Something I’ve become interested in over the past few years is dream interpretation. I’m not so interested in the crazy horoscope interpretations that are reminiscent of Harry and Ron reading tea leaves in Divination, but the more personal interpretations that are specific to each of us. I’ve found some common themes and experiences in my dreams, and I’ve noticed some interested things about my dream world that I think should be noted. This is some very personal stuff, so honestly I’d enjoy talking about it all with whoever cares to read.Let’s start with some interesting things I’ve noticed about my dreams!
1. Conscious/Unconscious Memory
You know how hard it is to remember a dream when you’re awake? Even if you write it all down right after you wake up, reading it later it all just seems like a vague cloudy picture. Something I started noticing, however, is how clear that picture is… when you go back to sleep. I very clearly, very vividly remember things I dreamed 10 years ago, when I am dreaming today. It doesn’t happen SUPER often, but when I dream, I get deja vu. I am CONVINCED this thing happened before, or I’ve seen it before. And then I remember that it did indeed happen, in another dream a long time ago. And then I realize I am dreaming, which leads directly into my next point…
2. Lucid Dreaming
You can usually “pick” what you dream about using a form of self hypnosis. You simply focus on what you want to dream about, and you hypnotize yourself into sleep thinking on that topic. As you fall asleep, the picture in your mind becomes more vivid, more active, and eventually you are not forcing yourself to focus on it. It just takes off. If you have trouble doing this, I started noticing that I could take control of the direction of my dream after I was already in it. I’m sure when you were having a nightmare you kept telling yourself “It’s just a dream, wake up!” And then you did, right? Well did you ever try to not wake up, but change the dream instead? I started doing this when I was a teenager. I was having a nightmare about Chucky, the Good Guy murdering doll. I was freakin out and just wanted to wake up. But then, I realized I was dreaming. And instead of forcing myself awake, I decided I wanted a rocket launcher. And that is what I got! The one drawback I’ve noticed about lucid dreaming is that the dream doesn’t typically last long if you realize it is indeed a dream. It’s almost like once you’ve realized it’s a dream, you start using your conscious mind to make decisions and changes, and so you start to wake yourself up. Bummer!
I have noticed that I tend to have common elements, themes, or objects in most of my dreams. I’d bet that it’s the same for you. Think hard. What happens in lots of your dreams? What do you think it means? Following is a non-comprehensive list of my common themes and what I think they could mean.
1. Epic Proportions
In nearly every dream I have, there is some epic adventure to be had. We’re talking Lord of The Rings scale here. Huge battles, long journeys, quests, all of it. And in each of these dreams, I am at or near the center of it all. I’m either the main character or I am going along with the main character. It’s difficult to describe exactly what I mean here, but the gist of it is my dreams are BIG. They are rarely about just me and someone else, or a small group of people. The stakes are ALWAYS high here.
Interpretation? I think the scale being big is a reflection of my desire to be an important piece in something grand. I often feel sidelined, unimportant, looked over. I’m not the hero. I tend to let someone I think of as being “more qualified” get the girl, win the gold, lead the team. If I even choose to participate I’m often the sheep in the bunch, or at most I am the devil’s advocate, but rarely ever the brazen man who stands for what he believes even if he doesn’t always have the words to explain why. I think I am the hero in my dreams because I want to be the hero in reality, but I don’t know how, or if I do know how the risk seems too great.
2. Afraid to Fly
Interestingly enough, I have the ABILITY to fly in EVERY dream. I mean it, even if the dream is small scale and very personal, I can randomly go outside and fly if I want to. Or at least, I can try. You see, nearly every time I attempt to fly in my dreams, I second guess myself. I look down, I see how high I am, and I begin to fall. It feels like the drop on a roller coaster. Even before I start falling, my heart jumps into my throat, my organs become weightless, and I feel myself begin to plummet. I know I can fly, and in the dreams I pretty much NEVER die from falling, but I can never stay in the air long enough to really fly.
Interpretation? Two-fold. I am actually afraid of heights in real life. You get me more than 7 feet off the ground and my heart rate jumps. Higher than that and my hands start to sweat, I start to get dizzy and lightheaded. I get a ringing in my ears. It’s not that I am incapable of going up high, at all. I’ll go up elevators, climb ladders and trees, all of it. But when there is only a guardrail between myself and the plunge, I begin to falter. I think my fear of heights in my dreams is indicative of my fear to go the distance and be everything I can in real life. I know I am smart, I have resources, I’ve been given so many talents in life and am blessed every day. I think when it comes down to it though, I’m afraid to be everything I am capable of being. What if I fall? If I go so high, what happens when I stumble and plummet? If I go so high up, won’t I be alone, with no one to catch me when everything goes wrong? I make so many excuses for the reasons why I don’t take risks, why I don’t just GO for it. I’ve lost so many things, so many opportunities and friends, simply because I was resolved to sit back and be mediocre, not ever take hold of what’s been given to me and make it something grand. I am the one talent man. I push people away, satisfied to keep what I already have instead of making it more. Satisfied to stay put where it’s safe, instead of go on an adventure.
Let’s face it, this one is awesome. I’ve found that I demonstrate many X-Men-esque superpowers in my dreams: healing, mind reading, shooting lasers out of my eyes, web slinging (awesome), and pyrokinesis. But none of them compare to telekinesis. I can move anything, ANYTHING, with my mind. I use this ability to do the most random stuff. In the epic dreams, I use to to throw my enemies around, pick up weapons, toss trees, stop projectiles, all of it. In my regular going-to-school type dreams, I use it to pick stuff up off the ground, open doors, get my book out of my locker. This power appears in literally 99% of my dreams.
