How to read your dreams
THE TIME WE’RE ASLEEP CAN MANIFEST SOME WEIRD AND WONDERFUL DREAMS. SARAH MARINOS TAKES A LOOK AT WHAT THEY MIGHT BE TRYING TO TELL US…
Flying… Discovering an extra room in your home… Being naked in public… Losing teeth…
These are just a few of our most common dreams. Some we forget while others leave
us wondering what our lack of clothes or teeth is all about! Dreams help us process thoughts and feelings, says Jane Anderson, a
dream analyst and therapist. “A dream is a snapshot of how you see life
and your place in it on any given night, based on your conscious and unconscious
experiences of the last one or two days. Usually it focuses on a question or problem,”
she says. We are only aware of 10 to 15 per cent of our thoughts, feelings, memories and
beliefs. Lurking below is our unconscious mind and the experiences and feelings we
don’t want to confront. Dreams bring the unconscious mind to the fore and show us
feelings and thoughts holding us back. Dream therapist Martina Kocian says we may
dream more often and more vividly when we’re going through transition
or a crisis. We also dream more when we’re learning something
new – dreams help our brain process and cement
1 Insights and issues
Each of the five dreams we have in an average night usually revolves around the same question or issue and each dream contains what Jane calls a ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ - a useful insight we may not have realised before.
Recurring dreams are a sign we’re not listening to the messages our dreams are trying to tell us.
“All the time we don’t get the message and don’t act on it, dreams repeat. Something is happening in your life that your dream is trying to make you aware
‘All the time we don’t get the message and don’t act on it, dreams repeat’
It’s normal to have around four to six dreams a night, but if you’re having more dreams than normal, it could be down to being too hot or cold while sleeping. And especially vivid dreams can be a sign of poor sleep.
‘Once you acknowledge what your bad dream is telling you, it disappears’
What are our bad dreams made of? Research shows that around 70 per cent of bad dreams feature either physical aggression, interpersonal conflicts and failure or helplessness – or all of the above!
of and the dream will recur until you acknowledge that message and make a change,” explains Martina.
“Perhaps your dream relates to you not liking your job. Until you improve your work situation or look for a new job − or at least admit to yourself that you don’t like your job, the dream will recur. Once you receive the message you’re more open to the solutions that dreams can provide. Your dreams will then evolve and show you ways to make your working life better. Once you acknowledge what your bad dream is telling you, it disappears.”
So how do you make sense of your dreams?
How do you feel?
When you wake up, notice how you feel. Do you feel angry? Upset? Frustrated? Happy? Confident?
“Feelings are an important factor in deciphering a dream. If you wake and your feelings are negative, what is in your life now that is making you angry or frustrated? Or what is going well for you?” suggests Martina.
Keep a journal of your dreams and include your feelings, what happens, who is in your dreams and what symbols appear. For example, the appearance of a baby in dreams doesn’t mean you are pregnant! It represents new beginnings like the birth of a new relationship or a new project. Note down any symbols, even though they may not make sense initially.
You can then pick out recurring themes, people or locations that give you an idea of which area of life you may be concerned about, or that you may need to change. Jane uses a process called ‘dream alchemy’ that includes visualisation, affirmation and dialogue.
If you have a dream that’s unsettling or frustrating, close your eyes and reimagine it. See the dream unfold with an ending that has an outcome you are hoping for. “When you reimagine your dream with a new ending, you communicate with your unconscious mind and reprogram it,” says Jane. Reimagine your dream 20 times a day for the first week, 10 times a day for the second week and
The Dream Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Interpreting Your Dreams by Jane Anderson, Hachette New Zealand, $25