It is impossible to categorize dreams strictly into type because each dream is different and therefore unique in its own right. They can, however, be recognized as basically literal, symbolic or a mixture of literal and symbolic imagery. Once this is discovered, the dream can then be seen as a warning dream, an encouraging dream, a prophetic dream, a psychic dream, a healing dream or a nightmare, depending on the reason for its creation in the first place.
Life is made up of one experience after another and these experiences often give rise to problems which need solving, accepting or facing. We can do this in two different ways. Through intelligent reasoning with our head, or intuitively with our heart. Sometimes we make decisions with our heart, sometimes with our head, but the best solutions are those reached when our head and heart agree.
Usually, it is our head with its logic that rules during the day, and our heart with its instinct that rules at night. ‘Sleep on it’ is good advice, for that is when our hearts have their chance to contribute, so listening to our dreams with their message is vital.
Literal dreams are of the head, and reflect life as it is, ‘literally’. An example of this is an action-replay dream. This re-enacts an event exactly as it occurred at the time. The setting is identical, the characters play the same role, and say and do the same things. These dreams reflect the outer world where troubles, and the solutions to them, are practical.
Symbolic dreams reflect more the inner world, the world of the heart, inhabited by emotions and feelings. Since there is no verbal or literal equivalent for these feelings, they are projected into dreams as signs and symbols. These signs and symbols are to the heart, what words are to the head.
Our inner world of images and imagination is far less familiar territory to us then the outer world. In many respects we are prevented from wandering too far into this realm at a very early age. When we are told ‘not to imagine things’. This comes as a warning suggesting that anything that goes on inside our head is definitely suspect, of not fictitious nonsense, so when it comes to dreams especially the more symbolic and imaginative ones, many feel suspicious and do not wish to consider them at all, let alone work with them.
Since symbolic dreams reflect feelings, it is not surprising that many dreams are concerned with emotional problems, relationships, worries and fears; but they also reflect profound emotions, hopes, inspirations and brilliant new idea’s and inventions.
Problem Solving Dreams
Even if you do not consciously use dreams for problem solving, you no doubt have had the experience of waking up in the morning with a clear and simple answer to a problem. You may not even remember the dream, but you know what to do with the situation at hand. This technique has been used for centuries to get insight. The conscious mind can struggle and wrestle with a problem, but when it is released to the super-conscious mind, the greater infinite resources of consciousness, the answer effortlessly appears. Deliberately programming your dreams for answers to problems, however, is taking more control of the dream state and letting it work for you.
To use dreams for problem solving, sit on the side of your bed before going to sleep. Take several deep breaths, relax, and bring the problem to mind. Whether it concerns relationships, career, health, inspiration for a creative project, go over in your mind all the different parts of the problem that seem relevant. You have already thought about it, reflected upon it, but you are not sure which is the best direction to take or the positive solution. Feel into the problem, as well as mentally reviewing it. Now mentally repeat, “Tonight I will have and remember a dream containing information for the solution to this problem. The problem concerns (and briefly describe it as objectively as possible). I will now have this dream, and will recall, understand, and record it upon awakening. I open myself up to the highest possible insight and guidance.” Then go to sleep, completely releasing the situation from your mind, resting in the expectation that you will receive the answer in the morning.