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Episode 139 The Dream Show: Dream interpretation made easy?

Thank you for your help

Making complex things easy

Where to begin when learning the art of dream interpretation? Is there a formula that can be applied to all dreams?

One of the challenges I face in my public work – writing books, writing blogs, creating podcasts, doing radio, giving workshops – is how to make this complex subject easier to understand.

I like using plain English (no jargon or academic language), and I like to use humour, metaphors, and simple examples. I like to break down tough stuff into bite-sized tips, so you can nibble away at a dream and digest meaningful insights, but one size does not fit all when it comes to interpreting and understanding dreams. Different kinds of dreams require different approaches.

The Dream Show with Jane Teresa AndersonEpisode 139 warms up to this topic before pondering the kind of life lessons you can learn from dreams and offering you some good, down to earth, practical interpretation tips to help you understand your dreams.

 

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Is this your life?

One simple sentence

How often has your alarm clock saved you from a worrying dream you thought was real? What a relief to wake into your everyday life, where all the quandaries and confusions of the dream evaporate and leave you free to get on with your day! You may have spent all night trying to catch that dream plane but now, awake, your confidence in getting places on time is restored. Phew. Missing a plane would never happen to you, would it? You may have endured hair-raising confrontations with a slippery, fang-endowed snake but now, awake, you know that’s one encounter you need not worry about, living in the city, as you do. Or perhaps that alarm clock intruded on a passionate, illicit love affair. Plummeting to earth on opening your eyes you console yourself that at least your waking life is guilt-free. “No,” you conclude, looking around your bedroom, “This is my life. This is what’s real. There are no missed planes, lurking snakes or secret lovers in my life.”

“No,” you conclude, looking around your bedroom, “This is my life. This is what’s real. There are no missed planes, lurking snakes or secret lovers in my life.”

“No,” you conclude, looking around your bedroom, “This is my life. This is what’s real. There are no missed planes, lurking snakes or secret lovers in my life.”

But I invite you to take another look. No time? No problem! This is an easy exercise. It will take you no longer than five minutes a day and you can always set that alarm for five minutes earlier, can’t you?

This is what to do:

Write one sentence a day. It’s best to write this sentence a few minutes after waking up, while your dream is fresh on your mind, so keep an exercise book or diary by your bedside for this purpose.

The sentence is a summary of your dream, written in the present tense, starting with the words ‘I feel’ and including the word ‘something’. It can only be one sentence though! Here are some examples.

Your dream:

I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break.

I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break.

It was a long and complicated dream, but the part that stood out for you was when your son was carrying a stack of precious, fine china crockery. You were moving house and were worried that the plates, cups and saucers should have been properly packed to prevent them from breaking.

Your sentence might be:

I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break.

 

Your dream:

I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple.

I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple.

It’s your recurring dream theme again. It’s long, it’s involved, and the essence is that you have a plane to catch but everything goes wrong and you never get airborne.

Your sentence might be:

I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple.

 

 

Your dream:

I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome.

I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome.

This dream was an epic adventure involving snakes appearing from nowhere, chasing you and threatening to bite you. At one point you were actually bitten. Surprisingly it didn’t hurt as much as you thought it would, but your dream ends in trepidation. Was the snake poisonous or harmless? Only time will tell.

Your sentence might be:

I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome.

 

Your dream:

I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

You were magnetically attracted to an awesome person and ended up having a deeply loving sexual tryst that left you feeling elated physically, mentally and spiritually. In the dream you know you have been unfaithful to your partner. You decide the solution is to keep this affair secret.

Your sentence might be:

I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

 

Your dream:

I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards.

I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards.

The bit that stands out for you in your dream is the swarm of bees. You get stung, yet you decide to chase the bees. They lead you to the hive where you dive in, as small as a bee now, and see all the honey being made. Rows and rows of tasty, golden honey glisten.

Your sentence might be:

I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards.

 

In each of these examples, notice that ‘something’ is usually one of the main dream symbols: it’s the crockery, catching the plane, the snakebite, the lover and the beehive. In other words, ‘something’ can be a thing, an action or goal, a sensation, a person or a place.

Use the examples as guidelines and remember to start with “I feel” and to include the word ‘something’.

Use the examples as guidelines and remember to start with “I feel” and to include the word ‘something’.

Five minutes a day to write one sentence summarising your dream. There is no right sentence. There are many ways to summarise a dream, so dive in and just do it.

