“ There once was a man who dreamt he was a butterfly. The experience was so deep and so real that upon walking he could not be sure if it was a dream. Perhaps now he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man?”
Tao Te Ching by Lao-zsu (6th century BC)
“ A dream that is not understood remains a mere occurrence; understood, it becomes a living experience.”
Everyone dreams. Even you. You may not remember your dreams or pay them much attention but they come to you with love, bringing deep messages about yourself that only you can know.
Dreams are a rich source of communication from your unconscious. They are escalators from the basement of your soul to the upper levels of your conscious mind. Freud referred to dreams as a “ royal road to the unconscious.”
Dreams contain many significant events and important people in your life. Dreams contain all your stresses, worries and desires which float around in your unconscious. Dreams show you all your important ideas and feelings without being censor by your rational mind.
Dreams can show you the root problems of your mental distress if you could only unleash their power by decoding their messages.
If you find that you have a re-occurring dream, this is a very important message that your psyche wants you to heed. This dream is an emergency wake up call that you must attend to.
Within psychoanalytic psychotherapy, dreams are a fruitful source of revelation for the therapist. A revelation of much that a client often wants to say but dare not because he is afraid, or cannot, because he is not consciously aware.
Dreams can often be talked about freely by clients because dreams are not real they are ‘just a dream’ aren’t they?
The exploration of dreams is a collaborative process between the client and the therapist where nocturnal dramas provide a wondrous new dimension of unconscious thought that begs to be analysed by the therapist and made sense of by the client.
But you are not in therapy now and you are not a therapist.
12 Steps to unravel and interpret your dream messages
1. Before retiring, place yourself in a positive frame of mind that would be receptive to dreaming.
2. Tell yourself aloud that you are going to dream tonight even if you do not believe it. Plant the seed.
3. Place a note pad and pencil by your bedside so that you can record your dream on awakening.
4. Buy a journal where you can record your significant dreams in your very own dream journal.
5. Read your dream quietly to yourself.
6. Read your dream aloud to yourself.
7. Ask questions about your dream. e .g. why is there a black horse in my dream? What is the significance of the colour black? Let your creative and intuitive self answer these questions.
8. What thoughts and feelings come up for you when you think about this dream?
9. Free associate around your dream. By this I mean try not to let your rational mind censor your thoughts. Roll your thoughts freely around your head.
10. Ask yourself what is this dream saying to me. Consulting generic dream dictionaries is rarely helpful, as they are not consulted in context.
11. If you get stuck, share your dream with another to give you another perspective.
12. If you are still stuck, seek professional help with a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who specializes in working with dreams.
If at first you do not dream on command, don’t worry, just keep persisting. One night you will dream something and you will need your pencil and pad to note it down.
Sometimes we dream about debris from an over full mind that does not warrant much attention. And sometimes we dream about really significant thoughts and feelings that have been repressed and seek the clarity of consciousness.
Working with your dreams is a skill that can be developed by practicing.
Dreams provide new perspectives, creative solutions and endless possibilities when you open yourself up to receiving the powerful messages that your dreams are offering you.
Carole Lyden is a psychotherapist and writer living in Perth, Western Australia. PsycheBuzz is a website that will help you: Feel more positive about yourself. Add depth and meaning to your life. Enrich and empower your life. Attempt to ease your mental distress. Please join me there.