How to Read Your Dreams (Part 1) – A Comprehensive Guide to Dream Interpretation - Know Your Dreams, Know Yourself
Why do we dream? What exactly is a dream? We could say that a dream is an introspective experience which occurs at a different level of consciousness than typical conscious cognition, i.e., sleep. A more significant question might be, “Do our dreams have meaning, or are they largely random combinations of images and experiences assembled by our subconscious?” Our intention here is to answer this question.
The Obstacles of Establishment
The current scientific establishment chooses to view the universe as largely random and unpredictable. At least that has been the typical M.O. for nearly the past century or so, but how do we know that this supposition is accurate?
The universe is filled with evidence of order and geometric consistency. Yet, the scientific establishment either ignores this order or shies away from discussing it in public venues. In the past, this ignorance has been shown in the study of dreams, and yet the human mind shows substantial evidence of being just as complex as the cosmos.
The order and significance we see within the universe is believed to be present within dreams. Even when convention closes the book on the subject of dreams and assumes that it knows the answers, many researchers continue to dig for further answers and deeper significance of the unknown aspects of the human brain as well as the untapped realms of the mind.
On the subject of undiscovered aspects of the brain, let's consider a small and yet extremely significant component—the pineal gland.
The Pineal Gland
Current theories point to the pineal gland as being the center of human consciousness. It is known as the seat of the soul in ancient teachings, mystery schools, and within alternative communities, but what is the significance of this tiny organ? Let's explore.
The pineal gland sits at the geometric center of the brain. Scientists may describe it as a small, pea-sized sack of water which can collect calcium deposits from various foods and drinks that we consume. Most medical doctors don't seem to know much about this gland. In fact, in some reported cases, doctors even suggest practices which are proven to decrease pineal health.
Despite the overall lack of concern the medical establishment appears to have for this vital organ, the pineal gland is a major regulator of serotonin in the brain. This chemical is needed in order to achieve and maintain a healthy sleep cycle. However, according to multiple sources, this regulation is only the beginning of what makes this gland so vital.
In order to learn the greater details about the pineal gland, we must exit the realm of ignorant mainstream medicine. In contrast, the ancient mystery schools as well as the religious world appear to show great concern for this vital organ.
According to research, the pineal gland is not only filled with water, it holds within it serotonin, which during sleep cycles, transforms into a liquid crystalline solution of water DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and as we may know, DMT can assist with lucid visions.
In addition to these traits, the pineal gland has rod and cone cells just like the retina of the eyes. This is both interesting and peculiar, considering the fact that there is no way for much light to reach the center of the brain. This gland is, however, connected to the visual cortex of the brain, and when the eyes are closed, this catalyzes a key process within the pineal gland. During this process, the serotonin within the gland is believed to convert into DMT and this eventually initiates the dream cycle.
We may have already read about this principle, but DMT is a polychromatic and piezoluminescent crystal (at room temperature), meaning that it has been reported to create bright colors when exposed to low levels of electrical current (or when exposed to a hard impact, as by a hammer and chisel). The theory states that during sleep, bio-electrical reactions within the brain activate this organ causing it to produce visions during dream-state or during meditation.
This is believed to be the mechanism and process by which dreams and visions are created and experienced. The DMT within the gland creates the image and the rods and cones sense and relay this information to the rest of the brain. There is much more to learn about the pineal gland in this regard, according to reports, but for now, we have a general understanding of how this gland contributes to our dream cycle.
Now, let's get back to our main question of interest. How can we interpret our dreams?
There are many possible ways to read a dream. One of the popular methods is to record and analyze the experience—the people, the objects, settings, and the corresponding emotions involved in the dream—and attempt to assess the significance of each of these details within the real world.
To know our dreams, we must know ourselves. In order to know our own subconscious, it becomes necessary to bring the contents of that consciousness into our conscious awareness. Without at least a rudimentary level of self knowledge, we cannot delve into the inner world of our own mind.
If we are the introspective type and we have become accustomed to examining our own personality, our habits of thought, and reactions to the various situations we may encounter in life, we can more easily interpret our dreams with some level of useful outcome. So where do we start from here?
When it comes to actually interpreting the dream, there are numerous theories we might consider. Among the nearly countless ways in which we might approach the subject, let's consult the expertise of one established and yet open-minded psychologist.
The work of Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond is well known for its attention to detail and its way of bravely considering matters of parapsychology along with conventional insights as well. Below is an excerpt from one of Dr. Richmond's many notable books. The one we will consult is titled Psychology from the Heart - The Spiritual Depth of Clinical Psychology.
DREAMS can be baffling and mysterious. Throughout history dreams have been associated with sacred revelation and prophecy. Moreover, it was a dream that revealed to a scientist the molecular structure of carbon atoms in the benzene ring. All this mystery can leave us wondering what a particular dream means to the dreamer, and we can argue about what causes dreams in the first place.
