Discover the magic, healing & wisdom awaiting you in your dreams
I have always loved dreams, as scary and wild and unpredictable as they can be at times. To me, they have always felt like a gifted doorway to unlimited magic. And so they are.
Since ancient times, civilizations have looked to their nighttime dreams for wisdom — to foretell the future, cure sickness, and communicate with the gods. This type of communication was considered divine intervention, and in most cultures, only those with supernatural powers could interpret the hidden mysteries that dreams reveal.
The ancients also knew that dreams were offering a glimpse into the totality of the psyche and containing the medicine to heal psychological discomfort. Indeed, dreams give us an opportunity to look into our subconscious mind and may allow for a deeper understanding of ongoing personal transformation during waking life.
Don’t hesitate to come for a mentoring session focused on dreamwork. In an hour to ninety minutes, I can teach you how to work with the unlimited material that your nights are giving you, and you will leave with more inspiration and tools to continue the work on your own.
Here are a few guidelines to get you started with your dreamwork.
1) How can I remember my dreams?
You may feel that you never remember your dreams or that you have not for a while. Here is a method to reactivate things:
- When you go to bed at night, set an intention that you will remember exactly what you need to remember and learn at this point of your life;
- Keep a notebook and a pen by your bedside and, as soon as you awake, write down whatever you remember, even if it is just a feeling (most often, at least at first, you will forget your dream within a few minutes of being awake). But don’t write a summary. Really write every single detail that you are remembering as if you were still in the dream.
This simple practice is usually enough to activate the part of the brain that will make you remember your dreams more often. And don’t get frustrated when you don’t remember: it may just mean that you don’t need to, at this point.
2) How do I set an intention for my dreams?
You have a hard time understanding what is going on in your life right now, shifting a situation, or you are just curious about what your dreams could bring to you… When you go to bed, set the intention that you want to be taught in your dreams, or shown something, or that you want a situation to be transformed in the dreamland. Don’t obsess about the outcome. Just trust your subconscious mind to work the way it is supposed to. Trust that you will receive exactly what you need, even though it may not be exactly what you want. The key is really to practice setting the intention and then releasing any need of controlling the outcome.
3) How can I interpret my dreams?
Much of the scientific study about the interpretation of the messages that we are given in our dreams has been based on the work of Carl Jung, a worldly respected psychologist and psychiatrist, who believed that dreams are filled with symbols that stem from the unconscious. Not surprisingly, Carl Jung was also a powerful shaman. His groundbreaking work on dreams actually speaks volumes of the realm of shamanic journeying. As he would say, it would be foolish to believe in ready-made systematic guides to dream interpretation. But there can be some guidelines.
Always remember that all dreams are very personal. You may connect with collective consciousness and other dimensions that are not “yours” but you are and remain the dreamer. What counts is, first and foremost, what the dream means to you.
When you read back the notes from your dreams, re-experience the dream in present tense and at the first person, and dive into what you are feeling, as if the dream was happening to you now. This is a very important step so that you can go to the essence of the dream and the emotions behind.
You are the writer, the director, the chief operator, and potentially also all the actors in your dreams. Therefore, it is always interesting to look at the dream also as one that is all about you. Jung would say that people in a dream are a representation of the various aspects of the Self. This is true even when actual people from your life appear as characters in your dreams. There is a fair chance that the dream is not about them, or at the very least not only. They are there to give the dreamer ideas of which personal characteristics need attention. If you dream of specific people, this may indicate which interpersonal issues you need to work through, or if you’re detached from a specific aspect of yourself.
You are in charge and therefore can potentially change everything you want. If you find yourself having repetitive dreams in which you are stuck or can’t do something, do the following when you go to sleep at night: tell yourself that you are the one in charge and will make that story work for you. Getting over obstacles in the dreamland often facilitates wonderful shifts in the awake time.
