Dreams are nearly always concerned with personal problems, and selecting on these in context of the dream can often be enough to bring some of their meaning to light. Try to think about the dream symbolically as a metaphor. As you hold it is held in the conscious mind, just the act of dwelling on it, and not necessarily trying to analyse it, connections begin. What might be tentative at first, will develop into bridges from conscious mind to unconscious mind where the dream came from. This is the beginning of understanding the dream.
One of the most important pieces of information that we can have about the meaning of a dream is the feeling tone that we are left with upon waking. To pay attention to your feelings in this way can reveal much, as can reflection on a few simple questions about the dream, for instance:
What feelings does it hold for you? Bear in mind here that it is usually the dreams that trouble us the most that we feel compelled to explore:
- Is the feeling one of sadness, loss, despair, hope, joy, rage or doubt
- Are you left with a feeling of certainty or of being disoriented?
- What feelings do you have about the imagery?
Another important consideration involves the goings on and circumstances of your life at the time of the dream. Ask what it is that is going on for you? What do you associate with your feelings about this, what memories do these feelings hold for you? It is important to realize here that some feelings can also be masks for much more primal emotions. Grief for instance, can often be a socially acceptable overlay for much deeper emotions such as severe depression or intense rage.
The images of the dream themselves often hint in their own richly symbolic, sometimes bafflingly obscure, way at their own meaning. This can be evident in the choice of words we use when writing the dream down. Give particular attention to words that have alternate meanings depending on the spelling or context. For example: train as a noun, or train of thought. Be prepared to laugh at yourself.
Giving them respect and treating your dreams in this way can be a useful way of coming to know your dreams over time. For by holding them in consciousness somewhere at back of your daily doing, you begin to make connections to different parts of them, and yourself. It could be a "chance" remark overheard here, sight of something there, a "stray" thought or association, a lost image from childhood. The mind begins to make connections and bridges to meaning. With these "aha" experiences comes the knowledge beyond doubt that an idea contained within the dream or a particular interpretation is addressing something personally very powerful and significant, often verifying something already known, but which may have not been made conscious. Such an experience can make your scalp tingle, for you not only grasp something entirely new for you, but a shift takes place that allows you to see through to a truth. A very personal truth, that is perhaps, a part of your own personal myth. As these inner connections start to take root deep within, it is as if a strong fabric of woven dream threads creates and contributes to a core sense of self.
The more time you give to your dreams, writing them down, meditating on and re-telling them to friends the stronger and easier this process will. As you practise this process you will find that you become more and in tune with own your inner-self. When you dwell with the images of dream, they start to lodge themselves very deep within as an inner resource.
Dreams do not end upon waking. In imagination you can enter into a state where the dream can be reworked or given an alternative scenario. Try introducing yourself to the dream actors and inviting them into your waking life. Learn from them and honour what they are, messengers from your inner being, and as you do this you this you will find that your dream characters start to change. What might at first be strange and hostile forces or figures, over time can start to become benign and helpful.