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Understanding your night time dreams may open up ways to fulfill your day time dreams.

Oh, not that dream where you are running naked through the school's hallway trying to find the right room for your final exam. But if you could remember your dreams, night after night, analyze and interpret them, and use them to make progress in your personal and professional growth, now, wouldn't that be something.

Think of dreams as communication tools between the subconscious and conscious mind. Tapping into those communications might lead to an understanding of your fears and your desires allowing you to understand the world within and with out you.

First step is to keep a dream journal. It may not be an original idea, but it's a keeper. Keep a notepad and pen on the bedside table. Not interested in writing down dream fragments at 2 a.m.? Try recording them instead, as long as you don't wake up your bed mate. What if you can't remember your dreams? Well, we all have them, so you just may need to find a way to program your conscious mind to retain those images that fly by in the night.

Several simple ideas should help. Get enough sleep every night. Overtired people have less retention of dreams than those who sleep eight hours every night. Relax in bed. Slow down your thoughts. Pray, meditate or listen to soothing music as you drift off. Later, after you've begun to remember one, two or three dreams each night, you can work on programming your dreams.

Imagine being able to find the solution to the personnel problem at work, or creating the perfect harmony for your song, all while you sleep. Laying in bed, let your mind think over, not fret about, the questions you have in your life. Dreams will take over and carry you on a journey full of some answers and often more questions.

Analyzing your dreams is easiest done in a group setting, either with a professional therapist, support group. It can be done along, but the difficulty comes in when the dreams are frightening or feel very real and the dreamer is unable to become objective enough to see the dream, not as a literal prophetic panorama, but as a metaphor. Each dream analysis has to *feel* right to the dreamer for it to work. A woman dreamed of sitting on stairs in her childhood home. Through the glass by te front door she could hear a man walk up the stairs and all the way to the door. She kept looking through the frosted glass, seeing unclear shapes, until she woke up. As she tried to interpret the dream, she became fearful that she was about to remember a long forgotten, horrible childhood incident. After all, this was her childhood home and a man walked up to the door, unrecognizable through the window.

But that interpretation felt false to her even as she discussed it with her dream work group. After some questions from her group members, she began to see it not as a literal memory, but as a remembrance of the feeling of being trapped in that home situation, and later in her marriage. She had spent years looking out into the world but not seeing it clearly. That dream never returned, but two weeks later she dreamed of dancing in her new home and walking through it out onto the back deck in the bright sunlight. Friends were sitting around a table and shouted greetings to her. This dream was easier for her to analyze - she no longer felt trapped and had found her own place in the world.

Dreaming of death relates to a change in the dreamer's life, but could be wonderful or frightening. It takes the individual to work through the things happening in his or her life to connect the power of the dream to reality. Usually, all the characters in a dream are components of the dreamer's personality: bully, victim, child, adult.

Just like the woman mentioned earlier, you can use your dream journal, books on dreams and friends and professionals to understand your past, face your present and move toward the wonderful future that you've only dreamed about.