Mysterious, captivating and intriguing, dreams are otherworldly, elusive or discredited by many, but working with dreams is a learnable skill. The part I love about dreams is they are a playground for learning without real life consequences. Dreams are your own personal wise and loyal adviser.
Dream work is a creative art. It’s learnable, provides useful tools for navigating life, points out who you are and where you are out of balance. You will never purge the infinite wisdom in the space where dreams are created. It is difficult to deny, refuse or reject what dreams bring because they are extravagant and wholly embodied in your person. Many are far more powerful than waking life experiences and may linger days, weeks, months or even years afterwards.
What’s more? Dreams are already a part of your 24 hour day, no need to find time, and they don’t cost a penny.
If dreams fascinate or interest you, then follow that curiosity into a world where you can begin to learn your dream language and receive the gifts they have to offer. Dreams come in all forms and serve different purposes. At times the gift it offers is simply the experience, to be savored exactly as it is. There are no rules for working with dreams, but there are precious tools that give you more options for understanding them. Dream work holds keys to a more successful life and below I share just three of them.
1. Dreams are a wise guide and personal compass
Dreams are energetically true and probably more honest than your waking mind is comfortable with. They say “the truth will set you free” and I believe dreams are a doorway for finding the truths that will set you free, to find your way.
Each night your dreams provide the current summary of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual truth. They reveal who you are, aren’t and where the imbalances are. They even relate the present moment to the past, present and future. Dreams often reveal the obstacle, but they also show you solutions which encourage you to step back, reconsider, make changes, adopt a new way, stay the course with greater knowing or choose a different path. Dreams use what you already know to communicate, and they even use your communication style to do it.
Your whole person knows the truth of what is around you all the time. Unfortunately when you are awake that knowing is sometimes so far underground that no matter how loud your inner adviser screams, you just don’t hear. The irony is, you hear your inner critic very easily, but the inner advisor has a tough time reaching you. The good thing is, when you miss something of crucial importance your inner advisor will push it into your dreams.
For example, you have a colleague you have decided to trust because everyone in the office does and you want to fit in and not cause waves. BUT you keep a very firm professional distance because you are leery. Your dreams may disclose the deeper truth by revealing the individual is far more perilous OR it may reveal that you are misconstruing them.
When you can be with the truth offered in your dreams, you learn to be with the truth of life. There is nothing more powerful than being able to sit in that space. The more you use your inner adviser and compass, the stronger they become, and over time you will see the radical shifts in your waking life.
2. Find your path by discovering who you are
You are emotionally, mentally and behaviorally responding to the dream happenings, as if it was waking reality. It isn’t. Dreams are energetically true, on occasion what is energetically true is also literal, but it is more rare than common.
How you respond to dream happenings is revealing where you are strong and weak (your actions in the dream). Your responses in the dream are also revealing your needs and fears (your emotional responses to the dream). We are blind to our blindness, but dreams are a window to who you are, a sort of personal magnifying glass. When you see your strengths, weaknesses, needs and fears, no matter how you get the insight, they lose the power to drive your life while you sit idle in your own passenger’s seat. Suddenly you are making more conscious decisions about the best direction and path.
From time to time I will have an emotional, mental or behavioral response that is WAY out of character (something I have never done in dreamtime nor in real life). When I wake up from those dreams, I feel as if I just kicked the winning field goal in the final play-off game. Why the excitement? Those new ways of being in dreams indicate I have just acquired a new puzzle piece, a piece I had been missing to be more whole. Remember, every quality has value and purpose, it is up to each to use their qualities with integrity. Take for example the discovery of atomic energy – it was used to kill and destroy (the atomic bomb), but it can be used to make energy (nuclear energy).
Your dream content pulls from your personal history. Those archives include what you know, understand, like and dislike. Today’s encounters, experiences and learning may become a part of tonight’s dreams, but they are likely to be tucked away in your archives too.
I never realized how little I knew about myself until I really started working with my dream content. What exactly did I think of the color green? Kangaroos? South America? Asia? When it got down to it I didn’t know. I had to have chats with myself and go on creative thinking expeditions. Often ending up more confused as I freely wandered around inside my whole self. The process has enabled me to get clearer about who I am. I use the same skills when things get blurry in my waking life.
