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Why Do We Dream?
According to most dream interpretation specialists, dreams are a way for our unconscious minds to symbolize things that we fear or hope for. The unconscious mind packages these hopes and fears in the form of dream imagery that the conscious mind can’t readily comprehend. According to some, these sometimes very confusing dream images are created to protect the conscious mind from suppressed ideas or thoughts that might disturb it.

What is the Unconscious Mind?
The concept of the “unconscious” was created by Dr. Sigmund Freud and was further elaborated on by his students and followers (e.g., Carl Jung). Freud theorized that the conscious mind (consisting of all of our waking thoughts, ideas and feelings) comprised only a tiny portion of our experience. The conscious mind was analogous to the tip of an iceberg, because the largest part of an iceberg is submerged beneath the water line. Similarly, the unconscious mind drives us, influences our decisions and contributes or detracts from our mental well-being in ways that are completely imperceptible to the conscious mind. Freud considered dreams to be unique “windows” into which one could peer at the mysterious world that sustains and provides the foundation for our waking experience of consciousness.

What Can I do to Help Me Remember My Dreams?
The first thing to do when one wants to interpret their dreams is to clearly write a description of them containing as many details as possible. Keeping a dream diary right next to your bed provides not only a written record of these fascinating experiences but allows you to write them down as soon as you wake up. The unconscious mind actively suppresses the memory of these experiences and symbols, so it is good practice to remember them and write them down as soon as possible. Once the dream is recorded, you are ready to start interpreting.

What Does My Unconscious Mind Mean by That?
There are some basic questions you must ask yourself in order to begin unraveling the mysterious meanings and symbols of your dream world.
1.)What does this mean to me? Suppose I dream about a rat. This symbolizes many things to me personally that it may not mean to someone else. One person may have a terrible phobia about rats, another might train rats for a living. Another person might have seen a rat the day before. For each individual, a rat means something very unique. You might begin by listing these symbols and writing single words or phrases that you associate with the particular symbol(s) in question.

2.) Have I Experienced Anything Recently That May Have Conjured This Image? Just as having a bad or a good dream might have an effect on your moods the next day, waking experiences can also weave themselves into our dream imagery. If I dream about my mother’s house a day or two after I take her to lunch, it can be symbolic of a hope or fear that revolves around my mother or something that may have happened at the lunch meeting. Only I can answer the question of symbolism for my own dream. Any given symbol means a different thing to each individual, and even to the same individual at different times.

3.) How Do These Symbols Relate to Each other? Once you have listed and examined the dream symbols, it’s time to look at the “big Picture” of how they relate to each other. Suppose I dream that I am at my mother’s house and I see a rat who has a conversation with me about passenger planes. Suppose also, that in my personal waking life, I am planning a trip to Europe, I am deathly afraid of rats and my mother expressed having a fear of heights when we had lunch the day before. I can reasonably assume that this dream was an unconscious expression of my own fear of flying that I may have not have thought about on the conscious level. The rat was a symbol that had a less traumatic message than dreaming of being on a falling airplane. Once you have assigned meaning to the symbols and how they relate to each other, you have interpreted the dream. No matter what the dream symbol is, there is personal meaning that can only be gleaned from an examination of your waking life and what the given dream objects and events mean to you.

What About Symbols That are Extremely Bizarre?
Sometimes dream events and symbols can be very bizarre. Anything can happen in dreams because the rules of order that govern our waking reality simply do not apply. A person can suddenly transform into a rock. A man can fly through space on a surfboard. Objects can float through the air. If a symbol is particularly confusing, concentrate on other symbols within the dream that may give you a “lead” on the thread that weaves the other symbols together. Once you have given the matter some thought, the pieces of your mysterious dream will almost magically fit together like the experience of solving a great puzzle. That puzzle is the essence of who you are.
Sweet Dreams!