Dreaming is one of the easiest ways that our Ancestors and Spirit Guides use to communicate information to us. Dreaming is important for spiritual seekers because it acts like a bridge between us and Spirit.
My teacher, Malidoma, always taught that we must be very alert to our dreams. They are always matters of upmost importance. We should spend as much time as possible learning to understand our dreams and the messages that they are communicating.
Malidoma would explain that the Dagara do not encounter strange dream experiences and then wake up acting as if it was just a spectacle or a movie. Instead, every dream is treated as an invitation to take action.
One issue that many people struggle with is that they have a hard time remembering their dreams. And those that do remember often don't know how to decode them. Below, I'm going to share a few tips and lessons that I've learned over the years that have helped me to receive clear messages, spiritual guidance, and important lessons through my dreams.
Post-It Note Exercise
I learned this exercise from Anna Sayce and it helped me a lot when I was first learning to work with my dreams. Anna says, "The best way to activate your dreaming gift is to request guidance through dreams."
She teaches that before going to bed each night, you should write a question on a post-it note or piece of paper and leave it next to your bed. If you're new to decoding dreaming, then start with something simple. I think yes-or-no questions are good places to start when you're first learning how to communicate with Spirit.
The question you choose should also be relevant to your life. Do you have a question about a relationship, your job, your life purpose? It doesn't matter what you ask but do make sure it's important to you and your current experiences. Spirit isn't going to waste time with silly questions like, "Should I paint my nails pink?"
Before bed, ask your Spirit Guides to send you a dream that answers or offers insight towards your question. This exercise is very helpful in the beginning because interpreting dreams often takes practice. And sometimes the dreams are so full of symbols and codes that it's difficult to know what area of your life the message was intended for. So, your post-it note gives you some kind of direction as to what your dream is about and takes out some of the guess work.
If you don't remember or receive a dream on the first night, keep trying. It may take a week or even longer to get a clear message. Just like any intuitive skill, dreaming takes practice, time, patience, and commitment. So don't get frustrated if it doesn't happen right away.
Start a Dream Journal
The more that you engage with your dreams, the more messages you'll receive! When I first understood that the Otherworld was communicating to me through my dreams, I started a dream journal. This let my Spirit team know that I was serious about communicating with them, and it established a stronger connection to them.
The more you pay attention to your dreams, the more you will receive. Every morning that I have a dream, I write down all the details that I can remember. Noting every single detail is important, including colors, symbols, people, places, feelings, and emotions. Personally, I find that I can type a lot faster than I can write, so I usually go straight to my phone or computer. What's interesting about this process, is that I'll wake up and think that I didn't remember my dream, but when I start writing about it, my memory is suddenly triggered and I'm able to recall my dream a lot easier once I start writing.
Even if you wake in the middle of the night, it's important to jot down a few notes or keywords that will trigger your memory in the morning when you wake up. You might think you'll remember it, but chances are, if you don't write it down immediately, you won't remember.
Spiritual messages can only be revealed from our dreams when we take the time to reflect and journal about them. A few years ago, I stopped journaling about my dreams. Two things happened. First, they stopped making sense to me. Because I stopped taking the time and effort to pay attention to them, my dreams no longer provided me the deep, meaningful messages that I had once loved receiving.
Second, my dreams nearly stopped coming altogether. It was as if Spirit was saying, "She doesn't even bother with these messages anymore, so why should we?" It didn't take me too long to realize what was happening. As soon as I reinstated my dream journal practice, I began to receive many rich and helpful messages again! So, the more effort you put forth in understanding your dreams, the more exciting and fulfilling your dream life will be.
Learn to Decode Symbols
I have learned to pay very close attention to the symbolism and metaphors that are shown in my dreams. I've learned that Spirit loves to communicate to us through analogies, pictures, and signs. If I don't understand what a symbol means, I'll look it up. Dream Bible is one of my favorite websites to use to look up symbolism. I also like to use this Dream Dictionary app on my iPhone.
Whether you own a dream dictionary, have an app on your phone, or utilize a favorite dream interpreter website, my advice is to stay consistent. When decoding your dreams, try to use the same one or two resources every single time. This will help Spirit be able to better communicate to you.
Also, don't just trust the dream dictionaries to decode your dreams. You'll have to use your own intuition and inner knowing to double check and discern. Sometimes the symbols that Spirit communicates will be unique and personal to you. For example, I often dream about snakes. Most of the dictionaries tell me these dreams could be about jealousy, fear, or someone toxic. This makes sense if you're someone who fears or dislikes snakes.
