By Darla Antoine.
Dreaming is one of my favorite psychic faculties. When you dream, you are in that liminal sweet spot between this world and the next world. This “sweet spot” is actually the same theta brainwave-state that can be reached through meditation— the one that gives you a sense of a deep spiritual connection to the universe. You can, quite literally, do it in your sleep.
Learning to remember or work with your dreams is really pretty simple: set the intention to remember your dreams before you go to bed and then write down anything you remember or remember feeling, including “no dream recall.” Be sure to dream journal as soon as you wake up. The writing reinforces to your brain that you’re serious about remembering dreams and it will work on your behalf to help you remember them. However, most dreams are still stored in short-term memory banks and if you don’t write them down right away, you will almost certainly forget within a few hours or even a few minutes. Dreaming and dream recall has come easily to me since I was a child and sometimes I get lax about journaling right away, and think “oh! but it’s so vivid! I’ll remember this dream,” and I do— but only about 50% of the time. I’ve lost some really amazing dreams by not being diligent with writing something down in the morning— even just a keyword or phrase will help jog your memory.
I recommend consistently setting an intention and writing down what you remember for at least a week— that should be plenty of time to start seeing some results. Once you can recall dreams fairly consistently you can bump up your practice by setting an intention to dream a specific thing or to dream a solution to a specific problem. Dreamwork can quickly become a fun game!
Not only can dreaming put us in a blissed-out state of mind, but it opens us up to messages from our Spirit Guides, Higher self, ancestors and even dearly departed loved ones. This, again, has to do with being in a state between worlds— it’s like meeting the spirit world halfway. You can reach these in-between states through meditation and trance, of course. But I like using dreamtime to do the bulk of this work for a couple of reasons 1) I’m dreaming every night anyway, I may as well multitask and 2) when you’re dreaming your conscious mind is that much farther removed from interrupting or controlling the event. This can make the messages that come through more “pure,” potent and, thus, effective.
Of course, what good is dreaming if you don’t know how to interpret the dreams? While a lot of dreamwork is subjective and experiential— meaning you’ll have to get in there and start feeling out your dreams for yourself— there are a few dream interpretation techniques that can be applied universally. Here are three of my favorite:
1. How Did You Feel?
How you felt in a dream, and how you feel immediately upon waking from it, can tell you a lot about the contents of the dream. Let’s say you dream that you are walking on a trail with your beloved dog and he gets free from his leash and runs off chasing a squirrel and you can’t find him. You spend hours looking and it’s beginning to get dark. In the dream, you’re scared, worried and about to be forced to give up the search. You wake up from the dream and you either feel 1) relieved that it was “just” a dream 2) still panicked and worried until you remember that you are in your room and you can see your dog lying on the floor next to you or 3) laugh it off— you don’t have a dog.
Once you’ve identified how you feel, the next step is to run your dream through a “reality check”— could this really happen? Do you have a dog? Do you go for walks on a trail with him? Does he like to chase after things? If yes, this could happen in real life, then it’s worth considering that it’s a warning of some sort and to take the necessary precautions to prevent this emotional trauma. You could buy a new leash or a new collar or step up the disciplinary training for your dog, for example.
If, however, this doesn’t pass the reality check and/or you just feel a sense of wonder/bemusement at the adventure’s of your dream self, move on to the next dream interpretation technique.
2. Why This, Not That?
Developed by Carl Jung, this dream interpretation technique is designed to help you get to the heart of your own dream symbolism. Using the lost dog dream from the previous example, ask yourself “why did I lose a dog, not a cat?” Or “why did I lose a dog, not an elephant?” You can use any sort of mundane or wild example that you wish. The answer lies in the contrast. So, for example, if you ask yourself “why a dog and not a cat” you might find yourself answering “because dogs symbolize loyalty to me and there was a definite sense of betrayal about his decision to run away and not come back.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Where else do you feel betrayed in your life? Where else was someone supposed to be loyal and wasn’t?
You can also apply this technique to multiple aspects of the dream: “why were we walking on a trail and not a sidewalk?” “why was it a squirrel and not a rabbit?” The more questions you ask, the deeper the possibilities for exploration become.
3. It’s ALL In A Name
Finally, if you’ve written down your dream, have gone through a few dream interpretation techniques and still don’t know what to make of your dream, I highly recommend giving your dream a name or a title. Sometimes, distilling the essence of a dream down to 5 or 8 words can be extremely helpful in getting to the message contained within the dream. It helps you bypass all of the thinking and second-guessing that can come with initial dream interpretation and get to the point. Let’s say you give our runaway dog dream the title “Loyal Friend Runs Off With Someone New,” and it may suddenly click that you’re anxious, and feeling a little hurt, by your best friend’s new whirlwind romance that has him/her packing up and moving to a new city. It’s a bit destabilizing and you’re not sure where you will fit into this new life of theirs. Well. Now you’ve got something to work with. Even better, you’ve got some very specific emotions and fears that you can now succinctly, and gently, bring up to your friend during a much-needed heart to heart.
If, however, you’ve gone through all of these steps and the dream still doesn’t make sense 1) email me or message me in the comments and 2) take heart— giving your dream a title will also make it much more memorable so that when, not if, something triggers the interpretation, you’ll be ready for it.
How do you interpret your dreams? Have you had a crazy psychic dream experience? Tell us in the comments!
Darla Antoine offers courses and counsel on working with dreams, shadows and ancestors. She is based in Costa Rica where she enjoys being a farmer’s wife and raising her two young sons. You can find Darla and her courses/resources on dreams here.