BASIC DREAM INTERPRETATION
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 2013, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Many people receive messages through dreams. They may consist of important information, warnings or even just notices that things are going well. Many books exist about dream interpretation, from very technical textbooks to popular ones. This article is meant as a simple introduction to this interesting subject.
Many of the books miss some simple ideas, and these are the focus of the article. Paying attention to these concepts and protocols will often allow you to interpret many, though not all dreams, in a fun and enjoyable way.
WHAT ARE DREAMS?
This question has occupied the thought of people and psychiatrists, in particular, for thousands of years. From the bible to Sigmund Freud, MD and Carl Jung, MD, dream interpretation has been a subject of controversy and fascination. Possible causes for dreams, according to various authorities, include:
1. They are the brain processing information as one sleeps. This, however, would not account for some very amazing dreams that some people have. However, it will account for many dreams in which one thinks about subjects that occur during the day.
2. Some say that one travels during the night in the finer or etheric body and registers or reports back what has occurred. This gives rise to some interesting dreams of flying through the air, visiting distant places and people, even going back into one’s past or into the future.
3. Some say the brain essentially concocts stories and scenarios based upon its experiences. In these dreams, many elements in a person’s life are brought together in seemingly random ways, to learn or teach some lesson, or to help a person better understand a situation. Often dead or long-gone relatives may be present, mixed with items in the present, mixed with impressions from a television show, for example, all jumbled together in unusual and even humorous ways. This is clearly more than just processing the day’s events.
4. Some dreams may be caused by toxic metals or toxic chemicals in the brain. Some people report bad dreams after eating sugar or drinking alcohol, for example.
5. Dreaming may discharge certain energies that the body and brain need to release in some way. It is said that if one does not dream, health tends to decay. Most everyone dreams, by the way, although many people do not recall their dreams very well.
6. Some say that dreams are from other realities that one may visit or even create during the night. This one is hard to prove, but an interesting idea.
7. Dreams may be given to a person by God, angels, guides or others to help heal or direct a person. For example, one might dream that one has a tumor and needs to see a doctor, or even that one has had an intervention by God to heal a disease in the body.
BASIC DREAM PRINCIPLES
1. Usually, though not always, the dream is about the dreamer in some way. Just because a dream seems to be other people or places, for example, does not mean that the dreamer is not the focus of the dream. The other people may, for example, represent qualities of the dreamer, or aspects of the dreamer’s life, or may relate to the dreamer in some other way.
2. Dreams may be able to be interpreted on many levels. Common ways are literally, figuratively, metaphorically in a spiritual sense, or perhaps other ways as well. Always be aware there may be more than one way to understand a dream.
When interpreting a dream, I often think of painting a portrait. You first sketch out the basics, which is like the context or background. Then you may need to go back and fill in many details. Sometimes the details shift the meaning completely.
The process can be somewhat time-consuming, so how well you do it depends to some degree on how much time you spend at it. However, you will get better at it, especially if you strictly follow the protocol discussed later in this article.
3. Many, though not all dreams are quite complex. This is especially true if you are on a nutritional balancing program and improving your health and your mental state. Much more goes on at night than you may imagine. Dreams can be about healing, learning, teaching, forgiving, shifting the consciousness and so much more – and perhaps all at once, in some cases.
Most of us are far more amazing than we think. We live on many levels, we are more complex and remarkable beings than we give ourselves credit for. So do not limit your imagination when interpreting a dream, as you do yourself a disservice if you do this. This is also one reason, though not the main one, that I recommend everyone go to bed early, by 9 PM if at all possible, so that the dreaming process can take place optimally. It is said, truthfully, often, that we are far busier at night while sleeping than we are during the day. In many people’s lives, daytime activities, while perhaps seemingly exciting, are minor in importance compared to activities of the soul and consciousness that happen at night, but only if you are asleep.
