Though we seem
to be sleeping
there is an inner wakefulness,
that directs the dream
and that will eventually
startle us back
to the truth of
who we are –Rumi
Can dreams really wake us up to who we are? In my estimation, even dreams not recalled can positively influence us, if not alway on a conscious level. But sometimes our logical left-brained side wants in on the party; and a pointed interpretation of any given dream can be quite useful in navigating life’s daily twists and turns. An effort to record and interpret your dreams merits an entry on your daily to-do list. I say this with the complete understanding that one more thing in the daily drudgery of to-dos may just put you over the edge. But interpreting dreams can feel quite futile in the beginning stages when we are unaccustomed the process, and a certain amount of trial and error increases confidence and ability. And makes the process more fun.
One essential tip from the many I’m learned over the years: Avoid standardized ways of interpreting dreams. In a dream featuring a police man, the nice officer will likely have a different significance in my dream than it will in yours. And since the cast of characters in your dreams often represent aspects of oneself, a brief exploration of your associations around policemen may signify a part of you who is intolerant, or is wanting to be of service, frequently feels at-risk, or is powerful-all depending on individual interpretation.
Instead, discern what the variety of oddball people, objects, and events in your dreams mean to you. In a dream featuring a gleaming white fence, ask yourself: How do I see the fence, or fences in general? Do they signify healthy boundaries, something that blocks one’s view, or do they indicate attainment (as in white picket fence)? Often, dream symbols cleverly signify multiple things; so a fence in your dream might mean boundaries, a block, and attainment. The recognition of this clever use of alegory—outside normal awareness–can seem like magic.
Dreams often don’t provide answers in themselves, but give you enough new information about your unconscious landscape to broaden your field of vision and show you a perspective that you were unaware of. They sometimes do, however, give specific advice, or even foreshadow or foretell an event. I discovered some years after I adopted a dog from a family who was quite insistent that I didn’t change her name, that I had already had a dream about this dog and had recorded many of the details of the dream which matched the actual event, including the dog’s name.
A friend, Anna, wrote of her recent dream:
Last night I dreamt I was traveling, probably via a large ship. At port, there was a huge crowd, confusion, jostling, I was alone but had identified another passenger that I was keeping an eye on because I thought we were headed to the same place. At the point of access there was a bottleneck. Again, I had some anxiety about being able to find my way. A man I knew (but don’t recognize in real life)called out to me and said he’d left his coat on the ship and asked me/pleaded with me to go get it. He said it was at seat P18. Back on ship, I walked amidst the bunks looking for some way to identify P18. I passed 3 or 4 young girls all about the same age (10), each sitting up in their bunk (like at camp) and staring ahead. They looked similar–blank stares, not much emotion, blonde. I knew they were the orphans and I felt sad for them. One of them pointed out where the numbers on the beds were located and I found I was standing right beside P18. Then I woke up.
Any thoughts about this very rich dream? Anna asked: “What does it mean if there’s a specific number in a dream?”
If I was doing the interpreting, I would look at the numbers for any reflection of events in Anna’s life at that age. Same with the age of the orphan girls–did anything significant happening at age 10 or age 18? It seems that the orphan girls had some pertinent information to share. So was there something she discovered at age 10 was particularly influential? It might even be a quality that was lost at around age 10 that Anna need to regain.
I’m very curious to know what others think. Please give me your thoughts about how you might interepret Anna’s dream via the comment box below.