Three Tips for Interpreting Dreams

By Darla Antoine.

Dreaming is one of my favorite psychic faculties. When you dream, you are in that liminal sweet spot between this world and the next world. This “sweet spot” is actually the same theta brainwave-state that can be reached through meditation— the one that gives you a sense of a deep spiritual connection to the universe. You can, quite literally, do it in your sleep.

Learning to remember or work with your dreams is really pretty simple: set the intention to remember your dreams before you go to bed and then write down anything you remember or remember feeling, including “no dream recall.” Be sure to dream journal as soon as you wake up. The writing reinforces to your brain that you’re serious about remembering dreams and it will work on your behalf to help you remember them. However, most dreams are still stored in short-term memory banks and if you don’t write them down right away, you will almost certainly forget within a few hours or even a few minutes. Dreaming and dream recall has come easily to me since I was a child and sometimes I get lax about journaling right away, and think “oh! but it’s so vivid! I’ll remember this dream,” and I do— but only about 50% of the time. I’ve lost some really amazing dreams by not being diligent with writing something down in the morning— even just a keyword or phrase will help jog your memory.

I recommend consistently setting an intention and writing down what you remember for at least a week— that should be plenty of time to start seeing some results. Once you can recall dreams fairly consistently you can bump up your practice by setting an intention to dream a specific thing or to dream a solution to a specific problem. Dreamwork can quickly become a fun game!

Not only can dreaming put us in a blissed-out state of mind, but it opens us up to messages from our Spirit Guides, Higher self, ancestors and even dearly departed loved ones. This, again, has to do with being in a state between worlds— it’s like meeting the spirit world halfway. You can reach these in-between states through meditation and trance, of course. But I like using dreamtime to do the bulk of this work for a couple of reasons 1) I’m dreaming every night anyway, I may as well multitask and 2) when you’re dreaming your conscious mind is that much farther removed from interrupting or controlling the event. This can make the messages that come through more “pure,” potent and, thus, effective.

Of course, what good is dreaming if you don’t know how to interpret the dreams? While a lot of dreamwork is subjective and experiential— meaning you’ll have to get in there and start feeling out your dreams for yourself— there are a few dream interpretation techniques that can be applied universally. Here are three of my favorite:

1. How Did You Feel?

How you felt in a dream, and how you feel immediately upon waking from it, can tell you a lot about the contents of the dream. Let’s say you dream that you are walking on a trail with your beloved dog and he gets free from his leash and runs off chasing a squirrel and you can’t find him. You spend hours looking and it’s beginning to get dark. In the dream, you’re scared, worried and about to be forced to give up the search. You wake up from the dream and you either feel 1) relieved that it was “just” a dream 2) still panicked and worried until you remember that you are in your room and you can see your dog lying on the floor next to you or 3) laugh it off— you don’t have a dog.

Once you’ve identified how you feel, the next step is to run your dream through a “reality check”— could this really happen? Do you have a dog? Do you go for walks on a trail with him? Does he like to chase after things? If yes, this could happen in real life, then it’s worth considering that it’s a warning of some sort and to take the necessary precautions to prevent this emotional trauma. You could buy a new leash or a new collar or step up the disciplinary training for your dog, for example.

If, however, this doesn’t pass the reality check and/or you just feel a sense of wonder/bemusement at the adventure’s of your dream self, move on to the next dream interpretation technique.

2. Why This, Not That?

Developed by Carl Jung, this dream interpretation technique is designed to help you get to the heart of your own dream symbolism. Using the lost dog dream from the previous example, ask yourself “why did I lose a dog, not a cat?” Or “why did I lose a dog, not an elephant?” You can use any sort of mundane or wild example that you wish. The answer lies in the contrast. So, for example, if you ask yourself “why a dog and not a cat” you might find yourself answering “because dogs symbolize loyalty to me and there was a definite sense of betrayal about his decision to run away and not come back.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Where else do you feel betrayed in your life? Where else was someone supposed to be loyal and wasn’t?

You can also apply this technique to multiple aspects of the dream: “why were we walking on a trail and not a sidewalk?” “why was it a squirrel and not a rabbit?” The more questions you ask, the deeper the possibilities for exploration become.

3. It’s ALL In A Name

Finally, if you’ve written down your dream, have gone through a few dream interpretation techniques and still don’t know what to make of your dream, I highly recommend giving your dream a name or a title. Sometimes, distilling the essence of a dream down to 5 or 8 words can be extremely helpful in getting to the message contained within the dream. It helps you bypass all of the thinking and second-guessing that can come with initial dream interpretation and get to the point. Let’s say you give our runaway dog dream the title “Loyal Friend Runs Off With Someone New,” and it may suddenly click that you’re anxious, and feeling a little hurt, by your best friend’s new whirlwind romance that has him/her packing up and moving to a new city. It’s a bit destabilizing and you’re not sure where you will fit into this new life of theirs. Well. Now you’ve got something to work with. Even better, you’ve got some very specific emotions and fears that you can now succinctly, and gently, bring up to your friend during a much-needed heart to heart.