Use the examples as guidelines and remember to start with “I feel” and to include the word ‘something’. As the days go by, you’ll get quicker at this.

Five minutes will become two. Just two minutes a day!

So what do you do with all these sentences after writing them down?

Choose a day, perhaps a weekend day or an evening you usually have to yourself, to take 30 minutes to review your list. Make it a weekly appointment with yourself. Allow no interruptions.

You will have seven sentences to review, assuming you remembered a dream on each night, less if your dream recall was not so hot. (If you remember more than one dream on any night, you can choose to summarise only the most vivid one, or to summarise them all.)

My relationship is precious to me but it feels fragile and in need of careful handling.

My relationship is precious to me but it feels fragile and in need of careful handling.

During your 30-minute weekly review, read each of your seven sentences in turn and ask yourself, “Where does this apply in my life?” If an answer comes to you, write it down, using – you’ve guessed it – one sentence.

As a guide, your answers to the examples in this article might be:

1. I feel worried that something precious and fragile may break. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: My relationship is precious to me but it feels fragile and in need of careful handling.

2. I feel frustrated that so many delays are slowing me down from achieving something so simple. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: Losing ten kilos in six months should be so simple, but here I am, still way overweight after twelve months of setting my goal.

3. I feel surprised that something I expected to be painful was not as bad as I had anticipated, but only time will tell the full outcome. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: I finally got enough courage up to talk to my partner about a sensitive issue, and it wasn’t as painful I had expected it to be, though how things will turn out in the long run, I don’t know.

I want to build an energy-saving home and embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, but to do this I risk losing the support of my family who enjoy the luxuries of life my current high income allows.

I want to build an energy-saving home and embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, but to do this I risk losing the support of my family who enjoy the luxuries of life my current high income allows.

4. I feel an attraction to something deeply and personally fulfilling, but I feel the only way I can protect my current way of life is to keep this secret.

Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: I want to build an energy-saving home and embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle, but to do this I risk losing the support of my family who enjoy the luxuries of life my current high income allows.

5. I feel surprise that when I dive into something I think will be painful, I discover such rich rewards. Where does this apply in my life?

Answer: I finally decided to tackle my tax problem by enlisting the help of an accountant who not only taught me some simple, helpful bookkeeping skills but also got me an unexpected tax rebate!

What is the value in doing this exercise? These examples might give you the feeling that dreams simply tell us what we already know, but not so. It’s easy to think that, looking in on someone else’s dreams, someone else’s summary sentences, someone else’s answers. But we rarely appreciate the deeper patterns of our lives until we look closely. Your dreams draw your attention to the way your life is. They exclaim, “Hey! THIS is your life! Is this how you want it to be, or would you like to change this pattern?”

So, what might our example dreamer conclude?

She began to see why she tiptoes around her partner’s moods, fearful of breaking up

She began to see why she tiptoes around her partner’s moods, fearful of breaking up

1. Her dream about handling fragile crockery helped her to see that she regards her relationship as both precious and fragile. Strange though it may seem, she hadn’t seen her relationship in this light before, but her dream view suddenly made sense of a few things. She began to see why she tiptoes around her partner’s moods, fearful of breaking up, instead of finding a mutually beneficial way of relating, perhaps taking a tip from the dream and looking at better ways of strengthening the relationship (better ways of packing the crockery). Her dream gives her a metaphor to contemplate. Does she want a fragile relationship?

The delays, she saw, were all her own work.

The delays, she saw, were all her own work.

2. Her dream about missing the plane because of so many delays helped her to see that her weight-loss goal is achievable. Why? She travels widely with her job and never, ever misses a plane. If she can achieve something as simple as catching a plane by taking a step-by-step approach, she can achieve the equally simple goal of weight-loss. She looked at her dream again and suddenly saw all the delays in a new light: her lost baggage was her fear of losing weight, her lack of passport gave her a feeling that maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t ready to give herself permission to achieve her goal and all the rewards that go with it. The delays, she saw, were all her own work!

3. Her dream about the snakebite helped her to see that other sensitive issues that she fears broaching may also be less painful once faced. Her dream gave her courage, not only to face pain, but also to trust the outcome. She decided to visualise this dream whenever she needs to address an issue, summoning up a feeling of trust in the process.

