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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Reflections on Dream Interpretation, Part II

In this section I wanted to share some general guidelines you can apply toward interpreting your own dreams (see disclaimer in Part I);

1. Break it down. Rather than considering the dream as a whole, split it up into separate parts. Here are some examples of how to do this. All of them are effective in their own way & can also be combined with the other techniques;
~ An easy way to begin is to read through a dream from start to finish, taking note of each individual symbol, action, etc. as you go.
~ Look at the dream in a linear fashion; what happens at the beginning, middle & end?
~ Separate dream elements into different parts of speech; nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. These parts of speech lend themselves easily to further division (i.e.; Nouns--Settings, people, animals, etc.)

2. Consider both the literal & figurative aspects of dream symbols. Try some free association. Really push yourself to think outside the box on this one. "Going to the gym" may indicate a workout, but it can also imply visiting your friend, Jim. A friend once relayed a dream to me in which a dog wouldn't leave her alone, regardless of her efforts. To me it seemed clear that something was "hounding" her. In one of my dreams there were horses in my old neighborhood. These two disparate symbols were connected, though; one sound horses make is a "neigh." The connection was further confirmed when I realized that the horses also happened to be on "Canter"bury Road. In a similar vein, look at words broken down into their component parts. "Popeye" is not just a sailor man or a great place to get fried chicken. It's also "pop" and "eye" (or "I.") Consider, too, that rhyming words may also be connected. In one of my dreams, a ball and a wall both turned out to be obstacles to my goal.

3. Consider dream symbols from different eras of your life, not just where you are now. I sometimes dream of fairs or markets, both of which were prominent during my teen years, so I look at those dreams from that angle; where was I (psychologically or developmentally,) as a person then? What's this dream trying to tell me about that time of my life & how it affected me?

4. As mentioned previously, one theory of dream interpretation suggests that everything in your dream represents a part of your Self. Look at each symbol through that lens--what part of me could this building (etc.,) symbolize? What condition is it in? What does the dream tell me about it?

5. Unusual size may represent importance or prominence in your life, a "big deal" or not. Something that's unnaturally large may be something you need to pay more attention to than something that's unnaturally small. An unusually small thing could also point toward your needing more of it in your life than you currently have.

6. Generalize to see the bigger picture. Don't get caught up in minutiae. You can spend a lot of time & energy (for example,) trying to determine specifically what the wall in your dream symbolizes (how high was it, what color was it, what was it made of, etc., etc.,) or you can consider that a wall is ultimately an obstacle or barrier. That's not to say the wall can't be further examined, but it may help to look at the bigger picture for starters.

7. Look for related or repeated themes, not just through series of dreams, but in individual dreams, themselves. I find that I often dream of "two" or "a couple" of something, or that I'll have to do something twice. Give such things further consideration. There's probably a reason why your subconscious keeps bringing them up.

8. Handwrite to more fully engage the brain. Here's an exercise you can try (with a single dream);
A. Write down the dream's symbols in capital letters (so they'll stand out,) on a piece of paper. Be free with your writing--put the words all over the place, tilted in all different directions--don't write in list form.
B. Draw a circle around each word. Leave room for more writing inside of the circle.
C. Consider each symbol separately (using the previous examples) & write down or draw associated words/ideas inside the applicable circles.
D. Look for similarities between symbols, words & ideas & draw lines between the related circles.
Not only does the act of writing &/or sketching engage the brain like no keyboard ever will, but this method is often helpful in discovering less than obvious connections between dream symbols. You can take this exercise further by coloring all circles containing verbs one color, all circles with peoples' names another, etc. You can also use different colored lines between circles to indicate different correlations. Be as creative as you’d like. Remember; there's no right or wrong here.

9. Start your OWN dream dictionary, maintain it & use it. As previously mentioned, no one knows you like you do. Feel free to add new information to old entries over time, but try to avoid erasing previously recorded information. Those old words may trigger new ideas, after all.

10. Stick with it & don’t get discouraged. Remember that not every dream is going to contain some mind-blowing element of self discovery. Dream interpretation is largely about thinking "outside the box." As such, it's an exercise in stretching one's mind, in creating new neural pathways. These things don’t just happen overnight. As with many other things in life, perseverance pays off & practice makes perfect.


Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, you've really laid it out in details here. This is a very nice essay. Definitely worth being published somewhere.

Lots of food for thought,here.

Jacob said...

I agree. Well thought out and helpful posts. Thanks!

Demon Hunter said...

Thanks so much! I always try to dissect my dreams. This is so wonderful and helpful! :*)

Lana Gramlich said...

Thanks, all! :)

Travis said...

I read this post yesterday and thought I had left a comment. Blogger must have been hungry.

I thought the premise was well considered and fascinating.


ivan said...

I had this dream abou four years ago, at a time when I was trying a hockey "hat trick", that is to say, three literary successes in a row.
The third success was not forthcoming. In fact, it never came.

So here is what I dreamt:

There is a room a little below ground level. It is unundated. My furniture, which consists largely of beds, is also under water.

But I do see the water receding and there is now the outline, at least of my two beds.

Throughout this I get the intimation that I had somewhow cut a deal with an idiot. I want to write about this, my deal with the idiot, on going on my going on a fool's errand.
For some reason, I want to present the write-up to the fool.

I seem to go to an attic space on top of my room, where I can write the "story".

But there is suddenly a great blast of air in the attic where I am putting together the pages of my manuscript.
As I put the sheets of the write-up together, the blast of air blows away all my work.

I am desperate over the loss of the pages.

I go back to the room, which is just over being flooded. There is now the distict outline of my two beds. Presently, the water recedes and the room is almost dry.

But the manuscript, the manuscript is gone... I am frantically searching for the manuscript. I must find it!

I wake up to find that it was only a dream.

Heh. Hardly need your excellent "guide" to figure out what that was all about.
Yet for some reason, I wrote the dream down. It is still on my consciousness years later.

Lana Gramlich said...

Travis; I've been having problems with Blogger comments lately, too. Thanks for the persistence!

Ivan; Living in Canada for half of my life, I know what a hat trick is (I also know why people might throw octopi on the ice. ;) Yes, some dreams are certainly very clear & stick with a person for years. To this day I remember very clearly a dream I had when I was 10 or 11. Thanks for sharing yours. :)

veryheaven ouverture said...

dear lana
just lovely and precise. may you continue helping others understanding their dreams...?

just vvondering. veryheavenly greetings :-)

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