Interpreting The Hidden Meaning of Dreams and Nightmares
Dream meanings with the author Craig Hamilton-Parker: On this website you can read articles, features and extracts from my books about dreams and dream meanings. I have included an extensive Dream Dictionary about the Meanings of Dreams, How to Interpret Dreams and lots of individual interpretations of dreams.
As well as looking up the meanings of your dreams and reading my Online Dream Interpretations you can also ask a question for free and get your dreams interpreted for free in our online dream forums. We also offer a professional dream interpretation service by experts. The Dream Book extracts you will read on this site are taken from my best-selling book called The Hidden Meaning of Dreams.
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Nobody knows for certain why we dream. One of the first people to come close to a scientific explanation was the Greek philosopher Aristotle. At first, he spoke of the soul exercising special clairvoyant powers, in accord with its divine nature, when freed from the body’s constraint in sleep. However, he was to conclude that the function of sleep and dreams was to dissipate the vapours that rose from the stomach after food. Similarly, for many centuries it was believed that blood rose to the brain and caused congestion there. Sleep enabled the blood to drain drained back into the rest of the body.
Early in the 20th century the first scientific theories about sleep and dreams proposed that chemicals such as lactic acid, carbon dioxide and cholesterol, collected in the brain during the day. These were dissipated during sleep. In short, sleep and dreams were thought to be a function of the elimination process of the body.
Today some psychologists are reconsidering these initial ideas. Although Aristotle and others were clearly wrong about their science, they may have been correct in saying that dreams are a physiological process. Some of the latest theories propose that dreams are the body’s way of ‘rebooting’ the brain. Dreams dispose of memories that would otherwise clutter the mind with unnecessary remembered experiences. In particular they enable the emotions to become balanced. Dreams get rid of the junk and allow the brain’s complex chemistry to stabilise. Without dreams, we would simply overheat.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in dream experimentation came in 1952 when a researcher noticed that the eyes of sleeping subjects would move beneath their closed eyelids. In 1955, Eugene Aserinsky and Nathan Kleitman published a paper on these strange eye movements. They named them “rapid eye movements” and called this phase of sleep REM periods. REM sleep (also now know as paradoxical sleep) occupies 20 per cent of your night’s sleep and alternates with orthodox sleep about every 90 minutes.
It has been found that during REM sleep the flow of blood to the brain increases, as does the brain’s temperature and both the penis in men and the clitoris in women become erect. REM sleep strengthens memory-traces although the release of growth hormones is less than during orthodox sleep. But most importantly, the brain shows a radical change in activity that can be measured on an electroencephalograph (EEG). If a person is awoken at this time, they usually remember vivid dreams. This discovery enabled scientists to tell how often we dream and by waking the subject during REM sleep they could guarantee there would be a dream to study.
Most of us dream every 90 minutes and the longest dreams, lasting 30 to 45 minutes, occur in the morning. Studies have shown that half of us wake during REM sleep and recall our dreams but the rest wake during non-REM sleep and are less likely to recall a dream. This may account for why many people believe that they “never dream”. The truth is that we all dream- every night- but most of us forget we’ve been dreaming.
Before we can work with our dreams, we firstly need to learn how to remember them. A simple technique is to set your alarm clock a little earlier than usual. This may interrupt a period of REM sleep and you are more likely to recall a dream. Some authorities claim that many people unconsciously wake themselves at a time when they are not dreaming, because they want to repress what their dreams are revealing. It has also been shown that you are more likely to remember dreams if you are keen to have them. The fact that you are reading this book will increase the likelihood that you will have more dreams- or so it seems. In reality, you are only becoming aware of the rich dream life you already have. The difference is that now you are learning to take notice and remember them.
Another technique is to drink a large glass of water before you go to bed. You’re likely to wake up during the night wanting the bathroom. By doing this you may interrupt a REM period and thereby recall a dream. I’ve tried the method and it works but apart from being uncomfortable, I invariably wake to find that I’ve been dreaming of trying to find a toilet!
