Several years ago I had to write a thesis on the various functions of dreams while studying Metaphysics. I've always been interested in dreams because from a young age I frequently had vivid dreams. I've kept a dream journal most of my life to help me further understand the functions of dreams and if they had meaning for my life.
One of the more helpful functions of dreams is that they can be warnings for your waking life. In case you aren't familiar with the term, your waking life is your life when you are awake, when you aren't dreaming. A friend of mine shared how she had an incredibly vivid dream where someone told her that the brakes in her car were out. She woke up with this on her mind and sure enough the brakes in her car needed to be replaced. She was so grateful that she took the dream seriously and listened to her conscience.
Another fascinating function of dreams is that they can be a means of guidance in your life. Your dreams can give you clues to the direction you should take in life. This is why it's a great idea to write your dreams down and reflect on them when you can. One of my friends shared with me that for years I have been a guide in her dreams. For some reason I show up and show her and her sisters the direction they should go. What's interesting about this is that I have fulfilled this in her waking life when it comes to spirituality.
Sometimes our dreams really aren't that deep and we are simply processing all of the junk from our day that we tried to suppress or avoid. The truth is that our brains don't stop processing information just because we are sleeping. One reason that sleep is so important for our health is that our minds need to connect the dots and compartmentalize new information. So if you wake up with a really strange dream that seems to jump all over the place and doesn't make much sense, odds are you were simply processing and you don't need to take it to heart.
Have you ever woken up from a dream motivated to create? It doesn't happen often, but sometimes I'll wake up with a line in my head or a melody that I've never heard before. When this happens to you be sure to write it down or record it so you can use it in your waking life. Many creative people have done this throughout time and created brilliant works of art by literally following their dreams.
Most religions and spiritual people consider dreams a way to communicate with God. There are multiple examples of this in the Bible. Shamans have also used dreams to diagnose illness and enter into the spiritual world. If you believe in God or that there is someone or something greater than you, recording your dreams can be a fascinating way to further your spiritual journey.
Carl Jung is well known for his work committed to dreams. One of his theories is that the function of dreams is to compensate for those parts of the psyche (our total personality) that are underdeveloped in our waking life. He believed that our dreams are messages to us that we should pay attention to. He is my favorite dream doctor.
7. Wish Fulfillment
Sigmund Freud is the other well known psychotherapist known for his work in the field of dreams. He is best known for his theory that the content of dreams is driven by unconscious wish fulfillment. He believed that we had a good amount of control over our dreams and basically that our dreams are us playing out our fantasies and wishes.
What has your dream life been like? Have you ever kept a dream journal? I'd love to hear your thoughts on dreams and your experience with them.