by Rev. Marilyn Muir
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
My original Dream workbook from the 1980s
Do you dream? Through my ongoing participation in the metaphysical field, many people have informed me that they do not dream. My usual reply is that they do not recall dreaming, as dreaming is essential to our mental health. Dreams are a safety valve discharging internal tensions. Most of the declared non-dreamers doubt my response, but I have done the research and have taught the process of dreams to many. We all dream, but we are just not conscious of our dreams. We can develop the conscious knowledge of dreaming, as well as enlarging and enhancing the dream process itself.
Disclaimer: When you work with any part of the dream process, dream therapy, dream diary, etc., you need to remember that there is ongoing extensive research which is constantly changing and expanding the field. Conclusions become questionable almost immediately. The material that I or any teacher can give you at any moment may be obsolete by the time it is presented. I have taken several dream workshops, personally done the following exercises, read a ton of books…and have still only scratched the surface of this fascinating field. Keep your mind open to changing and expanding knowledge.
I am going to use several phrases and/or concepts throughout this lesson. Let us spend a few moments defining those phrases and/or concepts, to eliminate any potential confusion.
From American Heritage Dictionary:
- a series of mental images, ideas and emotions which occur during sleep;
- a daydream, reverie;
- a wild fancy of hope, joy;
- an aspiration, ambition;
- one that is extremely beautiful, fine or pleasant.
- to experience a dream;
- to daydream;
- to conceive of, imagine;
- to pass (time) idly or in reverie.
- Dream Up: to invent, concoct.
- Dreamland: an ideal or imaginary land.
- Daydream: a dream-like musing or fantasy.
- 1) a natural, periodic condition of rest characterized by unconscious and lessened responsiveness to external stimuli;
- 2) a condition, as of inactivity or unconsciousness, similar to sleep.
- REM: rapid eye movement (occurs during sleep to the closed eyes indicating active dream sequences).
- a) having an awareness of one’s own existence and environment;
- b) capable of complex response to environment;
- c) not asleep, awake.
- subjectively known;
- intentional, deliberate. From the Latin conscious: knowing with others (please note the collective form of speech).
- Subconscious: beneath the threshold of consciousness.
1) not accessible to the conscious part of the mind;
2. a) temporarily lacking awareness;
b) not informed;
3) without conscious control, involuntary. The part of the mind that operates without conscious awareness and which cannot be directly observed.
From Encyclopedia Americana 1990 Edition, paraphrased definitions:
- Dreams: Sequences of images which are experienced by the mind during sleep. Scrutiny and eventual research began in the late 19th Century. Freud in 1913 published that dreams have two principal functions:
1) to attempt to fulfill repressed, unconscious wishes, mainly sexual and aggressive in nature, and
2) to guard sleep. Since expressions of such drives can arouse anxiety, disguise of the dream elements (symbolism) may occur, and disturbance of the sleep pattern usually occurs. Freud believed that most dreams were unpleasant, that dreams were “the royal road to the unconscious,” and interpretation was a psycho-analytical tool. Jung believed that dreams “originate in inborn thought patterns (archetypes) of a racial unconscious…common to all mankind.” Jung further believed that “dreams attempt to reveal rather than conceal what is in the unconscious mind.” As the revelation is imperfectly realized in the dream, all possible meanings must be used to uncover the message hidden in the symbolism. Jung used mythology, comparative religion and history as additional interpretive tools.
- Conscious: experiential, aware, ongoing mental process involving feelings, ideas, thoughts, desires, etc. By introspection, a person may gain knowledge by a breakdown of their mental processes and sensory input, thought, concept, etc. Degrees of awareness are measured beginning with coma, through sleep, awake, alert to danger, etc. Exactly when consciousness enters a developing organism is not known. Clinical evidence points to the cerebrum as the focal point of consciousness, but must not be confused as “the mind”, which is not located in the head. A thought can be examined, but must not be mistaken as a thing.
- Subconscious: (pre-Freud) a figurative way of designating the least clear or peripheral aspects of awareness, which frequently bewilder the conscious mind. Freud defined 3 levels, conscious (experiential or visible), fore or pre-conscious (just beneath the surface, sub-), and unconscious (inaccessible due to incompatibility of thought).
- Unconscious: all the mental determinants which are not directly accessible to the awareness of the individual. Dreams are said to illustrate the dynamics of the unconscious. Freud saw all behavior as determined and goal-directed, consciously or unconsciously, that nothing occurs by chance, instinctual drives and repressed ideas seek expression. Jung saw two areas of unconscious, personal (long-forgotten occurrences and repressed, unhappy memories) and collective (racial experiences, common evolutionary ascent themes, archetypes).
- Superconscious: (my personal definition) that in which we live and move and have our being. That spiritual or transcendent part of ourselves that knows its connection to the universe, to God, our Higher Self, our Christ Self, in which we seek union through our spiritual growth, our totality.
Eduard von Hartmann advanced a metaphysical theory of consciousness. “An intelligent, purposive, unconscious will directs the universe.” Inanimate objects are directed by the universe and this basic unconscious. Animals are directed by unconscious instincts, never to become consciously aware. Man is able to comprehend principles, so man has consciousness. Any mechanistic view of life will fail because it ignores the subjective influence of the unconscious.