If you enjoy the whole process of dreaming and take pleasure in catching a dream before it fades into obscurity then you are much more likely to improve your dream recall skill. The best method of all is to write your dream down. On page XX, you can read detailed instructions of how to keep a special dream diary. I strongly advise that you do this, as it is by far the best method to remember a dream. In time, you will treasure your dream diary and realise that the inner events it logs are as important as the story of your worldly life. Your dream diary is a permanent record of your spiritual development, reveals your hidden potential, offers solutions to problems and gives insights to enable you to become a better person.
Some people prefer to record their dreams onto cassette but, apart from being expensive if you keep them, this method denies you the opportunity to quickly referring to past dreams and compare similarities when making an interpretation. However talking about your dreams to someone will greatly help your recall. As you describe your dream, you are likely to be reminded of snippets that you had completely forgotten. Also, sharing dreams with a friend may help you with your interpretation of the dream’s symbolism.
You can also talk to yourself about your dreams. Before you go to sleep, say to yourself “Tonight I WILL recall a dream”. This will programme your mind to remember and is an effective and proven method to trigger dream recall. In the morning, your first thoughts are likely to be about your dream. As with most dream techniques perseverance brings success.
If you still have difficulty remembering any dreams I suggest you try a method devised by Dr Fritz Perls who is the father of Gestalt therapy. Imagine that your dream is a person sat on a chair opposite you. Then ask the invisible dream person “Why can’t I remember you.” Next, listen to your own inner voice. What does it tell you? The same technique can be used to help you understand a dream’s meaning. Again, you imagine the dream is a person sat in a chair opposite you but this time you cross-examine it about its meaning.
For many years, before becoming a Spiritualist medium and author, I was an artist. Art can be a wonderfully pleasurable way to work with dream recall. Simple sketches and doodles are best. Scribble a picture of something glimpsed from your dream and soon you’ll be frantically trying to get down all the other dream images that flood your mind. You can make a dedicated dream sketchbook or include your material in your dream diary. The Surrealist painters such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Rene Magritte were masters at painting dreams but so were some psychologists. For example, the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung painted some beautiful pictures of the images from his dreams in a book he made that was reminiscent of a Celto-Saxon illuminated manuscript. His ‘Red Book’ included his dream guide Philemon, a mysterious representation of the tree of life and some beautifully executed mandalas.
If you still find that you cannot remember your dreams do not become overtly anxious. The more desperately we try to grasp the details of a dream the more it alludes us. Instead, take your time waking up in the morning. Allow yourself to float between sleep and waking for a few moments and take time to contemplate what dreams you may have had. Think about the dream for a while before you record it. And start with just a few very notes that can trigger a more detailed recall later.
I sometimes make a simple ‘mind map’ of keywords associated with the dream. These are ringed and linked together. For example, supposing I dream of a station. I write this word down, draw a circle around it and draw lines to other key words such as where the train was going, who I saw, what the atmosphere was like etc. Next I’ll go back to each individual symbol and expand this i.e. the man I saw on the station, what was he like, did he remind me of anyone, what was he wearing etc. In this way, I quickly capture the detail without worrying about the chaotic plot that dreams follow.
You must choose whatever method suits you best but once you begin making a conscious effort to recall your dreams it will become easier every time.
Easy Dream Interpretation
Interpreting Dreams becomes easier once we understand the individual symbols and metaphors being expressed. Many of these are common to everyone – archetypal symbols – and others are unique to you and require a unique interpretation. When analyzing your dreams you will need to look at the symbolism but also make a specific dream interpretation that is based upon your own personal associations and memories.
A dream is never fully interpreted. Even a professional interpreter may miss something and further hidden strata to the dream may become apparent much later. I therefore suggest that you keep a dream diary so that you can come back to this website later and revisit dreams you have already analysed.