4. Her dream about the secret affair helped her to realise just how important her desire to embrace a change of lifestyle was. It also helped her to see that her ‘secret affair’ was a form of infidelity to her family. In trying to protect them, she was hiding a wonderful part of her being from them. She wasn’t being true to them. From here she began to understand why some of her family relationships weren’t as fulfilling as they could be. She saw she needed to share more of herself. She called a family conference – an entirely new approach – and shared her dream of building an alternative lifestyle. She was blown away to discover that they also had ‘secret dreams’ and that they all had more in common than they had believed.

Whenever a task looked too daunting, too stinging, too deep, she closed her eyes and imagined flying into the hive and discovering all that honey.

Whenever a task looked too daunting, too stinging, too deep, she closed her eyes and imagined flying into the hive and discovering all that honey.

5. Her dream about the beehive, you might argue, was an afterthought. She had already dived into her tax problem and been rewarded with some very golden honey, so how could this dream be of help? Dreams confirm our excellent moves, cementing in positive new attitudes and patterns. She used the dream as a visualisation from that day forward. Whenever a task looked too daunting, too stinging, too deep, she closed her eyes and imagined flying into the hive and discovering all that honey. Her visualisation helped her to dive in, uplifting and inspiring her forward.

Five minutes a day, one simple sentence a day, one thirty minute contemplation once a week. Give it a go. What’s that? Can’t stop, you’ve got a plane to catch? I don’t think so. Is this your life?

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, March 2006. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Spot the belief

Spot the Belief

Had a tough day? Ready for a spot of light relief, a bit of fun, a dream interpretation game that’s easy to do yet powerfully insightful? You may never look at your dreams in the same way ever again. It’s called Spot the Belief. This is what to do:

For each of the following dreams, see if you can spot the belief affecting the outcome. Let’s start with a simple example.

 

Jim’s dream

“I was waiting in line to buy a theatre ticket, but people kept pushing in front of me. Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed and I was directed to join a long queue at another counter.”

Jim's dream: "Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed."

Jim’s dream: “Finally I got to the front, but then the ticket office closed.”

Can you spot Jim’s belief?

It’s probably ‘My needs are less important than other people’s’.

Did you guess differently?

You might have got ‘I always seem to be kept waiting,’ or ‘Just when I think I’ve made it, I’m right back to where I started, or worse’. Or you might have got, ‘Patience doesn’t pay,’ or ‘You’ve got to be pushy to get what you want in life’.

These are all good answers. They’re also very similar. We’ll come back to look at these similarities later, but, for now, you know how to play the game. Don’t worry about getting the right answer, as there may be several similar right answers. Just write down the belief that you see in each of the following dreams. So, are you ready? Go, spot the belief!

Greta’s dream

“I was climbing a hill and decided I wanted to go back down again, but there were too many rocks and precipices below where I was standing. I thought that if I walked along one of the precipices I would eventually find an easy way down. The trouble was, even the precipice path led upwards, so in my endeavour to find an easy way back down I just kept climbing higher and higher. I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down.”

Greta's dream: "I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down."

Greta’s dream: “I ended up feeling stranded with no way back down.”

Can you spot Greta’s belief? Write it down. (I’ll give you my answer later.)

Nelson’s dream

“I am standing waist deep in water when I notice a shark coming towards me. I am so terrified, I freeze. I close my eyes and hope it will go away. All is quiet for a while and I think the shark has gone, but when I open my eyes I see several more sharks lurking in the water.”

Can you spot Nelson’s belief? Write it down.

Bronwyn’s dream

“I am standing waist deep in water when I notice a shark coming towards me. I am terrified but I try to make friends with the shark to stop it from biting me. I look it in the eye and begin to talk and, amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish. We end up playing swimming games. I am aware it is strong and powerful, but it doesn’t frighten me any more.”

Bronwyn's dream: "Amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish."

Bronwyn’s dream: “Amazingly, as I do this it changes from a shark into a huge playful fish.”

Can you spot Bronwyn’s belief? Write it down.

Karen’s dream

“I keep having dreams involving babies aged about one year old. The dreams are different, but it always turns out that the babies fail to thrive after their first birthday. They become weak, or sick, or I lose sight of them.”

Can you spot Karen’s belief? Write it down.

Your dream

Yes, that’s you! Choose a recurring dream or a short one that’s easy to summarise. First write your dream out in a few sentences to match the length and style of the ones in this article. Then, to get some objective distance, pretend it’s not your dream.

Can you spot the belief? Write it down.

Now, keep an open mind, please, as you read on!