Conscious and Unconscious
As noted in our definitions, mind or consciousness is divided into two broad categories. These are two very important, distinct parts of our minds: our conscious mind and our unconscious mind. Remember that the word “subconscious” is a relatively new term and is actually a part of the unconscious. In this class, we will consider the subconscious as that part of the unconscious mind which seems to lie immediately adjacent to the conscious mind and is occasionally accessible by the conscious mind.
My personal understanding, in keyword form:
- Conscious mind: monitor, gatekeeper, linear/sequential, limited, needs rest and unwinding;
- Unconscious mind: giant sponge, absorbs everything, indiscriminate, conceptual, imaginative, free association, limitless memory, unlimited potential, does not need rest;
- Subconscious mind: the part of the unconscious adjacent to the conscious mind, the part of our unconscious with which we hope to create intimate touch.
Our conscious mind is a very small percentage of our total mind. We are walking around, talking, listening and experiencing our everyday factual mind right now. This is the mind that we believe gears and determines our entire life. We believe we are conscious, volitional, pro-active, decisional people. We believe that what we are thinking with is all we have to use for that. In reality, our conscious mind is only the tip of the iceberg, an analogy we will use to describe the parts of our total consciousness.
An iceberg is a massive, floating chunk of ice which has broken away from a glacier. In spite of how large it may seem to be, the bulk of the iceberg is hidden beneath the surface of the body of water in which it floats. The ocean-going ship, the Titanic, hit an iceberg and sank, even though the tip was visible. The danger came from the hidden bulk of the iceberg. Our conscious mind, externalized, visible, as the tip of the iceberg, is proportionately very small. The submerged and hidden bulk of the iceberg would then represent our unconscious mind, with its potentially more subjective or internalized impact. To be truly functional and to reach a superconscious state, we must merge our outer self with our inner self. The concept of synergy suggests that such a union would exceed the sum of its parts. So our superconscious would then represent not only the total iceberg (tip and submerged), but also the original glacier. And it would also include the body of water from which it came and in which it floats. (The following percentages are approximate.)
Iceberg tip submerged bulk Complete iceberg, glacier, sea
conscious mind unconscious mind superconscious mind
10% + 90% =100%
Synergy concept: union becomes 200%
the sea from which it formed
Our job is to successfully merge these two areas of consciousness (the conscious and the unconscious) to achieve the larger dimension called the superconscious. We can call this process psychic, meditation, the dream state, bio-feedback, hypnotic regression, etc. We can label the means of connection and take any path we choose, but the end result of any of these searches is a union between these two functions of mind. In this class, we are attempting through dreams to make connections with that which is just beneath the surface, or our subconscious.
The unconscious has several functions and I would like to mention a few. The unconscious is the part of us that makes our body operate. It knows how the mechanics work to make the blood flow, to enable us to walk, to use our muscles, and to digest food. None of this is done consciously. I do not have the foggiest idea how to instruct my body to digest my dinner, but my unconscious mind does this automatically. I can make positive affirmations as to my general health and well-being. Other than that, I have no business involving myself consciously in the running of my body. If I am smart, my conscious mind will mind its own business and not interfere. Think of this part of our mind as the body-mind.
What about our fantastic memory capacity? Never mind those people who claim to have poor memory. Think of all the assumptions we make about our memories, the infinite variety of tasks we must do on a daily basis without conscious thought. There are unique gifts of memory and a variety of experience, but there is usually some form of memory. There is a part of us that is pure memory bank. It is like a great big storage complex with almost infinite capacity, soaking up all sorts of information coming through all our senses and experience. Think of your unconscious as a great big sponge which does not know the difference between dirty water and clean water. Sponges do their sponge function indiscriminately – they soak up everything that comes within reach,. The function of the conscious mind is to stand as a guard at the door to the unconscious, as a monitor or filter, providing discrimination. It is the function of this conscious mind to determine whether the information received, generated or experienced is valid.
The conscious mind is linear, logical, sequential and is ruled by accepted norms of society and experience, but the unconscious is not any of this. The conscious mind, as monitor and selector, decides, “That is not a good thought; it makes no sense; there is no such thing as a purple giraffe.” The unconscious mind is not bound by such rules. The unconscious mind does not care if the giraffe is purple. It can create or experience a purple giraffe, a pink elephant, or whatever else it wishes because it uses pure imagery, and is not limited to the knowns of the physical world. It can image a Pegasus, a unicorn, a cyclops, a purple giraffe – anything it wants…in any color!
The smaller, conscious mind can be overloaded or stressed out and must have periods of rest so it can unwind and clear its memory banks, particularly its short term recall. The unconscious mind, with its much larger storage and free association ability, does not need the rest. When we go to sleep, it is our conscious mind that sleeps, our monitor. With the monitor asleep, the sub- or unconscious mind does anything it darn well pleases. It can play at will, freely. Sleep, conscious mind – and let the unconscious roam freely through our dreams!
Have you slept with your radio or TV playing? You need to remember that your unconscious mind never sleeps. It is a sponge at all times. If you go to sleep playing the radio or TV, it is only the conscious mind, your monitor, which goes to sleep. Your unconscious mind, the sponge, hears everything, and with the monitor asleep, it does not know the difference between good and bad information. Have you ever listened to radio call-in shows? Do those shows express your personal opinions about bigotry, violence or fear? Do you suppose news about violence or stress in the world is reported on the hour and on the half-hour while you are asleep? Have you ever awakened distressed and upset and not known why? Your unconscious was getting direct programming without a monitor.
