Dreams (specifically the ones we have while asleep) have been fascinating us forever.
The meaning of dreams is a topic of constant research, metaphysical discussion and personal introspection. Dreams connect us to a consciousness that is much more free, unrestricted and otherworldly every night.
Dreams are a focal point in spiritual work because of how they stretch and expand our perspective; from one that is purely physical or ego-based to one that goes beyond the physical. Dreams are one of the more obvious ways our unconscious minds communicate with us.
In this post I want to talk about the spiritual meaning of dreams, how working with dreams (lucid dreams) shifts our consciousness and how we can connect to higher guidance in them.
What do dreams mean?
The meaning of dreams has been debated for thousands of years, and I won’t be able to provide an answer here that will cover all bases. However I can offer my perspective as someone who has been lucid dreaming for over ten years and has been working with their dreams for just as long.
One theory about the meaning of dreams is that they serve as a decompression tool – a way for our unconscious minds to dissect what happened during the day, and the patterns that are coming up in our lives.
Some people believe that dreams are nonsensical ramblings of the mind, they aren’t really important but are fun to discuss.
Carl Jung proposed that dreams were a kind of wish-fulfilment: we dream about things that we want to bring to physical fruition or that we have an unconscious desire towards (although he proposed other theories too).
A spiritual perspective of dreams is that they are actually unconscious astral projections. When we go to sleep we are travelling through the astral planes; dreams offer us a platform to connect with our guides, passed loved ones and angels – they aren’t just happening inside our head.
Types of dreams
Carl Jung differentiates between two types of dreams: big dreams and small dreams.
Small Dreams: these dreams are more topical in nature; revisiting typical types of experiences we might have day to day. Small dreams are one of the ways the unconscious mind lets off steam, going over scenarios in order to find resolution. This type of dream is quickly forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday affairs.
Big Dreams: these dreams are more transcendental in nature, they can take on an otherworldly tone and are more direct with their symbolism. Big dreams remain on our minds for months even years, they leave a deeper impression.
Signs of a big dream:
- The dreams leaves you feeling contemplative and changed upon waking
- The dreams feel direct and pertinent
- You experience a similar level of lucidity to waking life
- You see a familiar guide or figure in the dream
- The dream connects you to wider collective symbols
Carl Jung was particularly interested in Big Dreams because of how they connect us to the collective unconscious. They are a meeting with something bigger than our selves, the dream becomes more than just a dream which we can write off or ignore.
Big dreams are paradigm-shifting and can be the catalyst for a spiritual awakening or deeper embodiment of spiritual concepts. Big dreams connect us to the collective consciousness, where our dreams become a place of communication with the Universe, God, whatever you wish to call it.
Many famous public figures and academics credit their findings to big dreams, like Albert Einstein’s dream about walking through a field of cows which prompted his Theory of Relativity or Dmitri Mendeleev dream which prompted the formation of the periodic table of elements .
My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.Nikola Tesla
Dream connect us with this wider field of information, with what we already know at our core or soul level. They demonstrate that knowledge isn’t something that simply arises out of nowhere, but is accessed in specific states of consciousness.
Dreams & spiritual awakening
I have been lucid dreaming for over ten years now, and at the start this was a conscious effort. I performed reality checks often and practiced wake induced lucid dreaming aswell.
Over time I stopped deliberately inducing lucid dreams and started allowing the dreaming consciousness to take over and direct things. I still maintain consciousness in many dreams because of that foundation I have built – and find that my dreams take on a different tone, a different texture even though I’m not controlling things.
When we practice mindfulness and meditate we build sharper focus in our waking hours which is eventually transferred over into the dream state. There comes a point on the spiritual awakening journey that you stop ‘going to sleep’.
This isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds, if it is a natural progression of consciousness rather than something we force.
Dreams & the astral realms
I believe that when we are dreaming our energy body (astral body) acts as a vehicle which can inhabit different planes of consciousness depending on what is helpful for our development at that time.
Some dreams are definitely parallel to or easily mistaken for astral projections, while other dreams take on a duller mental construct.