Dreams reveal your unconscious beliefs. They’re not so much about the beliefs you know about, they’re about the beliefs you have carried with you, deep in your unconscious mind, for a long time. How long? Usually from childhood or from traumatic events in your life. They’re the beliefs you take on because they seem to make sense at the time.

If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up.

If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up.

The trouble with beliefs is that you act on them. If you believe there’s a pile of gold buried under the tree, you’ll dig it up. If you believe you’re not worthy of being well paid for your skills, you will apply for lower paid jobs or set your fees low. This is as true for the beliefs you don’t know about as for those you do know about. In fact, it’s worse for those you don’t know about because your actions are automatic, with no chance of being vetoed by your wiser judgement.

Most dreams reveal your unconscious beliefs. You can identify them using this Spot the Belief method. At first you may reject them. ‘No, that’s not my belief! Quite the opposite!’ But stop and ask yourself, ‘What kind of actions would a person with this belief take?’ If the belief you’ve spotted is right, you’ll recognise those actions as ones you have taken. I promise you, when you strike gold in identifying that belief, your eyes will be opened and, once you’ve recovered from the shock, certain aspects of your life will suddenly make a lot more sense.

Let’s see how this works for Greta, Nelson and the other dreamers.

These are the beliefs I spotted for each dreamer:

Greta
‘Backing down is not an option.’

Greta's belief: Backing down is not an option.

Greta’s belief: Backing down is not an option.

Nelson
‘Ignoring my fears and hoping for the best works for a while and then things go from bad to worse.’

Bronwyn
‘When I face my fears I overcome them.’

Karen
‘Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.’

I bet your results were similar. For example, for Greta you might have had ‘The only way is up, no matter how this makes me feel’. Or ‘There’s no easy way out’.

Usually, when you look at the whole dream instead of just a summary of it, you will see plenty of clues to help zone in accurately on the dreamer’s deepest belief. However you really do need to start by working with a summary of the dream, as illustrated here, to get an idea of the belief, and then move on to examine the longer version of the dream to increase accuracy. The final step comes when the dreamer gets the big ‘aha’ and can see how the belief has been driving their decisions and actions, delivering the results they are experiencing in their life.

Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

So there you have it. Beliefs lead to actions, and actions lead to outcomes. Unconscious beliefs lead to blindly driven actions, and blindly driven actions lead to outcomes that may not match the goals you consciously set yourself.

I can hear your question! ‘If an unconscious belief is not creating the results you want, how can you change it?’

That’s where dream alchemy and, in particular, the use of dream alchemy practices come in. You can read more about this, and how to create suitable dream alchemy practices to change unconscious beliefs in my book Dream Alchemy.

Not all unconscious beliefs work against you. Bronwyn’s dream revealed a magical unconscious belief. Such a dream may come along as a prelude to a challenging time, a gentle reminder that all will be well. Remember, though, that night by night your dreaming mind updates its grasp on ‘what life is all about and how to survive it’. We all change, and, from time to time, a dream will reveal the death of an old belief or the birth of a new one. When Nelson applies a dream alchemy practice to change his beliefs about the best way to cope with fear he may dream a dream such as Bronwyn’s.

Now you know a little about the unconscious beliefs driving Jim, Greta, Nelson, Bronwyn and Karen, how do you imagine their lives to be? What kind of actions do you think they have been taking in their lives? What beliefs would better suit them?

Karen's belief: Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.

Karen’s belief: Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving.

Take Karen, for example. Karen had a dream job very early in her working life. Sadly it came to an abrupt end after a year when her employer absconded with the company funds. It was a traumatic time for Karen. She had put so much of her energy and hope into the job which she saw as a beginning to a perfect career. At that point, Karen took on the unconscious belief that ‘Things go well for about a year, and then they stop thriving’. In the years that followed, whenever a job, relationship or project that Karen was involved in neared the one year mark she began to make decisions and take actions based on the expectation that the job, relationship or project would fail. And so they did. And, until she understood her recurring dream, Karen was totally unaware of any of this.

How did you go with spotting the belief for your dream? Has this belief driven your decisions and actions? What kind of outcomes resulted in your life? Are you happy with these, or are you ready to apply some dream alchemy and start to see the kind of outcomes you would prefer? It’s your life!

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, March 2007. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Episode 112 The Dream Show: Dream people

Thank you for your help
The Dream Show, a free weekly podcast with Jane Teresa AndersonWho dreams about you? How many dreams have you starred in, or played a cameo role? Think of  all the different people who have appeared in your dreams over the years – people you know well, people you vaguely know, people you know of but have never met.

