Focused Dreaming

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Once in a while each of us has our own pressing question, from "What is the meaning of life" to "How can I solve that problem at work?". What many people don't realize is that we may already have answers to those questions buried deep in our subconscious mind, and we can often access those answers through our dreams. Try this process:

  1. Set an intention. At bedtime, after you've closed your eyes and before you go to sleep, "program" yourself to dream an answer to a particular question. Say to yourself, "I intend to dream an answer about _________," inserting your topic of choice. This can be a specific question like "What can I do to make exercise more fun?" or a general area like "What do I need to be aware of health-wise?"

  2. Concentrate on the question. With eyes still closed, think about the question for about 30 seconds—what information you'd need to answer the question, what kind of answer would be most helpful, what the most challenging aspects are.

  3. Visualize receiving the answer. For the next 30 seconds (eyes still closed), imagine that it is now sometime in the future after this question has already been answered. Visualize discovering the answer and how that feels, and how you then used the answer to make a decision, solve a problem, make a change in your life, etc. How do you feel now that the matter is resolved? Imagine these things in as much detail as possible, and really feel the emotion and satisfaction of having your question answered. It doesn't matter if you don't know how it will actually turn out—just imagine things in any positive way that comes to mind. The point of this is to connect with the way it would feel to get an answer.

  4. Clear your mind. Just before going to sleep, release all thoughts about this. Clear your mind by imagining all your thoughts and concerns floating out of your head and dissolving away. Say to yourself, "I open my mind to the answer." Then go to sleep.

  5. Review your dream. When you awake after having a dream, review the dream in your mind from beginning to end before you even open your eyes. This will help you recall the feelings and nuances of the dream, and help you remember it so you can write it down—both of which will help in interpreting the dream to get your answer. (Note: You might not have a dream with the answer the same night. It might come on one of the following nights, or not at all.)

  6. Record your dream. Immediately after your mental run-through of the dream, write down a description of it from beginning to end, with as many details as you remember. Include any feelings you felt during the dream and after you woke up, symbols that seemed especially significant, and any intuitive sense you have about its meaning. (It's okay if you have no idea of meaning at this point). This is a very important step, because dream details tend to fade as you become more awake.

  7. Interpret your dream. Now that you have recorded your dream, it's time to look for analyze your dream for an answer. If you don't see an obvious answer in the dream, try any or all of the following tools to help interpret your dream and discover your answer:

    Annotate your dream descriptions: Read through your dream description, and as you read it make notes of any feelings, thoughts, glimpses of images, "gut feelings" about meaning. Don't think it through—just relax, read, and see what comes to mind. Then read it again and see if your notes give you any new clues.

    Dialogue with your dream: Start a written dialogue with your dream, or with a prominent symbol from it. Write as yourself, then imagine that you are the dream and switch to the dream's perspective.
    Me: Dream, are you holding any answers I haven't yet discovered?

    My Dream: There's more to me than you've figured out so far. Look more at the middle part of my story.

    Me: Ah, you mean the part about the tree growing out of the pavement.

    My Dream: Yes, think about what that symbolizes.
    Focused Writing: With several pages of blank paper, re-read the dream and then start writing anything that comes to mind. Write every word, whether it makes sense or seems to pertain to the dream. No one will read this but you. Prompt yourself with questions like the following, and see what insights come forward:

    • If I knew the messages in this dream, what would they be?
    • The answer is already within me. Now, how is the dream symbolizing it?
    • What would I expect this dream to be telling me?

    Use your intuition: Make up your own exercise to help get to the bottom of your dream meaning and find your answer. Imagine that your dream is a character and let it write its own story. Or draw a picture of the dream, showing how the details fit together. Or start looking at the smallest symbols first, then the more significant ones (sometimes the smallest ones turn out to be the most significant!). Or start at the end and work your way back to the beginning. Follow your instinct and your creative imagination.

    Try again later: Set aside your dream and come back to it again in a few hours. Re-read it, and see if any new glimpses of meaning show up. Try some of the other techniques just described.

    Consult an expert: If you're still not coming up with a clear meaning for your dream, you might want to contact a dream expert to help you with the analysis process.

This author and site accept no responsibility for how you interpret or apply your dreams. If you are experiencing mental or physical distress, consult a medical professional. Read full disclaimer