We explore the different types of dreams and their impact as powerful tools for personal development. As your guide to dream types, this episode discusses:
- Different types of dreams and their impact on our lives
- The role of the unconscious mind in dream analysis
- Dream examples and what they mean
Debra Maldonado 00:27
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I’m Debra Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado. We’re continuing our series on dreams because it’s winter, you feel a little dreamy. Today we’re talking about the types of dreams. Not all dreams are created equal. We’re really excited for that. But before we begin, I do want to remind you, if you’re listening to us on Spotify, iTunes, all those wonderful podcast services, don’t forget to subscribe. We love our subscribers. If you have a chance, leave us a great review that helps people look at our podcast, learn more and spread the word.
Robert Maldonado 01:07
Shout out to all our graduates. We have a graduate community that keeps growing. I love to go in there and interact with them. Thank you for being a part of that.
Debra Maldonado 01:19
You’re talking about the graduates of the Jungian life coach training. We teach dreams in Jungian life coach training. It’s a 12-month program. If you’re interested, there are links in the show notes below. Let’s talk about the types of dreams. Are there good dreams and bad times? Is that what you’re saying?
Robert Maldonado 01:36
Not at all. This isn’t a comprehensive list but it’s a list of some of the most important categories of dreams because not all dreams are created equally. It’d be like saying all thoughts are equal. We know there’s philosophy, there’s science, there’s biology, there’s history, there’s politics. All of these different categories of thought give you an understanding of what these thoughts are meant to give us.
Debra Maldonado 02:11
Another great example of the types of dreams is if you think about movies, there’s horror movies, there is romantic comedies, there’s documentaries, dramas. You understand it from that perspective, as you recognize the genre of the movie. In dramas you don’t expect a zombie to come in. In the horror movies you don’t expect everything to work out at the end like in romantic comedies. The dream is like a type. When you understand the different types, you understand what the context is and what’s happening.
Robert Maldonado 02:47
It’s giving you an entry point into reading and interpreting the dream, instead of going in there without knowing.
Debra Maldonado 02:57
This is Jungian dream interpretation, not Freudian. We look at the dream more from a Jungian lens. The first one is probably what most people think dreams are.
Robert Maldonado 03:09
It’s the prospective dreams or prospective dreaming. These dreams are seen as having a predictive quality. Some people may call them pre-cognitive dreams, or prophetic dreams, the old Biblical stuff. They can also be prospective, not in a literal sense, but more in a psychological sense that they’re giving us a heads up as to what’s coming up in our internal work and our growth as individuals.
Debra Maldonado 03:43
Sometimes, when you don’t know if it’s prospective or pre-cognitive until maybe after the fact, you’re like “I had a dream about that. Now look, it’s coming up.” Sometimes it’s like the psyche’s way of trying to reach us. I’d have a dream, then somewhere that day, a symbol that showed up in the dream would show up in my outer life. It’s what Jung called synchronicity. It’s placing things right there, tiny little things that are just a wink from your unconscious saying these worlds are pretty much the same. We’re lifting the veil between the two. These prospective dreams are really interesting to see that. For me it’s always been a part of my deeper self that cares so much about me, that’s helping me on my journey.
Robert Maldonado 04:37
Jung describes it throughout his writings, in many parts where he’s talking about dreams. The the image that I got anyway was this idea of the headlights of a car. You’re driving at night, the headlights are on. The headlights are illuminating the road up ahead. You’re not there yet. You’re driving over here. But you’re observing and seeing what’s coming up ahead. Because the headlights are illuminating the terrain that’s a mile or two miles ahead of you.
Debra Maldonado 05:20
But isn’t that the way our psyche works anyway? The ego tries to predict what’s ahead based on past information. But this is not the ego. This is a deeper, wiser part of us showing us symbolically where our journey’s going. We have it built in us already to anticipate the future.
