How to work with your dreams: some basics
According to the theory of evolution, nature only allows us to keep certain capacities if they are useful to us and our survival. So why have we evolved to have dreams and remember them?
I believe that in order to answer that question, we need to recognise that underneath our conscious mind there’s a layer that is full of stuff we don’t know that we know that keeps us alive, buzzing around and doing our thing. We can call it our life force, our subconscious mind, our soul, our instinct, our body. It’s a powerful intelligence that is on our side like nothing else in this world — it wants us to stay alive, it knows how to keep our hearts beating, our blood flowing, how to fight off diseases, how to deal with unfamiliar situations, how to find the easiest and nicest path to what we want to do, all of it without our conscious effort. It’s that intelligence that has brought all of us here today after centuries of perfecting its craft and it is the reason we are taking another breath right now and everything is flowing smoothly for us, so we have the space and time to wonder what to do with our lives.
I believe that part of us is infinitely more intelligent than our conscious mind — if our conscious mind would be asked to perform all the things that part of us is doing, it would fail miserably, as it simply does not have the capacity for it. I believe our conscious mind is in fact just one of the languages that intelligence uses to communicate with us and get us to do things that are in our own favour. Other languages include sensations and emotions that guide us by telling us what feels good and what doesn’t. And then there’s dreams — a language that is so mysterious that many of us find it easier to look at it as random noise.
I believe we can learn to interpret that language and receive guidance from it just like we do with thoughts, emotions and sensations. One could say dreamwork is a skill that can help us deal better with our challenges by giving us signs and insights as to what those challenges are and how to address them. I believe it’s more than that — it’s an essential part of a wholesome and wise life in harmony and deep understanding of our infinite intelligence.
So how do we work with our dreams?
Dreamwork is an entire cosmos full of exciting stuff that people have been exploring for centuries as part of their cultural and spiritual practices. Here are the basic steps that have helped me get started and reap the most benefit of my own dreams so far:
1. Remembering your dreams
That one has been a tricky one for me until I found out I can just set an intention to remember my dream. It goes like this — before going to bed, take a notepad and write down today’s date with the clear intention and knowledge that as soon as you wake up, you are going to note down what you dreamt about there. Then go in bed, close your eyes and say to yourself ‘I want to remember my dreams. If there’s something important that I need to know from my dreams tonight, I’d like to remember it when I awake.”. What helps also is to come up with some reasons WHY you want to remember your dream (e.g. I am curious to see what’s there, I want to explore dreams, I want to see if it can help me with situation X) and for each reason you come up with, imagine placing it in a different part of your body (eg. in your leg, in your chest, in your left ear). Might sound funny, but it works, because it helps you embody your wish.
2. Interpreting your dreams
There’s many schools of thought as to what you can do with your dream once you have it. My personal view is that the lazy path of asking Google is not really helpful, because it robs you of the deep insight you can gain by personally working with your dream. Here’s some ways that I’ve found more useful:
- ask your reason and intuition: what can this image I saw mean in my life right now? What situation does it represent and what does it tell me about it? Then try not to overanalyse — stick with gut feel and intuition. You might find the interpretation evolving as time goes by and you get more input from reality and your dreamworld.
- ask your emotions: what was the strongest emotion in my dream? And what did I do in my dream before experiencing that emotion? What might that emotion tell me about an aspect of my life right now?
- relive your dream: you can simply close your eyes and reimagine your dream. Even better — you can represent it in art or find a way to embody it in reality (eg. if you were afraid to jump in water because you came unprepared, go find water and consider jumping in it unprepared). Sometimes an insight will pop up in this kind of work, but this is not the purpose. The purpose here is to allow the dream to do its work on you, even if you don’t consciously understand what that work is.
This, of course, is just the beginning. If you are interested in dreamwork, there’s lots of good books and material you can find. With advanced dreamwork you can learn ‘lucid dreaming‘ where you become conscious that you are dreaming within your sleep and can choose to do in it anything you want, blurring the fields between real and dream worlds and gaining another couple of hours in your day to explore, have fun being almighty, gain insight and even learn skills that you can use in your waking life.
One way or the other — I hope you dream on!
About Lessons in Paradise
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The Lessons in Paradise vlog is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you — an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves.