Dreams and Dream Interpretation
On average, we spend about one third of our lives sleeping. During a portion of that time, we are also dreaming. While asleep, we can gain rest and refreshment for our hard day of work. Essentially, dreams are our method of relaxing and letting our minds drift away into a distant world. While dreaming, we can interact with various people, places or things.
Technically speaking, a dream is mass hallucination. A dream is a hallucination that is also a journey in our sleep that either relieves us of stress or tries to detract us from a certain habit or future happening (better known as a nightmare).
Dreams help us to understand ourselves giving that we know how to interpret them. Interpreting dreams is a very powerful tool. We can find out deep secrets or reveal concealed feelings towards something just by analyzing a dream correctly.
When people think about dreams, most wonder why they occur. There are several explanations for this question. It is a fact that we all must sleep. We constantly go through cycles of sleep and wakefulness. During each cycle, our minds must be active. Obviously when we are awake, we are using our minds for various actions. When we are asleep, it is not as obvious how our minds are at work. To keep our minds active during sleep we must dream.
Everyone does in fact dream. Laboratory studies show that we experience our clearest, most vivid dreams during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep occurs every 90 - 100 minutes, about 3 to 4 times a night, and lasts longer as the night progresses. The final REM period may last as long as 45 minutes. During REM sleep the brain is very active. The eyes move back and forth rapidly under the eyelids, and the large muscles of the body are relaxed. Less vivid dreams occur at other times during the night.
The sleeping process is more complicated than some may think. It’s not just go to bed and wake up. Many things happen during sleep to keep our bodies moving and our minds working. There are four stages of sleep:
· Stage 1: This is the first stage of sleep. It is a very light sleep. Stage one usually lasts just a few minutes. If the sleeper is not disturbed by anyone or thing, he or she will quickly journey into stage 2 sleep.
· Stage 2: This is a much deeper sleep than stage 1. Dreams start to brew around stage 2. Although there are no clear images, vague thoughts and ideas drift through the sleeper's mind. If the sleeper remains undisturbed, he or she will drift off into stage 3.
· Stage 3: A deeper sleep than stage 2. The sleeper's muscles are all relaxed by now, and his or her heart rate has slowed down. The sleeper's blood pressure is also falling. His or her breathing is steady and even. The sleeper is very difficult to wake now. Only two things can wake the sleeper now, a loud noise or a repetitious calling of the sleeper's name. Before long, the sleeper will venture into stage 4 sleep.
· Stage 4: The deepest sleep of all. This is the time the dreams occur. The sleeper is almost impossible to wake now. If there is a loud noise or if the sleeper is shaken, it will take the sleeper a few seconds to wake up. Both the sleeper's blood pressure and heart rate fluctuate, the sleeper's brain heats up. Then comes the REM (or better known as rapid eye movement). If the sleeper is woken up during this time, he or she will be able to remember a recently dreamt dream. The first REM period will last only about ten minutes. After that, the sleeper goes back into a deep stage 4 sleep. Again, the sleeper goes into a REM stage after a short period and cycles through REM and stage 4 until the sleeper is woken up.
Why do people dream? Dreams come to us to heal us of any imbalance in our lives, to guide us as to what direction we should take with our lives, and to show us why we react as we do to dreams.
The primary purpose of each of our lives is the same. That is, we are born onto this planet to learn to integrate specific aspects of ourselves through experience. Integration is achieved through harmonizing imbalances between aspects of our functioning. For example, a source of imbalance, which is common in our society, is conflict between the head and the heart. Our education system places most emphasis on activities involving intellectual expression, such as science, and least on activities involving emotional expression, such as poetry and art.
When we ignore aspects of our functioning, our dreams will redress the balance by giving 'symbolic' expression to these aspects, while at the same time attempting to give healing for the ‘conditions’, which cause us to ignore these aspects in the first place.
If the messages and healing in dreams are constantly ignored or blocked then we may develop a physical problem in an area affected by the imbalance. This allows us to predict from dreams the physical problems a person will develop far in advance of any
physical symptoms. More importantly, our dreams show us what has caused us to be the
way we are. With this knowledge we can address the cause rather than the symptoms of
Dreams also have a Spiritual dimension and guide us by indicating abilities we have, potential or otherwise, and what abilities we need to develop. Dreams of this nature also indicate what is preventing us from further developing a particular ability.
Lastly, a dream shows us our reaction to the subject matter of the dream and why it is we react that way. For example, a dream may indicate that the dreamer's difficulty with relationships stems from conflict in their parents’ marriage, which was witnessed by the dreamer as a child. This is useful when combined with therapy because it allows the dreamer and therapist to explore the real cause of the problem and select a suitable means for dealing with it.
