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Recurring Dreams

If we keep a record of our dreams it will soon become obvious that some of our dream themes, characters or places recur again and again. These recurrences are of various types. A certain theme may have begun in childhood and continued throughout our life – either without change, or as a gradually changing series of dreams. It might be that the feature that recurs is a setting, perhaps a house we visit again and again, but the details differ. Sometimes a series of such dreams begin after or during a particular event or phase of our life, such as puberty or marriage.

The theme of the dream can incorporate anxious emotions such as the example below, or any aspect of experience. One woman, an epileptic, reports a dream that is the same in every detail and occurs every night.

In general dreams recur because there are ways the dreamer habitually responds to their internal or external world. Because their attitude or response is unchanging, the dream that reflects it remains the same. It is noticeable in those who explore their dreams using such techniques as described under processing dreams, that recurring themes disappear or change because the attitudes or habitual anxieties that gave rise to them have been met or transformed.

Example: ‘This dream has recurred over 30 years. There is a railway station, remote in a rural area, a central waiting room with platform going round all sides. On the platform mill hundreds of people, all men I think. They are all ragged, thin, dirty and unshaven. I know I am among them. I looked up at the mountainside and there is a guard watching us. He is cruel looking, oriental in green fatigues. On his peaked cap is a red star. He carries a machine gun. Then I looked at the men around me and I realise they are all me. Each one has my face. I am looking at myself. Then I feel fear and terror.’ Anon.

A recurring environment in a dream where the other factors change is not the same. We use the same words over and over in speech, yet each sentence may be different. The environment or character represents a particular aspect of oneself, but the different events that surround it show it in the changing process of our psychological growth and experience. Where there is no such change, as in the example above, it suggests an area of our mental emotional self is stuck in a habitual feeling state or response.

Some recurring dreams can be ‘stopped’ by simply receiving information about them. One woman dreamt the same dream from childhood. She was walking past railings in the town she lived in as a child. She always woke in dread and perspiration from this dream. At forty she told her sister about it. The response was, ‘Oh, that’s simple. Don’t you remember that when you were about four we were walking past those railings and we were set on by a bunch of boys. Then I said to them, ‘Don’t hurt us our mother’s dead!’ They left us alone, but you should have seen the look on your face.’ After realising the dread was connected with the loss of her mother, the dream never recurred. Another woman who repeatedly dreamt of being in a tight and frightening place, found the dream never returned after she had connected it to being in the womb.

Recurring dreams such as that of the railings, suggest that part of the process underlying dreams is a self regulatory homeostatic one. The dream process tries to present troublesome emotions or situations to the conscious mind of the dreamer to resolve the trauma or difficulty underlying the dream. An obvious example of this is seen in the recurring nightmare of a young woman who felt a piece of cloth touch her face, quoted under nightmares. See: processing dreams.

But recurring dreams can arise because there is a need to learn something. Also the growth instinct is incredible powerful one and pushes us through growth, sometimes unwillingly. And if we resist it can cause recurring dreams.

Here is an example:

A young girl kept coming up to me and placing my hand upon her breast. She was just developing her breasts, and they felt so very beautiful.

Still asleep I asked myself what the dream meant, and saw that the young girl is the divine female that I long for. At present she can only relate to me as a young girl whose breasts I caress, due to the fact that my sexuality is still developing. In other words, I have not yet developed out of my sexual stage of growth. But if I simply allow this stage to go on being experienced, it develops into a new relationship with her. She herself develops or grows as I grow, and this suddenly threw a new light on all my sexual dreams in the past.


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-Michael Ellis 2013-09-10 17:30:38

