What if I don’t dream?
Everyone dreams. When we sleep the conscious mind is at rest, but the unconscious mind never sleeps. One function of sleep is to allow the “built-in” process of dreaming to occur. Just as our physical bodies are restored and regenerated, so are our mental/emotional bodies aided by sleeping and dreaming.
We dream several times during sleep, unless there is an impairment to the dream process, such as medication, brain damage, or a mind-altering substance such as excessive alcohol or drug use. We dream for several minutes about every 90 minutes during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase. However, we can also dream immediately after falling asleep and moments before waking. The dream before waking is often the easiest to recall and may contain practical, problem solving information. The dream within the first couple of hours after falling asleep may be a numinous dream offering enlightenment and inspiration.
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What does it mean if I dream about . . .?
Dreams are personal and ultimately, you are your own best dream interpreter
The first question many people who are new to dream interpretation ask me this type of questionmore than half of them in reference to flying. Other frequently asked questions focus on the meaning of other common symbols such as dreaming of famous people, animals, taking a test, being chased, looking for your car.
Before exploring specific symbols, identify the setting and summarize the activity or feeling of the dream first. Take a look at the symbol glossary on this website for possibilities of meaning. The glossary offers a list of starting points to reflect on; it is not a book of synonyms. Look for a connection in regard to your dream. Retell your dream. You may discover a new meaning that is not included in the glossary. Work with as much as you understand. The object is not to identify every symbol perfectly. Look for word plays and figures of speech.
Of particular importance is how you feel in the dream. Ask yourself what makes you feel like that in waking life. You do not need an absolute, black and white answer to apply the message of your dreams. One of the values of keeping a journal is to review your dreams periodically. You will be amazed at the continuity and repeated themes.
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Why are dreams important?
Our dreams offer valuable information and insight that we may not have access to through the reasoning mind. Though a brilliant, effective tool, the rational conscious mind is surpassed by the unconscious. Dreams can also be inspiring. Sometimes a dream experience brings positive change to the dreamer during sleep. History provides numerous accounts of such dreams from inventors, scientists, writers, poets, artists, musicians, generals, presidents, spiritual leaders and many others.
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What if I don’t remember my dreams?
This is not unusual, although with a little practice, you can improve your dream recall significantly. Intention is key. In casual conversation we tend to say “I didn’t dream” when we mean we didn’t recall a dream.
We are consciously unaware of most of our dreams and forget much of the content of those we do recall. That’s normal and good. Recalling all of our dreams would be overwhelming and confusing, to say the least. Because of the value of dream messages, it is important to remember as much as we can and work with that. Keeping a dream journal is a practical, efficient and insightful method of working with your dreams.
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What if I don’t remember an entire dream? Sometimes I know I had a much longer dream, but I can only remember snippets.
Dream fragments are valuable. Hold on to those snippets and write them down. It is likely all you need to remember. Work with your dream fragment just as you would a more complete dream.
You may recall other parts of the dream later and that will help fill in the pieces. If you are unsure of the meaning, allow the partial dream to sit on your mental shelf. Some dreams take time to digest. Further help may come days or weeks later.
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How can I remember my dreams?
It’s easier than you think! Tell yourself, “I will remember my dreams.” Write this statement in your journal. Repeat this resolution before you go to sleep. Be open to the dream workings of the unconscious mind and ask to be aware of all that you need to remember. Keep note paper or a journal and pen close to your bed or in the bathroom. When you awaken, lie quietly for a few moments before getting out of bed. Refer to Getting Started and About Dreams on this website.
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Why are the only dreams I remember nightmares or disturbing dreams?
As you improve your dream recall, you will discover many types of dreams.
Nightmares are saying, “THIS IS URGENT! PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS!”
They are one example of the internal aid you receive to deal with what is out of balance or what needs attention.
One of the most rewarding aspects of dream work is the relief and insight from unpleasant dreams. Dream work reveals helpful messages and dissipates fear and anxiety. Note your emotional reaction in the dream and ask yourself when you feel like that in waking life. The dream images may be symbolic but the emotions are literal.
Example: Sandra’s Nightmare
I was walking down a city sidewalk. A dark, haunting woman was walking toward me. As we got closer, she seemed to loom over me and was taller than I had thought. I was afraid I couldn’t get past her.
Note: As I wrote this, the dream didn’t seem so scary, but it woke me up and my heart was pounding. My shoulders felt cold and I pulled up the bed covers. Frightening.
As many nightmares do, this dream ends unresolved. Sandra did not recognize the woman or the specific setting. She knew that the city was a bustling hub of activity, although there were no other people visible. Just scanning the scene of the dream, Sandra knew there were no people on the sidewalk, because everyone was inside working. Encountering the tall woman made her feel overwhelmed and panicky. She couldn’t get past her. Then she connected her dream with what makes her feel overwhelmedfeeling overloaded, having too much work to do, letting work pile up. “It looms over me. I feel like I won’t get past itit will always be hanging over me.”
In addition to taking stock of her workload and applying some practical efforts to prioritize and set up realistic deadlines, she looked at her habits and the pattern of taking on more than she could reasonably handle at one time.
Sandra also did an active imagination exercise with the tall woman. The first thing she noticed was that the woman herself was not dark, but had a shadowy aura about her. She saw this change as bringing the issue and emotions to light. When she asked the woman what she wanted, the woman only breathed a sigh. Sandra thought she looked tired and frustrated. The dream reflection and imagination exercise made it easy for Sandra to see the dream figure as an aspect of herself, not the workload she carried. The “nightmare” became a source of motivation and encouragement.
