Dreams 101 – What kinds of dreams are there and how you can remember


What is a dream?

Dreaming is something I have both feared and loved at various times in my life. Working with my dreams is probably one of the most beneficial things I have ever chosen to do. In this article I will not be going into the science behind sleep (though I suggest you read up on it because it can be useful) but I will be covering different types of dreams and how to increase dream productivity.

Lets go over some quick definitions so we are on the same page! Remember that this is just how I currently interpret these aspects of dreaming and by no means do you have to agree with me. Many people use the 4 terms mentioned below interchangeably and so I would like to distinguish the difference between them for this article.

Lucid dreaming
 – lucid dreaming occurs when you become awake in the dream so to speak. This means you have gained the awareness that you are currently out of your body and somewhat separated from your physical consciousness. This is what allows you to sometimes control what is going on depending on your experience, understanding, and degree of skill. I will be writing more about lucid dreaming specifically in the future.

Out of body experience (OBE) – The human body is made of many layers, some physical and many non-physical. The human soul contained within the physical body is only completely separated from the physical body during death. When you have an out of body experience you are mostly out of body but there still a connection. Imagine the nonphysical part of you that leaves your body during an OBE is a dog on a leash with the physical body as the person holding the leash. This leash is what allows you to return back to your physical form as if nothing had happened. Becoming adept at OBE via astral projection or otherwise is simply learning to control the leash.

Astral projection – Having an experience with the astral realm and astral projection are two different things. There are a few different ways to experience the astral realm however not all of these experiences are classified as astral projection. Astral projection is the act of intentionally creating an OBE for yourself. Subscribe to the newsletter to be notified of the upcoming article on astral projection!

Sleep paralysis – as mentioned above, the physical and non-physical portions of the human body partially separate during sleep. Sleep paralysis occurs when one has trouble re-integrating back into the physical body when the individual is ready to wake up. This can be a very scary experience – some may swear that they felt hands around their neck, or felt like someone was holding them down, or that they saw something else in the room. There is a lot to say about sleep paralysis but I think the most important thing to remember when this happens is to stay calm.  Almost daily sleep paralysis can indicate a period of intense emotional stress that needs to be dealt with. I will be writing a separate more in-depth article on sleep paralysis soon.

Types of dreams

Inner-work dreams

These are the types of dreams most people remember. These are dreams that show you what is going on in your subconscious mind. Inner-work dream means that the meaning of these dreams is focused on your inner world and what is going on with you emotionally, physically, and mentally. These dreams are a direct mirror to your subconscious mind and the issues you face in your daily life.

Outer-work dreams

When you fall asleep you will often end up unconsciously having an OBE – it really depends from person to person what is being done during sleep time. Your nonphysical form often has things to do in other dimensions even though you may not remember them at all. After having an inner-work dream you may then have an outer-work dream, or perhaps you will switch in-between the two. The outer-work dream is one in which you are not simply working with symbols in your mind but you are really visiting others or doing real things. For example you may have an inner-work dream that you are picking flowers in a field with your deceased loved one because you miss them. An outer-work dream feels very different. The difference is not necessarily that you remember more of it or that it is more vivid – in fact, it can be harder to remember these types of dreams. An outer-work dream would be something like you really having a type of communication with your deceased loved one, or visiting one of your non-physical guides or ancestors in another realm.

Why are dreams important?

The dreams most people have are outlets for the subconscious mind to speak. This why you have a dream you are on a stage with no clothes on that causes you anxiety or have a dream you are being chased by a giant bear. These are both dreams that mirror what is going on emotionally, mentally, and physically in your mind if you are having these dreams.

The more self-aware you become, the easier it is for you to understand your dreams. Each dream symbol such as the bear mentioned above may vary from person to person. If you are not honest with yourself about how you emotionally feel during your waking life then your dreams will be hard to interpret. This is because the dream is pointing the way towards the emotion or situation you have been ignoring or need to resolve. It may also be pointing to which action you are taking that is not improving the situation.

For example, lets say you have this dream about a bear chasing you. You could ignore the dream which would be okay but would not really solve anything. You could ask “How does this bear make me feel? What does this bear remind me of?” You may just find that the bear is reminding you of someone in your waking life. The dream could be telling you that you have been running from a person’s overbearing personality but now may be the time to have an honest conversation with them about your feelings.

The reasons dreams are important in my opinion is that they 1. show you what your emotional, mental, and physical issues are and 2. offer guidance on how to heal those issues. Paying attention to dreams, interpreting them, and intentionally dreaming (taking action to have dreams that are helpful and insightful) is the way to help heal your issues through your dreams.

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Recurring dreams and nightmares

A recurring dream is a true blessing. These kinds of dreams are constant mirrors of where you are in your healing journey. Slight changes in the dream often indicate healing. You may have nightmares of spiders chasing you for years and years and you have always run away from them. One day while dreaming, you may turn and face them. One day you may even try to fight them. Or you may try to talk to the spiders and ask why they are even chasing you. These changes happen on their own but it is also something that can be accomplished via lucid dreaming.


These kinds of progressive changes are indications of deep healing and change within your subconscious mind. It shows that in your life, you are starting to heal whatever situation makes you feel as if you are being chased by spiders. The changes you make in the dream signify your new subconscious belief that you can change the corresponding situation in your waking life.

If you have recurring dreams whether they are nightmares or something positive you will want to examine each aspect of the dream closely.

  1. What are all of the symbols and objects that stick out to me in this dream?
  2. What does each symbol or object mean to me?
  3. What message would each symbol or object give to me if it could speak?
  4. How does each symbol and object make me feel?
  5. Are there any people in the dream? How do the people I know in the dream differ from how they are in real life? Or are their personality traits exaggerated?
  6. What does each symbol, object, or person remind me of in my waking life? How does each symbol, object, and person make me feel? What makes me feel that same way in my waking life?

Ironically enough the night after writing the above portion of this article I had one of the most eye-opening yet disturbing dreams I have ever had. It did not make sense to me and I asked myself 1. Did I read or watch anything that could have triggered this dream? 2. Does this dream remind me of anything from my waking life? The answer to both questions was no but I knew that the dream had significance so I just kept an open mind.

Later in the day I had an interaction with someone and it dawned on me – my relationship with this person was shown to me in the dream. Everything immediately made sense. I usually do not pay attention to how I feel around this person because it certainly is not pleasant but my feelings showed themselves to me in a big way in this dream so much so that I am considering severing contact with this person. I finally realized I have to stop ignoring how I feel to keep the peace with people who do not even want peace!

Do you have trouble remembering your dreams?

There are many different ways to increase dream recall and productivity. Firstly I recommend you check out 10 tips for successful dreamwork to help you get started. There are a few different things to consider if you consistently have trouble remembering dreams. One thing is for sure – you ARE dreaming, you just are not remembering. So the goal here is to increase your ability to remember and examine some reasons why you perhaps are not remembering them.

  1. Drugs. Some drugs will either increase or decrease your ability to remember your dreams. I am not suggesting that you stop taking your medications if you suspect that they play a role in decreasing your dream recall but it is something to keep in mind.
  2. Self-awareness and readiness.Some things you simply are not ready to know. There is a reason why some things are conscious and some things are subconscious. Since you are most likely having many inner-work dreams, an important question to explore is “What am I afraid to know about myself?” I definitely believe that meditation is a great tool for people who are not remembering their dreams. Silent time with yourself will force you to confront whatever it is you have been dreaming about and not remembering.
  3. Unhealthy sleeping schedule. You need time to get in and out of different phases of sleep and dreaming. Though dreaming only occurs in a very small amount of time, you may need anywhere from 5-10 hours to have dreams. It is very different for each person and it varies depending on how tired you are and the factors above. If you are not remembering your dreams it may just be in indication that you need more sleep or that you need to change the way or time you are sleeping.
You can work with your dreams in order to help yourself heal, gain awareness about yourself and your issues, problem solve, and explore other realms. Read more about healing with dreams over here.   As mentioned above, dreams are mirrors of issues in your waking life. Dreams can indicate that you are too stressed and need to take a break or that a certain person is not good to be around. They can show you an alternative way of dealing with a problem or even show you that your mindset about something is the reason why the way is blocked. All of life is a dream to the degree that you are asleep. I pray you find comfort and healing in navigating the deep dream world and in turn the outer world of your waking life.

None of these statements or products have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and/or statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This is for educational purposes only and it is not meant to replace the care or advice of a medical professional in any way.