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Dreamswork: Questions and Techniques

Pamela Ryan. 18 Oct 1994 writes:

Dreamswork Questions

If you are working with your own dreams, you may find this list of questions helpful. They are adapted from two sources: The Jungian- Senoi Dreamwork Manual by Strephon Kaplan-Williams (where you will find a much longer, more extensive list of such questions) and a "Dream Journal Form" (author unknown) given to me by a former student.

  1. How am I, the dream ego, acting in this dream?
    (aggressive, assertive, passive, active, etc...)
  2. What are the various feelings/emotions in the dream?
    (both "mine" and thoseof other characters...)
  3. What is the context of the dream?
    (What is going on in my liferight now?)
  4. In the dream, who are the main characters?
    • Who (or what) is the adversary?
    • Who (or what) is beingwounded?
    • Who (or what) is being healed?
    • Who (or what) is my companion?
    • Did I dream of actual people, or imaginary people?
    • Could the characters all be different aspects of myself?
  5. What are the outstanding features or symbols in the dream?
    (For example: flood, animals, house, etc.) How might these features relateto me, my emotions, or my personality?
  6. How does the dream as a whole relate to my personality?
  7. What are the main actions in the dream?
  8. What would I like to avoid in the dream?
  9. What does the dream want from me? What actions might it be suggesting that I consider?
  10. Does the dream trigger any memories? Do any of the elements of the dream relate to my past? Why might this part of my past becalled to my attention now?
  11. Does the dream trigger any further questions?
  12. Why did I need this dream? What is its positive message for me?
Please feel free to copy and distribute this list. Good luck in working with your dreams!

Dreamswork Techniques

Here are a few techniques you might try, when working with your dreams.

  • LOOK FOR PATTERNS and recurring themes in your dreams. If you don't"get it" the first time, your brain often sends you the same dream-message again. Many people experience recurring dreams, or even recurring nightmares. That's just your brain, trying to get your attention and convey an important message to you!
  • Try VIEWING EACH CHARACTER in the dream AS AN ASPECT OF YOURSELF. For example, if there is a "devil" in the dream, see what happens if you view that character as "the devilish/destructive part of myself". Even if the character is someone you know "in real life" try using this technique. Instead of your mother, maybe the character represents the motherly part of you, or a part part of youthat is like your actual mother.
  • EXPLAIN YOUR DREAM IN THE SIMPLEST, MOST BASIC TERMS POSSIBLE. Pretend that you are explaining it to a Martian, who needs you to define almost every word. So forexample, if your dream involved a car, imagine that a Martian doesn't understand what a "car" is. You must explain that acar is a device you use for transportation--to get from one place to another, to move forward. You may besurprised by the meaningsthat are revealed!
  • TRY ROLE-PLAYING VARIOUS DREAM CHARACTERS. Some people find it helpful to imagine that they have returned to thedream, and then they engage dream characters in imaginary conversations. So if you dreamed about a mysterious shadowed figure, you might question the figure, asking, "Who areyou?"..."Why do you hideyourself from me?"..."Why haveyou come to me?"...
  • USE DREAMWORK MANUALS to exploreyour dreams. Some books are morehelpful than others. Look through a book and its suggested exercises before you decide to purchase it. One person might find a particular manual's methods hoakey, while someone else might find them extremely helpful.
  • CONSULTA DREAM DICTIONARY (BUT BE VERY SKEPTICAL). There are many such dictionaries. Sometimes, the listings can provide you with insights. Other times, the suggestions arepretty silly. Only accept an interpretation if it "clicks" and feels right to you. (I steer toward dictionaries with interpretations based on psychology, rather than on magical meanings.)
  • SHARE YOUR DREAMS WITH OTHERS, and get their input. Again, do not accept friends' interpretations unlessthey feel right to you, giving you an "aha!" feeling of recognition.)

Good luck working with your dreams!

Pamela Ryan