Subliminal tapes and sleep teaching are used extensively in the metaphysical field. Do you know and agree with what is being programmed? If you choose to play such tapes, place the sound near your right ear for more direct and effective input. Instrumental music is not usually a problem, but what about lyrics? Do you agree with every song that has been written by anyone, forever?
Right/left brain research has shown that the right side of your brain is capable of reading upside-down and/or backwards. It can hear both subliminal and reversed messages. The right brain is conceptual – time and space. The left brain is orderly, logic structured. There is a bridging between the two allowing information to pass between. Years ago, there was controversy about subliminal, satanic and suicidal messages on heavy-metal recordings. Many authorities at that time felt that it had contributed to a rash of violence and suicide. The issue was never resolved. Do you suppose any of the above possibilities that have been etched on your memory may not always have been good programming?
Many people feel they do not dream. As mentioned, everyone must dream. Those who say they do not dream simply do not remember their dreams. It is an absolute physiological necessity that we have REM sleep, the active dream state. Clinical testing has shown that any person who does not have REM sleep on a regular basis (nightly) would be unable to unload and unwind their minds, would quickly become dysfunctional and, as a result, could go insane. Much of what we dream is negative. It is possible for our subconscious to “block” the memories of the negativity in dreams as a survival mechanism. We unconsciously choose not to remember. It is the lack of recall, not the lack of dreaming, that causes people to believe they do not dream. People who are functioning normally must dream. Again, the problem is not a lack of dreams, but a problem with recall for whatever reason.
As mentioned, the largest percentage of our dreams are negative and are called nightmares. If all you remembered were frightening dreams, your survival instinct would suppress or block the memory of all dreams, convincing you that you do not dream at all. Many people have a recurring, sometimes frightening, dream which is the only dream remembered. Suppression of a problem does not cure the problem in any medium or method of living. If such a suppression has occurred, two dominant issues must be corrected in order to return to a normal state. First, you must become aware of your dreamtime, and next, you must learn to recall your dreams. How do you do that?
First you would need to reprogram your subconscious mind that not all dreams need to be repressed. Some can be actually beneficial to you. Next you would need to determine the root of the problem in your negative dream sequences. While you may be able to do this yourself, it is also quite possible you will need assistance. Some underlying causes are very simple, but others can be very complex and psychologically threatening. While I encourage self-help, one should not deliberately unleash an internal hairy beast without knowledgeable, psychological assistance. If you feel threatened when broaching this negative dream arena, ask for knowledgeable help. Who do you ask for help? Note the differences between the approach and motivation of a seeker, a psychic or a psychologist. Seek the help of a professional counselor before unleashing your unconscious mind.
REM (rapid eye movement) in sleepers was observed by researchers as early as 1953. Bursts of REM would occur approximately four to six times each night, the first about one hour after the beginning of sleep and lasting five to ten minutes. Successive REM periods occurred approximately every ninety minutes, each period getting progressively longer, until approximately thirty minutes in length. At various stages of the research it was thought that dreams were shorter, perhaps one to three minutes, and a long dream lasted only three minutes – even if it seemed like 45. Now that they have done more dream research, the conclusions are that we dream in the approximately ninety-minute cycles originally noted.
Research is conducted by controlling the sleep environment and attaching electrodes to monitor the brain waves so that the monitors can tell when the REM dream state is occurring. The monitor would awaken the sleeper during REM sleep, ask them if they had been dreaming, and then ask them to report on the dream. The subject would relate the content of their dream and then go back to sleep. If awakened randomly or purposely outside of REM, the subject could not remember their dream, even if aware they had been dreaming. Research with EEGs (equipment which measures brain waves through electrodes attached to the head) led to the establishment of brain wave pattern statistics. Non-REM sleep has slower, hi-voltage brain waves. REM sleep has faster, low-voltage waves similar to our waking state. During REM breathing, pulse rates are more irregular suggesting emotional disturbance. Relaxation of the head and neck muscles occur, and in men, partial or full penis erection may occur.
Approximately 1/5th of adult sleep is REM – higher in infants, lower in the elderly. Animals also experience REM sleep. Most of you will remember dogs who try to run in their sleep, emitting whimpers and quiet barking. Through research, it is known that we dream both in and out of REM periods, possibly continually. Recall is the dilemma, and conditions for recall are more favorable during REM. REM is no longer considered an objective sign of all dreams, only those of easiest recall. Everyone dreams every sleep period. Those who cannot recall their dreams will remember them if awakened in REM.
Additionally, there is a natural, personal cycle to our dreaming, with some dreams remembered more easily or vividly than others. Some dreams are remembered more easily according to where they are placed in your dream sequence – for example, the first dream after going to sleep, a recurring dream pattern about 2 am, or early in the morning before you awaken, etc. All recall is best if the dreamer is awakened during the dream and not at the end of the sleep period. Technicolor dreams are more vivid and therefore more easily remembered. It is possible all dreams are in color, with color just not being remembered. At the time of my research, no meaning had been determined clinically between color and personality traits.
A major concern with the dream research beyond the technical point of measuring the dream cycles, is the influence of laboratory conditions versus the natural sleeping conditions of a home environment. In the first few days of dream testing, subjects revealed that laboratory content prevailed in the dreams, before gradually returning to normal content. Even when returned to normal, the dream content was more prosaic than was encountered under natural environmental circumstances. My own feeling is that if you eliminate our knowns, the external stimulus that we all encounter naturally, and replace it with laboratory conditions, we all would have less exciting dreams.
REM Deprivation: We have an overriding need to sleep and to dream. Dreams seem to act as a safety valve discharging tensions from “unfulfilled aspects of personality” (Freud) or “neglected aspects of personality” (Jung). Aside from researching the cycle, quality and content of dreams, studies were done to determine the need for the dream state, and how it affected waking behavior. Subjects were awakened when in REM and deliberately deprived of the REM state. Three results occurred:
- the number of REM periods increased, creating a need to awaken the dreamer more frequently;
- deprivation of dreams resulted in disturbed waking behavior and abnormal changes in the psychological makeup and expression of the individual which could result eventually in insanity;
- when finally allowed to sleep undisturbed, the proportion of time in REM greatly increased for several sleep periods until the dream deficit was made up. Personality abnormalities lessened.
This is another unresolved area of research.
Content of Dreams
To reiterate, REM sleep is an essential part of each person’s life regardless of whether dreams are remembered. The conscious mind must rest and unwind in order for us to stay psychologically healthy. Much of what we call dreams is the unwinding process, a replay of experience, plots and sub-plots of our stresses, worries, guilts, fears, etc. Without this unloading process, we could not maintain our sanity. Our short-term memory would become overloaded and we would start forgetting everyday blocks of information, perhaps finding ourselves at work in our bedroom slippers. With this unwinding, you get a potpourri at times, flashing bits and pieces of memory and experience, which can be connected randomly or purposefully. This can be difficult to understand. Or full memories and coherent information may surface, allowing us a direct viewing portal into our experience.
Not all of what we dream is this unwinding process. Our unconscious is completely in control of our experience during dreamtime. It is the part of our mind that does all the work of running our body and our affairs. Since it is the part of the mind that is connected to all our life experience, it can use our dream state to communicate with us, about any and all areas of our lives. Our dreams can be specific, direct, literal, and also instructional. Since our unconscious can freely associate, without rules, it can also use metaphor or analogy to reduce any sense of threat. Therefore, dreams may be symbolic rather than literal. Such use of symbolism requires interpretation, by a gifted interpreter if available, or by your own willing labor.
Multiple purposes can be active within a single dream. Some of the dream content is the body working on its physical self, setting up images that match whatever it is doing physically. For example, physical pulse beats could be shown as flashing, a visual symbol within the dream for the natural physical activity. A physical itch could translate in a dream into shaking or moving, or bugs crawling on your body…again, a visual image of a physical process. If you have to go to the bathroom, your symbols may be of water. At times, our dream can be so vivid and realistic that we confuse physical reality with the dream. We can have “accidents” in our sleep because we are convinced that we are located within and are using the physical bathroom.
If asleep while raining, it is not surprising for water-related dreams to occur. A constant dripping faucet or similar rat-a-tat sound could cause you to incorporate or model those sounds into your dream. You could have this symbol as an ingredient in your dream, wake up and not connect the fact that it was or had been raining with the content of your dream. At one time, I lived in an old country farmhouse. When it rained, it sounded like someone was dropping nails on the roof. With its sloped roof, there was little distance between where the rain was hitting and where I was sleeping in my second-floor bedroom. The sound of the rain was specific and probably influential in my dreams. I learned to sleep through the sound, but it could easily have been incorporated into my dream symbology.
Sleepwalking is a common unconscious movement occurring while we are asleep and dreaming. With our waking consciousness in the off position, it is our unconscious that moves our body. By the way, you should never awaken the sleepwalker. Enormous disorientation and distress can occur to them. Just quietly and gently guide them back to the safety of their bed. Always awaken the sleeper slowly. Suddenly slamming their free-floating mind back into their physical body can give them a headache.
Since everything you have ever experienced is stored somewhere in your gigantic memory, all of it is accessible in the dream state. Since all you have experienced, throughout all your lifetime (and perhaps other lifetimes), from all senses and sources, conscious or unconscious, is stored within your memory, your unconscious has a variety of experiences from which to choose. Using a computer memory analogy (since computers were constructed using the human brain as a model), you have gigabytes of memory space. Some of that memory is on the desktop, easily recalled (conscious). Most of the memory is on data disks, recallable if you know how (subconscious). You could also have data disks which have been misfiled or lost in the process or of which you are completely unaware.
One of my daughters had a job troubleshooting typesetting machine programs which occasionally get lost in the huge memory banks called “hard drives”. Companies would hire her so she could locate, access and repair such programs, bringing them back online for their user. Does this sound similar to the job of a human psychologist? Memories exist to which we have no direct access. A trained therapist can help us locate, access and repair those parts of our consciousness, healing our lives in the process. Perhaps you own programs which have never been used (I have several of those). These memories exist within us, but are not readily accessible (unconscious). Our conscious mind, if not aware of the existence of the possibilities within us, cannot provide access to those possibilities. Perhaps that is why we use less than 15% of the capacity of our brain.
