What's in a Dream
"Your interpretation feels spot on to me. You truly have a wonderful gift to share. I am blown away with the fact that there is a wiser version of me directing things from behind the scenes. It's so cool! It's also very comforting to know."
We spend one third of our lives in a condition of sleep that allows access to enormous creativity. REM or rapid eye movement proves everyone dreams nightly. When we dream, portions of cognition abate and the mind is released from the logical stranglehold placed upon it during the day.
Subjectivity diminishes and we are able to explore existence more objectively. Ideas are contrasted and condensed in ways that change how we understand ourselves.
Those who are actively working with their dreams notice how synchronicity intensifies. Dreams allow us to see how we organize our thoughts. Ultimately, we come to see how our thoughts shape our reality.
Understanding the meaning of your dreams can become a powerful tool to increase self knowledge, wellness, and to help you change your experiences to achieve lasting success. Dreams reveal an understanding of who you are and where you are going, as if some part of your mind knows you better than you know yourself. Interpreting dreams is a bit like learning a new language because nothing is what it appears to be on the surface. The ABCs of dream analysis are simple if you keep in mind these basic ideas in approaching your dreams for guidance:
(A) All symbols, characters, even the landscape and lighting are actually a mirror of your inner world. Dreaming is like the, because everything is a reflection of the dreamer. The landscape and symbols reflect your ‘inner architecture’ or current mindset as you move through life.
Dream symbols can best be understood if you approach them the way you would interpret the metaphors in a poem. In poetry, one word or symbol can capture the deeper 'essence' of an unspoken idea or feeling. For example, a storm in a poem can suggests overwhelming emotions in the same way dreaming of storms or water shows the climate and emotional condition of your inner world.
However, we tend to dream of what we are not facing so you may believe that you are in command of your emotions. Dreaming of a tornado suggests that at some level, you sense you are being swept away by feelings that you are not facing. Dreams use symbols that best capture ideas that can help you open and resolve unconscious conflict.
If you can use this "All reflects Me" perspective, you can begin to decipher how dreams attempt to wake you to your potential for increased fulfillment. For example, teeth fall out at monumental stages in our lives, and are also associated with communication, credibility and chewing on something.
If your teeth fall out in a dream, ask yourself: am I not making a necessary change or transition that would better reflect my growth? Or, is my credibility and way of expressing myself to others an issue right now? Other people in dreams reveal aspects under consideration to be adopted or discarded. Think of an adjective you would use to describe this person to understand the part of you that is being explored. Also explore our dream dictionary.
(B) Before analyzing anything, it is important that you write down as much information as you can remember. In some cases, you may only be left with a feeling. Dreaming moves us in the same unspoken way a movie would, so the feeling we are left with becomes important in understanding how it may currently remain unexpressed.
Since the dreaming mind and cognition behave differently and the dreaming mind is driven by associations that stir our emotions, often remembering just the emotion can conjure up the rest of the dream. Another technique for remembering dreams is to capture just one symbol prior to waking and label it. For example, you might remember a bear. If you hold to that word, often you can carry it back into the more left brain orientation of daily cognition. Because these two parts of our mind behave so differently, this is why people have difficulty remembering their dreams.
Waking up with the word bear at top of mind can also help you remember the rest of the dream. If you awaken from a nightmare and feel frightened, you may have an unhealthy relationship with change – and the nightmare becomes a positive message that something powerful is being released for your exploration. Dreams are never bad. They are like a cinematic representation of what is currently going on inside of you. Fear can be viewed as a release mechanism that once activated, can free you from habitual behavior that blocks your growth.
Be open to the guidance, no matter how bizarre. Dreams use cryptic symbols as a way of tricking consciousness into exploring the unknown. They act like a secret code because it is the only way that emerging information can break through your defenses. Often, these bizarre symbols can teach you the most about your untapped ability to push through crisis.
It is not important to remember all of the symbols because the message is often repeated. Using various scenarios, the dream often describes the same situation in different landscapes. Exploring only one dream sequence can become a snapshot of possible pathways through conflict and resolution. In this way, dreams illuminate the pathway before you.
(C) Clues come forward in dreams that reveal emerging sides of you, often through other characters. Upon waking, you may wonder why this person was in your dream. Explore the adjective that best describes the person, and how that quality may be active or inactive in your current approach.
