Please see the posts of the previous three weeks for my opening remarks about writing a description of your dreams and how to begin the process of interpreting your dreams.
To reiterate an earlier comment, the best chance to interpret a dream comes about when you write out the dream with as much detail as possible. If you do this first thing in the morning you will remember a far greater level of detail than if you do not write out the dream or wait until later to do so.
For a second recap: as you write out the dream, use your skills with mindful awareness to note any associations that pop into your mind as you write out the dream. Place each “pop-up” association in a parenthesis and continue to write out the dream while continuing to note additional “pop-up” associations as they arise.
While writing don’t spend time thinking about the associations, unless some secondary associations, or memories, are triggered by the first “pop-up.” If so, make a note of these secondary associations or memories and preserve a sense of matter-of-fact reporting of the dream along with an open, fluid, mind-set that allows other “pop-up” associations to arise.
Regarding the process of noting and working with the general emotional tone of a dream, please see Part 3 of this series. The process of linking the emotional tone of a dream with the similar emotions experienced in waking life is a very important part of both mindfulness training and dream interpretation.
Here are some additional questions to ask as you interpret the dream.
What is the actual physical setting of the dream?
Is the setting of the dream a place that is related to a specific period of your life? For example are you in a house that you lived in as a teenager or child or young adult?
Or is the setting very current, say the job you have now?
Are one or more of the characters in the dream associated with a specific time or event in your life? For example, I had a dream about a specific teacher I had in the 11th grade when I was in high school. In the dream I talked with him about one or two of the dismissive comments he made to me. For another example, I often dream about the house that I lived in during my young adult years during the time when I and my former wife were raising our child.
Does the setting of the dream, or do the characters portrayed in the dream, allude to a specific period in your life?
Also, see if the associations that “popped-up” as you were writing out the dream bring to mind a specific event, or person, or place, or time in your life.
Do any of the characters in your dream appear at a very different age in the dream than they are in your current life? If so, what was happening in your life, or theirs, when they were the age they appear to be in the dream?
Here are the central questions along these lines: What is going on in your life now that is similar to, or an echo of, what was happening in the period of your life alluded to in the setting of the dream? Is it possible that whatever dynamics, concerns, or issues that are being highlighted by the dream were set in motion during the period of your life that is being featured in the dream?
As noted last week (see Part 3 of this series) it is more than a little helpful to see how the specific emotional tone of a dream relates and compares to very similar feelings you are currently experiencing, at times, in your present life.
So too, look carefully at any images or hints about current or earlier times of your life alluded to in the dream, or in the “pop-up” associations of the dream.
What is the relationship between the challenges or issues of your current life and the challenges or issues you experienced in the period of your life being alluded to in the dream?
In general, a very important function of dreams is to link current experiences, emotions, and core challenges of your current life with events or emotional constructs from the earlier periods of your life when the dynamics you are experiencing now were originally set in motion.
By seeing how and when current patterns, or behaviors, or fears were set in motion, you will have a much better chance to diffuse (or to de-fuse) the original causes which set current patterns, behaviors, or fears in motion.
According to some scientific research, one of the functions of dreams is to provide a way of storing current events in long-term memory. The process of dreaming does this by linking very current experiences with similar memories from different historical periods of your life.
By revealing the link between current experiences and important memories from earlier periods of your life there is a basic message being communicated. It is as if the dream builder is saying: “This current emotion, or challenging situation, or behavior pattern was generated in this earlier period or situation in your life. What was happening in this earlier period of your life that set in motion the current pattern or challenges?”
The essential goal of all this activity is to reveal by current dreams how you may be repeating old patterns, behaviors, or challenging emotional responses that are impairing your ability to thrive in the present.
In my view dreams are saying, “Here is something you need to work on, or here is something to be careful about, or here is another path you could take that will help you.”
I am aware these are subtle and complex subjects. I am glad to talk with you about any aspect of these reflections by discussing your current or older dreams. Please feel free to email or call
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” and host of Meditationpractice.com
will at meditationpractice dot com (spelled out to limit spam).