Interpretation? It’s all about control. Self control, control of my environment, anything that has to do with control. I think that my control of everything in my dreams is because I like having control of what’s going on around me… And I wish I had more of it. I’ve already said that I hate taking risks. Well, nothing would be risky if you had complete control, now would it? I often feel that I cannot control myself, my feelings, my urges. I can’t control the feelings and actions of people I care about, the random awful drivers on the road, my boss, my psychotic puppy. There is SO much I can’t control… And even if I could, somehow I feel that I wouldn’t take the opportunity to gain that control. Having control isn’t as risky as gaining it. It’s easier to sit back and let things happen as they happen, then stand up and change my life to be what I want it to be. I know in my heart that I can have control of many things, that I have a choice of how to do things or at LEAST how to react to them. I know ultimately, whether you believe in fate or God or karma, control may be out of my hands and in the hands of a much wiser power. But in my small home, where I can have control and no one outside can tell me what to do, I still don’t take control. I let things happen as they happen. I sit back and say “Hey, whatever happens, happens.” Some people would say that this attitude makes for a happy life. You don’t make plans, they can’t get ruined. But what kind of life is that? The people who say this wish they could make more decisions, have a desire so strong that they would fight fate for it. I can’t move things with my mind in real life; I need to decide to just do things with my hands.
4. Back to School, Back to School…
I think we’ve all had this type of dream. You’re back in high school! Hey, but I graduated high school, I’m in college, why do I have to be doing all of this again? Why does this math test matter, I’m not even supposed to BE here! Why am I freaking out about an assignment I forgot, I passed this class 5 years ago! Sound familiar? Mine isn’t just about going to school, specifically. It’s about family life in that time. You see, in these dreams, I also still live at home with my mom. And my step-dad, who she divorced. And it doesn’t make any sense to me in the dream because I know I’m old enough to decide what to do now, I shouldn’t have parents making my decisions. I don’t understand why my mom is back with him either. In these dreams, she is usually either brainwashed and back under his control, or she is with him because if she wasn’t, something horrible would happen to her or my little brother, so she takes the abuse for his sake. I rage against the fact that he is trying to tell me what to do, but it doesn’t usually work, and I almost always wake up before any good can come of it.
Interpretation? Your childhood follows you around long after it’s over. I am constantly returning to what happened to me as a child, when I had no control and was under someone’s rule. I’d like to think that the idea of my mother ever getting back with him is irrational, but I think the subconscious fear is that I am not really rid of him. The guilt tripping and criticism is still with me: he did it so much that I caught the disease and now I do it to myself and other people. The manipulation, the lying, avoiding blame, it’s all still with me, sucking me back into being a child, sucking away my maturity and my desire to be responsible for myself. Isn’t it much easier to blame what happened to you as a kid for the way you are now, then grow up and choose what you want to be? Isn’t is simpler to say you were raised a certain way and that it made you what you are, instead of saying you want something more and fighting to be your own person? I really think everyone struggles here. We were all raised to be some way, something, because our parents believed that was the way it should be. For a long time, we probably agreed with them.
I was baptized when I was 12 years old. Let’s face it, that was really late in my childhood, right? If I had died before then, after the age of 9 or so, I probably would’ve gone straight to hell. Or at least, this is what I was taught. At the time, I thought I was saving my soul. I was really just saving my social standing. All the COOL kids were baptized, after all. You don’t want to be one of those heathens you go to school with, right? So let’s put a label on ourselves, call ourselves BAPTIZED and CHRISTIAN, and then we can get back to being the exact same person we were before. I didn’t ever make my own choices about my soul til I was 20. It was then that the religion I swallowed didn’t sit well in my gut, at all, and it came spewing up. And after that I found myself hungry for some truth, for something I could believe and not just what I had been force-fed before. And even though now I believe what I have chosen to believe, I still fight the burden of guilt that was attached to my conscience as a kid. When I dream and I am back living at home with my awful step-father, I realize that as much as I try and want to rid myself of my childhood, it will come back once in awhile and nudge me.
This one is pretty easy. In the scariest dreams I have, a tornado is almost always involved. I usually have to decide between going and watching it, and hiding from it, which is not an easy choice to make.
Interpretation? Images you saw as a child latch on to you. When I was 5 or 6, we were driving home from church one night, and we heard on the radio that a tornado had been spotted near our home. We drove fast down some back roads to get there just as soon as we could. I looked out the window at a large field, and I saw it. I saw a twister. It wasn’t humongous, but it was there, maybe several hundred yards away. I don’t know if this really happened or not, but I swear I saw lightning all around it. It was horrifying. Ever since then, I’ve had a weird obsession with storms. They scare me, and they soothe me. I want to hide from them, but I want to be IN them, to watch them and take pictures. I think this image stuck in my mind and has ever since been associated with my fascination and terror of all things wild and dangerous. It was just one tornado, and yet is has always been latched on to my definition of danger, or disaster. I would imagine many people have this experience with other things. Something you saw as a child, something traumatic or significant, you now associate with all things traumatic or significant. It’s this tendency to define our world by our sometimes limited experiences that is the reason why what we do, see, and say as a kid is so important. It’s foolish to think that your kid will forget something they just saw or heard because they are young.
Well, those are some common themes that I have an interpretation for! What happens in your dreams? What do you think it means?