A Practice—and a Spell—to Find Meaning in Your Dreams
Written by: the Editors of goop
Updated: March 4, 2021
Whether dreams are just random electric signals in the brain or Carl Jung might have been right about this one thing, we still end up wondering: What do our dreams mean?
Mimi Young, a healer and spirit communicator, helps people connect to their dreams in order to access their inner wisdom. For one goop editor, a dreamwork session with Young revealed how specific recurring elements in her dreams—like flying in long leaps, public bathrooms with no doors, and characters she knew to be one person but appeared as another—represented recurring themes in her waking life. Once Young identified the meanings of each of these elements out loud, they made a lot of sense. Some represented obstacles in relationships and work. Others, personal gifts and talents.
While guidance from a professional can be helpful, the core practice of dreamwork is building a personal dialogue with your dreams, which you can do yourself at home. Young distilled her own interpretation process into four steps, which she describes for us here—along with her bedtime ritual to inspire meaningful dreams.
Finding Meaning in Your Dreams
By Mimi Young, as told to goop
First let me define what a dream is: A dream is any form of communication that comes through when you’re asleep. It doesn’t have to be a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t even have to be visual. Some dreams are audio-based; others are more like an impression, a sense, or a feeling.
Some important notes before we start. The dreamwork process is about exploration, not perfection. No dream has one single meaning, and there are no right or wrong answers. A dreamwork practice is about developing your relationship with your dreams and learning to trust them as a form of spiritual, intuitive wisdom. You’ve done it right when you feel like it’s given you value or helped you in some way.
A Simple Framework for Dreamwork
1. Recall and reflect
When you wake up, while you’re still in bed—that is, before you interact with anything that could distract you—tune in to whether you’re feeling any strong emotions or sensations in your body. Maybe you identify stress, or maybe you feel good. Is your body especially comfortable or uncomfortable?
Then run through any memory you have of your dreams. Do you remember any key takeaways, feelings, or characters? What specifics have you retained? Replaying your dream in your mind while it’s still fresh can help you hold onto the details, which will be important in the next step.
However you prefer to keep a record of them, write out the key points of your dream. While some people recommend keeping a notebook and a pen by the bed and writing things down by hand, that’s not typically the most efficient way. Most people type faster than they write. So feel free to reach for your phone and take your notes digitally. Or record a voice memo.
I work with several key categories, including the below:
Was there a narrative structure? What was that story?
What feelings did you experience?
What symbols popped up? Any elements you recognize from previous dreams?
What are your initial thoughts about what it might mean?
You may find that other categories make sense to you depending on the nature of your dreams. Absolutely add those in.
In the spirit of efficiency, I have one other recommendation: Make a dream spreadsheet. It’s easier to recognize patterns over time when all your information is organized in front of you.
3. Make space to connect throughout the day
Dreams can act as feedback or cautioning, or they might help you answer questions or find a resolution to a problem. They can be a form of divination, too—looking to what could potentially happen in your future. You’re searching for some kind of communication from your spiritual guides or your inner wisdom.
It might take a while to get the message behind your dream. Reflect on your dream throughout your day, knowing that you might have a moment of insight at work or out on a hike or at the grocery store. It could take a few hours or all day for something to click. For a very profound dream, that might mean a week or even a month. Be patient and keep coming back to it. This is another good reason to keep your dream journal in your phone; it’s usually with you when these eureka moments pop up.
That said, not every dream means anything super profound—or anything at all. As a rule, a dream is worth investigating further when you feel like it might hold something valuable. If you walk away from it feeling that you have more insight, great. But if you wake up knowing the dream you had last night was nonsense, you can trust that feeling, too. Sometimes we have what I call a cleanup dream, which I think of as your mind flushing the pipes.
4. Let the dream guide you
We are meant to be in connection with our dreams—they’re our built-in oracle. Let your dreams guide you.
As you add information about your dreams to your journal or spreadsheet, you might start to recognize patterns. Let’s say you have a specific recurring dream where you’re being chased, but you’re not running. You’re walking. You appear calm, as if you didn’t want anyone to know this chase was happening. You might interpret that dream to be about what is socially acceptable. Then you can start asking yourself relevant questions. Do you feel a need to conform? Are you afraid that people will reject you if you show more of yourself?
Or maybe you have dreams that vary in content but rotate around a single idea. For example, I have dreams about how I don’t rest enough. At a month’s glance, I could have these dreams twenty days out of the last month. I can ask what might happen if I give myself that rest. And I might cultivate more rest for myself that day or that month.
A Simple Ritual for Meaningful Dreams
Before you sleep, light a candle and get quiet. If you like to work with plants, I like mugwort, clary sage, and laurel for rituals like this one. (I make a mist with these plant extracts, which I spray around my space and my aura.)
Tune in. Make a request or set an intention for your dreams. Narrow down that intention until the focus is very sharp. If your request is too open-ended, you might end up with a similarly open-ended dream.
Write this request or intention on a sheet of paper. Just one or two sentences—keep it lean. If you happen to work with a spirit guide already, whether that’s an angel or a specific ancestor or whoever, you can even ask them to show up and speak with you through your dream. Blow out the candle, slip that sheet of paper into your pillowcase, then go to bed. Now you’re going to bed open to a message that may come through.
Know that it might not come through that night. Sometimes that sheet of paper stays in my pillowcase for a few days, a week, or even a full cycle of the moon. (Remember, the moon and dreams are closely connected.) If you want to catch it around a specific lunar cycle, like a new moon, that’s especially great.
Mimi Young is a spirit communicator and the founder of CEREMONIE, an brand that intends to ignite, sharpen, and deepen our connection to spirits and the unseen through magick, core shamanism, and occultism. Young offers topical courses, mentorship, remote private readings, and aura and skin potions.