The most bizarre symbols are often the most important so don't dismiss them. Inspiration for our dreams manifests from a side of the psyche that developed before language and therefore speaks in symbols.
Dreams draw on memory, but also describe future events with a type of omniscient perspective. Cherish your dreams as a compass point and map. If you can take the time to begin deciphering your dreams you can fast forward your growth to achieve lasting wellness and success.
Introduction to Dream Interpretation
You spend one third of your life, the same amount of time dedicated toward your career, exploring existence in a topsy-turvy world of dreams and symbols. As if you have entered a world of mirrors, all that you encounter becomes a reflection of you. Taking the time to understand your dreams allows you to take ownership of your life. When you are facing crisis, dreams reveal the way ahead, activating self-knowledge and direction in life.
Since the time of Freud and Jung, enormous data and research has validated the patterns they wrote about that reveal how dreams demonstrate an organizing force within the psyche. Recurring dreams are a message that you are not 'getting' some type of message.
Once the dream is understood and the message applied toward making changes in your life, the dream does not recur and the dreamlife moves on to the next step in your development. The more this input is ignored, the more aggressive and conflicted dreams become. Dreaming allows you to test your development while avoiding the real life crisis that can ensue from being off track to whatever destiny has in store for you.
During the more than 4 decades I have worked as a dream analyst, I have observed the power of the subconscious mind breaking through all barriers to provide profound direction to the dreamer. As if some aspect of the brain has an understanding that transcends a sense of time and self-awareness, dreams function like another sensory organ that allows for the exploration of potential.
Dreaming has been described as guidance
from the one who knows within.
Since you rehash daily events in your dreams, you probably fail to see the special nuances that make the dream different from what you experienced. However, research shows that the mind is processing this information specifically because it may have impacted you in ways that you failed to recognize.
When the opportunity to transform comes up against the walls of your beliefs, self-awareness still finds productive ways of breaking through. This process of self-enlightenment can be heightened when you take an active approach in understanding your dreams.
Freud called dreaming ‘a peculiar form of thinking.’ He suggested that dreams only appeared cryptic as a way to allow transformative information beyond the walls of defense mechanisms active while we are awake.
Dreams allow us to understand existence from a broader perspective and Jung understood dreams as the compensation mechanism that balances the one-sided awareness of the ego. Dreaming takes place in a part of the brain that developed before language and therefore, communicates in images. Acting as the Mind’s Mirror, they offer an objective view of who you are, and hold the clues to your unacknowledged desires and potential.
Therapists use dreams to uncover clues to understand the motivation of a client in crisis.
People can spend weeks or months trying to explain why they are unhappy or unfulfilled. A dream will sum it up perfectly in a few cryptic landscapes. This is why understanding dreams is so important when people are in therapy. Dreams are an evolutionary mechanism that keeps you evolving in a changing world. Understanding your dreams can have a profound impact on your ability to experience happiness and success.
The challenge you may face in understanding the language of dreams is in recognizing that everything that appears in the dream is a reflection of you. Characters portray unacknowledged aspects that you associate with them. Even the landscape, mood and objects will conjure up personal meaning designed to affect you in the same unspoken way that art and cinematic drama can move you.
Dreams provide a point of view that is unique and strange, but more importantly, can move you emotionally and inexplicably toward a change in perspective. Therefore, while you may not remember your dreams, they are changing you in profound ways. Since they usually reveal the exact opposite of what you believe to be true about yourself, understanding the language of the dreams will offer you an indispensable tool in harnessing the power of self-awareness.
Did You Know?
- It may appear that you do not dream, although research shows how REM or rapid eye movement demonstrates that EVERYONE dreams every night. To remember your dreams, simply make an effort to start paying attention to them. Once you begin observing, clues that come forward, which can accelerate growth. Exploring dreams for direction and insight will actually increase your ability for dream recall.
- Studies show that some portions of brain activity increases when you are dreaming, while other areas are suppressed. Portions of the mind associated with a sense of self when compared to others are actually deactivated. This allows for a more objective exploration of who we really are.
