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. There are several types of dreams such as recurring body dreams, recurring sex dreams, recurring death, etc. These are all similar in how to deal with them, but you might find other information under – Dream BodyBody – Parts ofBody DreamsSex and DreamsSex and IdentityEnergy, Sex and DreamsSexDreams of Death and BeyondDreaming of DeathThe Archetype of DeathRudolph Steiner’s Philosophy of Life and Death

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 Practical Ways of Understanding Dreamsprocessing dreams, that recurring themes disappear or change because the attitudes or habitual anxieties that gave rise to them have been met or transformed.

Also we often dream about the same place again and again. It is because we each have an inner life that is real in its own way. We built and revisit such places again and again because we learnt or experienced something connected with it, and so gradually add to it or need to revisit it. See Inner World

Example: A woman wrote to me that she 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 threatened loss of her mother, the dream never recurred.

People often dream about a place they knew over a period of years, like a school, college, the house they grew up in or experience things that are marked in their memory. They have recurring dreams about these places because we are all largely created as a personality by the things we experience and remember. It is out of such memories that our dreams are created, and the recur because they have contributed to things we face in the present, for from them we develop attitudes, skills or even negative feelings, all that influence us.

Sometimes people are puzzled by dreams about a country they lived in during their youth and now have lived in a totally different country and environment. In our youth or in the past we have absorbed so much and experienced so much that laid the foundations of our responses and behaviour, so dreams use the place again because there are problems from the past we need to review, or simply because we are always upgrading the past from present experience.

 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: nightmares; 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

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.

recurring body dreams When we have recurring body dreams it can point to a psychological problem, because the body is often used parts of the body to represent such problems. See Body – Parts of to find the psychological meanings.

Problems we have not resolved show up in our dreams first. If the mental problem is not dealt with it may then show as a physical difficulty.

recurring themes If there is an overall activity such as walking, looking, worrying, building something, or trying to escape. Define what the action or theme is and give it a name, such as ‘waiting’ – ‘searching’ – ‘following’.

 Example: Feeling tired – exhausted – just lying drained of energy. I am conscious of people talking, saying I was ill. I thought I was just tired. Then asked what the matter was. I was told it was my heart, ‘dry and hard like a boiled egg’ they said. Found I couldn’t talk. Tried to write, wanted A. to know that I loved him, but the pen kept drying up. Finger and feet began to get cold. An icy coldness slowly spread all over my body. A liquid warmth was then all around me. I thought I was hemorrhaging. A needle was stuck in my left arm and my chest was being cut open – it didn’t hurt. There was a lot of activity. They said I had gone. I was trying desperately to let them know I was still there. Then I was in a bag and sliding off a table. The bag was tied above my head. Then from the confined darkness I was free. There was a brilliant light all around. I could still see the sack with a body still in it far behind me. I was incredibly happy and full of energy. Trish L.

Well, what do you make of the dream? What is suggested by Trish’s hard-boiled heart? What does it imply that Trish is ‘gone’ but still there?

There are several themes here that are worth noting. The first is the theme of tiredness. Then there is the theme surrounding her heart and the inability to express her feelings. Perhaps we can contain those two by saying it is about ‘emotional dryness’ or coldness. Then there is the theme of death/life, neatly packaged together. And something that we might miss is that overall an enormous change is going on. Trish changes from feeling exhausted and dying, to being ‘incredibly happy and full of energy’.

So if such themes recur often it suggests there is something needing attention because you are stuck somewhere. If you feel stuck in your life in some way see Stuck in Life

recurring nightmares Are those that happen again and again, weekly or even more frequently, and have the same basic plot. These are of course the same as ordinary nightmares. Their recurrence however is something to consider.

Dreams appear to present clear indications of what you are facing in your present life. They reveal past experience that through trauma may need to be met in order to live your life more satisfyingly or efficiently. There is neurological evidence that brain cells undergo a learning process during dreaming. In the area of personal growth, inquiry into dreams such as recurring nightmares shows them to be an attempt to bring to consciousness and release past traumas such as abandonment in childhood, involvement in war environments, or car accidents.

Hundreds of ex-soldiers suffer recurring nightmares about battle scenes. The dreams re-presented the original experience, often accompanied by the original body movements made to escape the horror being faced.

 Example: ‘I dream night after night that a cat is gnawing at my throat’ Male from Landscapes of the Night, Coronet Books.

The dreamer had developing cancer of the throat. These physical illness dreams are not as common as the other classes of nightmare.

