Deepening Dream Understanding
The methods described above will throw light on most dreams, even if you do not take time to write out fuller associations. When the insights gained in this way become useful, you may wish to increase your skill still further. Therefore, below, and throughout the book, additional information is given on how to draw out the wisdom in dreams. A working attitude toward them is also outlined.
I suggest you only try one method at a time and use it until you are capable or it or it doesn’t work for you, then move on to other methods taking time with them until you find what works best for you.
Although the process of dreams might not be a direct attempt to present MEANING, a dream may nevertheless have a great deal of INFORMATION in it. This becomes clearer if we remember that not many years ago it would have appeared highly superstitious or suspect to claim to be able to tell a person details of their health and parentage from a sample of their urine or blood. Today it is common practice. We accept that a growing amount of information can be gained from these unlikely sources. Blood doesn’t contain meaning, but we can gain information from it. In a similar way a sample of our dreams can also tell us an enormous amount. Sometimes this data is obvious, sometimes it needs processing to uncover, as with urine and blood.
Dream Processing – The following dream needs no deep techniques of processing. The word ‘processing’ is used throughout the book instead of analysis. Analysis has the connotation of giving our own thoughts or opinions to the dream. Processing is used to suggest extraction of information which leads to insight. With this particular dream, all it needs is a few facts brought to it to make clear what information it holds. The dream is that of a young woman, Mrs C. L.
It is a bright sunny day. I am walking across a large concrete car park. It is empty except for a huge trailer from a truck. It has BOOTS written on the side, and stands high off the ground. Being 4’ 9’ tall myself I decide to walk underneath. As I am half way the trailer starts to be lowered on top of me. I try to shout but cannot. I get onto my hands and knees and the trailer still kept coming down. I am now lying on my stomach, convinced it is going to crush me. Then it suddenly stops a couple of inches from my head. I wake feeling terrible.
The dream is interesting, although the information it holds may at first not be obvious. But with a minimum of processing the dream information will become clear. The first technique of processing the dream is to recognise some of the key statements within it. These are I AM WALKING – I TRY TO SHOUT – CONVINCED IT IS GOING TO CRUSH ME.
The reason these are key statements is because the dreamer is saying ‘I am walking’ – ‘I try to shout’ – ‘I …am convinced’. The word ‘I’ is important.
This form of processing has not added anything to the dream. It has simply drawn attention to the information already there in the dreamer’s description of her experience – this is why it is useful to write the dream out fully. If we add a little more information which the dreamer herself connects with the dream, then it becomes even clearer. Mrs C. L. says, ‘I work for BOOTS the chemist. The employees at the shop I work in were told at the beginning of the year that Boots are selling our shop. When that happens I will be made redundant. We were supposed to finish on May 26th. It is now the end of July. The deal fell through so we are now just left hanging indefinitely until a new buyer comes along. I feel very unsettled as I can’t make any plans for the future.’
Having read these comments, it would be difficult not to see the dream as relating to the woman’s work situation, and to her strong anxiety connected with it. She herself says – through her dream – she is ‘convinced it – the situation – is going to crush’ her. She also feels her strong emotions about this – expressed in her attempt to shout – are not being expressed or ‘heard’. From just this one dream, we can be forgiven if we assume that dreams may express in dramatic form our feeling reaction to the circumstances of our everyday life. Taking this dream as information, Mrs. C. L. could see she is feeling crushed by the situation, yet not stating her feelings loudly enough to be heard. She might therefore speak to the manager to clarify the situation for herself.
Here is an even shorter and less complex dream. It has been left just as it was written so its information is immediately apparent. The key words here might be TRYING TO CONTACT HIM and NOT UNDERSTANDING WHY HE LEFT ME. The dream is from Mrs C. J.
Years ago I lost my first husband at twenty nine. I had the same dream continually of being in a phone box trying to contact him, not understanding why he had left me. He died of cancer. Later I remarried and this husband died of a heart attack. Once again the same dream came back so much.
On speculating about the dream from what is immediately apparent, we might say that although it is irrational to continually try to contact her husband when there has never be any success, nevertheless, her desire to be with him continues year after year. This same part of her cannot understand why he died. We might put such feelings into words as, ‘But what had he done to die so young? Why should it happen to me twice?’ We can also assume that her desire to understand these questions, which is what contacting her husband represents, is expressed in the dream as the telephone.
The dream process has dramatised her situation and inner feelings – given them form and made them experiential. Looking at this dream helps us see how an image, such as the telephone, performs exactly the same sort of function as a spoken word, although in a different way. Namely, it represents feelings and thoughts. That the woman’s questions remain, that her problem is unsolved, is apparent from the fact she does NOT make contact on the telephone, and does not find peace. Understanding her dream shows her the importance of the questions she continually asks herself, and the need to release the emotions behind them. With this she could be free of the dream. If she cannot manage this by herself, taking advantage of the professional help of a therapist might help.
To make it clear how everything is a dream holds personal information, to give an example, I was recently asked by a man who had given no thought to dreams how on earth you could extract any meaning from them. He was wearing a fairly old T-shirt, so I said, “OK, let’s imagine you dreamt of your T-shirt, what would you make of that?”
After a while he said, “I don’t know that I would make anything of it.”
My response was to say, “Right, but now tell me where you bought the T-shirt, and what memories it has for you.” Whereupon he told me memories of being abroad, and that the shirt was part of those memories, and he wasn’t prepared to say what they were as they were so personal.
The important point is that everything we see and deal with, every person, every imagined scene, has such a background of feelings and perhaps memories. It is exactly this background of feelings and information that the dream weaves its story from. To understand it you need to become aware of the usually unconscious feeling responses you have in connection with every thing, place, person and animal you fill your dreams with.
For fuller Dream Processing – Below are described simple techniques that make it possible to quickly gain information from your dreams. They have been put as a series of questions. If you take time to consider and answer the question you will find your way into a new experience of dream understanding.
Read it in: Processing Your Dream