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Understanding your Dreams

To understand your dreams, you must first know what they are. While this sounds obvious, it bears some explanation. How often can you recall what you dreamed the previous night? Many people wake up not knowing at all what they dreamed. If you only remember the occasional dream, you can't expect to understand them in the bigger picture of your subconscious existance. And it is important that you do, afterall, that existance makes up almost one-third of most peoples lives.

Begin gradually. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, or if you wake up in the middle of the night, take some time to reflect on what you've just experienced. Don't wait until after you've gotten up, picked up the newspaper, and poured your first cup of coffee...reflect while you are still laying in bed and your eyes are still closed. What do you remember? Think hard about anything that you may have seen or experienced while you were asleep. If it is practical, start keeping a dream journal. Write things down as soon as you awaken. Again if it is practical, write them down as soon as you wake up in the middle of the night, too.

What types of things should you write in this journal? You don't need to write a book each morning, but you should try to include the settings of the dreams, who was in each of them, and any main plots to the dream. If any particular objects or incidents stood out, include them. At the simplest level, each night may consist of just a list of participants and the location of each dream (be sure to separate information for each dream or dream sequence as best you can so you can spot any relationships)

Night of:______________________
Dream number:______________________
Participants:______________________
Place:______________________

As you continue doing this, you'll find that you remember more and more of your dreams and more details about them. When you do, you can expand the information that you record. Instead of just recording the place or setting, write down what what happening. At this point, your journal turns into more of a narrative rather than just a list of people and places. I find it useful to keep track of the specific items, too, however. Why? Because it's easier to detect repeating things this way. Do I dream of a particular setting more frequently than others? How often does a certain person or object appear in my dreams?

The next step is to begin to analyze the dream. I don't mean digging into Freudian interpretations of this or that, I mean why did you have that dream? You'll find that it isn't so much the dream as a whole but rather one aspect of it that you can identify and explain. Think of the events of the previous day. Did any of them show up in your dreams that night? I believe that some of the purpose of sleep is for your brain to organize your thoughts and memories of the previous day and to store them in a more permanent location than where they've been floating for the last few hours. This is why an element in a dream may be very recent yet be associated from something from far in the past. The dreams are many times simply bits of memories that are being accessed as your brain finds the best place to store recent information or memories. The mind, being the wondrous thing that it is, takes these bits and pieces and organizes them into a sequence of events and before you know it, you're experiencing a dream.

This simplistic approach to dream meaning does not at all diminish the potential for greater understanding of your self. And you can find that, by understanding them, you can recognize them while you are having them, leading to a rather amazing experience...Lucid Dreaming

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