Categorized | Mental Health

Dreams: The royal road to your unconscious.

My fascination with dreams had early roots. Many of my childhood weekends were spent with relatives. Middle Eastern spices, the laughter of my aunts and uncles, and the sound of backgammon dice rolling filled the air. In every sense, it was a colorful, fun time that I recall so well. Whatever troubles we had disappeared at these times.

After dinner, the silver samovar filled with chai was brought to the dining room table, as were the fruits and nuts, cakes and almond nougat candies, scented in rose water. The men moved to the living room to play backgammon and the women sat around the dining room table eating, sharing stories, gossiping and occasionally talking over their troubles. Then, it was time for Turkish coffee and the readings of the coffee grinds that accompanied it. One of my aunts would begin to read our fortunes. My cousins would lose interest quite quickly and go off and play. But, I sat glued to the table, waiting for my destiny to unfold before my eyes.

My aunt would give me a beautiful Turkish coffee cup filled slightly with coffee. In a mysterious soft voice, she’d say, “Drink it all up.” She’d take the cup from my hand and stare into its bottom. Squinting her eyes, as if she was reading its signs, she would tell me that all of my dreams would come true, life would be wonderful, and that there would be love, riches, and children.

I’d catch the twinkle in my aunt’s eyes. She enjoyed this exercise as much as I did. The reading of the Turkish coffee cups had a powerful influence on me. Little did I know then that I’d be fascinated the rest of my life with the interpretation of symbols–no longer of coffee grinds, but of dreams.

Understanding dreams is not as mystical as it may seem to you. Dreams have two basic functions. To our mental well being, a dream is like the steam releasing valve on a pressure cooker. Dreams relieve the pressures and tensions that build up throughout your day. They also allow you to get out impulses that are socially unacceptable. You may, for example, get to punch out your boss in a dream but never do this in real life. The first function of a dream thus is physical discharge.

Dreams also, and this is what really interests me, contain your deepest desires and wishes, anxieties, fears, concerns, and living aims. What drives you, no matter how threatening it may be, is the stuff of which your dreams are made. The second function of dreams then is to inform you of what your conflicts are, and what you want, need, and fear in your life.

There are books that give you the universal meanings of various dream symbols. These universal symbols rarely speak to the unique meanings you give to your experience. After all, you are the writer, producer and the director of your dreams. When people ask me to analyze their dreams, the more I know about them and what is going on their lives, the better my interpretations.

Do dreams portend the future in a prophetic way? When you have the experience that a dream came true in some way in your life—it is most likely because you fulfilled the wishes of your unconscious through some actions. If dreams do portend the future in some prophetic way, it’s most likely because your unconscious desires motivated you to act in a way to fulfill it. That being said, know that I do believe some dreams are truly prophetic. But, this type of dream is not my topic today.

Today, I’m giving you five steps that will help you to make sense of your dreams. To evaluate the meanings of your dreams, you just need to ask yourself some specific questions that point you in the right direction. Remember, it doesn’t matter that your understanding be accurate. The goal here is self-exploration. The insights you get through this process stimulate further insights, thoughts and intuitions. Like most everything in life, it’s the process not the result that matters. So, have fun!

Step 1. Write out your dream. No matter how disconnected its parts may be or irrational–do not analyze it now, just write out everything you can recall. Even if there are parts missing, just write down whatever comes to mind.

Okay, I’m going to make you smile with this dream of mine as an example. I dreamed that I was picking up the potty pads that I have for my little Maltese dogs. I was being very careful to wrap them up carefully, so none of the dogs’ poop fell out. The potty pads are white and perfectly squared in shape. I picked up each corner of the pad and pulled them to the center so the poop would be completely contained. What strikes me most about this dream is the care and attention I paid to how to best contain the poop and make sure everything was wrapped up neatly. I was trying to control the picking up the poop process.

Step 2. Day Residue. Here, you reflect upon the on-goings of your day, your wishes, conflicts, thoughts, feelings, concerns, worries and fears. Whatever has been happening, jot it down. Don’t censor and analyze anything yet.

For example, I struggled the past few days prior to this dream with finding a topic that I wanted to write about for you. I sorted through several topics, eliminating each for one reason or another. None of the topics seemed to come together for me for some reason. I usually write about topics that come to mind easily. I don’t have to think much about what I want to say, the creative process just happens. I was having a writer’s block for a few days.

Step 3. Identify Dream Symbols. Go back to step 1. What are the main symbols of this dream.

The main symbols of my dream include a perfectly square white potty pad, poop (the stuff the potty pad contains), and me, in an overly careful and perfectionist attempt to collect and wrap up the poop neatly.

Step 4. Look for Meanings. Do the dream symbols that you just identified in step 3 stand for something that is going on in your life right now in wishes, conflicts, thoughts, feelings, concerns, worries and fears (Day Residue, step 2)?

Yes! White writing paper resembles the perfectly square white potty pad. The doggies poop that I’m trying to neatly package in the potty pad stands for my creative process. Now, you don’t have to know Freud to see how the poop being contained could stand for my creativity. What am I trying to do in this dream? I’m trying to package up neatly a very normal part of a dog’s function. Writing is a very normal function–a creative process that you just have to let happen, without trying to neatly package it up on the writing space.

Step 5: Interpret the dream; put it all together.

My interpretation came from my attempt to control the dog’s normal body process. I saw easily how this might be what I was feeling in the last couple of days. When I try to edit too early, package up my topic too neatly, I stop my creative process. This is what my dream was telling me. Let it go girlfriend, my dream was telling me. And, so I did!

Don’t ignore your dreams. They aid your self-exploration and personal growth, and bring you insights that help you to solve problems. Dreams integrate your body, mind and spirit, making you more healthy and whole.

If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. I welcome your comments–and even a dream. Happy Dreaming! Deborah


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