Dreams speak the language of the subconscious- a world of symbols and stories encoded as messages to your waking mind. They are powerful messages of guidance when we learn to listen. Sometimes they can even foretell the future, offer remedies for physical ailments, or assist you in making life choices. The world of symbols is interpreted by each mind differently: An object which means one thing to one person, may mean something completely different to someone else. Your symbols and their meanings have been generated by your whole personal life experience. So, even while there are useful reference points to go by in dream dictionaries, you ultimately have to feel for yourself the meaning of your own dreams.
I long-ago attended a dream workshop and have been dream journaling for 13 years. It has forever changed the way I view the dream world. I’ve re-enacted the content of the workshop with friends, simply out of the understanding that this method works and is easy, and is highly beneficial to add to your repertoire of life assets- You can interpret your own dreams, and if you like it, it will prove to be a very rich experience for you.
1. Write your dreams down, immediately upon waking.
If you have difficulty remembering your dreams- keep pen, paper and light switch at your bed side, and don’t do anything upon awakening until you’ve written down as much as you can remember. Even if you have only a vague feeling or sense of what happened, write that down. More will come as you write it out. And the more you practice, the easier it will become for you to remember with more clarity. Always write in the present tense. This is going to keep you in the dream, and not in your bed with the pen and paper writing the dream. It is best to retain as much of the dream state as you can, while you are awake interpreting the dream, which will help your subconscious and conscious mind can understand each other better. Remember that dreams are a conversation between the two.
“Here is a quick dream example: I am floating down a river moving very fast. Its taking a lot of turns and I’m just watching the banks go by, not scared, but its happening very fast- a lot of trees and animals swinging in them.- foresty. Suddenly the river turns and opens up into like a desert. This big boat comes and grabs me out of the water and I wake up.”
2. Circle or underline whatever you feel to be the key symbols in the dream.
River, Forest, Desert, Boat
3. Note how those symbols interact with each other.
I’m in river, Move from Forest to Desert, I’m picked up by guy in Boat.
4. Brainstorm what the symbols mean for you.
They may have a different meaning for everybody. But the meanings of the symbols are based on your experiences, on everything that has entered into your psyche throughout your whole life and possibly past lives. They will have different meanings for everybody, and particularly pay attention to symbols which have a unique meaning to you.
Here is how I may brainstorm for the particular symbols in the example, based on my own symbology, although it would depend on my own intuition and what else is going on in my life:
River : “life, movement, change, fast, life path, life direction”
Forest : “abundance, life, diversity, excitement”
Desert : “meditation, God-finding, calm time … desolation”
Boat grabbing : “against my will, sudden shift, human stuff, kinda jerky”
5. Open your intuition, and feel out how these symbols are interacting with each other.
I also write this part down quickly upon awakening, so that I’m still interpreting as much as I can from the dreamstate.
“I’m flowing on the river of life, and it’s moving fast, but I’m staying pretty calm about it. A change is coming, or is already here. Moving from the forest of diversity of life, excitement and abundance into quiet time, meditation time. Human stuff is going to force me, or human stuff is going to grab me as soon as life changes and I enter the quiet time, but I have still have a small impression that that human stuff is saving me. Maybe that impression was false because I felt pretty fine floating down the river. I just don’t really know what the human stuff is yet- its surprising in the dream.”
So, for myself, I would say this dream is saying that the fun, abundance and diversified experience I’m presently having, or have been having in life, is about to shift dramatically into a new climate of experience- one of more quiet, solace, and meditation. I would be watchful then, of human stuff (activities, people, ideas, etc…) which may tempt to pull me from the direction I need to be going, whether this is happening now, or is going to happen.
Someone else would probably interpret this dream a completely different way for themselves. Say, for them, boats relate to work because they used to work fishing boats in Alaska… And say deserts mean home, because they grew up in Arizona. Then in their interpretation, some kind of work is going to keep them from getting home.
See what I mean? Your own dreams are to be interpreted by you. You can be assisted by dream dictionaries, psychics, and psychologists, but ultimately it is up to your own inner knowing about what the dream means for you.
I recommend keeping a dream journal, in the same journal you might keep for yourself, right along with what is going on in your waking life. Then begin to watch how your life is receiving messages from your dream state, and this can really help you to be a more tuned in person. You will find that your dreams have become a vast reservoir of wisdom for you to draw from, and to offer guidance in your life.
One of the biggest problems I always hear from people who want to interpret their dreams, is that they aren’t remembering them. Sometimes not at all. Like I said, start by keeping the pen and paper at your side, but if that still isn’t working, you can try some simple herbal remedies. Mugwort is a great one. More on that to come.