I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke.
Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man? . .
Chuang Tzu


Dreams are interpretations of memories and sensations in our body. We typically spend over 2 hours dreaming each night as our neural networks play though unfinished business, solve problems and reset ready for the next day.

The core subject of a dream is usually around an incident or a related memory from a day or two before the previous day or a striking event from the previous day. The content of dreams is not as definite or continuous as awake consciousness.

A subconscious world emerges in dreams, no longer obscured by the movie run by waking consciousness.

Dreams are windows into our subconscious library of memories of sensations, impressions, words, images and other symbols stored all over the body. In the theatre of dreams we directly experience these fragments gathered up into chains of stories that morph from one to the next.

A dreamer dreams stories that explain the sensations in their sleeping body in the same way that the awake self assembles a moving picture of the world around it. The dreamer’s memory and senses are partly disengaged so the dream is not as clear and stable as the moving picture of awake awareness.

Sigmund Freud speculated that dreams are a defence against waking. As our sleep becomes lighter on the verge of waking, the sensations of the body in the bed and the residual impressions of the day coalesce into dreams that make sense of these sensations instead of stirring us to awaken.

During sleep memory, musculature and awake consciousness turn off and we are detached from the waking world. We usually can't recall the last few minutes before falling asleep. We often do not remember conversations or alarms ringing in the middle of the night if we go straight back to sleep afterwards.

Memories of dreams would be difficult to distinguish from waking memories if they had the same content and visual appearance. There would be no certainty whether a memory came from direct experience or whether it was a fragment of a dream.

recalling dreams
We don’t remember dreams as we dream. Memory is turned off. Recollections of dreams are glimpsed as we awaken. We reconstruct them from the fragments that come to mind as we awaken and then remember the memories of that reconstruction. Writing them down or contemplating them soon after helps remember them longer.

vivid dreams
Vivid dreams seem clearer and seem to be remembered. They are so striking and memorable that they are usually distinguishable from awake memories unless memory is impaired by stress or medications.

understanding dreams
A dream represents a real life situation using dream symbols instead of actual people, things and events.

Each fragment may represent many different ideas, memories and feelings all at once. When we examine them closely it can be difficult to be certain who was in a dream, what they were like, whether they were this person or that person or something else or if they were just a sensation after all.

Each person, event or object in a dream usually is an aspect of ourselves. What the dream is talking about can be found by relaxing and noticing what feelings comes to mind when we dwell on each fragment. And in what situations those feelings have come up in the past. These associations are clues to what the dream images represent and how we came to be dreaming them.

To find and explore your core life strategy established in childhood recall a nightmare or re-current dream from childhood. What was the feeling in the dream? When was the earliest time you remember that feeling in waking life? What waking situation does that remind you of? When do you have that feeling now? Do you respond to situations with that feeling?

Or .. how would you symbolise that dream in a picture? How does that picture represent your life?