Dreams come from your soul and are intended to help you progress along your life path. In sleep the focus of the physical world and the body is on hold and during this period your soul has a perfect opportunity to dialogue with your conscious mind...or so it would appear. The problem here is that the subconscious never sleeps. Let's take a very common example. Say your soul wants you to be less analytical / rational in your approach to life and to incorporate intuition / feelings into the decision making process. It dispatches a dream for this purpose. Ideally the dream is received and your conscious mind accepts the direction of your soul and begins a process to change in this direction. Your subconscious mind asserts itself in the dream and provides all sorts of reasons why
this change should be avoided. Due to this, the message / request in the dream is
Why does this happen? What gain does the subconscious make from this? The simple answer is that there is no gain but the subconscious still retains control in the area, which was being addressed. The subconscious mind is being helpful as far as it is concerned and sees the reasons it provides for avoiding the change as valid. Drawing on your personal experience as evidence it will tell you things such as, "When you are open to your feelings you are open to being hurt, rejected and ignored. You'll end up sad and depressed." In this way it 'protects' you from reliving pain from the past.
Some people claim that they don’t dream simply because they don’t remember them. Everyone dreams, and anyone can remember his or her dreams. The night of your dream, keep a pad of paper and pen and a couple of pencils by your bed. Date the paper the night before. When you awake, in the night or in the morning, write something down. Even "I recall nothing this morning" is good to write down. If you are keeping a journal, read the last dream you had.
When you go to bed, relax your body and review the day in reverse. How did I get ready for bed? What was I doing just before going to bed? What did I do this evening? What was it like coming home from school, what did I do in my classes, what did I have for lunch, and so on. Try to trace all the way back to how you got up and either recall your last dream or recall your writing down "I recall nothing this morning." This exercise (From Psycho synthesis) is very relaxing and helps us learn to reflect back and focus the way we need to focus to recall dreams.
As you are getting close to falling asleep, repeat over and over, "When I wake up, I will remember my dream." Jill Gregory of the Novato Dream Library says that a physical "trigger" along with the verbal suggestion often helps, i.e. pressing your thumb against each finger as you say each word of the suggestion.
When you wake up in the morning, don't move! Stay in your same position, relax your body and let your mind drift closer to your dream. Remind yourself that you want to remember your dream. Shutting your eyes may help. Thinking about what you are going to do in the future, like shower or at school is the best way to miss a dream.
Once you begin to recall the dream, start writing! Write down whatever you remember right away so you're not trying to remember that material while trying to recall new material. If after a minute you don't have any recall, write down "I don't recall anything." Or even better, write down a short, made-up fantasy about what you would have liked to dreamed. If you have other dreams in the journal, read one of them.
The origin of dream interpretation is unknown. Some of the earliest examples of dreams being interpreted were in the bible. Joseph interpreted dreams in the bible of two persons, a cupbearer and a baker:
"...the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt who were confined in the jail both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he noticed that they looked disturbed. So he asked Pharaoh's courtiers who were with him in custody in his master's house, 'Why do you look so sad today?' They answered him, 'We have had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them for us.' Joseph said to them, 'Surely, interpretations come from God. Please tell the dreams to me." (Genesis 40:5-8)
In fact, this interpretation by Joseph had a tremendous impact on not only Egypt, but also the future of dream interpretations.
A little later on, Greek philosophers further bettered dream analysis. The most famous of these Greek philosophers was Aristotle. He spoke of the illusion of 'sense-perception', the malfunctioning of the senses, which allows dreams to occur. Aristotle later suggested that dreams are formed by disturbances of the body.
Not until that mid 19th century did another philosopher as great as Aristotle come along. A man by the name of Sigmund Freud truly revolutionized the study of dreams. He believed that the analysis of dreams was a very useful and powerful tool in uncovering unconscious thoughts and desires. Freud also believed that "the purpose of dreams is to allow us to satisfy in fantasies the instinctual urges that society judges unacceptable. "
Now that you know some background of dream interpretation and you know how to remember you’re dreams, it’s time to learn how to interpret your own dreams! Before we can interpret a dream we must first understand the rules that dreams follow. When the rules are kept in mind it prevents us from jumping to the wrong conclusions about why we had the dream and what it means. For the beginner, this is probably the most difficult aspect of dreams to accept.
First Rule: Everything is me- Dreams of family members, friends, enemies, - all represent various aspects of the dreamer's personality - e.g. ideas, emotions, hopes, fears, ideals, etc...
