When you think about it, it makes sense that dreams would be an avenue into that deep, hidden parts of ourselves. After all, dreams are the images we create while our conscious minds are out of the picture. While we are sleeping, the filtering and censoring function of our conscious minds is dormant. So the deeper, more essential material can come up and present itself for consideration. Sigmund Freud referred to dreams as the royal road to the unconscious.

The first step in using dreams is to remember them. One way of doing that is to tell yourself before you go to sleep that you are going to remember your dream and to put a notebook and pen on your bed table. As soon as you wake up - even before you are fully conscious - write down whatever you remember of your dream. You may recall only brief snatches or only a few disjointed images. Write them down. Even fragments of dreams can be useful. Following is an exercise you can use to get some idea about what the dream is telling you.



There are hundreds - perhaps thousands - of approaches to interpreting dreams. The one I like is a Jungian approach which I learned through reading Robert Johnson’s book Inner Work. 

  • Step One: Associations
    • First, go though your dream and write out every association that you have with each dream image. The basic technique is this: Write down the first image that appears in the dream. Then ask yourself: “What feeling do I have about this image? What words or ideas come to mind when I look at it?” Your association is any word, idea, mental picture, feeling or memory that pops into your mind when you look at the image in the dream.
  • Step Two: Dynamics
    • In this second step, you connect each dream image to a specific dynamic in your inner life. It is important to find out what is going on inside yourself that is represented by the situation in the dream. To perform this step, go back to the beginning and deal with each image, one at a time. For each image ask: “What part of me is that? Where have I seen it functioning in my life lately? Where do I see that same trait in my personality? Who is it, inside me, who feels like that or behaves like that?” Then, write down each example you can think of in which that inner part of you has been expressing itself in your life.

    Step Three: Interpretations

    • The interpretation of your dream is the end result of the work you have done in steps one and two. It ties together all the meaning you have drawn from the dream into one, unified picture. It is a coherent statement of what the dream means to you as a whole. At this stage you ask questions like: “What is the central, most important message that this dream is trying to communicate to me? What is it advising me to do? What is the overall meaning of the dream for my life? What is the single most important insight that the dream is trying to get across to me?”
  • Step Four: Rituals
    • By the time you reach this fourth step you have made an interpretation. You have done your best to understand the dream with your mind. Now it is time to do something physical. This step is very important because it helps you to integrate your dream experience into your conscious, waking life.
    • This step requires a physical act that will affirm the message of the dream. It could be a practical act - paying your bills on time or straightening out a relationship that has become confused. Or it may be a symbolic act - a ritual that brings home the meaning of the dream in a powerful way. Any physical ritual will serve if it affirms the message of your dream.

This is an excerpt from pages 80 and 81 of Lighten Up. Dance With Your Dark Side. Click here to buy the book.




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