Exploration of the Dream

swimmer

A dream seldom tells us what we already know. It is there to point us in a direction that is  unknown, that is helpful to us. It indicates to us what we need to know.

The dream often stirs up emotions, overwhelming and distressing, which are not to be dismissed.  This provides vital clues to the meaning of the dream and it is important to note these when writing down the dream or committing it to memory. This makes it more concrete, and brings it up, so to speak. In the writing or sketching or contemplating, other bits and pieces are recalled and retrieved. No matter how exotic or elusive or enigmatic it seems, other elements emerge.

 Does the emotional content of the dream relate to our everyday life, perhaps a portrayal of an unresolved conflict albeit in disguised form? Have we lost our keys in the dream? What loss are we experiencing in real-life?

Dreams are meant to shake us up and the content of them invites us to explore them. With effort, the enduring essence of ourselves can be found even if it feels ephemeral and unreal. The echo is somehow there. I’ve been shot at in a dream; perhaps some part of me needed to die. Many times my dreams are double-dutch to me for days and weeks, months and years – really I’m not exaggerating. I look back on dreams from 10, 20 years ago and I see something not seen before. But, with patience and trust and exercising that inner muscle, I start to trace a thread, and a pattern emerges. The more I exercise it, the more energy is found.

The dream is your friend, not your enemy. It waits in the wings, wanting expression of your inner being  –

Thanks to google images for above graphic

69 Comments on Exploration of the Dream

  1. I think our subconscious mind has the knowledge and interprets it, analyzes it, or plays with it in our dreams as a mental show that sometimes we grasp and at other times we don’t or it may take years. So in a sense I think we “know” what our dreams are telling us, but we just don’t realize what the knowledge means or haven’t taken the time to pay attention to it.

    You make some excellent observations here.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    • Thanks Arlee. Your way of thinking is similar to mine.The unconscious certainly knows; we also ‘know’ on another level but we don’t want to know! The dream is there to guide us and will, if we give it the attention.

      I’m enjoying your dream posts. Thank you again for coming by.

  2. what beautiful insight from dreams… getting interested in recording my dreams; I heard that they help us resolve some aspects of ourselves, but never really paid attention too. glad to read your post

    • Thank you Genevive. Hope the interest extends to actually giving them the attention they deserve. Thank you for coming by.
      Susan

  3. Susan, so true dreams are meant to shake us up. I feel a lot of dream communications happen while we sleep because during our waking hours our minds are running far to fast with the busyness of life that at those times we cannot be in tune with certain matters we need to address in our lives.

    • Thank you Stephen. Our waking lives are so busy – the unconscious too. Night time – and day dreaming, expression and phantasy in waking life – gives light to matters that need to be addressed. Jung said – ‘Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggle with in vain’.

  4. One of the strategies I used to use to remember my dreams was to have a glass of water beside my bed. Just before I switched out the light, I’d take a sip and say to myself, “if I don’t remember my dreams when I wake,” another sip from this glass will bring them back to me. It was surprisingly effective.

    “With effort, the enduring essence of ourselves can be found even if it feels ephemeral and unreal. The echo is somehow there.” – Beautifully said, and in my experience so true.

    • Thanks Kern for your comment, appreciated! Love that you have that glass of water next to you with dream purpose. Glad that the words quoted ring true for you.

  5. I’m with you on dreams sometimes taking days, weeks etc to part ways with me. For a long time I think was insomniac on purpose to avoid dreaming… now I welcome sleep just to dream more. I wish i could remember more of them.

    • Thanks Ida. You clearly recognised that paying attention to dreams is not a walk in the park and confronting them especially when going through difficult times. Glad that that phase has passed. Sometimes dreams take a break in terms of recall even though we are dreaming. I go through very dry times but also think that the unconscious is doing its work. Then recall does come back thankfully.

  6. Susan,you put so much into a few words. I love this journey through dreams; cracking the enigma code of the dream fascinates me and how the revelations change through the years.

    (I hope this makes sense. I am getting bloggy-eyed.) 🙂

  7. Hi dear woman, I don’t write my dreams down much anymore but I do work with them and remember them for years and years (decades really). The ones that repeat are, for me, always unfinished business. I don’t dream of delivering other people’s babies anymore because I create my own…

    As to finding me…you can still find me at sojournerinlabrador.blogspot.ca and link over to my writing blog or just go straight to it at http://www.labanan.blogspot. com . I’m not sure of my linky # on the A to Zed site -1500 and something! I find you by tapping your name.at the bottom of the messages if I’m not at Sojourner in Labrador. Jan

    • Thanks for coming by Jan. Those recurring ones or those that have similar themes, definitely indicate unfinished business. Thanks for giving me your links..

  8. Trace a thread and a pattern emerges in our dreams…..Love that. It’s similar to how we discover a theme when writing a book. I once dreamed the ending of a book, which then gave birth to the beginning 🙂 Sometimes I dream of my characters in a book, which I find encouraging…and fun.
    Another interesting post, Susan, as are the comments here!

    • Thanks Sharon! I had to go back to my own post to check that I’d written those words:’Trace a thread and a pattern emerges in our dreams’. 🙂 It’s a good analogy for writing a book or blog, or painting or inventing … The thread leads on and on .. I think of Ariadne also. How fortunate to dream of characters in a book! That must say something, e.g. that they impressed themselves on you in some way.

      Yes the comments are really interesting. I so enjoy them and learn much from them!

  9. Hi Susan – lots of insight here from fellow bloggers – so interesting to read. I must ‘live’ in another world … too practical … yet at times I understand things and say things that surprise me .. I guess that’s the time with my mother, my uncle and one particular carer, who is most definitely tuned in. I take note .. and absorb information … it’s good to be aware …

    Cheers Hilary

    • Hi Hilary, the comments are so interesting aren’t they. I am sure that many of us learn from so many other available sources. My husband e.g. does not recall his dreams, occasionally he does and he’s the nicest man I know.

      Thank you for coming by, and I hope all going well.

      Susan

  10. Excellent! It is my belief that many of our dreams come out of hiding, concerning the meaning, when we least expect it. That is why it is so important to write them down. And it has also been my experience that pieces of my dreams come up weeks, months, years later, and I have come to a place and know within me that I’d been there before, because I have been there in a dream.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

    • Lovely Patricia thank you! They do come out of hiding don’t they when least expected! I’m always a bit shocked. Those dreams, perhaps in different shape and form, context and landscape from before, appear all of a sudden and I also get that recognition of them – and a re-cognition – another way of looking at them.

      Shalom and thank you. Susan

  11. I always trust that the dream is trying to tell me something, but never despair or worry that I don’t know what.
    I get nightmares, relating to a past abusive relationship, where I always wake up mid panic attack. I know it’s my mind trying to find it’s way through the maze and overcome the hurt deeply hidden…and I truly cannot wait for the day I sit up and realise that I haven’t had one for an extended period of time!

    • Thank you Flip for sharing this with us. Those panic attacks are awful. You must still be hurting on a very deep level. The maze can be so dense, impenetrable at times. May the time come when you pierce the maze and don’t have those those dreams any more. I wish you well …

  12. I used to have a reoccurring dream where an ex-boyfriend of mine was dying from cancer. I went crazy trying to find him in real life, desperate to know if he was okay or not.

    When we finally reconnected, I found out his best friend had died from cancer. This loss sent him into a destructive spiral where he became addicted to cocaine.

    Very strange.

    • That is extraordinary J.H. It certainly seems as if your dreams were alerting you to this trauma. Thank you for coming by and sharing this with us.

    • Thanks so much Mira! Yes I think they are meant to be transforming! Knowing that much more about ourselves and what is what… – Love to you too 🙂

  13. Susan – you put so much thought into these essays and ask us such thoughtful questions to ponder about our dreams. I, too, remember several dreams from years ago and am still gaining insight from them. If they stick with me that long, they certainly are important to understand.

    Hub said his most recurring dream is one where he flies – soars, actually. It fits his spirit – the spirit that underlies the years of struggles he faced to escape a very traumatic and oppressive childhood – if you can even call what he endured ‘childhood’. I take it as a sign that he now soars so often to mean he has freed himself from many of those past difficulties, and that our life together has given him wings.

    • Thank you for your affirmation Sammy D! I much appreciate this!

      How wonderful those flying dreams are, thank you for sharing Hub’s experience of them! May his life and yours continue to take wings and soar! I loved them when I had them, haven’t for a while now. Soaring above everything! Revelling in the beauty of it all. Just taking off! I have to mention that another take on flying dreams is relevant WHEN it is applicable, i.e. is that sometimes we don’t have our feet on the ground enough .. the other side …

  14. I love it when a pattern emerges, as you say. There are dreams that definitely fit into that category for me, as they are recurring, or a continuation of some sort. Can’t say I’ve been able to make much sense of them, but I realize my mind is trying to tell me something. Thank you for this great post, Susan.

  15. More often than not–for over a decade–I lose my purse in a dream. It happens so often, now–in my dream–I destress the situation by reminding myself it’s a dream and this isn’t really happening. How odd is that.

    • It’s not odd Jacqui. I often lose my purse or my keys in a dream and spend ages searching. My purse usually contains ID docs, money .. all things that are reflective of me. Money as in energy and ID docs says much! Distressing when they’re lost in the dream and I definitely wonder in real life where my energy is going or what my identity is that maybe I’m losing. Well, that’s the way I wonder about it. I take my pulse when I lose things in a dream!

      Thank you for commenting.

  16. Dreams and even nightmares tell us a great deal about ourselves. They also have great potential for shaping our creative output as artists and writers.

    Bravo! Well, done. Another wonderful and illuminating post on dreams Susan.

    • Thank you Stephanie. Precisely so – many writers have used dreams as inspiration. Or if not the actual dream itself in its entirety, it sparks the imagination as we get more in touch as we go deeper.

      Thank you for your kind words!

  17. I am amazed at how many people here are recording their dreams. I have never thought to do that. However, it would be interesting to relate my dreams to what was taking place in my life at that time… what I needed to work through.

    I do enjoy reading about the different aspects of dreaming. Thanks for the interesting post… I’m learning!

    • Thank you Gwynn for coming by. No time like the present though! Please see earlier link provided to Jean Raffa’s link … she says about asking the unconscious/Dream Mother before turning in for the night. I’ve found it very helpful. It’s an approach I’ve more or less ‘used’ over the decades in my attempts at decoding.

    • If you feel it Mary, do it! You’ll see a pattern if you give them the diligence they deserve. And hopefully identify the trigger of the disturbing recurring dream. Please see my comment above to Philippa in which I give a link to Jean Raffa’s blog on Six – Step Method of Working with Dreams.

  18. I totally agree with this Susan. One of the delights of having kept record of my dreams for decades is having a long view where I can really see themes and patterns. Fascinating.

    • A long view – precisely that thank you Deborah. When I look back on old dream journals (also decades!) I see the patterns, loose threads not yet stitched.

  19. You begin, “A dream seldom tells us what we already know.” Actually, my dreams (of which there are few I remember,)reveal what I already know but have been subconsciously hiding from myself. Fascinating series – neat graphic too!

  20. I can easily see that imprints from the past, collective unconscious, is a VAST TOPIC. Moreover, I read that it is possible, by credible means, to describe an exact date and place of at a previous life that somehow is linked with the collective unconscious that we hope to understand today. The mystery seems to be endless, Susan. I found your reply essentially clarifying and expanding!

  21. In the past I have had some wonderfully ‘revealing’ symbolic dreams, some out of body flying ones where I was in control of the height and span, take off and descent, some lucid( starting in real places and moving on from there,) and many in which my own thoughts under control determined the adventure. I decided. Others were almost political ( I had one the night before Gordon Brown became prime minister and realised he was a frightened egotist, disliked women and would prove catastrophic. So much so I wrote to a political commentator and told him so!

    BUT now my dreams are so commonplace, I feel I might be heading towards death ( not in any dramatic sense- nor reluctantly) because I can hardly distinguish them from ordinary life. I wake confused about whether they ‘really happened’. I have arguments, and long conversations about the past, and unresolved issues. Anyone fancy an interpretation of this new ( and tiring) development? Nights are no relief from days!

    • Thanks for saying about your lucid dreaming Philippa – I know of this technique but not much more. It is of interest to me. Did you actually write (in your other real life, not the dreaming one) to GB? I wouldn’t be surprised! But in any event the dream was an expression of your feelings about him. Is/was he really as you say?

      Many times my dreams are ‘commonplace’. Yet even in them there is a hook somewhere. No, I’m not going to attempt an interpretation! I gave a lovely link in a post or two back which I’ll give again. I think you’ll enjoy what Jean Raffa has to say … if you link onto it, you will see her blog, then go to rhs and click on her JANUARY posts. There you will see her ‘Six-Step Method of Working with Dreams’. This method is one which I have more or less employed over the many years of writing down my dreams. Her steps have added more for me.

      http://www.jeanraffa.wordpress.com

      At all times the dream is honoured, no matter how banal it may seem.

      • Yes I actually wrote ( to a political columnist) because I knew the man I encountered (GB) deep down and saw his ruthlessness through fear of loss of power. The role in the dream just took longer to play out in real life, but each move was easy to predict when one has seen it unabridged!

        Thanks for the link. I have followed and read. Where I would distinguish between ordinary dreams (the messages from the subconscious utilising the facets and imagery familiar to the dreamer) and lucid dreaming is in the ‘real time, real place’ components and that they are under almost conscious control…they happen but give malleability to choice and direction that is fully conscious and in real time. In that way I think they teach about what exists outside, or will exist in life. I would never suppose that an ordinary dream could be relied on to tell me anything about anyone else: Not so the lucid dream which does. But they do not seem to be willed, or if they are I cannot will them. I wish I could!

