Wouldn’t it be nice to have a friend that worked on our self-improvement while we slept? According to contemporary researchers, we have six of them every night! Who are these friends? They are our dreams.
While sleeping, dreams restore our psychological balance, keep us mentally oriented, and allow us to explore new avenues not always available in waking life. And as with all friends, the more we listen, play, and interact with them, the better friends they can become.
Dreamwork, dreamworkers, oneiromancy/dream divination
Shouldn’t dreams be handled only by qualified therapists? While there are a few who feel this way, the vast majority of dream-concerned professionals believe that with a few simple precautions, we can all enjoy the benefits of dreamwork.
Dreamwork is the process of recalling, recording, and finding the meaning and value of a dream. For some this means looking at the language of the dream in the form of symbols, while for others the dream inspires them to paint, sculpt, write stories, enact plays, and try out new forms of social interaction, both in and out of the dream itself.
Learn about Dreamwork
- Dreams come in the service of wholeness and health. If you find an interpretation that does not fit this, perhaps you need to change methods of interpretation.
- Dream interpretations that lead you toward self-criticism, depression, or despair are simple wrong and if these conditions persist, you may wish to seek help from others.
- There is no such thing as a dream with one meaning. If you feel stuck on one meaning or feel another person is pushing a different meaning, it’s time to reconsider your methods and approach.
Although the techniques used by psychotherapists sometimes require years of training and practice, basic dreamwork can be learned very quickly and easily through books, seminars, workshops, classes, and personal instruction.
If you live in an area were these resources are not available, you can now use the Internet to learn the basics, join classes and dream groups, and exchange ideas on dreams and dreamwork.
The basic idea is that dreams are saying something that can be understood; we simply have to learn the new language. Here are a few techniques from several popular dream workers, each of which is a great start on learning the new dream language and using your dreams for self improvement, insight, and creative expression. Note, however, that most dreamworkers use several techniques, not just the ones mentioned below.
Generalize. One mistake people make is to say, “What does the dream tiger mean to me?” Rather than being so specific, first talk about what a tiger is and does for you, how it is predatory and strong, and how it hunts. Then we can apply this to our life, “What in my life is predatory, strong, and a hunter?”
- Jeremy Taylor — Touchstone. When trying on various interpretations, ask your inner self about it. Only if you get an “aha” feeling of recognition can you say that a resonant chord has been struck.
- Rita Dwyer — Dream Questions. What questions does the dream ask? By mapping out various answers we can tie the themes and emotions to our daytime reality.
- Carl Jung — In Service of the Unknown. What new information is the dream bringing? What thing that you never knew before? Each dream provides something unknown.
- Henry Reed — Incubation. Focus on a problem you want solved before going to bed, and then view the dream as the answer to that problem. Don’t worry about the answer being irrational; eventually new insights will emerge.
- Fariba Bogzaran— Painting the Dream. Re-create the dream by drawing or painting an image that you feel strongly about. Often what wants to be painted will change during the actual painting process; allow this to happen.
- Linda Magallon — Release the Dream. While we may want to use the dream to get answers or insight into our life, its sometimes nice to allow the dream (and the dreamer) to just have fun. Talk to the dream as if it were a person and ask what it wants to do. Often, this leads to dreamers flying and other extraordinary dream activities.
With just a little attention and effort, these and other dream techniques allow us to find in dreams a surprisingly complex and rich array of ideas, images, suggestions, alternatives, emotions, and imaginative doorways.
A hundred years ago, Freud looked to dreams and found a whole new branch of knowledge. I have suggested that each morning we can find in dreams a friend. What will you find?
Working with dreams with others has been found not only to improve relationships with friends, lovers, partners, parents, and children, but also to build community, intimacy, and thereby to have an impact on society as a whole.
Psychologically speaking, we can talk about how dream imagery suggests new paths and how creative responses build supportive platforms from which the dreamer may be offered more vital and relevant images to engage the the world and understand him/herself.
