Dreams are one of our greatest resources of self-help. They can express and teach creativity, reinforce learning and commit it to memory, work out problems free from the constraints of rational thinking, and offer counsel on life and love. The therapeutic and healing power of dreams is such that even our nightmares can help us by revealing fears not fully recognized by our daytime selves. The more we work with our dreams, drawing upon their meanings and messages, the better we can integrate mind, body and spirit in waking life.
Through dreams we gain direct contact with the hidden sources of insight and awareness that inspire writers and artists. Once we begin to understand this reservoir of unconscious ideas, we can use it to enrich our waking observations and even release the artistic aptitudes that lie latent in all of us. During a dream we can get in touch with our imagination, learn to be more creative in daily life, and bring that creativity to bear on every kind of challenge – from planning an enjoyable weekend to giving advice to a wayward friend whose behaviour is causing us concern. In the dream world the imagination reigns supreme.
Answers to the vital questions of our origin, identity and direction often elude us in waking life: Why do I exist? Who am I? What is my purpose? But our dreams can offer tentative replies to these questions, revealing hidden aspects of ourselves and encouraging us to explore new avenues. It is no exaggeration that dreams can prompt life decisions that change the course of our destinies. Dream messages from the ‘inner self’ may advise us not only on specific aspects of our lives, but also on the whole question of whether we are ready to explore the unconscious in order to discover self-truth.
For example: A dream journey that is smooth and straightforward can denote the dreamers willingness to drift into unconsciousness, whereas a journey through a desolate landscape, which has no landmarks to show us direction, can indicate anxiety about letting go of control. A dream of a chart or a map can tell us that we should embark upon a new path of self-knowledge; while a dream of being lost can signify alienation from the inner self. Being in charge of a machine is an analogy for having command over destiny. Driving a car as it hurtles out of control, may represent a loss of direction in life. Whereas driving safely and skilfully suggests a sense of order and progression.
In an important sense, every loss in the dream world is a gain for our own self-understanding. For example, a sense of loss of identity might show itself through substitution: your dream self will perhaps look in the mirror, where you will see the face of another person. Your true self is seeing a stranger looking back at them. Denoting on a very deep level, how much you have changed or become someone you no longer recognize. This is all very powerful stuff. By reflecting a deep-seated preoccupation, such a dream can give you enlightening information about a major influence on your life – possibly a parent or friend whose impact on your personality is something you find difficult to recognize by the light of day.
Masks are a potent symbol of the self, and being unable to remove or being forced to wear a mask usually signifies an identity crisis of some kind. Again, such dreams are put there to connect us to our true natures. The unconscious mind is a profound reservoir of self-knowledge that influences our personalities, our actions and our responses. We can develop our powers of dream recall, interpretation and control, we can glimpse hidden realities, and gain a clearer idea of what we must do in order to live fuller and happier lives. Our dreams remind us of our creative, intellectual and personal potential. They restore freshness to our perception, heal our relationships, combat anxieties, help us to tackle our fear and lead us to inspired and exciting endeavours.