People in our dreams are symbols, but of what?

In this episode I give you The Identity Method – how to interpret the meaning of the people who appear in your dreams. It’s an extract from my book, Dream Alchemy.

Also in today’s show, we take a quick look at how searching for word play in dreams can deliver clues to interpretation, illustrating this with some quirky laugh-out-loud dreams contributed to a recent breakfast radio show by listeners calling in to consult me on air.  Enjoy.

Listen here (Episode 112).

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Dream symbols: Word association

Think of it as a kind of surprise attack.Bust the meaning of a weird dream symbol by playing the word association game. For this, you need a piece of paper, a pen, a few minutes of uninterrupted peace, and a timer.

Write your dream symbol at the top of your page, set your timer for two minutes, and jot down the first word that comes into your head when you think about your symbol. Quickly follow this by the next word that comes into your head, and then the next, and so on. Don’t think, don’t pause, and write fast. It doesn’t matter whether the words you write all spring directly from thinking about your dream symbol, or whether they follow on from some of the other words flowing onto your page. Keep going until your two minutes is up.

Imagine your dream symbol is ‘hairpin’, for example. You might start something like this.

Hairpin, hairpin bend, mountain road, treacherous, treachery, treason, Guy Fawkes Night, fireworks, explosions … continuing for two minutes.

Give it a go. It takes just two minutes, it’s fun to do, and it usually yields surprising results.

Give it a go. It takes just two minutes, it’s fun to do, and it usually yields surprising results.

When your two minutes is up, look over your list and see if anything significant jumps out at you. If you’ve really written fast, your unconscious mind will have come up with some surprising connections. This method teases the meaning of your dream symbol from your unconscious mind. Think of it as a kind of surprise attack.

In the example, you might look back over the words and suddenly remember being eight years old and taking a hairpin from your hair to dig out some of the explosive from a firework. Your parents didn’t notice the firework had been tampered with, they lit it, and it exploded sideways, narrowly missing burning the family dog. Your hairpin dream symbol suddenly feels right as a perfect symbol for guilt.

This example may sound silly, but when you do this exercise, you’ll know when you’ve identified your symbol correctly because it will feel so right and your dream interpretation will suddenly make sense.

Give it a go. It takes just two minutes, it’s fun to do, and it usually yields surprising results.

[Extract from 101 Dream Interpretation Tips, Jane Teresa Anderson]

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A bunch of fives

In one eight-hour sleep, you have about five dreams, whether or not you remember them all.  The good news is that all the dreams you have in one night usually address the same issue, so if you start with the one that seems easiest to interpret, you can identify the theme, and then see if it applies to the others.

If you start with the one that seems easiest to interpret, you can identify the theme.

If you start with the one that seems easiest to interpret, you can identify the theme.

For example, you might be struggling financially and, after a particularly difficult day, your dreaming mind sets out to process your issues about money.

The first dream of the night might look at this from an emotional point of view, perhaps showing you ‘up to your neck’ in water, almost drowning in tears.

The second dream might look at this from an historic perspective, reminding you of past events and experiences that have shaped your approach to finances.

The third dream might look at how you’re coping from a practical point of view, perhaps showing you propping yourself up (with loans or distractions) whenever the ground feels unstable.

The fourth dream might get creative, looking for possible solutions to your present crisis, and so on.

You can magnify this insight if you explore the other dreams of the same night.

You can magnify this insight if you explore the other dreams of the same night.

As you can see, any one dream on a night gives you excellent insight into any issue, but you can magnify this insight if you explore the other dreams of the same night. If you only ever remember one dream, don’t worry. You’re not missing out. That one dream provides insight, and there will be other dreams on other nights. It’s a good idea to watch a run of dreams over a period of days, or even weeks, before making a big decision, to allow the opportunity to gather a range and depth of insights.

Do you enjoy doing crosswords? If so, you’ll probably have noticed that the best approach is to flick through all the clues looking for one you can answer quickly. When you’ve entered all the answers that jumped out at you, it’s easier to solve the harder clues because you now know some of the letters. It’s the same with looking at a night’s worth of dreams.  Start by identifying the theme of the easiest one, then look for clues on the same theme in the other dreams. The more clues you solve, the easier it gets.

