Is Attending to Your Dreams “Worth It”?
There are some people who might look a bit oddly at you if you tell them you pay close attention to your dreams. To some people, in fact, it seems like an incredibly “flaky” thing to do.
Often, these people subscribe to the “daily regurgitation” theory of dreaming. Their understanding of where dreams come from is that the mind sort of soaks up all the impressions and images from the day, and then at the end of the day has to wring itself out, or clear itself from all the accumulated daily grunge. This “grunge disposal”, on their view, is what dreaming is. “After all” they say, “I had a dream that involved Harry Potter last night, and I just went to see the Harry Potter movie two days ago. So surely seeing the Harry Potter movie made me dream about it!”
However, dreaming is really not that psychologically simple a process. It’s unquestionably true that the dream will use imagery or ideas from a person’s recent life. So if you went to the Harry Potter movie yesterday, it might very well appear in your dreams. But does that mean that the Harry Potter movie caused your dream? There are lots of things that you experienced in, say, the last 48 hours. So why would the dream focus specifically on this? As opposed to, say, the time you spent stuck in traffic on the QEW or the scrumptious BBQed ribs you had for dinner?
To determine the answer to that question may take some real inner exploration. But it can reveal a great deal to you about your unconscious and your inner life. The answer will depend very much on what Harry Potter or the Harry Potter movie symbolizes for you. That will depend on both your personal associations (e.g., if your brother is the biggest Harry Potter fan ever, the dream may have something to do with him, one way or another) and also on the more objective or archetypal meaning of the symbol (e.g., Harry Potter is very much an archetypal hero, and the dream may have something to do with the heroic aspect of yourself).
Conscious, careful recording and examination of your dreams will be “worth it”. There is a great deal of your self contained within them, and they offer the chance to know your psyche and the hitherto unknown aspects of who you are.
What do you think about your dreams? I’d be interested to talk with you about them, and to hear how they’ve been meaningful or important in your life.
My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,
Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca
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