- Researchers explore how the mind functions like a computer in its ‘back up’ and ‘recycle bin’ processes. As another sensory organ, you revisit experience, explore potential and release outworn perspectives. This is how dreaming becomes a healthy aspect of psychic health. However, since researchers are just looking at brain activity and not dream content, they have yet to recognize the way dreams describe the inner world as it explores pathways to change. The work of Freud and Jung allowed analysts to begin deciphering dream content and today many analysts see how dreams are key in unlocking greater human potential.
- When you are ‘stuck’ in a transformative cycle, the dream always reveals ‘the way through.’ If your dream recurs, it should be given careful consideration. Once you understand it, you will see that it will not recur.
- If you are awakened during REM sleep, you will be able to remember your dreams in more detail than in the morning. Because cognition behaves differently during waking and dreaming, content explored in the more primitive awareness of dreams is immediately lost upon shifting back into normal cognition. The daily mind is focused on what is wrong or out of place in the environment. This survival perspective pushes content into the unconscious. While dreaming, this content is re-examined and can help inspire the dreamer back into authenticity. Because the two perspectives are quite at odds - most people don't remember their dreams.
- The human body is designed with a paralytic feature that keeps your limbs from acting out on your dreams. The body holds an inherent wisdom that allows it to heal itself, which requires no thought or action on your part. Similarly, the process of dreaming can be viewed as a perceptive or parasympathetic ‘organ’ that achieves a type of ‘healing’ while you sleep.
- Dreams often present the exact opposite of what you believe to be true about yourself. Often sharing them with another person will allow you to recognize how the dream reflects what you are ‘missing’ about your current circumstance.
- Understanding your dreams can lead to balance and wellness as well as helping you to become more assertive and self-confident.
Types of Dreams
You spend an average of 70-120 minutes a day, daydreaming or fantasizing from a perspective that transcends normal perception. Between consciousness and the sleep state is an area that allows the imagination to wander. As your level of awareness decreases, you lose your sense of self. You may revisit the past, or explore the future, and in doing so, approach the border of the dreamscape. All the while, consciousness keeps pulling you back into the present.
Lucid dreams occur when you ‘wake up’ while dreaming. Sometimes this sudden sense of knowing you are dreaming allows you to do fantastic things like fly over the houses you see. Many people actually wake themselves up within the dream to remain in this lucid state to explore how they can influence dreams. This ability to achieve the lucid dream state is an important initiation into mastering the power of thought and its ability to influence events. Actual studies of brain activity while dreaming proves that the dream is in fact, lucid.
The nightmare often causes you to wake up in a state of panic with your heart racing. Not wanting to go back to sleep, the memory of the dream appears all too real. Sometimes a dream can reflect actual trauma or an unresolved crisis, although the nightmare is always a WAKE UP CALL to learn to let go. Whether you are attempting to overcome a real life crisis, or to transcend non-rational fear, dreaming is a ‘safe place’ that allows these difficult ideas to be explored. Perhaps you cannot recognize that ‘you are on the wrong path,’ and so, the nightmare may recur until the situation is resolved. Nature appears to empower the strength of all of its creatures. In keeping you authentic and open to growth, it asks only that you let go of what can no longer serve you.
A nightmare can be as simple as ‘leaving something behind’ while you hurry to your destination. It can be as frightening as actually experiencing death or dismemberment as you awaken to the idea of letting go. Dreams of death embody the death of old aspects of the psyche in preparation for the emergence of something new. Dreams of death are often followed by dreams of the unknown child, the emerging part of the psyche that is unknown, but requires care and nurturing.
More than any other dream, the nightmare will disturb you so profoundly, that it cannot be forgotten. It is a natural mechanism, which forces you to confront the truth about how you are hiding from life. Once these fearful feelings are transformed into authentic power, the nightmare will not recur. Nightmares are a positive sign that power is awakening in the psyche.
Recurring dreams are story lines or themes that repeat themselves over weeks, months and even years. Sometimes they leave you feeling puzzled because they seem irrational. Dreams seek to wake you to what you are not facing and the hero's journey of wellness through the dreamscape is explored in The Mythology of Sleep: The Waking Power of Dreams.
