Pamela S. Alexander, PhD. is a passionate poet, artist, dreamworker, and personal/spiritual growth advocate. View profile
Did you ever wake up from a nightmare, sigh with relief, and think, “Thank heavens, it was only a dream?” Or, have a chaotic, confusing, and illogical dream that you dismissed with, “Oh well, it’s just a dream and they don’t mean anything anyway?” Those ones can dissolve like distant memories that you eventually forget. But then, there is another category of dream that’s entirely different, which is the big dream. It’s the one that you remember for years and know there is a message in it. You continue to talk about it and to wonder what it means.
When people find out that I work with dreams, it’s the one they usually tell me.
The soul’s conditioning
Those big dreams can follow us through life like a faithful puppy dog. When we wake up from one, we can’t shake the desire to know, “What does it mean?” The beauty is that, since dreams are normally symbolic, their meaning evolves over time. As we grow, our relationship with the symbols change, and we can deepen our understanding of the dream’s messages. Since we are conditioned to see things literally, we can lock into the idea that we know what the dream means, dismiss it, and not open ourselves to greater understanding.
The conditioning process begins as soon as the soul is born. You are told who you are, what to believe, what is true, and what has value and meaning. It’s almost entirely based on a set of assumptions that for many of us go largely unquestioned. Why? Because we don’t encounter much that conflicts with what we have been told. If there is some disagreement, then many times we just dismiss it.
In a culture where the preference is on the external, logical, rational, patriarchal orientation, there isn’t much attention given to the inner world of the soul. Much of how we perceive life is based on the views we have inherited. The big dream comes to shift our understanding of ourselves and our world.
A big dream
The first “big dream” that I remember occurred when I was in my mid-twenties and working as an interior designer for a major corporation. I was doing well with frequent raises, promotions, and the “special” projects often landed in my inbox. Despite my success, I felt gnawing sense that something wasn’t quite right, which was reflected in a dream…
It’s daytime. I am one of many people lying on the front deck of a cabin in a meadow. We are prisoners of the men sitting inside. In order to be released, we must stand up and catch a transistor (small radio) that flies through the air, which must be accomplished without being seen. I watch and wait for a while, reach up and catch one. I am released… I walk away from the cabin toward a forest. A silver Volvo station wagon pulls up and a woman gets out of the car with a girl of about two. The woman walks over to me with the child in her arms. The girl reaches out and I take her. She clings to me like she’s afraid I will let her go. I tell her, “We can’t be together in this lifetime.” As I hand her back to the woman, she cries and won’t let go of me. The mother and I pry her fingers loose and they leave… I walk alone through the meadow and into the forest.
Dreams are personal, for sure, but they can also reflect the collective. I know of several other women who have had dreams that are uncannily similar to this one. This pattern is also clearly depicted in our popular fairy tales.
What does it mean?
The tears were falling as I woke up from my dream. I was in my mid-twenties and planned to have a child, not right then, but someday. The dream scenario suggested my life wasn’t going to go that way. My mother believed in reincarnation, so the idea of not having a baby was my literal interpretation of the dream. Many years later, when I began to work with dreams, I remembered this one and wondered what it meant.
A big dream can usually be broken into sections. With the opening scenario reflecting the current situation of the dreamer. I’m being held hostage by the masculine, which I interpreted as being confined by the patriarchal corporation. Without any knowledge of the symbolic message, I left that job shortly after the dream, but there was a greater implication to this than just walking away from my career. The way the world worked, the way I thought, and how I lived was entirely shaped by a patriarchal perspective on everything. What was accepted, what was rejected, what had value, what didn’t, what was seen, and what wasn’t was shaped by that viewpoint.
It wasn’t just about the corporate job, but I was caught up in activity and constant doing, achieving, and being driven by egoic conditioning. My life was in service to masculine ideals and I was unconsciously making life decisions through that lens.
I was supposed to jump up and grab the small radio floating in the air without being seen. Not being seen, or looking back, can symbolize turning toward the inner world. Receptivity is feminine, as are intuition, dreams, knowing, sensing, the soul, being, and stillness. The guidance was that I needed to go inside, to listen to my inner knowing, wisdom, and dreams, in order to free myself from the old inherited structures.
We can see these structures as stories containing ancestral patterns, beliefs that aren’t true, dogma, and cultural conditioning. The unconscious influences what we do, how we act, who we are, what we believe is possible, and what we can achieve. These big dreams tell us when our soul is off track and that we need to change course. A transition is coming. The dream is dramatic because it wants to get our attention. Once that is accomplished, then the real work begins with the unconscious.
If the beginning of the dream sets the stage, then the next part tells us what to do. In the above dream, it’s saying to turn inward for answers and solutions. The corporate life I was living was out of alignment with my soul’s deeper yearnings. Although, I wasn’t aware of it at the time, that was the gnawing feeling that I couldn’t shake.
I never did become a mother, since there was another plan for my life. Years after the dream, I discovered my purpose, which is all about the emergence, or freeing, of the soul. I was to be a part of a collective shift to empower and elevate the qualities associated with the feminine. The dream came to wake me up. It was suggesting the need to go within, listen, and free myself. Although, the final part of the dream didn’t tell me where I was going, I know now that I couldn’t have possibly understood at the time of the dream. The dream was alerting me to make a big change.
My dreams continued, year after year, like yours do, to put us on the path of our purpose and to embody a fuller expression of our souls. That’s why it’s really important to record all of your dreams, but especially the significant ones, as soon as you have them. Since a big dream can take years to integrate the learning and messages it contains, you want to remember the details accurately.
Subsequent dreams will assist you in the process of achieving the vision presented in the initial dream. Any blocks, fears, resistance, and patterns that don’t serve you, will be symbolically depicted. As you listen and record them, they will guide you every step of the way. Dreams will provide information about all aspects of your life for you to become healthier, empowered, and aligned with your soul.
In the next article, we will look at what you can do when your dream triggers a strong emotional response and why that happens.
Short Article Review
- The soul is conditioned from the time we are born. Big dreams come to awaken the soul and redirect us to a more authentic path of purpose and meaning.
- Although we have been conditioned to think analytically, rationally, and logically, the dreams are usually symbolic in nature, which means they don’t have fixed meanings. Their wisdom evolves over time.
- Dreams often have a structure with a beginning, middle, and end, like a story. The opening sets the stage and shows us what’s happening now. The middle can alert us to how to move forward, or what to do. The conclusion can suggest what we are going toward.
- We inherit patterns of belief that influence our decisions, choices, and understanding of how the world works. They must become conscious to transform them.
- Unconscious contents that hamper our ability to embody our fullest potential are revealed through dreams so that we can work through them and embody more of the soul.
The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.
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