Robert Maldonado 05:39
That’s a good point. The unconscious has a lot more information than our conscious mind does. In dreams, often, it’ll reveal to us something that we know intuitively perhaps, but we haven’t figured it out logically or consciously. But in the dream, it’s revealed to us in a flash, all the information is put together and revealed through a dream that’s prophetic, prospective, precognitive. It’s giving us information we are not conscious of yet. But it’s been part of our awareness, our psyche. It’s a very powerful thing. Now what happens when we start to pay attention to our psyche through inner work, through what Jung called the individuation, or shadow work, the unconscious responds. It starts to give us more of these prospective dreams. You’re saying “I’m ready to do internal work”, therefore the unconscious starts to reveal to you what’s coming up in your internal work that you need to pay attention to. It starts to give you much more of these perspective dreams. Some of them are funny because they’re not necessarily big revelations about your life but they’re giving you a hint that the unconscious is activated now. When I started to do my shadow work and inner work, I was working in a hospital at that time. One night, I had this incredibly vivid dream that I was pushing a little cart with a glass jar on it full of liquid. I stopped for some reason, all a sudden the bottle fell to the ground, broke and shattered into many pieces. That was the dream. The following day, I was doing that at work. Guess what happened? Precisely the same thing but now in living color. It was the same image. I didn’t remember the dream until it was happening, the bottle was falling from the table and going to hit the ground. In a flash, I remembered I dreamt about this. it’s just that revelation. What it’s instructing you on is that time isn’t necessarily what you think of it in a rational way, that the mind is like the headlights of the car, it’s able to illuminate what’s coming up, not only in your inner work, but in your outer experience of life.
Debra Maldonado 08:52
I’ve had that too, where I’ve had a dream where someone said something. Sometimes you have those dreams, someone’s saying the same phrase, it sticks out to you as weird. Then the next day you’d be awake watching a movie and the same phrase would happen. But you want to see it as a meaningful coincidence. What does that symbolize? We want to go deeper into it, not just be like “That was cool”, but look at it deeper, the symbolism of a jar and water and breaking. Let’s go to the next one. Compensatory dreams.
Robert Maldonado 09:27
Jung writes a lot about this, because in part, our mind was designed to compensate for how we feel. It’s a balancing act in the unconscious, which is where dreams come from. Jung’s thought that its main function is to compensate for our conscious attitude. If we’re too logical, too reasonable or off the mark in performing our duties or doing our life, the unconscious would give us a dream to compensate, to balance out our conscious attitude.
Debra Maldonado 10:12
For example, if you’re being very rigid and perfectionist, the dream would be more chaotic and emotional. If you’re suppressing anger, there would be someone with anger in the dream. It’s showing you there’s this emotion you’re not conscious of. That’s a great example.
Robert Maldonado 10:31
It’s an important function of dreams. Many of our dreams, especially what we call typical dreams, these are not really important or big dreams, but they’re doing this important work.
Debra Maldonado 10:51
They feel ordinary, like “That’s weird.” It’s just an everyday kind, people you know, almost like a reflection of your day or a familiar place.
Robert Maldonado 11:00
But they perform an important function because why do you feel so much better when you have a good night’s sleep, you have healthy dreams? Because this process is going on continuously, it’s balancing you up so that you feel like a well-adjusted individual.
Debra Maldonado 11:23
We all think that we have to bring everything to consciousness for it to balance itself out. But a lot of times the psyche has an organizing principle unconsciously that’s always trying to work and balance you automatically. Integrative dreams, what are those?
Robert Maldonado 12:33
Now we’re getting into deeper work. As people start to pay attention to their psyche and to the inner work, the psyche begins to respond in deeper ways, in more important ways.
Debra Maldonado 12:50
You spoke the basic language, now let’s get a little more technical.
Robert Maldonado 12:54
These dreams are contributing to your psychological, emotional, spiritual growth. They’re not talking about your boss and the anger you have towards your ex. They’re talking about aspects of your psyche that you need to be very aware of, not only to function in a better way in your life, but to transform the inner structure of the psyche.
Debra Maldonado 13:30
Specifically the individuation process we’re being all called upon to take, which is to become our true self, to get out of the pattern. The integrative dream, for example, the first of the many stages of the individuation process is the shadow work, it’s only the first stage. Many people stop there. But the first stage is shadow work. You’ll see in life, your shadows projected onto other people, it happens the same way in dreams. You have this person following you, a sibling or a friend, that’s always annoying you. In the dream, they’re trying to interfere with where you’re going, or who’s driving the car chaotically, you’re in the passenger seat. It’s saying this part of your psyche that you’re projecting on others, you need to bring it to consciousness. That’s what I love about Jung and dream interpretation. You’re not taking it literally, you’re actually looking at how this all shows up in a symbolic way. We’re going to talk about symbols in another podcast. But looking at the symbolism and metaphors that the unconscious is trying to show us of what’s the next stage, what’s keeping you stuck, why is this shadow element in the way?
