"A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read." -Talmud
Dreams have held different meanings in past cultures, including messages from the divine, doors to another world, and the foretelling of future events. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, described dreams as a "royal road to our unconscious urges and desires."
In her book Eating in the Light of the Moon, Dr. Anita Johnston describes dreams as a "poem or painting or a story that bypasses the conscious mind and speaks directly to our soul by evoking certain thoughts, feelings, or images that resonate with something deep inside of us." She cautions us against dismissing our dreams in their literal terms, but instead suggests that we take time to understand the more complex language of our dreams in order to "develop a deeper connection with our inner selves, receive information for guidance recover meaningful memories and discover sources of inspiration, and resources for healing" (Eating in the Light of the Moon; 97).
For those of you who are interested in learning more about the messages your dreams are giving you, here are some suggestions in seeking these messages:
1. Be intentional in recording your dreams- this is best done in that time between sleep and wakefulness. What is helpful for me is to keep a pen and notepad right by my bed, so when I wake from a dream, I immediately write down any images and feelings that I can remember. Don't worry if you cannot remember all of it (this is normal); just record what you can. The more you do this, the easier it is to recall your dreams
2. When you sit down to try and figure out the messages of your dreams, be flexible; there is no specific way to interpret. There can be common symbols in dreams (for example being chased is associated with being threatened, people in the dream tend to represent different parts of yourself), and it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with these. Here is a list of 30 Common Dream Symbols , but even these vary by source, so don't get too stuck on them.
3. Asking yourself questions like what/who does this image/symbol/person remind me of? When have I felt those feelings before? How is this related to what I'm going through in my waking life? What qualities do the people in my dream exude in my waking life? What is my immediate association with this image? When in my waking life have I felt this way before? Is there conflict or balance between the males and females? can also be helpful in providing some direction, but know this is not an exact, linear process and it is best to take some time to sit and allow the ideas to come to you and not to overthink or overanalyze what is coming up is best.
I hope this post has inspired you to try listening to messages that may lie within your dreams and some guidance on how to start. If you want more information about Dr. Anita Johnston's book-click this link: Eating in the Light of the Moon; it is a great resource for girls or women struggling with their relationship with food, and a resource I draw from to use with clients in my Danville therapy practice