Dreams don’t have an ulterior motive as we would understand it – they simply are. Dreams give us unfiltered expression, experience and guidance.
Dreams give us access to a state of consciousness that is usually only available when we are in a disembodied state, deep meditation, a near-death experience, an astral projection etc. When we are conscious in our dreams we can experience being beyond our selves and bring the knowledge we gain in a transcendental state into waking life.
How to practice dream work
Now that we’ve covered some of the meanings of dreams, I want to discuss how to do ”dream work’.
Dream work is when we bring conscious focus to our dreams, we explore the unconscious with our conscious minds. We do this in order to synchronize these two aspects of our psyche, creating a wholeness of being.
Acknwoledge the importance of dreams
One of the most important aspects of dream work is affirming the importance of dreams! Many view dreams as unintelligible ramblings of the mind, an experience that might be fun to share but isn’t necessarily all that important or relevant to daily life.
Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. Why should I henceforth not love my dreams and not make their riddling images into objects of my daily consideration?Carl Jung
We don’t even need to hold some grand metaphysical significance of dreams in order to understand their importance. Dreams are the canvas our unconscious minds splatter paint onto, and it’s up to us to decipher these masterpieces.
When we take our dreams seriously we notice that they highlight patterns of being and thinking that we didn’t have words for. Over the span of weeks and months, our dreams will tend to cover similar ground – the things that are blocking us in some area of life.
I had dreams of flooding for years. I would either be anticipating a flood or actively running away from one.
I had another dream of this nature, as if routine, and it suddenly clicked that this was something that needed addressing in physical life. I sat with the dream and asked what it might mean in the context of my current life.
Running from a flood in my dreams represented running away from certain emotions in waking life. I wasn’t able to resolve that inner-conflict right away, but I was able to sit with this prompt and find some peace…the dreams stopped from that day.
Write your dream down
One of the best ways to begin working with your dreams is to start keeping a dream journal.
Find a journal that you will enjoy writing in consistently and place it close to your bedside. Alternatively, use a document or notes app on your phone.
As soon as you wake up from a dream, write it down in detail. Note the main themes and figures, and don’t forget to be detailed with how the dream made you feel. Emotions are what make a dream, and can help us identify what it means.
Identify themes & symbols
Now you can start to identify important symbols or figures. Were there any details that stuck out to you in the dream? Were there any symbols from previous dreams?
Isolate different symbols and aspects from the dream, such as figures, themes and aspects of the environment. Now start making associations with these individual aspects.
For example, you have a dream where you were confronted by a lion. What phrases do you associate with the lion? What key characteristics does a lion have? What is the cultural or religious significance of a lion for you?
Relate the dream to waking life
Over the course of several weeks or months, look back at the written record of your dreams and see if there are any patterns. What are the recurring symbols and themes in your dreams and how do these relate to the recurring themes in your day to day life?
What conflicts have been present in the last few months of your life (both internal and external)? What have your relationship dynamics been like? What is an obstacle that has been difficult to overcome recently?
Come back to these interpretations as many times as it takes to find that something that ‘clicks’. You aren’t looking to create an interpretation for the sake of it, but to come to a conclusion that provokes a distinct aha moment, that is when you know it’s right.
Once you have struck upon an interpretation, start to think of the actions you’d like to take in order to address the conflict present.
Going back to the lion example, the lion represents strength, courage and majesty. In a dream you were confronted by a lion, you were walking a specific path and couldn’t proceed because the lion was blocking your way. This could represent needing to embody similar traits to the lion in order to move forward – needing to be more confident.
First, come to peace with this information. You know what you need to do and are working towards it. Then make small changes: go a little beyond your comfort zone, gradually incorporate more of these traits, create a small ritual to affirm what you are doing in the physical.
- Lighting a candle and reciting an affirmation in relation to the changes you are making
- Writing out a plan
- Getting rid of an item that represents something you are ready to release
Make the dream real in order to encourage concrete change.
Working with our dreams is an enlightening experience, it’s the start of consciously communicating with the unconscious mind. When we have these two aspects of our being in synchronization, we can live much fuller lives with clearer insight into the patterns that are holding us back.