The Intuitive Art of Interpreting Dreams

What we experience as dreams, whether nightly as we sleep, or as a form of daydream or internal vision as an intuitive mental impression, are formed naturally out of our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind is both primitive and instinctual, and universal and intuitive in nature. Unlike the self-conscious aspect of the mind which “thinks” in abstract terms with words as internal dialogue that is primarily logical in nature and follows a linear timeline, the subconscious “thinks” in pictures, images, and as symbolic-thematic realities. It’s “experiential” in nature and forms ideas as experiences of reality that are universal in nature as being comprised of symbolism that lacks a logical transition from one scene to another, and serves to form an overall theme as the idea being conveyed through the nature of the dream.

The details of the dream are not as important as the overall idea being played out, although it does provide us with important features and instructions in regards to the tendency it’s illustrating and the principles involved that provide us with the tools necessary for working with it in a conscious fashion. The language of dreams is the same symbolic language used to illustrate spiritual ideas, and only has meaning in terms of how it’s intuitively interpreted by the person having the dream. Your dreams can only accurately be interpreted by you. No one else can interpret your dreams for you. Books that are currently on the market for forming a generic interpretation of “dream symbols” are useless, and simply train you further to the prevalent mindset of having someone else tell you what’s in your own psyche. If you currently have some of these books, throw them away, because they won’t provide you with anything that’s meaningful, and in reality only act to prevent you from developing your own intuitive abilities.

       The “language of dreams” is primarily communicated through the “feelings” you get from the experience of the dream. How you feel “in the experience you’re having” is the main message and most important feature of the dream. The subconscious mind thinks by forming experiences of reality that elicit distinct emotions in response to them that produce what you could think of as natural and automatic behaviors that express the emotions being elicited through the nature of the experience. Intuition comes naturally by embodying the “feeling sensation” of an idea as a direct experience that allows mental impressions to naturally form as a “chain of association”. An image or series of ideas as the elements being used to compose the dream are only meaningful in terms of the feeling they give you and how they connect to other ideas of a similar nature in a synchronized fashion.

The subconscious is the aspect of our mind that’s intuitive in nature and lacks the ability to logically rationalize an idea in abstract terms. All ideas come to it and are played out as a direct experience that elicits an emotional reaction that compels automatic behavior as a dynamic of some form. The dynamic being played out in the dream as a pattern of the overall idea forms a “theme”. The theme of our nightly dream directly correlates with a pattern as a dynamic of some form being lived and played out in our waking state at an unconscious level. Our dreams show us the “contents” of our subconscious mind that we’re not fully aware of that are governing our primary experiences of living through our waking state.

When we’re awake, our self-conscious mind of outer awareness (brain consciousness) becomes the dominant aspect of the mind that’s creating our experience of reality, and our subconscious mind fades into the background where it’s only experienced as feelings, emotions, and intuitive notions. Yet the subconscious is what’s still forming the very basis for our “outer reality” as our perception based on memories, conditioning, and the story that we’re always in the process of telling ourselves as a kind of “theme” that we use to form the basic nature of all our experiences. What we call reality is only “known” through our “perception of it” as an experience that’s a combination of both the known and unknown contents of our own mind. So the reality of our nightly dreams is an inherent component of the reality we experience as our waking state. When we go to sleep our self-conscious mind becomes inactive, and our entire experience of life and reality is formed out of our subconscious mind. While the nature of the reality changes in terms of the language being used to construct it, the basic theme being played out as dynamics remains consistent, because they’re both being created by the same aspect of the mind.

Gaining Insight into our Emotional Nature

The most primary way the subconscious governs and acts to produce the behavioral dynamics being played out during our waking state is through our emotions. Our formative conditioning is formed by emotional states we were trained to that formed behavioral dynamics that became the basis for all our memories. These emotional memories act to form the template as a generalized theme that we continue using throughout our life for creating all of experiences to be of a consistent nature by how we interpret them to give them meaning. Regardless of what we repress in ourselves, and thereby act to “forget” or deny having (even to ourselves), the repressed content remains active and alive inside of us as a key component and theme that forms all of our perceptions, natural behaviors, and general experience of life. This internal content that we’re primarily unaware of or deny having, is played out in our nightly dreams as the expression of emotions we can’t find an appropriate expression for in our waking life.

