Connect Your Dreams with Your Recent Life
Dreams make things easier by limiting the possibilities for what they cover about you and your life. Most dreams connect with events, experiences, situations and circumstances of the previous day or two — in your external life and internal one — or anticipate what’s coming up in the next day or two, a “preview of coming attractions.” You don’t need to look back to a month or year ago, or ahead to a month or year from now, because it’s outside the scope of time that dreams usually cover. Exceptions:
Your mind is on the more distant past or future.
They connect the distant past (or future) with the present. Even then, the connection is made because of relevance to the present. Dreams rarely break this rule of thumb.
Precognitive or past life dreams.
Your final step to connect your dreams with your life, therefore, is to reflect on your recent life. Look for anything that reminds you of something you recently experienced. When your dreams involve a person you’ve seen or place you’ve been to recently, reflect on it. Test to see if the dream connects with the experience involving that person, or place, or thing or whatever.
When dreams remind you in any way of something that happened recently, even if just symbolically or from the story, reflect on it. Zero in. Look for parallels. Look for symbols and ways the story is told that remind you of your waking life. The connections and meaning are found by exploring your related thoughts, feelings, and memories.
Day Residue in Dreams
Remember, your dreaming mind is a translator that takes any input and converts it to symbolism. When you review memories of the day while dreaming, you can see those memories visualised (or “rendered”) closely to “reality.” That “day residue” in dreams is likely to show up during NREM dreaming and is therefore likely to be less meaningful as highly symbolic and meaningful dreaming that occurs typically during REM stage.
Remember why you dream: to process memories. A lot more is going on while dreaming than just memory processing, but that’s a core purpose. When you recognize residue from your memories in a dream, focus on those memories and the events, situations, etc involving them. And keep in mind, sometimes dreams reference a memory of something that happens during the day because it needs deeper review by night (something important is missed), or it connects with thoughts and feelings that arose at the time.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Say that you dream about looking through your postal mail. The scene hews closely with a memory of looking through your mail earlier that day. In the dream, though, you look specifically for a letter from a friend. You can’t even remember which friend. You reflect on the memories brought up by the dream and suddenly remember that a thought passed through your mind at the time about a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time. You made a note to self to get in touch with the person.
Now you have the connector. The dream brings up the memory because it’s reminding you of your note to self, which is associated with the memory of looking through your mail. Symbolism comes into the play because exchanging letters is a way of staying connected with friends. It can also come into play in the case of friends who don’t write letters but instead send emails or text messages. When you plug that idea into the above scenario, you know that the letter is pure symbolism because you never actually get letters from that friend. Instead, think of the letter as a symbol for “get in touch with your friend; feed the relationship.”
If you have little time for your dreams but want work with them, or your memory of them is spotty, I suggest that you focus on your recurring dreams. Here you can do the most good for yourself and potentially learn more in the long run, so this applies even to the lucky people with the best dream recall. Recurring dreams come in a few types ranging from repetitive day residue, to serial recurring dreams, to Groundhog Day dreams that repeat themselves exactly. You can use how you understand a particular dream symbol or theme in your recurring dreams, or a particular use of dream symbolism, as a master key to unlock the meaning of other parts of the same dream or later ones.
My basic approach to dream interpretation is to find at least one part of a dream that I can understand, that connects with waking life, then use that information to understand other details and connect the dots. Then the big picture emerges. When I have a solid grasp on something that recurs in my dreams, I gain deeper understanding of how it’s used in story and connects with me and my life. For example, see what I wrote about lottery dreams. I’m the author who dreamed about almost winning the lottery, referred to in that post.
By the way, here’s my advice for remembering dreams and improving recall:
Identify the Source of a Dream
Rarely do dreams just replay memories verbatim. Instead, they turn everything into symbolism, and it’s up to you to hunt through your memories and think creatively to trace the symbolism back to its source. That’s half the fun. The dream is a mystery and you are the detective, which means your life is the crime scene. Ha ha!