Dreams have a way of forcing consciousness into perplexity, as an important aspect of transformation. At times, a recurring dream can be extremely frightening. Since dreams are suggesting what you fail to acknowledge in daily life, whatever you are avoiding or not facing will continue to be the subject matter of your dream, until it is resolved. Like nightmares, once the puzzle is solved and the aspect is integrated into consciousness, the dream will not recur. Even the most frightening dreams are meant to awaken you to your real nature.
Dreams About Healing
Many times vehicle doors, or lower and upper rooms of a house will depict aspects of the body, offering a message about your health and well-being. The front door can suggest arms, while the back doors can represent legs. Lighting or electrical circuitry can be neurological, while water problems can suggest psychological, vascular or ‘plumbing’ issues. The top floor of a building can represent the head, while the rooms below can suggest various parts of the lower body.
Protecting a ‘treasure’ can signify repression at the root of illness, while searching for a key is often the clue to wellness. If you are experiencing ‘dis-ease’, where it is taking place in the body is as important as why. If the left leg is suffering, look for its representation in dreams of ground floor doors, or lower left portion of a structure or vehicle. Sometimes before a physical manifestation will appear, you are warned in advance of over indulgence or things that can impact your wellness. Many therapists recognize repression at the root of illness. Since dreams portray what you are repressing, they are a profound tool in achieving wellness and balance.
The ‘dream cycle’ is a lot like ‘myth cycles.’ In our ancient stories, the hero is tested in exotic landscapes, finding clues in fantastic places. The adventure allows them to uncover the truth about both, their identity and destiny. Similarly, the changing landscape and clues within a dream cycle captures the essence of why we dream. When a dream is observed to ‘morph’ into different landscapes, the dream is described: ‘it seemed like the same dream, but then it changed…’
The dream cycle usually presents the idea of transformation in three stages:
a) The first shows you as ‘the hero’ facing a current life challenge.
b) The second shows the past and the part it played in creating this condition.
c) Finally, you are given a bizarre clue as to how you can transform to meet the future. This portion has unusual images that will allow you to discover your real identity and therefore, your destiny.
In the first portion, you explore the conflict at hand and are given the symbolism that can help you understand it objectively. The second landscape usually portrays family members and symbolism from the past, describing how the current crisis was created. The third portion of the dream is usually the most bizarre, as the transforming aspect of the psyche pushes you beyond your static sense of self. This portion can be prophetic or when compared against future events, will portray actual information that can be validated.
Dreams can be called The Mind’s Mirror because they have a special predisposition for reflecting aspects of you in a way that is puzzling or strange. The ‘newness’ or bizarre imagery of the dreamscape provides the innovative perspective that is necessary to achieve transformation. The third portion of the dream offers information about the ‘missing link’ in overcoming conflict or crisis.
Understanding your dreams will make more sense to you when once you recognize how dreams have an uncanny way of breaking through the walls of consciousness. The synchronistic aspect of the final setting may simply be the result of how your unconscious mind knows what is coming, before you consciously piece the information together.
Life Changing Dreams
During periods when you are actively undergoing transformation, you will experience Great Dreams or Cosmic Dreams, which are rich in mythological associations. They often portray a meeting with universal archetypes such as The Great Mother or Wise Man. These dreams affect you with such emotion and appear so vivid that you remember them for years. In many ways, you would call them life changing. Revisiting these dream themes to contrast the symbolism against ancient mythology can present you with a more profound understanding of its message. See The Mythology of Sleep: The Waking Power of Dreams.
Also, see Archetypes and Universal Characters in the Dream Dictionary of this site.
- Prior to sleep, make a conscious decision to remember your dreams and ask for guidance. This actually improves your ability to remember a dream.
- A healthy and balanced diet in addition to a regular sleep routine will improve dream recall.
- Have a notebook or tape recorder next to your bed to immediately record the dream.
- Since dream imagery takes place in a different part of the brain, you will notice how allowing your thoughts of the day to intrude will make accessing dream content more difficult. Train yourself to stay with the dream, prior to thinking about what you need to do that day. If nothing else, capture the sense of emotion that the dream invoked, and use that as a thread to allow the dream imagery to return.
