The the first thing I did to start understanding my dreams was to delete any symbolic attachments to them. For example my aunt always said that if you see fish, it is a sign of an emergency or if you saw a family banquet with meat a sign of death or cakes are a sign of sadness. For me all of these are signs of hunger!

I searched libraries ( before the net)   read Freud, a multitude of books and then searched the net. What I found was total confusion, and an awareness of dreams which I began to decipher like the daily zodiac. For example, dear Geminis today you will see a loved one from the past, was how they were more or less understood.
 
By attaching stereotyped symbols to our dreams,we only acknowledge preconditioned ideas and beliefs about the meaning of dreams. If you do not let go of these symbols you fall in the trap of analyzing falsely - like the daily zodiac example. You may even find yourself reading in them too deeply, where you shouldn't. Sometimes you may not get any sleep due to your anticipation.
 
Secondly, what I did was to acknowledge myself. When I say myself, I mean me!  My spirit, my soul, my heart. I have sat down many times with myself and conversed. At first it was difficult trying to get past a few things and other times it was overwhelming, but now it's quite easy. This must be done because yourself needs to be heard and understood. If you like write things down, record what yourself is saying to you. Acknowledge all fears, desires, passions, anxiety and beliefs. Do this in a quiet, airy place.  Focus on you.  Do this often, especially when troubled. Do this as honestly as possible. No one needs to see or hear your conversation. It's strictly between you and you. This will help you understand how you function and think in a deeper level. It will set you at ease.
 
Clearing yourself from any work anxiety is of great importance too, since it is a source of insecurity. For example I work in a very poor area teaching children English as a foreign language, and I see poverty every day. Although, I am financially comfortable, I do feel the insecurity of poverty. I do see myself in my dreams walking barefoot and in rags - a sign of my fears (which in turn become misconceptions). Therefore on a daily basis I say thank you for what I have and before sleeping tell myself that I am more than fine financially.
 
In a few words acknowledge you! Acknowledge your sphere and understand it. This will clear your mind and spirit - preparing them to receive true and pure dreams and not ones of fear or plain desires. This is important because our conscious presses onto our subconscious our daily thoughts and experiences. In turn the subconscious gives us our dreams which we readily misinterpret  - only in the event of a great war or depression will I be barefoot and that only when all my shoes are worn out!

Another example of this is when I dreamt of a helicopter falling before flying out to Amsterdam. That was because my partner's fear of flying and his constant referal to it had influenced me. What I did not notice in that dream was the procession of priests and my partner’s  insistence on following them - he feel ill during Holy Orthodox Week. I let my fears override my better judgement.
 
The next step is really important. My father died 15 years ago. He was my guide and I really miss him. To this day though he still guides me as does my faith in my intuition and God. How?
 
Within you, find your faith! Find what you really believe in. It can be God, You, instinct, a guardian Angel or someone who has passed away but did help you when they were alive. I'm sure that dear aunt Mavis, who I had never met really, has others to look out for! Believe that through these chosen sources you will receive answers, that you will get messages.
 
Once during Orthodox Holy Week, I saw my maternal grandmother changing hospital beds and hospitals. I also saw my father reassuring me and comforting me.
Instantly, I thought  that my mother  would become ill again. The next day my partner  was in ICU for cardiac arrest and transferred between two hospitals –the beds , changes and priests in the first dream.
 
Every night I ask for guidance from God or my father. I always receive an answer. You must be open to these sources. Don't be afraid, and don't see it as your being crazy. God or your instinct, or whatever you have faith in are there. They are channels of help. It took me years to understand this.
 
If the dream is vivid, when I wake up, I try to go through it again and again. Sometimes I write it down but I do not necessarily look for signs and symbols. I read it carefully scrutinizing it first with a set of questions then move on.
 
The beds were a sign of illness but not from my fears. This is why clearing yourself is really important. If I were afraid of illness I'd see the dream as one of my fears. Instead the beds made me build my strength because I knew something was on its way and my father's presence soothed me and paved the way to tolerance of any situation. I only missed the previous dream with the priests because of fear being filtered to me.
 
You have to see your dreams objectively. Stand outside them and do not hurry to give them meaning. Analyze them by asking them questions. Last night I had a dream of a house by a rich forest close to the sea. I actually smelt the pines and felt the salt on my lips. It had a beautiful white bathroom something I have always wanted. I even saw myself driving to the sea close by. This was, however, a dream of what I have always desired.
 
The questions you should be asking are:
 
                              1)Does this dream contain any of my preconceived fears,   superstitions etc?
                              2) Does it tie in with any of my desires?
                              3) Does it reflect any of my work’s influences?
 
Then take it apart. Do not expect an answer i.e. today you will get a large inheritance from aunt Maud, but try to understand it. If it is in the form of a nightmare, see it as a way of gaining strength from it.
If it is a pleasant dream accept it lovingly, let it fill your day with love and warmth. It's your soul's way of giving you the comfort you seek. 

Do not tell others your dreams. Keep them to yourself if you want to be able to gain messages from them. The reason why is that others may influence you negatively and fill you with preconceived conceptions. You are your dreams, you must learn to understand them through you and your experiences and thoughts. Listen to your dreams and read with as much understanding as possible.
 
Five years ago, I had a dream of a Saint visiting me in a church I was in. He directly told me not to worry about not receiving communion since I had just got my period and that he will be waiting to visit me in his house. He told me not to worry because I will experience something bad but all will be fine. I searched for clues and wondered what it was all about. I was in awe as I am not that religious i.e. not the devout Christian priests tell us we should be. Two weeks later I was in surgery for an ectopic pregnancy with ten minutes to spare. It was on the eve of Saint Nicholas' Day celebrated here in May. When I was discharged my mother  in law, who should have  been a nun, told me to visit St Nicholas' monastery which is an hours drive from here. On entering the church the main icon had on it the image of Saint Nicholas as I had seen him. I was in shock. I told the priest about it and his words were:
 
              " In future keep all dreams to yourself. Share the happy ones to spread happiness. Keep the others to yourself and decipher them through your own means. Their messages will come with time, practice and faith."
 
It was my Faith that sent me this.
 
So basically, it is all about clearing yourself of any preconceived ideas and trusting your instinct and intuition. It is also about having Faith and Believing in God or Ourselves.
Something out there is protecting us. We all do have guardian Angels and our dreams are shields to future discomforts. If we read them carefully, we can draw courage and strength from them. They are messages from different channels guarding us.
 
Remember: Cooking can be taught, but dreams cannot – that is why you have to decide what they are all about.