Before you can go about interpreting your dreams and learning what they have to teach you, it is important to remember your dreams. It is estimated that as much as 50% of a dream's content is lost within five minutes of waking, and as much as 90% of the content can be lost after only ten minutes.
This short window of recall is one reason that many people insist they rarely or never dream, even though sleep scientists have proven that every human being dreams from between four and seven times each and every night.
One great way to remember your dreams, and to begin to analyze and interpret them, is to keep a dream journal. A dream journal does not have to be anything elaborate or fancy. The dream journal can be as simple as a table kept on the nightstand by the bed.
Try to get into the habit of writing down what you remember of your dream every morning immediately upon waking. It is important to do this as soon as you are awake, since the majority of the dream can be lost in just a few minutes. If you cannot remember the entire dream, just jot down a few words, or even your impressions of the dream.
Many people begin to see patterns emerging after they have kept a sleep journal for a number of nights. For instance, even if your dreams are different each night, there may be similar themes or locations. These themes and locations can be a big help later on when you begin attempting to interpret your dreams.
When interpreting your dreams, try to make it fun and interesting. If it seems like drudgery it probably is not worth doing. Most people engage in dream interpretation for their own entertainment and enlightenment, and not for any deeper philosophical or psychological reason.
Some people, however, are able to use their nightly dreams as springboards into their subconscious, and these people are often able to use the locations, people and events found in their dreams to work through issues they are facing in the real world.
For instance, if you dream constantly about falling, it could indicate that you feel your life is out of control and unstable. If you can examine your life and take control of it, it can result in not only a cessation of those bad dreams but in a better and more fulfilling life as well.
Fear of certain events in your life, or anxiety about things you cannot face, can often manifest itself through dreams in which you are being chased, or pursued by an attacker. Those experiencing these frightening and disturbing dreams often benefit from performing a self examination to determine what they are afraid to face. Once these challenges have been faced, the chasing dreams usually go away.
It is even possible to work through some traumas while still in the dream state. For instance, those who dream of being pursued are sometimes able to turn their dreams around by confronting the attacker within the dream. Simply turning around and asking the pursuer what he or she wants from you is often enough to turn the dream into a positive one, and to begin working through the psychological issues that caused it.
Of course not all dream issues are so easily solved. If your dream journal reveals frequent nightmares or similar disturbing dreams, it could be related to a past trauma that will take professional help to address. For instance, soldiers returning from war zones, and rescue workers returning from floods, fires and other natural disasters, report a higher level of nightmares than does the general public.
It seems that bad dreams and nightmares may be the subconscious mind's way of dealing with issues the conscious mind is not ready to confront. Confronting these demons, and banishing the nightmares they engender, often requires the help of a qualified counselor or therapist
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