There is a theory that everything you have ever experienced in all of your incarnations, physical or otherwise, is stored in your memory somewhere. Reincarnation is a fascinating word! Let us for a moment assume there is validity to reincarnation, that we do have multiple experiences. I have never seen a rule book which says all experiences of a soul or spirit must be physical. As a matter of fact, since there is no rule book, our concept or theory of how reincarnation works may be way out of line. If reincarnation is true, we could have deep, hidden reservoirs of memory of those prior lifetimes or experiences. If these memories exist somewhere within our memory bank, could they surface periodically and in fragments through our dreams?
In other words, if we are talking about a replay of memory while asleep, which memory is it? Is it the memory of experiences from this life or the memory of experiences from other lifetimes? If your dream takes a piece from your waking reality and marries it to a piece from a past life, you are liable to get something that makes absolutely no sense at the time it occurs…or perhaps it will create an incredible insight. You could make a connection which is so valuable – one that could not have occurred in our waking consciousness. Why? Perhaps because we do not have the willful ability to make those connections at this point in our development. Instead, they burst upon our awareness, awake or asleep. Metaphysicians are learning how to consciously make those connections, and dreams are one of the tools at our disposal.
Dreams can be cyclic in nature, and follow a seasonal progression. For example, certain types of cultural dreams occur during certain seasons of the year. Betty Bethard in The Dream Book indicates such a seasonal cycle to dreaming. According to Bethard, spring to fall dreams evidence an accelerated learning process. October, November and December dreams are more integrating in nature, and winter to spring dreams vividly emphasize spiritual or inner growth. Bethard also indicates dreams are clearer and stronger from five days prior to and through the Full Moon. Why?
The time of the Full Moon is the most emotionally charged period of the month. Dream research does indicate more vivid content, impact, emphasis, and color in dreams. Dreams can be age related. Studies with children or pregnant women indicate a natural dream progression and archetypal symbology relating to their physical life progression. The youngest child able to report their dreams would probably dream about eating, safety, physical comfort. Then they would progress to small animals, toys, parents, siblings or other additions to their personal environment. About age three, they start dreaming about scary things. When four and five, and doing more external social interaction, dreams reflect such progress. Around six or seven, dreams turn to peer groups, teachers or school activities, etc.
A similar sequencing was found in the dreams of pregnant women. The dreams of the early state of pregnancy contain many phallic symbols. Next to develop are dreams of rain cycles, watering the earth, growth, fertility symbols, a whole nature progression unfolds throughout the pregnancy. Not only did similar dreams occur to the pregnant women in the studies, but these similar dreams occurred within certain months of the gestation period, suggesting very natural sequences and symbols.
Research also indicates that males dream more about other males than females, having more aggressive dreams about males and more friendly dreams about females. Females dream equally about males and females, with equal proportions of aggressive or friendly dreams towards both males and females. In the male mental patient population, there is a higher dream proportion of hostility towards females.
Think about the emotional roller-coaster experience of menses for many women. Dreams could vary widely depending upon which part of the monthly cycle they are going through. It is thought that men also might experience fluctuating cycles of testosterone, which could affect their dreams of assertion and aggression. Dream research is very interesting!
A small percentage of our dreams involve projection, prophecies, and warnings. How? your inner mind is in tune with and aware of the general progression of your life. It knows where you have been, what you have set in motion, where you are going, and generally what should happen once you get there. If I have a need for something that is located in Miami, make plans to go to Miami to fulfill that need, and start on the road to Miami, there is a good chance that I am going to end up in Miami. Why? …not because it is foreordained, but because it is sequential. If I get on the road to Miami and I proceed without interference, I more than likely will get to Miami. It is a natural projection of my mind without being psychic or prophetic but it could easily be misunderstood as psychic or prophetic.
Occasionally dreams seem to foretell the future. This used to be called “dreaming true”, but the phrase seems to be currently applied to other dream processes. There is a part of us that is not only future oriented as explained by projection, but is also prophetic. It is possible that an unknown and unexpected variable can occur on my trip to Miami. Due to a previous accident, I could run my car across sharp objects and get a flat tire, annoying at low speeds, dangerous at high speeds. My plans for Miami just got changed drastically by a previously unknown variable. To be aware of such a variable prior to the experience itself falls into the category of prophecy or fore-knowing. If I dream of the danger, I am fore-knowing and my dream is trying to warn me, directly or symbolically.
This can bring up another issue. Is the dream a warning or a program? One of my daughters spontaneously did prophetic dreaming while a very young child. They were usually premonitions of calamities or problems. At age eight, she became very distressed when she considered the possibility that she was causing the problems she was dreaming. I had my hands full trying to help her understand that she was fore-seeing, not causing.
If I heed the warning, I may prevent or at least minimize the problem. What if my warning negates the prophecy? Does it mean the prophecy is wrong? Would you rather have had the accident? Does being right really matter? If I save myself from a potentially dangerous situation, do I care if the statistics validating psychic phenomenon drop a point? At times we are somehow able to allow for these variables and to know what will occur. Since you can not know those variables prior to their occurrence, that suggests a prophetic quality to the dream.
