Dream interpretation is a process of assigning meaning to dreams. In ancient times Egyptians and Greeks considered dreaming a gateway to divine communication and sometimes, intervention. However, the ancients believed that only individuals with certain powers had the ability to determine messages given during the dream state of consciousness. With practice anyone can learn to control dreams and determine types of messages and guidance to receive as well.
Dream interpretation has origins as far back as the 2nd century when Artemidorus created Oneirocitica, the first major work discovered on the meanings of dreams. Later, at the end of the 19th century, dream interpretation became part of Freudian psychoanalysis and is still used today in both psychoanalytic psychology and in hypnoanalysis. Hypnoanalysis, a “modern” technique, actually utilizes your dreams and hypnosis in conjunction with psychoanalytic and other techniques to determine causes of perceived blocks and areas of difficulty.
In ancient Greece, special temples called Asclepieions were constructed for afflicted individuals where cures would be affected through divine forces by dream incubation within the temple confines. We still view dreams today as significant in various capacities. As in the psychoanalytic process, dreams are widely believed to hold answers to hidden subconscious thoughts, feelings, and experiences and in addition, many believe we receive answers to life’s problems during sleep from divine sources. Some of us also receive prophecies, omens, and warnings when dreaming, as were received by the Pharaoh in Genesis and interpreted by Joseph.
Dream interpretation has also become part of popular and new age culture–Edgar Cayce is one example. Cayce believed that the dream process enables individuals to access our higher self. As a result of the connection, Cayce believed that all possible questions could be answered with the proper awareness from our inner consciousness. Many people experience phenomenal events during the dream state that cannot be rationally explained; these experiences range from OBEs, past life remembrances, to the witnessing of future events before the events occur.
New age culture often encompasses the belief that all people are connected to the Source on a soul level, and that information contained within the Source is universal knowledge of all that is, which we all have access to by tapping into the higher self. Scientifically, the part of the brain that controls REM sleep–the state where dreaming most occurs, is the pons, a primitive part of the brain stem that controls automatic reflexes like breathing. Since breathing is an involuntary function, the notion that the physiological, measurable changes that take place during REM sleep–including dreaming which can be physically measured, originates at the internal level–not from an external source.
As an individually spiritual person, I believe the scientific aspects of this theory solidly support the new age ideal that on a soul level, we all have access to divine knowledge and have the ability to tap into universal consciousness for purposes of guidance, answers, and healing. Dreaming is a natural therapeutic process that offers us the opportunity to experience altered states of consciousness that open the doorway to meeting our higher self, or the universal consciousness. All that we seek externally lies within, and can be accessed naturally, with awareness and practice. We each have the ability to program our dreams for answers to life questions and to effect healing on all levels while our physical bodies are at rest.
While we often perceive it easier, or more reliable to seek answers, guidance, and healing from external sources, the key to each of these lies within us already. With awareness and practice, dreaming for therapeutic purposes can be accomplished by anyone and integrated into daily life as an important tool for connecting consciously with the higher self, the source, and universal consciousness. The process of seeking through utilizing external sources can be helpful, but the same answers we seek from others are waiting to be realized within ourselves.