What is a Dream?
A dream is a sensory experience generated by your subconscious mind while your physical body is asleep. Dreams can be realistic reflections of one’s real-life environment, or they can be complete fantasies. Everyone has dreams, approximately 4-6 each night, though you may not always remember them when you awaken.
Everyone dreams differently. Some people dream in colour, others in black and white; some dreams contain sound, some are in total silence; some dream from a first-person perspective, others rise above and watch themselves participate in the action. Some dreams recur throughout our lifetimes, others are simply forgotten when we open our eyes in the morning. If you’re lucky, you might have had lucid dreams, the kind where you’re aware you’re dreaming. Some dreams are so good, we don’t want to wake from them. Other times, nightmares startle us awake and cause us stress.
While we may never know for certain the exact significance of our dreams, the subconscious mind and the soul often leave messages for you in your dreams. Some of these messages are subtle and easy to miss, others are clear and easy to understand. Enter the art of Dream Interpretation, a practice you can use to tap into and strengthen your intuition
What is Dream Interpretation & How Does it Work?
Dream Interpretation is the process of examining the content of a dream and assigning meaning to it. This can often be done by isolating specific elements or symbols. Because we all share streams of consciousness, there are certain symbols and archetypes that often appear in our dreams that have common meanings.
For example, the weather can represent our emotions, houses or cars often represent our bodies, and the people in our dreams represent a part of ourselves. You can look up the common meanings of the people, places, animals, and things that show up in your dreams in a Dream Dictionary and find the meaning that resonates with you.
While there are certain symbols with common meanings that dream interpreters have identified over the years, the truth is subjective, especially in dreams. You’re going to be your own best dream interpreter because you’re the expert on you!
Why is Dream Interpretation Important?
People of all cultures and religions have been interested in dream interpretation for centuries. It was the Egyptians who created the first Dream Dictionary about 4,000 years ago. Today, many cultures still practice dream interpretation regularly.
Practically, dream interpretation work can help us rediscover the repressed memories and recognize the unresolved fears that live in the subconscious so we do not have to be controlled by them in our waking lives. Dream interpretation is meant to strengthen your connection with your intuition, the means by which you can communicate with your soul. Dreams open up the door to an enormous reservoir of information about ourselves and the world around us that we cannot access while awake in the physical realm.
Dream interpretation work also impacts the physical body. Because the brain can’t determine the difference between a dream and real experience while we sleep, the body will release stress hormones and experience emotions as a result of certain dreams or nightmares. If you’ve ever been awoken multiple times through the night as a result of a nightmare, you’ve experienced this for yourself. Humans need adequate sleep to survive. Not only that, if bad dreams persist over time, larger mental health complications can arise.
How to Remember Your Dreams
Remembering your dreams is the first step in dream interpretation. Keeping a dream journal beside your bed where you can write down what you remember of your dreams as soon as you’ve woken up means you’ll be able to identify larger patterns. As we mentioned before, intention-setting is a powerful tool in dream interpretation. Before you go to sleep, tell yourself you’re going to remember your dreams tonight.
And, take care of yourself. Exercising, eating healthy, and eliminating drugs and alcohol can also help you remember dreams better. Healthy body, healthy mind.
The Science of Sleep
We spend about ⅓ of our lives asleep! No wonder philosophers, psychologists and scientists alike have wondered what our dreams are trying to tell us. Dreams have been studied extensively, though most people do not realize the extent to which their dreams can be useful in the waking hours.
There are 5 stages of sleep. Proper dreams begin in the 4th stage, but most dreaming happens during the 5th stage of sleep: REM, or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. If you’re awakened during the REM stage, you’re very likely to remember that you were dreaming. This is because during the REM Sleep stage, your brain is completely active.
Most people forget the vast majority of their dreams. The good news is that as you realize the importance of dreams and become more interested in them, you’re actually more likely to remember your dreams! So, find an old notebook and start a dream journal. Setting an intention to remember your dreams is the first step.
Dreams vs. Nightmares
In dream interpretation, whether you have more dreams than nightmares (or vice versa) matters little. Even the most terrifying, dramatic dream may hold a healing message for you, while a comfortable dream may come with a warning. For example, a dream in which you’re dying does not mean you’re going to die - in fact, dreams about death usually symbolize a letting go or a rebirth in some area of your life. Consider the context of the dream or nightmare.
Most of our dreams have to do with the thoughts we are allowing into our minds during the day, and how we are treating our body and other people. The more responsibility we take for the nature of our thoughts and actions, the happier and more comfortable our dreams become.
Why Do We Have Recurring Dreams?
If you’ve ever had the same dream more than once, you’ve had a recurring dream. In dream interpretation, recurring dreams are believed to contain the strongest and most useful healing messages. They happen to protect us and they do not go away until we get the message. Ask yourself what situations you find yourself in during daily life that elicit the same emotional response you felt in the dream. Once you have done the work in your waking life to resolve the fear, anxiety, or problem the dream is pointing you towards, the recurring dream will usually cease.
What is a Lucid Dream?
A lucid dream is a dream in which you’re aware you’re dreaming. Some people find that, with time and practice, they can direct their dreams at their will. That means good dreams can get better and nightmares don’t have to turn out to be nightmares at all.
Dream interpretation work can actually increase your chance of lucid dreaming because it increases your awareness. Meditation is also a helpful tool in the practice of lucid dreaming because it can activate your third eye chakra. Lucid dreaming gives you control over your dreams, and yes, anyone can learn to do it.
Can Dreams Predict the Future?
Many people have reported precognitive dreams wherein something that occurred in a dream proceeded to occur in real life. That said, precognitive dreams are not something to get too focused on because you can confuse yourself or become obsessive about the future. The future is not written in stone and can be altered by the smallest detail. When you see something in a dream and then it happens in your waking life, it’s a nice reminder that your spirit is real and you’re connected to the Universe intuitively.
It’s best to assume that most dreams are not precognitions, but rather messages of healing from your subconscious. It’s more important to take responsibility for our very real ability to create the best possible future than to think we have no control over what happens to us in sleep or in waking.