“Last night I had the weirdest dream! What do you think it means?”
How do we begin to make any sense of our dreams that appear as metaphors and symbols with mystical, scary or fantastical landscapes coming to use in the calm of the night? Who are those people we recognize or don’t and what are the messages?
"Between the dreams of night and day there is not so great a difference."
Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious
Here are some practical steps for interpreting your dream.
1. Get ready to record your dream: Keep a pen and paper by your bed. Personally, I use the note app on my iPhone, and then record it with the microphone. The next day I email my transcribed dream to myself and print it out.
Having a Dream Journal is a great idea, too, especially for drawing your dream. I have a large sketch pad and colored markers to quickly sketch my dream. You don’t have to be an artist to sketch your dream.
Start making your own personal Dream Symbol Glossary and become familiar with the symbols that appear in your dreams. You'll begin to recognize them and gain a deeper personal awareness of their meaning.
2. Upon Awakening: Be still for a few moments. Tune into your emotions and your body because those are important clues to the meaning. Note the emotions you are feeling.
3. Identify key words, symbols or characters in your dream.
Characters are usually facets of you, even if you do recognize them. They are messengers for you. However, some dreams are also just our recollection of what happened that day or in past events and that is all something to take a look at, too.
Who are the characters? Write that down.
4. Associations: Symbols may have a universal meaning and they can mean different things to different people, the context of the dream and many other elements. Write down the associations you make with each word on your list in your dream. There may also be some sayings or proverbs that come to mind such as, "Don't let the cat out of the bag."
5. Action, Context and Story Line: Our dreams don’t follow time like we do in our waking life. The setting may or may not be familiar, welcoming or even like anything we have ever seen.