“Dreams take us not into ourselves, but out of ourselves.” – Richard Jones
Dreams hold us in fascination. It’s an experience that takes us to another realm of existence. We try to make sense of it upon waking, that is if we can remember the dream. It’s not just you and I who marvel at the series of images and events.
Scientists, researchers and psychologists have their own questions: when do dreams occur? What is the purpose of dreaming? Parapsychologists believe that dreams serve as channels for psychic communication.
Dreams transport us into a world that defies logic, transcends time, space and physical barriers. Our dreams are our own stories, a series of stories that are real in the dream world. We mingle with our long departed loved ones, alive and very much part of our lives; celebrating with us, struggling with us, talking to us, touching us. We meet long forgotten friends or acquaintances. We meet strangers.
We move in and out from one scene to another. We travel to places we can only fantasize about. We wake up shaking with fear from a nightmare. In dreams, we meet faces, we confront danger, we enjoy a celebration, we experience success or failure, we have adventures. We wake up puzzled and at times confused.
NATURE OF DREAMS
Sleep is essential to dreaming. This is not about lucid or active dreaming, or induced altered states to trigger dreams. Nor is it about monitored dream states in a laboratory setting. This is about the ordinary dreaming state we all experience. Dreams that visit us in our sleep, our experience, our adventures that can go from the bizarre, to the sublime, to the ridiculous and to disconnected events.
Sleep is a time to step back from the real world, from the anxieties, from the confusion, from the passions, from the logical part of us, from reality. In sleep, we drift into a world that is spontaneous, into a realm that requires no logic, no analysis, no express cerebral activity. In our dreams, we do not have to exercise judgment nor be judged.
Does the soul travel during sleep? What kind of world awaits us when we go to sleep and enter the dreams state? Are dreams inspired by God, by some beings, by spirits from our past? Are we visited by evil or tramp spirits that are believed to roam the world? Was the dream an extension of that movie we watched?
How can our spirit or soul mingle within a world totally different from our conscious world? Strong emotions find their way into our dreams. So do our innermost fears and insecurities. What about shadows? Some events in our lives cast a long shadow. Our deepest secrets may reveal themselves in another context in our dreams.
Freud and Jung were famous for their exploration of dreams. They had different approach to dreaming. Freud stated that dreams do not reflect reality,it is as varied as thoughts in the waking state. He had a regressive approach to dreams.
Jung believed that the dream psyche passes a wealth of contents and living forms equal to or greater than the conscious mind. He took the progressive approach. Jung spent years exploring his own dreams, thus providing useful information on the correlation of symbols to dreams.
There is an increasing interest in dream interpretation and working with dreams. There is a connection between our dreams and our regular lives in the regular world. Could we stop and make some relevance of our dreams and our reality? Dreams provide access to our inner world. This makes it worthwhile to explore and try to understand our dreams, and perhaps find a connecting bridge to our reality, discover those hidden creative talents.
Dreams may have a message to help us confront our demons, our deepest pain, or remind us of forgotten joys. Dreams can also be precognitive, that is, it may warn the dreamer of the potential of unpleasant events. Dreams may at times reflect suppressed or unexpressed emotions and passions. It can highlight sexual tensions.
A closer look at dreams may be helpful to our spiritual development. Some of the experiences in dreams convey wisdom, happiness and beauty, as well as pain and sorrow Dream interpretation requires patience and perseverance. A dream journal is a helpful tool and for future reference.
ELEMENTS OF DREAM INTERPRETATION
In his book: Let Your Body Interpret your Dream, Eugene Gendlin has these pointers as a guide to dream interpretation:
Experience and experiment the dream. Focus. It is not about trying to intellectualize the dream, but to experience the dream and to feel it. Listen to the stirrings within, be open to change, be forward –moving.
Associations: Feeling – what did you feel in the dream, what in your life feels like it? Yesterday – what did you do yesterday? What preoccupied you?
Drama, place: What was the main place in the dream? Have you ever been in a place like that? How did it feel?
Story: Summarize the story-plot of the dream. What in your life is like that? Summarize the events of the dream in two or three steps.
Character: Who was the most important character. Were there unknown persons.Who do these people remind you of?
Working with characters: What part of you is that in the dream. What feelings arise when you consider a particular character. What adjectives can describe that person, be that person,imagine yourself to be a particular character. How would you feel and act? Can the dream continue? Vividly visualize the end of any important scene. Watch and wait for any changes in images and feelings.
Decoding techniques: Symbols – think of symbols; what was that thing, what is it used for? Did you dream of a house? What shapes and colors can you remember? Were there animals?
Body analogy : Was there any object in your dream that can be an analogy for the body?
Conterfactuals: What situation in the dream is specifically different from the actual situation? Why would the dream make these changes?
Developmental Dimensions: Childhood – what childhood memories are related to your dream. Personal growth – how are you trying to develop? Are you feeling stuck in a rut lately? Sexuality – could the dream be about your current feelings or actions towards your sexuality
Spirituality – what creative or spiritual potentials might the dream reflect?
It is believed that Gendlin’s use of the body association in dream work has some precedent in the Gestalt method. He took it a step further with the bodily sense and awareness.
As strange as our dreams are at times, dreams are real to us in the dream state. It is present and vivid, yet difficult to remember when we wake up. We are puzzled about having been in another world in our sleep. The intensity of the relationships and events which we actively take part in are forgotten.