Write down as many details as you can remember. It is not important to catch every aspect because many portions of the dreamscape will reveal the same message in several different ways. Start slowly, capturing the mood, landscape, and as many details as you can recall. The dreamscape lends itself well to association so even if you are not sure of the accuracy of the symbolism, in the beginning you can use whatever words or images come to mind. This will allow you to start recognizing the profound input that always emerges from within.
- Once you are able to easily recall your dreams, start looking for the less obvious symbols, like time of day, lighting, colors and numbers.
- You dream of the type of things that consciousness would rather keep ‘below the surface.’ Do not become frustrated when you are unable to recall the content. If accessing this information were easy, it wouldn't be the subject of your dream. Sometimes finding the appropriate words appears difficult, so try drawing images. Explore the ‘flavor’ of your dream and the feelings it created.
- The most important part of dream processing is the practice of recording information before your mind moves to analyze it. Approaching the content as objectively as possible to record the details will allow you to analyze it later. Even while it may appear nonsensical to you, discussing the content with a friend or partner can sometimes help you to understand it.
- Remember that the subconscious speaks ‘cryptically,’ specifically to allow repressed information to come forward so record everything.
- Assume that the dream knows more than you do. Gather the imagery and symbols and let the dream become your guide. The dream is trying to offer a fresh perspective about what you are failing to acknowledge in your daily experiences. Once the dream’s message begins to unfold, try to apply it toward the situations that you face.
- Those aspects of the dream that appear the most bizarre will in time, provide the most profound clues about your identity and destiny.
Analyzing the Dream
Approach the symbolism objectively and identify the setting, characters, symbols and theme of the activity. It will usually take a series of dreams before you begin to see how conflict and its resolution are being described by your unique associations. Since the story is unique to you, the symbolism will also be personal, although the Dream Dictionary can lead you in the general direction.
Trust that the information is relevant and is being revealed to you in the only way it can be expressed. The dream may appear just beyond the grasp of your memory. You can begin to observe how concrete belief structures ward off this emerging information. You dream from a more fluid awareness, and must use a similar free flowing consciousness when retrieving the content.
Explore the dream in pieces: a) I was in a car that drove off a bridge; b) I was at a train station with a strange man and forgot my baggage; c) There were several children playing in a garden where I walked through a door into strange house. All of these symbols describe essential elements of where you stand in relation to your growth.
The car describes your ‘drive to move forward’ or motivation. The train station is a place of growth that shows your desire to go somewhere new or transform. The unknown characters represent unrecognized aspects of you. The strange man can be the idea of unrecognized 'masculine' traits, like being assertive or moving toward independence.
The children can portray young or emerging sides of you, which are also represented by the unknown house. Forgetting baggage or 'the things' you carry with you is a common theme from the aspect of growth. The other symbolism will reveal how you are approaching change and what is necessary to move forward.
Without pre-judging the content, write it down immediately. Look at the words individually and objectively. You will see that in most cases, they are saying the exact opposite of what you believe to be true about yourself.
In dreams, all symbols have relevance, no matter how ridiculous they may appear. Besides things, look for colors, time of day and numbers.
Questions to Consider
What is the setting and how does it correspond to your current situation?
You may dismiss the dream because it appears to rehash the day’s events. Since dreams often present what you are not acknowledging during the day, look for something that the dream appears to be highlighting. Instead of presenting the situation as you experienced it, recognize the elements that made it appear different: “It seemed like…it was the store I was in yesterday but…” The dream’s metaphorical associations are the key to identifying its hidden message.
If you are dreaming about the situation, then there is some relevant aspect about it that you are missing. Experience always teaches you something and you are given a second chance to apply its message productively.
Understanding that something is being brought to your attention, respect this input with an open mind, by looking at the situation again. Dreams do not merely replay what you have already observed and concluded. The fact that the event is in your dream, suggests that how you processed it may have been incorrect.
Dreams of daylight activity will be different from dreams that unfold in a nighttime setting. An icy landscape will describe your inner world differently from a dream of being in a desert or on a beach. Be sure to include lighting, placement and perspective and look up the meaning of whether something appears to your right - or to your left. All of this has relevance.
Who are the characters in the dream?
You may dream of Susie and Mark, but how would you describe these individuals? What side of ‘you’ are these characters representing? All symbols and characters describe how you are growing into and letting go of the mask that you wear. Each subject’s characteristics will reflect your existing or changing identity over time. They represent the side of you that you have unconsciously associated with them, whether or not you are aware of it. Who is Mark? Mark is angry all of the time. Who is Susie? Susie is a good mother and cares for everyone but herself.
