by: Kevin Sheldrake
There are many theories as to what ‘dreams’ are. Doorways to the subconscious, glimpses into the spirit realm, or visions of the future – at one point or another we all probably subscribe to one or more of these theories. Personally, I believe that dreams are the ways in which our subconscious minds attempt to show the conscious that the cold hard view of the world we see while awake is not the only dimension of existence. The most marvellous kind of dreams are ‘lucid’ dreams. These occur when you realize you are dreaming, but stay in the dream. At that point you can usually start to control the dream. This has led some researchers to think that dreams are simply random ‘processes’ in the mighty supercomputer that is the human brain, firing off as the system slips into ‘power saver’ mode!
Whatever your beliefs, you will no doubt at some time or other wonder what one of your dreams ‘means’. The first thing to remember is that the subconscious mind deals in images, not words. So try to focus on the imagery of the dream, not the language. Nevertheless, you need to record your dreams on paper or dictaphone so you can study them later. The main problem here is that when you wake up it may take you several minutes to remember that you should be writing down your dreams, by which time, of course, they will have evaporated into thin air, so keep your pen and paper near the bed. You may wake up in the middle of the night, and if you don’t immediately write down the dream, it will most likely vanish forever. This is what poeple who say ‘I don’t dream’ really mean – they simply can’t remember their dreams!
Once you have some raw material to work with, how do you interpret it? Interpretations of dreams are highly personal, although there are a few culture-specific symbols we all seem to share (such as ‘snake’ meaning sex, for example). Other symbolism may be obscure to your, but you need to remember that your subconscious is trying to show you something, and even if it is couched as a riddle, it makes sense on some level.
The trick is to look for repeated imagery – these are symbols your subconscious believes are truly important to you at this point in time. What symbol is the most significant or confusing to your waking mind? Make a note of it. You will by now have realized that it is not only the actual symbols that are important when interpreting dreams but the feelings and implications your conscious attaches to those symbols. Without both sides of that puzzle, you can’t interpret dreams accurately.
Most people have several types of dream, the most common probably being the ‘anxiety’ dream. On one level, this is your subconscious trying to let you know that it understands there is a problem and sympathises. On another level, if you can unpick the puzzling symbolism, you may find that your subconscious has actually supplied a solution to the problem, and this is particularly true of recurring dreams. Something really important is being communicated – can you accept the message and act on it? Because until you do so, the dream will recur.