It’s pretty easy to recognize that our dreams give us similar feelings to what we’re experiencing in a daily life, just in different terms. Our dreams produce a “direct experience” that has a strong emotion associated with it. While the elements being used in the dream may seem completely unrelated to our waking life, the feeling and emotion they produce are the same. Our feelings and emotions are what acted as the perceptual filter for interpreting the events of our life to form our memories of them. We don’t form a memory of the events themselves as exact details, but as the story we told ourselves about them that gave them meaning. When we replay the memories, we live them as an “experience” of them that produces the same emotion and tells the same type of story as a theme that we tell ourselves “about” what happened. We’re conditioned (form our unconscious content) through a dynamic series of memories all born out of the same basic emotional states and behavioral dynamics being played out by our family and the environment we were raised in. The subconscious produces these same “type of realities” in our nightly dreams that serve to reveal to us what ideas are alive in us and operating in our life at the unconscious level.

       We can learn how to see our own unconscious tendencies as thematic patterns and habitual emotional states by interpreting our nightly dreams. They’re illustrated in very direct terms as symbolic ideas that are somewhat “blunt” and “obvious” in nature as a dynamic or thematic pattern that has formed a “tendency in us”. This tendency, though covered over in our waking life with an illusion that serves to deny and repress it by telling a different story about it, is playing out subliminally through our feelings and emotions and what group of memories they keep us tied into and creating out of as a result. By paying attention to the themes being played out in our dreams and what they seem to be about in terms of how they make us feel, we can gain very clear insight into our own subconscious mind.

All of us form life themes based on our conditioning and how we tried to make sense of things that were happening to us and all around us. Most of these themes involve ideas like not being loved and wanted, not being good enough, not being smart or good looking enough, being a bad person, stupid, and so on, based on what we were told or how we felt because of the nature of our experiences. Certain ideas become consistent due to the dynamics we were conditioned with, and they form into a “life theme” that provides the basis for how we interpret the behavior of others and events of our life to consistently tell the same type of story. The story we’re always in the process of telling ourselves internally creates many of our fears and insecurities, and what we often call our “issues and complexes”, and because we can’t always find ways to express these feelings in our waking life, we play them out in our dreaming life in the symbolic language of the subconscious. This is allowing us to see what our repressed emotions and feelings about ourselves are, but of course we have to realize that that’s what they’re showing us in order to actually benefit from it.

Receiving Higher Guidance through Dreams

The subconscious aspect of the mind is what we call the “passive aspect” that doesn’t have the ability to create “illusions” as a story we make up about stuff to give it meaning, and only acts as a “receptor” for ideas given to it from an “active” aspect of the mind, which it forms internally as a memory. It translates an idea into an “internal reality” that becomes the perceptual lens and mental paradigm as a template for producing a similar outer reality that’s of the same nature. There are multiple active aspects of the same mind that operate on multiple planes simultaneously. On the material plane of the individual mind located within a body, the active component is the complementary opposite of the self-conscious mind, whereas on the higher plane of the universal mind, the active component is of the “Higher Self” or human Soul. In order for the subconscious to act as a receiver for higher knowledge as self-awareness, the active component of the self-conscious mind has to be made inactive and passive. This happens naturally at night when we go to sleep.

The Higher mind can seed the subconscious with ideas as imagined realities that act to form the theme of our nightly dreams. These dreams can be recognized because they not only reveal something to us that we’re not aware of that’s actively creating in our life, but they also give us “instruction” as to possible solutions, or reveal new forms of information that provide us with the awareness necessary for making new and better decisions. These instructions are usually conveyed in the universal language of symbols that don’t have a strong emotion associated with them, although they do have a strong feeling of infinity, and are designed to provide us with creative processes when properly understood.