Look at your circumstances as if Susie is personifying that part of you that is unrecognized. Mark might embody anger that you are not acknowledging. When looking at the dream from this perspective, what are you saying to yourself through these characters? What part of your current way of interacting are you not acknowledging? All characters represent stagnant, evolving or non-integrated aspects of you. Even when characters die or are threatened in a dream, it is merely the dying away of outworn ways of expressing yourself on the road to authentic empowerment. Birth and children are usually describing the nature of an emerging side of you.
Can the dream be tapped for inspiration or intuition?
Dreams are not always solving conflicts. With practice, you can actually prepare yourself to receive information from the unconscious. Before you sleep, think about the type of input you require. Perhaps you are an artist and want to explore something in a new way. Many people allow their dreams to guide them in moving forward and making changes. As you approach on new project at work, perhaps you require inspiration. If you prepare your mind before sleep and observe your dreams for input, you will be quite surprised with what comes forward. Regardless of how abstract the images appear, work with them until you understand their message. Keeping track of your dreams, you will observe intuitive details about future events that will help you prepare yourself for approaching changes.
Have you explored the opposite meaning of the dream?
It is natural to approach dreams from the standpoint of regular experience, although what comes out in the dream is the opposite of what you believe. Just as you had not really thought about describing 'Mark as being angry all of the time,' you probably didn't realize that you are angry too. If you dream about an intruder and feel afraid that you are being invaded, it is not a message about taking precautions but is actually a message about being too reclusive. Perhaps you may need to be more open or intimate so that others aren’t intruding into your life. If you dream of being naked and feel embarrassed or ashamed, you may have been wearing the costume of an unnatural persona and are exploring removing this clothing that only hides your human and natural side. During the day, you may have revealed yourself in a way that left you feeling vulnerable. The dream allows you to explore why this process was difficult for you. More importantly, dreaming is a natural mechanism that keeps you evolving.
The dream suggests the feelings that you need to face and integrate within your life. In a dream, you may be going to an event and cannot find certain clothes (sense of identity,) shoes (sense of direction) or wallet (sense of self-worth.) Dreams often present a message about the way you cover yourself to mask your more real nature. You dream of a landslide and become fearful of the future when the dream is actually exploring the need to allow for a shift in your 'foundation.' The concrete platform that you stand upon needs to give way, so that new growth can occur.
Can the dream become a model for how you approach relationships?
Just as all characters represent unrecognized aspects of you, real life situations are always a growth opportunity to explore unrecognized aspects. Like dreams, the people you meet can be helping you to express evolving aspects of who you might become or what you need to discard. Don’t be quick to judge and dismiss difficult encounters. What can the experience teach you about yourself? Why was this person put on your pathway? Is the encounter challenging you to recognize an aspect of yourself that you are not acknowledging? The encounter is propitious, because you always attract the things you need. Like a spinning leaf that encounters a trapped log in the river, if two things are doing similar things, it is only a matter of time before they meet in the great river of life.
Common Dream Themes
Houses and Buildings are structures that represent the self as you are changing. The attic signifies higher thought or spiritual ideas. It can also suggest the ideas you store and collect or how you must ‘climb upward’ or raise consciousness to sort through what you no longer need. The basement is usually the subconscious or the area underneath, which you keep ‘below the surface.’ Unknown or undiscovered rooms in a house will suggest aspects of you, which are unknown, but are currently being explored. The living room is a social place, where you explore your nature as you meet others, while the bed can be a place of exploring sexuality. The bath room is where you ‘get naked’ and is associated with ‘coming clean,’ or being truthful with yourself. The family room houses the dynamics inherited through family interaction, while the hearth or fireplace often symbolizes your sense of heritage and what you hold sacred. Watching something burn in the fire is the same thing as processing and releasing these tendencies.
Hallways are places of transition, where you meet others in ‘neutral space’ and often appear when you are exploring choices. The front yard or garden is what you are cultivating for ‘public view.’ The back yard is suggestive of more organic aspects, which are not made obvious to others. You will often discover or search for something in the bushes or shadows, as a way of exploring the correctness of your behavior.
