In a recent article I introduced the topic of the role of dreams in homeopathic diagnosis. In this article I explain how sleep and dreams serve as useful indicators of the progress of healing.
From Diagnosis to Treatment
The correct diagnosis marks only the beginning of the homeopathic healing journey. The process of treatment includes regular followup appointments (usually once every several weeks), during which the patient’s present state of health is carefully compared with the past state.
The action of a homeopathic remedy is very individual, and the initial phase of improvement is often experienced by patients as turbulent. Physical symptoms often get worse before they get better, there may be swings in mood and energy levels, and interpersonal relations may be strained as the patient begins to shift on a deep level.
This state of affairs is an unavoidable consequence of the nature of homeopathic healing which, unlike most other treatments, restores balance of the whole organism but may not provide symptomatic relief early on. Thus the best indicators of improvement are often not the symptoms comprising the patient’s suffering. Therefore in order to assess patients’ spiritual health, homeopaths rely heavily on general clinical indicators such as mood, energy, sleep quality, and pattern and content of dreams.
Even in cases of turmoil (known as a homeopathic aggravation) or apparent lack of progress, positive changes in these general indicators reliably herald eventual lasting improvement. On the other hand, a prolonged aggravation of specific symptoms without a concurrent positive shift in the general state may indicate a setback unrelated to the treatment, or in unusual cases a negative response to a wrongly prescribed remedy.
Sleep and dreams are sensitive early indicators of spiritual health
Improvement in the quality of sleep is among the most reliable indicators of a positive spiritual shift early on in the treatment process. Although few patients present with sleep problems as their main complaint, many people sleep poorly enough that they report an improvement in this sphere when prompted by the homeopath. Some will find that they fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly, whereas others will temporarily experience more restless or dream-disturbed sleep yet will have better mood and energy the following day.
With regard to dreaming, two patterns of improvement are seen. The first and, in my experience, more common one is where patients experience a surge in their dreaming, noting upon waking that they have dreamt more at night, remembering more of their dreams, or being awoken by a dream during the night. The increase in dreaming is the surfacing of unconscious material and its integration into the person’s conscious life experience. This in turn frequently promotes a feeling of well being that compensates for the disruption of sleep.
The second pattern is seen in patients who used to dream a lot and presently begin to experience more peaceful sleep. In these patients it seems that there is a good connection to the subconscious, but issues are rehashed and re-experienced without resolution. As these issues are resolved, the need to process them during sleep decreases, and dreaming is reduced accordingly. This situation must be contrasted with the situation where a patient experiences less dreaming yet also poorer sleep: in such cases the reduction in dreaming suggests a disconnection from the subconscious.
Shifts in sleep and dreaming while under homeopathic treatment occur incidentally to shifts in the main complaint: they are non-specific indicators of the state of spiritual health of the organism, regardless of the nature of the patient’s main complaint. It is normal for the chief complaint, when it is physical or mental rather than purely spiritual, to lag behind the spiritual state: the physical or mental complaint can shift only once the spiritual foundation for healing has been prepared. For this reason changes in sleep and dreaming are among the earliest and most sensitive clinical indicators, and as such are extremely helpful whenever changes in specific symptoms are vague, contradictory, or otherwise difficult to interpret.
Finally, at times the changing content of dreams itself is a useful indicator of the trajectory of progress. In such cases it may be useful to discuss this with the patient, in order to bring to greater awareness the significance of a specific dream. Overall, however, homeopathy is much less concerned with deep dream analysis than are many schools of psychotherapy.
Common causes of failure of homeopathic treatment
For homeopaths, it is important to communicate the nature of homeopathic medicine to their patients. Otherwise patients form unrealistic expectations about their own progress, based on the reasonable expectation that their symptoms should be relieved not only permanently but quickly. Unfortunately, some homeopaths are not be sufficiently cognizant that they are dealing with purely spiritual medicine, or may be swayed away from this conviction in their desire to relieve their patients’ suffering. But the above described approach produces by far the best long-term clinical results, and failure to look for the subtle shifts in spiritual health that precede more obvious shifts in physical or mental symptoms is a frequent cause of failure of homeopathic treatment even when the first hurdle — choosing the correct remedy — has been overcome. Most commonly this is seen as the habit of chasing symptoms by changing remedies in quick succession, instead of persisting with one carefully chosen remedy for the several months to several years that it takes to fully resolve a spiritual imbalance.
Homeopathic patients, on their part, will sometimes become disillusioned after relief is not quick to come, thereby missing out on the profound healing benefits which must follow the correct homeopathic prescription. For them it is important to understand the natural laws of healing as they become manifest through sleep, dreams, and otherwise. Otherwise the only resort for such patients, other than to keep suffering, is to suppress their symptoms through conventional medications or other forms of symptomatic treatment, without regard for the long-term consequences. Homeopathic treatment is very powerful, but is not well-suited for those looking for a quick fix, as homeopathic patients need to be willing to forego immediate relief in favor of a long-term investment in health and well-being.