Dreams: Understanding Mind, Spirit and Selfabracad, · Categories: dreams
Dreams provide a valuable key to understanding our unconscious mind, and therefore our true self. They may also offer an insight into our Spiritual essence and connection with the greater Spiritual reality. This article seeks to describe the concept of mind and give guidance on understanding the dreams it produces.
What is Mind?
If our brain is like a supercomputer, the mind is like the software that it runs. Note that the software is distinct from the computer it runs on. Continuing the analogy for the Spiritually inclined the mind is the interface between our physical and Spiritual aspects, ie body and soul!
The mind may be likened to an iceberg. The tip that lies above the surface is our consciousness, the minute portion of reality that what we are aware of at any point in time. The vast majority of the mind (iceberg) exists beneath the surface, ie it is unconscious.
As an iceberg exists within, and is made of, water which connects it to every other iceberg, so the mind exists within, and is made of Spirit, through which it is potentially connected to our Spiritual source and every other mind. This may be the mechanism of telepathy and other psychic phenomena.
As the iceberg extends to great depth, so there the contents of the subconscious exist at widely varying depths. The nearer to the surface the easier it is to bring that content into consciousness.
Our normal waking state has many inhibitions (barriers) that prevent direct knowledge of our subconscious from reaching consciousness; perhaps this is to keep us focused on evolutionary survival, but maybe it’s also to ensure we glean the greatest value (experience) from our incarnate journey.
Psychoanalysis - Unlocking the Subconscious
Although deeply subconscious content may be hidden from conscious awareness it may continue to exert an influence upon our emotions and drives, for good or otherwise.
The field of psychoanalysis, developed by Sigmund Freud, provides a number of techniques aimed at determining the contents of our subconscious and making them conscious, and by so doing (it is believed that) many psychological "ills" (of which there are numerous classifications) may be resolved.
Common psychoanalytic techniques include:
- Hypnosis, ie inducing relaxation or light trance in order to reduce conscious inhibitions. As well as aiding the extraction of subconscious content hypnosis can also be used to implant content designed to bring about desired effects, eg making cigarettes taste disgusting in order to curb a harmful addiction.
- Free association, ie subjects provide the first thing that comes to mind for a given trigger word. NB: particularly lengthy delays in responses may reveal the inner association is deeply repressed.
- Dreams, in the dream state our conscious inhibitions are relaxed somewhat, thus dreams often reveal significant subconscious content. However, although relaxed, our inhibitions are still present (Freud called them the "censor") and thus the actual (manifest) subject matter of dreams is symbolic of the true subconscious content. Thus it generally requires some work to interpret the true meaning of dreams.
What Are Dreams?
The simplest (but probably incomplete) explanation of dreams is that they are merely the result of random activity in the brain as it does its housekeeping, eg sorting and storing the day's experiences into long-term memory. This seems unlikely as dreams often directly reflect the dreamer's current concerns. Additionally, dream content must come from somewhere (the subconscious), and be prompted by something. Memory works by association and it's likely that dreams give a glimpse into our inner associations with what's currently high on our mental agenda.
The alternative (and in my opinion more likely) view is that dreams offer a valuable insight into the subconscious. Many people who take time to record and consider their dreams find that certain themes tend to re-occur, suggesting those themes most likely have some possibly unrecognized significance to the dreamer.
Freud suggested the mind consists of three parts. The id is selfish and childlike, demanding instant gratification. The superego is concerned with morality, the model citizen. The ego attempts to mediate between the two. But in making compromises the ego causes unsatisfied demands to be repressed.
According to Freud, dreams are the expression of desires that are repressed by the conscious mind, ie unfulfilled wishes. In order to get the past our inner censor the true meanings must be represented as symbols. The dream's manifest content is the actual things in the dream. Freud believed we need to decode the manifest content in order to reach the true meaning. He further suggests much of the repressed desires are sexual; something not universally accepted by later commentators.
See The Interpretation of Dreams or Dream Psychology by Sigmund Freud.
Even if dreams are a mere side effect of the brain's housekeeping they are still worthy of attention because: 1) the very process of considering can yield valuable insights into life; and 2) whatever is in the dream must already be part of our mind for it to be activated.