Public Buildings often appear as rickety structures that seem to go in bizarre directions, representing how you grow into social circumstances that have not yet been created. They can be places in which you are lost, or searching for something (transformative clues) on a specific floor or level of consciousness: past beliefs below, emerging ideas on the ground floor, and other floors that might be associated with the number it represents.
Doors can mean many things: boundaries and unblocking your potential, while knocking is often sexual. The front door leads you into the world, while the back and side doors allow for an ‘escape’ or for the ‘intrusion’ of characters who will teach you about yourself. If you open a door, you are taking an objective approach into the unknown. When the door is inside of a professional building, it can suggest potential or exploring transitions in your career.
A church can house spiritual beliefs, but can also suggest how irrational ideas based only on faith are holding you back in some way. Sometimes you will be looking for a key in a church that suggests how a self-criticism may be trapping your organic nature as a physical symptom or dis-ease.
A school suggests learning experiences or being measured against others in your abilities. In the same way, a gymnasium is a place of competition in a more physical way. A factory is a place of ‘mass production’ or the attitudes that you ‘assemble’ to fit in. It can also suggest what you are currently ‘making’ out of experience. A hospital is a place of personal crisis; or where you seek ‘critical’ care, as in understanding the incapacitating nature of your critical tapes. Hospitals can also represent ‘new life’ or the place where you are ‘born’ into a new way of being.
Hotels, Airports and temporary or transitional places while traveling suggest experimenting with temporary attitudes as a way of understanding yourself differently. The floor of these structures are also indicative of levels of awareness associated with the transition. You stand on the ground floor of current awareness and travel upward to achieve your ideals, or downward to find those things that are holding you back.
Vehicles and Places of Transportation will suggest the condition in which you are currently moving forward. The type of vehicle, and whether or not you are driving, in control or being driven, will portray your present sense of autonomy, and how reliable it is. Danger and the idea of crashing suggest how you are not in control of where you are going and are therefore, feeling uncertain about your direction. Being stopped by police or traffic lights are indicative of conscious controls such as self-discipline and conscience.
Boats, ships and trains, in which you are a ‘passenger,’ suggest how you are following a proven course that is not self-directed or easily changed. Travel over water is indicative of emotions and how the ‘flow of events’ or ‘current’ leads you forward. Being a passenger on a ship often represents situations that feel beyond your control. The water can be dark, calm or choppy in relation to how you feel about where you are going in life. Fellow passengers can shed light on the transforming elements of your nature.
A bicycle, because it is propelled forward by your actual effort, can suggest vitality and issues related to health. As a child, perhaps you learned to ride by balancing while you moved forward, suggesting balancing motivation with other elements in your life. Bumper cars, go-carts and other jalopies suggest how you are moving forward, sometimes in comical ways.
Airports and train stations are places of transition, and therefore are associated with hopes and ambitions. You can ‘fly’ to your destination through expanded awareness and ambition, or find your compartment or ‘place’ on a train that follows a ‘proven track.’ You can be going up, down or in circles, as a way of pointing you toward inspiration, overcoming repression, or revisiting the past. (See Placement and Perspective in Dream Dictionary.)
Landscape and Scenery can offer messages related to how you see clearly in the day or by light (conscious) or whether you are not facing something in the night or in the dark (unconscious.) In the forest (subconscious,) you often meet a character or guide who can offer clues to your transformative processes. (see Archetypes and Universal Characters in Dream Dictionary.) Trees are stationary and rooted, suggesting the details of your genetic heritage.
You can climb a mountain to gain a wider view, while it can also represent how you can remain a prisoner to your beliefs. The desert returns you to an uncomplicated or barren landscape where you can discover the roots of your sustenance. The sea or seashore is the home or barrier of the unconscious, where you can discover the treasures (fish/sealife) that can be brought forward as clues to your evolutionary journey. Natural disasters, like earthquakes, tornados, floods and tsunamis suggest the transformative power or your emotions rising to the surface to transform what you believed to be static.