4. Many dreams today have to do with mental or spiritual development. Sometimes, therefore, a “friend” or “family member” in a dream is really a symbol of a spirit guide, angel or some other metaphysical guidance speaking to you. This is a very large subject that could fill an entire book. Here I will only say that we are in contact with beings that are variously called angels or masters or guides who are attempting to reach us, and teach and enlighten our minds.
Creative people often learn to trust hunches and ideas they wake up with, for example. These can be forms of guidance that a person may connect with during sleep and that are presented to the conscious mind as dreams or hunches.
5. While you must use your logic, common sense and intuition to interpret dreams, be careful not to jump to conclusions. This is probably the single most common error that people make. This can occur because you are in a hurry, because you are in denial of a situation or something else, or just a mental tendency to rely on your mind a little too much, rather than allow the dream images, symbols, and story to unfold on their own and tell their own story.
6. Sometimes, a dream cannot be interpreted immediately, at least not fully. This topic is mentioned more in the sections below. In these cases, you will just begin the interpretation and then return it at a later date.
7. Sometimes dreams reveal not only specific information, but also what may be called meta-aspects of your life. In other words, the import of the dream is not just the action, but a feeling or general quality of the dream.
8. Many dreams are not worth interpreting. This is because they mainly involve processing of your past in some way. Since most people lead busy lives, I would suggest that if you have a way to tune into your own guidance such as with muscles testing or a pendulum or just sitting quietly and meditating, that you always ask, Is this dream worth interpreting? Only proceed if you feel it is worthwhile.
HOW TO RECALL YOUR DREAMS
Š Eat carefully, sleep plenty and go to bed early to reassure oneself that one is doing all one can to encourage healing and dreaming at all levels of being.
Š Each night, ask for assistance and guidance in gratitude with your dreams before going to bed, and even throughout the day when you remember.
Š To recall your dreams: The simplest method is always have paper and pen handy by the bedside to write down at least a few details of a dream immediately, especially if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Š If you are alone, you could use a small voice recorder and once again, record your dream in as much detail as possible immediately upon awakening.
Š In some cases, you may be able to tell your dream to your partner to help you remember it. This is less reliable, however.
BASIC DREAM INTERPRETATION
Here is where I will differ from standard textbooks on dreams, to some degree. I will suggest a specific set of steps to help you classify the dream and get the most from it. They are the following:
Step 1. Writing down your dream.
If you are really interested in this subject, keep a dream journal. This is just a notebook in which you regularly write down your dreams. For each dream, write down the date, perhaps the time of the dream, roughly, and then leave a space at the top of the page to insert later a title for your dream. This will help you recall it later, as some dreams cannot be fully interpreted all at once.
Write down the major elements in the dream, one to a line in your notebook. Leave some space to the right of each element to later write some interpretation comments. If you think it is complex, you might skip lines between each element of the dream so you can write more about each element.
If possible, write down the people in the dream, the places, the activities or situations, and important details you recall about each.
The reason for writing it down this way is so you can break up the dream and interpret it piece by piece. Many dreams are extremely complex. However, if you can identify the individual elements, it simplifies interpretation greatly. For example, the lines of your dream journal might look like the following:
Š I’m at the front door of the old house on the hill
Š I’m with Peter, an old friend
Š He has a shotgun in his hand
Š A yellow bird flies by the house
Š He shoots the bird
Š It falls right at my feet
Š I am very sad, but relieved
Step 2. Gather your tools for dream interpretation.
Here are some very simple tools that are usually extremely helpful to interpret dreams:
1. A good book of common dream symbols. The best I have found is entitled Mary Summer Rain On Dreams, by Mary Summer Rain and Alex Greystone. Different books will help in different situations, possibly.
2. Other tools for ‘tuning in’ to your subconscious mind or to guidance. If you can use muscle testing or perhaps a pendulum, these tools may help you tune in to get more information about your dream. However, never abandon logic and common sense ideas that may come to you as you are reading about the symbols and thinking about your dream.