A young woman told me she had experienced a recurring nightmare of a piece of cloth touching her face. She would scream and scream and wake her family. One night her brother sat with her and made her meet those feelings depicted by the cloth. When she did so she realised it was her grandmother’s funeral shroud. She cried about the loss of her grandmother, felt her feelings about death, and was never troubled again by the nightmare. The techniques given in processing dreams and Being the Person or Thing will help in meeting such feelings.



-Kalia 2013-08-07 0:14:58

ok well im 18 years old. i moved from Utah when i was going into fith grade. i have always been upset and wished i never moved. i still wish it. well ever since i was little ive had weird dreams that dont make sence,but also since i was little, i have had the same dreams to this day. i dream of being in Utah still,and with my friends up there and it was like i never moved,or me after moving back up there,wich i havnt yet. it always makes me upset because i miss Utah and everything up there. how i dream the same dreams that i have when i was little do u think its because im just upset and constantly wish i never moved,or do you think the dreams can be my future? ive always felt like the dreams met something, but then im unsure because im so upset that the dreams can just be because well because i want it to be real. please help me figure this out. i will really appreciate it.

-Scribbles 2013-06-16 23:27:45

I’ve been having a recurring dream where I’m in the same landscape but what happens in the landscape is different. I’m always by this huge rusty, abandoned building. It’s an insane asylum as I figured out from a dream where I forced into going into the building. Most of my nightmares revolve around this building. I think it represents something I can relate to, being abandoned or a fear of. Or my longing of no change. It’s pretty strange and I want to learn more.

-jack 2013-05-03 19:07:01

Question: I have had a recurring dream for the past 10 years. In a nutshell: Big giant mansion me and 5 other people (whom I don’t know) evil entity in the attic that often pulsates through the house. Men come in and kill off people in brutal manner. But the 5 people always reappear through out the dream. There is a panic room in the subbasement. This is where my 2 year old manifests (before she was born it was a random child I had to protect) The house is trying to kill my daughter and myself at the climax I awake in a panic…Very unsettling and wish it would stop.

-Jennifer 2013-03-11 3:30:36

My husband has a recurring dream of an old friend being trapped in a closet and can’t breathe. The first time he drempt it it happend, the second time she got in a car accident and now she just seen the guy that locked her in the closet after she hasn’t seen him in a year. What does this mean?

-Shereen Nobert 2013-02-03 18:00:15

I used to have these same nightmares of these same places for years almost every night, me running away from something through orchards then falling from a cliff into the dark depths of water…so I moved to the little town; went to all the places in my dream and they stopped so I moved away, and am now having different nightmares but of the same town. It starts with me at my old packing house for fruits running at sundown and hiding from something, then i get out and always get a ride somehow down the highway to this other little town, there are always people everyone I know but no one really can help i feel I’m alone running, when I get to the next town I don’t feel I’m runnin anymore it relaxes a bit, I’m still scared but feel safe, I talk with people and then I’m running down this hill scared again, I always have someone with me at this point and I feel I need to save both of us, usually a different person, I can’t see their face but know who it is. I get to this old house and usually hide in a closet waiting for someone and just as they come the scene changes, I’m a passenger in a car, someone I love is driving but don’t know who, it’s just sunrise and there is snow and ice everywhere and the sun is just comin up over the mountains, I’m scared but at ease I’m escaping, it ends with us driving to that same orchard I used to run from. I’m still scared till the end. My other recurring dream is I’m a passenger in a small airplane and we always crash Into the middle of this large dark green lake, we go under and I’m stuck trying to escape and swim away, I never make it to shore until my dream shifts, I’m at a huge hotel, in a foreign country with people I know and we are all scared and running but like always I’m by myself running and hiding I bump into people I know for a second but know they are useless and can do nothing to help me, so I run and hide through the hotel up and down stairs in and out of rooms, until somehow I feel safe, and then I’m at my high school, running through the campus from something, hiding and running! Hahaha, that’s all I do in my dreams! I always wake up scared and sick! Last night was weird because there was this man in the small town putting makeup on me and trying to make me sexy for something in the small house while I was waiting for whatever I was running from, and then when I was escaping in the car and the sun was shining and I woke up the sun was rising in the exact same way in real life and I felt so sick and weird!!! Thanks to whoever reads this!!!

-Amy 2013-01-26 0:23:14

i have dreams where at mall with friends then all sudden runaway from me then try chase them i ending getting lost .

    -Tony Crisp 2013-01-27 10:20:34

    Amy – It seems as if you have a great need to be with friends, and maybe at the same time are afraid of being left alone. In your dream this causes you to run after them – perhaps with too much feeling.

