What is a dream?
Dreams are messages from the subconscious mind that reflect thoughts and attitudes about the previous day. They reveal moods and emotions. We all dream, even though we may not remember our dreams. By age 60, we have spent about 20 years sleeping, and more than two and a half years dreaming.
Dreaming is a way to assimilate the input, stimuli, thoughts and attitudes experienced during the day. It allows the subconscious and conscious minds to communicate through images. Lack of sleep (and the resulting assimilation) makes many of us irritable. In fact, sleep research shows that individuals deprived of sleep may hallucinate as a way for the mind to assimilate information.
Types of Dreams
Nightmares reflect a state of fear in the dreamer’s waking life. The dreamer usually feels out of control and is having difficulty directing his life. Fears may have to do with unfulfilled desires. Children may absorb the fears of adults in their lives. A small child may experience fear simply because of the newness of everything. Some children may feel a lack of control if adults make all the decisions for them. (These children could benefit by making more of their own decisions.)
Flying dreams are pleasurable because they give us the sense of freedom. Such a dreamer is a freethinker, one who does not allow dogma or other limitations to stop him from accomplishing his goals. People proficient in spiritual disciplines such as meditation and astral projection may experience flying dreams, indicative of their ability to separate from the body when awake.
Dreams of nudity reflect an attitude of openness and honesty in the dreamer’s waking life. If you are embarrassed by your nakedness and are running for cover, during the day you may have confided in someone and regretted your openness.
Recurring dreams indicate that you are repeating a behavior and are not causing a change in your life. Pay attention to the message and take action, and the dream will cease.
The school dream is a commonly recurring dream. The dreamer may be late for class or can’t find the right classroom. Or, worse yet, she arrives in class only to find it is test day and she is not prepared. This dream means that the dreamer feels unprepared to meet life’s challenges.
Death in a dream indicates change. A person who dies in a dream is an aspect of the dreamer that changed. Murder is a forced change, which is why it is frightening in a dream. The degree to which you are afraid of change in your waking life is the degree to which you fear death in the dream.
A precognitive dream may show possible future events. Precognitive dreams are usually more vivid and intense than other dreams and the events will occur exactly in waking life as they did in the dream. With experience, you will begin to distinguish this type of dream from others. What you do with the information received in this dream is your choice. If it is a good dream, there is usually no apprehension in sharing that information with the people concerned. However, if the dream is of a dangerous event, use your good sense before communicating your dream.
In running dreams, the dreamer is trying to run from someone, yet finds his legs are moving very slowly. This represents someone who runs around all day with no goal or purpose for a physical or mental activity. The dreamer may feel unfocused, scattered and prevented from making progress.
A sexual dream represents creation. The sex partner represents the aspect of your personality that you use to create something. Creating involves using the conscious and subconscious minds in tandem; this cooperation creates the pleasure and harmony we associate with sex.
Visitations. Deceased persons appear commonly in dreams. A deceased’s soul (the part of us that exists beyond the death of the physical body) can contact living beings most easily while they sleep. During sleep, the conscious mind quiets the day’s mental chatter and allows the subconscious mind to communicate with other souls. During a visitation, the deceased person in the dream will send thoughts of comfort or an important message rather than talk.
Steps to enhance dream recall
Dedicate a notebook and pen to recording dreams. Keep them bedside. This helps to establish in your subconscious mind the importance of dream recall.
The subconscious mind always responds to our needs and desires, so cultivate a desire to remember your dreams. Before going to bed, say aloud, “I will remember my dreams,” and then write it down in your dream notebook at the top of the page. Your desire will increase once you begin to interpret your dreams and see the wisdom they offer you.
Practice focusing your attention during the day on everything you do and on the people you encounter. Use all five senses. This will enhance your awareness in the dream state.
Create a relaxing environment in which to awaken, preferably without a jarring alarm clock. Cultivate your internal alarm clock so that you awake naturally. The loud buzz of alarm clocks tends to jolt our consciousness into wakefulness, causing us to forget our dreams.
Upon awakening, remain calm with closed eyes and in the reverie state (the level between being wakefulness and sleep) for a few minutes as you recall your dreams. Gently shifting your physical position may also assist with recall. Dreams, like echoes, begin clearly but quickly fade after awakening. It is helpful to go to sleep earlier and awaken earlier than usual so you are not rushed.
Glossary of Common Dream Symbols
Authority Figures (grandparents, parents, teachers, policemen): Your higher self, or superconscious mind. Authority figures offer guidance and keep us centered in our life purpose, just as our higher self does. Interactions with authority figures reveal you have been consulting your higher self. The type of interaction you have with these people indicates your relationship to your higher self.
Car: The physical body. The condition of the car will reflect the condition of the body. A rusty, damaged car indicates the body is worn out and needs healing. Each part of the car can be related to a specific body part. Brakes relate to the nervous system and the need to go faster or slow down. Hoses represent the various arteries and veins.
Clothes: The various ways the dreamer expresses herself. If you are dressing differently in the dream than in your waking life, you are changing the way you express yourself to others. If you are purchasing new clothes, you are placing value on new ways of self-expression.
Death: Change. If you dream that someone is killing you, this reflects that you currently have the point of view that change is happening to you, and that you are not in control of the changes taking place in your life. Identify who is being killed to determine what part of you is being changed. If you are killing someone in a dream, it means that you are causing changes to take place in your life. The person killing you reveals the aspect that you feel is out of control and not acting in alignment with the whole self.
Hair: Represents your conscious thoughts and how you express them. If you dream of cutting your hair, you are in the process of eliminating or changing your thoughts. A new hairstyle indicates a new way of expressing your thoughts. If you dream of someone who is bald, it means you are going through a transformation, and you have not yet formulated the thoughts that reflect the new you. If the dream person who is bald is an emotional person, then you are having difficulty expressing your emotions.
House: The mind. The condition of the house reflects your attitude about your mind. If you dream of a beautiful house in good condition, you see the value in your mind. A shack or house in disrepair indicates a low self-esteem. Each room in a house indicates a different type of thinking. A bathroom is a place in mind for releasing unwanted thoughts, and a bedroom is a place
Money: Self value. If you dream of being rich, it symbolizes that you have discovered ways that you are valuable.
Monster: An aspect of self that is unknown and potentially dangerous and deadly. The monster usually represents some fear of the dreamer that he feels he cannot control. It would benefit the dreamer to engage in activities that give him a sense of control over his life.
Nightmare: A nightmare reflects the dreamer was in a state of fear and feeling out of control during the day. She feels things are happening to her that are out of her control, which often feels scary.
People: Aspects or qualities of yourself. Yogis believe we have 144 parts that comprise who we are. Each person who appears in your dream represents one of these aspects or qualities. Think of the first quality you associate with that person, and that reveals the part of yourself you expressed the previous day. People you know symbolize familiar aspects of yourself that can be easily identified. Unfamiliar people are parts of yourself you don’t know. If you have frequent dreams with unfamiliar people, it means that there is a lack of awareness about your thoughts and attitudes. Knowing your thoughts is the first step in understanding yourself and the world around you. The dreamer would benefit from self- exploration through counseling, and such sciences as astrology or numerology to gain deeper insights into the self.
Police: Disciplined aspects of self that help you stay within certain boundaries for your benefit.
School: The dreamer is focused on learning. If you are an adult and you dream of being in grade school, this can also indicate you are stuck in an old way of thinking and need to mature mentally.
Teeth: The ability to process the knowledge that you receive. If you dream that your teeth are falling out, it means that you are feeling overwhelmed by what you have learned and are having a hard time processing it. A man in a new job that is having difficulty learning all the new tasks may dream of his teeth falling out. The dreamer would benefit from focusing on each activity during the day and quieting the mind so they can absorb and assimilate the new information.
Telephone: A tool for inner or outer communication. Notice who you are speaking with and this will tell you the aspect of self you are communicating with. It would benefit the dreamer to practice daily meditation so he can receive the messages. A telephone in a dream can indicate the need to reveal your thoughts to other people.
Television: It represents the way the dreamer is using his imagination. Your ability to tune into a particular channel indicates your ability to imagine different things.
Toilet: A tool in the mind to help release useless and unwanted thoughts.
Wallet: A place in mind where the dreamer stores his value and identity. A wallet in the dream reveals the dreamer values his identity.
War: The dreamer is making major changes in his life that is affecting many areas of his existence.
Water: Conscious daily life experiences. Notice the way water is portrayed in the dream to understand how you are living and responding to your daily experiences. If you are drowning in water, you are having difficulty managing your life experiences. Water is essential for life, just as our experiences are essential for our soul to learn and grow.
Weapons: Tools for change