Understanding the Dream
‘Lack of conscious understanding does not mean that the dream has no effect at all. Even civilised man can occasionally observe that a dream which he cannot remember can slightly alter his mood for better or worse. Dreams can be ‘understood’ to a certain extent in a subliminal way, and that is mostly how they work‘. * Carl Jung: ref below
It is better to be uncertain about what the dream may be seeming to portray. In any event, one ‘understands’ better retrospectively. I often ask myself : can I depend on my own understanding? What other subliminal forces are at work of which I may be unaware?
The urge to have an answer to the meaning of the dream is real. Many of us live our lives to some degree through unconscious expectations and thus are often disappointed at the marriage that went wrong or lack of success at the job, as writer, as friend … fill in the blanks. And want answers. There are many unanswered questions when we note our dream and this is where we usher in the mystery of it. We can unpack it to some extent, like a Poirot on the scent of unclear clues. I’ve painted a few striking dreams – and I’m no artist by any stretch of the imagination. I spent much time resisting, and then fashioning my painting; it was worth the effort, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I had to let go of my inhibitions about it not being good, or worthy, or perfect or any good. But the dream was important. And the image lent itself to being painted. Sometimes the hands work out something that the mind cannot to paraphrase Jung.
An unpleasant dream makes us uncomfortable, even subliminally, unless of course we simply discard it as so much rubbish and give it no more heed. We are the authors of our dreams, no one else. They come from down under, the deepest recesses of our being. Most of my dreams are absolutely unexpected and leave me mystified, at least for quite a while, until I ‘work’ on/with them, and allow them to work on me … they’re an unfinished symphony.
* Carl Jung: ‘Approaching the Unconscious’ in Man and His Symbols.
with thanks to google images for the graphic