Dreaming and Meaning (or Dreameaning)

I have always had vivid dreams. I can still recall dreams I had as a child. Now as an adult, I still remember my dreams almost every night. These dreams are action-packed, somewhat disturbing at times, and usually vivid. I know I am processing a lot these days, for my subconscious seems to be shouting at me. I imagine many of you can relate to this experience, although I know a few people who rarely recall their dreams.

So, what do we do with all of the colorful, bizarre, and poignant images and symbols in our dreams? Do you write down your dreams? Keep a journal next to your bed at night? And, how can we take what we’re creating during slumber and find deep meaning in the tidal waves, hairless giraffes, and suitcases full of baby bottles?

I take a very personal approach to dream analysis.* So, for the moment, if it is actually possible, try to step away from the “collective consciousness” with all of the usual dream meanings and interpretations we’ve all heard, and Try this:

Part I: Write down your dream. Be sure to include every detail you remember, from the color of your grandfather’s sweater to the sounds and smells. And remember to write down what your dreaming experience was like. Were you aware you were dreaming? Could you make decisions in your dream? Were you an active “character” in your dream or observing from the sidelines or from above?

Part II: After you have recorded your dream, scan your writing for important words and circle them. Don’t spend too much time on this portion of the exercise. Obviously, key people, objects, places, and emotional states would be most useful to identify.

Part III: Now, rewrite your dream replacing most of the words you have circled with the meaning you attribute to these words. Here’s an example:

Original sentence: “I was floating in the ocean attached to a picnic table, while my family swam away, leaving me with all their luggage.”

Analyzed sentence: “I was floating in uncertainty attached to my childhood, while my security swam away, leaving me with all their [emotional?] baggage.”

Part IV: Feel free to re-write your renditions a few times to get to the heart of the matter. Feel free to post your re-written dream here!

*I attribute this approach to Leslie Conton, Ph.D., a cultural/ transpersonal anthropologist and Fairhaven College professor.

About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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