By Jimmy Henderson

Dreams can be a means to self-or spiritual development, as they are an easy way of receiving information on aspects of our personality that need further work. We also read in sacred scriptures that angels can appear to us in dreams. They can therefore also be a source of guidance.

Keep a dream journal

Keeping a dream-journal is a valuable tool in remembering your dreams, as they usually fade very quickly. You will discover that if you write the details of your dreams down immediately after you wake, your process of recall will become easier. The journal also helps you to provide structure to your work of interpreting the dream.

The structure of dreams

Dreams are assembled in your subconscious. When you dream, your subconscious is communicating with you by presenting symbolic images in a dramatised and metaphorical form. Being able to record your own ‘language’ of dream-images in a journal will therefore help you interpret your dreams as well as any other visions you may encounter during your spiritual work.
Some dream-images are quite common, as our symbolic processes are the same. However, their meaning usually differs as a result of each person’s unique background and past experiences. I will therefore be supplying you with basic rules and guidelines to help you explore and interpret your own exciting and enigmatic world of dreams.

The dimensions of your dream

The way your dream is put together is very important as it contains elements or clues to its meaning hidden within its context, structure, form and composition. It also uses your present view of the world and framework of concepts, beliefs and ideas. There are a number of different dimensions or levels in your dreams, each having its own set of symbols and meanings.

The background in your dream

For instance, the background always suggests the context or theme of the message. Try to recall if your dream was light or dark and involved a natural scene or buildings of some sort. What you see as the background is only a clue to the underlying theme of the dream and should not be taken literally. For instance, the sea is often considered a metaphor for the ebb and flow of everyday life, with tides flowing in and out as events unfold. A dream playing out against the backdrop of the sea would probably suggest a problem or situation arising in your normal day-to-day life which requires attention. Likewise, a dream-scene taking place in a desert (which is usually desolate), may suggest a situation in which you feel isolated and alone and are seeking assistance. A dream playing out in semi-darkness may indicate that you are in a crisis (having trouble seeing your way forward). The idea is find a connection between the background of your dream and your present circumstances, needs or state of mind, by looking at the symbolism involved.

Your immediate surroundings

Once you have jotted down the background details, the next important step is to remember the immediate surroundings in your dream. This will provide you with more information on your present situation and state of mind as well as your outlook on the world. For instance, in ‘looking out’ onto the world, you would normally use the windows of your home or office. And in your dream, any building in which you find yourself would be a metaphor for ‘where you are’ at the moment. Try to recall the characteristics of the structure, as these can usually be related to your current situation or world-view. For example, a ‘small’ window could suggest your having a limited outlook on life. A dark and damp building could relate to your being in an unpleasant situation or having a negative view of the world. And a building or house in shambles could suggest that your present situation, state of mind or outlook, is chaotic.

The activities in your dreams

Moving away from the immediate surroundings in your dream, focus on the activity which took place. The type of drama, scenario or situation that is being played out, reveals the content of the message, which as I said, could be related to an unfulfilled need in your life or to some other issue which requires attention. You now need to ask yourself how the activity in your dream can be applied (metaphorically) or related (symbolically) to your present situation. For instance, a scene involving travel could be a call for change, or the broadening of your boundaries and the opening of your mind. A battle or conflict in your dream could be referring to a similar situation within yourself. Any threatening situation may be a warning of a matter that urgently needs to be resolved, something which is a real threat to your mental well-being or inner peace.

The persons and images in your dream

The next dimension involves the actual images, characters and objects that were presented. In terms of Gestalt psychology, every object or person (character) in a dream represents a certain aspect of yourself and you will need to ask yourself what aspect of your personality the figure represented. Look at the attributes of the characters involved. Were they large or small, aggressive or loving, threatening or supportive? For example, a poor, abused and helpless child could suggest your wounded ‘inner child’. A richly dressed, opulent figure could symbolically point to abundance or a desire for riches, depending on the context and what actions are taking place. For example, a fight with another figure in your dream could be pointing to a conflict within yourself that needs to be resolved.

Symbolic objects in your dream

Finally, consider each object that appeared in your dream. Each will have a particular symbolic significance and add detail to the final meaning of your dream. Objects can often be interpreted in terms of their practical uses or effects in everyday life and applied (metaphorically) to your present situation or path in life. For instance, a large boulder on your path would suggest an obstacle to be overcome and a crossroads, a decision to be made. Once again, the guideline is to consider what you will need to do in real life when confronted with such a situation or object and re-phrase the answer in a metaphorical form.

The final meaning

To unlock the final meaning and message of the dream, you will need to learn to link and combine the information obtained from each level or dimension of symbols, into an integrated whole. This is a straightforward process which involves applying your knowledge and reasoning. However, those of you who are skilled in intuition could also learn to ‘sense' the meaning of dream-scenes, activities, characters and objects with practice.

Author's Bio: 

Jimmy Henderson is a well-known metaphysical teacher and regular radio talk show guest in South Africa. He is the author of many newspaper and magazine articles as well as two self-help books entitled ‘Multi-Dimensional Thinking’ and ‘Multi-Dimensional Perception’. He has post-graduate qualifications in both philosophy and psychology and in his books and articles he succeeds in integrating his knowledge in these fields with metaphysics and spirituality.