Robert Maldonado 14:47
All the characters in our dreams are aspects of ourselves, in particular in Jungian work this is the approach. We’re not seeing these characters as talking about them. If I dream of my friend, Charlie, it’s not about Charlie, it’s about me. Charlie simply represents some aspect of my own psyche I haven’t integrated yet. Integrative dreams give me an opportunity to have that realization. What happens in Jungian dreamwork is you start to interact with the unconscious mind through the dream. If the dream reveals something to you, now you can consciously approach it. If there’s a dream about a need to integrate an aspect of, let’s say, Charlie’s personality, whatever he represents for me as Charlie, often the hints will be in his personality. What kind of persona does he play out in life? Often that represents something about your own mind that you need to be aware of and need to integrate. Integration means you need to come to an agreement as to what this means for you.
Debra Maldonado 16:19
Why am I pushing it away? Why am I resisting? What is so bad about being like Charlie and how have I been conditioned to avoid being like Charlie? One thing too, though, that so easy in dreams to accept because I’m in the dream, I’m the dreamer, so everything’s me. But in the real world, it’s the same thing. Charlie in the real world is also a reflection of your psyche, but we don’t see that, only everyone in my dream is me. But if we start to work with dreams in this way and start to use it as an integrative tool, we start to see the world in outside circumstances, not as this random events or these outer people that are coming in to make our lives difficult. We start to see an aspect of our mind. How do we integrate them? Dreamwork gives us an easy way to start to see it. But then the harder part is actually accepting that the person you resist the most in the outer world is actually a part of you in some way. There’s a part of you in them.
Robert Maldonado 17:20
There was this incredible dream presented by one of our students. She was working in corporate America, a corporate job, very unhappy in that regard because she had another aspect of herself that needed to be integrated. She has a dream where she dreams of a friend from college who is an artist or an artistic type, a creative type of person. In the dream, the dreamer is driving a convertible. Then her friend is coming in the opposite direction, also driving a convertible. As the cars come close together, the friend’s car flips over. Because it’s an open top, her friend’s head hits the dreamers head. They merge, they bumped together, then the scene changes and the cars pass.
Debra Maldonado 18:30
Such an obvious integration dream. But an ordinary person may look at it and say, “That’s weird. Becky, I had a dream about you. It was very strange”, and dismiss it. We quickly dismiss it. But she needs to integrate the artistic part of herself.
Robert Maldonado 18:49
It was the unconscious telling her, “The solution to your dilemma is the integration of the creative aspect of yourself.”
Debra Maldonado 18:59
What I love about that, too, is that especially in our coaching method, you can only do so much logical work with a client, write down everything you like, rationalize. But there’s something about the client having an experience of a dream like that, that something deeper in her is saying, “This is what you should do.” It’s like this wise self is coming through and it makes a powerful shift in people’s lives. To have that skill, to be able to interpret those dreams for your clients is so powerful. I’ve learned so much from my dreams, just from building our business, where I’m stuck personally, then I get the information and integrate. Then everything changes in the external. It’s an incredible most overlooked tool for personal development. I think everyone should do it. Next one, recurring dreams. I used to do a lot of this with hypnosis. We’d get people with these dreams that repeat. Kids would come to me, “How do I undo it?” I didn’t know Jungian dream interpretation at the time, I wish I’d have done that.
Robert Maldonado 20:08
It’s a common phenomenon, recurring dreams, a dream that repeats. Sometimes it’ll go on for years. People have told me “I’ve had this recurring dream for 20-30 years for some reason, I still don’t know what it means. I don’t know what to do with it.” What are these dreams talking about? Obviously, the repetitive nature of it is saying, “You need to get this. I’m going to continue to repeat it until you get it.”
Debra Maldonado 20:38
It’s like someone’s knocking at your door and just keeps knocking until you answer it. That’s really what it is. I’ve had people have recurring dreams. A common one is you’re looking for something and can’t find it. I feel like I’m always searching for something, I’m coming through doors. Or they dream of running away. Either you’re looking for something or you’re running away from something, something’s always chasing you. That is a very common dream.
Robert Maldonado 21:05
All kinds of incredible scenes. As a kid, I used to have this dream that I was in this open space, you know how in movies sometimes they put this misty plane that goes off into infinity in all directions. It was that scene. Then off in the distance, I’d see a car coming or something moving, a vehicle coming very quickly towards me. Then I’d look the opposite direction, there would be another one coming in the opposite direction. Of course, they were going to meet at the same point and crash into each other. These two objects were moving so quickly and gaining speed as they approached each other, that the intensity of the dream would come and rise to a pitch until they were about to crash, and I’d wake up.