Understand the difference between a natural progression towards the future, which can be unconsciously known and projected, and a capacity to be aware of variables outside your personal knowing. You know you are on your way to Miami (projection). Your plane gets hijacked to Liverpool (variable). These pre-knowing or prophetic experiences are potentially available to everyone. Will everyone experience prophecy? Probably not! The difference is between possibility and probability. We all have the potential – few of us will experience it. It is not because we cannot, but because we will not.
Who can Interpret your Dreams?
Rare people can be truly gifted with the skill of symbolic interpretation. If you are lucky, you may encounter one. If not, you will have to learn to interpret your own dreams and symbols. Symbols come in two distinct forms: archetypal and personal. The archetypal symbols are common to us all and are easily interpreted by anyone with common symbolic knowledge. Personal symbols are exactly that, symbols that have specific meaning in your life, but may have no bearing on any one else’s life or personal symbols. You are apt to interpret my experience based on your set of symbols, which may or may not be relevant to my life. That is why it is so difficult for one person to interpret the dreams and symbology of another, unless really gifted.
A few examples of archetypal symbols are:
- any form of water: emotion, how much of your body (willingness to experience) is submerged?
- flying: astral traveling, your conscious freed from the confines of your physical body.
- falling or landing: return to your physical consciousness
- Father: earthly or heavenly, a symbol of male authority
- Mother: earthly or heavenly, a symbol of female nurturing
How to Remember your Dreams
The ability to remember your dreams can be natural and spontaneous or a learned behavior. Some people were born with the talent to paint or play the piano. Others of us must work hard and learn how, but we can be taught. If you can naturally and spontaneously recall your dreams and understand what they are teaching you, congratulations, you should be teaching this class. If not, join the rest of us who must work at it.
Your subconscious knows that you do not care about what it thinks. You have ignored this part of your mind for most of your natural life. You have never been interested, and there is no way your subconscious is going to be conned into believing you are interested now! Convincing your subconscious that you are seriously interested now may take some time. Your subconscious, which reasons at the level of an eight-year-old child, will doubt your sincerity.
Please do not start this unless you plan to be consistent in your efforts. If you start this with your subconscious and are not consistent or do not finish the process, you will reinforce your subconscious’ belief that your conscious mind has no real interest in what it has to say. This will make it that much more difficult as you make other, future attempts to get in touch with your subconscious. “See, I [ your subconscious mind] knew it [your conscious mind] was not interested; it was only good talk and a good game.” Each time you reinforce the pattern that you are not interested, you make it that much harder for the subconscious to release the information because it does not believe in your stated interest. We are attempting to reprogram. Wait to start until you can stay with your reprogramming process. Once you start, stay with it…consistency will pay off! Remember also, dreams are not the only avenue of exploring your subconscious. You will want to keep the possibility alive of tapping into your subconscious for dreams and other purposes.
Preparation Take care of the physical part first. Stay simple and create a way to record your dreams. A pencil and paper alongside your bed is one way. A microphone attached to a tape recorder, hooked up and ready to go, can be put under your pillow. Do not strangle yourself because you put a tape recorder cord in bed with you. Do not put the recorder under the pillow (it is lumpy and uncomfortable) and there is the possibility of overheating and electrocution. You do not want a lot of physical motion involved when you record your dreams. Do not struggle to turn on a light, do not fumble around too much, do not get out of bed. Be prepared for the possibility of recording your dreams as simply as possible. You do not need the light on as you only require a few brief keywords to help you reach back into the dream when you awaken. You do not need a detailed description of your dreams while writing in the dark. Your recall will improve with practice…and a few simple notes will not disturb your rest.
Set a glass of water next to your bed. Be sure you have run all the little last-minute errands we all do, to the degree that you can minimize the potential of getting out of bed. Once you are in bed for the last time, drink 1/2 of the glass of water. Tell yourself, “I want to remember my dreams; I am going to remember my dreams”. I want to – I am going to! Water is the symbol of psychic energy. Dreams are a psychic-level activity. When you drink the water, you are literally using symbolism the subconscious understands, equating water with its own state and activity. If you should awaken in the middle of the night for any reason, make brief notes as to your dream content. You will improve with practice.
Let us say you awaken because you are thirsty or have to go to the bathroom. You must make notes before your feet touch the floor. When you awaken, you are more in your subconscious than you are conscious. As you get past that wake-up point, you become more fully conscious. Putting your feet on the floor causes you to become fully conscious, losing most of the subconscious dream content. Whenever your feet touch the floor, 90 to 100% of your dream recall is gone. Whatever you need to do physically, record your notes first, doing as little physical motion as possible, to stay in the subconscious state as long as possible.
When you awaken in the morning, naturally or by alarm, make whatever notes you can on your dreams. Drink the other half of the glass of water stating, “I want to remember my dreams; I am remembering my dreams”. I want to – I am! Within a few days you will be able to remember your dreams in a gradually increasing way. At first it may be only bits and pieces, but the recollection process will improve with practice. You are disciplining and conditioning yourself to remember your dreams. Be consistent with your efforts.
At times it is easier to remember a dream back to front. Write down the last thing you remember, and gradually work your way backwards into the dream. The last thing dreamed is the easiest to recall.
