Dreams can have a variety of reasons and purposes.

Dreams can have a variety of reasons and purposes.

For McPherson Museum executive director Carla Barber, dreams can explain problems existing within the subconscious mind, and when properly recorded and examined, can help process a problem and overcome it.

Barber shared a personal example Monday during another instalment of The McPherson Museum & Arts Foundation’s “What Dreams May Come: A Lecture Series on Dreams, Failures, and Passions.” In Barber’s presentation, titled “Finding the Answers You Seek via Dreams,” she shared one of her dreams she calls “The Angry Old Man.”

“I dreamed I was supposed to go to a house,” Barber begins. “I drive up in front of this old Victorian home. An old man was sitting out on the yard. The yard looked dead; it had a sepia tone to it.”

Barber said in her dream, the house continued to have a sepia tone to it, describing the furniture as rotted and cracked. While trying to go through the house, she said, the angry old man continued to antagonize her, and draw her attention away from the house. Barber said she noticed a stairwell in each room, and, after some time, managed to get away from the grumpy old man to the upstairs of the house. The upstairs, she described, was beautiful and full in color.

Barber said the man in her dream represented the sin of anger, which she was holding against a particular situation. Her dream revealed that if she could work past her anger, she would find a creative solution to her problem and come out on top.

Although that dream occurred more than 10 years ago, it led her to start using a dream journal and research dream meanings.

Barber encouraged attendees of the lecture to also take dream journals. She advised to keep a pen and paper near the bed, and to write dreams after waking up in the present tense. This way, she said, dreams will be remembered after the night it occurred in a much clearer sense, and give the individual more time to interpret the dream.

Barber said dreams can serve many other purposes, including the resolution of a problem, getting a message or simply for entertainment.

She encouraged attendees to pay particular attention to recurring dreams, or themes in dreams. She said these usually indicate a problem that needs to be overcome or challenged. If it isn’t, the dream will likely intensify.

For recurring nightmares, Barber suggested a four-step process to help stop a nightmare. First, recognize what it is that is causing fear in the first place. Next, identify the source, whether it be a person, animal, or some other being. Next, try to recognize the nightmare as it occurs, then finally, change it.

One example is a little girl who had a recurring nightmare of being chased by a dinosaur. The girl was encouraged to make the dinosaur pink and purple, and call it Charlie. Barber said the dream dinosaur is now that little girl’s pet.

Barber also shared six of the most common dreams and they’re meaning. Those six include dreams involving teeth, flying, falling, exams, nakedness and chases.

While the meanings can vary, teeth can mean fear of rejection or age, flying can mean being on top of a situation, falling can mean feeling overwhelmed or out of control, exams can mean feeling judged in some way, nudity can mean a fear of vulnerability or exposure, and chases can mean fear or a willingness to escape an issue.

The next lecture in the series will feature Beverly Martin April 22 at The Well.

For more information, visit www.mcphersonmuseum.com, or call 620-241-8464.

Joseph Tuszynski can be reached at jtuszynski@mcphersonsentinel.com, or follow him on twitter @JoeTSentinel.