Dreams are one of the best ways your unconscious has of reaching you. Often there is wisdom there that the busy conscious mind cannot see. Many people do not remember their dreams and none of us remember all of them, but it is possible to train your mind to remember at least the most recent one when you wake up. The best way to do this is to use either a tape recorder or pen and paper and record the dream before you begin to move around. The conscious mind begins to take over and the dream fades as soon as you get out of bed and start walking.
To solve the mystery of the dream's meaning keep in mind the following: Dreams love metaphors and symbols. Think what this person, figure, object etc. could represent. It helps to read some dream books and become familiar with some of the universally recognized symbols such the River of Life, the Road, Path, or Highway of Life, a Bridge that must be crossed over or a Mountain that must be climbed
The symbols that present themselves in your dreams are specifically yours and may have a different meaning to someone else. For example if you dream about a red convertible, the universal symbol, your means of getting somewhere, will be influenced by your personal attitude, beliefs and life experience, or by what is happening in your life right now. It might mean that you have found a classy, streamlined way to accomplish something, or it could mean that you see yourself going up in status or wealth. Of course, what you are doing with the convertible is important too. Are you looking at it? A passenger in it? or are you driving it? If you are driving it, how are you feeling as you do this? and how are you driving?
Although a dream may often be sending you an important message that you need to pay attention to, there are also wish dreams and fear dreams which are more likely just expressing what is already going on in your head. Pay special attention to recurring dreams. Talk to others about them to get some help in exploring possible meanings.
The size, shape and colour of items are significant. If you dream that your house has just been painted red and yellow, ask yourself why is your “house of self” so bright and outstanding. This dream might be telling you that the House of Self either needs or is going to get a big face lift, change, or a new look. Obscurities, oddities, or things that seem out of place are often important symbols.
Dreams do not usually predict the future but they often do give us information about something we need to pay attention to or something we need to do. There seems to be wisdom in the unconscious that surpasses that of the conscious at least some of the time
Dr Calvin Hall writes "an understanding of dreams shows us how the unconscious is trying to alter our self-image in the direction of health" For that reason the same dream may appear many times in either the same or in different form, until we are able to make the required shift in consciousness of self.
Dream work can be hard work but it can also be exciting and can give us a lot of valuable information. Choose the ones that feel most significant. An important message will often be repeated over and over in your dreams until you hear and understand it. Then it will stop and you will get a new one.
Here are some ways you can approach your dream. Tell the story again making generalizations. Tell it from a third party objective position, as an observer even of yourself. Use adult words - no opinions or feelings - only observations and facts.
Write a few words that come to you when you think of each of the key symbols in your dream. They could be feelings, ideas or associations.
Relate the feelings you had or think you had at each stage of the dream.
Try taking each of the main characters or symbols and write as each one of them. Describe yourself as the symbol or character then include both story and feelings. Don't worry about accuracy too much - try to get a holistic view of this thing. You can become the inanimate objects as well as the people or animals, one at a time. See which one feels most important to you. See if one of them has something to say to one of the others. If so, write that too.
Try to catch anything that is not in your normal everyday awareness. Also notice anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Notice if this is related to any quality of a parent that you disapproved of or any quality you feel strongly that you would never want to possess. Hint: We usually have some of the qualities of our least favorite parent and those will be the qualities that we will try not to see. Notice the qualities you have ascribed to inanimate objects or rooms (as well as to people or groups of people).
Do you know anyone else who has or had those same qualities?
Dreams operate metaphorically so your dream may be telling you that you have one of those qualities and need to pay attention do that. Maybe you need to use that quality more. Maybe you need to use it less. Maybe you just need to notice that you have it. Your Dream Sender will give you whatever information you need, if you are a willing receiver.
Some people have dreams that tell them important future events. But the great majority of dreams will be simply telling us something us about what is happening in our lives right now.
One member of one of my groups dreamt night after night that a man was chasing her with a knife. She thought the dream was telling her that she was in danger. We saw her as a fairly aggressive person but that was not her perception. Rather she saw herself as a victim. Her boyfriend of several years had been avoiding her for the past few months and she increasingly suspected that he was interested in a woman he worked with. One night, she went to that woman's house. His car was outside. She rang the doorbell and when it wasn't answered quickly she walked in. She walked straight to the kitchen, grabbed a butcher knife and headed for the bedroom. Sure enough, there they were. He jumped up and luckily was able to wrestle the knife out of her hands. She came to group and told us the story, feeling righteous rage.
The next week, she came back in a very different frame of mind, after having a second dream. This time she had dreamt that she woke up one night and saw a knife on the bedside table beside her. In the dream she said, "I don't need that" and layed down and went back to sleep. The next day she actually called her boyfriend and said, "You are free to go if that's what you want", then she came back to group and told us the story. Her Dream Sender had been trying to tell her that there was indeed someone who had a murderous rage but it wasn’t her that was in danger. That dangerous pursuer was no-one else but her. Paying attention to the dream enabled her to resolve the issue without anyone getting hurt, and learn something new about herself in the process.
It is helpful to read a few books on dream analysis although your own interpretation is always going to be the most important because symbols develop specific meanings for separate people. But some universal symbols are helpful to know. These are symbols like the "house of self" (when you dream of a house). Your body is the house of your Soul. The "road of life" is easy to relate to. Similarly, the "river of life", the "bridge" that you have to cross over to get where you want to go, "climbing a mountain" are all easy symbols to relate to. Many of my clients dream of diving into deep water when they are dealing with issues for which they have to "dig deep".
Another dream I hear a great deal when people are struggling with old behaviour patterns that are not working for them but that are hard to give up, is the dream of getting rid of what they no longer need.
Maybe you can guess how that appears. Of course it appears as toilets, bowel movements and the like, sometimes toilets overflowing with excrement. When people feel a lot of shame about some quality that they have just discovered in themselves, they often will dream of finding themselves naked in a crowd. Of course they feel a lot better when they discover that most of the others in the group have at least some elements of that same quality. Sometimes when a client is stuck in his work, I will suggest that he ask his Dream Sender for a dream to help. We have heard some pretty amazing answers.
If you are having trouble understanding a dream, it often helps to talk it over with people who know you well. If you think you don't dream, try asking for a dream before you go to sleep each night, then each morning before you get out of bed, either speak into a tape recorder or write any words, pictures or thoughts that come into your head. Gradually your Dream Sender will begin to trust that you are ready to listen and will start to give you more and more interesting dreams.
The more parts of you that you discover, the deeper, more complex and interesting a person you become both to others and to yourself.
Books for more reading:
The Meaning of Dreams by Calvin Hall
Understanding you Dreams by Alice Parker
Dreams Symbols and Psychic Power by Tanous and Gray
It Works If You Work!
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © Karyl Pope 2004