A lucid dream is one in which the dreamer becomes aware that s/he is dreaming and is able to consciously (partly or wholly) influence the dream's development.
Lucid dreaming is a valuable skill that allows the dreamer to explore their subconscious with greater “conscious” direction.
How to Remember Your Dreams
The more you get into the habit of remembering dreams the easier it becomes. Try setting the intention before you sleep that you will remember your dreams. Keep pencil and paper by your bedside and write your dreams down as soon as you awake, or even in the middle of the night if a particular dream wakes you. Don't censor what you write, no matter how disturbing. If you don't remember details it's fine to write down what you "feel", your feelings also come from your subconscious - just so long as you do it immediately upon waking, before your analytical mode has a chance to kick in.
Why Interpret Dreams?
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man. Alexander Pope.
Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. Freud.
The better we understand ourselves, the better equipped we are to live a purposeful and satisfying life, and dreams are an excellent source of self-knowledge, ie:
- To better understand yourself and your unconscious drives and in so doing to live in greater accord with your true self.
- To be more aware of messages the subconscious may be trying to bring to awareness. Very often the subconscious picks up subtle signals, or conducts more detailed analyses, that is possible for the conscious mind. Dreams are a key way of signaling its take.
How to Interpret Dreams
The best person to interpret your dreams is you. Indeed it is impossible for an analyst - however skilled - to interpret a dream with any certainty in isolation from a detailed knowledge of the dreamer.
The first consideration should always be the literal meaning, ie the manifest content. If this resonates with your conscious understanding, accept it. Not everything is sufficiently disturbing to need wrapping in complex symbols.
But if you can't understand a dream at the literal level then it is necessary to consider symbolism. Take each element of the dream and think about what it means to you. It might be something/someone that's important to you in some way, or it may be some aspect of yourself. Consider all possibilities. When you hit upon the right one you'll feel an inner sense of satisfaction.
If both literal and symbolic interpretations fail then you should consider either a Spiritual or an archetypal interpretation.
Psychologist C G Jung theorized that just as we all share common physical characteristics, so we also share certain common psychological aspects that together form what he termed the "collective unconscious". Jung believed this collective unconscious contains a number of universally recognized archetypes that have common meaning across humanity, eg: great mother, father, child, devil, god, wise old man, wise old woman, the trickster, hero.
- The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious
- Man and His Symbols
- Jungian archetypes (Wikipedia article)
If Jung's universal archetypes fail to resonate, perhaps your dream's symbolism pertains to your specific culture, eg the contemporary obsession with celebrity.
Although not generally recognized by science or psychology many believe that dreams exploit the state of reduced conscious inhibition not only to provide insight into the subconscious but also to give a glimpse of awareness into the realms of Spirit or source, eg providing philosophy, clues to one's life purpose, or even communication with departed loved ones. It is even believed that our soul uses the sleep state to travel on the astral plane with its experiences reflected in our dreams.
Spiritual dreams are generally experienced as being much more vivid and intense than others and the dreamer will likely recognize instinctively the redundancy of the interpretation process in such cases.
Precognitive dreams (dreams that indicate the future) are surprisingly common. Some may be explained by the sophisticated analytical abilities of the subconscious mind extrapolating current knowledge forwards to make a "most likely" projection of the future. But true precognitive dreams are those in which things that aren't significant to the dreamer or their current situation are glimpsed ahead of their occurrence in reality.
In my personal experience precognitive dreams usually describe events that happen in the following waking day and so don't remain unresolved for very long. If you are fortunate enough to experience a precognitive dream consider it a privilege to be given evidence that we are somehow part of a greater reality than the purely material.
Some of my personal precognitive dreams are described in Some Personal Psychic Experiences and their Implications.
Finding the Right Interpretation of a Dream
When you hit upon the right interpretation you'll feel that inner sense of satisfaction. If it doesn't happen don't despair, keep it in your dream journal, perhaps marked as not understood, and maybe in the fullness of time you may return and its message will appear obvious.
As with most things the more you study and try to interpret your dreams the more adept you will become.
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