How to Work with Your Dreams
I have long been fascinated by my dreams and have enjoyed keeping a “dream
journal” off and on for many years. In the spiritual direction training course I took,
we had a lot of time devoted to looking at dreams. I’ll just share here some possible
ways of working with your own dreams. Most of all what we were taught is that
DREAMS ALWAYS COME IN SERVICE OF HEALTH AND WHOLENESS. Even
nightmares always have some positive message that your mind is persistently trying
to get you to pay attention to. With that in mind, here are some techniques for
unpacking the messages in your dreams. Which also reminds me to say that dreams
all have many layers – and sometimes the obvious layer is not the most important
one. So, to get to some of the other layers of your dreams, you might consider;
Keeping a dream journal where you write out in detail everything you remember
about your dream as soon as you wake up. The process of writing the details down
often reveals more details as you write. Trust your hand!
After you have written the dream out, go back and underline each of the nouns in
the dream. Make a list of these nouns and also your associations with each one. Not
associations that are necessarily related to the dream, but just in general, what do
you think of when you see each word. For instance I might have dreamed
something that contained a cat – my associations with that might run something
like; The play CATS, purr, fur, soft, sneaky, my childhood cat Cinderella, stuffed cats,
rodents, hair up on the back, wildcats, tiger, meow, Siamese, aloof, etc. After you
have made this list – sometimes you have a “hit” – a sense that something resonates
out of these associations. So maybe the dream wasn’t so much about a cat as my
own sense of aloofness, for instance.
After you have written your associations, give the dream a title. This also is
Make a simple drawing of important parts of the dream Stick figures are fine. Or,
make a map of the setting of the dream. Or, make a collage about the dream.
Finally here are six “Magic questions” that can help you unpack the dream. These
questions were devised by the late UU Rev. Jeremy Taylor. Select one of the
important images in the dream and complete these sentences;
I am a ___________________.
My purpose in life as a ___________ is ________________.
What I like about being a ____________ is
What I dislike about being a ____________ is
What I fear about being a ___________ is
What I hope about being a ______________is.
Don’t forget – EVERY DREAM HAS A MESSAGE OF HEALING AND WHOLENESS. The
dream may not be about an actual event – it may be using an actual event to show
you something about your own life. Enjoy the journey of your dreams!
And if you are like most people who don’t remember your dreams, here are some
tips; Put a pen and pad of paper beside your bed. Remind yourself as you are falling
asleep that you want to remember your dreams. Upon waking if you remember any
piece of a dream – write it down and work with it. You don’t need the whole dream
to get insights. It is imperative to write the dream down as soon as you awaken or
even a few words scribbled in the middle of the night will help. Dreams, as we all
know, are very elusive and can slip through the net of our consciousness very
quickly. Eventually your mind will get the message that you do want to remember
and honor your dreams.
The Dream-keeper – by Langston Hughes
Bring me all of your dreams,
Bring me all your
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.