But more deeply speaking, we are really talking about potential self-empowerment though a vehicle that occurs to each and every one of us every night. This ability to access and initiate our inner resources is egalitarian, democratic, and freely available to everyone. Dreams truly are our friends.
I greet you with my own struggles and challenges. I greet you as an equal. I offer the gift of my experience, to share about spirituality, alternative healing, and co-creative dream work–a process of dream interpretation that has spontaneously developed out of my many years of spiritual and wellness counseling, and my dedication to honoring the messages of the dream consciousness.
The way Spirit works with me, to help others understand their dreams, is by way of “coaching”. Rather than using any set list of dream symbol definitions, or any set interpretation formula, I have developed the sense to know the right questions to ask you, to help you find the clarity of the message for yourself. In this way, you eventually do the work on your own.
Also, as Spirit sees fit, I am often called into the dreamtime space of those with whom I am working, to facilitate healing and integration of incoming nergies. We are all accelerating at such a rapid pace that this kind of work, when the conscious mind and ego self are at bay, has become more and more vital.
I never deliberately insert myself in anyone’s dream space (although I will volunteer to “go out” if someone requests it) but leave it up to Creator as to where I go when nighttime falls.
Dreams are fascinating keys to understanding ourselves more deeply. Dream work is as old as humankind. The ancient Greeks, for instance, believed that dreams could give them the answers to life’s problems, especially for illnesses and possible remedies, so entire temples were built just for people to use for dreaming. Today, dreams are a largely untapped source of information, but their wisdom remains available to all of us, free of charge.
Here are fifteen easy ways to begin accessing dream wisdom. Start tonight!
1. A little rosemary placed under your pillow helps you to remember your dreams.
2. Wake up slowly and gently – without an alarm – to better remember.
3. Dreams are multilayered. They may be about what you did yesterday, but they are always about much more.
4. Find at least one “dream buddy” with whom you can share your dreams, without an analysis first. Simply sharing dreams often opens up their mysteries.
5. Keep a tape recorder or a pad of paper and a pencil by your bed to record your dreams; even a single word or phrase can provide you with important information or help you remember more of the dream after you awake.
6. Ask your dreams to answer questions about particular issues, such as an illness or a physical symptom. Assume that any dream you have after asking such a question is an answer to that request.
7. Scary dreams are usually trying to get our attention. Ask yourself what needs attention in your life.
8. Stimulants, including chocolate, consumed around bedtime will make it difficult to fall asleep. Warm milk and chamomile tea help promote relaxation and sleep.
9. Try acting out your dreams: if you are dancing in your dreams, dance; if you are swimming in your dreams, go swimming.
10. Ask to meet your spirit guides in your dreams, and see who or what shows up. These guides can be used consciously as allies in the future.
11. Rather than buying a dream dictionary create your own. Figure out what snakes, cigars, or any other symbol means to you by free-associating about them each time they appear in one of your dreams. Over time you will discover what meaning the symbols hold for you.
12. Collect images from magazines and reate collages of your dreams. Put the collages up on a wall and let your gaze turn to them daily. In this way you will slowly discover their meaning.
13. Consciously go back into a dream and take it beyond the point where it ended.
14. A single image quite often captures a whole dream. If you feel overwhelmed by the length of a dream, select the one image or scene that carries the most energy for you. Assume that this image will take you where you want to go.
15. Dream energies often carry over into our waking lives. Use the motional, feeling, physical sensation, or symptom with which you awake as you would a dream. Lie still, taking some time with the sensation; breathe into it, and allow some images to form in response. Share the whole experience with your dream buddy and see what other insights or awarenesses this raises.
Dreamwork in cyber space – Online group dream work
I have been exploring dreams with an eye to discovering their deeper meanings for almost 20 years. I have written down and worked with more than 10,000 of my own dreams and probably 100,000 dreams of others during that time. This work has convinced me that our dreams always have multiple meanings, and that those meanings are always helpful and supportive to the dreamer, if only they can be “unpacked” at any level of depth.