Yet, in spite of modern science, dreams still remain mysterious. Science can offer some explanation of how dreams are related to brain functioning, but only a psychological understanding of the unconscious can explain why a dream happens at a particular time of your life and what it all means psychologically.
Because I make dream interpretation a key part of my psychotherapeutic work, I’ll offer some comments here about this work.
The subject of actual scientific breakthroughs and real world developments directly resulting from dreams may be one of the most remarkable topics a dream study might cover. When we consider historical figures such as Thomas Edison, Merry Shelly, Paul McCartney, Niels Bohr, and Albert Einstein—all who claimed to receive their remarkable discoveries and developments through visions and dreams—we begin to see the fact that dreams are not merely random or haphazardly concocted fantasy, as the scientific community has suggested in the past.
As we know, by ignoring key evidence in any study, we only cheat ourselves. Consequently, we intend to examine this phenomenon thoroughly. However, before beginning that discourse, let's get an understanding of the scientific discipline which can assist our examination. Here is Dr. Richmond.
The Clinical Work
The clinical work of dream interpretation, therefore, involves three things.
First, the dream story must be put into language. It’s best if you write down the details of the dream immediately after you wake up from the dream. But sometimes it’s possible to remember the story of a dream—or a dream fragment—even if you don’t write it down. Really important dreams will stay with you even if you try to forget them.
Second, you have to describe thoroughly and understand your psychological associations to the various dream images. These associations must come from your personal life, not from a “dictionary” of fixed meanings. Essentially, this amounts to asking, “When you think of this particular dream image, what other things come to mind?” Dreaming of Mrs. Smith from your childhood, for example, doesn’t necessarily “mean” anything, but what you thought about Mrs. Smith when you were a child—in essence, what her life, behaviors, and values suggested to you then—might have something to say about the problems you struggle with today.
Third, you have to discover the links between all these associations. This process is a bit like those “connect the dots” puzzles that reveal a hidden picture. Psychologically, you simply need to understand what this net of associations from the dream is telling you specifically, at this precise time of your life, about your current problems and conflicts. Quite often, these associations are purely emotional; that is, you can take a particularly graphic dream image, examine your emotional reactions to it, look back into your past for times when you felt the same emotions, and then ask yourself in what way those situations from the past have any bearing on what is happening in your life now.
When we think of dreams, it is easy to imagine a random progression of seemingly surreal sights, sounds, and experiences which make little or no sense in practical terms. Many times, dreams offer experiences while allowing little or no opportunity for assessing their meaning, at least not within the dream state. This is why it is very interesting to hear Dr. Richmond addressing the subject of dream stories.
It is very rare that I hear a person discussing such concepts as dream stories. We may be asking if the mind actually composes progressive stories with notable meaning behind them for our benefit. Is it truly possible for dreams to progress in a comprehensive manner to gift us with a valuable lesson? If so, this is profound.
The presence of some overhanging moral to our dream-time experience suggests that our subconscious is far more than simply a reservoir of untapped emotions and memories. This notion suggests that our subconscious is actually similar to a separate functioning mind.
To add, this presence of a sequence within dream-time story points may indicate an expression of the same patterns we see everywhere else in the universe. If there is some regular progression of events in a dream which can be organized and put together like a puzzle, this clearly suggests an order and organization not only within the subconscious mind, but within the overall progression of contiguous structure in story telling.
If this is the case, this may explain the structure of much of Western entertainment and story-telling, and why this structure is so commonly appreciated among audiences.
Perhaps one of the most central aspects of dream-time experiences are the associations with the people objects, places, and the accompanying emotions which come with the dreams. As previously stated, these associations are personal to the individual and cannot necessarily be defined by a dictionary or generalized key. Though some keys might offer some assistance in this process, there may be no better way to understand a dream than self-examination and introspection.
The above passage offers some very interesting insights and presents some rather perplexing questions.
What is a really important dream and how do these dreams compare to those of less importance? It seems as though these dream-time stories are coming from a fairly significant aspect of our subconscious (or possibly somewhere else entirely). Yet how might the subconscious mind concoct these stories in ways which require our conscious minds to decode them?
The more we consider this deep concept of dreams, the more questions that seem to come up for us. While we ponder these details, let's read what more Dr. Richmond has to say about dream interpretation.
Some Helpful Points
Here are some helpful points about dream interpretation:
You don’t have to interpret your dreams in order to solve your problems. But just as there is the saying that “Death cures cigarette smoking,” you might find that listening to your dreams may help you solve your problems before you run out of time. Similarly, although dream analysis does not necessarily have to be a part of psychotherapy, your psychotherapy will be enhanced if you make the effort to interpret your dreams in the psychotherapy.
Dreams are always “true”—it’s just that what they mean isn’t always what we think they mean. Sometimes a dream gives a warning of danger, but if you pay attention to the dream and change your ways the danger won’t necessarily happen. And most often a dream’s meaning will be metaphorical, not literal. For example, a woman may dream that her husband is having a sexual affair, but it would be a mistake to conclude that her husband is really having an affair. The dream is simply providing the woman graphic evidence that she somehow feels betrayed by her husband. Once she acknowledges that feeling, she can then start examining her life consciously—and honestly—to find out why she feels betrayed and what she needs to do about it.
