A second ago, were you running various solutions to a problem through your mind?
Perhaps you were fantasizing about the romantic relationship you wish you were in. Or maybe you were wondering what other remedies or approaches you could try to heal a health challenge.
Our minds are always busy... figuring out… longing for... or looking to discover….
Yet, what many don’t know is that when we’re asleep and dreaming, our minds are doing some of their best work –– giving us the answers to what we ponder by day, as well as all sorts of other valuable insights about our lives.
(And below, you’ll find 7 keys for gleaning the most authentic wisdom coming through your dreams.)
You may not believe the many notable people throughout history whose dreams have greatly influenced their contributions to our world….
Albert Einstein's theory of relativity was inspired by a dream; many of the unique plots for bestselling author Stephen King’s books emerged in his dreams; and former Beatle Paul McCartney reported that the tune for the group’s song "Yesterday" came to him in a dream.
Psychotherapist Carl Jung wrote extensively about our capacity to experience precognitive or future-telling dreams –– his own mother’s death was foretold in a dream.
And cancer surgeon and bestselling author of self-healing books Bernie Siegel lectures medical students on the importance of listening to patients’ dreams for insights into their healing.
Yet, as you know, the answers to our daytime questions and other important revelations that come to us in our dreams are not usually spelled out for us, like in a letter (although, sometimes they can be).
Most often, they appear as images: characters, animals, fanciful landscapes, even people we know or have known.
So, we’re left to work with these usually cryptic dream “messages” metaphorically....
We ask ourselves or a friend:
What does that black cat in my dream mean? Why was my ex-husband in my dream? I haven’t thought of him in years. Or, I was given a dazzling amethyst necklace in my dream. Who would give me such a beautiful gift, and why?
This is a great first step! Our dreams have gotten us thinking (outside the waking mind’s box). We’re letting in the wisdom of our dreaming mind, untethered by the influence of our ego, always at play by day.
But as we work with our dreams, how do we keep our ego and rational thinking at bay, so that we can further unfold our dreams’ important messages — that inner knowing that comes deep from within our soul and is refreshingly, and sometimes embarrassingly, honest?
Of course, you can’t completely fend off the ego or know the “exact” meaning of a dream, but you can make room for your dream’s authentic soul wisdom to shine through –– the meaning that is most important and pertinent to you and your life in that moment.
And after you’ve practiced the fun and life-transforming experience of tuning into the wisdom of your dreams, you’ll gain a sense of when a dream interpretation feels alive with something you’d never imagined or potent with something that strikes an emotional cord –– as well as when it’s really just your thinking, waking mind at work.
So, how do we distinguish between the reasoning of the waking mind and the real wisdom of the dreaming mind?
Here are 7 ways to keep your ego in check and soul’s wisdom flowing while working with your nighttime dreams:
1. Keep a dream journal.
Writing down our dreams can be the first important step toward remembering and working with them. And if you pay attention to what you include when you journal, you can see already how your waking mind is skewing the wisdom of the night. The ego will chime in (we can’t help it), but being aware of this and jotting down the first rendition that comes to mind –– without embellishments –– can give you a truer sense of your dreaming mind’s intent.
2. Listen to your body.
When you review a dream, note what sensation arises and where. Is there a feeling of fear in the pit of your stomach? Or, is there a lightness or warmth in your heart denoting joy? The body doesn’t lie. Also, notice if another’s comment on a particular image in your dream leaves you welling up with tears of recognition. This is one of the best indicators that you’ve touched something deep –– a fresh insight that didn’t come from your problem-solving waking mind.
3. Be curious.
We’ve all caught ourselves sharing a dream and then immediately saying I know exactly what this means! The ego likes this: to be right and have everything wrapped up in a nice, neat understandable package. But our pat answers are rarely of much value. Dreams come to tell us something new. That’s where the real juice is –– in opening to new perspectives and possibilities that you can weave into your waking life.
4. Look to past dreams and your waking life for clues.
Is an image or landscape appearing again and again in your dreams? This is your dreaming mind letting you know that there’s something in your life that you should be looking at. And if your dream images are also showing up in your waking life –– you see the man in your dream in a restaurant the next day, for example –– then you’re receiving a double-hit of pay attention! There’s no surer way to make a believer out of a skeptical dreamworker than for them to see the image or situation from their nighttime dream appear in their waking life.
5. Notice themes.
I worked with a dreamer once who shared that all of her 20-something son’s dreams took place in darkness or dusk. This is an extreme example of how a “theme” can show up in our dreams, telling us beyond a shadow of a doubt (pardon the pun) that our dreaming mind is really wanting us to notice and explore this re-occurring theme –– there is real wisdom there waiting to be received.
6. Share your dreams with others.
There’s nothing like another’s fresh perspective to shake you out of pat answers and wishful thinking. Link up with a dream partner or join a dreamwork circle. (Beware, however, that family members and those closest to you are not always the best dream buddies, because knowingly or unknowingly they may tell you what you want to hear and — out of love and concern — steer you away from less desirable meanings.)
7. Research images and symbols.
Look up the meanings of unfamiliar words that come to you in your dreams, as well as the meanings of the symbols and images –– an animal, such as a bear, for example. When you “walk around” a dream image and observe it from different angles, you can oftentimes discover what you didn’t already know about the object and yourself –– the something new that your dreaming mind choreographed especially for you in the mysterious world of your dreamtime.
And, one last general, yet all-important, tip for allowing the wisdom of the night to see the light of day:
Don’t ever let someone tell you what your dreams mean.
A good dream buddy lets you know the parts of your dream that touched or interested them and why. And from this gentle and respectful feedback, an authentic new insight can be born –– which you’ll recognize as it reverberates in your body and flows out into the world with your resounding aha! of recognition.
PS - If you're interested in advanced shamanic dreaming techniques to journey to other realms, you're invited to download a free hour-long audio from bestselling author and dream expert Robert Moss, Shamanic Journeying to the Other Side: