The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind. -Sigmund Freud
We’ve all skidded by on our good looks and charm long enough. In this New Year, it’s time we use more of ourselves, not just to help ourselves and the world, but to know ourselves. That is, after all, why we're all here.
I contend that the subconscious mind is our most highly underutilized tool. We know our conscious mind all too well; it’s always chattering. The conscious mind is the analytical, logical, willful, judgmental, discerning part of ourselves. Necessary, but not who we are.
There is a “hidden” part, the subconscious mind, that holds deeper truths and vast untapped potential. And I don’t mean potential in acquiring things like in The Secret-type stuff. (Aren’t we beyond all that ego-driven “get, get, get” “me, me, me” mentally? That’s all just child’s play that keeps us stuck in the illusions of this world.) I mean, using this hidden part of ourselves that we know very little about to come to realize our true potential.
In short, the subconscious mind is the picture mind and feeling mind because it’s the storehouse of all of our memories—from this life, past-lives, even natal (womb memory)—and it’s the feeling mind because it is the seat of our emotions. It's also a wellspring of creativity, and a link to other states of consciousness and awareness. Through the subconscious we can even access the Divine, amongst other things.
If we use the perennial iceberg metaphor, the conscious mind is the small visible tip of the iceberg above the water's surface while the mass and strength and power and driving force of the iceberg floats below the water's surface. This is our subconscious. We can’t glimpse it with our conscious mind. We need a different type of vision.
Accessing this deeper part of ourselves requires going under the water’s surface. Two ways of diving into those bottomless waters and exploring the subconscious are hypnosis and dreaming. Both are natural states of mind that we experience within any given 24-hour period—one during the day, the other at night.
The hypnotic state is an altered state (as opposed to our usual conscious state) of awareness whereby we have bypassed the conscious mind. Watching television, daydreaming, driving on the freeway, being in the “zone” while playing a sport or painting or writing can put us into this state by collapsing, so to speak, the analytical mind, giving way to the subconscious. We’re no longer thinking critically, rather we are allowing, responding, receiving or creating from a stream of consciousness.
We also bypass the conscious mind through nighttime dreaming. Although both hypnosis and dreaming are natural states of mind that we don’t consciously conjure up, they can be honed and utilized as tools for self-realization, or to just help us find a misplaced sentimental necklace. The possibilities are endless.
Neither state needs to be taught, each needs to be cultivated. Today we will focus on accessing our subconscious through dreams. In a later post, we'll talk about doing it through self-hypnosis.
We all dream, we just don’t remember our dreams, at least not all the time. But that’s only because we don’t care to remember them. If we wanted to remember our dreams, we would. (On a side note, I have noticed in my practice that clients who smoke cigarettes or pot have a much more difficult time accessing their dreams.)
I encourage you to want to remember your dreams. Within your dreaming mind are messages, ideas, potentiality, dimensions of reality, creativity, connection with others, teachers, those that have lived before, time and space travel, your Higher Self, and the location of your lost necklace.
Don’t take my word for it, here is what
says about dreams:
When I speak of the dream world, I am not referring to some imaginary realm, but to the kind of world of ideas, of thoughts, of mental actions, out of which all form as you think it emerges. In actuality, this is an inner universe rather than an inner world. Your physical reality is but one materialization of that inner organization. All possible civilizations exist first in that realm of the inner mind.
And I like what
Man approaches the more intimate conditions of that field of the inner self when the conscious self is at rest in sleep or slumber, at which time more of the inner forces are taken into consideration and studied by the individual.... It is each individual's job...to understand his individual condition, his individual position in relation to others, his individual manifestation, through his individual receiving of messages from the higher forces themselves, thus, through dreams.
I have been studying and using my dream-state for years. For some reason, in the last couple of years, one thing that state has made me become psychically aware of is earthquakes. In May of 2008, I woke up and said, “There’s been an earthquake.” I turned on my computer and saw that 10,000 people had died in an earthquake in China while I slept. I said the same thing the morning of the Indonesian earthquake.
It might have to do with the fact that when I fall asleep at night I ask my consciousness to be of service to the world in any way it can to whomever needs me during my sleeping hours. Of course, this starts with the idea that 1. I am not my physical body and 2. that my mind is joined to the mind of every mind. In other words, there’s really only one of us here. My understanding of the nature of reality rests on these premises. My point being, we spend a third of our lives asleep, why not use it for healing ourselves and helping others?
I've also used the dream-state to communicate with people who can't communicate with me on the physical level, like deceased relatives, philosophers from times of antiquity, even a little boy I used to work with who had severe autism. He didn't speak, but in my dreams we conversed.
My friends, the resources are limitless.
Here are some of my tips to remembering your dreams.
Before falling asleep:
- Put a special notepad just for dreaming by your bed. Title it “Dream Journal.” And write the date. Start tomorrow. Jan. 1. 2010. Or if you’re serious, get a voice-activated tape recorder. They probably have an app for that. (No, I don’t know if they do or don’t.) But with voice activation you don’t have to fumble for a pen and paper or turn on the light. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written down a long, very important dream in the middle of the night only to wake up and find that I wrote over the same line twenty times. I thought I wrote a whole page of notes, but I scribbled one jumbled, illegible sentence.
- Tell yourself before falling asleep, “I want to remember my dreams and I will remember my dreams.” And feel that desire. It’s a desire to know yourself. We should all have a deep desire for that. In fact, that should be our deepest desire. Get in touch with it and say it with all the meaning you can muster.
- Then, if you have an issue that needs resolving, talk to your subconscious, “I ask my subconscious to help me resolve ________ through my dreams tonight.” Or “I ask my subconscious to help me know the right thing to do about _______ when I awaken.” Or "Give me the message in my dreams as to what is causing this illness, or how I can begin to heal it." Or something like that. You get the idea.
When you awaken:
Take a moment to check in with yourself. Be still and reflect on the issue that needed resolution. Notice what your instinct tells you to do to resolve it. Usually, it’s not what your conscious mind would say if you asked it after lunch. Upon awakening, your conscious mind isn’t quite back in full-
-force; use that leftover dreamy link to your subconscious to know the right action.
Now write down what you remember from your dreams and analyze it. You don’t need a book. You are the best interpreter of your dreams. If you don’t remember anything write “nothing.” At least you’re putting energy in the direction of remembrance. Willingness is the key that opens the door to your subconscious.
If you just have a feeling, write that down. Start somewhere. Then ask yourself, “What is it about myself (or this problem) that makes me feel _______?” If you only remember a color, write it down. “Blue.” Then ask yourself, “How does blue make me feel?” “Calm” or “It reminds me of when I lived near the ocean.” Write it down.
If all you recall is a single symbol (symbolism, by the way, is the language of the unconscious.) write that down, “Tree.” What does a tree mean to you? List some descriptive words for a tree. How do trees make you feel? Do you have a favorite tree? What could a tree be a metaphor for in your life? Protection? Needing to be rooted? Nature?
Then title the dream, “Tree.” And turn the page for the next night’s dream.
Keep doing this and soon enough your sleepy subconscious will shake off the dust and get to work for you. It’s like a beautiful, luxurious car that’s been sitting in the garage for years while you’ve been trekking twenty miles in the snow every day to work because you forgot you had it. It may take a few tries to start the car, but once you do, it will open up a whole new, interesting and fun world.
Sometimes you won’t know the meaning of the dream until months or years later. You will be amazed to look back in your journal only to realize that a particular dream was actually a premonition, that the event unfolded exactly as you had dreamed it.
The subconscious is so much wiser than the conscious mind that the conscious mind doesn’t even know how much it doesn’t know. This year, seek to know what you didn't know you knew. "Know thyself," through dreaming.
Check out these books to learn more:
Edgar Cayce on Dreams