3. A dream interpretation partner. This is the listening ear of a friend or other person who knows you well, and preferably who knows what is going on in your life. This can also be extremely beneficial, as it is easy to interpret your dream the way you would like things to be, rather than to perhaps look at lessons or warnings the dream is telling you about. Another person may sense these or other aspects better than you can, and hopefully is willing to tell you about their impressions.
Step 3. Begin with very general considerations.
If you have a way of tuning in to get more information, the following will greatly simplify your dream interpretation:
Š Make sure you are well-hydrated, well-rested, warm enough, and sitting comfortably, preferably with your back straight. In the morning, most people need to drink several glasses of water, and perhaps a glass of carrot juice.
Š Do a clearing procedure. Be sure to do this each time before using your technique for tuning in. This is to help relax you and make sure you are not distracted. It may involve a prayer or an affirmation.
Š Ask if the dream is important enough to interpret.
Š If so, ask if you are ready to interpret the dream at this time. If you are not ready, you might ask when would be a better time, such as in a week or a day.
Š If you are ready, then you might ask what level of accuracy of answers you can expect. This is subjective, but might be helpful, since some dreams are about the future and accuracy will be lower in these cases.
Š Ask if the dream is about the past, present or future. If possible, ask the percentage of each, as many dreams are a combination. This simple question is often extremely helpful to orient you as to what the dream is about. Occasionally, a dream is even about a past life situation, though this is less common.
Š Ask if the dream is about your physical, emotional, mental, or primarily spiritual or metaphysical life? One can ask with muscle testing or a pendulum about each of these. Often it is a combination, but one can get a sense of which is most important at this time.
Š Then look up in the book each major dream activity. This might be flying in a plane or rowing a boat. You may be surprised what the book suggests is the meaning of a fairly mundane-sounding activity such as cooking or swimming.
Š After reading the book’s interpretation of the activity, if you can tune in, ask to what degree the book’s interpretation is valid or accurate for this dream.
Š If it is accurate, or you think it is, then write it down in your dream journal. Write it on the same line as you have written the activity in your dream journal. This will help to organize various symbols and activities.
Š If you don’t think the book’s interpretation of the activity is valid, try to come up with your own interpretation. You should ask, if possible, is this person, place, thing or activity in the dream best understood as literal, figurative or what I call spiritual. For example, swimming could be about really going swimming, or it could be a metaphor for moving gracefully through a situation, or swimming can be a “spiritual diving in”, perhaps. Similarly, if your uncle is in your dream, he might represent himself, or he might represent a quality you associate with him, or perhaps a part of yourself that is similar in some way to something about him, or he could represent a spiritual figure, angel, guide or some other spiritual aspect of life.
Š Each person usually has symbols their mind uses a lot and it gets somewhat easier with time, though we are often surprised at times, as well.
Š Put together the pieces, in sequence, to come up with the meaning and messages of the dream. You will now usually have a good sense about the dream, at least at some level.
Š To deepen and maybe change your understanding by looking up in the dream interpretation book more details about your dream. For example, if you were wearing a red dress, look up the color red. If the dress had flowers on it, look up flowers. If you recall what kind of flowers they were, look this up, too. In fact, any detail you recall may be critical or at least important for the meaning of the dream.
Š Animals in dreams often have meaning. Be sure to look these up in the dream interpretation book, or use your logic to figure out the meaning of the animal’s presence.
When you think you are done, there are several important steps:
Š Ask if there is more of this dream to interpret.
Š If the answer is no, then you are complete. Before closing your dream journal, however, it may be helpful to sit with the dream for a few minutes, and come up with a title or name for this dream, and put it at the top of the page of the dream journal for future reference. This may also help you to appreciate and understand the overall message of the dream.
Š If your guidance is that there is more to interpret, ask if you should interpret more of it now, or should you revisit this dream later.
Š If the answer is later, then ask when you should revisit the dream to further interpret it. Make a note of this so you can come back to it. Perhaps mark it on the top of the page that you wish to revisit this dream in a day or maybe a few months.
These questions are
sometimes very important. It is
easy to think you are done with a dream, and find that you have overlooked
something, or not gone deeply enough to reveal critical information for