This guest post is written by Anita Karlson of AnitaKarlson.com.
For as long as humans have existed, dreams have been a source for inspiration—and part of the mythical and mystical sphere. In ancient times, it was the spiritual and religious teachers who would tell followers what their dreams meant. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) was the first psychologist who started looking at our dreams in a scientific way.
Over recent decades, the realms of our dreams have been the subjects of a number of studies. We can now measure the chemicals active in our brain during sleep, and we can monitor where brain activity occurs. We have learned that our dreams are doorways into our subconscious mind, where we can access information which is otherwise unavailable to us.
When we’re awake, the dominant chemicals in our brains are serotonin and noradrenalin. These chemicals are associated with realistic thinking and the ability to reflect and draw logical conclusions. In REM (rapid eye movements) sleep, where we dream, the levels of these chemicals are reduced to zero. Other chemicals then dominate our brain. These chemicals are responsible for creating strong emotions and the ability to make connections between isolated thoughts, allowing us to find new and creative solutions to tricky problems!
How to remember your dreams
First things first: you need to remember your dreams if they are to help you. If you already remember your dreams, great! Skip this part. If not, read on.
Remembering your dreams is not as difficult as you might think. Within a week of practicing, most people will be able to remember at least part of their dreams. There are lots of books and articles on how to remember dreams. I can recommend The Dream Workbook by Joe Friedman.
The most important thing is the intention you set while drifting of into sleep. Tell yourself repeatedly that you want to remember your dream. Then when you wake up, lie completely still and search in your memories for fragments of dreams. Often, when you can remember one image, others will follow easily.
Have a notebook and pen ready next to your bed, and once you have remembered the dream or sections of it, write it down. If you don’t write it down, chances are you will have forgotten it within a few hours of getting out of bed.
How to understand your dream
You are the only one who can interpret your dreams correctly. As each individual is unique, each of us will have unique dreams. There is no encyclopaedia you can look up to find out what the different elements in your dream mean.
If you dream about a bench, it’s not just any old bench. It will be a specific bench that you have specific memories attached to. It can be the blue-painted bench your dog ran into when you were a child. Or it can be the broken, rusty bench on which you kissed your first girlfriend. Whatever bench you dream of, it will have a different meaning for you than the bench I dream of will have for me.
The best way to start understanding your own dream language is to write a dream journal, and analyze your dreams. There are several approaches to analyzing your dreams: one is the technique of associations. Pick one of the main elements of your dream and write down all associations that come to your mind. Or you can focus on the emotion you have in your dream and find situations in life where you feel the same emotion. With time and practice you will be able to interpret your own dreams.
How to have a solution-oriented dream
Once you’re able to both remember your dreams and make some sense of them, you can aim to have a solution-oriented dream.
Pick a business problem that you can’t seem to solve. Then take some time trying to find solutions to the problem while you’re awake. Think it trough, analyze it, and write down your thoughts. Then formulate the problem in just one short sentence.
Before you go to sleep, take a few minutes to sum up the problem in your mind, and as you drift into sleep, tell yourself that you want to have a solution-oriented dream that solves the problem. Use the short sentence you made earlier for this.
When you wake up, write your dreams down and start to look for the connection to your problem. Often, it’ll come as a complete surprise, and sometimes you will not be able to see the solution immediately.
If you can’t see the solution, try running it by a friend! Often someone else can have valuable input, however remember that you have the solution yourself. If what the other person suggests don’t resonate with you, then discard it as the solution.
Try repeating the process, and aim for another dream on the same topic. See if the next dream sheds some light on the issue from another angle.
My solution-oriented dream for attracting more clients
When I started to work part time as a Reiki healer, I had problems finding clients. I made a web site, I hung up posters, and tried as best I could to advertise. But somehow the clients just were not coming my way.
One evening I decided to try for a solution-oriented dream. One hour of thinking and two pages of notes later, I drifted of into sleep repeating to myself: “I want to remember a solution-oriented dream that shows me how I can attract more clients.”
In my dream, I was walking trough the rooms of a house which I was thinking of buying. Suddenly one of my best friends appeared. I was happy to see her, and remembered I had a magazine with an interesting article to show her. She started to read, and suddenly she smiled and was talking very excitedly, which made me very happy.
She took the magazine and walked into the next room, where a couple was sitting at a table. She showed them the magazine and they were all talking very excitedly. As I stood by the window and watched the couple leave the house they stopped to talk to someone in the garden. They were leaning over the magazine and again talking excitedly.
When I woke up I quickly realized what the dream was telling me: my friends and family could help me attract clients by word of mouth! And here I’d been totally focused on trying to find clients by hanging up posters, optimizing my homepage, and running a few ads in local newspapers.
Dream a solution
You might have to invest a little time and effort into making sense of your dreams. But once you start to understand your dream images, an entire new universe will open up to you! Have you ever dreamed a solution to a problem? Share your experience in the comments.
Anita is blogging about how to live a more natural, healthy and balanced life. Sign up for her newsletter and get weekly tips directly to your inbox.