You are the final authority on your dreams, and you should never give the power of your dreams away by handing them over to other people to interpret. Yes, our dreams can be confusing and opaque, and we gain greatly from other people's insights, especially when those other people are "frequent fliers" who work closely with their own dreams and have developed a fine intuition about what may be going on in dreaming. So it's okay to ask for help. More than that, we often need help because we are too close to our own issues, or too inhibited by self-limiting attitudes to see what may be obvious to a complete outsider.
But we need to learn some simple rules about how to share and comment on dreams. I suggest the following ways of sharing and playing with dreams:
1. Tell the story of your dream as clearly and exactly as possible. Dreams are real experiences, and the meaning of the dream is often inside the dream experience itself. Give your dream report a title. So much jumps out when you choose the key element, and you are developing the power of naming.
2. Consider your feelings, inside the dream and on waking. These are a quick and usually reliable guide to the importance, urgency and quality (e.g. positive/negative) of the dream.
3. Always run a reality check by asking what you recognize from the dream in the rest of your life. If you are running away from something in the dream, are there situations in waking life where you may be running away from a certain issue?
4. Check whether your dream may contain clues to the future. Ask whether it is remotely possible the events in this dream could be played out in waking life, literally or symbolically. If you dream of an earthquake check whether you or someone connected with you may find themselves in earthquake territory - or whether something may erupt in your personal life with the force of the ground moving from under you. I have never seen more time wasted in dream analysis -- and more life-supporting messages lost -- than when we fail to recognize that our dreams are constantly rehearsing us for challenges that lie around the corner.
5. If you are going to comment on someone else's dream, always begin by saying (in these words or similar words), "If it were my dream, I would think about..." This way, you are not leaning on other people and presuming to tell them the meaning of their dreams or their lives. If we can only encourage more people to follow this vitally important etiquette for dream-sharing, we'll create a safe space for many people to share dreams and work with them in everyday contexts -- at work, in the family, in schools -- and we'll be on our way to becoming a dreaming culture again.
6. Learn the art of dream reentry. Try to go back inside the dream and recover more information. A dream fully remembered is often its own interpretation.
7. Make a bumper sticker. Try to come up with a one-liner to summarize what happens in the dream (or encourage the dreamer to do that). This will often turn out to be a personal dream motto that will orient you towards appropriate action -- to act on the dream guidance and honor the dream.
8. Come up with an action plan. Always do something with the dream! We need to do far more than interpret dreams;we need to bring their energy and insight into manifestation in waking life.
The simple guidelines above are central to my Active Dreaming approach. You may want to join me for a new 12-week online course, Active Dreaming: The Essential Training in which you will learn to master and apply the core techniques in a wonderful international community of creative spirits.
Photo: Dream Sharing on Gore Mountain by RM