Spiritual guidance always comes as a form of heightened awareness around what we’re presently unaware of that allow for new insights that expand and broaden our ability to create new experiences by breaking the habitual patterns that are governing our life. In these dreams we gain a clear sense of a tendency we have that’s somewhat eluding us and we’re shown what areas to look at or investigate further in order to use universal laws for transforming our existing conditions and experiences. Like all true “spiritual guidance” they never come as “telling us what to do” or “making decisions for us”, but rather as expanding our awareness and providing us with tools for creating that require use of choice and free will in order to actively embrace and pursue.

The Nature of Karma as the Souls Memory

This process of the active component of the mind serving to program the passive component is the same way karma is played out as a form of universal justice that’s delivered in an unbiased way from a higher plane of consciousness. The subconscious uses memory as an “experience of reality” formed internally as the means for creating a similar outer reality of the same nature as a life-theme. Our inner, nightly dreams are a direct correlation and correspondence to our waking dreams as the perception of that same idea being played out externally as a group. It comes to us in exactly the same way “instinct” does and acts to “inform” us and our outer reality with the same metaphor as a memory. Karma exists as the content of our soul and ancestral memories that together form the basis for our subconscious memory in our current life. This memory plays out faithfully to create both our “self” and our experience of reality as a thematic pattern.

The only way to break karma is by becoming self-aware and realizing our own tendencies as our unconscious conditioning. Our nightly dreams provide us with the most obvious means of doing this because they show us in thematic terms what’s operating in us without our direct awareness. In order to use our creative ability of choice and free will, we have to become aware of what’s operating in our life that we’re currently unaware of. Through the realization, we can begin seeing the pattern clearly and the emotions associated with it, and form new realizations that allow us to freely make new decisions that we then act out intentionally that serve to break old patterns.

Programming our Dreams with Intention

Once we become aware of the fact that our subconscious is the “passive medium” through which we connect with and freely communicate with our Higher Self, we can use it to both send and receive information. By setting an intention for our dreams, we give the subconscious a directive while also sending a request to our higher conscious for more information regarding something. We use the active (conscious) component of both our lower and higher mind to communicate with each other through the passive (unconscious) component that they both share. This principle is illustrated in the saying “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you”.

When we set an intention for our dreams, we “ask for and receive” information from our higher level of awareness. As we receive information, it’s not only “reflected in the imagination of the subconscious” as a dream that our self-conscious can then witness and become aware of, but it also acts to “seed the subconscious” with the “reality of that idea”. The information from our Higher-Self comes “into” the subconscious as a form of memory or picture of the desired reality that provides it with a program as a theme for creating as an outer experience.  Both aspects of us act as the receiver, one directly and one indirectly through the reflection of it in the mind’s eye, which is what forms that idea as a unified inner and outer reality.

When we can’t remember the details of our dreams, we can still receive the information obtained through them as signs, messages, coincidences and intuitive impressions that we form in our outer, awake reality. These come as an intuitive association that’s made to the intention we set as being of the same nature or idea. As we set an intention for creating, we simultaneously program our own subconscious to scan the environment and bring to our attention any information that may be pertinent to the idea. The brain has a mechanism called the “reticular activating system” that acts to direct our attention to things in our environment that’s programmed through “questions and wondering about something”. As we ask a question we tune ourselves to the answer in everything around us.

How Thoughts Program our Dreams

In a similar manner, our own self-conscious mind, which is the aspect that “thinks by talking” as internal dialogue, is always acting to program our subconscious with the reality of our thoughts. Whatever it is that we’re thinking about before and as we fall asleep at night, forms the basis for what we continue to dream about. The time period between our waking and sleeping state as a transition from a conscious to unconscious state, is the most natural form of “hypnosis” we all engage in, usually without realizing it. Our self-conscious, talking mind is always acting to produce the reality of our thoughts in the imagination where they act as an “experiential command” or form of “virtual memory” for programming the subconscious with the reality of our thoughts. What we’re thinking about as we fall asleep at night is very important because we take it with us into our dreams where we continue creating it as an experience of reality that sets the basis for also experiencing in a corresponding manner as an actual experience of outer reality.

