Finding the Meaning in Dreams

I came across this article at the Hartford Current at and found it worthwhile to share.

Finding Meaning In Dreams

November 26, 2006
By DAN ZAK, Washington Post It is January 2009.

Imagine, for a moment, that the new president begins his inaugural address by saying he has written down and studied his dreams. With a level head, and without detouring into the psychic or prophetic, he says he hopes to understand himself better by doing some dream work.

“I mean, how would that go over in the press?” says Gayle Delaney, who for the past 30 years has striven to mainstream dream work – the practice of sidestepping classical dream interpretation for a more nuanced, personalized meditation on one’s dreams.

Delaney is the founding president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. She has written books and virtually shorted out the lecture circuit in the United States and Europe. Still, many people think dream work is bosh and bunkum.

“Prejudice against dreaming is huge, in part because so much nonsense is written about it,” Delaney says.

Ask any professional with dream experience, and their message is clear: Ignore quick-fix dream “doctors” on TV and the Internet. Toss your conventional dream dictionaries to the curb; they are too strict, too patrician.

And their meanings? Meaningless.

“After all, a dream about a house must mean different things to a carpenter and an arsonist,” says Karen Shanor, a clinical psychologist in Washington.

Dreams should be worked rather than cut and dried into categories, Shanor, Delaney and others say. No book, and no one, can tell you what your dreams mean, because one’s dreaming life can be understood only in the context of one’s waking life.

As Dr. Phil-ish as it sounds, dream work is a matter of self-therapy, of being open to the possibility that reflecting on your dreams may yield some holistic or entertaining insights.

“People would just as soon think that dreams are random activity in your cortex,” Delaney says. “There are still huge swaths of movers and shakers whom I have as clients who say, ‘If I tell anybody I’ve seen you, I’ll have to deny it.”‘

Oh, if those Hewlett-Packard knuckleheads had prefaced their morning meetings with a little dream analysis …

That scenario is not so crazy. Business schools and management training programs in England and India use dream therapists to help hone problem-solving skills. Working through a conflict in a dream scenario may have a practical application to one’s waking life.

Still, there is bias against dreaming, agrees Clara Hill, a professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Maryland. Some comes from a lack of understanding dream work, particularly the aspects that sound a little paranormal.

Take dream incubation, in which people condition themselves to dream about a certain topic, or prodromal dreaming, in which the body sends signals to the dreaming mind about impending illness. The validity of both is supported by a wealth of anecdotal observation and some supplementary research.

But they still have that faint whiff of the psychic. Extrasensory powers may exist, but there is no way to gather statistical proof about clairvoyance.

“I think the jury’s still out on that,” says Deirdre Barrett, a Harvard Medical School professor who uses dream work in clinical and classroom settings. “It’s a matter of faith. Most of us hear really dramatic anecdotes in that direction, and I think it’s possible there’s something we don’t understand happening in communication outside of what we’re consciously aware of. But we also underestimate coincidences.”

What about the skeptics? How does Hill respond to naysayers who invoke psychiatrist Allan Hobson’s theory that dreams are products of benign psychosis – a mostly random firing of neurons?

“They might be, but if you can use them therapeutically, and it works, that’s great,” says Hill, who has conducted about 20 studies on dreaming. “So I get out of the argument that way. The research we’ve done so far is that people really can gain insight.”

You Are the Supreme Dream Interpreter

Is it necessary to visit a professional Dream analyst to have the deepest and most hidden meanings of your dreams revealed? Absolutely not! Just try this simple and effective technique and a whole new world of dream growth will be opened for you.

Literal Meaning

Our dreams have a literal meaning or obvious meaning. Simply look at your real waking life, ask what’s going on and important in the here and now, and see if your dream is acting as a literal commentary and evaluation of real life events. Dreams often offer us simple solutions to complex life problems.


Your feelings are the key! The true meaning and significance of your dream is always highlighted by the emotions evoked. By writing down these feelings, then linking them to the dream itself, and often the meaning becomes immediately clear and obvious.


Dreams are like onions, composed of many layers, each one deeper and harder to get at. Below the more literal and immediate layers, your dreams become symbolic and visual. By analyzing your dream symbols and imagery, often links to life situations, conflicts, and problems become clear, and solutions offered.