My experience helping people figure out what their dreams mean was gained by speaking to individuals and groups in person, on the telephone, or in written correspondence. I decided to give on-line dream work a try, even though it means that I had to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in front of my computer at 6:00 A.M. (which up until now has not been my habit).
Initially, I had some reservations about working dreams through this distinctly “cool” and physically isolating on-line medium. When I imagined as carefully as I could what it might be like, I was particularly concerned that the “flat” and highly compressed computer communication format might inhibit the flow of imagination, intimacy, and mutual respect so necessary for good dream work.
In fact, I have found the emotionally and physically “flat” format of computer chat between people in widely separated locations appears to enhance many important elements that make group exploration of dreams so productive.
The fact that every participant appeared on the screen identified only by his or her screen name meant that the sense of safety and anonymity so necessary for productive dream work was assured.
I also found that the necessity of compressing our questions and comments into to two-line “sound bites” in order to send them to the communal screen serves to discourage needless verbosity. This “compression” of ideas tended to draw us all into the work at a deep level more quickly than is sometimes the case in face-to-face dream groups.
I was also very impressed with the sense of emotional equality created by the fact that everyone’s comments appears on the screen in the same bland type-face with the same “inflection.”
In face-to-face dream work, the comments of participants are always weighted to some degree by our responses to their physical appearance and the timbre of their voices. People have prejudices about who they want to listen to and take seriously, and who they want to dismiss.
Online, all that is gently wiped away. All comments appear equal, and the participants are much freer to discover insights for themselves in the various remarks without unconsciously pre-judging the speaker.
I regularly found myself musing more freely and “speaking” more openly as I sat comfortably in my ergonomic computer chair, sipping my morning fruit juice, physically much more comfortable and relaxed than I sometimes am doing face-to-face dream work (sitting in a metal folding chair in a drafty church basement). I can only imagine that this “relaxation factor” has a positive effect on all the other participants as well.
Presumably, we are all comfortably ensconced in our own private, safe, comfy computer chairs, free from the judgment of others, and thus more able to think and intuit creatively and sensitively about our own imagined versions of the dreams being discussed.
In a virtual dream group, people are free to come and go as their interest and energy dictates, without distracting or offending other participants. By the same token, people are much freer to simply watch, listen, and generate their own “aha’s” of insight without participating directly in the work. Such people are commonly known as “lurkers,” and “lurking” is a perfectly acceptable activity in this context.
In the virtual dream group, the host has even more influence over the process than in a face-to-face group, since he or she has the power to determine which comments go to the screen.
All the problems of differing levels of sophistication and seriousness among participants that arise in face-to-face dream work still exist in cyber-space, but the format allows the host to keep people from interrupting each other, talking too much, or making gratuitous, rude, or insensitive remarks.
Balanced against this is the problem of the host/facilitator’s unconscious projections and “counter-transference” issues. The unconscious biases of the host have even more influence over the group process than in face-to-face dream work, precisely because the host has so much more influence and control.
Albert Einstein was fond of saying that “If you can’t explain what you are doing to a reasonably intelligent ten year old, you probably don’t really know what you are doing.” This principle of simplifying and clarifying even the most abstruse and emerging intuitive understandings of one another’s dreams regularly comes into play in computer connected dream work. Some of the lyric poetry may be lost in the process, but the “haiku” remain.
Every morning, I receive a wide sample of the dreams of people from Canada to Florida, and across six time zones (counting Hawaii) shared over the computer connection. It’s like taking the pulse of the continent’s unconscious.
Computer-assisted “virtual dream groups” will never replace the richness, vitality, and intimacy of face-to-face dream work, but they are another way to explore the creative possibilities that are our birth-right as human beings.
Dream work and Oneiromancy or Dream Divination
Oneiromancy is the interpretation of dreams in order to foretell the future. Psychics and astrologists can integrate dreamwork into their practice often use it to help people problem solve, gain self-awareness, or improve overall well-being.