But I have a unique relationship with snake medicine, and have been taught that snakes are a sign of consciousness rising. I also associate snakes with radical change and letting go because snakes will shed layers of their skin that is no longer needed. In this case, my intuition was correct, and the snake dreams were giving me insights about my spiritual growth rather than a warning of some kind.
So, it's important when decoding dreams to ask yourself: what does this symbol or message mean to me? And then you can look it up in a dictionary and see whether the message resonates with you. If it doesn't, trust your own instincts first and foremost. It's also crucial that you learn to trust your feelings and emotions towards the dream.
Here's one more example:
I once dreamt that my deceased grandmother came and visited me in a dream. In the dream she fell down her basement steps and broke her leg. At first glance, this sounds horrible: falling, broken bones, basements. But the energy of the dream was the complete opposite. I felt so much love and happiness emanating from this dream and my grandmother never acted hurt or scared.
After decoding the symbols in this dream, I realized my grandmother was communicating to me about breaking generational curses and healing deeply hidden ancestral traumas. Her message was that she was proud of me for having the courage to do the inner work and healing that was necessary for our family's lineage. She was, in essence, letting me know that I had her approval and blessing in my life's work. I would have never received this message clearly if I didn't trust my own feelings and emotions.
Find The Purpose of Each Dream
There are many different reasons for dreaming. When decoding your dreams, it's helpful to have a sense of the dreams overall purpose. Dreams can:
Guide or educate us
Show us encouragement or support
Warn us about an upcoming event or decision
Tell you if you're on the right path
Show us our deepest or hidden desires
Reveal past lives
Highlight areas of healing and growth
I also think it's helpful to give every dream a title. You can do this before you start journaling or after. Titles help you to better understand the overall theme or message of the dream. And this also helps you to refer to older dreams quickly, as many of your dream messages will build upon one another to create incredible insights.
Ask for Clarification
Malidoma would teach that every dream should be acted on. He'd say that even if you didn't understand the message of your dream, saying that you don't understand and asking for more clarification is still acting on it.
When you don't understand a dream, talk about it with someone you know or trust. Each morning, my husband and I sit around the breakfast table sipping on our coffee. And we both always use this time to talk about any dreams or messages we received. We push ideas and insights back and forth with each other to help us better decode each others dreams.
My children have learned to do this too. If they have a dream, they immediately run in to my room to tell me about it. Although they're a little young to comprehend the spiritual messages behind their dreams, there is something inside of them that knows their dreams are important enough to share out loud.
When I used to sit in circle with Malidoma and other students, he'd open the circle every morning by asking us what our dreams were the night before. When we were doing deep healing work and ritual at Malidoma's intensives, we almost always had messages to bring back from our night's sleep. And, by talking about our dreams in a group, we were able to better absorb and comprehend those spiritual messages.
If you don't have a close friend to bounce ideas off, you could always bring them up with healers, psychics or diviners to better understand their meaning. You can also let Spirit know that you didn't understand the dream, and you're going to need them to try to communicate the message to you in a different way. Asking Spirit to clarify or decode your dreams for you is super helpful.
Tips for Remembering Dreams
The first tip that I have for remembering your dreams is to set an alarm clock, even if you don't need one. People often have dreams just before waking and this is on purpose. I've noticed that Spirit will send my kids or my dog to me in the middle of my sleep if they can't get me to wake up from a good dream! And although this sounds cute and fun, it's not too exciting when it involves cleaning up someone's mess or sickness.
So, I try to help Spirit out by always setting an alarm. Even on weekends, my alarm is set to 7am so that if my Spirit Guides need to send a message, they can time the dream just right so that I wake up soon after.
A consistent sleep cycle is very helpful when it comes to remembering your dreams. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Ensure that you're always getting about the same amount of sleep every night. And do your best to allow your body to settle into deep sleep cycles.
Secondly, it helps to avoid caffeine, drugs, alcohol, toxic chemicals, and heavy foods close to bed. These kinds of things can interfere with your sleep quality and make it difficult to receive clear messages. I've also had to stop watching intense television shows or movies before bedtime, as I've found that these kinds of entertainment usually alter my dreams, and not in a good way.
Finally, I like to say a prayer or set an intention before bedtime. I'll ask my Spirit team to help me with things that I'm needing assistance or guidance with. I also use my evening prayers to help clear the energy from myself and my bedroom. If your room or energy field is filled with unwanted or unhelpful energies, it can make it difficult for Spiritual messages to come through. The higher your vibration is, and the clearer your energy body is, the easier it is for you to become a pure conduit and channel for Divine guidance.
At the end of the day, if you're serious about receiving spiritual guidance through your dreams you'll want to be patient and consistent. Adopt a beginner's mindset and approach dreamwork with curiosity, openness, and fun.