Being Naked or Exposed suggests how you are exploring or exposing the deeper or hidden sides of what you hide. As you move toward intimacy, you may have dreams of being undressed in public or relieving yourself in a bathroom without walls as the result of having your natural side exposed. As a child, you may have dreamed of going to school in your underwear when what you most wanted was to abide by the golden rule. In proportion to the rules you impose on yourself, you will find that dreams lead you toward the freedom to be real. To ‘get naked’ or ‘relieve yourself’ in public, you are allowing for the movement of other aspects that had not previously found expression. This sense of being vulnerable, suggests how intimacy and exposing yourself is the only way of moving toward authenticity.
Being exposed can also take place in dreams in which you feel trapped. If this brings all that you fear to the surface, then the symbolism is doing exactly what is needed to allow you to understand it. If the dream focuses on a snake, shed your skin and learn to express your natural drives; if burglar appears, then face intimacy openly so that nothing is 'taken from you.' When some part of you is being revealed, stalked or discarded, you ‘get naked,’ confront the truth of ‘what you fail to see,’ and learn to ‘let go of the protective covering' that can no longer serve you. If you are frightened, it is simply a call to overcome your fear of being who you are. If you are ashamed, you may need to overcome whatever sense is keeping you from behaving as a natural creature in a natural world.
Losing Teeth is a common dream that occurs at monumental points in life. Just as you lose your baby teeth as a child, wisdom teeth as an adolescent and perhaps all of your teeth when you grow old, teeth are associated with letting go of old ways of ‘chewing on things.’ The way you approached situations in the past will no longer do. Teeth can also represent credibility. As you smile, you can suddenly look stupid because your teeth are falling out. This demonstrates how losing teeth can be an aspect of the Trickster, (see Archetypes and Universal Characters in Dream Dictionary) or transformative mind, humorously tricking you toward authentic behavior. When you are about to say ‘the same old thing,’ you are left mumbling with a mouth full of teeth, representing ‘the old way’ of chewing or digesting experience. Whatever you were about to say in the dream would definitely not be considered the truth in light of who you are becoming.
Water Dreams are the most common dreams because water represents emotions, and how you feel about the changes that are taking place. To dream of turbulent seas, suggests a sense of crisis associated with your transformation. Usually when you have this type of dream, later you will dream about being on a similar ship in calmer waters. This is a dream cycle that portrays the growth that you have achieved. In all of our ancient stories, water is the mysterious reservoir where the hero is to retrieve a treasure. Similarly, raging water is the difficulty that often initiates you into a process of self-discovery, where the reward is your ability to retrieve a treasure below the surface. Floods can undermine the foundation of your beliefs until you are forced to let go of what you think you need, in the pursuit of simple survival. Water can represent health and wellness since it is also the elixir of life.
Dreams About Flying occur during exhilarating or empowering points in life. While you are dreaming, you may suddenly ‘wake up,’ as consciousness realizes that anything is possible, and so you fly. This is an aspect of the psyche exploring potential and self-imposed limitations. At the same time, dreaming of ‘waking up’ and starting the routine of the day, only to realize that it was a dream, portrays the need for a ‘wake up’ call in breaking your routine.
Police Dreams occur when one aspect of your evolving identity is challenged by the ‘peacekeeper’ or the ‘patrolling’ part of the psyche. Sometimes the message is important: slow down. At other times, the police will come to ‘inspect’ the changes you are making, representing your disciplinary tapes. Associated with the ‘inner critic,’ encountering police is often occurring because you may actually need to step out of the lines to transform.
Taoism and Dreams
The ancient Taoist believed that some part of us wandered and found enlightenment during dreaming. Chuang Tzu once dreamed he was a butterfly. When he awakened, he wondered if he were now a butterfly dreaming of being a man. Since the goal of Ming is to eliminate the sense of separation existing between ‘me in here’ and ‘that out there,’ dreams were observed to be every bit as enlightening as actual experience. One learns to overcome a sense of separation in the dream wake dream cycle. See How to Access Your 24 Hour Mind
“Everything is destiny; all things are already complete in oneself.”
Destiny unfolds as inspiration from within, brought forward by the situations that you face. Ming or the ability to travel inward and observe life objectively was an important aspect of ancient Taoism. It allows you to activate te to discover the real essence of your nature and ultimately, the pathway to your destiny. Visit our Taoism Section for more information.