Talk About Your Dream

Thinking and analyzing your dream is great, but when you actually talk about it deeper levels of understanding and awareness often arise. For example: an unpleasant dream of hordes of bugs might initially appear silly and insignificant. However, by actually talking about it, you might find that the “bugs” in the dream might actually be a visual pun, representing something in your life that is “bugging” you.

Dreams: The Key to Your Full Potential

by Mal Cohen

Did you know that there is one behavior that links all of us regardless of age, sex, race, etc. … dreaming! While mysterious and totally personal, at the same time dreaming is normal, necessary and universal. In our “advanced” and “modern” Western culture we often view our dreams as meaningless, superficial or silly. However, if we open ourselves to the deeper meaning and reality of our dreams, there exists a limitless potential for guidance, knowledge and growth. Today we have learned that professional Analysts and Therapists are not required to open this inner door, but in fact, the dreamer himself is the only one fully equipped with the knowledge and ability to comprehend and interpret his dream. All that’s needed is the key to open the lock to the dream source: our unconscious mind. Simply turn that key, open the door, and suddenly we have before us a new power to remember, understand and grow through our dreams.

What Is A Dream?

a: consciousness
b: personal or subjective unconsciousness
c: universal or collective unconsciousness, linking all humanity

Dreaming or what Jung calls “sleep consciousness” occurs naturally and spontaneously and is a secondary means of communication. The problem, however, is that most of us have never learned, or perhaps forgotten this language. So when we learn the simple but potent 2nd language, the door is opened for true integration. All we have to do is temporarily leave behind our objective, structural and thought-oriented verbal language, and instead focus on our visual, symbolic and image-oriented dream language. And you thought that you would never be “bilingual”.

Why Dream Counseling?

Every person’s dream is a totally original,
Technicolor, stereo, piece of creative genius.

The trouble is that nearly all of us through negligence or will do not remember most of our dreams, let alone their meanings. Dream Counseling will aid the dreamer accept, remember and interpret his dreams while linking it to his life as a whole. The key is personal responsibility. No therapist or professional, no matter how skilled or qualified, can ever begin to know you the way you know yourself. So it’s obvious that each of us is best qualified to experience, interpret, understand, and develop through our dreams.

What Does A Dream Mean?

There are as many dream meanings as there are dreamers. Once we accept the reality and validity of our dream, we are ready to investigate the “hidden language” of images and symbols.

Why Bother with Dreams At All?

We humans are much more than physical being, conscious minds, existing in the “here and now”. We are all linked to and part of our personal and collective pasts and futures, and our dreams represent the best and easiest means of developing this awareness. Through our dreams true growth and self-actualization are realistic and easily obtainable goals.
Can Dreams Be Dangerous?

Probably the greatest danger involving dreams rests in ignoring them! True, some Professionals still hold on to the antiquated view that lay or subjective dream study might prove dangerous due to potential destructive sudden traumatic awareness of inner turmoil, repression, nervosis, etc. However, this perspective does not respect personal autonomy, independence and responsibility. Even given the extreme case of disease or disability, nobody other than oneself can bring about a true cure. Dreams, although occasional painful or stressful, are not in themselves dangerous. If anything, ignoring our dreams constitutes a much greater danger.
Dream Analysis Versus Dream Awareness

Dream Counseling incorporates aspects of dream analysis. However, it is a primary and highly effective developmental technique rather than therapy, the goal being personal growth and problem solution. When spontaneous therapy occurs, it is somewhat like icing on the cake.

  • Do you want to really know who your are?
  • Do you want to be fully in touch with your inner voice?
  • Do you want to direct your future?
  • Do you want to transform into a fulfilled person?
  • Dream Analysis — Don’t Just Dream About it; Do it through Dreams!



Tips to Remember Your Dreams

I came across this article in the Body Mind Spirit Magazine from May/June 1994

by John R. Aberle, a freelance writer from McAllen, TX

  1. Before going to sleep at night, tell your subconscious what you want to work on. If you are aware of having a master, guardian angel or Higher Power, ask its help to find an answer. Be persistent. Only on rare occasions does someone with no prior training get something the very first time.
  2. Develop the habit of recording something every day when you wake up. All new habits take a minimum of 21 days to develop so commit yourself to recording somethings for 21 days. Even if you do not recall the dream, write something down immediately upon waking.Remember, feelings are as important in dream interpretation as are images and words. In fact, they may save you a lot of work. The ideal is to wake knowing what the dream meant.
    But if you get none of these, then write something even as simple as “I do not recall any dreams today.” What you write is not as important as the act of writing because you are trying to train your subconscious into giving you something to record.
  3. Keep pen or pencil and notebook or recorder conveniently placed near your bed. Especially when you are just starting to develop the skill of remembering your dreams, you need to record them immediately upon waking. Dreams flee from memory rapidly, often within seconds of coming awake.
  4. Train yourself to wake before your alarm goes off . The shock of the alarm clock or the music and talk of the radio can cause you to forget what was happening in your dreams when you woke. By giving yourself the the command to wake up at a certain time, you can actually get your subconscious to wake you several minutes before your alarm turns on.
  5. Try to remember your dreams after a nap set an alarm for 20 to 30 minutes after you lay down for the nap. While this sounds contradictory to the above point about alarms, everyone is different. If several of these techniques do not work for you, this one may.
  6. Command your memory to recall your dreams upon waking. This again is a matter of training. You must work at it before you will master it. Think of your dream memory as muscle which must be exercised to get strong. It rarely happens overnight but only after repeated drills.
  7. Instruct yourself not to remember any dreams. If the above techniques do not seem to work for you, use ‘reverse psychology’. Sometimes your subconscious is perverse and refuses to do as it is told, so tell it not to do what you really want done.
  8. Read something spiritually uplifting before going to sleep. This may help raise your consciousness above the concerns of daily life which are crowding out the very dream messages to help you handle these concerns.
  9. Before going to sleep, sing or chant a sacred word to raise your awareness. Some sounds or words to choose from include “Amen,” “Om,” “Mana,” or “Hu.” The same principle applies as in number 8 above.
  10. If you recall a feeling but no memory of any dream, try to imagine a situation that could create this kind of feeling. In this case, you are trying to draw back to memory more of the dream. Such a ‘mock up’ imagery may prime the (mental) pump.. Something you imagine may thereby bring back a snatch of the dream.
  11. Try to imagine a favorite or common expression for various emotions and experiences. By imagining how you would picture these expressions, you may trigger recall of a past dream. Try picturing the following emotions and experiences: anger, change, fear, love, training or preparation, and work. To spark your creativity, the following are some examples of expressions which can be visually depicted for the above emotions and experiences.
  • Anger – Add fuel to the fire; blew up; bullied his way through; dark cloud of anger; madder than a hornet; “see red”; snorting fire.
  • Change – Death (major change), earthquake; move or trip, as to a new home or another stare; tornado or “wind of change.”
  • Fear – Being all tied up; grizzly hear; suffocating; “Wolf is at the door.”
  • Love – Candlelight and roses; green with envy; puppy love; rose colored glasses.
  • Training or Preparation – Camp; college; school.
  • Work – Military career; field of real estate; construction industry; “A man’s work is his mistress.”


Don’t Worry, It Was Only a Dream

by Mal Cohen

Was it only a dream? Why do we belittle our dreams? Why do we dream in the first place? We dream to make sense out of our lives and to “digest” what has happened during the day. Some nights we dream and don’t remember them in the morning and other nights it seems like we went to the movies and remember everything.

There is a message hidden in those dreams we remember. The ones we don’t remember have served their purpose. When we understand that dreams are a picture of feelings and that we can understand their meaning, suddenly a whole new world opens up for us. Understanding bad dreams and nightmares becomes vitally important. Thus, repeated dreams are our subconscious’ way of informing us that there is has a message for us; something important to convey and we just don’t seem to get it. Once we understand the message, the bad dream or nightmare will stop, because we got it. Dreams are also indicators of the progress we are making in our lives. They tell us when we are stuck and when we are moving along just fine.

Dreams historically held an important place in ancient cultures. The dream counselors held an esteemed and honored position in the community. Today, in our fast-paced, technological world we hardly pay attention to our dreams, but we still keep on dreaming and then dismiss them as unimportant or as a nuisance.

Could it be that collective dreams are the heartbeat of society and that we are loosing touch with our inner selves? Is it then surprising that people are finding that there is something to dreams and that they can help and guide us?

Today’s dream counselors are facilitators, they help the dreamer interpret his or her own dreams. They are the dictionary between the pictorial language of the dream and the daily language we speak. By asking the dreamer questions and then restating the answers, the dreamer will see a picture emerging and will begin to understand the meaning of the dream.

“The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty of their dreams.”