I hear this question all the time, and in these times, there is a commonly held belief that dreams are random misfiring of our neurons, but this is so far from the truth. It is a symptom of our times where meaninglessness is king, and science seems to have explained everything away. I’d like to suggest to you that dreams mean much more than we can often even understand, and if we did – we would be all the wiser, learn from our mistakes, and even have guidance on how to make the tough choices in waking life. Dream psychologists like Jung and Freud went to great lengths to describe their theories on why we dream, and what they largely found was that dreams definitely have a psychic meaning. Although they differed on their theories of how to interpret a dream or what its deepest purpose was, the fact that dreams had significance was beyond question. We have all had strange dreams where we wake up feeling deep emotions, whether they be a sense of longing, distress, fear or happiness. How can dreams affect us so deeply? Dreams in many ways are a kind of “thinking in metaphorical images” that occur when our normal mental state is blanketed by the fog of sleep. Carl Jung believed that dreams where the way our subconscious mind essentially communicated with our conscious mind- to play through daily events, show our deep desires, our fears and all the things that we either avoided or that resonated with us during the day. This is a simple explanation that makes sense to most, and it’s quite intuitive. Everyone has noticed at some time that their dreams are definitely related to things that happened in the waking state. Interestingly, it has been said (and I have also observed) that you tend to dream about wakeful impressions about 2-3 days later, which may be the reason that associating dreams with waking life can be so difficult. I think the best way to demonstrate the importance of dreams is to learn how to interpret them, so I will outline a simple technique for understanding your dreams that doesn’t involve a deep understanding of dream symbols.
Understanding your dreams can help you better understand your heart, what you truly want and guidance for your life.
How to Interpret Your Dreams in 3 Simple Steps: To truly understand our dreams, it is incredibly helpful to have a good understanding of common mythological motifs, symbolism and folk stories. The reason is that these give a language and a common pattern that helps us to interpret what our dreams mean. Our dreams in many ways can show our growth, what stage of spiritual development we’re in, and be a way for unconscious mind(spirit/god/higher self) to guide us to greater understanding of ourselves, others and the situations we are currently in. One remarkable fact about dreams is that they cannot lie, although they can be veiled in symbolism or metaphor that we don’t consciously understand, they simply show what our deepest feelings or thoughts on a matter are, or what is really bothering us. 1) Write down the dream in as full detail as possible immediately upon awakening. Another option is to use a recorder on your phone. It is key to do immediately as dreams quickly fade away with every minute of being awake. a) Think of your dream in terms of a movie: who were the characters, what was the plot, where were you, what was the climax, and the resolution? b) What were you thinking, feeling, seeing, and sensing in regard to the things happenings in the dream c) Write down all the details you can remember, colors of things, what you found unusual, how you woke up feeling and what was the general impression you got from the dream. 2) Now the fun begins, one of the most crucial parts of dream interpretations is taking all that fascinating stuff you wrote down in step one and going through associations. What this means is you take everything you witnessed in the dream, and write them out in a list. a) Ex. So if you dreamt of a green dog chasing a car, but then the car turned into a clown which scared the dog away, but you came in and laughed in the clowns face and awoke feeling happy- you should break these parts up into singular words/ideas. Such as: green dog, chasing a car, clown, scaring a dog away, laughing in a clowns face and make them into a list. What you will do is write either the first thing that you think of when the thing is mentioned, or what it means to you. Really take some time to contemplate these different elements. This is the stuff of dream interpretation. You are essentially trying to read the messages of your subconscious mind. b) Green dog- sick but happy. c) Chasing a car- carelessness, childishness. d) Clown- scary but looks happy e) Scaring a dog- hurting an innocent f) Laughing in a clowns face- laughing in the face of a facade or mirroring, mocking g) Waking up happy- something was accomplished h) You can see the process above, go through each item of your dream and write down what it makes you think of. Association is a way to tap into the subconscious mind and although I completely made up that dream, it still must have some meaning to me subconsciously because I chose those specific things with no clear conscious reason. 3) Now that we have a list of associated terms, we can begin the art of dream interpretation. This part of the skill requires that you think about what has been going on lately, past dreams that seemed related, things that bothered you during the day, a book or movie you were watching, etc. This is the part where you become an investigator and put together all the factors in your life along with the dream associations while also looking on the dream meaning as a whole. You’re aiming at a cohesive meaning that likely will make you go “aha!” or resonates as to the meaning of the dream or what it is saying to you. Here is an example interpretation of this strange waking dream about the green dog chasing a car.
A doggy to brighten this strange dream example, which is likely not even as strange as a typical dream!
Interpretation of example dream: This seems to point to some aspect of myself that feels unwell and is acting careless or childish in some sense. Chasing a car may imply pursuing some kind of meaningless activity. To me clowns are not funny, and they are kind of strange, and typically are thought of as scary. Maybe there is someone in my life that is putting on a façade and scaring away my inner child. This seems to be implied by the hurting of an innocent. I recently watched a documentary about a boy named Gabriel who was abused severely and killed by his parents and it really stuck on my mind, perhaps there is some relation to this. Me feeling bad about what happened. Although the dog was scared away by the clown, I walked in and laughed in the clowns face. Meaning I stood up for an innocent and wasn’t afraid, in fact I laughed in the face of fear. The reason I awake feeling happy is because in some sense I feel like I did a heroic deed, I laughed in the face of something that scared away a sickly innocent. Perhaps this refers to my own inner child, or to my feeling of the injustice of child abuse. One can then go even deeper and look into what a dog represents metaphorically in mythology, such as it’s relation to Sirius the dog star. Or that dogs were kept in Asclepian healing temples to diagnose the sick. Clowns are in many ways related to the sacred fool in mythology, or a kind of simple saint.
Asclepius – Greek God of Healing. Followers would be priests that interpreted peoples dreams in Asclepian temples to find out cures and what would lead to a person’s healing. The floors were often covered in “sacred snakes” and there are accounts that Asclepius was associated with dogs.
Overall the example dream seems to indicate that I should face my fears with laughter, or that I tend to face my fears with laughter. It seems to indicate that I wish to help out innocent people, or those that are sick. Which makes sense in terms of my career choice as a naturopath (graduating in a few months) or the sad documentary I watched that really made me wonder about the dark side of people. The mythological references seem to point to an even deeper meaning related to healing and contact with a kind of saint, or perhaps the recognition that there is truly nothing to ever fear and I should just laugh at my life and what seems to make me want to run away. It is crucial to think of all the figures in your dreams as potentially representing you or someone you know, as they often can be metaphors for aspects of ourselves and those, we are close with. This of course is a fabricated dream, making it more difficult to interpret, however you will likely find that as you go through these 3 steps the dream will start making sense to you and even astonishing you. The ancients believed that gods and spirits communicated to us through our dreams, and we are asleep 1/3 of our lives so it’s time for us to reclaim our dreams as the sources of wisdom, healing and meaning that they are! Good luck, if you have any questions you can contact me at the email address listed below. That’s it! You now know enough to start interpreting what YOUR dreams mean to YOU! Rather than some cookie cutter dream meanings that can be found online that I can almost guarantee will not lead you to really knowing what your dreams are communicating to you. If you’re interested in learning more in depth about dream interpretation check out the other article on dream interpretation which is an outline of a dream workshop I hosted, or contact me at email@example.com and I’ll go through a dream with you absolutely free!
Thanks for reading, pleasant dreams!