June 24, 2014
The mysterious world of dreams is a source of confusion for many. There are those who tell me they dream all the time but don’t know how to think about their dreams. Some tell me they dream but don’t “believe in” dreams, and still others will tell me they never dream. Recently I have had a few emails asking that I write about dreams.
I believe that all dreams come to us in service of our healing and wholeness. While we are asleep, our unconscious mind has a chance to send us messages, helpful guidance so to speak, as we continue our journey toward transformation and spiritual evolution. So the first thing to remember is that dreams serve a purpose.
One way to begin looking at your dreams is to think of every element of the dream as a part of yourself. Each person in the dream might represent a fragment of your personality, perhaps some characteristic that is not well-developed in yourself or even a part of yourself that you know well. The same would be true for objects like cars, houses, bodies of water, clothing, jewelry, and even geographic locations. You could begin looking at a dream by making a list that describes each person, place, and object in the dream. For example, an old boyfriend/girlfriend shows up in a dream. Make a list that would describe what that person represents to you. “ John was my boyfriend when I was 17. He was quiet, thoughtful, and kind to me. But he was also timid, fearful, and an underachiever. I was always frustrated that he didn’t push himself more.” Then you might ask yourself if there is a part of you like the John you just described. Or a part of you that is feeling 17 years old again, feeling like you did when you dated John.
Another thing to remember is that dreams come to tell us something we don’t already know. It is easy to make the mistake of thinking, “Oh, I already know what this dream is about!” If you have that thought about a dream, think again. Look more carefully and spend a few minutes. If you already knew about it, you wouldn’t have had to dream about it. The mind is economical; it won’t waste time telling you something unless you need to hear it again. In the case of recurring dreams, we haven’t gotten the message yet. So the dream returns, again and again, until the healing is complete.
Paradoxically, dreams come from and speak to the place in our soul that understands symbols and imagery. In that way, they are perfectly designed to transcend linear ways of thinking and automatic responses. Like good art, poetry, and stories, a dream allows us to play with an image or a metaphor in multiple ways. If you look at a dream one way, it may tell you this. If you look another way, the perspective may be different. This allows the dreamer to play with a dream until it makes a new kind of sense to them.
Dreams belong to the dreamer in the same way a piece of art or poetry belongs to the artist. This means that no one else can decide what your dream means for you. There is help available in the form of symbol dictionaries and on-line dream sites, but in the end the dreamer has to decide what the meaning of the dream is for them. Processing a dream with a friend, a dream group, a therapist or spiritual director can be very helpful. Because they are emotionally removed from the dream, other people can often ask questions or make associations that might have eluded the dreamer. However, the dreamer is still free to accept or reject other’s ideas about their dream.
If you want to begin using your dreams as a part of your transformational journey, put a notebook by the side of your bed and try to write down the dream before you even step out of bed. The very act of honoring a dream by writing it down can open the dreamer up to deeper understanding. Then, use some of the ideas in this blog and see what happens! Sweet Dreams!
Amy Sander Montanez, D. Min.
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