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How To Harness The Power Of Your Dreams, From A Psychologist

Athena Laz
May 14, 2022
Athena Laz
Author & Dream Guide
By Athena Laz
Author & Dream Guide
Athena Laz is a leading voice on modern spirituality, specializing in the intersection of psychology and mysticism. She is the author of "The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming" and "The Deliberate Dreamer’s Journal."
Image by Megan Doty / mbg Creative x George Marks / Getty
May 14, 2022
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Every night when you sleep and dream, you're gifted the opportunity to deepen your connection to your own psyche and the spirit world. I (and many cultures through time) believe that spirit speaks to us when we sleep, and if we listen closely enough, we're guided in what action to take in our waking lives.

How to start understanding your dreams.

As a spiritual mentor, depth psychologist, and dream coach, the most common questions I get asked are, How can I understand the symbols and messages in my dreams? How can I really know when a dream is numinous in nature, or if it's just a running commentary on my daily fears?

The answer lies in the art of dream alchemy. When we remember that all elements of life have a spiritual and material dimension, we come to understand that even our dreams can highlight this duality.

Your dreams can and will speak to the status of your daily life and stressors, especially if you fall asleep worried about something! At the same time, if you begin to really pay attention and work with your dreams, you'll begin to see just how meaningful the specific images and symbols you experience are. 

An example of dream interpretation.

Imagine for a moment that someone is trying to capture your attention, but you're simply not listening. So, the person adapts to your lack of response by sending bigger and bolder actions in order to be seen and heard. The psyche and our dreams act in the same way. 

Take the following dream, for example, adapted from my book, The Alchemy of Your Dreams: 

I'm driving my car when I clearly come to a red light. Instead of stopping at the traffic light, I put my foot on the pedal and jump the crossroad. I see the other cars hurtling toward me, and I think they're going to hit me. Yet somehow, I make it to the other side of the road! My heart is pumping in my chest as I decide to go home. I wake up shortly after that.

So, what does the dream mean? Is it a narrative of hope or simply a stress-based dream? Let's explore: 

Crossroads, as dream symbols, are significant because they reveal the importance of making decisions with our eyes wide open. They symbolically signify four choices, simply because of their structure: You can go left, right, forward, or backward.  

It may interest you to know that this example was dreamed by someone on the brink of having an affair, and so the dream illuminates their own internal conflict. But let's say this dream had been dreamed by someone at the end of their life. Then, the dream imagery takes on an entirely different meaning—perhaps they're dealing with the reality of what it means to cross over and go home. 

3 helpful ways to enrich your dream life.

There are many strategies that can help you begin to bring more awareness to your dreams—and decipher their deeper personal meaning in the process. Here are a few to try tonight to get started:

  1. Bring mindfulness into the way you fall asleep. Engage the senses as you climb into bed to root yourself in the present moment.
  2. Set an intention before bed that you will remember your dreams upon waking. 
  3. Begin to journal your dreams: On waking, quickly jot down what you can remember from your dreams. Mark down any prominent people, symbols, and places from the dream as well as how you felt. 

The takeaway.

Every night, we are gifted with the ability to gain a greater perspective. The more you pay attention to your dreams, the easier it becomes to understand the symbolic language of the soul. You may even begin to see that your dream experiences expand to include precognitive dreams and lucid experiences—so grab your dream journal, and prepare to start understanding all of your dreams' messages.

Athena Laz author page.
Athena Laz
Author & Dream Guide

Athena Laz is a leading voice on modern spirituality, specializing in the intersection of psychology and mysticism. She is the author of The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming and The Deliberate Dreamer’s Journal.

Originally hailing from South Africa, Laz has degrees through the University of Witwatersrand and is a licensed psychologist through HPCSA. Her work has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine and the South African Journal of Psychology.