You can then look up other Dream Meanings and see if anything requires further interpretation and explanation.
Interpreting A Dream
When interpreting a dream it is important to consider everything that comes to mind while sleeping and immediately on awaking. Every symbol represents something about you and your situation. In your dream diary, note the mood of your dream, how it made you feel and how you felt when you awake. Even the most trivial things may have great symbolic significance that, when you look up in our Dream Dictionary, may reveal additional information about what the dream is trying to tell you.
Think also about the memories the dream may open – have you dreamt this dream before or is it part of a series of dreams or a recurring dream.
Interpreting dreams is an art as much as a science. I believe it is a form of healing and that the interpretation reveals ways towards personal wholeness and a better path through the world. Once interpreted a dream releases psychological energy that can solve many of life’s problems and bring about internal harmony and well being.
Interpretation of dreams is easy: listen to your feelings, ask yourself what the dreams says about you and what’s happening in your life right now or in the past. On this website you can read thousands of dream meanings in out Online Dream Dictionary as well and hundreds of intelligent articles that will help you understand what your dreams are trying to tell you
HOW TO USE THIS DREAM MEANING WEBSITE
There are many theories about the role and meaning of dreams but most agree that they are the link between your conscious mind and your unconscious. In other words, they are messages from yourself to yourself. Dreams are an important key to self-knowledge. They can help you develop a more positive attitude and bring about greater self-awareness and self-healing. They can be used to solve our most difficult problems and may even tell us about the future.
If you use the methods I’ve described to capture a dream, you’re soon going to want to decipher it’s meaning. At first, this may appear difficult because you are confronted with what appears to be a load of old nonsense. But it’s not. Your thoughts, ideas, worries, hopes and fears are all being represented by symbols, metaphors and images within your dreams. This is the language of your dreams. The sleeping brain will draw from your experiences and make them into a mini play. A problem you have now may be compared to an event from your childhood, or the dream may be influenced by a movie you watched before going to bed. Sometimes worries and anxieties, which you’ve avoided for years, may return again asking to be resolved.
Psychology has many useful theories that can help you to understand what your dreams are trying to tell you about your emotional state, ambitions, fears and so on. When you look up a dream symbol in the body of this book, you will first read the Psychological Meaning of your dream. This section explains the meaning of your dream from a psychological standpoint. For example, it will help you to decide what the dream is telling you about your state of mind or how it may be revealing your hidden hopes and fears. You will notice I have often given alternative meanings based upon the teachings of the various schools and theories of psychology.
The second part of each dream entry deals with the Mystical Meaning of your dream. Included in these sections are references to ancient myths, superstitions and mystical traditions from around the world. You may sometimes smile at the strange superstitions associated with some dreams but also in these sections you will be given a taster of the fascinating ancient dream traditions from around the world. I have also entwined my own psychic tips to help you use dreams to tell the future. You may also enjoy and be inspired by the wise quotes at the end of some of the sections. I hope that these will help you increase your positive attitude.
Furthermore, I have included a number of Dream Experiments for you to try. These are based partly upon psychology and partly on mystical traditions. Dreams are an exciting new area of self-discovery for most people. Once you start to work with them in a serious way you may discover that that are a means to greater spiritual awareness and lasting happiness. The experiments will demonstrate some of the remarkable psychological and spiritual powers that dreams can unlock.
Finally, I hope you also enjoy reading the Dream Casebooks about the dreams of famous people. I have tried to choose examples from famous people working in different areas of life. Artists, musicians, generals, inventors, writers, scientists, sportsmen and even politicians have all claimed that dreams have helped them to better themselves. Dreams can help you too.
COPYRIGHT 1999: CRAIG HAMILTON-PARKER: The above is an extract from my book The Hidden Meaning of Dreams and other books by me. (ISBN 0-8069-7773-6) This article and the extracts and articles throughout this site are copyright and may not be reproduced elsewhere.