October Reflection from Judy Zacharias

Dreams and Their Significance

Each of us has close at hand a wise guide and counselor who communicates with us every night, showing us the way our life should go, warning us of a wrong turn we have made or are in danger of making, encouraging us in what we are now doing. We will call this inner guide our “Dream Ego”.

In addition to our conscious Ego, the “I” which directs our conscious lives there is also an unconscious “I”, or inner self, which also directs us. Sometimes the unconscious “I” speaks to us while we are awake in visions, inspirations, insights, intuitions; but it is primarily during our sleeping hours that the inner self communicates with us. During sleep our conscious ego is dormant and so does not drown out the messages which the inner self wishes to share with us. During prayer and meditation it is possible to quiet the conscious ego sufficiently to discern the messages of the inner self.

A recommended method to recall dreams is to keep a pad of paper and a pen by one’s bedside and write down all of the dream images that can be recalled, even the most insignificant, immediately upon awakening. By honoring our dreams, we institute a process that usually starts a better recall of one’s dreams. If the desire to have and remember dreams is strong enough, our unconscious self usually obliges.

Not all dreams have the same value. There are big dreams, medium-sized dreams and little dreams. The little dreams frequently are just a rehash of the events of the previous day or a continuation of the thoughts that one had just before falling asleep. If the dream approximates the same mood and attitude, the same level of emotion that the similar conscious activities did, one can usually dismiss the dream as having no special message. On the other hand, even these little dreams are imparting something important. They are telling us that our conscious life of the previous day was on target and that we simply need to continue in the same direction that we were going yesterday.

The medium-sized dreams are much more vivid and concerned with something quite different from our conscious activities of the previous day. Usually they have an unexpected twist or turn of events that causes us some surprise when we awaken and remember them. Very often the medium-sized dream breaks off abruptly or before any resolution, so that more work needs to be done consciously to resolve the dream, bring it to completion, and thus discern the message of the Dream Ego.

Finally, there are the big dreams which, for most people, occur only a few times in life. Whenever a bit dream occurs, the dreamer knows very clearly that it is an important dream and that it has a very important message, if only one can interpret it.

The language of dreams is the language of symbols, the same language which poetry, art, music, drama employ to tell a message. Therefore, we should seldom take the language of a dream literally.

Dream life is interested in our worldly life but only insofar as the transcendental and everlasting values are concerned. Dreams are primarily expressions of the inner life of the spirit, that part of life which will last forever.

Resolve to spend an hour dialoging with the different characters in the dream. But, try to do this in the presence of God, in a prayerful way asking God’s enlightenment and guidance as you go along. In fact, this hour of working with your dream could easily be your hour of formal prayer and meditation for that day. Approach the dream with an openness and desire to discern God’s will and with a willingness to change the direction of your life if the dream seems to point that way. This means that you must be open and ready to give up something which your heart is presently set on doing. Frequently the purpose and message of a dream is to point out an alternate choice to the path we are presently taking. Almost without exception, this new way will be an improvement over the conscious way we have chosen or were about to choose.

Although dreams are a way by which God communicates with us, they are not the only way; but for some people a dream can be the most important. Dreams are a valuable way for all of us to discern God’s will. By connecting the work of interpreting our dreams with prayer-time, we can make our dreams an encounter with God.

Taken from The Open Door January 2000