        • Thanks Philippa for expanding on your lucid dreaming. This sounds like a dream that is especially revealing – which I find most dreams even if ordinary, to be. I find that when I dream of others and especially when they are women that I need to ask myself in what way are they an aspect of my shadow side …good or otherwise. Same sex in dream is often representative of the shadow.

          Glad you linked into Jean!

  22. I’ve been shot at in a dream too. It was a long time ago and pretty scary so I try not to think about it. But your explanation of something within needing to die makes perfect sense. Now I wonder what that something is.

    • Thanks Beth for coming by and saying you had that dream. ‘Old attitudes’ or old ways of thinking or being, whatever does not serve us, or anyone else for that matter, are the sorts of things as examples are what needs to die. Or any overly – fixed attitude that has no room for manoeuvre ..

  23. I dream in periods of change, lots going on, which is helpful as it does make me evaluate the situation and think more about it. I sleep now with a notebook and pen under my pillow. Characters and plot come to me in the middle of the night when I’m writing a novel, and are easily forgotten the next day if not noted down. I’m not sure if this is different to dreaming, or the creative part of the mind continuing to work, but it’s a great help too! Another lovely post, Susan, thank you 🙂

    • How wonderful that you access this treasure house Sharon! Yes, it’s true that the dream can and does inspire in so many ways, the artist, writer, scientist, healer etc. Einstein’s relativity theory came to him in a dream – I mention this and a few others in a later post. The notebook and pen under your pillow is ‘good preparation’ or ‘procedure”. 🙂 Thank you for coming by!

  24. At age 4, I awoke intensely curious about a dream seeing a red trolley-car that never existed in my city. At age 10, I recognized this trolley in a school textbook. I was looking at a business district in Munich, Germany. It seemed to me I had lived there a long time ago in the past.

    When I was older, my dreams showed me I was wandering in strange, unfamiliar neighborhoods and the buildings were huge and like nothing I had seen before.

    Lately, I have increasingly been inclined to wonder more about how past life may influence a person in a present life and particularly through dreams.

    In Angkor Wat, Cambodia, the architecture of some temples accurately proved knowledge about our solar system. Could the Temple Priests have had dreams that taught about things in space before the telescope had been invented? Assumptions from re-incarnation theory may lead to the possibility that an earlier civilization existed before The Great Ice Age, and knowledge about our solar system was dreamed about by Temple Priests much later, on the shoulders of these earlier people.

    I ask, “If a previous life has an influencing role in your life, does that imply that your Ego is not the only agent that makes you select activities that determine your future?”

    Susan, does that sound EERIE to you or anyone else? Or, does the mystery deepen?

    • Thanks Joseph. I guess you’re asking about whether there is some sort of blueprint? The collective unconscious, a strata (the very deepest) that runs through all of our lives, is present – today – and consists of all that has been and whose ancestry we all share. This collective unconscious contains archetypes, or universal primordial images images and ideas.

      The above is an extremely brief statement, it is a VAST subject. The ego is by no means the only agent! By no means does your comment sound eerie. The mystery only deepens!

  25. Emotions are, for me, what makes a dream good or bad. I’ve had, at times, dreams that would seem like a nightmare, yet it wasn’t because the fear wasn’t there. And, conversely, I’ve had dreams that don’t seem so bad in terms of what happened, yet are tainted with fear and anxiety. It’s both odd and intriguing and, like you say, warrants further consideration. Which I haven’t been doing, sadly. But your posts are encouraging me to start. 🙂

    • Thank you Sara – that’s a nice distinction to make, which makes me think of a scary dream on the face of it that I had the other night. Even though it woke me suddenly there was no concomitant fear. It sounds like a contradiction I know. I’m looking at this dream from all angles and also wondering if in some way I’m blocking the fear ..

  26. I am loving this series on dreams Susan -each day a profound insight into the dreaming world- I have been involving myself for years with dreams sometimes writing down sometimes not – it is as you say from years ago another insight or understanding can emerge and rise up into our conscious mind – when I am unsure what is being said ( and that is often) I start with the simplest symbolic take on it- like what I felt for instance.
    I also note that I have people and places unknown to me here that I return to and dream with – and isnt it amazing how certain dream images stay with you forever.
    really really enjoying this daily dream journal thank you susan.
    blessings, sandra

    • Thank you Sandra very much. Your approach is right, what is the feeling about it even if it plain puzzlement. While I most times write down my dreams, sometimes I don’t because I am SURE I will remember it – and then I don’t ..

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