After a night of shapeshifting and rollerskating through pools naked, you wake up and think… “Well, that was nonsense. Or was it? Hm, maybe I should write this stuff down.” That’s just what I did. For a week — scratch that — five days, I read before bed, awoke the next morning, wrote down my dreams (before coffee, mind you), then sent them over to a dream expert to weigh in. Enter professional dream analyst Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, an internationally respected pro who’s done a gazillion TV and radio spots. She’s basically the dream whisperer to the stars.
Now, I’m a good dreamer. I’d say my subconscious adventures are akin to the wacky escapades that go down in Pee-Wee Herman movies. I wanted an explanation. And if I’m committing to this experiment, then I best be darn sure I get some of that REM and actually dream a little dream. How do I do this? Read something wild and crazy before lights out, of course. So I read thrillers, whimsical short stories and an Us Weekly (for variety’s sake, obviously).
However, after chatting with Loewenberg, I now understand that reading before bed doesn’t necessarily ignite or stir up wacky dreams. Odds are, I’d have dreamed that dream anyway, no catalyst necessary. Dreams pull imagery from content I’ve just recently consumed, be it reading a book or watching something on TV. “Reading or watching TV right before going to sleep can bleed into your dreams, especially if it was something very thought provoking that occupied your mind as you drifted off,” she says.
Loewenberg says we all dream for about 90 minutes every night, totaling about five dreams. And we “are more likely to have elements from what we read or watch show up in our dreams earlier in the night rather than in the dreams we have later in the night and closer to the morning.”
How to Remember Your Dreams
For those of you who are like, “Um, I don’t dream.” Yes, you do. You just may not be very good at a little something Loewenberg calls “recall” and are probably left-brained, meaning you’re more analytical. Creative types (yup, right-brained) have most likely mastered recall. That said, whether you’re a leftie or a rightie, there is a way to remember your dreams.
“Give yourself five minutes in the morning before rolling out of bed. Stay in the same position you woke up in, because that was the position your body was in when dreaming. Moving your body is like unplugging yourself from the dream you were in moments ago. So stay put, quiet your mind and your dreams will start to come back to you,” she says.
She’s right. It totally works. She also says that dreams speak in symbols and are really just a game of connect the dots. And what a fascinating game it is — she was right on with almost everything! Scroll on and you might be able to apply her process to your own night movies.
My Dream: I’m in a wedding dress, curlers in my hair. I’m packing up travel-size shampoos and tiny hairsprays with a female friend. We leave. I forget the box. It’s raining. My female friend has now morphed into my husband. He goes back inside to grab the box, but running up the steps, he trips. Later, I’m wearing a shorts romper (which I never wear). I hear someone say: “I didn’t know she was that thin.” [Note: I’m not “thin.”]
I walk over to a crowd; Cookie from Empire is there reprimanding everyone. She orders one guy to be hanged upside down from his ankles. I let him down. Turns out, it’s Bruce Willis. We get a drink. Bruce Willis morphs; he’s now my husband. And we’re now eating cake.
Loewenberg’s interpretation: The wedding dress may mean this dream is about your marriage, but I think it may be connected to some sort of commitment you have made in real life. There’s also shaming and talk of your weight and cake, so I wonder if you are trying to make a commitment to a new diet or exercise regimen. [Note: She’s right!] All the preparation that is going on also suggests you are preparing for something in waking life. There’s also a lot of focus on your hair and hair products, which is really an indication that you are trying to change or enhance your thinking or mindset. Hair symbolizes our thoughts and ideas, because, like hair, thoughts and ideas sprout from the head.
Cookie from Empire is interesting. I can’t help but think it’s her name that put her in this dream: cookie… and you have cake later in the dream. She’s reprimanding someone, so this is really about you reprimanding yourself (remember, everything in your dream is you). Have you been reprimanding yourself over eating too many sweets? [Note: As a matter of fact, I have!]
Your friend turning into your husband, then turning into Bruce Willis shows a progression of some sort in your life lately. I think this is YOUR transformation. Your friend represents you being a friend to yourself, liking yourself enough to make the changes needed. Your husband represents you committing to the changes. Bruce Willis represents you being tough and determined, ready to Die Hard for your cause. [Note: Holy wow, that’s amazing!]
My Dream: I’m caring for a chinchilla. I love it. I take it along to a funeral, unsure of who died. There, I’m forced to give up the chinchilla to a brunette girl I don’t recognize. There’s another female with bright red lipstick I don’t recognize, shouting something about having sex the night before. I go home and cook a ton of food with my mother. We drive a four-wheeler over to where we’re dropping off the food. She falls asleep behind the wheel, so I lean over her and drive. We almost crash.
Loewenberg’s Interpretation: You have to give something up, the chinchilla, and you also give something away, a ton of food. So this is likely connected to something you have to forego in real life. A chinchilla is very soft, the exact opposite of hard, hence your Bruce Willis reference in the previous dream. You have to give up being soft if you are going to be hard and determined. But you also want to put your own personal associations to a chinchilla here. How would you describe a chinchilla? [Note: Furry perfection.] Does your description fit something you have to give up in real life? [Note: Hmm, not really. Though I have been stressing over my aging pets.]
This also takes place at a funeral, so I believe that is also connected to you letting go of something, as death in dreams are about endings and letting go in real life. Your mother may really be about your ability to take care of yourself… She falls asleep at the wheel — that’s a big-time metaphor for not being responsible, letting too many things slide. Have you done that lately? [Note: OMG, yes. I’ve been allowing for way too much slack in my routine. Usually, I’m super on top of my running schedule, but lately, I’ve been traveling a ton and neglecting the sweat sesh. Not to mention eating everything in sight — food again!]
Whatever the case, you grab the wheel in the dream and avoid a crash, which means in real life, you are ready to take control and steer something in the right direction. [Note: She’s right. After Christmas in Texas, New Year’s in NOLA, Sundance in January and a quick V Day jaunt to Charleston, I’m almost back on track. So good, it’s scary.]
My Dream: I’m in Mexico City. A friend/former coworker and I practice a choreographed dance in the courtyard of a Mexican restaurant with its diners looking on confusedly. I can’t dance and am nervous about performing. My friend/coworker is a very intimidating person. Later we perform the dance for other friends on an outdoor sand volleyball court. Our dance gets interrupted intermittently by huge waves coming in from the ocean, swallowing the court.
Loewenberg’s interpretation: Dancing in dreams usually means something is working well in your life; things are in harmony, so to speak. That is — if you are dancing well in the dream. The choreography suggests something you had planned is beginning to play out. I think this is connected to the preparing you were doing in Monday night’s dream. The coworker/friend is someone you describe as intimidating. The fact that you are dancing in tandem with her is an indication you are beginning to feel equal to her in some way. [Note: Yes, absolutely on point.]
This takes place at a Mexican restaurant, another reference to food! Your dancing gets interrupted by waves. Most often waves represent that you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Has anything been a little too emotional for you, threatening to interrupt your harmony? [Note: Those pets again, maybe?] Waves are also repetitive, so they could represent a repetitive behavior of yours that may keep interrupting something that is otherwise going well. It could also be a repetitive issue that keeps seemingly “crashing” into your life. [Note: Very interesting.]
My Dream: We’re all infected with something, staggering aimlessly around a room that looks like a children’s day care center. I look around: The infected people are former coworkers of mine. One of them has a syringe. She’s poking people with it. Antidote? Death potion? I don’t know. But I’m not scared.
Loewenberg’s interpretation: The infection and the waves in the previous dream may be connected to the same waking life issue, as waves in your dream took over the court and an infection takes over your body. So it seems something is overwhelming you in real life. The infection is a warning from your subconscious that this is not a healthy situation.
You also have more former coworkers in this dream. There’s some common thread between these coworkers and the one in your previous dream. What do they have in common? Are they all from the same place of business? [Note: They sure are.] Whatever it is, it is symbolic of something you are currently dealing with.
The syringe, which you question, represents something you currently feel uncertain about. I can’t help but think it may be connected to you feeling “needled,” nagged or poked at in real life. Is someone around you nagging you about something that is actually in your best interest? [Note: Hmm, not really. Aside from my own self-nagging. However, I did just binge-watch The Walking Dead.]
My Dream: I’m flying a small aircraft, which soon morphs into a hang glider. Afterward, I go home. I now see I’m not wearing a shirt, just a bra. I can’t seem to find a top anywhere. My uncle is in the living room. Someone I don’t recognize offers me some weed. I turn it down. Then I go pick apples. It’s nighttime though. Off in the distance, I watch as a woman falls out of the back of a pickup truck. That woman was Mischa Barton. Not sure if I ever found a shirt.
Loewenberg’s interpretation: The vehicle you are operating diminishes in power, which may mean you are feeling less effective somewhere in your waking life. It goes from having a motor to not having one, so this may be that you lost your drive or determination. [Note: It happens.] In addition, it is a vehicle that travels by air, so it could be something that you had high hopes for. Or is there a situation where you need to let yourself or someone else down easy?
Being without a shirt often means there is something you need to “get off your chest,” but you are feeling vulnerable about it. The offer of weed may be your need to numb yourself from the issue. But you should also ask yourself what offer or option you decided against in real life. Weed is often an escape, so you may have decided in real life to face an issue rather than numb yourself to it… hence getting something off your chest. [Note: Correct again. I just told my mom what I really thought about her recent decision to move, which was, “Don’t do it!”]
The nightmarish feel to the dream is because it is connected to a difficult waking life situation. You go pick apples… again, more food! In real life are you opting for a healthier diet? Apples can also be about the fruits of your labor, something finally paying off. [Note: Yes and yes, again!]
The falling woman could be connected to the letdown your previous dream referred to. I think it could also be about letting go of something, a bad habit you may have “picked up” (word play, dreams love word play) or something else you no longer need to haul around. Mischa Barton is a clue as to what that is.
The trick to figuring out a celebrity in your dream is to ask yourself what first comes to mind when you think of that celebrity. With Mischa, it could be a movie or TV show she was in. Can you connect the title of the movie or show to your life right now? Or can you relate to a character she has played? She hasn’t been as prominent since The O.C., so she could, like the small aircraft, represent something in your life that is losing steam, in which case you need to ask yourself if you are better off without this element in your life or not.
[Note: Wow, yes. The Phantom Planet song from the opening credits of The O.C. — California, here we come… — could be at play here. I’m actually headed to Los Angeles for the first time come May, and as the date approaches, I’m getting more and more anxious and less excited about the trip. I have a bit of a fear of flying and don’t like to be on a plane longer than three hours. Sooo, aircraft = losing steam = excitement fizzling = California here we come. My mind = blown.]
So there you have it! What’s the craziest dream you’ve ever had? Tell us all about it @BritandCo!
Photo via Getty, images via Rosee Canfield.