Dreams often mean the opposite of what they seem to mean. The technical, psychoanalytic explanation for this is complicated, but it has to do with the fact that we often see our own desires as they are reflected (and mirror-reversed) through others. For example, if you dream that you’re embarrassed for being in public without clothes, it likely means that you have an unconscious desire for some hidden aspect of your life to be shown to others in its “naked truth.”
Images of sexuality are rarely, if ever, expressions of “love.” To the body, sexuality is simply an aspect of the biological process of reproduction and therefore has nothing to do with what we commonly call love. Therefore, in the unconscious—and in dreams—sexual images and feelings do not signify a yearning for real love, but instead they signify a narcissistic need to “reproduce” feelings of being seen or of being noticed, as a way to compensate for the fear of being abandoned or ignored.
“But I don’t dream,” you might say. Well, that’s not exactly true. Scientific studies have shown that everyone ever studied dreams, and so it’s generally accepted that everyone dreams.
Sleep studies have shown that we go through several cycles of light to very deep sleep each night. One phase of each cycle is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Whenever a researcher woke up a sleeper in REM sleep and asked what was happening, the sleeper always said, “I was dreaming.” In fact, even animals experience REM sleep, so we surmise that they, too, dream—but we cannot communicate with them to find out anything about the nature of their dreams.
It’s easy to forget your dreams. In order to interpret your dreams you have to remember them, so forgetting them is a real problem. In fact, those who chronically forget their dreams tend to claim that they don’t dream. You will remember your dreams only if you wake up during, or just at the end of, a dream, but if you don’t wake up, or if you wake up just enough to turn over and fall asleep again, you’re not likely to remember a thing in the morning. To ensure that you remember a dream you can write it down as soon as you wake up from it; keep a note pad and a pen by your bed—and tell yourself, before you fall asleep, that you want to remember your dreams that night.
We have several dreams each night. Because we go through several cycles of REM sleep each night, we have many dreams each night, and at times you may be able to remember several of them each night. Sometimes, in the morning, as you review your notes of a dream from the previous night, you might remember other dreams that happened before or after the dream you transcribed.
Don’t worry about being unable to remember a seemingly important dream. If it’s really important the message will eventually get communicated in other ways or in other dreams.
Not every psychotherapist is skilled at, let alone trained in, dream interpretation. Freud, with good sense, suggested that, in order to work properly with the unconscious, a psychotherapist should be well-educated in literature, history, art, music, and religion, besides having specific psychological training. You have a right to ask about your psychotherapist’s training and education. If your psychotherapist is interested only in TV sit-coms, well, good luck.
All dreams essentially tell us one important thing: “Wake up!” That is, just as you must wake up from a dream to remember it, the dream itself is telling you to “wake up” to the truth that you try to hide from others—and from yourself.
Repetitive dreams indicate that you are continuing to miss the point about the meaning of the dream. If you don’t “wake up” to the unconscious meaning of the dream but instead persist in seeing it through your own wish-fulfillment needs, you will remain stuck in your own self-deception. The psychoanalytic concept of repetition can be difficult to understand; my web page Death—and the Seduction of Despair on this website provides more explanation. For help with resolving repetitive nightmares, see the explanation of the technique called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy immediately below.
When we consider the subconscious mind, we may realize that this facet of mind holds far more potential than we have previously thought. (At least, this is true for myself.) We might consider all of the work required of attentive thought and consideration which we put into any task we undergo, and we might consider how the subconscious mind not only achieves these tasks without our attention, but actually seems to handle this task better than our conscious mind might.
If our subconscious can solve problems and demonstrate such acts of healthy guidance as it seems to, this is a remarkable ability.
Could it be that our subconscious mind is somehow acting as the wise old man archetype in story telling (or the Hermit, in tarot terms), and that our conscious mind is playing the role of the hero gradually experiencing his own self-discovery? From the above description by Dr. Richmond, this does appear to be the case. However, even though this dynamic between the subconscious and conscious mind are interesting, this does raise a few concerns.
Is it possible for the mind to be influenced so as to hinder its ability to guide us in healthy directions through dreams? We may know by now that the act of mind control is possible. Recently disclosed government documents have openly stated that projects such as MKULTRA were specifically designed to study the ability of the subconscious to store information and control a person through psychological trauma.
Though the example of Project MKULTRA was a clear low point in human history, these experiments did show the influence which the subconscious can have on a person's life.
Many times, the difficulties or traumas we experience throughout our lives will cause us mental, emotional, social, and even physiological problems if these are left unattended. These traumas are typically exiled to the subconscious and forgotten. However, in order to heal these, we must become attentive to ourselves in greater ways. And it is this self-care which we will discuss in the next article.
Stay tuned to learn about these subjects and more in Part 2 of our exploration into dream-reading.
Thanks to: http://www.discerningthemystery.com