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I have a recurring dream about . . .
Recurring dreams indicate an issue or situation that needs attention and resolution. The dreams indicate the matter is unresolved and urges you to address it now. These dreams may also indicate that your hopes and goals are stagnated in the planning/thinking stagein other words, not living in your waking life the way you want to and consequently, producing a reflection of that while you sleep.
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Are dreams always about problems and negative emotions?
Absolutely not! Many dreams describe pleasant or empowering experiences that offer affirmations and inspiration. Dreams have provided specific and clear direction to many great inventors, scientists, leaders and artists. Dreams can also contain solutions to practical problems. In fact, some people wish their waking life could be as exciting and positive as their dream time.
Other dreams address problems and difficult emotions. Ironically, these dreams are often humorous or absurdly funny. Be assured that you have an ideal opportunity and have reached the maturity to deal with the issue addressed in the dream. Be assured that your dreams are not intended to be disparaging or punishing. The reward and punishment system is not the system of higher consciousness. This is one of the most challenging aspects for the ego-mind to understand.
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Some of my dreams come true. Is this common?
The person asking this question was referring to events in her personal life, some significant, some minor, which had been foretold or specifically referenced in her dreams. Her dreams showed her the man she would marry before they had ever been on a date in waking life. A person she hasn’t seen for a long time often appears in a dream a short time before visiting or phoning.
Dream studies throughout the ages have included precognitive or predictive dreams, including those of scientists, inventors, poets, presidents, writers, saints, musicians and just ordinary folks. Their dreams provided insight and information they were not aware of in their waking life. Also, many people dream have precognitive dreams of major events, especially catastrophic ones, such as natural disasters or assassinations. There seems to be a phenomenon of collective dreaming, when many people with no knowledge of each other dream of major world events before they occur.
If you are working on a project or trying to figure out a problem, pay attention to your dreams. It is highly likely that they will assist you or even provide a solution.
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What does it mean if I dream of someone who is dead? In the dream that person is very much alive.
It would be helpful to have more information about such a dream. Most dreams of people, alive or deceased, deal with personal traits, habits, activities, feelings and relationships of the dreamer. However, some dreams of the dead are not “ordinary” dreams at all.
Western culture lacks an adequate vocabulary to describe dream encounters with the deceased, but most people simply describe them as very “real” and beyond a regular dream experience. Many people describe being “visited” by a deceased person, often a loved one. These experiences are meaningful to the dreamer and often communicate messages from the deceased. If the person in your dream conveys a message, pay attention. There is much we don’t know about such dream experiences, but they are not uncommon. If you feel the dream is encouraging you to communicate with the deceased person, do not hesitate. You can have a conversation even if you feel it is one-sided. You may also find benefit in viewing such a dream as symbolic and of a personal nature. Dreams can be understood on more than one level.
Example 1: A Visit From Janine’s Father
My father was standing in front of me, facing me and so close, I could see his dark, kind eyes and the lines and moles on his face. His voice was clear and strong. He said a short, encouraging phrase like “go for it” or “you can do it,” expressing his total belief in me. (My dad died 20 years ago.)
Janine described this dream as very real, unlike “ordinary” dreams. She was immersed in a difficult but important, long-term project. Although she knew she would get through it, it represented to her how she looked at life in general, reflecting a repeated pattern of inner fear to move forward with what truly interested her. Other people saw her as successful, but she felt like life was passing her by. She had aspirations, but felt like she was in a tug of war between confidence and lack of confidence, with the latter winning out. This dream was encouraging, but it was also sobering. Of course, she could this job. She admitted that it was difficult because she had no passion for it. The real impact of the dream was in regard to the bigger picture of her lifenot as a project, but in terms of her own identity and sense of purpose. Whenever she felt herself getting discouraged or anxious, she recalled her father’s voice and his kind but knowing eyes.
Example 2: Saundra’s Friend
I’m happy to see Robin, though I feel a little guilty for not returning her call.
We always say we’ll get together, but don’t manage to.
In the dream Saundra’s friend is alive, but actually she had died some years earlier. Saundra regretted not having kept in contact with Robin while she was alive. On the surface, she thought this probably referred to her intentions to get in touch with a couple of friends and felt this dream was a reminder to follow through. As she thought more about the dream, she recalled other instances when she did not follow through on her intentions before it was too late. Also, she had seen Robin as a symbol of a lost opportunity to contact a friend, but realized she meant much more than that. Robin was a vibrant woman who reached out to people and followed her own spirit. Saundra connected with the Robin-part of herself from the level of the unconscious that she was ready to “get together with” to bring to active consciousness. Whenever she found herself slipping into passive mode, she thought of the example of Robin to model after, and considered this dream a great gift.
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Can I really dream answers to questions?
Yes, you can. Many people who ask this are trying to make a decision. Dreams are a wonderful guide to help us discern our future. Refer to the Dreams and Decision Making link on this website for some practical tools to help you with your decision making process.
Sometimes an answer appears in a dream before an actual question has been raised, although the dreamer can connect with the subject. A woman dreamed about a man she was seriously dating. Though there was no talk of marriage yet, she felt strongly that they were headed in that direction. Then she dreamed that he was driving her car, while she was in the back seat. He maneuvered the car well, but she had no say regarding where they were traveling. The dream forced her to reevaluate the relationship. A woman in her seventies dreamed of her husband treating her like a dog attacking a bird. Though the dream image was painful, she admitted that it summed up their marriage of many, many years. Rebuilding both her inner and outer life took much courage and hard work, but eventually came to a happy ending. With great encouragement from her dreams, she began a new life and married a childhood friend.
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