Dreams can start with something you experienced in your outer life and show how it affects you internally, or they show how your outer life is shaped by your inner one. It’s a two-way street. Most dreams connect with events within you — what you think, feel, and perceive — and how you integrate new information and experience into the existing structure of who and what you are. Begin there and work outward.
[Example of personal integration while dreaming: Sex Dreams]
Identifying the source of a dream provides a path to understanding it, and the trailhead is found in your recent life. In this sense, your dreams are like a diary. They chronicle your life.
Sometimes, dreams connect exclusively with outer events, turning them into stories told through symbolism, but this is the exception, not the rule. A common mistake made by people new to dream interpretation is they look only at their outer lives for the sources of their dreams. Dreams tend to focus on inner life and what’s happening below the surface of your awareness. They focus on heart and soul and the person you are deep inside.
Studies have shown that most dreams are accurate representations of your everyday life and reflect everyday concerns. They connect closely with your emotions. Once you know what to look for, it’s not hard to find what they speak to about yourself and your life.
Look for what a dream shows you that’s new, that you didn’t already know. There’s always something new to be learned from a dream, even if it just clarifies or expands on what you already know.
Why Dream? Be sure to read that.
Particularly potent and metaphorical dreams can connect with something that happened about a week ago that was the subject of a dream at the time. An outsider is not likely to see the connection between the two dreams — they usually appear unrelated — but you will know intuitively that the recent dream connects with an earlier one. These dreams are particularly important to understand because they are like capstones that cover everything you have learned and integrated recently in your life. They address the biggest questions and most difficult issues. Think of them as like the Week in Review. You know the dreams I’m talking about. They’re unforgettable.
Dreaming has a magic and mystery that defies all attempts to explain or interpret conventionally. Scientists study dreams and come back with sanitized explanations that fail to capture the entirety of the experience — or phenomenon. Dreams connect the small consciousness that is the individual with the large consciousness that is humanity and the universe, so “phenomenon” is more precise. The scientific method is best used for studying matter, not dreams and other experiences of consciousness. Dreams can be studied and examined scientifically but not fully explained.
I hope you are open to the greater possibilities presented by dream phenomenon such as telepathy (communicating mind to mind), precognition (previews of the future) and out of body experience (OBE). As you delve into your dreams and work with them and your consciousness evolves, you will experience — while dreaming and while awake — things that fall outside the norm. According to people who know a lot more about OBE than I do, it’s a regular experience for everyone while sleeping. Yeah, you enter different realities that are just as “real” as the waking one. There’s likely to be at least residual memory of the experience that will appear quite dream-like. However, one study of OBE while sleeping found that it occurs during Deep Sleep, the stage of sleep involving the deepest rest and least brain activity. In other words, it’s not a conventional dream experience, it’s something more. I’m still learning what it is.
Resolution is closely tied with reflection. It’s relevant in the way a dream directly suggests something or helps you tap your deeper wisdom or ability, or how it influences the course of future events or connects with them. It’s a two-way street, so be sure to read that chapter:
Dreams can act as simulations. They help you answer questions, resolve issues, and solve problems. They ask, “What if?”
- What if you marry (or married) your high school sweetheart, or pursue a different career?
- What if your crush takes interest in you?
- What if you win the lottery or become famous?
- What if an estranged friend or relative suddenly reappears in your life?
- What if you are walking down the street and suddenly confronted by a person with a weapon?
- What if it’s the final moment of a big competition and the ball is in your hands, figuratively or literally?
When no other explanation appears to fit the meaning of a dream, consider the possibility that it’s a simulation. Dreams can preview coming events, acting as a sort of dress rehearsal. They can simulate threats and future situations. These dreams can act as launching pads for you to use your imagination to decide and prepare for future events or possibilities. See yourself making the big play, or adeptly handling a situation, or reacting adroitly to the unexpected. It’s the first step to making it happen for real.
