Do you listen to your dreams? There are various definitions for dreams, but today I'm going to deal with the most mysterious type of dream--those dreams we have during sleep. These dreams have intrigued humans throughout the ages. There are many explanations for dreams, but there is still no absolute consensus as to what these dreams are.
In ancient times, dreams were considered to be otherworldly messages either from gods or demons. Magicians and sages were called upon to interpret dreams and divine the messages the were sent to the dreamer. Several times in the Bible dreams are recounted and interpretations given. Many people still believe that dreams are messages sent from God to guide us, comfort us, or even foretell future events. I am one of those who believe that this is sometimes one possibility, but not always.
My wife is a great believer in dreams being messages from the Holy Spirit. She will sometimes relate a dream that she has had and how it has lifted her spirits. She will give her interpretation, which to me always sounds quite credible. I have also had those types of dreams that seemed to be direct messages of comfort and healing-- I will awaken with a sense of incredible well-being and positive outlook. My father, who was a very spiritual man, used to have dreams that seemed so telepathically connected to his children who were no longer living at home that it used to give me the creeps when I would her my mother tell me about it. She would tell me that he would say it was the Holy Spirit. Now I see some credence in what he was saying.
Sigmund Freud pioneered modern thought on dreams and psychiatry. Freud believed that dreams were the unconcious expressions of repressed thoughts and memories. He related much of dream symbolism to one's sexuality and innermost sexual thoughts. Although some of this may be true, much of what Freud believed about dreams has fallen out of favor with the community that deals with human psychology.
Most researchers and thinkers about the field of dreams (couldn't resist using that one) now relate dreaming to symbolized and actualized representation of anything in our lives. A dream may be a re-evaluation of the previous day's events or some other significant event in the dreamer's life. A dream of this nature may relive the event almost as it occurred or may symbolically recreate a previous event. For example, if events in your day involved extreme apprehension, your dreams might also involve something which arouses similar feelings.
On the other hand, a dream may provide an inner resolution of a previous problem. The apprehension of that day may result in a dream where solutions are found and the dreamer awakes feeling a sense of relief and release. There are many stories of researchers or others who have been stumped by some problem who suddenly awaken with a feeling of resolution and go on to solve the problem they were facing. Dreams like these can be tools which our subconcious mind uses to fix itself.
Dreams may also be a symbolic recap or an interpretation of events or stages of our lives. The thoughts of sleep may be just a continuation of what has been on our minds most recently. This may be the mind's way of cataloguing and interpreting information it has received in the waking hours. When my job ended earlier this year, I would frequently dream that I was still working. As the days progressed, the work environment in the dreams seemed to get older and more unfamiliar to me. Eventually, I would be dreaming that I was "at work" but it was not the workplace I remembered and in the dream there was something more important for me to do and I would forget about work in the dream. Of late, I frequently dream about blogging and writing.
Another function of dreaming is what might be considered a form of wishful thinking. These are the dreams that may involve things we would like to happen or fantasize about happening. Dreams such as these may be about having sexual encounters, finding money, or going to a place we would like to go. The dreamer may have been thinking of the topic conciously prior to the dream or it may be a desire that has lain dormant in the back of the mind. These are the dream fantasies that can fuel our desires or allow us to continue with daily reality having enjoyed the respite of the dream.
There are many dream theories. More than likely there is truth to most of them. We are each unique individuals with unique life experiences, therefore the symbolism of ours dreams is probably unique. One person's dreams about climbing a ladder might be different than another. In fact, a person's dream about climbing a ladder during one dream session may differ in another dream session. There are many factors to consider such as how did one feel while climbing, where was one going, what kind of ladder was it, and so on. The significance of dreams varies based on the content of the dreams, emotions they elicit, how often they occur, how they appear to relate to one's current life, and many other factors.
I used to be, and still am, a fan of things like dream dictionaries, encyclopedias, and interpretation guides. They can be an interesting diversion. However, I don't think it's good science in the most absolute sense. And from the mystical or spiritual or whatever you what to call it sense it is probably mostly nonsense. I wouldn't call any of them useless, but they should not be relied upon. An apple to one person may have a totally different meaning to another. Walking in a public place naked may symbolize vulnerability for one person and be a titilating fantasy for another. Dreams are an interesting mystery that are also very personal.
Do you ever journal your dreams? Has a dream ever helped you solve a problem or see something in a new way? Do you use your dreams in your work, relationships, and for inspiration? Do you like your dreams? Are you afraid of your dreams? Do you think you don't dream?