I've had a series of interesting dreams lately. In one I am back in school, ready to graduate. A friend then reads my name from a list of people who have missing assignments. In spite of my protest that I have turned in everything, I have to go to the teacher and resubmit my assignments, including one which is disfigured beyond repair. After I walk away in disgust, the teacher admits to one of my fellow students that he had actually found my original assignments. I already had an "A", but this was the only way he could get to know his students. What does a dream mean? I take my dreams as messages from within and beyond that are prodding me toward self-awareness, wholeness and actions I need to take. I have numerous ways I work with my dreams. One way is to utilize the process below, which an amalgamation of dream classes I've attended. See which of the following practices might help you interpret a dream. I call them "Ten Steps Toward Understanding Your Dreams":
- Rewrite the dream in 1st person, present tense: “I am walking on the beach. He says…”
- Feelings. What feelings did you have during the dream? What feelings did you have when you awoke? What feelings do you have now that you are recalling the dream?
- Free association. Make a list of key images and actions in your dream. Write down your associations with each word. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Don’t try to interpret the images. This is free association. An orchid in the dream may remind you of grandma’s living room or of a trip to Japan.
- Puns, colors and imagery. Any puns? (A bee might represent the need to just “be”.) What is the predominant color(s)? What might it symbolize? (Blue for “the blues”?) Does an image in the dream represent part of your shadow/dark side? If so, what part?
- Key images. Notice which images have the most energy from the dream. Look up those images in a dream dictionary. Record anything that seems to resonate.
- Title the dream. Looking over your story and your associations, give your dream a unique and catchy title that would distinguish it from any other dream.
- Ask. “What is this dream trying to tell me about my life? What to know, change or do?” “How does this dream relate to some current circumstance in my life?” “Does this dream offer a message from the divine/Sacred/Mother Earth? If so, what do I sense that message is?”
- Walk the dream. Walk outside for a few minutes. Set the intention as you walk that any deeper wisdom from the dream would bubble up to conscious awareness.
- Summary of dream’s message. Review all that you’ve written and reflected on so far and complete the statement: My dream’s message seems to be…
- Gratitude. Thank your dreams and your subconscious for the message(s) received.
There are numerous other ways to work with a dream: draw it, turn it into a poem, pretend you are conflicting characters in the dream and talk back and forth as each character until a sense of resolution or an "aha" emerges. The multi-layered meanings of a dream may continue to offer practical applications to your waking life for many weeks, perhaps even years after the dream occurs.
Dreams can become valuable allies when we honor those that we recall by recording them and seeking the wisdom these messengers from the deep have to offer us. Sweet dreams!
P.S. Hypnosis can be viewed as a form of wakeful dreaming in which we access the full riches of the subconscious in service of our goals and aspirations. There is still time to register for Heal Yourself Through Hypnosis, a class on how to do self-hypnosis, which begins Monday, May 6. Click here for information and to register.