A lot of times when I dream, I am aware that I’m dreaming and have extensive control over my dreams. But there are these group of dreams that I’ve had, where I’m half-way aware that I’m dreaming, yet have no control over what I do. It’s not just one dream, or even two dreams. It is a bunch of dreams, where the end result is almost always the same, with slight changes depending on my dream beforehand.
I don’t know if I can explain it to the extent that I need it, but it’s like if you have a movie that’s a quadrilogy and no matter which order you watch them in, the ending is the same but something significant happens in all of the movies to lead up to that end. In mine, the place is the same, but the ending is always changing and depending on where my dream started, i have different people with me or different items or the way we get to the house is different.
I refer to the location as just “The house” and it is a very big house, almost mansion like, with a lot of windows and a very ‘open house’ feel. We’re inside trying to stay safe and (again the amount of people differs sometimes 3 sometimes 20) all the sudden we’re completely surrounded by disgusting people, that are not scary to look at but i can feel that their intent is not good which makes their outer appearance look as if they’re zombies. They surround us, I lock the backdoor because they are beginning to get through the back and as i run back to the group i realize that we have 2 major options, we can go to the left, which has a bunch of stairs leading down to the outside pool that is completely open, I can see the pool and the grass outside and it looks relatively safe or we can go to the front door on the right, which i cannot see which is on the other side if anything or if it’s safe. another option i’ve had previously is instead of going those ways I’ve gone through the backdoor and then also on the other side.
I don’t know if the build up to that point in my dreams, is the significant part or if the build up is just cannon fodder for the last decision i have to make because I always wake up before we do anything and because the beginning is always different and i’m always partially aware of my dreams, I can make some changes in the dreams leading up to “the house”. Again they aren’t really scary, and it more seems like In the dream leading up to the house i’m rescuing people and we end up there.

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-Michael Ellis 2013-09-10 17:40:36

I just posted a comment, but I also forgot to mention,

In my dreams, I know that i’m SUPPOSED to be afraid of what’s going on, but i’m not. Not even a little, it’s like i’m in post zombie apocalypse type setting, where i’m trying to save everyone, and we get cornered or I need to go save someone and I’m never afraid of what’s going to happen, just that I don’t want anyone hurt. I’ve had these group of dreams for over 20 years and i’m 27 now. I have these dreams every couple of months and when i’m sick to the point where i’m sleeping mostly I always have these dreams.

Oh i’m not sure if this matters but when I was 12 till about the age of 16 I could ‘leave my body’ and see myself sleeping and like fly around and stuff. I could do this regularly up till 16 then once in a while till i was 21, then haven’t had one since though I’ve also tried not to, because it scares me when i start to fall asleep and then i partially wake up and i feel crippled, i cannot move my body and i can really only move my eyes and look around. So since that scares the crap out of me, I probably am subconsciously stopping myself from doing it

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-Renee Hankins 2014-03-22 5:58:11

A recurring dream: I’m to massage a client, but I never go into the room because: there’s too much outside commotion (the business site/room has become like a retail sales location), or I dally about, or the only available room to give a massage in is a tiny closet with too much crap in it so I have to clear out the mess first – hence, I never do give the client a massage. The client waits patiently throughout…but for naught.

I realize this scenario spells delay, yet, I never am able to do anything to correct the situation. It always ends up with me not giving and the client not receiving a massage. It doesn’t matter if the client is male or female, young or old.

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    -Tony Crisp 2014-03-23 15:06:16

    Renee – It would have been good to know whether this was a real work scene of simply a dreamt one.

    I believe the dream is a problem you have not faced or sorted for a long time. It causes you to not be or do your very best. The mess and the situation are probably to do with your own sense of being confined or not be able to find peace in yourself.

    The suggestion is that you clear up the mess or move to a better situation. But this applies to the inner world you live in not the outer waking work, although one influences the other. It might be helpful if you use Secrets of Power Dreaming or Being the Person or Thing

    Tony

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-Abbi 2014-03-26 11:43:12

I’ve been having my dreams since I was around the age of 4. There’s no reason what so ever for a 4 year old to dream this.

Dream 1 – I am stood at the top of a lane on a dull day, the sky looks like its going to burst any moment. There’s a thatched roof cottage at the bottom of the lane. There is a dense forest to my left with tall christmas tree type trees that you find in england. As I look straight ahead I can see the cottage is on a small field with a forest not far behind, the cottage is straight ahead if me because its on a bend kind of. Theres trees to the right of me but ive never really paid much attention to that side. I walk down to the cottage and walk through the wooden door and its actually an inn. Theres an open fire and wooden tables to my left and a bar to my right. I sit in the left corner facing the bar but at an angle that I can freely look out of the window that im sat next to. All I can see from that window is part of a field and the trees behind the inn. Thats all I know. I dont know how old I am or what im wearing but I know im still female. My parents insist ive never been to a place like it but I still have this dream.

Dream 2 – Its spring or summer, its hot and the flowers are beautifull. Im at a fast flowing river with big rocks in it. Im not alone because im talking. I have no idea what im saying or who im talking too but im definately not alone. Im with 2 or 3 people. We cross the river via the boulders and as I jump onto the last one I slip and almost fall in. I pull myself back up but im sure I was helped. Once we crossed we walked along the bank but I must always walk ahead as I never see anyone. Thats another incident my parents say didnt happen. Why have I had this dream for the last 23 years I dont know but im curious.