[Extract from 101 Dream Interpretation Tips – in paperback & ebook – Jane Teresa Anderson]

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Episode 106 The Dream Show: Alien analyst

Thank you for your help
How can an alien help you to understand a dream? What’s the right thing to say to a horse as it angrily rears up above you and threatens to crash down upon you? And what’s the magical formula for finding a solution to a seemingly impossible challenge?

A new podcast every Friday. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes.

A new podcast every Friday. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes.

Today’s show brings you a mix of dream interpretation tips, from the practical and light-hearted to the deeply analytical, and a touch of alchemy you can apply to bring you solutions when faced with difficulties.

Listen here (Episode 106)

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Nipple worms & radio experts

Headlice and worms: nice subject over breakfast.

“I dreamed that a two inch worm wriggled out of my nipple,” said Kerry, who called Brig and Lehmo’s breakfast show on Radio Mix101.1FM a couple of weeks ago to ask me about her dream.

Parasites seemed to be the order of the day, as I had just helped Brig understand her dream of picking lice from a sports star’s hair. Lice and worms, nice subject over breakfast.

Dream interpretation on breakfast radio has to be quick, punchy, entertaining and light hearted, while also delivering something insightful and meaningful about each dream and imparting – between the lines – a dream interpretation tip or two to the listeners. Callers don’t have the luxury of describing a whole dream, so it’s often down to the basics, like Kerry’s worm wriggling out from her nipple. Oh, but we did have a little more information: the worm was two inches long.

Breakfast radio's often straight down to the basics, like Kerry’s worm wriggling out from her nipple.

Breakfast radio’s often straight down to the basics, like Kerry’s worm wriggling out from her nipple.

Every part of a dream is meaningful, and it is deeply rewarding to explore and interpret every detail, but for the time poor – and for radio – there’s a lot of magic to be gained by reducing a dream down to one or two basic sentences that give the gist and highlight the weirdest symbols.

Yes, I will share my insight on Kerry’s dream! There are no ad breaks or tunes to squeeze into this blog post, so I’m spinning my tale.

If you’re very busy, if the pace of your life is more breakfast show, more grazing bytes than navel gazing, jot down your dreams using the same words that you’d use if you were phoning a radio station and the producer told you to describe your dream in no more than a couple of sentences. At least you’ll have something written in your dream journal, some record of dreams that would otherwise disappear into the rush time ether. And you can get some good insights working with these basic bottom lines.

Interpreting dreams is not dream dictionary work. There’s no universal meaning for worm or nipple. It’s more meaningful to look at how the symbols in a dream interact than to look at them in isolation. Whenever someone describes a dream, I empty my mind and just listen. As the dreamer paints the picture of the dream, I keep an open mind, observing how the elements interact, how the drama unfolds, how the dreamer expresses the dream.

What do you see when you put nipple and worm in the same sentence? What does the interaction of these two symbols conjure up for you?

Many decades ago, when I lived in Glasgow, I enjoyed skipping the occasional lecture to relax and potter around my kitchen while listening to Radio BBC Scotland. I liked the afternoon play readings and the segments where they had experts in the studio answering callers’ questions. The experts always came in panels of three, and they would decide amongst themselves who would answer each caller’s question. “Over to you, Jack,” one expert would say, after giving a brief opinion of his own.

The experts always came in panels of three, and they would decide amongst themselves who would answer each caller’s question.

The experts always came in panels of three, and they would decide amongst themselves who would answer each caller’s question.

I imagined the panel of experts sitting there in the studio, reference books on the table in front of them, two rapidly thumbing pages checking facts and searching for answers while the third held fort with a wordy introduction. (Yes, these were pre-internet days.)

Did my imagining manifest my many years of being an ‘expert’ on radio? Probably! I was first interviewed on radio 34 years ago, and it’s been in my life, on and off, ever since. But there’s no sitting in the studio with a reference book, or even with a laptop. Mostly there’s no sitting in the studio. I’m usually at home, on the phone and I ask not to be told anything about the dreams before we go live to air. It keeps everything in the moment and allows me to just sit, with a totally clear mind, and listen as the caller (or the presenter) describes their dream. If I don’t analyse – if I simply sit and watch how symbols interact, how the dream drama develops, how the caller tells the dream, I have enough clues to respond.

Being a radio ‘expert’ has taught me the clarity of being in the moment.

Being a radio ‘expert’ has taught me the clarity of being in the moment.

Being a radio ‘expert’ has taught me the clarity of being in the moment. I use the same approach for working with long, detailed dreams, for clients where we spend an hour on one dream, and for The Dream Show where I chat luxuriously with guests about a single dream.

