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Everyone dreams, from children on up. What do dreams do for us? Very few are precognitive dreams that tell you what’s going to happen in the future. Most are symbolic, commenting on our daily lives and current direction. Some are full of good news, some help us discharge the negativity we haven’t dealt with during the day.

To begin to remember dreams, set your intention as you’re falling asleep. Say to your subconscious mind that you want to wake up in the morning remembering a dream. Three or four evenings of doing this will work for nearly everyone.

To record your dreams, keep a small tape recorder beside the bed. Or a flashlight, pad of paper or journal, and a pen. Make small notes or write the whole thing out. With practice, you’ll be able to fall back to sleep with no delay.

One basic principle in dreaming is that it’s all about you. Every single thing in a dream is some aspect of you, represents a part of you that would like to communicate. So when your sister appears in a dream, think about how you feel about her. What does she represent to you? It’s that trait in yourself that needs to be brought front and center.

How do you feel about the particular animal that has appeared in your dream? What does that color remind you of? How about the car - are you in control, driving it? Or are you in the backseat, being taken where someone else wants to go?

Are you having a hard time in the dream getting the salesclerk to pay attention to you? Are you lost in a house that’s not yours? Are you relaxed and happy, walking in the garden of your castle? Dreams are full of information about how your life is going.

We each create our own symbols for this journey, and we imbue certain symbols with unique meaning, just for us. One of the pleasures of dreaming, and of working with dreams, is this reassurance of our own uniqueness, of our own personality.

It is fun to look at several dreams over 2 or 3 months time and see what is there. Perhaps we have been in several forests, perhaps we repeatedly have no shoes, or can’t find our shoes. Maybe certain colors have come up over and over and over. A particular animal, a certain type of house, one of our own children or a good friend, may have appeared more than once. So we have created our own themes, our own ways of understanding our experiences.

My main theme at this moment is wood - and whether or not the wood is cared for or uncared for, old or new, shiny or shabby, painted or unpainted. When I have a dream with a beautiful room, lots of shiny wood paneling and polished furniture, maybe a rocking chair, I feel confident and comfortable - the dream is reassuring. When my dream presents a badly painted and flaking frame house, with wooden steps worn and off-angle, I know I’m looking at an aspect of my life that is not working, that literally needs work.

If you have the same dream over and over, a recurring dream, talk it over with a friend or two. See what issues might be coming up. See what was happening in your life last time you had the dream. Is the same thing happening again? Make a list of all the different items in the dream and see if any of them feel important, uncomfortable, threatening, puzzling. A recurring dream is an unheard, unrecognized, untranslated message. It’ll keep coming back until you get it. Maybe often, maybe rarely. But it’s really worth the work to see what threads of meaning can be found.

There is much more to learn about dreams, many theories and ideas. But dreams are mostly simple personal messages from Ourselves to ourselves. So when you wake up, take note of how you’re feeling. Has the dream got you laughing? crying? nervous? puzzled? feeling good? Those emotions give you the key information you need to begin understanding your dream. And it is your dream. You’re the one most qualified to decipher it. When you honor your dreams by paying attention, by looking with the heart, you will learn much about your own life and spirit.

In this culture which highly values only the left brained/logical Thinker and not the right brained/whole Knower, we are taught not to trust dreams and our other human gifts. But the creativity, the inventiveness of even the simplest dream, and of the dreams of children of 3 and 4, all speak to me of a mental capacity and ability far beyond what we believe we have - and a person / personality far beyond who we believe we are.

Dreams are important and useful tools, letting us know how our life is going, giving us direction for change, ideas to think about. Clues about changes we need to make often appear in our dreams long before they appear in the real world. I am astonished at how creative the subconscious is, how much information it can pack into a single small symbol, how we can go back to an old dream and get something new out of it.

Mostly though, for me, dreams are just fun.