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    -Tony Crisp 2014-03-27 9:14:19

    Abbi – Our education and common beliefs are so misleading. Of course it could mean that your dreams are about feelings you have that are put into imagery. But that doesn’t explain why the dreams recur.

    I often say to people that if you plant an acorn and its grows into a tree, do you think it has suddenly appeared and is a totally new tree? Of course it is not new, it is the result of thousands of trees before it – as are you.

    I know it is common belief that it is all to do with our DNA, but that is simple our body, and DNA does not bring forth a living and dreaming you.

    So read this – It began after a father-son bonding trip to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum outside of Dallas. Bruce picked up a video of the Blue Angels navy flight exhibition team for his 2-year-old son, James, who had become instantly enamoured with the jet fighters in high speed formation.

    However, soon afterwards James began to smash his toy airplanes repeatedly into the coffee table screaming that the aircraft was on fire. It was then that the nightmares began. His mother Andrea would find her son thrashing around on the bed letting out blood curdling screams, shouting, ‘Airplane crash on fire! Little man can’t get out!’

    The disturbing nightmares were physical too, with James kicking upwards on his bed as if trying to kick open the canopy from inside an aircraft.

    It was over a bedtime story that James suddenly began talking to his parents about the nightmares, turning them from night terrors to lucid details and conversations.

    James told his staunchly Christian parents, that he was flying a Corsair during the Second World War and that the Japanese shot him down. ‘Mama, before I was born, I was a pilot, and my airplane got shot in the engine and it crashed in the water and that’s how I died.’

    He told his parents he flew off a carrier called the USS Natoma Bay and his name was James and that he had died during in a horrific plane crash. The growing implications of what their son was telling them began to trouble the religious beliefs of Bruce and Andrea. When James was two-and-a-half he was sitting on his father’s knee going through a book on the Battle for Iwo Jima.
    Opening the book to a picture of Mount Suribachi, James exclaimed, ‘That’s where my plane was shot down. My airplane got shot down there daddy.’ James began to draw disturbing pictures of fiery plane crashes – Dr Tucker believes this kind of compulsive repetition had all the hallmarks of how children deal with PTSD.

    Bruce in particular wanted to get to the bottom of his son’s insistence that he was indeed describing the past lives of a downed pilot named James. He attended a reunion for USS Natoma Bay veterans under the ruse of writing a book and was stunned to discover the only pilot killed during the Iwo Jima operation was a 21-year-old from Pennsylvania named James Huston.
    Further unnerving research revealed that Huston’s plane had been hit in the nose and lost its propeller – exactly where James had intentionally damaged all his toy planes.

    As their belief in their son’s extraordinary claims grew, Bruce and Andrea began to take what he said seriously. One night Andrea said that she was told by James that his past-life father was an alcoholic and when James Huston was 13, they put their drunken dad in hospital for six weeks.

    By now they had tracked down Huston’s sister Anne, who was in her 80s by now and asked her if these claims were true – which she confirmed. More staggering coincidences began to occur. James knew details that no four-year-old or even 40-year-old would know about the operational details of a Second World War fighter.

    He knew that Corsairs were notorious for getting flat tires and when handed a model of the FM-2 planes he would fly aboard the USS Natoma Bay he noted that a small antenna was missing from the side, which research by his father noted to be true.The most incredible moment though was when James attended his first USS Natoma Bay reunion. There he was stopped in the hallway of the hotel by Bob Greenwalt, a NatomaBay veteran. When he asked ‘do you know who I am?’ James replied, ‘You are Bob Greenwalt.’ Asked how he knew that by his father, James replied that he simply remembered the man’s voice.

    Indeed, after that, back at home in Dallas, James was sweeping the front lawn with his dad when Bruce bent down to hug his son and tell him that he loved him. James replied that when he saw Bruce and Andrea eating dinner in Hawaii on WaikikiBeach he knew that these were the right parents for him.

    Bruce still has no idea how his son knew about the romantic trip he and his wife went on to start their family – before James was born. After this he was invited to Japan where he was shot down and was honoured by the Japanese officials who said he was obviously a reincarnation because he knew so much about them.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2509769/New-book-reveals-children-believe-reincarnated.html#ixzz2uWJkLKb1

    Tony

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