Fishing for a Dream
Dreaming is one of the most fascinating experiences of the mind. At the same time it is one of the most perplexing. So often we know that a dream is trying to tell us something but still it's meaning eludes us. It's language appears strange yet familiar. If our unconscious mind is trying to tell us something why doesn't it just come right out and say it? Why the puzzle instead of the picture?
Well that would be too easy. Dreams are riddles rather than statements. They ask us a question hoping that we search and find the answer to ourselves. Dreams aim to broaden our mind, to teach us what is beyond our comprehension. If a dream were to speak directly to our present state of consciousness then all would be easily understood – yet nothing would be discovered. A dream is by necessity a mystery. Through presenting us with what we are unconscious of, the dream leads us on toward greater Self-awareness.
Our dreams are one step ahead of our current awareness. They dance within the twilight zone of consciousness, teasing us to step forward into the darkness of our being. It is for this reason that the dream is know as the 'royal road to the unconscious'. Through following the way of the dream we come to discover what we are personally, culturally and, eventually, collectively unaware of.
To interpret your dreams is to travel this royal road. Dreams offer us a passage into the unconscious, they give us a place to start. This is tremendously useful since it is impossible to sit down and successfully think to yourself, 'O.K., in what way am I unaware of myself?' You simply just don't know. Yet a dream tells us exactly what we are unconscious of, providing us with a way into the unknown.
So how does one answer the riddle which the dream is? First of all it is not the obvious. With any dream, be it your own or someone else's, you must first say to yourself, 'I do not know what this dream means?' Once you admit that your vexed your in the right state to begin. The dream teaches us most when the mind is empty and free of preconceptions.
There are no fixed rules for the interpretation of dreams. Each dream is unique and must be approached in it's own way. Dictionaries of symbols, dream books and various psychological theories offer us very little when it comes to the actual dream. For, again, the riddle would not have been asked if the answer were readily available.
Extracting the meaning from a dream is like penetrating the Holy City of Jericho. You can't just bang on the front door and expect an easy entry and you can't jump the insurmountable walls. What you can do is begin a procession – walk around the dream several times, then stop, wait and watch the walls come tumbling down, and the meaning come flooding out.
Walking around the city of Jericho is looking at the dream from all angles. Once you have a dream sit down and write it out. That's one lap around the holy city. Next list all the components of the dream, be they people, places or circumstances. That's lap two. The third lap is most important. Next to each of the dream components write down all your associations to the dream elements. After this you may also amplify the dream. This is done by taking various themes and symbols from the dream and finding similar material in mythology, psychology or others areas related to the study of symbolism.
When all this is done, think about yesterday's events and go over the material, tossing and turning the dream in your head. Now stop, pull back and wait. If you've made the procession, inspiration is sure to hit (if it hasn't already). Slowly cracks will appear and little insights into the dream will abound. Before long the walls will fall and the essence of the dream will be yours.
Let me give you an example:-I dreamt that I was sitting at the beach fishing but I didn't seem to be catching enough fish to make a worthy meal. All of a sudden two fishermen rowed in from the horizon with their boat piled full of fish. I thought to myself, 'This is where I'll get my dinner' as the fishermen took their catch into a nearby fish shop. Yet when I went into the shop all I could buy was fish that had been frozen. I was very disappointed.Here's what each of the dream elements mean to me.
- Fish – contents of the sea, of the unconscious, Inspiration.Fishing – waiting for inspiration, waiting for a dream.
- Not enough – not enough inspiration.
- Two fishermen -proper, serious farmers of the unconscious.
- Fish shop- a place where inspiration is stored and sold, like books and book shops.
- My dinner – my spiritual nourishment.
- Frozen fish – inspiration caught and stored by others.
- Disappointment – from the wanting of fresh, personal inspiration.
After sitting and thinking about this dream it soon reveals it's meaning. The dream tells me that if I want fresh inspiration I need to do more than just sit idle, and wait for a dream. Also I can't satisfy myself with ideas gleaned from other people's adventures of the unconscious. Their books are necessarily frozen inspiration. Instead, I must become like the two fisherman and make a serious art of dreaming. That way I'll have enough inspiration for myself as well as be able to nourish others.
You know when you've interpreted a dream correctly when you get an 'Aha!' reaction. Just like a riddle, all of a sudden you 'get it' and everything makes sense. The dream transforms from a chaotic jumble of images to a cleverly choreographed koan.
If you penetrate only part of the issue which the dream presents or slip up in your interpretation, then the unconscious will send a follow up dream. If you fail to interpret the dream entirely then it will often come again. This is the phenomenon of repetitive dreaming; since you didn't really listen the first time, the unconscious sends out the same message again.
You may also have a deep issue which will take time to resolve. Here is where we find what's called a dream series, where various dream images repeat themselves time and time again as the whole story unfolds. Within the series each dream takes you another step, progressively leading you to your greater Self.
One last but important point. Dreams aim to rebalance a partial or lopsided attitude. They serve to teach you a lesson. Once you understand the dream, you must put your new-found knowledge to work. Externalise the internal by applying the dream to your everyday life. It is only in this way that you truly honour your dream and greater Self.