Aside from the cursory notes you will make at your bedside, you will want to transfer your notes to some sort of a dream journal. Attached with this set of notes is a sample of a dream log. While your journal does not have to be in this particular form, do note the various facets of the dream to consider, including smells, tastes, body sensations, environmental conditions, etc. All these contribute to your dreams and should be noted. Pay particular attention to the principal theme, such as flying, falling, drowning, sexual activity, public nudity, taking an exam, losing teeth, losing valuables, finding valuables, being chased, being paralyzed, being robbed, being attacked, arriving late, meeting famous people, etc.
Log one dream on one page and record the date. I would suggest a loose-leaf notebook so you may add or remove pages at will. I would also suggest the use of several colored pens. Select one ink color to record your actual dream content as accurately as possible. Include everything you actually remember, deleting nothing. All dream material is relevant. Within this section, do not include any opinions, questions, etc. developed after the dream. Do not mix the dream itself with material generated after the dream. Each dream is subject to several interpretations or applications. At a later time, should you recall more specific pieces of the dream itself, add them to the original dream section in that color ink but note it as a later recall.
Opinions: Change the color of pen for this section. Here you should add notes, theories, opinions, questions, interpretations, associated memories or experiences, extrapolations, free associations, or predictions. If you have afterthoughts several days later, add these also using the same color pen.
Outcome: As your life progresses, keep notes in a third color ink as to the actual meaning of the dream and the validity of your notes, opinions and interpretations or quality of prophecy. Particularly important are repetitive dreams, themes, or symbols. The more you work with your dream state, the more you will convince your subconscious that you are serious about tuning in and listening to what it has to say. Once convinced that you are interested and are paying attention, your subconscious will give you more and better information.
Symbolism: As you work with your material, you will develop your own personal set of symbols based on the observation of your dreams. Perhaps now you can see why it is very difficult for others to offer their interpretation of your dream. In order for them to interpret, they must use their own personal set of symbols which may be quite different from your symbology. You can use the same color pen as Outcome or use a fourth color to distinguish your symbolism. The material developed here should then be assembled into your Dream Dictionary. These personal symbols may be applied to all facets of your life such as meditation, psychic vision, metaphor, etc.
Dream log© instructions
Circle bedtime, daydream, nap, location
Date ______________ Day / Nite Circumstance ____________________________________
circle fear, stress, neutral, happiness, etc
B-W / Color Overall feeling _______________________________________________________
what were you doing emotional impact
Principal theme _________________________ Strongest memory __________________________ were you in control or a passenger or bystander; were you wearing shoes; who was there?
Report your dream in great detail. Do not include any opinions, extrapolations, or
associated memories in this section.
Change color of pen. What do you think the dream means? Freely associate __________________
other experiences or memories; theorize, extrapolate, predict.
There is no right or wrong , there is only experiment and experience.
Change color of pen. What was the outcome or lesson actually experienced?
Look at both the details of the dream and your opinions and conclusions.
Show how the dream worked itself out in reality. Watch your progress.
As time and experience progress, you will notice personal symbols developing.
Note these symbols in your Dream Dictionary along with any cross-referencing necessary.
Your Dictionary will become a most important personal tool.
Alphabetically seems to work best, using loose-leaf paper.
Once you have established a working relationship with your dreams, and the information is flowing and understandable, create a Dream Dictionary. Again, loose-leaf paper is best, alphabetical order by subject or symbol is easiest. Cross-reference as necessary and be brief. It is not necessary to write everything you have developed on a subject multiple times for your cross reference; brief notes leading back to the main listing is enough.
You will discover you have a rich inner world, your own personal Dreamscape, and a whole new language within you that is very personal to you. Your symbols are uniquely your own, and must be applied specifically to the experiences of your own life. This is why it is suggested that unless gifted, others cannot interpret your dreams accurately. As you grow, your symbols may change. Do not be afraid to work with a new meaning which seems to suggest itself to you.
Two friends of mine are outstanding with symbolic interpretation. Their skills are quite different from each other. One friend is very psychological, able to work with pure symbolism from the human experience perspective. The other friend uses “plays on words” or literal translation of the words themselves. For example, a mutual friend recently actually blew the head gasket on their car. A literal translation of the words “blew”, “head”, “gasket” and “car” translated into a mental explosion of a binding or sealing of a Karmic nature. Experience at the moment included the explosive breaking up of a long-term, very negative, manipulatively binding and extremely Karmic relationship. This is an excellent example of the translation of words and symbols.
Expanding your Dreamscape
Allowing your subconscious to give you the information as it desires is the most common dream state. However, you can do more with the dream state. For example:
- answering questions or problem solving;
- work on an area of self-improvement;
- do healing on yourself or others while dreaming;
- ask for clarification of a previous dream;
- ask to be symbolically shown a problem relationship and the way to effect a positive outcome;
- make contact with non-physical entities, guides, teachers, etc. (advanced students only), from the past, present or future.
Potentially, you have no limitations once you are fully in touch with your dream process. The only real limitation is that which is self-imposed. Simply declare: “I will know the answer to my problem or situation when I awaken.” At times the dream answer is specific and comes within the dream state. At other times, answers are received in symbols and must be interpreted. It is also possible for answers to be received through everyday actions or experiences. Insights occur – I call these “aha” moments. Perhaps you do not know how you know, but you do know what to do. A stranger could give you the answer, or you could receive it from a newspaper article or an overheard remark. The variety of sources for answers is infinite.