All dreams of a night are usually part of the same dream, which often continues to enfold over the course of several nights. This is true even if, in appearance, dreams have nothing to do with one another. When I work with clients on their dreams, they are often blown away at how much things are connected, offering a full picture and, indeed, great healing and insights into their lives.
If you get tired of them or you just can’t figure out what they are about: just let them be for a while, trust your subconscious to do the work, re-organize your memories, transform the stories, and bring back to you the messages in other forms.
Nightmares are not necessarily “bad;” they can be very healthy ways for the brain to process things or to force you to pay attention. If you keep having similar nightmares coming back over and over, and you can’t figure out why or what they are about, it is probably a good time to reach out for support in interpreting them. Again, one session can be enough to unlock things for you.
Dreams are very esoteric in nature. The meaning of a dream is rarely literal, even when it seems so, hence the interest of understanding some of the archetypical symbols that may show up in your dreams.
4) What are the most common symbols in dreams?
To quote Carl Jung, “no dream symbol can be separated from the individual who dreams it, and there is no definite or straightforward interpretation of any dream.” (from Man and His Symbols). But here are a few common symbols that might help you shed a different light on your dreams:
BEING CHASED – SOMETHING NEEDS ATTENTION
We often remember dreams where we were being chased because it makes us anxious and fearful. The message in these types of dreams is usually about what you are running from. The mind is giving you a hint that something needs your attention, something that you are not addressing, but should.
HOUSE – DREAMER’S MIND
There are several layers of consciousness that comprise the mind. Within a dream, a house is believed to be a representation of the dreamer’s mind, with its different floors and rooms relating to the various aspects of the psyche. For example, a basement can represent something that’s been neglected or is not being amply acknowledged by the dreamer in waking life; and bedrooms can represent intimate thoughts, feelings and memories. The activity in the house signifies how the dreamer utilizes the structure of the mind to acquire and interpret information. Dreams about moving or re-modeling a house are symbols of intense re-organization of the psyche (I personally love those!).
FOOD – KNOWLEDGE
In the physical world, food nourishes and energizes our bodies. In the dream world, food is a representation of the nourishment of our minds, or, simply put, knowledge. Dreaming about food can also be interpreted that the mind is ‘hungry’ and is seeking new insights or that a new type of knowledge is coming your way.
NUDITY – HONESTY AND OPENNESS
When someone appears nude in a dream, it means that a certain aspect or emotion of the dreamer is being expressed openly and without limitation, even to the point that the dreamer feels exposed or vulnerable, or that the dreamer needs to do so.
VEHICLES – GIVING OR RECEIVING EXPERIENCE
Vehicles in a dream symbolize a means for experiencing what is happening in your conscious life, how much control you think you have over the path that the experience presents, and the obstacles you are facing. The type and size of vehicle can indicate different messages. The speed of the vehicle and the ability to control it as the driver are key aspects as well.
DEATH – CHANGE
In the language of the mind, death usually represents the shift from one state of being to another. Although many may perceive death in a dream as frightening or negative, it usually correlates to a dramatic change or transition that is happening in the dreamer’s life.
FALLING – RETURN TO BEING AWAKE / CONTROL
Usually, if you are falling during a dream, it symbolizes the process of returning to the state of awake consciousness. Most often than not, the dreamer does not ‘hit bottom’ but will awaken or stop dreaming beforehand. Some believe that if you are falling uncontrollably in a dream, it represents that you don’t feel in control of a certain aspect of your waking life or are afraid to let go of something. They therefore tend to look at the dream in a negative life, but it can always be seen in a different light.
I hope that this inspires you to ‘play’ in/with the dreamland. Be curious about those hours spent when you don’t feel conscious. The time you spend sleeping is actually a time during which your brain processes a lot of things and your soul might be traveling; so why not having that time work for you? Explore that other reality as one in which you can create anything. And… have fun with it!
Béatrice Pouligny, PhD | Shamanic Healer and Spiritual Mentor