    Then you are lost because you need to be stronger in yourself. Please read


-Pam 2013-01-22 17:25:27

For the past few weeks I have been having recurring dreams of failure – errors in judgment, regret about those errors – but the errors in my dream are so egregious (placing a young pony on ice with the others so he can get a drink of water at the thawed edge – the ice breaks and he falls in – I dive in to rescue him, but then all the other ponies there also start falling in) – an error about owning a horse and riding it just a couple blocks, and then I look at the horse’s head, and the bridle has rubbed his head raw – and I noted, “Ive already ruined this horse, and I’ve only had it 15 minutes” – a judgment error where I was trying to be helpful to someone, and, when the person wasn’t there, I assumed I knew what the person wanted done – I started cutting out the first page of a beautiful card with pastel birds and swirls on it – then, after looking further, I realized that the card was a birthday card for her father, and she wouldn’t have wanted it cut – I tried to find another to match, but knew I would not find it – then was worried about the person knowing I was in her room and that I was butting in where my help was not wanted. I dreamed I had an argument with my husband about the broom he was using to sweep – he was only supposed to use one specific broom and I fussed over him using the ‘inside’ broom, now muddy, until he hosed the broom off and I realized it was the ‘outside’ broom that he should have been using.. I am so tired – every night for several weeks I’ve had these dreams –

-Leigh 2013-01-11 20:22:34

Lately, for the past few months, I have been having dreams of my significant other rejecting me. We have been together for over a year and are pursuing a long distance relationship while I am away at college and he is at home. Ever since I moved away, I have been having these dreams in which I was up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and upset/scared. Each dream is different but the theme is the same. It always ends with him somehow no longer loving me for different reasons every time. I know that in reality, this is not true because he loves me very much and we spend as much time together as possible and we speak every day. Recently, there has been a new addition to the dream. For the past two weeks, my sister (who is younger than me by 4 years) has shown up in these dreams. In every dream, he will leave me and end up with my sister. I don’t like having these dreams because they make me upset. My boyfriend does NOT see my sister in that way at all, he thinks of her as his own younger sister. My sister however, does seem to take a liking to my boyfriend. She is not blatantly obvious with it, but she likes when I have him over the house and said she wants a boyfriend just like him. How can I stop these dreams? I don’t like waking up panicked in the middle of the night every single night.

-Britney 2012-12-15 11:18:35

I have had the same dream since I was a little girl and now I’m 30. It’s like these forighners take over and are telling us what to do. But I finally recognize one of the guys that’s trying to come to my rescue. My husband of 3 years. Nothing changed from the first time I had them till now. It’s just really scary and me and my husband figure out how to save these same group of people..

    -Tony Crisp 2012-12-17 13:48:51

    Britney – There is nothing in your dream that is not you, so the foreigners are parts of yourself that you do not recognise; after all, most of you is not known. As are all the activities that keep you alive, that keep your heart beating, and that digest your food. All of these things are shown in ones dreams.

    Remember that dreams are just like computer games in which you get very involved and face monsters and kill or be killed and nothing has actually happened – you are still alive and unhurt. But in this wonderfully alive virtual reality of your dreams we are all playing the game of life – the game we play in which we face or run away from the things that scare us; in which we explore the depths of our existence or learn how to love – or simply meet a reflection of our own weakness, terror and of course the wonder of your inner genius. For that is all it is – a magic mirror in which we see ourselves naked of pretence.

    So maybe the things you feel are attacking you are trying to give you something. So imagine you are making friends with them – for they are only yourself. See


-Tamara 2012-12-06 4:26:14

I often have dreams connecting with one another. Such as one night I may be taking pictures of something, and weeks if not months later I will be developing and looking at those pictures. I wonder, what does it mean?
Another strange thing that in some type of the dreams there is this place I usually get to – it’s an empty space in the sky scrapper, and it looks abandoned but there are always people that I know in a dream are my friends. i have never met them in reality, but I like being with them in my dreams. I can never tell a dream from reality when it happens – they are so vivid, I can never realize that Im asleep.

