go home.
He did come home with us that day and has not left Bruce’s side since. He sleeps with us, reminding us not only that spirit can communicate through dreams but also that the power of love makes this possible. Love is eternal. Love is the bridge that connects us all.
©2015 by Bernie S. Siegel. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA 94949. newworldlibrary.com.
Love, Animals & Miracles: Inspiring True Stories Celebrating the Healing Bond
by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel and Cynthia Hurn.
About the Article's Authors
About Audrey B. Carlson
Audrey Carlson, President of The Elizabeth Anne Carlson Foundation for the Performing Arts, has a Masters in Experiential Health and Healing. Audrey is a certified Pastoral Counselor and works with the Survivor’s of Homicide Crisis Hotline helping victims of crime through trauma and tragedy. She describes how redefining her life and focusing on new meaning and purpose has enabled her to help others survive the aftermath of domestic violence. She has presented about domestic violence through a VOICES program at the Brooklyn Prison to inmates.
About Bernie Siegel
Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, a sought-after speaker and media presence, is the author of many bestselling books, including Peace, Love and Healing: 365 Prescriptions for the Soul; and the blockbuster Love, Medicine & Miracles. For many, Dr. Bernard Siegel—or Bernie, as he prefers to be called—needs no introduction. He has touched many lives all over the Planet. In 1978, he reached a national and then international audience when he began talking about patient empowerment and the choice to live fully and die in peace. As a physician who has cared for and counseled innumerable people whose mortality has been threatened by illness, Bernie embraces a philosophy of living and dying that stands at the forefront of the medical ethics and spiritual issues our Society grapples with today. Visit his website at www.BernieSiegelMD.com