Friends, last week, we learned a basic approach to dream analysis. It's organized and linear, a rather tidy process. However, if you've ever sat down with a dream just after you had it, you know that your mind is hardly in the mood for organized and linear. When you're caught in the feelings and oddities and haunting specifics of the dream, making a list of symbols may just not be possible.
In reality, for me it's a mishmash of strategies when I first look at a dream. Some dreams lend themselves to symbol analysis, but others may have characteristics better suited for another approach. So, this week, we'll look at some other ways to get at a dream's core meaning.
If you accept that we have crazy dreams because our Unconscious lacks the tools to speak to us clearly, then you'll have no problem seeing how it uses puns to get its message across. Again, your Unconscious speaks a foreign language, so when it's trying to communicate with you, it will use whatever it can get its hands on to relay its thought.
Here's a few examples:
I am in a warehouse. A warehouse = "Aware house" = a place of higher awareness.
I tell him to go find my invoice. My invoice = "My inner voice" = my inner source of wisdom and truth.
A woman speaks Greek to me. "Greek to me" = "It's all Greek to me!" = I have no clue what's being shown to me.
Seeing these funny plays on words can take a long time working with the same symbol. For instance, it took me years of dreaming of warehouses before I saw the word "aware" and realized that I always had those dreams during a time of personal revelation. This is also why writing down your dreams is so important. Without the words sitting in front of you, you may not see these linkages.
A common approach to dream analysis is through the identification of feelings. You look at how you felt in your dream and then you match that up with your day-to-day life. This is a common approach with trained psychoanalysts, I believe, so if you ever bring your dream to a professional, you are likely to see this in action.
Let's take my dream from last week as an example.
John is worried. He needs to get the Board of Directors together to explain the situation. I tell him not to worry. It's easy! You invite them to a meeting. As I say this to him, I see a conference table with the Board members sitting around it. The meeting is taking place at a rooftop restaurant that overlooks the ocean. We are outside.
The Board members appear to be all female. John begins, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid that we have to cut Alcatel. It was losing money and is no longer a viable business." A woman that I used to work with, Donna, is there. She's John's counterpart but much more experienced. She says, "Honorable Board Members, Alcatel was simply a drain on our resources."
One of the Board Members, an African-American woman, raises her eyebrows in shock. I now realize that the bigger company was failing and we were brought in to save it. End.
So, there may be lots of great symbols and puns in here, but we want to sidestep that for the bigger picture. It goes like this...
Question 1: How did you feel in the dream?
Answer 1: I felt like this was a decision that had to be made.
Question 2: Where in your life do you feel like you're facing a "decision that has to be made?"
Answer 2: Well, I've been pondering my alcohol consumption lately...
End. Finito. Done. In just two questions, you've gotten to the heart of the dream.
Of course, it's not always so straight forward. (err...more like NEVER!) I often battle with Answer 2 and so resort to symbol work instead. Still, it's a huge timesaver if you can do it!
Tip: step away from your dream if you can. Give it a day, a week, a few months. Dreams are often so much clearer when you're reading them with a fresh perspective.
So, when we started, I said that your dreams can represent divine message from Spirit. That's a pretty big statement to make, I realize, but in this section, we'll see where the rubber hits the road.
To start to get at the bigger picture of a dream, I apply different lenses to how I view it. It's sort of a small, medium, and big approach to the dream. First, I look at the lowest level of analysis - what the dream means about my acceptance of different aspects of myself, i.e. "my true self". For the second level, I look at my normal relationship with the people or things in the dream, especially if they are familiar to me. Third, I consider the big picture of the dream - if Spirit were trying to tell me something with this dream, what might that be?
For simplicity's sake, I'll demonstrate with a shorter dream. I had this dream around the time my father was diagnosed with ALS:
I see Shawn walking ahead of me. He raises his left arm, and the scenery changes from a dirty, gray setting to a beautiful landscape with lush hills, tropical birds, and waterfalls. He lowers his arm, and it's gone.
Level 1: Basement Level Analysis
The masculine side of my personality - my shadow self - can access the beauty in all things. For this part of myself, it's all beautiful, all the time.
Level 2: Ground Level Analysis
Shawn was someone with whom I used to talk about dreams, so this dream suggested to me that when we engaged in these discussions, he revealed something beautiful to me, whether he knew it or not.
Level 3: Penthouse Level Analysis
The spirit world is showing me that there is much more to this world than meets the eye, and that despite the difficulty I see ahead, there is awe-inspiring beauty on the other side. Heaven is real.
Some of you may have noticed that Level 1's analysis looks a lot like that of Level 3...
Wait...what was tha...did...did your BRAIN just blow up??
Ha ha! Right on!
Seriously, getting to a place where you can shift between these perspective may take time. You may want to stick with whatever approach works best for you most of the time, and then add on other viewpoints as you get more experience. You could also always ask someone else for their opinion on what your dream may mean, such as in a dream group. Lots of times other people can see themes more easily given that they are not emotionally invested in the dream itself. While you may see one angle, they could bring in a more global or spiritual view. Indeed, you may just love what comes up!
Friends, dreams are tricky little puzzles. Even with years of effort and study, I don't always "get it." So, just remember that it's unlikely you'll figure out every dream. However, don't ever lose hope. Your Unconscious is a tireless warrior - if you think you only have one chance with one dream, you're greatly mistaken. Your Unconscious will come at you, time and time again, trying to get this message through to you. Just be patient and keep working at it, and soon the message will be revealed.
If you ever want my view on a dream, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be happy to give you my take!
Wishing many sweet, breathtaking dreams!