Solid things such as houses, buildings, cars, etc. reflect the physical body. For example, the structure of a house being shown in bad repair indicates poor health in present or future time. Symbols of fire in dreams, such as fire, bombs, electricity, etc. represent the dreamer’s emotions. For example, a dream in which lightning is striking and causing damage to a house is demonstrating how negative emotions (lightning) are affecting the dreamer's physical health (structure of house being damaged). Air, atmosphere or the interior of a room shows the dreamer’s state of mind. For example, a dark gloomy room would be a depressed personality while a dirty, dingy room would indicate a negative or angry mind. Water symbols i.e. sea, rivers, lakes, canals, etc. reflect the spiritual or cultural life of the dreamer. How water appears or is organized indicates the dreamer's philosophy of life. For example, a canal or swimming pool indicates man-made or conventional ideals are r!
estricting the dreamer's Spiritual flow. The state of the water can also indicate the condition of the dreamer's blood. Polluted water indicates a need to cleanse the blood by a change of diet and/or improved elimination.
Second Rule: Cause and Effect- all the symbols in dreams are linked to show cause and effect. Apparently UN-connected things - people, emotions and events are linked in a chain of cause and effect. In other words find a symbol to show the cause of the dreamer's problem and another symbol to illustrate the effect. This is important because if the effect is not being experienced in the present time then it will be in the future. You can also use this rule to show why the dreamer is ill, depressed, cannot get on with their spouse, boss, partner or why their career is not getting off the ground.
Third Rule: Personal Responsibility- This rule can be very difficult to grasp but the rule does not vary. The dreamer is ALWAYS responsible for what happened, is happening, can happen or will happen in the dream. For example, in dreams we find all kinds of apparent accidents, blockages to progress, etc., which inhibit movement. On the surface these SEEM to be outside our control but when we apply this rule we find that we are responsible for our own progress. Look for delays at an airport (meaning reluctance to get a new project off the ground) or roadblocks or obstructions in the path (meaning reluctance to clear obstacles to progress).
Fourth Rule: Avoidance- Look for what the dreamer is trying to avoid in the dream. This is what he needs to accept or face up to in waking life. Dreams try to create wholeness or completeness in the dreamer by drawing scattered aspects of his personality together. For example, a person in real life may separate himself from his emotions and in the dream he may still try to avoid them. His dreams will insist that he accept these and all other aspects of his personality. Similarly, dreams ask the dreamer to face his fears. In this way he can come to terms with them and heal them.
At first glance it may seem impossible to extract the hidden meaning of a dream. Much of the difficulty comes from the fact that the dreamer is close to the people and places in the dream and therefore overlooks the symbolic meanings. First, write out your dream as fully as possible. Try not to leave out a single detail. Make an "I AM" and an "I NEED" column on a piece of paper. Go back to your dream. Get two different colored pens. With one pen underline every negative word or phrase in the dream, which indicates limitation, disrespect, containment, avoidance or damage. Write each of these words or phrases under the I AM column. With the other pen underline every positive word or phrase and write them under the column I NEED. You are almost ready to interpret your dream. Determine the subject matter of the dream from the location. You can look in a dream interpretation book or online to find out what each location means. If you have trouble deciding on the subject m!
atter just remember that the subject matter is always you! Now apply the keywords to yourself in relation to the subject matter of the dream as indicated by the location. What aspect of your functioning is "dead", "cold", "broken", etc.? The I AM column tells you how you feel or react to the subject matter of the dream. The I NEED column tells you what you must do to correct the problem. Use your feelings to further the interpretation of your dreams but stay focused on the subject matter and the symbols in your dream.
Since people spend about one-third of their lives sleeping, in which we are dreaming also, why not take it a step further to explore and understand dreams? Dreams have hidden meanings that try to tell you what’s going on within you and ways to help you solve problems. Everything in your dreams represents a different part of you, such as ideas, hopes, emotions and fears. Anyone can learn to interpret his or her dreams. Learning how to interpret your dreams can be beneficial to helping yourself and your life.
Woods, Ralph L. and Herbert B. Greenhouse. The New World of Dreams. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
Farady, Ann, Ph. D. The Dream Game. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers
Mahoney, Maria F. The Meaning In Dreams And Dreaming. Secaucus, N.J: Castle Books
"The Association for the Study of Dreams" www.asdreams.org
"Dream Interpretation and Services" www.lifetreks.com
"The Dream Oracle" www.dreamthemes.force9.co.uk
"Dream Central" www.sleeps.com
"The Dream Emporium" www.dreamemporium.com
"Dream Interpretation" www.djmcadam.com/dreams.htm
"Dream Analysis and Interpretation" www.newagedirectory.com/dream/dreamanalysis.htm
"Dream Interpretation" www.library.thinkquest.org/11189/nfinterp.htm