1. Start at the beginning
The start of the dream generally identifies what the dream is referring to. As such it is important to pay particular attention to the beginning of the dream. Without an understanding the beginning of the dream, it is difficult to identify what aspect of one's life and oneself the dream is addressing.
2. Get down the associations
Before launching into an interpretation of a dream, it is important to get down the associations for each element in the dream. What do each of the figures, places and situations in the dream mean to you? The more you work on the associations, the easier it becomes to interpret the dream. See how to analyse a dream.
While the art of dream analysis builds on a knowledge of universal symbols, the personal symbolism is typically more important. A dream speaks the dreamers the language. No great dictionary of symbols or dream interpretation handbook is required. Rather you have at your disposal all the keys required to unlock the riddle of the dream. When analysing a dream for someone else, again it is essential to draw out the dreamers associations.
When it comes time to interpret the dream, the associations may be fed back to the dreamer. In this way the dream interpretation will leverage the dreamers own statements. When the message of the dream is draws on dreamer’s own voice, the analyst no longer needs to be believed or held as an authority. Instead the dreamer learns to listen to their own Self.
3. What was the trigger?
Generally a dream is triggered by the events of the previous day or recent past. When writing down your own dreams, make a note of what happened the day before. When performing dream analysis on behalf of another, always ask what was happening at the time.
4. A dream is a mirror
A dream serves as a mirror. In looking into the dream you see yourself from another angle. For a correct analysis of the dream, it needs to be appreciated as a statement of fact, albeit from an alternate perspective. A dream does not tell you what to do, rather it show you what you are doing. The meaning or message of the dream is derived from an assessment of this alternate perspective. As Jung explained, a dream always aims to amend a lopsided attitude. It shows you what you are not seeing. The creation of consciousness arrives through seeing oneself in a new light.
4. Remain with the Imagery of the dream
A common mistake in dream analysis is to read into the dream that which is not really there. Freud encouraged the free association in his approach to dream interpretation, but this approach often leads away from the central message of the dream – off to wherever your imagination cares to take you. Don't stray! Try to stick with the imagery in the dream
6. Do the work
A dream is not rendered meaningful with little or no effort. When faced with the riddle of the dream we often give up too easily. Yet a dream is never too hard. Rather it is always pitched at a level just within reach of the dreamer’s consciousness. The great Freud and Jung had as much difficulty with their own dreams as does the complete novice. A dream is always a little bit beyond one’s comprehension. To understand the dream requires an expansion of consciousness.
7. Approach the dream with an open mind
In sharp distinction to the previous principle, a common mistake in analysing one’s own dreams is to think that you already know what the dream is referring to. If this were the case then you would have no need of the dream. To approach a dream correctly, start with a beginners mind.
8. Don’t literalise the dream
A dream needs to be approached as if it were a metaphor. To take dream literally is to completely miss the underlying meaning inherent within the dream.
9. Find the theme
The analysis of a dream is best conducted in the context of preceding dreams. When working on one’s dreams a theme will quickly emerge. The same figures and situations may appear over and over again. By working with the dream, and in coming to a new consciousness, the imagery of the dream will gradually change. Dream analysis takes time, it is a very deliberate and thorough path of self-development.
10. Do something!
Lastly, and most importantly, having learnt from the dream it is important to act upon on that dream. To achieve a greater consciousness, yet not act on such awareness, creates a split in the psyche. The inner is divorced from the outer. To truly integrate and honour the message of a dream, one must act upon the dream.
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