Understanding and Interpreting Symbols

Every aspect of our dreams is a personification of an aspect of our self. This is very easy to understand when we realize that it’s our mind, and only our mind that’s forming the entire reality of the dream. Symbolic elements are used based on what they mean to us, and what type of feeling we derive from them, as well as what aspect of our self is being expressed through them. Just as the soul expresses through the physical body, it expresses through numerous other forms in the same fashion. The meaning we give an idea, what feeling it gives us in response and relationship with it, and what it represents to us as a theme or general idea, forms the natural interpretation of the symbolic nature of our dreams.

A spider, for example, may produce a feeling of fear in one person while producing a feeling of curiosity and intrigue in another. Not everyone is afraid of spiders, and some people actually love them. The idea of being naked can mean many things based on the context it’s being used in, such as vulnerability, shame, freedom and innocence, sensuality, sexual arousal, and so on. There’s no such thing as a generic meaning for an idea that applies to everyone. The same idea used in different ways and in different relationship with other ideas as they appear in different dreams can even mean different things to the same person. All ideas, no matter what their nature, are only designed to create a feeling sensation as an “inner experience”. The most basic way of interpreting a dream is by noticing what feeling it gave you, what emotional reaction you formed out of what was happening, and what the overall idea being played out was as a theme or metaphor. Then, relating that same feeling idea to your waking life as a corresponding or associated idea.

All of the attributes and qualities of the imagery are also important because it enhances the idea being conveyed in a detailed manner. So colors, textures, sizes, condition, sounds, behaviors, geometric shapes, and numbers are also communicating in-depth information about the nature of the theme being played out and why you feel the way you do about it. The greater your knowledge is of symbolic imagery is in your waking life (numbers, principles, geometry, colors as qualities and states, animals as personality with behaviors, etc.), the more they will be used in your dreaming life as the means of communicating an idea. If you’re unaware of the nature of symbolic imagery in terms of conscious states and properties, then your dreams seem nonsensical, random, and don’t make much sense to you. If you don’t realize that your dreams are an active part of your psyche that’s showing you the hidden contents of your own mind, then you may not remember your dreams on a regular basis, or forget them as soon as you wake and start moving around.

How to Remember your Dreams

The first step to remembering your dreams is to set the intention to do so before you go to sleep. Make sure you get at least seven to nine hours of sleep. Most dreaming takes place in the last few hours, and when you wake after several hours of sound sleep, your dream is still fresh and vivid with details. If you doze in and out, you often go from one dream to another and can remember several dreams. Your “state” changes with body posture and activity, and as you start moving around, you steadily change your state and begin forgetting your dream. As you wake up, stay in the same position with your eyes closed, and mentally recap your dream in as much as you can remember, or by going over the highlights several times before you actually get up. As soon as you get up take a few minutes to write down the basic idea and theme of your dream, and sketch out any symbols or visual patterns that had significance also. If you have time, journal about the dream in order to allow more and more significance to emerge and associations to the same ideas in your waking life. Make a special note of how you felt, and any emotions that you experienced. Try and identify the “pattern as a theme” of the overall idea played out in symbolic terms. As you identify the basic elements, feelings and emotions, allow yourself to make any form of intuitive associations to the patterns being lived out in your waking life.

Dr. Linda Gadbois

Linda holds a doctorate in Spiritual Sciences, and a Bachelor's in Clinical Hypnotherapy, along with numerous specialty certifications. She's a professional educator and Mentor, and offers a wide variety of Mentoring and Consulting Services, along with professional training programs. Some of her specialties include Personal Transformation, Self-Mastery, Spiritual Sciences, Transpersonal Psychology, and Integrative Mind-Body Medicine. For more info visit our Personal and Professional Services pages in the top menu bar of this site, or email us at: info@drlindagadbois.com

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