by Leigh Randolph
How do you feel about dreams? Do you think a strange dream happens when there is too much garlic on your pizza or you watched the wrong movie before you went to bed? I invite you to consider a different way of looking at dreams.
Do you dream? Many will say, “No, I never dream”.
Dreaming is a path open to all of us, and while some may not remember treading that path, we all wander that way on our journey through this life. Remembering our dreams becomes the question, and the memory of dream images can bring richness to both waking reality as well as to that of our dream world. The dream world happens all around us, whether the dreams are in the dark of night, our musings during the day, in that fuzzy, liminal space before we fall asleep, or just at that edge of awakening, where we are neither quite asleep nor yet awake. All can be magical places for our journey and can bring a greater understanding to the richness of the human spirit.
Dreams are a part of human history stretching back farther than Joseph interpreting dreams for the pharaoh, or Jacob’s vision of the ladder that stretched to heaven and the angels. To indigenous people dreams have been an important part of life. Some dreams were meant for the entire tribe. For the individual, dreams during the first part of the night (roughly between midnight and two) were interpreted by shamans as messages from the ancestor spirits to help break negative patterns held within the family. Dreams during the second part of the night (roughly between two and five in the morning) were to remind the dreamer of promises made before coming here. We have been dreamers a very long time.
Living literally closes us down as we deal with work, bills, and the mundane tasks of life. Exploring our dream journey can open us to an expanding vortex of the magnificence of the human experience. When caught in the material world it is hard to see the depth and breadth of what it means to be within the human/spiritual experience. Dreams can help us better understand our journey, our difficulties, and our gifts.
Dreams are a gift to us to better understand that life is a metaphor. In dreams and life, the pieces of our stories are far more about what they mean than about the story itself. Because we get so caught up in our waking life stories can sometimes be hard to see. In our dreams and visions it is easier to ask, “What did that mean?” Simply asking that question makes life richer.
Dreams, like life, are layered. Dreams can be prophetic, but most of us don’t know that until the prophecy is fulfilled. More often our dream consciousness is helping us to work out dilemmas that are occurring in waking life. Studying dream images over time allows the possibility of seeing the repeating patterns of issues we are working on, and bringing clarity to an area we might not have been aware of at all.
How to begin? Create a Dream Journal and put paper and pen beside your bed. Before you fall asleep set the intention that you want to remember your dreams. It may take a few nights before your dream ego realizes you really mean it, so be patient. Often at first you will recall brief images rather than an entire dream. It is a great beginning. If you can’t recall the images when you awaken record how you are feeling. How you feel when you awaken from a dream is important to the symbolic significance. If for example you have a dream of death, but feel jubilant when you awaken or profoundly moved in some way it may signal a death of old ideas and a rebirth into a new cycle of life. How you feel after the dream is essential to understanding the message the dream brings you. As you get into the habit of recording dreams and visions, your recall of those images will grow.
What comes to us in dreams and visions connects all of us through the collective unconscious. As defined by Carl Jung, it is the part of the unconscious that is shared by all humanity. We each have our own personal unconscious, as well as access to the collective unconscious. The symbolism inherent in these is best explored through books about symbols. Books specifically about dream symbols can be limited in their value, while books more generally about symbols can offer great depth to understanding the message of a dream. It is surprising how often a metaphor from a distant culture fits exactly with current life experiences in a way that allows deeper understanding of a dream’s message. Your dream ego will use elements of life from the past few days or weeks and you will begin to recognize where those elements come from. What those images represent will be far deeper than the television show you watched or the topic of the book you just finished. As you begin to follow your dreams over the weeks and months you will see repeating elements and you can start to see patterns in dreams reflecting patterns in life. Those patterns may not have been in your conscious mind, and they may be images, numbers, colors, or ideas that recur in dreams. As you become more comfortable with those images you will find that the dream ego not only has messages for you but also has a sense of humor.
My dreams have helped me make life choices and know whether or not the road less traveled was my path. There is a lot of guidance to be found in your nightly travels if you are willing to pay attention. Know that dreams are deeply seated within our lives, so understanding the dreams of others requires knowing something about their lives, just as someone else trying to interpret your dream needs to know about yours. The symbolism of any image must resonate within your psyche, or it is not the message for you. Dream groups can help us learn to facilitate understanding the elements of our journey.
The memory of a strange dream can bring valuable understanding to some of life’s difficulties. Sometimes the dreams will reveal patterns to us that we didn’t realize we were trying to grasp. The journey is fascinating and really, it wasn’t just too much garlic on the pizza!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leigh Randolph is retired from a career in dentistry and has been fascinated by the world beyond the five senses for decades. That has led her to working with clients and their dreams through Holistic Integrative Dreamwork, as well as scanning the biofield for stress patterns. She is available both locally and globally. You can reach Leigh at (614) 581-8703.