How to become an intuitive dream interpreter.
“When I listen to your podcasts, you seem to interpret dreams so intuitively and accurately. How can I develop my intuition to understand dreams?”
This comment, from an avid listener, took me by surprise at first, as I had believed The Dream Show podcasts helped demonstrate the tools and techniques people can use to interpret their dreams, but it took only a little contemplation before I realised she was right. I do ‘seem’ to interpret dreams intuitively because I don’t stop and break down the methods I’m drawing upon. I’m far too involved in walking with the dreamer through their dream, opening it up, gently laying it bare, asking questions, supporting them in their exploration, and drawing their attention to the puzzle pieces that fit together to reveal the underlying meaning of the dream. I’m focussed on helping the dreamer relate to the dream and find meaningful, helpful, supportive insight they can use to bring more light into their life.
Along the way, I occasionally address our listeners as a group, highlighting techniques, pointing out a method they can use when interpreting their own dreams, but only occasionally, and never in detail. To do so would be to interrupt the flow of the work with the guest dreamer, and to perhaps interrupt the magic of the unfolding for the listeners.
So, yes, it may indeed seem, as each dream moves from mystery to revelation, that intuition is in the pilot’s seat.
And maybe it is, to some extent. Let’s explore:
I have received similar comments from people who have submitted their dreams for my Bare Bones interpretation by email service, where I give an overview interpretation based on reading the dream, with no conversation with the dreamer. The resulting insights into the dreamer’s life can seem like magic, or, at least, like the work of a very strong intuition.
So how much is intuition at work here, and how can you deepen your intuition to uncover the meaning of dreams?
I looked up intuition in several dictionaries:
According to the English Oxford Living Dictionary, intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. Merriam-Webster gives intuition as the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference. The Cambridge dictionary puts it simply as an ability to understand or know something without needing to think about it or use reason to discover it.
Back in the very early 1990s, I was drawn into researching dreams when I realised that I seemed to have a bit of natural insight into other people’s dreams. I certainly couldn’t interpret them anywhere near as deeply as I do now, but I had a leaning towards the material. I could see parallels between people’s dreams and their lives and struggles. The language of their individual dreams felt familiar, and I was enticed, though my understanding and abilities were very kindergarten way back then. I thought I had a natural intuitive grasp of the basics, but the scientist in me (I have an Honours university degree in science) thirsted for more. I appealed for help, and hundreds of people came forward to answer my surveys about their dreams, to keep journals of both their dreams and their waking lives, and to do some simple experiments around dreams and dreaming. From all of this wonderful input, I developed my initial understanding about how dreams related to waking life and to the self, and went on to further develop the methods and techniques that I use in my work with clients, write about in my books, and teach in my online courses.
So I started out with a dash of intuition then developed methods and techniques to dive deeper into the work of interpreting and analysing dreams, and assisting people in healing and transformation through dream alchemy and dream therapy.
So while my methods and techniques are done and dusted and drawn upon in my daily work with clients, how much do I rely on my intuition, and is such intuition a valuable asset in this kind of work?
Let’s use the done-to-death driving a car example.
We’re not born knowing how to drive a car. Intuition doesn’t really help. You have to learn techniques and methods. First you learn the basics, perhaps from a book, perhaps from the passenger seat while a driver instructs, or perhaps from the driving seat guided by your instructor. After the basics and a few juddering drives around the block, you learn finer techniques and practise your skills. Then you might, if you are wise, opt to learn advanced driving techniques and skills. After a while, you simply jump into the driving seat and drive. At this stage, would you say you’re driving intuitively? If you find yourself in a compromising situation, on a difficult road, challenged by weather or the antics of other drivers, do you slowly think through the techniques you learned a long time ago, or do you take quick, correct action, guided by your intuition? Is the source of such intuition magical, or is it your prior learning, instantaneously accessed without need forconscious reasoning?
If you want to develop your intuition to accurately interpret dreams, begin by learning professional techniques and methods, then practise them, and build on them, until you are so practised and so skilled that you no longer need to trawl through conscious reasoning. You can then rely on your intuition to interpret dreams in a similar way to relying on your intuition to drive you safely from a to b.
Now, I know the question you’re about to ask! Before I developed my methods, before I did my dream research, where did my apparent kindergarten intuition into understanding dreams come from?
During my final year at university, I specialised in developmental neurophysiology. I spent that year learning about how the brain and nerves develop before and after birth, how they interconnect, and how the brain interprets our sensory experiences of our world. I was passionate about the subject, and read and mused deeply. When it came to looking at dreams, I would have been partly drawing on this knowledge.
I was also always very interested in words, and, throughout my teenage years, twenties, and thirties, passionately interested in finding meaning behind the apparent everyday. Plays on words and seeing connections and patterns in the world must have provided rich material for me to draw upon to intuit connections between people’s dreams and their waking lives and deeper selves.
So my beginner’s intuition for understanding dreams all those years ago was based on learned information and practised techniques, not that I understood that at the time. I just thought I had a bit of an intuition into the meaning of people’s dreams.
In my work today, if I have a very challenging dream to look at, and my intuition is not helping out as much as I would like, I go back to basics, trot through the methods and then, bam, there it is, the key to the meaning of the dream.
Intuition can, however, misguide us.
Since intuition draws on our prior learning, including, of course, everything we have learned about the world through our unique individual life experiences, then we might draw a quick (intuitive) conclusion based on a false premise, or based on personal experience that blinds us to the actual situation.
So here’s tip one:
The more you can build a strong foundation of reliable knowledge and practise, the more accurate and reliable your intuition around that subject will be.
Intuition is faster than rational thought, so once you’ve got tip one under your belt, practise using your intuition to interpret dreams by putting yourself under pressure of time. Do this by making it a game, making it fun. Don’t practise it with clients, but do practise it with friends who support your interest in developing your skills. Looking back, I realise that one of the challenges that fine-tuned my intuition for quick but accurate dream interpretation was all the radio work I have done – and continue to do – over the decades. I have worked countless hours over countless shows where people call into the station to ask me about a dream and I have only a minute or perhaps two to absorb the dream and come up with helpful insight. I have always regarded this radio work as an opportunity to help people in general to respect their dreams and learn a little more about them, but whether or not I have achieved that, the fast-paced radio work has gifted me sharp intuition simply through practise, practise, practise.
Which leads me to tip 3:
Practise, practise, practise. And ask for feedback.
Finally, here’s tip 4:
When you have followed tips 1, 2, and 3, simply show up, confidently, and in the moment. If you have done all the work, there is nothing left to do but to bring your whole self, nicely slept, relaxed, and fully focussed, and let your intuition do the rest.