Dreams are like Fed-Ex Messages from Your Soul
Tips for Understanding Them
Dreams pop up from the stream of unconscious imagery constantly flowing beneath the surface of our egos. Because they may seem as confounding as riddles, donít let these messages pass you by. To benefit from them, all you need to do is catch two-three a month and reflect on them.
Symbols appear to announce new attitudes and the next phase of life. If we reflect on them in our solitude, a minor or major rebirth in our daily lives can be set in motion.
An example is when a person dreams of a child, the dream can be seen to be about the beginning or creative attitude that comes at the end of conflicts. The new way or path is symbolized by the child. The child must be cared for and helped to grow. Your dreams will show you when your child is being neglected by containing a crying or hungry baby.
A different kind of symbol is going into water where the old is washed away and the new is born.
When we undergo the process of change, a sacrifice occurs. One has to leave behind the old self so one can be changed enough to embark on a new path. The process may be sudden or take years of small steps. Inner conflict occurs during the time the ego resists making a change into the unknown. Oneís body gets tense, depressed, and even sick. Resistance makes one suffer more; we donít know it yet but the other side is much better until we have to grow out of that stage. We go through a number of rebirths in our lives, small and large.
Five Tips for Working With Dreams
1. Capture a dream. Keep a pen and pad by your bed. When you awake from a dream, write it down as you can recall it, even if it is just a scribbled fragment. Later in the day add it to your dream journal. I type mine up onto a document on my computer. When the page is full, I print it out and put it with my larger journal.
2. Donít analyze the dream but from time to time start a separate page and re-enter the dream. Note the tone and movement of the action. Write a summary of how you see this dream correlating with any aspect of your life: relationship, work, body, politics, nature, and the sacred.
For instance, say you dream about a brother or sister or friend from childhood. Is there something about that relationship or time period that may be relevant for you today?
You should realize that 90% of the time dream figures represent aspects of yourself rather than being about them (especially important when living with a spouse or partner). The same principle applies to dreams of injured animals. You may dream about your dog having a broken leg. In actuality your dog is fine. In your inner world you may have a problem with your mobility.
3. Close your eyes and reimagine yourself in the dream again. See if it unfolds in any way. Continue with it as you would a meditation or following a story. Afterwards write about your experience.
4. On paper ask each part, person or animal or object, to speak to you and tell you what it wants from you or what it would like you to do.
5. Take a symbolic action in your daily life directly related to the dream, even if it is just to draw it.
I like to think of a life like being in a boat on a vast ocean and the dream comes along to correct your course. We donít know where the journey is going. Even nightmares are to be braved and confronted. Itís a process of discovery. The winds of change are like the weather.
Because dreams contribute to the unfolding and wholeness of your creative self, dream work deserves the utmost seriousness and respect.
Avoid books that tell you what objects mean. Itís much more important that you think of your own associations. For instance, if you dream about a crow, just because youíve heard crows symbolize death, do not think that youíve been forewarned about death. Maybe you have been fascinated at how clever crows are. Maybe a few have been ďtalkingĒ loudly in your yard. Are they telling you something? Maybe you should learn more about crows.
Your own associations make a big difference. For instance, a baby dream may be about new growth as mentioned above, but it could also be about being caught at an infantile level. Moreover, it could be about having a more playful approach to life ó more singing, dancing, blowing bubbles. There is no one fixed meaning. You need to do the inner work to find what correlates to your current life. In case you are in doubt, let time and further messages from the unconscious reveal the meaning.
Dreams will be horrible the more one doesnít pay attention to what is going on. An attacker trying to break into your house may be someone wanting to help, not hurt. Something new is trying to get into your consciousness. Working with the image, asking questions about your life, and just reflecting on the new element will lead to surprising awarenesses.
Here are some inspiring books about dreams that will not tell you what your dreams mean but they will take you deeper into your own. They make it easier for you to understand and live with the often puzzling messages from the deep interior.
Jeremy Taylor, Dreamwork. Any of his books are useful, especially for dream groups.
Robert Johnson, Inner Work
Robert Bosnak, A Little Course in Dreams & Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming
Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, & Reflections