In a recent dream class, a student asked, “Can my brain pick up on the brain waves of someone else?” While this falls more into the category of telepathy, if telepathy is real, it can probably occur in the sleep state as well as in the awake state. I do believe that when we are in each other’s psychic space or aura, we have a psychic transfer of energy going on. I am not sure whether that qualifies as a brain wave transfer. I do know there is a psychic flow. This is very abstract…let me relate two personal experiences which will illustrate what I mean.
- I stayed overnight at a man friend’s house because I was too tired to drive back home from Miami. Since he had a very small apartment with only one bed, we both had to sleep in the same bed… nothing romantic, just physical exhaustion. Since he was not as sleepy as I was, and in an effort to allow me to fall asleep quietly, he decided to use the quiet time to work on himself. We were both lying on our sides back-to-back, perhaps a foot apart. As he started to meditate and work on himself, I started feeling his entire spinal column generate energy which then radiated into my spinal column. In spite of my exhaustion, it was a little difficult to ignore the power generator directly behind me. I said, “Do you feel that?” He replied, “That is incredible.” He was feeling it also. Even with a foot or so between our two spines, there was an incredible transfer of psychic or physical energy.
- I have been able to mentally affect people at a distance, especially during healing sessions. During my contact with my Twin Soul, I was able to awaken him from a sound sleep 1300 miles away…and he knew it was me! He then would call me to tell me I had awakened him. In some of those instances I was awake for his call. In other instances he awakened me! I am satisfied that we were in dream contact, but my satisfaction may not constitute proof. So is it possible for brain waves to be transferred? Probably!
Will a dream, once broken up, continue? Will dreams repeat themselves? Normally dreams are individual, not usually repeated, continued or easy to reenter. Exceptions do occur. Have you ever awakened partially and fallen back into the dream that you had been dreaming? I have. I know nightmares do at times repeat themselves. Some of our most important psychological dreams are of a recurring nature and are usually stressful. I have even had the amusing experience of waking from a dream to see a small billboard on a stand, like those used to announce coming attractions at the local theatre. In very large letters was written “To be continued”. Needless to say, I woke up laughing. Be aware that when you physically move around, or put your feet on the floor, you draw yourself to full consciousness, erasing or losing all or most of your dream content. It could then be very difficult to re-enter that dream.
Awareness of Dreaming while Dreaming
This is one of the most advanced states in the dream process…when you know you are dreaming while you are asleep. Once this awareness is achieved, the dream becomes somewhat subject to your conscious control. If you do not like the subject of the dream, refuse to accept it, and replay it until you are comfortable. If you do not like the way a dream is progressing, change it. If you do not like the ending, do instant replay and change it. This would be particularly useful if you were in a nightmare. If you feel beyond your depth or capacity, bring in reinforcements. Your inner landscape is heavily populated. Help is there if you need it in the form of symbols, guides or teachers. Do not, however, do so much rummaging with your dream state that your subconscious loses the ability to inform you.
Many times we have flying, falling or swimming dreams. This happens because, as the conscious mind falls asleep, the subconscious mind gets to free itself from physical, earthly ties, and the sensation is that of flying. This happens every time you fall asleep. If you were able to stay alert while this occurred, you would have a sensation of lifting and then floating, the state achieved when astral traveling. This is also called an “Out of Body Experience” (OOBE). The mental sensation of not being tied to the body is that of freedom, flying and occasionally of swimming (more emotional in context). When our minds return to our physical bodies as we awaken, we experience a sensation of falling or landing. At times, we are startled out of sleep, out of the astral plane, slamming back into our bodies. We can get violent headaches, feel very disoriented, and even fall out of bed. When this occurs, stay still, allow your consciousness to first drift back out and then to return slowly and gently, eventually re-entering your body. It will really help with disorientation and headaches.
There is a wealth of experience and progress available in these more advanced dream states. Since all of us are capable of all these experiences, first learn the basics, then learn how to tap into this rich inner resource. Many of my students tell me I visit them regularly, and am usually teaching or protecting. See you in your dreams!
Date ______________ Day / Nite Circumstance ____________________________________
B-W / Color Overall feeling _______________________________________________________
Principal theme ____________________ Strongest memory _______________________________
©Copyright 2021 Marilyn J Muir
Practicing Your Comprehension
- Define conscious, subconscious, unconscious, dreams, REM sleep in your own words.
- Describe your recurring dreams which often began in childhood.
- Briefly describe your personal dream history and recall. Do you fly? Are you aware you are dreaming while dreaming? Have you had an unusual dream?
- Do the lesson exercises for one week, maintaining your dream log.
- Record the dream itself.
- What do you think it means?
- Once experienced, what did the dream mean?
- How do your interpretations apply?
- Do you see any permanent personal symbology developing?
We all dream everyday – we must, to retain our sanity. Dreams are the rich, inner world of our subconscious, steeped in personal symbology. Remember, journalize and develop your dreams.
Marilyn Muir may be contacted through her website www.marilynmuir.net for private consultations and other classes.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.