In dreams, I’ve often wished for a way to crack the code or find the key. So I came up with 5 ways to find the key to get you started! When the year is new we typically search for ways to renew our body and our spirit, however we don’t have to wait for a new year for fresh beginnings. Dreams give us a new beginning every night! If we have a problem, we sleep on it. If we are puzzled by relationships in our lives, we dream about all the cast of characters that inhabit our world.
Or when we ignore our emotions or any other important issues, we are startled awake with recurring dreams or nightmares. In either case, you may wake up saying “I had the strangest dream last night.” If you have ever uttered those words, then you are in fine company. Humans have been wondering why we dream and what dreams might mean for thousands of years. For those of us on a psycho-spiritual journey to health and well-being, we are always in search of the key that will open the door to what we seek. Dreams are both the key and the door and that door leads to our body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Dreams give us information about ourselves and there are many different types of dreams. Some dreams are “day residue” dreams that will be a jumble of the day’s thoughts, people and events. They usually aren’t very significant and are easily forgotten. In contrast, some dreams are so vivid they stay with us for days or years. In between these two extremes are nocturnal adventures that can teach us a lot about ourselves. And when we truly know ourselves-as more than a job that we do or a role that we play – then we can choose to live in alignment with our authentic nature. We can learn about our personal mythology as dreams point out the inner stories and beliefs that guide our actions.
While most dreams tell about what is on our minds and what our emotional state is, other dreams go far beyond the psychological approach. Dreams can also give us information about the future, can reconnect us with deceased loved ones or take us on an out-of-body journey. In dreams, we can rehearse new skills or try out new stages in life before we reach those stages in waking life. They can help us grow and explore every dimension of our being. If dreams can do all that, if they can be the technology for self-growth and awareness, then it is best to have an “instruction manual” for the journey. Here are some user-friendly ways to begin to interact with your dreams and before you know it, you will find that psycho-spiritual health is not just for the brilliant or the enlightened among us. It is, in fact, our birthright.
- Write down any and every dream you can recall, whether fragments or whole dreams. The more we take our dreams seriously by writing them down, the more our psyche will send us dreams to remember. Include any feelings that you experience in the dream as well. The best way to do this is to set your alarm to go off five or ten minutes early and then just remain in bed, staying in the same position you were in last, and ask yourself where you were just now. At first you might only remember the very last thing you were dreaming. Write that down. The next time you may remember more and before you know it you will have reeled in the whole dream.
- Explore your associations with each character and object in the dream. If, for example, you dream about a snake, ask yourself how do I feel about snakes? What is a snake like? Then, try to connect your associations to the snake with your life. Ask yourself if there is anyone or any situation that you may be in, in waking life, that is “snake-like” or similar to the way you described the snake. Or is it about a “snake-in-the-grass”? Dreams will cleverly get our attention through the use of puns.
- Ask yourself if there is a “part of me” that is like anything or anyone in the dream. From a psychological point of view, dreams and all the things in them can represent an aspect of your personality. If you dream, for example that a beautiful horse runs in an open field, ask yourself “what is the beautiful horse ‘part of me’ or the open field ‘part of me’?”
- A dream may also carry pre-cognitive information about your future so do a “reality check” to see if the dream is giving you information or warning about what’s next in your life. Perhaps the dream is telling you to drive carefully or to make an appointment with the doctor.
- Do something creative with your dreams. Dreams can be a bridge between the dreamtime and your waking life. If all we ever do is talk and analyze our dreams, a vast storehouse of creative potential is lost. So bring the message or the feeling of your dreams into the waking world by drawing, painting, writing poetry or even, as dream shaman Robert Moss suggests, by making a bumper sticker that carries the message of your dream.
These suggestions will get you started and new beginnings are always a possibility. As dreamer, you are the best expert in understanding your dream’s messages and with a little help in beginning to work with your dreams you will be able to decipher its symbols. And the key is your willingness to explore your inner life and to challenge your habitual ways of being in the world. In fact, the key to self-understanding and growth is in your own hands….Just open the door and dream on.