- I was looking after some good references to I Ching when I found a real good description of dream interpretation. My own page gives a description of the actors in the dream where this "Introduction to Dream Interpretation " is more pedagogical but not so clear in the description of the actors:
A Step-By-Step Approach
I find that a very useful guideline for dream interpretation, especially at first, is to take everything in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer.
For example, if the dream involves the person travelling in a car with their uncle, then the car represents some aspect of the person's life, and the uncle also represents a part of the person. This isn't the only way to interpret dreams, but it's a very good starting point, I think.
Here's the step-by-step approach that I use.
I hope that by going through the example and then trying the exercise you'll start to get a feel for what's involved in trying to interpret a dream, whether it's your own or someone else's.
Step 1 - Get Into It
Before you can interpret a dream you have to read it very thoroughly. Or if someone is telling you their dream, you have to understand it thoroughly. Sounds obvious but it's easy to miss this out.
Imagine that you're a lawyer looking at a crucial piece of evidence. You have to be completely on top of the material before you can cross-examine the witness.
If the dream is sent by e-mail or on Dream-O-Rama, I like to print the dream out and make hand-written notes on the page. Other people might prefer to copy the dream and make notes using the computer. That's fine. Find a method that you feel comfortable with.
Whatever you prefer to do, you must end up being able to describe what happens in the dream, at least in outline, without referring back to your notes.
In other words, you have to get into the dream.
At this stage, don't think too much about interpreting the dream. Your priority is to understand what takes place in the dream story.
Here's an example that uses a section from one of my own dreams. I'll use this dream to show you the next steps in practice. I'll ask you to do an exercise later, for the moment just read the dream.
I'm walking along and witness an accident between an orange sports car going very slowly on the wrong side of the road and a taxi.
Step 2 - Making Notes
Once you've got your own copy, highlight or underline key words and phrases. Underline any name that appears in the dream. People's names, place names, the name of a hotel, anything like that. Sometimes a name is a play on words. You may well find that your creative mind loves to put puns in your dreams!
See if you can spot any connections between different parts of the dream story. Is there a thread running through the dream? Is there a main theme? A secondary theme?
Is the dream in sections? Often people say, "And then it all changed and "
Make a note of any separate sections in the dream. In my experience, you'll often discover that the dream is made up of at least 3 sections.
See if you can find something in the dream that might give you a clue as to what the dream might be about and the direction that your interpretation might take. But don't worry if nothing jumps out at you.
During this step, make sure that you also make a note of any feelings that you get from the dream and if these feelings change during the dream story.
Here's the example dream again, this time with some notes added.
I'm walking along (steady, independent progress) and witness (objective, detached) an accident (clash, unexpected event, shock) between an orange sports car (out-going, showy, enjoying life) going very slowly (feels odd, paradoxical) on the wrong side of the road (something doesn't quite fit here, feels strange) and a taxi (opposite of sports car, passive, relies on passenger giving directions).
Step 3 - Questions, Questions, Questions
Even if it's your own dream, prepare at least 3 questions that you'd like to ask the dreamer to help you to understand the symbolism in the dream.
In fact, this step is especially useful in helping you to interpret your own dreams.
Try to ask open questions. That's to say, questions that invite more information rather than closed questions that look for a yes/no answer.
Here are examples of some of the questions that I'd ask myself about the sports car/taxi accident dream.
- What aspect of your life do you think the orange sports car might represent?
- What do you think it means that the sports car was travelling slowly?
- The sports car was on the wrong side of the road. What could that be saying about the aspect of your life that the sports car represents?
After thinking about these questions and others, I thought that this dream might have been about me struggling to reconcile the outgoing side of my nature (represented by the orange sports car) with my more passive, supportive side (represented by the taxi). I think the dream was showing me that, at the time of the dream, the two sides were moving in opposite directions and that there was a potential clash.
Now it's time for you to have a go at using this step-by-step process to make a start at analysing another of my dreams.
There is an example to this description, and he also shows a way to use I Ching to analyze the dreams (with more examples) which can be a great help, especially in the start.