“And you get a head, a head full of dreams, You can see the change you want to be what you want to be”
– Coldplay, A Head Full of Dreams
Dreams are fun. Sure, sometimes they scare the crap out you, make you sweaty, cry or possibly the worst things, when you die in them or are paralyzed. Other times they are magical, empowering, full of love and connection and guidance. Again, those might only be my experiences, but I do not think I am alone.
Why do we love them? Personally, I love dreams because they provide clues and insights into our busy brains and connects us back to our souls which are allowed to speak in such a way that we might actually get it. In essence, when we are asleep, we are slowed down enough to let our inner guidance speak.
So, this is dreams part two. If you missed the previous post, it is not required reading for this post. Life is hard enough, so you read these posts in whatever order speaks to you.
I have slept five nights since I wrote the last post. In that time, I have only recalled one complete dream and retained assorted blips and images from other nights. Ironic? Definitely. Does that mean I didn’t dream? Doubtful. More likely, I just don’t remember anything. However, three people have reached out to me in the last 48 hours to say they have dreamt about my mother. None of these dreamers reported a message for me, nor was I in any of these dreams, but they all let me know she came to them. I see you Mom, and thank you for popping in, even if it wasn’t directly in my subconscious. Is it also a coincidence that tomorrow marks the 19th anniversary of my dad’s passing, or that her would be 71st birthday is Monday? Not to me.
So, I said I would talk about other things in this next post that I didn’t get to last time. Lucid dreaming is one thing that I only know of because it seems to happen to me a lot. I am not an expert on how to trigger them, so if that is your interest there are scads of resources on this topic and I invite you to look into them. Essentially, these are dreams you have during which you know that you are dreaming. Some say these dreams are more vivid and that being aware that you are dreaming allows you to control the outcome. I would not agree on the vivid part but the outcome control I would agree with.
I had a lucid dream over the summer that had me house sitting for my cousin. It was a beautiful house, though not her actual house, and I had to fend off some intruders that attempted to make their way in her house. I could tell these dream thugs were up to no good so right before they made their move toward me, I knew I didn’t want to experience or watch what would come next and I decided to wake up to make it stop. I have had other dreams where I am flying and then can decide where I want to travel to next. All dreams are cool if you ask me, and while I have experienced some lucid dreams, I do not know what makes them happen as compared to other kinds of dreams.
So, what about symbols in dreams? I have read a bit about this and I have feelings on this, but I would argue that nearly everything in dreams is a symbol of some kind or another. And further, that each symbol is subject to the interpretation of the dreamer and is completely subjective. This is not to say that if I dream of something really unusual like a white deer running in the field behind my house that I won’t Google that shit because I will just to see what Aunty Flo has to say about it. I also have a really cool book on dream symbology that I will refer to just to see what, if anything, lands for me. You see, on some level certain things can be considered fairly universal. Water in dreams is said to symbolize emotion for example. Is that always the case? Or course not. Or take the idea of flying which is said to symbolize freedom. Might an eagle also symbolize freedom? Or the National Anthem? Definitely. I highly recommend grain of salt when considering symbols in your dreams.
One really helpful tool I was taught regarding dream interpretation is to write dreams down and then go through each and every item, symbol or person in the dream and write what you connect or associate with each. This takes a long time so I would not do this with every dream. I save it for the big ones, like when I dreamt earlier this year that I died. Or when I have dreams that run in themes, I work this method too. You would be surprised what this level of analysis might show you after a deep dive. My death dream for example was scattered with insecurities and symbols of living in the past. At the end of the dream, when I was actually dead or on my way to dead, I was told that I can’t take it with me. In typical dream fashion, the thing I was told I couldn’t take was a fountain Diet Pepsi which was something I used to drink after an evening out. Does that mean I can’t drink Diet Pepsi ever again? Or, more likely, that I can’t live in the past anymore if I want to move to the next phase of my life? As I said, interpretation of symbols is up to each dreamer.
Another thing I was also taught about dream analysis that I find beyond disturbing is that on some level, we are EVERY PERSON in our dreams. Think about the people that pop into your dreams, whether that is an ex or an arch nemesis, a creepy teacher from grammar school or Danny Wegman. On some deep level that you probably do not care to think about, there is an element of that person that resonates with your behavior or your feelings of yourself at the time of the dream. There is also some lore that if you dream of a place often, say your childhood home or your workplace, that you have some unprocessed stuff to deal with from that time (or place) in your life.
So back to the white deer running in the field behind my house. (Yes, that was a real dream from a few weeks ago.) In my last post, I mentioned spirit animals. I feel they are worth mentioning here because animals very often are messengers from our higher self, or subconscious mind. What is a spirit animal you ask? This is worthy of a separate post because it is a topic I have spent a lot of time studying but the cliff notes version is that spirit animals come to us as teachers or messengers. Animals are innately intuitive and connected to the earth and each other. Their attributes are often applicable to our lives and lessons we may need to learn. Some are temporary or situational to help with problems or obstacles, while some are with us throughout our lifetime. Their meanings and lessons can vary depending upon what resource you consider and what lands for you in your life. I feel like they come in both sleep and waking life, but it might be easier to encounter your spirit animal in a dream than your daily life. For example, hawks are an animal I connect with and I see them all the time in my waking life but I almost never dream of them. On the other hand, elephants are also an animal I connect with but it is unlikely I will see an elephant in my day to day so dreaming might be essential. You get the idea.
A few years ago, as I was drifting off to sleep, I made an intention to see my spirit animal. That night I had a very powerful dream about an elephant, it was massive and red with fancy jeweled adornments on its head like you might see in India. It was beautiful and I can still clearly picture it in my mind’s eye. Later that fall during my first Reiki attunement, I saw the same elephant in my head. I told my teacher about it after we were done, and she grabbed her phone off her desk to show the image that was her phone wallpaper. Of course it was a red bejeweled elephant. I was stunned at the ‘coincidence’ and simply said “Whoa.”
If you find you can’t get enough dream talk or you just want to go deeper, I recommend an amazing book that will help you explore your own dreams. It is called “Dreaming at the Gates: How Dreams Guide Us,” by Kathryn Ridall PhD. Another book that I just started this week is “Death Is But a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life's End,” by Dr. Christopher Kerr. He is the Chief Medical Officer at Hospice Buffalo. Admittedly this book might be a little heavy for some but what I have read so far is fascinating and very moving. He and his research team followed patient dreams at end of life and recount patterns of dreams and how they change at the end of life. Dreams offer release, comfort, processing and freedom for these patients though each person’s experience is unique.
Our bodies and brains are built for dreaming and it is an essential part of life and healing. I hope some of what has been shared in these last couple posts offers you suggestions to get more richness from your dreams and find deeper meaning if you are so inclined.
Keep dreaming folks and as always, I invite you to share your thoughts! I love dream talk. Xoxo