Monday, February 1, 2010
Working on Your Dreams: Step 3 – Interpret
So, you’ve started to remember your dreams and you’re keeping a journal. You’d like to be able to ferret some meaning out of this mysterious material. Where to start? A book that I found very helpful when I was beginning the decoding process is a slim volume by Robert A. Johnson called Inner Work. He suggests that you make a list of the important words in your dream and then write down what you associate with each word. This is different from free association, which goes something like this: cat, hair, allergies, sneeze, got a cold, stayed home from school. The direct association chain goes like this: cat, hair; cat, catty; cat, green eyed; cat, Halloween. So, for each important word in the dream you make a list of words that are directly conjured by the dream word. As you write this list, you’ll notice that you feel a little surge of excitement around some of the associations, and that tells you that you are getting close to what the word means in your dream.
We live in a world that worships speed, but deciphering a dream is often a slow process. Be patient. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn, and the things you learn will gradually transform your life. In working with your dreams you are working with your essential self, and sometimes that’s an essential self that has yet to be discovered.
For some excellent and sensible information for beginning dream workers start with Jeremy Taylor's Dream Work
Dream dictionaries are fun and tempting, but most are downright silly. Tony Crisp, however, has worked with dreams for many years and compiled suggested “definitions” based on the dream experiences of many people. His dictionary suggests alternate possibilities for most dream images and can jump start the deciphering process. Tony Crisp's Dream Dictionary
For some good material on the importance of the dreamer as the ultimate interpreter of his dream and an interesting take on Carl Jung—not entirely sympathetic—see Gayle Delaney’s Carl Jung, Dreams, and the Sexes
If you would like an introduction to people working professionally with dreams, Anne Hill interviews many on Dream Talk Radio