Below are described simple techniques which make it possible to gain information quickly from dreams. They have been put as a series of questions.
What is the background to the dream? The most imponant aspects of your everyday life may have influenced the dream or feature in it. Briefly consider any aspects of your life which connect with what appears in the dream. Example: ‘1 have a plane to catch. I get to the plane but the suitcase is never big enough for my clothing which I have left behind. I am always anxious about stuff left behind. I wake still with the feeling of anxiety’ (Jane). When asked, Jane said plane flights had been a big feature of her life. She had moved home often, travelling to different pans of the world, leaving friends and loved ones behind.
What is the main action in the dream? There is often an overall activity such as walking, looking, worrying, building something, or trying to escape. Define what it is and consider if it is expressive of something you are doing in waking life. Activities such as walking or building a house need to be seen as generalisations; walking can simply represent taking a direction in life. When you have defined the action, look for further information under the other headings in this book, such as swimming or sitting.
What is your role in the dream? Are you a friend, lover, soldier, dictator, watcher or participant in the dream? Consider this in relationship with your everyday life, especially in connection with how the dream presents it. Where possible, look for the entry on the role in this book. See dreamer.
Are you active or passive in the dream? By passive is meant not taking the leading role, being only an observer, being directed by other people and events, If you are passive, consider if you live in a similar attitude in your life. See active/passive.
What do you feel in the dream? Define what is felt emotionally and physically. In the physical sense are you tired, cold, relaxed or hungry? In the emotional sense do you feel sad, angry, lost, tender or frightened anywhere in the dream? This helps clarify what feeling area the dream is dealing with. It is important also to define whether the feelings in the dream were satisfyingly expressed or whether held back. If held back they need fuller expression. See emotions and mood.
Is there a because’ factor in the dream? In many dreams something happens, fails to happen, or appears . . . because! For instance, trapped in a room you find a door to escape through. All is dark beyond and you do not go through the door ‘because’ you are frightened of the dark. In this case the ‘because’ factor is fear. The dream also suggests you are trapped in an unsatisfying life through fear of opportunity or the unknown.
Am I meeting the things I fear in my dream? Because a dream is an entirely inward thing, we create it completely out of our own internal feelings, images, creativity, habits and insights. So even the monsters of our dream are a pan of ourself. If we run from them it is only aspects of ourself we are avoiding. Through defining what feelings occur in the dream you may be able to clarify what it is you are avoiding. See nightmares; dream as spiritual guide.
What does the dream mean? We alone create the dream while asleep. Therefore, by looking at each symbol or aspect of the dream, we can discover from what feelings, thoughts or experience, what drive or what insight we have created the drama of the dream. In a playful relaxed way, express whatever you think, feel, remember or fantasise when you hold each symbol in mind. Say or write it all, even the seemingly trivial or dangerous’ bits. It helps to act the pan of each thing if you can; for instance as a house you might describe yourself as ‘a bit old, but with open doors for family and friends to come in and out. I feel solid and dependable, but I sense there is something hidden in my cellar’. Such statements portray oneself graphically. Consider whatever information you gather as descriptive of your waking life. Try to summarise it, as this will aid the gaining of insight.
Try amplifying your dream You will need the help of one or two friends to use this method. The basis is to take the role of each part of the dream, as described above. This may seem strange at first, but persist. Supposing your name is Julia and you dreamt you were carrying an umbrella, but failed to use it even though it was raining, you would talk in the first person present—I am an umbrella. Julia is carrying me but for some reason doesn’t use me.’ Having finished saying what you could about yourself, your friend(s) then ask you questions about yourself as the dream figure or object. These questions need to be simple and directly about the dream symbol. So they could ask Are you an old umbrella?’ Does Julia know she is canying you?’ ‘What is your function as an umbrella? ‘Are you big enough to shelter Julia and someone else?’ And so on. The aim of the questions is to draw out information about the symbol being explored. If it is a known person or object you are in the role of—your father for instance—the replies to the questions need to be answered from the point of view of what happened in the dream, rather than as in real life. Listen to what you are saying about yourself as the dream symbol, and when your questioneKs) has finished, review your statements to see if you can see how they refer to your life and yourself.
If you are asking the questions, even if you have ideas regarding the dream, do not attempt to interpret. Put your ideas into simple questions the dreamer can respond to. Maintain a sense of curiosity and attempt to understand, to make the dream plain in an everyday language sense. Lead the dreamer towards seeing what the dream means through the questions. When you have exhausted your questions ask the dreamer to summarise what they have gathered from their replies. See postures, movements and body language for an example of how to work with body movement to explore a dream meaning.
Can / alter the dream to find greater satisfaction? Imagine yourself in the dream and continue it as a fantasy or daydream. Alter the dream in any way that satisfies. Experiment with it, play with it, until you find a fuller sense of self expression. It is very imponant to note whether any anger or hostility is in the dream but not fully expressed. If so, let yourself imagine a full expression of the anger. It may be that as this is practised more anger is openly expressed in subsequent dreams. This is healthy, allowing such feelings to be vented and redirected into satisfying ways, individually and socially. In doing this do not ignore any feelings of resistance, pleasure or anxiety. Satisfaction occurs only as we leam to acknowledge and integrate resistances and anxieties into what we express. This is a very important step. It gradually changes those of our habits which trap us in lack of satisfaction, poor creativity or inability to resolve problems.
Summary To summarise effectively gather the essence of what you have said about each symbol and the dream as a whole and express it in everyday language. Imagine you are explaining to someone who knows nothing about yourself or the dream. Bnng the dream out of its symbols into everyday comments about yourself.
A man dreamt about a grey, dull office. When he looked at what he said about the office he realised he was talking about the grey, unimaginative world he grew up in after the Second World War, and how it shaped him.
Further information on using these techniques can be found in Tony Crisp s work The Instant Dream Book, published by C.W. Daniel. See amplification; plot of dream; adventure of the dream world; dreamer; postures, movement and body language; settings; symbols and dreaming; word analysis of dreams; wordplay and puns.