In the first part of this discussion I mainly focused on the purpose of dreams, the importance of dreamer as interpreter, and the most valuable time to apply the wisdom of a dream based my experiences.
Now I’d like to offer my method of dream interpretation, which is a simple four-step process. You can even fold a sheet of paper into four columns for each of the four steps.
Aristotle said ‘A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that is not opened.’ This shows us that dream recall is only the first step. After recording the text or ‘plot’ of the dream, getting to the deeper meaning requires 3 more steps: Extracting from the text elements or symbols, excersizing a free association of emotions or thoughts for each symbol, the subsitituting the meanings of the symbols back into the text of the story line.
The last step is the most important as it brings together and makes all your work meaningful.
I’ll give some examples.
A friend of mine dreamt that his cat, Fluffy, was hiding in the closet. As he wondered why, he saw a snake curled up in the corner of his room.
The symbols are the characters and their actions. These symbols are little packages of tremendous information cloaked in decorative gift wrapping.
We must unwrap our symbols by using free association.
Fluffy the cat= represented to him companionship and friendship;
The cat is hiding = repression or suppression.
The snake–represented to him fear
Substituting the meanings into the text:
My friend dreamt he saw a friendship and companionship suppressed or repressed due to fear.
In discussing this dream he realized it applied to a situation he was having with a potential romantic partner, a friend he was avoiding because he was afraid of the feelings he had for her. Thus, it seemed thru this dream his soul was telling him not to sacrifice his friendship but rather face his fear of rejection etc.
This experience is a good example of what I mean by point3 in my dream interpretation model. Every dream is valuable for what is termed pre-cognitive or pre-sentiment work. In general, there is a 12 hour window to apply the lesson of your morning dream upon waking, but some dreams last weeks, months or even years in the power of spiritual maps that they present symbolically.
Here is a basic one-
I once dreamt that I was driving a VW bus into a parking lot. Everything seemed fine until I applied the brakes which didn’t slow down the van, which bounced over the parking block and into the hibiscus hedges, feeling foolish.
VW Bus + Parking– traveling or working, parking= a normal daily routine.
Applying Brakes w/o stopping– brakes= self-control, not stopping= not working, malfunction.
Running into hibiscus + feeling foolish– hibiscus= other people’s property, beauty; running into= personal liability, responsibility.
Substitution of symbols back into dream text:
I dreamt that, in the course of my daily routine of working or traveling everything seemed fine until I presented with a situation which required self-control. A lack of self-control will make me foolishly liable for damaging other people’s property or beauty.
Application of the lesson in my day:
In the course of that day after waking up with that dream, someone said something to me that unexpectedly provoked a sharp reaction inside of me. I almost replied emotionally charged… but then I remembered my lesson for the day and simply held my tongue.
The brakes were applied when needed, and an important relationship in my life preserved mostly because I saw the situation coming before it happened. This is the kind of wisdom that is natural to human consciousness when we are able to pay attention on subtle levels.