by Dora Hildebrand
Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you.
~ Marsha Norman
Remember that morning when you were greeted with a vague snippet of a dream? You recall being active, but how? You were with someone, but who? It can be annoying knowing the full dream is on the verge of revealing itself, yet it remains dim enough to leave you wondering. I’ve been known to affirm, “I never seem to remember my dreams.” That is often followed by, “And what difference would it make if I did?”
I hoped to receive answers to these and other questions when I recently attended the Waking the Dreamer Within Festival in Longmont, Colorado.
I attended several sessions led by dream workers Billie Ortiz, festival organizer, and Jeremy Taylor. The first session How (And Why) You Should Record Your Dreams, offered some helpful suggestions.
• Honor the process and make a commitment to remember the dreams every night before going to bed.
• Have pen and paper nearby or speak into a recorder, anything that works.
• Always record events exactly as they happened in the dream.
• Feelings are very important to the meaning of the dream — pay attention.
• Record in the present tense since dreams always happen right now.
• Pay attention to subtle puns and personal references. Anything can happen in dreams.
• All dreams are important because they all come in the service of health and wholeness.
• Recording dreams is worth it even if you never have time to actively work on them.
Ortiz became involved with dream work in 1996 when as a regular weekly participant in a dream group she discovered it was fun learning what her dreams meant and meeting others with the same interest. A few years later she started teaching classes and facilitating dream groups in Boulder, Colorado. She has since become passionate about the importance of dream interpretation as a valued spiritual practice, a way of becoming more of her true self.
Many participants of Ortiz’ dream groups were at the festival and credited this group work to their personal growth. Some have been inspired by their dreams to create unique jewelry and beautiful art; others use their dreams while writing memoirs and poetry. Jeremy Taylor (www.jeremytaylor.com), an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and author of The Wisdom of your Dreams, has studied dreams and worked with thousands of people both individually and in dream groups for more than 40 years. He mentioned that our dreams never tell us what we already know and it often takes working with a group to go beyond what we know to fully understand the dream.
Throughout the festival, participants were encouraged to share their dreams while others commented on what that dream meant to them. We used the projective method of imagining ourselves in the dreamer’s dream recommended by both Ortiz and Taylor. All our comments to other dreamers were prefaced with if this were my dream, leaving the door open to many points of view that often led to a new perspective for the dreamer. While listening to others who have studied with Ortiz, I realized that I sometimes give up trying to understand my dreams because I don’t identify with the metaphoric nature of the dream. Learning to translate the language of dreams seems akin to learning to speak another language. Ortiz stressed that the ideal way to develop a keener insight into the meaning of dreams is to work with another person or group, especially since there is always more than one, and often several, interpretations of a dream.
There are many universal symbols that show up in our dreams — water, flying, vehicles and death are just a few of these symbols. Ortiz goes more in depth about these and other aspects of dream work at www.wakeuptoyourdreams.com. When vehicles appear in our dreams, she suggests looking at the specific type of vehicle — bicycle, car, bus, train or plane. The method of transportation usually gives us clues as to how we are viewing and/or dealing with life events. We were, however, cautioned about locking ourselves into one specific meaning of a symbol as can sometimes happen when using a dream symbol dictionary.
The takeaway for me from this festival is the assurance that I can discover my fullest potential through a better understanding of my dreams, ultimately learning to live more authentically. However, it wasn’t until I read Taylor’s book that I had a better understanding of what the outcome is when I don’t recall my dreams. It was there he said, “Whether you remember your dreams or not, they are still performing their natural life-promoting and affirming tasks, in much the same fashion that the gastrointestinal system digests food and transforms it into vital energy, whether we pay conscious attention to it or not.”
With a clear intention to recall and tools next to my bed to record, I’m catching a few of my dreams. As I search for meaning in those I catch, I am reminded of how we are all connected. It’s like your dream is my dream too. And when we all do our best to learn from these precious gifts called dreams, we are raising not only our own consciousness but the cosmic consciousness as well. Sweet dreams everyone.
A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read. ~The Talmud
Dora Hildebrand, co-founder of Spellbinders Oral Storytellers, Larimer County, is also a writer, family history enthusiast and blogger at www.dorahildebrand.wordpress.com.
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