Dreams can be tricky things. Our souls do not speak in clear, logical language; they speak through symbols. Some symbols are universal, but most are far more personal, and cannot be interpreted by anyone but the dreamer. This is work we have to do for ourselves, if we are to learn what our unconscious minds are trying to tell us.
Sometimes dreams burst into consciousness, with night after night of vivid nightmares. Other times, you may find that you don’t seem to be remembering your dreams at all. Whether your dreams are trying to get your attention or you’re looking for a closer connection with the voice of your soul, there are some simple tools that can be useful when decoding your dreams. My favorite method was originally developed by Carl Jung, and is discussed by Martha Beck in her book Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny.
To begin, keep a dream journal. Immediately after waking, write down whatever you can remember, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. The more you do this, the more likely it is that you’ll remember your dreams.
Next, identify the symbols in your dream. For example, say you dream that you are boarding an airplane with many other people, while carrying a red bag. You might identify the symbols as “airplane,” “many people,” “red bag.” You can also identify verbs as symbols: “boarding;” “carrying.”
One at a time, pretend that you have become the symbol. Say to yourself, “I am the airplane.” Go on to list three words to describe yourself (“I am large, silver, empty”), and then describe what your purpose as the airplane is (“to carry people to their destination”) and how you’re here to help the dreamer (“I’m taking her to the next stage in her journey”). Go through each symbol this way, then go back and look over the dream as a whole, with this deeper understanding of its individual parts.
This technique can only be fully appreciated through practicing it, because what comes up may be entirely unexpected. The way that your symbols speak to you, and interact with one another, will be nothing short of a mosaic of personal messages. It is not always immediately clear–sometimes you have to sit with a symbol or its message for hours or even days–but often there is deep wisdom to be found here.
For the best results, either go through this exercise with another person (I often lead my coaching clients through this process), or write it out. This is much more powerful than simply thinking your way through it, although even that can be invaluable in a pinch.
Wishing you sweet dreams~