In my book Dreams 1-2-3: Remember, Interpret and Live Your Dreams, I recount the dream a college student had about a little boy following him around campus saying the most revolting and shocking things. Like, Exorcist-level revolting. “Demon child” is a fair way of describing the behavior. We really struggled with that dream before understanding the life context of the dreamer. Earlier that day in abnormal psychology class he’d learned about severely abused children, and the case studies and anecdotes deeply impacted him. The dream personalizes what he learns.
It’s one thing to learn about something theoretically, and another to have a fully immersive virtual reality experience of it.
I’ve seen this type of virtual reality simulation cover subjects such as:
- Getting pregnant.
- Giving birth.
- Breaking up with a significant other.
- Pursuing a new career or course of study.
- Heaven and hell.
- God-like ability to create.
A most memorable interact came with a person who recurrently dreamed about serial killers. The scenes played out like Clarice Starling interviewing Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Danger electrifies the air, and the dreamer realizes the potential for danger in interacting directly with a pathological killer. Yet she’s also fascinated and can see in the mind of the killer. Turns out, the person was studying the pathology of serial killers with interest in making a career out of it. Talk about a dress rehearsal for her job! It’s like the dreams are saying, “if this is what you really want, here’s what you need to know to finalize that decision.”
Then there are precognitive dreams, previews of the future. Learn more about precognitive dreams.
Just because you dream about something that’s upcoming in your life doesn’t mean it’s going to happen that way. Most dreams about the future are forecasts. They reflect tendencies and trends. Like the guy who dreams about the big night out he has planned with his friends for that weekend. He dreams it’s a disaster and his friends bail on him, which is what usually happens when he makes plans with those friends. They bail, or the experience doesn’t live up to the hype, and the dreamer ends up disappointed and questioning himself. The dream merely reflects what he anticipates. Ultimately, the dream is asking him why he sets up himself for disappointment.
The Experience of Dreaming
Now that I’m done telling you all about how dreams are stories, I’m going to ask you to think of them also as experiences. While dreaming, you are in another place and time with no limits except what you place on yourself for what you can do and be.Dreams show not only what you are, but what you can be. In fact, some schools of thought teach you to view all dreams in terms of what they show you about future potential. Dreaming is an experience of mind, body, and spirit and serves their many purposes.
Dreams can be summed up as stories but never explained completely that way. There are always elements of the experience which are outside the scope of the conscious mind and what it knows and understands. I think your dream-self is an essential part of you that carries over into the afterlife, helping to shape what you become. It’s part of you that carries over from life to life, too, as I know reincarnation to be true and so do your dreams because they have access to the subconscious memories of past lives and even future ones. In the teachings of Don Juan, the dream version of you is your energy body, and the dream world is one of energy and thought. You can know this truth for yourself by becoming aware while your dreaming and learning to focus your attention (and reading The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda).
Wow, you made it through all the steps and substeps of the DREAMS 1-2-3 Dream Interpretation System (D3). It’s a lot to digest, but once you start applying it, you will catch on quickly. It’s fun and challenging.
You are now ready for the ultimate Jedi dream trick: re-experience the feelings and allow them to guide you.
Sit quietly and just bring your dream to mind. Step into the memories. Relive them. Say to yourself that you’d like insight into the dream, then pay attention to your feelings and intuition. Pay attention to your body. Allow your brain to take a backseat. Just observe.
Keep your journal handy so you can write down anything important that comes to mind. Associate freely, but remember that the meaning and message of the dream are the center of gravity, and everything that runs through your mind should orbit around that point. The meaning of a dream has a gravity that attracts the memories, thoughts, and feelings related to it. Your intuition is happy to guide you there if you allow it. It happens naturally if you allow it.
Play with the dream. Turn it over in your mind. Imagine alternative outcomes. Create backstory for the characters. Talk with them. Daydream. Dream interpretation is a process of remembering what you already know, and everything you do in that endeavor is to allow deeper sources inside you to speak.
Remember what you already know!
Your feelings can tell you more about the meaning of a dream than anything else.
The answers are in your heart more so than your head.
More to Reflect on