Over the years, I have read and studied a great deal about Dream Work. I think our sleeping dreams are a major source of information in the process of self-awareness and discovery. They are completely subjective, based on the associations, and connections that only the dreamer can make. Ripe with archetypal energies, dreams often contain bits of myth, story, symbolism and much more. However, they also absolutely need some objective analysis or remain forever in the arena of puzzles unsolved, and thus, pretty much pointless.
I have attempted, on several different occasions, to keep a dream journal. However, it always proved to be just a bit overwhelming, and after a time, terribly confusing. Too much information can be as difficult to deal with as not enough. And, even more important, it would begin to interfere in my regular journal pages, creeping into them, or sometimes, actually overwhelming the purpose and focus of those pages. I eventually hit upon a compromise that serves my purpose and allows me to explore and discover without getting wiped out in the process.
If a dream wakes me in the middle of the night, I usually pay attention, especially if it is some form of nightmare. I personally believe that dreams are messages from the subconscious mind. My rule here is, if it wakes me up, it must be important. And the resultant emotions, because they are so strong, have a tendency to emphasize the details of the message far more readily than otherwise, therefore, making them far easier to hang on to and remember in a conscious state.
I’ve also learned through experience, how easy it is to fall back asleep and re-enter a dream interrupted. Here I retain my choices. If its a nightmare, with heart raising emotions attached, I simply lie still and examine the most important details while my heart rate has a chance to settle down and resume a more restful rate. This does two things. It lodges the details even more firmly so that I can go back and explore them in a conscious state without the emotions attached, and it does allow me to settle down and to eventually resume a much easier sleep state within a shorter space of time.
The following morning, I will briefly write out those details in my journal. Then go on with my regular entry. By writing it down, I signal that I am aware and will deal with the message when I have more information. Invariably, the associations and connections will slowly seep into my consciousness over the next day or two. That facilitates a much easier and more concrete analysis and interpretation. It is far more relaxed than a dream journal and makes the whole process easier.
If one rushes to analyze a dream, one is in danger of being overwhelmed by objectivity and logic that desperately wants a solution and answer so it can move on to “more important” things. Remember that putting the puzzle together should be fun, entertaining, and relaxing. It should also relieve the anxiety that such an experience can and does induce. I am a terribly curious creature, but patience mixed with that curiosity is far more apt to bring about a more concrete understanding. It can also precipitate a dream in which I have chosen some awkward or snail paced form of transportation.
I recently went through this process because I woke myself up yelling for my Mother to come and rescue me from a dark and unknown terror. The thought of my 90 year old parent coming to physically rescue me actually made me smile, but also made me realize that I was dealing with a buried issue from the past that needed resolution. As the other associations and connections came swimming to the surface through the next few days, they even suggested some means of resolving the important problem that the dream message came to tell me about.
It is very important to remember that the one person necessary to dream analysis is the dreamer. He/she alone is the only person who can really know what the associations and connections are really all about. They come through the filter of that individual’s perceptions and belief systems. Others can and will make suggestions, but the ultimate interpretation is in the hands of the one who created the dream from the bits and pieces of his/her experiences. Every detail, no matter how seemingly minor, is a product of the individual dreamer. So much so, that my sister could have the exact same dream and might come up with an interpretation that resides somewhere on the other side of the globe from my own. We may have grown up in the same exact environment, gone through almost the exact same growth and learning process, but her perspective is far different than my own. It is what makes us distinct individuals and therefore, distinctly different dreamers. Even the mother image in our dream would represent different ideas, symbols, and meanings.
Although my journal plays an intrinsic role within my dream process, I the dreamer, the human being who has lived each separate moment of my life, retains the far more important role. The words I choose to define that experience play another important role. They too, come from the subjective aspect of my own mind and often, their very choice is an important aspect of the later dream interpretation. And later, as I write out that interpretation, most often in phrases with dashes instead of punctuation marks, I find the puzzle coming together in a very natural manner, with ease, comfort, and a sigh of contented satisfaction at a job well done.
Although this blog is mainly about nightmares and dreams that go bump in the night, there are many different forms and types of dreams. Each of those types should be approached with the idea of a personal message from the individual to the individual. Remember, if we respect the messenger, we are far more apt to receive the full message and even understand it better. Can we really afford to dismiss those messages and define them as the result of yet another run-in with Aunt Lucy’s potato salad?
I have one vivid memory of a nightmare that I awoke myself from screaming for my mother. What I remember most is, while waking from the dream, I rolled into the wall and hit it rather hard. I was going on a trip to Gresham when I was remembering the dream and had to call her just to make sure she was ok. My terror at theat time was fearing that she had been hurt or was dead. I was crying on the phone with her and she helped me calm down and take a look at what I was really afraid of. Whenever I dream about my mother, the major issue is always my fear of losing her, whether to death, an argument, or someone stepping into her life and her “forgetting” me. I know these things are internal fears and it is always to my benefit to talk them over with her.
You and I have had many discussions about dreams. We’ve worked our way through possibly hundreds of them. We see different things, make different connections, but you taught me to respect the process of letting another ear listen to the words. Thank you.
When my mother was dying I slept in the den of her home: close by so I could hear her call out if she needed me. She was an invalid, due not only to her infirmities but also to the morphine she was taking for the pain. One night I woke to see her walking into the bathroom. I called out to her and she apparently awakened. She fell. We had a difficult time getting her back into bed (she helped me as much as she could), but finally settled she told me she had been dreaming she could walk again.
Dreams are powerful.
I would agree and have thought so most of my life. They have so much information to offer us, and some very potent messages. I think that to dismiss them is to reject that aspect of our own person and the gifts it brings and leaves silently by our door while we are sleeping. That’s no way to treat a friend.
And by the way, following your comments is sort of like following a trail of bread crumbs, through my own words.