Have you ever had dream images, or even dreams that seem to recur again and again, sometimes several times a month, or over a several month period? There are even some folks who have shared a dream that has shown up for years.
What’s that about?
On one level we all have them, usually more than you think, for example look at these
Top five recurring themes in dreams: (Taken from Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting)
- Being chased–what are you chasing after, what is threatening you, or what are you avoiding?
- Death, yours or others–dealing with the emotions surrounding death, of a loved one or your own. It is also a symbol for endings.
- Trapped-unable to change something in your life, or to live up to full potential.
- Naked in public–Being vulnerable to something, or having yourself exposed e.g. the mask or clothing you’ve put on in order to present your self in a certain way to the public being stripped from you: someone seeing through your façade.
- Flying–Freedom, escape, or independence and autonomy from something.
However, on another level we have all experienced recurring dreams that are more specific to us personally.
Typically dreams present images that have special meaning for the dreamer such as special places, or people that evoke certain feelings, memories, themes, and concepts. They recur because they are speaking through the ways you typically respond to both your internal and external worlds. Dreams also use the best image available that communicates what it is trying to communicate. In other words, it’s the “best fit” that can make the point i.e. if there were a better image, or dream that would best serve the dreamer’s health and well being, the dreaming mind would have used it. This stuck quality of a repetitive dream suggests that something is really important for the dreamer to attend to and that it is basically the same as it was the last time the dream was experienced.
Sometimes these dreams are revealing a “life-task” such as something unfulfilled, or unexpressed, in the dreamer at least during the time period of the dream repetitions.
Occasionally, some recurring dreams come as nightmares that might point to particular unresolved psycho-spiritual dramas, or traumas that need attention for the sake of the dreamer’s well-being and development. Sometimes a recurring dream is “speaking” to some repressed and as yet unresolved memory, or issue.
In short, there may be a tendency for recurring dreams, especially those with nightmare qualities, to be focusing on deep life issues. If the task is identified and dealt with satisfactorily in the waking world, the dream almost always disappears, or significantly changes unless of course it comes up some time later because some later task is along the same lines as the original.
In contrast, there are recurring dreams that affirm that the dreamer is on the right track with regard to some aspect of his, or her, life and that the dream continues until he/she acknowledges this. This is especially true if the dreamer continues to act and make changes in the direction of their development out of some hesitation or doubt that they are doing the right thing. Again, when the task is clearly identified and dealt with appropriately, the recurrent dream disappears.
So how does one discover the underlying task to be worked on?
Below is one way to process such a dream: You might want to use the following process outline to help document information gained from a recurrent dream. *
- Identify the elements/images of the dream.
- Identify what each of the images and elements mean to you. What do each stand for? Sometimes this can be found in your description of the image (include feelings, judgments, and ideas about the images). Name these images succinctly based on their essence e.g. Dark Demon, Screaming Mother, Crazy Professor, or Dying Self.
- What is the overall feeling in the dream (physically and emotionally)?
- When looking at the activity in the dream identify any “because” factors i.e. as an example, you can’t open a certain door “because.” Sometimes the “because” can give you clues to the emotional ‘stuckness’, if any, or task definition.______________________________________________________________________________
- What, or who, are these elements usually associated with? For example: Does this dream show up under certain waking world situations such as stressful times in general, or prior to a certain kind of activity (sports activity, standing before an audience, visiting your mother)? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What is your role in the dream and/or what is being asked of you?
- When did these dreams first come visiting?
- Try taking on the role of each of the elements e.g. what would be your response as the door (in this example) to not being opened? Ask questions of the door e.g. are you an aging door? Is your lock broken? Etc. This is done better with a friend or two. This is so that you can get as much information about the object(s)/images as possible.
- In your imagination bring one of the recurring images (usually the most prominent image–the one that essentially summarizes the essence of the dream e.g. Dark Demon, Screaming Mother, Dead Brother) into your consciousness and ask it why it is visiting you? Listen for the response. You might also ask what it needs and listen to its response.
Having someone help you to answer these questions and to serve as a scribe to record your responses can be very useful.
All of this can give you specific information related to the recurring theme, or themes and help you to identify the meaning of the images and perhaps the task(s) at hand that may require waking world resolution.
In the Archipelago of Dreams Robert comes from the nightmare of his world and enters the nightmare of a Spirit world gone mad. His nightmares repeat themselves over and over and will continue to do so unless he can find the courage to face them down. But how does one deal with such frightful creatures? The Dream Healer knows that it is in the wounded image of the Dark Lords themselves that a healing presents its self.
* A number of processes are presented in the book The Dragon’s Treasure (see the link to the right of this blog).