Six Ways to Use Dreams for Personal Growth

The way we feel about others (and their habits) is a potent mirror for understanding the way we feel about parts of ourselves. In dreams, we often have interactions with disowned parts of ourselves, like qualities we view as inappropriate or dangerous, or even parts we don’t think we have, like power and beauty. We can use our dreams as teachers to show us these rejected parts of ourselves and practice getting to know them from curiosity instead of fear or hatred. Dreaming is an instinctual process for humans. By utilizing this process we can strengthen our relationship with our self and with the world around us. Here are 6 ways you can integrate dream work into your waking life to deepen your awareness.

Strengthens Compassion for Self and Others

In Shamanic cultures, everyone and everything is seen as part of the self. In this way, the tree, the ocean, the friends, and the villains can all be seen with a sort of reverence. The same is true of our dream life and so cultivating a relationship with our dream parts creates pathways for the same practices in waking life. When we see something scary in a dream we tend to run or push it away. Instead, get curious. What does this represent for me? What is it about this figure that I don’t like? What if I could befriend it? If you feel like you need some protection to get closer to it, give that to yourself and take a closer look.

Improves Mindfulness

Think of your dreams throughout the day. Write them down and share them with one another. Ask yourself throughout the day, am I in a dream? By making a habit of thinking about your dreams while you are awake, you will make a habit of thinking about your waking self while you are dreaming. This gives you the opportunity to become aware while you are dreaming so you can interact with the dream itself. The practice also strengthens mindfulness in general. We begin to train our brain to take a step back and evaluate if something is true and look for deeper meaning, rather than just take it at surface value.

Improves Relationship with Spirits

We are often visited in dreams by spirits, animals, ancestors, and loved ones. Sometimes we even get direct messages or prophecy dreams. This is because during dreaming we are already in the “in-between” realm, so communication pathways with other realms are open and available. When we make a point to remember our dreams and dream figures, we are telling the universe that we are paying attention and listening. When spirits know we are listening, they are more willing to talk to us. Once we begin to notice spirits appearing in our dreams it becomes easier for us to notice when they are present in our waking life too.

Increases Right Brain Function

It turns out we have a whole bunch of capacities for knowing beyond linear thinking. A dreaming practice allows you to bring these other functions into your life (and why wouldn’t we want to improve ALL ways of knowing?). Actually, just the practice of recording your dreams usually requires a sort of “sideways thinking” in order to recall the dream.  Ever notice how something will happen during the day and all of a sudden you remember a part of your dream? Recalling your dreams, in general, requires you almost step back and allow your left brain to get a little foggy in order to track the dream memory. This increases pathways to your intuition, higher self, and psychic abilities. It gives our analytical mind a break and helps balance left and right brain functions.

Deepens Manifesting Power

Once you have a solid dream practice and can remember some of your dreams, you can start practicing manifesting in your sleep! By focusing on an intention before you go to sleep (or write it down and place it under your pillow), you can work towards your manifesting goals at night too. With the intention in mind, your dreams will form around your intention, revealing tips, desires, clues, or blocks that might be holding you back. Plus, why not make it easy for yourself and do your work while you are sleeping!

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