-Stephanie 2012-12-05 2:33:52

I’ve been having a reoccurring dream about the same place over the past 3 months or so. It’s a square with a park in the middle and all these beautiful high rise buildings. Two buildings stick out at me. One is all glass, floors and everything. The other looks like the Jetson’s high rise but with more of a Gaudi bent to it. I always travel there by train, except my last dream. The first 3 times (that I can remember) it was Paris and I was sightseeing. I didn’t notice anyone on the streets. Just me. The next few times, I was there sightseeing with friends. Same square, no people around, but i didnt associate it with a place which exists those times. We were looking at the buildings picking which we’d like to live in. I just woke up dreaming about the same place again but that time I was alone, it was Toronto, and I was looking at the buildings we’d picked out on our last trip to rent an apartment. I went to the glass building but it turned out to be a retail space and there all the rooms were bedrooms featuring very colorful bedding. Then I went to the Jetson’s building and it also wasn’t an apartment building but the person in the office wouldn’t tell me what the building was. I then left to drive home (I actually live in NY on the Canadian border). But the bridge was treacherous and I was afraid I’d drive off it. I’ve separately dreamt about this same bridge and it scares me. But what strikes me most about this place is that it’s so beautiful. I want to be there. I love it there. And each time I dream about it, I wake up feeling at peace and refreshed. The only bad feeling I’ve had associated with this dream was the latest when I hit the bridge. I feel as though I’ve dreamt about it more than I can remember. I tried looking up reoccurring places and I haven’t found any examples of it being a happy place. Reoccurring dreams represent some kind of message to yourself that won’t go away until you figure it out. It’s becoming my happy place and I have no idea what to pick up from this place that would relate to my waking life. So, wondering what you think? Reoccurring place but also some kind of dream memory as if I know I’ve been there before and what’s happened in these past dreams are known in the next. It’s so beautiful there.

-Krista Neu 2012-12-01 17:16:55

I’ve had this same dream since I was probly 13 and I’m now 23…On and off I’ll go like 2 3 years without having it.. But everytime I do its the same basis I’m in a mall with my cousin and this guy I dont know who this guy is but He’s not scarey or anything and in my dream everything is the same except where the age we are now like the dream knows were older or somthing. Pretty much the dream is just me and my cousin walking in this mall down state in michigan and then this guy catches my eye and We just walk around for hours shopping and talking and then in the mall we walk down this very long hall which is supposed to be where the bathrooms are or somthing like that and when we go to open the door I wake up..Idk if this even means anything but Its just weird Ive had it for so long and everytime its longer and more happens. Im just curious if any ones has any ideas on this..Its not scarey at all and when I wake up I have this weird feeling for the whole day then I forget about it and years will go bye before I have it again. I cant rember the whole dream down to the T but thats the jist of it..

    -Tony Crisp 2012-12-02 20:09:48

    Krista – It is opening the door that is important. You haven’t been able to face it so far. But you are strong enough now or else you wouldn’t have asked. It isn’t anything bad, quite the opposite. But you must open the door and meet what lies beyond and know it.

    You can do it while you dream or doing while awake – better if you can do it while awake. Try it by sitting somewhere you will not be distracted and imagine yourself back in the dream, then open the door.

    But first use two things to be ready – – and the


-grant 2012-10-29 0:09:26

i have a series of dreams that happen carrying on from the last time i woke up like a movie on pause. i remember extreme detail i need to know how these nightmares can stop. its alwaus the same me running from a figure and always loosing someone i love.

-kara 2012-10-28 3:03:03

Ok, so i keep having reoccurring dreams, but i have different dreams, ones that i have had before, like i used to have one or two of the same dreams a year, but it has been nearly a month since i had a new dream, and the reoccuring dreams i have been having have never reoccurred before!! These dreams have absolutely nothing in common … does this mean anything?

-Maura 2012-08-26 14:13:38

I have been having a reoccurring dream now for about 10 yrs. This dream is different though because I cannot remember any specific details, but the emotional experience is always very unsettling.
I am woken extremely ubruptly – so much that everytime I sit up in bed very quickly, my heart beating fast. There have been times I have yelled out “no,no,no,no!” with an immediate need to make whatever is about to happen, stop by waking up. I have felt like the process of being woken up is caused by myself so that I can stop what is happening . Sometimes I feel like am stopping my soul from being taken from my body or from “losing myself”. I have dont things like ubruptly called out for my husband or jumped out of bed or turned on the bedside lamp. Each time happens with me sitting up very quickly out of a deep sleep …and there is always this frantic feeling of the need to wake up to save myself…or my soul. Last night I sat up frantically repeatedly slamming my hand down on the bed to “make it stop.” I have also noticed the act of body movement is my way of making whatever is happening stop.
Once I have woken myself up, I am confused – still half in dream state but aware enough to know that what just happened. This always wakes my husband and he does try to talk me out of it. I can’t make any sense of what is happening because I am half awake. I just know I don’t like how I feel at that moment and want it to stop. It’s very unsettling.

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