Well, there are dreams, and there are dreams.
Dreams require discernment. Obviously, there are types and degrees of dreams. Not a lot of time and effort should be spent on reviewing them, for that is not necessary. When some spiritual guides suggest brushing them aside, they also in other aspects teach to discern various locutions, visions, and other numinous messages.
The danger in heeding dreams literally is that the level of images, or imagination, is one in which the devil is allowed to enter into the mind. If a dream leaves one disturbed and chaotic, it is not necessary to pay much attention, other than to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and all of our love and obeisance is to Him. If spoken aloud, that is best when the devil is involved in anything nefarious, including dreams.
Then, other dreams reflect bodily or situational stresses. These dreams tend to allow the subconscious to float to the surface and relay some irritant or upset in our physical or emotional or mental status involved in our everyday functioning. These are often depicted by symbolic dream events and are fairly easy to discern. The solution is to try to correct whatever it is that is causing the stress or upset. Sometimes we cannot alter the temporal world, but we can always address ourselves and see that our reactions can change; and that change can help us reduce the stress until the situation is past.
There are dreams that teach us about ourselves in ways that are worth discerning. Again, as in the last category, the subconscious is more freed in sleep to come to the conscious mind enough that we will recall the dream with a message. Usually the message is symbolic in these dreams, but not always. Often the message (however it is imaged or symbolized or acted out) in the dream will show us some aspect of ourselves that needs improving. We must learn to be very honest, though, in order to discern. We have to not fear facing our vices or other weaknesses in our dealings with others, with our habits and flaws.
(Someone has reported on several occasions and asked for assistance in interpretation, dreams that involve being late and the frustration that accompanies. While the person awakes unsettled, as there are many elements usually woven into the dream, the message repeats. And, this person is known in life to be habitually late. This could be due to various aspects including disorganization of temporal surroundings but also concern over a physical handicap that is not yet fully accommodated.)
Other dreams move into more a spiritual level, with spiritual implications. (This is not to suggest the other types of dreams are not supernal, as we are all created by God, and that includes every aspect of our psyches, including dreams and all the aspects involved in their images. God's providence is in our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls.)
The dreams that are pointedly spiritual usually have a different essence than the others. They are more lucid. One awakens with peace even if there is something of warning involved, or correction. The above mentioned types of dreams can be easily forgotten. A highly spiritual dream remains clear, especially until the person has discerned it properly and gleaned the message God Himself or through His angels or saints or other messengers has given.
These messages can yet take the form of symbols, situations played out, images, and including voices. They can transcend any time period and often involve those we know in our lives as part of the image or "scene", as if in a play. Sometimes the voice will be known, such as someone in our lives who has passed on or the Voice of God that we somehow know because of the quality and a sense deep within that we cannot describe.
Understand that in these types of dreams, God will never tell us, either by His Voice or through His messengers, anything that is evil or immoral or tempting. Again, there will be peace when we awaken even if there are distressful images that portray for us something we need to correct or be aware. We will yet have an inner calm and assurance, and there will be a loving desire to agree to what it is, when we discern rightly.
Last night this nothing Catholic hermit had a dream of the latter type. It could have easily been of the first, of the distressing and devil-playing-with-the-mind type, except there was a strong message to it and a peace upon awakening, and a ready admittance of what the hermit has been neglecting. It was all quite true. (And in dreams, often the images and messages tend toward more visual or seemingly extreme or intense in order to drive home the point. Otherwise it is too easy to ignore them.)
So this nothing Catholic hermit knows well and is duly reminded, that it has been neglecting its soul--the intuitive of its soul, specifically. Yes, all the efforts on trying to right-side-up this pathetic, old house that some people had rather misrepresented the extent of its woes, has taken the hermit too much into the active and into the world. The obstacles have been ridiculous, abnormal--such as four months to persevere with an appliance that had a leveling foot not budging. Well, the examples are too many and not worth repeating, but there have been more obstacles than not, by far, requiring time and attention.
Now, with finances dwindling and needing to go for broke, and get help finishing the heavy parts, and not sure at all will make it out with the shirt on the back, the message is apt. And the dream stands as a light to guide, for it will be easier to let go and strip away, sell out after a final push of hard work to make it salable, use up the supplies here--and be thankful to return to some other way of temporal existence, somewhere other, and tend the intuitive soul!
Already this has commenced. The nothing Catholic hermit has shifted its body, mind, and heart all the more to His Real Presence. The pneumonia passed the mid-point sometime in the night, although there is quite a ways to go before can be out of bed for much of anything. The images used to show the hermit how horribly it had neglected its intuitive soul, remain as firm, strong, and loving reminders. Praise God for the images!
Yes, see? Such dreams are lucid, and even if rather shocking-to-our-sensibilities the images, if the message is from God, it will be joyfully embraced and the result clear and uplifting! Just the one aspect of the "scene" is needed as a quick shot, like seeing a photo or noticing a ring to remind of our vows, or a cross to remind of our Savior.
If we ignore such dreams, or do not bother to discern any dream, it can be as if tossing out mail unread. Most might be junk, but as today, when the hermit was able to make it as far as the mailbox, therein was a short, loving, encouraging note from its spiritual father, far away. It is a keeper, to for a time remind in a tangible way of his esteemed prayers.
Now, some spiritual directors may advise to ignore dreams. Even John of the Cross mentions similar in the first phase, the purgation of the senses. But later on, in the intuitive way leading into unitive of the soul with God, he discusses discernment. We must know that had St. Joseph indiscriminately tossed aside the dream telling him to wed Mary and what to name the Child, or had the wise men ignored their dream to avoid Herod--what then?
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another! God Is Love! Remain in His Love!