How to make sense of your dreams. Dreams are a message from your subconscious.
Understanding your dreams
When you close your eyes and fall to sleep you could be magically transported to any place in the world - or beyond. You might find yourself flying through the air, setting out on an epic adventure or talking to a deceased relative. You may experience joy and exhilaration or fear and sadness. Dreaming exposes you to a huge range of emotions. But what does it all mean? Although scientists are far from fully understanding the purpose of our dreaming state, many theories have been put forward. In past centuries, dreams were thought to be messages from the gods or prophecies of future events. Recent research suggests dreams may be a 'flushing out' of surplus information from your mind, or that dreaming fulfils some as yet unknown biological function.
Dreams deciphered Famous 20th century neurologist, Sigmund Freud put forward the theory that dreams are a method of wish fulfilment. So desires that cannot be expressed in real life are acted out in the dream word. His contemporary, the psychiatrist Carl Jung, went a step further to say that dreams are messages from your subconscious. This could mean that your subconscious mind or intuition is trying to communicate the best course of action to you through dreaming. For example, if you dream about taking an exam and but being unable to answer any of the questions, this could signify that you are unprepared to face a certain situation - or that you fear you are unprepared.
The idea of dreams as a tool for helping you to recognise and process emotions seems to make sense. But situations are often presented in such a bizarre format that it's difficult to recognise the message they're trying to convey. Keeping a dream diary may help you decipher dream meanings. Scribble down your dreams as soon as you wake. Then read over them later in the day to try and find the message from your subconscious. In the exam dream mentioned earlier, you could think about what this fear of being unprepared might refer to - could it be a work situation, an illness, a family problem or financial pressures? By identifying the source of your fear in the dream world you can conquer it in real life.
Nightmares Some dreams cross over into truly terrifying territory. You might wonder whether being scared by a dream could ever be a positive. Although unproven, it is a possibility that nightmares are the result of your unconscious mind trying to process and deal with difficult emotions and feelings, especially one you try to repress in your conscious mind. Scary images grab your attention so are more likely to be remembered. For instance, if you were to have a nightmare about a shadowy figure or a monster chasing you, think about who or what the 'monster' might signify. Are you running away from your responsibilities; or is there a person in your life who deep down you know is not good for you? If you have a nightmare, think carefully about what your subconscious mind might be trying to tell you. But do not dwell upon bad dreams; sometimes they are just linked to generalised fears about what's happening in the news or could indicate a time of stress in your life. If you have a very troubling recurring nightmare, it could be worth seeking counselling as you may have some deeply buried trauma that needs to be dealt with professionally.
Lucid dreaming Imagine if you could control your dreams, using them as a dress rehearsal for success in waking life. Lucid dreaming is the practice of directing the content of your dreams towards the outcomes that you want. It sounds fantastical but practitioners say it's just like an unconscious visualisation. Just before you go to sleep, spend five minutes thinking about what you would like to dream about, perhaps you'd like to practise for a presentation at work, or imagine a family gathering going smoothly. Or you could ask your subconscious a simple question, such as, 'is person x good for me?' The trick is to be able to recognise you are in a dream state, then you can control the events in your dream. There are many techniques for learning how to do this. Look up lucid dreaming online for more information.
Daydreaming Often dismissed as laziness, daydreaming can actually be a great source of creativity. Daydreaming is allowing the mind to drift, while awake, so you imagine diverse possibilities and new concepts connected to the subject of your daydream. Make daydreaming constructive by actively choosing your subject - a business idea, or a practical problem to solve. Focus on your chosen issue, letting your mind relax, allow thoughts, words and images connected to the issue flow into your mind - you might be surprised by an unexpected flash of inspiration.
Dream Meanings explained
Falling: suggests you feel a lack control in your life, you are facing a struggle, or have a fear of failing or are feeling insecure. Sometimes you may experience the sensation of 'falling' before you enter the sleep state - this is a normal physical reaction linked to muscle contractions.
Flying: this is usually an exhilarating experience suggesting you feel a sense of freedom. It can be linked to experiencing spirituality.
Hair loss: dreaming of this may suggest you are lacking confidence about an issue, or that your feeling powerless about a situation.
Birth/death: Although this may seem scary, it is most often linked to cycles of life: when one cycle ends another begins.
Naked: You may be feeling vulnerable, or that somebody is trying to ridicule you. This dream can suggest that you are hiding something and fear being exposed.
Being chased: You are likely to be facing stress at the moment, or you may be avoiding problems or fears that need to be faced.
Pregnancy: this represents creativity ad the generation of new ideas. You may need to express your artistic side.
Teeth: Losing your teeth is a very common dream, it's linked to fears about your physical appearance or a loss of power.
Crying: This is a release of pent up emotion. You need to deal with emotions you are repressing. Your subconscious is telling you it's time to start the healing process.