I dream of painting and then I paint my dream. Vincent Van Gogh
Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake? Leonardo da Vinci
We average five dreams a night and each one contains important information from our unconscious. I have never interpreted any dream that didn’t ultimately make sense. Dreams are also a great source of ideas and inspiration, for creative projects of any kind. Plus, they can be fun to interpret -- especially those that at first glance seem surrealistic. To ignore our dreams would be a huge loss.
Dream interpretation is a six step process:
- In a vertical row, list the important objects in your dream.
- Alongside each object write all your associations to that object. Remember, the objects in a dream are rarely literal. They represent something else. For example, if I had a snake in my dream the first analogies that come to my mind would be: the large snakes that crossed my path at the cottage I was in, my Chinese birth year and the medical symbol.
- In a third column write your feelings about each of those symbols.
- Begin a new section and describe the journey or action in your dream.
- Write a brief sentence defining what your dream symbolizes.
- Finally, what questions would be helpful to ask yourself?
I will demonstrate these steps by interpreting the repetitive dream Laurel sent me, which I have edited for brevity. (I don’t know Laurel, thus this interpretation may not be relevant to her.)
“I notice that there is water ahead. A lot of water, coming towards me from both sides. So I turn back to leave and...more water! Often I am in a room and notice that water is creeping up outside the windows. The building I am in begins to tilt and float and then I wake up because I'm just too scared.”
MAIN OBJECTS ASSOCIATIONS EMOTIONS
Too much water unknown, cold, deep terrifying
room surrounded by water floods, hurricane trapped
The action: I am terrified by the unknown and being trapped, so I am running away.
What is the symbolic message: That I am running away from something that’s trapping me.
What question do I need to ask myself: What in real life is making me feel trapped? What am I afraid to dive into? What would really happen if I take the challenge, and dive into it and discover what’s at the bottom?
There is one other thing to consider. If I knew Laurel, I would ask her if she had ever been in a flood, a hurricane, or had almost drowned? Sometimes repetitive dreams occur after a sad, scary or traumatic experience. For example, I have paraphrased a dream that Linda sent, where she:
“…went back one more time to Mom’s and Dad’s, to make sure we'd cleaned everything out. A house full of rooms and cubby holes and many closets in every room and looked like the White Elephant Thrift Store! (She listed many items.) (Her dream ended with) I woke up yelling, "MOM! Mom! I miss you, Mom!"
Looking at the main action, the question becomes: What does she need to emotionally and physically clear up after her mother’s death? A deeper analysis could be done by listing all of the rooms and items within them, to discover the emotional/symbolic link.
These two dreams hint that there is something unresolved or undiscovered in life. The amount of information available in these dreams is amazing.
There are other projects that can be done to further work with these dreams:
- Draw or paint the images.
- Write a story about the dream, going beyond what you experienced in the dream. You could also write it as though it were someone else’s story.
- Dialogue with an object or person in the dream: Linda could talk to, or write to, her mother.
- Do a guided imagery: Imagine doing something you are afraid to do in real life. Laurel could imagine diving out of the window into the water, to discover what’s in the water.
I hope you are now motivated to pay attention to your dreams. I would love to hear what you discover.
If you would like to watch an excellent discussion about dream interpretation, listen to: