Do dreams mean anything? Just like waking life, we create meaning through our own interpretation of events. Dreams can be a tremendously useful source of metaphors for personal healing, even if they may seem impossible to decipher.
Many people believe that dreams are simply the mind rehashing experiences as we sleep, sorting through short and long-term memories for storage. At the other end of the spectrum, dreams represent messages from the higher self or a higher power. My good friend has made significant breakthroughs in her life by carefully interpreting the stories of her dreams. Her lucid dreams have helped her heal phobias. She’s had prescient dreams that propelled her forward on a path of self-actualization.
Regardless of how you view dreams, I do feel there is value in mining them for meaning. Comparing a personal issue to the right metaphor, regardless of its origin, gives you new insights into old problems. It helps connect ideas and see things differently. It’s really a form of creativity.
Dreams can be a tremendously useful source of metaphors for personal healing.
Dreams are the ultimate creativity generators. Not only do they combine conscious memories in unexpected ways, but they incorporate sensations, sights and sounds that we don’t even recall experiencing in our waking life. This is why they are so powerful.
I recently used a metaphor from a dream to resolve a long-standing limiting belief about personal freedom. In an interesting twist, a sign in waking life helped me understand the dream.
I always felt that working from home was ideal. As an introvert, it would give me time to recharge. I could set my schedule, not worry about office politics and be productive without interruptions. However, after nearly six years of working from home, I was unhealthy and stressed.
Instead of looking at the real issue, I began to focus on whether I should work for an employer or become an entrepreneur. Perhaps I needed more freedom! After six months of freelancing, the same issues surfaced. Poor sleep, no concentration, constant worry. As I wrestled with whether to continue a freelance career, I had a dream:
I was sitting alone in an outdoor café. My ‘dream memory’ told me that I’d just escaped from prison, one day before being released. I had a commingled sense of pride & resignation. I knew people wouldn’t understand why I didn’t just wait one more day, but it didn’t matter.
A few days after the dream, I decided to work in a public library for the day to see if I was more productive. As I sat down, I was facing an art project called “I Wish.” Many people had written their wishes all over the board. My eyes zeroed in on a strange wish, “Freedom is where everything is.” It seemed important.
When I got home from my day at the library, I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief. I could spend the evening focused on other things, without the specter of work looming over me. I had a sudden realization:
By imposing restriction over one part of my life, I could experience true freedom.
By choosing to “imprison” myself for part of the day, I could be fully present in other aspects of my life — having the freedom to dream and create and love and live!
The dream made more sense. The outdoor café represented the happy entrepreneur with complete freedom to work when and where he/she wanted. I knew I’d have to return to “prison.” But it felt more like my decision because I’d made the choice to escape and return. That’s what mattered.
It took me years to clear out the beliefs around freedom so I could see the issue for what it was, but the metaphor in this dream finally opened my eyes. Freedom is where everything is – freedom exists anywhere I am present.