So what does Kerry’s dream about a worm wriggling out from her nipple mean?

So what does Kerry’s dream about a worm wriggling out from her nipple mean?

So here we are at the bottom line of today’s blog. What does Kerry’s dream about a worm wriggling out from her nipple mean?

There’s a tension at work here: a nipple is designed to deliver milk, to nourish and nurture. A worm that has been living inside the body is probably a parasite, feeding on the person’s energy, ultimately depriving the person of energy and nourishment. Kerry’s dream shows a tension around nurturing. Something’s been draining her of her energy. Something that should be nourishing and nurturing for Kerry has, in fact, been potentially draining her reserves.

The good news is that Kerry’s dream captures the moment where the worm leaves her body. Every dream reflects the 24-48 hours prior, so Kerry most probably ‘got something off her chest’ about what’s been draining her instead of nourishing and fulfilling her. And since that worm was two inches long, this draining has most likely been going on for two years.

Of course, we’d need to really look into the details of Kerry’s dream to be precise and gain deeper insight, but as a starting point for Kerry and the radio listeners, and as a starting point for busy people – like you perhaps – byte sized dream interpretation is good breakfast food for thought.

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Dream interpretation: Theme alchemy

Here’s an example from my life. It’s the story of three waves.

No, it’s not a drunken, lisped take on ‘dream alchemy’. It’s a way of reading across your dreams, instead of considering each dream individually. It helps you to find light when you need it most.

Here’s an example from my life. It’s the story of three waves.

Once upon a time, I had three dreams about tsunamis. Each dream was on a different night, spaced over one week, and each dream was different from the last.

As a child, I often had the classic tsunami dream – a very common dream theme for many people. Generally, this dream theme involves running away, or trying to run away, from a tsunami or huge tidal wave.

You can glimpse the meaning of a dream by summarising it in one sentence, starting with the words ‘I feel’ and including the word ‘something’. Most people who have the classic tsunami dream come up with something like this:

“I feel threatened by something huge and overwhelming that I cannot escape.”

This one sentence summary usually applies to your waking life in the day or two leading up to the dream. Like most tsunami dreamers, my childhood dream came up whenever I felt overwhelmed by issues I didn’t know how to address. Turn away and run seems the only option, but, as dream after dream goes to show, tsunamis and unaddressed issues catch up with you in the end.

My adult tsunami dream trilogy went like this:

Tsunami dream number 1

In the first dream of the series, I knew a tsunami was coming. I was on a beach and had a foreboding feeling. I warned everyone of the distant tsunami, hoping advance warning would save them. It felt good to give the warning in plenty of time.

My dream summary was “I feel thankful I have advance warning of something overwhelming coming my way.”

I could relate this to my waking life. I could feel the threat of an emotionally charged issue gathering force on the horizon. I knew from experience that you can’t escape an issue by running from it, but that you can diffuse it, and escape damage, by working out a solution to the issue. Thankful for this, I applied myself to possible solutions.

Tsunami dream number 2

The second tsunami dream came a few days later. The dream started in the same way, but then, as people listened to my warning, I saw the tsunami on the horizon start to recede. It was still big, and it would still roll on in up the beach and beyond, but the potential damage was much reduced.

My dream summary was “I feel relieved that something that felt overwhelming now seems a little less threatening.”

I could relate this to my waking life since I had spent the previous few days looking at possible solutions to this issue. This had made me feel more empowered, more capable of defusing the issue, though I wasn’t quite there yet. The dream gave me hope that I was on track.

Tsunami dream number 3

A few days later, I had the third tsunami dream. In the dream, I was sitting by a river when a whale swam by, trailing a large V-shaped ripple in its wake. I watched the ripple gathering momentum as it spread from the point where the whale’s fin broke the surface of the water. I looked closer at the fin, noticing, in the dream, that it looked like a shark’s fin but knowing, absolutely, that this was a whale. Caught in the moment I almost forgot to jump up as the ripple hit the river bank, spilled over the edge, and splashed over my legs before subsiding. I danced about at the river’s edge, like a child playing in the waves, happy, laughing loudly enough to wake myself up from my dream.

My dream summary was “I feel happy that something that appeared to be ominous was really something beautiful.”

