One way of making sense of dreams that I have found helpful in my philosophical consultancy practice is to first understand what dreams are before trying to interpret these messages from our unconscious.
Associating with what we already know
During sleep we stop taking experience in and engage in a digestion or integration of the days’ events relative to everything else we know. We try to make sense of what we encounter during our waking hours in terms of what we already know about the things.
New things are happening and we struggle to make sense of them by comparing past experiences with these new ones. For instance, when we meet a new person they may show up in our dreams next to someone we already know as a comparison to make sense of and categorize their traits. These traits can be physical, behavioural or based on our emotional reactions to that person.
It is very much to be expected that during times of major change and uncertainty that we will have troubled dreams as we try to make sense of things to make it safe for ourselves.
While frightening and alarming, nightmares can be one sign of a huge emotional realization in our lives that we haven’t yet come to terms with during waking hours. Consider the events and people in the nightmares and try to identify the major emotion invoked by the dream. While fear is usually the most dominant emotional reaction to the dream symbol, try to connect the dream symbols to see if there are other associated feelings such as, anger, shame, guilt, a sense of loss, or some other emotion.
Interpreting dreams – the power of 3’s
In my experience we spot patterns by recognizing that there are three occurrences of something. So when we learn something new, having three examples or instances helps to make it stick. Sleeping on it allows us to associate the new learning with what we already know, and these connections are a step towards a deeper understanding instead of just memorizing.
In dreams, the key concepts will appear in threes if we look deeply into the interpretation. Focus on key points that jump out at you and look for two other matches. If for example you see a fork in your dream, this could be flagging a decision that is upcoming for you. This decision could involve a choice you have to make, something you are contemplating giving away, or a new project you are thinking about picking up.
So uncovering items in your dream that simultaneously mean three things can tell you what it is that is important enough that you are spending your sleep time making sense of it.
Which symbols stood out for you in your dream?
For more information on my independent dream research, click here to go to my research page.