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Although it is true that many of us do not make a conscious effort to remember our dreams, everyone dreams. During the early part of this century, while psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were demonstrating the clinical importance of dreams, Edgar Cayce was providing average individuals with guidelines for working with - what has become - one of the most practical approaches to dreams. Hundreds of Cayce's readings deal with the subject of dreams and dream interpretation. Perhaps the most important insights gained from the wealth of this material is the fact that each of us is aware of much more - about ourselves, our physical bodies, our surroundings, even our life styles - at subconscious levels than we realize when we're awake.

In the dream state we open our minds to many different levels of our own unconscious. Not only are all of our previous conscious experiences stored there, but it is also the storehouse of resources which rarely come to conscious awareness. The subconscious has remarkable talents for finding solutions to problems. It houses all of our wishes, hopes, and memories of past experiences, and can also assist us with self-examination, providing practical guidance for any question. It even makes it possible for us to have psychic experiences.

Dreams can diagnose the causes of our physical ailments, point out the thoughts and emotions that we've tried to overlook, and often make suggestions for improving our relationships with others. While dreaming, we can gain awareness about our entire being: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

It was Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and contemporary of Edgar Cayce's, who found convincing evidence for a deep level to the unconscious mind. This profound depth, Jung felt, came from genuine spiritual reality that hadn't been acknowledged by Freud. Jung called this level the "collective unconscious." Here all minds could communicate through the use of universal symbols images which seem, to have a common meaning among people all over the world. For example, a symbol such as a lion or a great cat has a universal or archetypal meaning of power and vitality. Birds frequently symbolize various kinds of love or concern; water is often suggestive of the Spirit itself. An old man or a grandfatherly figure can symbolize our own "Higher Self" or our own internal wisdom. Myths or fairy tales often have similarities among cultures, and these similarities are shown through their universal symbols and themes. Sometimes our own dreams may contain these kinds of symbols.

Of course, not all the symbols and images in our dreams represent the universal or archetypal. Many, if not most, are best interpreted by discovering the personal associations one has with that person or object. The dream symbol of a rifle, for example, would likely mean one thing to a gunsmith and something quite different to a victim of war.

There is really no such thing as a "bad" dream because all dreams have the potential of helping the dreamer. Dreams of disastrous events may simply be advice to us to change our diets or our attitudes, or they may be emotional releases from the various situations in our lives. They can become invaluable tools in instruction and guidance if we would only begin to work with them.

For example, one person who dreamed of a headless man in uniform was told in his Cayce reading that instead of losing his head over his duties by following the letter of the law and getting too caught up in his job, there was a greater lesson to be learned by following the spirit. A person who dreamed of a wild man running through the streets, shouting, and causing a great deal of trouble was told that the dream was advice for him to control his temper. One lady dreamed that a friend of hers was speaking to her. She noticed that the woman had beautiful false teeth of different shapes - but every other tooth had the appearance of pure gold. She was told that the gold teeth represented the spiritual truths of which she herself was often speaking, but they were false because she hadn't applied in her own life what she had been preaching. Another woman dreamed that her mothcr - who had died - was alive and happy. Cayce assured her that she was not trying to fool herself, that her mother was indeed alive and happy: " ... for there is no death, only the transition from the physical to the spiritual plane." (136-33)

In trying to arrive at a dream Interpretation, one possibility to consider is that the dream is largely literal. For example, seeing ourselves eat a salad in a dream may indicate the need for change in our diets to incorporate more salads. We may dream of someone we have not heard from in a very long while, and then meet that person a short time later. In other cases, the action may be more symbolic of what is happening in waking life. Dreaming about different rooms which we haven't yet explored could be pointing to the unopened doors of our own personality. A car often symbolizes our physical body and the need to make a change or correct a physical condition.

On the other hand, dreams of birth and death are often more symbolic, as they point to new beginnings and perhaps the end of doing things the old way.

In other words a dream 'death" is often the death of a part of our personality. For example, a woman who dreams of attending the funeral of her minister's wife may be allowing the spiritual aspects of her own life to be overlooked or "laid to rest." Dreams of being pregnant or taking care of a small child who really doesn't exist in the waking state isn't necessarily a prediction. The dream could merely be pointing out a new condition which will be coming our way or a new idea to which we will soon give birth.

When dreams give guidance or seem to pass judgments, it is usually in response to values and ideals we have previously set for ourselves. Most dreams can be seen as a kind of comparison (Cayce used the word "correlation"). While we sleep, a comparison is made between recent actions and the inner values we hold. For example, one woman was advised for health reasons to avoid eating chocolate, and yet she continued to eat it anyway. She had a dream in which she was crossing the border into Mexico illegally for the purpose of buying chocolate. Obviously, she would be the best one to determine that her dream was simply pointing out she was doing something she had been told not to do, at one level she knew it was "illegal."

Scientific studies have shown that each of us dreams, but not all of us remember. If we'd like to try working with our dreams, we need to begin keeping a note pad by the bedside so that we can Jot down whatever we remember immediately afterwaking up - even if it's only a feeling. If we get enough sleep, if we expect to start remembering our dreams, and if we make an effort to record whatever is on our minds when we first wake up, we should be able to start remembering our dreams in a relatively short period of time. As we look at what's going on in our lives, and then look at a particular dream, we'll begin to have an idea of what individual symbols may mean to u s- espccially if the symbol repeats itself in later dreams. The symbol won't necessarily mean the same to us as to someone else because dreams are as individual as dreamers.

There is a simple five-step approach to working with dreams that even the novice can begin using immediately. Those steps are as follows:

1. Write down your dreams each day.

2. Begin by realizing that the feeling you had about the dream is at least as important as trying to come up with one interpretation; besides, because of the multiple levels of our own beings, dreams generally have more than one meaning.

3. Remember that - for the most part - every character in dream represents a part of yourself. Watch the actions, feelings, expressions, and conversations of these characters in your dreams and measure them against the activities in your waking life.

4. Watch for reoccurring symbols, characters, and emotions in your dreams, and begin a personal "dream dictionary" of these symbols and what their importance is to you.

5. When working with dreams, remember., first of all, that your dreams can be extremely helpful even if you don't recognize immediately what they mean; and, secondly, remember to practice, practice, practice!

Essentially the purpose of dreams is to make us more consciously aware of what we are going through in our lives based on our thoughts, feelings, and actions. They can show us the desires that are motivating us and help us sense the needs of our bodies. They can provide insights for living life more creatively and assist us in making important decisions based on what we already know at a conscious level. For example, dreams may give us guidance on helping to heal a relationship, but only if we've already tried to do the best we can with that person. When we set our sights and make the decisions that are called for, then they will aid us by bringing life into clearer focus. Working with our dreams can be like speaking with a trusted friend who knows everything about us and is just there for us to discuss what's going on in our lives. Most of the time, the friend will just listen, but in the listening we can begin to find answers within our own self. The answers have been there all the time; we just never knew how to look for them.

From the Readings

Recommended Reading:

  • Dreams-Your Magic Mirror by Elsie Sechrist
  • A regular dictionary to get possible insights into symbols that you don't immediately understand upon awakening