If, however, you’ve gone through all of these steps and the dream still doesn’t make sense 1) email me or message me in the comments and 2) take heart— giving your dream a title will also make it much more memorable so that when, not if, something triggers the interpretation, you’ll be ready for it.

How do you interpret your dreams? Have you had a crazy psychic dream experience? Tell us in the comments!

Darla Antoine is a mixed-race First Nations tribal member (Okanagan), an ancestral activist and healer, practitioner of the sacred domestic arts, mother and accidental homesteader in the high mountains of Costa Rica. Darla helps mixed-race and mixed-culture seekers discover the medicine, blessings and power in their ancestral/spiritual lineages. She does this by combining her spiritual work with her experiences as a mixed-race woman and expat with her master’s degree in Intercultural Communication.

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. Alyssa

    Super cool stuff! I’ve tried to dream journal a few times but have always let it fall by the wayside. Now that I’m beginning to reconstruct my morning routine, I may try to implement it again. I always remember strong emotions from my dreams. I most recently had a vivid dream about running away from a giant tidal wave (one of my actual fears is giant waves, partly because of their size and how we just can’t control them, plus I can’t swim!) I’ve had dreams like it before and it always feel like it symbolizes changes and underlying fears that I have. Thanks for posting this! I enjoyed reading 🙂

  2. Darla

    I’m glad you enjoyed it Alyssa! Yes dreams about water, especially large amounts of it, can often be about emotions that we feel we are confused, overwhelmed or “drowning” in. But it’s also not too uncommon to be living out “worst-case scenarios” either. Keep dreaming!

  3. Natalie

    Love this post, Darla! I have been trying to become more adamant about going to bed earlier mainly because I notice I dream more when I do this and it is so fun to pay closer attention to the crazy things that go on in my head when I dream (most of the time… sometimes it’s just downright weird, haha). Also… being an astrologer… I dream about planetary symbols and transits a lot and it has been really interesting to track how my dreams coincide with the cosmos!

  4. Elizabeth

    I believe in my dreams. usually I dream consistend when something is going to happen to somebody I know or love. especially before somebody pass on over to the other side. sometimes I do get warnings in my dreams or I dream about my mother in law who crossed over .is she trying to bring me a message from the other side maybe from my kids who have also crossed over

  5. Darla

    Natalie that is wild that you dream about planetary transits! I would love to hear about that ANY time 😉

  6. Darla

    Elizabeth, yes dreaming about or with our departed loved ones is very common and can be very healing. It’s easier to make contact with them (and them with us) when we are sleeping because we’re already sort of half way to them. You can amplify these dreams if you want to. One of the best ways is to spend a few days (might only take one) sending loving thoughts and the desire to connect to someone on the Other Side. Just think about them and imagine sending them love. They’ll get the message and do their best to meet you halfway if they’re willing and able!

  7. Elizabeth

    Thank you so much – it’s much appreciated.

    Lots of love,


  8. Melinda

    I’ve been keeping a journal. This morning, I was like NO, that was all over the place, which happens a LOT. A Christmas tree, that could change lights and ornaments by clicking a remote……..Then I was selling something, maybe, or I just had a huge bag of stuff, personnel hygiene items and was trying on sun glasses. I was showing stuff in the bag….Then I was trying to shoot a gun and water came out. Three different dreams or one…IDK But sometimes, a LOT of times they are crazy and all over the place. All this happened between 3:30 and 6:30 this morning. Who knows if there were more earlier in the night.

  9. Darla

    Melinda, don’t discard those dreams! A couple of things could be happening and only you will know which is happening: 1) your stress levels are a bit high and your dreams are working out the different responsibilities that are stressing you. AND/OR 2) you’re receiving potent “dream fragments.” Dream fragments are little snippets of divine guidance. Your spiritual helpers know that they often only have 2-3 seconds to capture your attention and memory so they will send powerful little snippets that will pack a lot of punch. It’s worth running those snippets through the dream interpretation techniques to see what comes up. However, you can also see which snippet(s) won’t leave you alone all day long– which ones are you still replaying and mulling over? THOSE ones are likely to have a clue or a message in them. I would definitely advocate interpreting those ones or at the very least, looking for synchronicities around the subject matter for further divine guidance. Sweet Dreams!

  10. ma dom

    My husband tragically passed away 2 years ago but it feels like yesterday. At this time, I still go through anger and sadness . For the past 2 years I probably only dreamt of him 4x even if I prefer to, every night. The first two, I knew it was him but couldn’t see his face. The 4th recently made me feel good in the dream and afterwards. We were lying in bed cuddling like we used to. In my dream, I thought “you are dead” but at the same time I felt ” Nevermind, as long as you are here” . I hope its a visitation.

  11. Darla

    Ma Dom,

    I’m so sorry you lost your husband. I would hedge my bets that the dreams ARE visitations and lovely beautiful gifts from the Other Side. It’s not unusual that you didn’t see his face the first few times, probably because he was still acclimating/transitioning to his new reality. You can experiment with seeing him in more dreams by sending him loving thoughts and thoughts about connecting during the day and then setting the intention to visit with him, and remember it, before going to sleep. But I caution that you only do this if it feels good and so long as it won’t keep you stuck in a state of not moving forward or grieving properly <3

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