The Top 5 Recurring Dreams and how to work with recurring themes and images

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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)

  1. Being chased–what are you chasing after, what is threatening you, or what are you avoiding?
  2. Death, yours or others–dealing with the emotions surrounding death, of a loved one or your own. It is also a symbol for endings.
  3. Trapped-unable to change something in your life, or to live up to full potential.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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  • 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.

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  • What is the overall feeling in the dream (physically and emotionally)?

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  • 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?

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  • When did these dreams first come visiting?

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  • 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).

 

 

 

 

Air: The third in the Four Elements dream symbols

 

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The third in the Four Elements series deals with Air. Images of Air in dreams such as in trouble breathing, wind, airplanes and flying can be significant indicators of thought processes, attitudes, emotions and relationships– all kinds of relationships.

At the level of the physical world the air that we breathe is made up primarily of Nitrogen (about 78%), 21% oxygen, 1% argon and .038% CO2. Depending on where you live there are also trace elements of various pollutants that will significantly negatively affect an individual’s health and well-being.

At the level of the metaphorical world where dreams, myth, the mystical, and spiritual Air has a long list of meanings i.e. many of the world religious cosmologies have creation myths that involve the breathing of life into the world and its people.

In dreams Air often symbolizes creativity, intelligence and thought. If the air in a dream is foggy or heavily polluted then it could suggest that the dreamer’s thought processes are cloudy, imprecise or even being poisoned through some negative self-talk or the negative talk of someone else.

Air conditioners might represent the need to “clear the air” i.e. to clean up some interpersonal issues. Cold air can reflect ones relations with another person or persons (domestic, business or social) whereas ‘hot air’ can be about undo influence, nonsense talk, or even evil talk.

To walk on air is to be feeling upbeat or the desire to feel this way. It can also refer to self-confidence i.e. to have the sense of mastery over ones circumstances (note that to walk on water is to have the same meaning over ones feelings).

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Found on Pngtree

Dreams of Flying through the air can be exhilarating and liberating.

Often dreams of flying reflect ones sense of freedom and independence or the desire for the same. I recall that during my tenure in one job a number of years ago I would occasionally have dreams of flying, only the flying was a struggle often ending with a crash back to Earth. As the waking world struggle increased and I tried to remain optimistic, it required that I wear a mask of being upbeat, my dream-self would hide the fact from others in the dream that I could fly. When I finally quit that job my flying dreams reflected free flight across beautiful terrain and I didn’t try to hide the fact that I could fly from anyone.

My flying dreams showed an interesting progression that reflected accurately my waking world emotional state and ability to control my personal sense of power and control over my circumstances.

Breathing has a number symbolic meanings i.e. if you’re breathing rapidly in the dream perhaps you are experiencing some anxiety or tension in your life. Breathing underwater can suggest a desire to return to the comfort and safety of the womb though in some cases this can also suggest that you are submerged in your own emotions. Not being able to breathe could indicate exhaustion (note that some people with asthma may have dreams of breathing troubles).

Someone breathing into the dreamers mouth might suggest that there is some aspect of the other person that the dreamer may want to take into themselves or it can suggest if the person blowing into the dreamer’s mouth is dead that this person still lives within in them. Images like this can also suggest the need to have more life “breathed” into ones experiences or ones activities. “A breath of fresh air” is a phrase often used to signify new and positive change.

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In Tibet and Nepal the people fly prayer flags, what are known as “Wind Horse” flags, with prayers written upon them and as they blow in the wind the air takes them to the Spirit.

Wind is a powerful image and can reflect changes in circumstance or emotions e.g. there can be “ill winds”, “warm winds”, “cold winds”, turbulent winds of turmoil and light breezes of harmony and tranquility. Wind in general represents a ‘life force’, energy, and a feeling of vigor or aliveness. Some Native American Shaman see the wind as a ‘living’ being or spirit that can be engaged and worked with for good or evil. In Peru I met a shaman who performed a cleansing and healing and as part of that blew three short breaths toward  the Andes mountains.

Finally, airplanes can be about overcoming obstacles and rising to success, new-found freedom and increased awareness. If the dreamer is flying the airplane it may reflect either the need to take control or that they are under control of their life. To crash in an airplane my suggest that ones goals are too unrealistic and that because of this one might fail i.e. it could all come ‘crashing down’– this may also reflect the dreamer’s lack of confidence and self-criticism that may be self-defeating. Missing one’s flight can be about feeling helpless, left behind, or trapped by some circumstance that is preventing the attainment of some goal.

The Never-Never

 

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”

 

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A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?

In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

Fly, of course.

Fly?

It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.

What’s the matter? Don’t you know?

Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “

 

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From Disney movie Peter Pan

And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

What is this Never Land of which he spoke?

Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.

In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.

Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.

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Never-Never National Park

Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.

The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.

In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.

Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.

You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.

 

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