Debra Maldonado 22:10
I’ve had dreams of falling, like you’re falling, but you never hit the ground. Also, when I was a kid, I used to have recurring dreams of me flying all the time. But that’s a different kind of dream, isn’t it? Where you’re flying in the dream as a kid? I know a lot of people that say they had those dreams as kids, then when you’re older, you don’t tend to have them.
Robert Maldonado 22:34
The contents of the dreams can be very different. They can be intense, or playful, or creative. But the recurring nature of it we’re interested in, it’s an unresolved issue that keeps coming up, you haven’t been able to resolve it.
Debra Maldonado 22:57
People who have PTSD would have recurring trauma dreams.
Robert Maldonado 23:04
Those are different. Usually those dreams are talking about the events that caused the PTSD.
Debra Maldonado 23:14
It’s still the unconscious thing. You haven’t come to terms with this.
Robert Maldonado 23:19
But it’s pretty obvious what they need to come to terms with, it’s that event.
Debra Maldonado 23:24
What about big dreams?
Robert Maldonado 23:27
This is a technical term, big dreams. But we all know what it means. You wake up and you intuitively know and feel that this was important.
Debra Maldonado 23:42
You remember it for years without even writing it down. Most people will remember those big dreams. Those of you who remember your dreams, you could probably think of three or four dreams you’ve had in your life that were so profound. They have a numinous quality, as Jung would say, like a magical quality to them.
Robert Maldonado 24:01
They’re important. Often, they’re disguised in symbolic form because the unconscious speaks a symbolic language. It’s not going to spell it out to you, or sometimes it does but obviously, if you know what it means, or if it’s obvious what it means, you wouldn’t have necessarily need the dream. You’d figure it out consciously. But because it’s something you need to pay attention to, that you haven’t paid attention to, or it’s something significant that’s about to happen, the dream blows you away with the imagery, the intensity, the color. It feels more intense than the waking life.
Debra Maldonado 24:53
Can I share my big dream? I had a dream before I met you, probably a year or two before I met you. My friends were flight attendants, so I had buddy passes, I could fly for free, I just had to go standby. There’s a little thing on the website that you can look up and see how many seats were available. The dream was me going to the airport, I was late for the airport, that anxiety of “I hope I get there.” Then I was checking to see if the flight was available on my phone, but it couldn’t work. I was panicking I’m gonna miss the flight. Then all of a sudden, I jumped out of my car because I’m not getting anywhere with this car. It’s not taking me fast enough. I just left the car and the car went in a circle. As it came in a circle, it came back toward me. It stopped, and out of the car in the middle of being on my way to DIA airport in Denver, this man comes out but he’s completely frozen. He’s standing in front of me frozen, I am face to face with him. Then the frozen part melts and he comes to life. He grabbed my hand, it was the most incredible love I’ve ever felt. I called it my soulmate dream, this feeling was so powerful, I can’t believe I’m loved so much by this person. This love is so out of this world that I’ve never felt before. I look at it now, I didn’t know Jungian dream interpretation then, literally, I took it as you’re trying to get in control, the car is the will. Jumping out, releasing, surrendering, it’ll come to you. That’s what happened in my life. But I was so white knuckling it through my life, trying to get there on time, feeling impatient. The dream was just like “It’s all gonna work out.” And it did. Isn’t that a cool dream?
Robert Maldonado 26:47
These big dreams often have a lasting impact on the dreamer, just like your dream. It changes the way you understand yourself and your life. They’re also like milestones in your personal development, the unconscious is saying you’re reaching or about to reach or have reached an important milestone in your development. Now you’re ready to go to the next level, to become someone else.
Debra Maldonado 27:24
Just another thing about the dream, you always say the sky or the airplane is about spiritual life, you go to a higher level. I was needing to get there faster. But I found the man on the ground.
Robert Maldonado 27:41
We’ll talk a little bit more about the symbols and the common symbols that appear throughout the lifespan. The last one is the archetypal dreams. These dreams tap into the collective unconscious, which means you’re going to go beyond your personal experiences, beyond the shadow. You’re no longer in Kansas. You’ve gone to a deeper stage of your personal development. The unconscious is saying you’re ready to experience something deeper. Now the archetype is not the same as a symbol, an archetype can have many symbols associated with it.
Debra Maldonado 28:21
A tree is an archetype, there’s many different types of trees, even the tree is a symbol of that archetype.
Robert Maldonado 28:30
But archetypal dreams often have a very significant theme. It’s a larger pattern, a larger vision of who you are becoming, what your life’s work is about.