Most everything has an all-encompassing general quality about it. For example, a wedding is a ceremony and celebration where two people are united. But you personally have a relationship to the concept “wedding” and it could be a fairytale come true, a prison sentence, a money pit (a waste of money) or something else. Understanding your dream requires bringing together the quality of the symbol with your relationship to it. Don’t fall into the trap of judging your relationships with symbols as right, wrong, good or bad. The real value is in getting to the truth of how you deeply relate to it.
Dreams show you who you are and aren’t. The more you know about yourself, the more your life is in line with that inner knowing and personal truth.
3. Exact Reporting – Seeing the Big Picture
You wake up startled, your heart is pounding and you are out of breath. In the dream you were running, not just running, you were sprinting in a state of panic with the conviction and determination to stay alive. A dog is chasing you and you are convinced it is ready to kill. Running to escape dreams are big dreams, begging to be understood. Big Dreams have BIG messages and I believe they are your whole person’s last ditch effort to give you a VITAL piece of information you have been refusing.
Separating your emotions, thoughts and behavioral responses from the dream happenings creates a clear view on the dream. Personally charged reactions are like glasses and warp your ability to see what is right in front of you. Separate your reactions from the dream happenings, but don’t discard your instinctive response because how you respond is half the key to understanding the message.
My questions would be. What is behind you? Where are you? Why did you start running? What else do you notice (smell, weather, inside/outside, colors, environment, temperature, time of day)? Did you notice anything else unusual that caught your attention?
You tell me the dog is a big black healthy and strong dog with fluffy hair. It has boundless energy and great speed. When you turned to look at it you noticed it had a playful friendly quality with an excited “I love life” dog enthusiasm and smile. The dog was alone, right on your heels, you don’t know it and there is no collar and no leash, but in its mouth, is a colorful bouquet of beautiful short stem flowers. You also noticed that the dog seems to get stronger and faster the more you tire which is why you are so scared. You tell me that you are running through a flat lush green old traditional park that has beautiful majestic 5 story tall trees. It is bright, sunny and the air is crisp and clean like a spring day.
Insight being offered is sometimes found in the inconsistences and contradictions. There is a valuable message in that you are in a panic adrenaline state running for your life…. from a healthy dog that looks playful and friendly? While in a majestic old lush green park on a clear sunny day with clean crisp springtime air? Do you see the interesting contradictions?
The key question I would ask then would be – Are you scared of dogs in waking life? What do you think of dogs? Are you a dog person?
Do not soften, add, edit, censor, embellish nor exaggerate the dream happenings. Report it as it happened. Its message is in what and how it was delivered, not in your interpretation. Sometimes exact reporting is tough because dreams defy language, which was designed for waking life situations. Dreams also defy logic. Do NOT alter the dream in an effort to make sense of it. It is perfect exactly as it is and is only asking that you respect the dream as it has been presented to you.
If you see something in the dream that looks like a table, but you actually know it to be a bicycle in your dream then say that in your dream reporting. That would be exact reporting. Describe what you are looking at, hearing, smelling, seeing or feeling. Sometimes it is easier for me to draw a picture or make a clay model than to try and describe it. Creative expression gets the dream outside of my body into material form. Often it expresses something new or it releases the dream in ways that language can’t do.
I am by no means an artist, so I took an adult education drawing class so I would have more skills to draw what I was seeing in my dreams.
Exact dream reporting is a clear indication to your soul that you are receiving the dream as it was sent, respect it, honor it and are ready to collaborate unconditionally.
Western education spends a lot of energy teaching westerners to focus on the problem, figures and action (the man running and the dog chasing). Eastern cultures learn to focus on the environment (sunny day, fresh crisp air like springtime, clear skies beautiful green park). Both are important so don’t forget to notice the environment (location, geography, weather, temperature, ambiance, time of day, season, smells and more). If there is no environment and the dream is happening in an empty space – that is the environment. THAT empty space IS information – that is the environment.
When I learned to separate my emotions from the dream happenings (while not discrediting nor suppressing them), I was soon automatically separating my emotions from life happenings which enabled me to see more clearly and make better decisions. Exact reporting forced me to really look at and feel the truth of what was in front of me. There is power in seeing things for what they are – in your dreams AND in your waking life.
Dreams offer you a wise guide and personal compass, reveal who you are (strengths, weakness, needs, fears and more) and require exact reporting. Many of the skills for working with dreams are identical to the ones that will bring you personal success.
My dreams are smarter than me, and they have infinitely humbled me to know there will always be more that I don’t know, than what I do.
If you are curious about your dreams then I encourage you to follow their lead because it is the doorway to a space that is unlimited in abundance and its capacity for giving.