Dreams seem to have only a weak influence on our daily life. Even we who appreciate dreams may feel it now and then when everything we have learned in intensive dream groups seem to vanish into thin air under the worries of the everyday life.
However, something remains. Monte describes that dream group experiences enable us to deal a bit more effectively when old defensive patterns threaten to re-emerge outside the dream groups. This is a very important notion about the enduring effects of dream groups.
Besides dream groups, which other kind of possibilities there are to find connections between dreams and waking life?
Because the sleep state has so distinctive physical characteristics, it is easy to believe that this state is unique. The borders are not as sharp, though. Dreams have been compared to more or less exotic states of mind like sensory-deprivation states, hypnagogic (before falling asleep) and hypnopompic (when waking up) transition states, psychedelic and meditative states, states of rapture and religious ecstasy, precognitive states, dissociation, fugue, and hallucinatory states. Dreams are not an isolated phenomena but a state with no sharp boundaries with many other states. The boundaries are mostly imaginary, born out of the intellectual need to classify everything.
Yet this comparison is a disservice to dreams, because those other states in all their scary weirdness disfavor dreams with their reputation of being weird, too close to madness and insanity. Dreams tend to remain as one of those wild animals living in captivity in the zoo of crazy states.
Daydreaming and reverie are often considered as cousins of dreams. They are considered to be closer to mental health than the phenomena above. They are something we all have experienced, but which we may be unwilling to admit due to their often embarrassing and shameful contents. They often have an undertone as being properties of a little bit childish people, not very suitable for grown-ups.
Imagination, inspiration and intuition are the most accepted and appreciated siblings of the creativity of dreams, seen as typical characteristics of creative artists.
Is there any such creativity in ordinary, everyday waking life, which we ordinary people could relate to without shame or embarrasment?
Seeing someone cry does not need any knowledge to understand his mental state. We feel it immediately through our own gut reaction. Everybody has this ability, but only a few see this kind of states of immediate understanding as doors to deeper and clearer perceptions of the world. Dreams are able to preserve these core feelings purified from the interfering intellectual operations.
The next step closer to dreams is to perceive the almost constantly present images which contain much more information about the situation at hand than we usually think. They may be blurred, leaving only vague feelings, which color, even guide and dictate our next day experiences, but because it is difficult to focus on them in the waking state, their remarkable ability to steer our daily conduct remains mostly unnoticed. When we are a little sleepy, for example while listening to a boring lecture, most of us have noticed that we suddenly see something totally different things, places and occurrences before our eyes, only to be vanished immediately from under our investigating gaze. When we begin to realize the deeper meaning of them, the heightened motivation to study them makes them easier to catch.
Very common indicator of the influence of images are proverbs and all kinds of "as if" comparisons; like "this situation/person/place etc is as if/reminds me of" indicating that the perception of the physical reality has become 'contaminated' with something else. If you listen to an inspiring speaker, you may notice how much his speech contains twisting of objective reality; how he is able to paint new vistas before our eyes. Usually we do not even notice, that when we are absorbed in watching a good play, movie, work of art, the passage of time has vanished, and our senses have been somewhere else than in the physical reality. Our senses have been in the parallel reality. Images are always with and within us, day and night.
This parallel reality is not parallel at all, but this "parallelism" is born from the false assumption that the only reality were the physical reality, and the other realities were more or less shadowlike, less important parallel realities.
The reality of images is one sector of the multifaceted reality, opening into the endless mystery of the whole life. Therein lies our creativity. It is as important and as real as the physical reality. We do not have to do anything else than to begin to watch in a non-judgmental way everything which is all the time happening around and inside us. Then the artificial limits between the ordinary waking consciousness and dreams begin to dissolve, and we see ourselves living our life, the very same, everyday life in a total continuum through day and night. We may see how all kinds of mysticisms turn out to be deceiving dead ends compared with the most fantastic, ever-present mystery of the ordinary day.