Dream Interpretation Simplified
I was originally taught, and through experience now believe, that dreams come to us in the service of health and wholeness. They come from the deepest and most mysterious places of our own minds to help us sort through all the material and experiences we absorb each day. I believe dreams are colorful or dramatic reflections of where we are mentally and emotionally at the time of the dream, helping us clarify and process our thoughts and emotions.
I do not think prophetic dreams are very common, although I do not discount them outright. I think humans are very curious about the future and crave the security of knowing what lies ahead, so the tendency to think that our dreams may predict future events can be very strong. I also don't think the people who appear in our dreams always represent themselves. Some people think if they have a dream about kissing someone, they have some sort of moral obligation to obtain their consent. Let that go, your dream is your own private world.
Dreams tend to speak in a symbolic language that involves the different realms of our mind that we don’t typically acknowledge or give voice to: our subconscious, the perceptions we tend to discount or ignore; and our unconscious, that which we don’t even realize lurks beneath. Given this context, please know that NO ONE can tell you what your dream means. Only your own intuition and "gut sense" can identify the metaphors and analogies that rightfully describe the content of your dream experience.
Countless books have been written on the meaning of dreams, dream analysis and interpretation, and methods for generating and recording dreams. I won’t go into those details here. This article is intended to provide you with a simple and effective method for understanding a dream you remember upon waking. I believe that if a dream fades away, it doesn’t have an important message to be worked out. Dreams with strong emotional content or startling and memorable images that stick with you into the daytime tend to have information that could benefit your growth and development. Scary dreams are intended to frighten you into paying attention to something important!
As you remember your dream, identify the strong images, thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, colors, or numbers that you experienced in your dream. Focus on those elements that really stand out in your memory. The smaller details are probably less important. Write them down as soon as possible before they begin to naturally fade with the daylight.
Download this page for the form you will use to reveal the meaning of your dream!
In the first column of the dream sheet (Dream Element), list the elements you remember in any order. Leave some room between each element for the writing you will do in the other columns.
In the second column, you will reflect on what the element means to you personally. For example, if you dream of chocolate chip cookies, write down any significant thoughts or experiences with chocolate chip cookies. Keep it short and simple. You might put "delicious, Grandma made them" or “not my favorite“. Do this for each of the elements listed in the first column.
In the third column, you will look into the symbolic meaning of each dream element. For this you will use a symbolic dream dictionary. It is important to use a dictionary that offers a variety of possible symbolic meanings, rather than superficial interpretations. Books or websites that make connections such as “dreaming of a tree means you will soon get a new job“ are unhelpful to this process. Dreams are not fortune cookies, they are complicated puzzles that speak a mystical and deeply personal language.
Look up your dream image in one or more dictionaries until you find a definition that appeals to you. The definition/s you choose might make sense in the context of a current or past event in your life. Or it might just feel appropriate or "right" according to your intuition. If there are several definitions you are drawn to, list them all.
The last column is the most fun. This is where you get to combine and synthesize the second and third columns. Use your imagination here. Let the thoughts come to you, see how the two descriptions blend together. It might not be obvious, but often once all the elements have been interpreted, the fourth column can be constructed into a sort of story. Even if it doesn't come out completely clear, you will likely gain some insight into your current challenges, thoughts, or emotions.
A few tips. If a person you know shows up in your dream, write their name and role, such as "John, brother" and look up the meaning for both. You can search online for "John name meaning" (I found "graced by God"). Sometimes dreams speak in puns. So if Harry Styles makes an appearance, you might consider the word "hairy" and see if that fits. As you remember your dream, check in with all of your senses to ensure you capture all the pertinent details.
Please leave a comment if you use this method and find it helpful. Happy dreaming!