The Meaning of Dreams

February 15, 2013


I know dreams have the potential to make for really boring stories. But I had a brief, yet profound and insightful dream last night. I was tempted to keep it to myself but I feel a bigger urge to share – not only the dream but the technique I use to interpret my dreams every morning, as a way to understand myself and the world around me a little better. I first started the practice of remembering my dreams, writing them down and interpreting them a little over a year ago when I began studying metaphysics. Metaphysics is defined as the abstract philosophical studies : a study of what is outside the objective experience. I’m just now talking about it because it’s embarrassing to go from a staunch atheist to a truth-seeking spiritual hippie – I had some stuff to work through before I could talk about it here). If dreams fascinate you keep reading.

So last night I had a dream that I was standing on the edge of a very tall and rocky cliff with Shauna (aka Nubby Twiglet). She had a pile of rocks, gems and crystals ranging in size. She took one about the size of a loaf of bread and threw it over the edge of the cliff. I remember feeling nervous and even a little sad as she let it go. As it sank in the water it only became larger, clearer, and more illuminescent. It was growing and glowing at it made its descent to the ocean floor.

Interpreting dreams is part science, part art. I consistently follow a system of perimeters for interpretation using The Dreamer’s Dictionary by Barbara Condron. But I think you can use any dream interpretation book as a guide and reference. Just to outline a few (of thousands) of the “rules” I follow when it comes to decoding my dreams:
• The dream is always a reflection of the day prior 
• Every little detail matters. If you can remember it, it matters and can be interpreted.
• Everyone in your dream represents you. Women (or people of the same sex) represent an aspect of your conscious self (the you that exists in the physical world). Men (or people of the opposite sex) represent an aspect of your subconscious self.
• To know which aspects people in your dream represent list one or two characteristics about that person – but it has to be personal. It has to be what that person means to you, how they specifically make you feel – even if you know very little about them.
• If someone in your dream is unfamiliar they represent an unfamiliar aspect of self – something you may want to explore more in your waking life.
• The elements: air signifies movement, water represents conscious life experience, earth is the substance of your subconscious mind, fire is expansion.
• Animals represent habitual ways of thinking. Food is knowledge. Vehicles are your physical body.
• Conversations typically don’t matter. You really want to interpret the symbols from your dream – not necessarily what is being said (unless you wake up and it feels significant… then go ahead and make note of it).

First recount your previous day. What did you do? What was your attitude? How did you feel? For me yesterday was intense. I hit the ground running finalizing a recommendation for a big deal client (all of my clients are a big deal but this one literally got a phone call from Oprah while I was Skyping with her… so you know… big deal.) Tara and I presented to said client and we almost made her cry she was so happy – this dream customer is already a personal hero so I was feeling pretty good about myself and my career. We went straight from that into finalizing another brand recommendation, presenting and making another amazing creative entrepreneur (a photographer in Boston) tear up because she was so happy. Again, feeling good. At the end of the day Jeremy came home from school with a really sweet Valentine’s Day gift and I went to yoga. I was feeling wound up from my day but had the most amazing practice followed by the most amazing meditation where I could feel my pulse and this buzz throughout my entire body. I felt connected and content. I felt completely detached from my ego and the amazing work day that was now behind me. I had a great evening with Jeremy and fell asleep with the the desire to be more dedicated to my yoga and meditation practice.

So if I’m interpreting my dream from last night I first look at the elements: 
• Shauna – represents an aspect of my conscious self. Shauna is a badass designer and blogger with loads of style. I admire her creativity and drive big time.
• Cliff – A steep ledge between land (substance of my subconscious mind) and water (my conscious life experience).
• Gemstone – the value of subconscious existence.

So, as I interpret the dream and relate it to my previous day I can see that Shauna reflects me feeling really good about myself creatively and in my work. But that I found real beauty and expansion, even if hesitant at first, when I explore the more subtle, subconscious aspects of myself during my conscious life experience (the water). The gemstone (value of subconscious existence) expanded and was glowing as it sank deeper into the water (my conscious life experience). This dream tells me that I’m finding satisfaction in my work but that I find light and expansion when I detach from the experience to go within.

Have you guys read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? You should. It’s a life changer. So even as I picked up a practice of interpreting my dreams I still didn’t put a whole lot of weight in them. Maybe because it was this radical new idea that only mystics and hippies were into. It just didn’t seem very… practical. But then there I was reading The War of Art and Pressfield, a very smart man and brilliant author, begins talking about this dream he had:

I was part of the crew of an aircraft carrier. Only the ship was stuck on dry land. It was still launching its jets and doing its thing, but it was marooned half a mile from the ocean. The sailors all knew how screwed up the situation was; they felt it as a keen and constant distress. The only bright spot was there was a Marine gunnery sergeant on board nicknamed “Largo.” In the dream it seemed like the coolest name anyone could possible have. Largo. I loved it. Largo was one of those hard-core senior nomcoms like the Burt Lancaster character, Warden, in From Here to Eternity. The one guy on the ship who knows exactly what’s going on, the tough old sarge who makes all the decisions and actually runs the show. 

But where was Largo? I was standing miserably by the rail when the captain came over and started talking to me. Even he was lost. It was his ship, but he didn’t know how to get it off dry land. I was nervous, finding myself in conversation with the brass, and couldn’t think of a thing to say. The skipper didn’t seem to notice; he just turned to me and casually said, “What the hell are we gonna do Largo?” 

I woke up electrified. I was Largo! I was the salty old Gunny. The power to take charge was in my hands; all I had to do was believe it. 

Where did this dream come from? Plainly its intent was benevolent. What was its source? And what does it say about the workings of the universe that such things happen at all?
Again, we’ve al lhad dreams like that. Again, they’re common as dirt. So is the sunrise. That doesn’t make it any less a miracle. 


A dream like that is real support. It’s a check you can cash when you sit down, alone, to do your work. 

P.S. When your deeper Self delivers a dream like that, don’t talk about it. Don’t dilute its power. The dream is for you. It’s between you and your Muse. Shut up and use it.

The only exception is, you may share it with another comrade-in-arms, if sharing it will help or encourage that comrade in his or her own endeavors. 

(You guys are my comrade-in-arms). I feel like I could talk about dreams all day. But for now I’ll just leave it at this. But if you guys want to continue the discussion let’s chat.

 Do you remember your dreams? Do you ever sit with them while you’re awake to find deeper meaning? Have you ever had a really impactful dream?

Image source unknown (I know, terrible – call the blog police) – graphic overlay by me. 

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen Shannon LLC. Photography by Greer Inez and Sarah Becker Lillard. Theme by Maiden Sites. Privacy.