• Dr. Jill Bakke

What Dreams May Come


A dream journal has transforming qualities. If I was hesitant to begin journaling or wasn’t sure I would have time to journal, this would be the one I would begin with. Dream journals give us a touch of magic in our life and tell us where we are or what we can expect.

A group of people willing to share dreams provides a great benefit. Some societies make this part of their daily routine. A dream circle allows everyone to share and comment. If a comment on someone else’s dream is made, the person starts with the phrase “If it were my dream, I would . . .” But in our society, gatherings for dream assistance are relatively hard to find, and usually occur only in our therapist’s office. So, where do we start to unravel a dream?

With a dream, it helps to incorporate some artistic methods in its interpretation. Painting, word association, and writing poetry about the dream have proved to be effective techniques to help the dreamer understand the message.

So, consider this blog a primer on retaining and understanding your dream.

Begin by writing the dream down quickly before it dissolves back into wherever it came from.

  1. Use a loose-leaf notebook so you can add to the dream as it expands.

  2. Place your dream on a fresh page, and always date and title the dream.

  3. Give your dream a title. Use whatever initially comes to mind. As you work with the dream and it becomes more understandable, you can change the title. But I still retain the original and each subsequent change because it shows what I have discovered. I date my subsequent work and insights the same way I dated the original dream.

  4. Describe the dream in as much detail as you can recall.

As you work with your dream, pull in various types of visual and kinesthetic art to help you interpret. You do NOT have to be an expert or even competent in the media. You just have to use it.

Here are a few things you could try.

Draw scenes from the dream – particularly the important aspects of your dream. Black and white (i.e. pen and ink or pencil) works fine, but using color adds another element. As you work with these “diagnostic” tools always go with your first impression both in the tools you are using and the information that comes to mind as you work with them.

When you are ready, move to putting color into the sketch of the dream. Paint or draw the dream choosing a type of coloring equipment you do not usually work in. Watercolors, pastels, acrylics, and oil paints each give you a different view of the dream. Mix them in the same drawing. What colors did you use for different aspects? For me, that is an easy analysis. Typically, white is purity, black is dark, and red is energy, anger, fire, or chaos. Your association may be totally different, and it is important you use YOUR association. For this reason, I don’t suggest you run to get a dream directory to interpret your dream. Always use the association things make for you!

Write a poem, a song, or a story from the dream. Write the dream as you experienced it. Now, go back and write it in a non-linear format seeking new connections you would have missed if you had left it in the sequential format. Make the dream a fairy tale or create a collage expressing its theme and feeling.

Look for repeated colors in both words and in your drawings. Examine closely any repetition whether it is a color, time of day, activity, type of dress, etc. Consider that some analysts say every character in the dream represents the dreamer. Although this has not always been the case in all of my dreams, it has in some.

If an animal appears, investigate the qualities of the animal. Look at how those qualities fit into the dream and in your earthly life.

Don’t automatically place any qualities you note on another. Ask yourself do I have this quality? Do I do that? You can do a similar thing with something that is prominent in or jumps out at you from the dream.

For example, the dream takes place in winter and snow is deep on the ground. Analyze what snow feels like, what it means in your life, etc. It could be saying, you are an ice maiden, or it could be saying the world around you is cold and unforgiving. It could be telling you to prepare for such a time in your life, or it could simply mean you are in a period of hibernation waiting for a thaw and newness to spill out. To sort that out means looking at all the elements, and clustering is a great way to tackle that. Circle winter. Draw lines to your interpretations from it. Use both negative and positive interpretation for anything you are clustering to determine meaning. What interpretation feels correct? What is it saying? Does it require anything from you?

Try a question and answer session with a character (or animal) in your dream. Write your words with your dominant hand and the other character’s responses and questions with your non-dominant hand.

Mold aspects of your dream in clay. And take a photograph of it for the dream journal.

You can sew a model of something from your dream. When I was told to make bridges between my islands, one possible response would have been to make an upside-down-doll. One day I am this doll, another I turn her upside down and the doll that had been hidden in the skirt appears wearing a different color skirt and shirt. Eventually, I made such a doll representing me.

Use your own ideas. Eventually you will settle into a routine for interpretation that helps you see the meaning of your dreams with more clarity. The Art of Dreaming by Jill Mellick is the source of many of the suggestions in this essay.

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 Jill@DrJillBakke.com

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