Debra Maldonado 28:50
Deeper work than just your personal life, satisfying your ego needs. It’s more about why you’re here.
Robert Maldonado 28:55
It might be associated with a great mother archetype, the wise old man, the god archetype, etc. Again, these are beyond big dreams. You know when you’ve had one of these archetypal dreams.
Debra Maldonado 29:13
They don’t feel like everyday dreams, they don’t have the typical. Sometimes they do incorporate people you know, like your mother, but really it’s archetypal that you’re experiencing. Archetypal dreams feel like you’re in another world, almost like a fantasy world, the world is different. It’s not structured the same way.
Robert Maldonado 29:37
I’ll give you a dream one of our students reported that is archetypal. She finds herself walking in front of her great grandmother’s house. Automatically, it’s the great mother, the archetypal mother. She walks into the house, there’s nobody there. It’s been abandoned for years, it’s out of the realm of space and time. It’s not the typical experience of the ordinary person. She’s in another dimension, in another time and space. She walks to the backyard to see if maybe there’s somebody outside in the backyard. There is a giant tree in the backyard that she says was never there when she was a kid and visiting. It was never there, this is something new. She goes to look at this giant tree that has grown in the backyard all of a sudden. She looks up and sees these birds flying up, way up above her head, circling. As she’s seeing them, one of them swoops down, like those hawks that fly down straight at you. As he comes closer, she realizes it has the face of a human being. This bird with a human head is mythological, it’s out of some Greek myth. It starts to give her the message, it’s speaking to her. I’ll keep it private because it’s her personal dream that is meaningful to her. But she wakes up after this and realizes what she’s meant to do. It’s like a revelation of her true purpose in life. This kind of dream she’ll never forget. This will be with her for the rest of her life, because it’s given her a vision of what her higher purpose is.
Debra Maldonado 31:48
It’s a turning point in her life as well. This wisdom within us is always trying to intervene into our ordinary life and make us be better, make us be greater, push us toward becoming. That’s what I love about dreams, you understand them in their context and the different layers to them. Then you get this inside scoop of what’s really happening underneath the surface of your life that you’re not conscious of every day, that’s actually assisting you on your journey in life. You’re not here alone, you don’t need to cognitively figure this out and think positive and feel positive. You want to access all this wisdom that’s within you. It’s ready for you every night, four or five times a night we dream. Increasing dream recall is a really good step. We talked about that last episode. The next episode, we’re talking about symbols.
Robert Maldonado 32:44
We’re going to move into symbols. This piece is useful to begin to categorize your dreams. Instead of thinking of them as just another dream, ask yourself what type of dream it is. Is it a prospective dream, a compensation dream, an integrative dream, a dream of integration? Do I have recurring dreams that I need to pay attention to? Have I ever had big dreams? Most of us have but the question might be what they mean. How well am I able to interpret these big dreams and what they mean for my life? Then the archetypal dreams. Have you ever had those archetypal dreams as a child, or as an adolescent, or recently? Sometimes people have these dreams spontaneously, they appear to come from nowhere. But they’re important. They’re signaling something important. This is not comprehensive. There are other types of dreams that we’ll talk about as we go.
Debra Maldonado 33:49
It takes a while to master, I’d start with the personal unconscious, it’s usually the easiest to start with. Of course, work with a coach that understands Jungian psychology, they can help. A Jungian analyst can help you with that. It’s really fascinating. Once you open that door to understanding, you never look at dreams the same way again, you’re thirsty for those interpretations. Because there’s something wise in here that I need to hear. The dreams speak in metaphors and symbols. It doesn’t speak directly, unless you’re really off track and it’s like “She’s not listening. I’m gonna tell her directly.” I have some of those dreams when I wake up and I’m like, “I had this dream”, and you’re like, “That’s so obvious what this message is.” Sometimes it becomes very clear, but for the most part, it’s very cryptic. It takes a while for us to get used to the language. We all have our unique language. Using a dream dictionary isn’t always the best case. Sometimes you can look at universal symbols, but the symbols in your dreams are very personal and intimate to you based on your life experience. What your unconscious holds personally, symbolically, it’ll use a lot of those symbols and people you know as the symbols in order for you to meet halfway the information. We’ll see you next week. I love this topic, this is great. I love talking about the different types of dreams. It’s really fascinating. I hope you find it fascinating too. Before we go, I do want to remind you, if you’re listening to us on podcast services, such as iTunes, Spotify, don’t forget to subscribe. We want to see you on every episode of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind.