Dream Work Associations
Write down the first image that appears in the dream.
What feeling do I have about this? (inner/physical reactions)
Does it remind me of anything? (Memories)
What words, or ideas do I have when I look at it?
Does it say something to me?
Return to this image over and over until you feel every association has been written. Then move to the next image.
It gets easier because you will begin to make quicker connections AND you are also beginning to write your own book of symbols – a book of dream translations in your imagination language.
There is no “right” symbol. They may change over time and mean different things in different dreams but you will begin to see reoccurrence, patterns and archetypes.
Applying the associations will come with practice but as you are trying to understand your dream and you are applying each of the associations – you will feel the one that has the most energy. Sometimes this feels like a hunch, a feeling but for some reason it just works for you.
A simple association circle is an easy way to diagram this for your self. Put the image or word in the middle of the circle and draw a line with a straight line to strong associations and a dotted line with arrow to milder associations.
Things to associate with: people, places, colors, numbers, objects, animals, weather, sounds, smells, actions, etc……….
You have opened a door.
The second step is connecting each of the images we discovered in our dreams to parts of inner selves. Sometimes is can be a historical pert of our personality. Sometimes it is a trauma presenting itself. Sometimes it’s a relationship dynamic either between two parts of the self or that of the relationship we are in the physical world.
Ultimately, our unconscious wants to fully integrate all the split parts of the self; repressed, traumatized, resisted etc. so that we become whole and fully expressed.
(So, try to remember this as you work with your dreams.)
In the same way we did associations with the image we will know do dynamics?
Where have I seen or felt this dynamic functioning in my life?
Which part of me feels like this?
Where do I see or feel that same trait or expression inside of me?
What part of me is this?
(These can also be moods, attitudes, urges, fears, and feelings.)
Write these dynamics down and anything else that occurs to you about how these dynamics may be expressing them selves in your life.
Example: In the association step the feeling of anger was a strong association to one the images?
When am I angry? Where is anger in me? When do I express anger in my life? When was the last time anger was expressed? What in my life always makes me angry?
A quick way I approach people is: describe the person in your dream in two sentences. How would you describe this person to someone else?
Ego: It is our egos that divide the world up into good and bad or negative and positive. The opposite is most often true, meaning the shadow side of ourselves that are often expressed in our dreams but repressed in our lives would in fact be a valuable strength if we made them conscious.
This stage is the tying together of step one and two. All of your associations have been drawn and the strongest of those identified. You have discovered clear connections between your images and the parts of your self they symbolize. Now you weave them together to understand the message your unconscious is trying to share with you or heighten your awareness.
What is the clearest or strongest message that the dream is trying to reveal to me?
What is the dream suggesting I do?
What have I become aware of about my life because of this dream?
How does the overall message or meaning of the dream apply to my life as a whole?
A dream likes to work in the world of emotions, fears, hopes, feelings, impulses etc. so keep that in mind when exploring the meaning. The unconscious’s goal is movement, progression, awareness, resolution, healing and ultimately wholeness.
Piecing the puzzle pieces together can some times feel daunting and sometimes this will make you jump at an interpretation. There a re a few keys to hold on to as you walk through you associations and dynamics tying them together. One is the energy of it. When you are on the right path you will feel an increase in the intensity of the energy within yourself. This energy can express itself physically or emotionally – you might feel a surge of anger or become over whelmed with sadness. But this is a strong indicator you are on the right path.
Small clues and seemingly insignificant images can sometimes be the heart of the message. This is why the associations are such an important part of the process. Perhaps blue came up as one of your images and during the associations one thing that came up but was minor was, had a blue bike when I was 7. As you are tieing the dream together you keep seeing this bike association so you dig a little deeper. The bike was the first time you felt a sense of independence or freedom from your family and it could carry you further away from their sphere of influence. This allows you to look at the dream and realize it is about letting go of beliefs about yourself given to you by your parents.
Five Methods to Test Your Interpretation:
1. Does the interpretation reveal to you something you didn’t know?
2. Is it an interpretation that leaves work to do and more to explore?
3. Does the interpretation challenge your image or your ego?
4. Does the interpretation give you a sense of responsibility or ask of you to take on responsibility?
5. Are you more aware of how the interpretation shows up in parts of your life?