I could relate this to my waking life as I had looked for the positive in the negative – looked for a win-win solution to the issue – and, in so doing, transformed the shark into a whale, the negative view into a positive one, the overwhelming deluge into a ripple of joy. (Did you spot the dream pun – the ripple in the ‘wake’? I was ‘awakened’ to see a ripple in place of a tsunami, a whale in place of a shark. Perhaps there was even a V for victory in that V-shaped ripple. And doesn’t laughter come in ripples?)

I danced about at the river’s edge, like a child playing in the waves, happy, laughing loudly enough to wake myself up from my dream.

I danced about at the river’s edge, like a child playing in the waves, happy, laughing loudly enough to wake myself up from my dream.

But where is the Theme Alchemy in all of this? Haven’t I just done the usual thing and interpreted three individual dreams? Didn’t I promise, at the start of this article, to show you a way of reading across your dreams, instead of considering each dream individually?

To read across your dreams, select a number of dreams on the same theme. In this example, I chose three dreams on the tsunami theme. My dreams were close together, all taking place within one week, but you can choose dreams from any time period. If you have been keeping a record of all your dreams, you might like to select all your dreams on a certain theme from the past year. Or you might just like to stay vigilant for a run of dreams like mine.

The next step is to summarise each dream using the method I outlined in my example – the one sentence summary starting with “I feel” and including the word “something”.

Then place these one sentence summaries together to produce a continuous reading – a reading across your dreams. Here are mine, as an example:

“I feel thankful I have advance warning of something overwhelming coming my way. I feel relieved that something that felt overwhelming now seems a little less threatening. I feel happy that something that appeared to be ominous was really something beautiful.”

Reading across your dreams (dreams on a similar theme) shows you how you are progressing with an aspect of your life. In my example, I was progressing well, tuning into a negative, ominous feeling, taking heed of the warning, deciding to do something about it, and, finally, settling on the solution of looking for the positive in the negative. Once I found the positive, the negative disappeared.

You take a reading like this and apply it to other life situations. In my case, I learned to see the whale in every apparent shark, long after the situation that triggered this dream trilogy.

When I woke from my third dream, I did a dream alchemy practice. I took the good ending and amped it up. I visualised the whale, the ripple and the happy sensation of the ripple splashing over my legs. I repeated the visualisation over the next weeks until my unconscious mind firmly and automatically responded to every shark by looking for the whale.

Faced with a difficult situation you can ask, “Where is the whale in this?

Faced with a difficult situation you can ask, “Where is the whale in this?

You can also simply turn an insight like this into a contemplative question. Faced with a difficult situation you can ask, “Where is the whale in this?”

Sometimes, when you read across your dreams, you’ll see they keep going round in circles, rather than progressing. You can learn from such a dream reading that you are not progressing. Take action and, when you are awake, do this dream alchemy practice: visualise changing the ending of your dream. Eventually your dreaming mind will produce a dream reflecting your progress. Keep reading across your dreams on the same theme to monitor – and celebrate – your progress.

Theme Alchemy is applying dream alchemy practices, like visualisation, to a run of dreams on the same theme. It’s about reading across dreams on a similar theme to gauge your progress, and then applying alchemy practices to hasten that progress. It’s about finding a chink of light in a series of dark dreams, and then widening that chink until enough light comes pouring in to show you the way through. Once you’ve done this, you have a magic formula ready to apply if ever that old dream theme reappears. In my case, whenever I have even a trickle of a tsunami dream, I wake up and start looking for the whale in the shark, the positive in the negative.

If you keep a dream journal and you have one or more recurring dream themes, you might like to copy those dreams into separate journals – Theme Journals. You might have a Tsunami Journal, an Animal Journal, or a Plane Journal, for example.  Practice the art of reading across the dreams in your Theme Journals, until you see the light.

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, December 2007. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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Episode 91 The Dream Show: For busy people

Thank you for your help
Wouldn’t it be neat to read across your dreams, instead of deeply exploring them, one by one?

If you’re a busy person, or if there never seems to be enough time left in your day to look at every nuance in your dreams, here’s a dream interpretation method for you. Oh, and it provides more than interpretation, it also shows you how to apply dream alchemy across a number of dreams.

The secret? There’s more than one, and you’ll have to listen to find out!

Also in today’s show is one of the most enlightening dreams I have ever experienced. You’ll never look at life the same way again.

And finally, I’ve delved into my book The Compass for a random reading; will it apply to you? I bet it will! Enjoy.

A new podcast every Friday. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes.

A new podcast every Friday. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes.

Listen here (Episode 91)

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