Most religions and civilizations have their own dream theories and practices. All theories rely on your ZZZs being meaningful but exactly what they mean is up for debate.
Ancient Egyptians were the first to write a book of dream symbols and they believed in a theory of opposites — like a dream about death was actually a good omen for a long life. The Bible and the Quran reference dreams as messages from god. A theory book in traditional Chinese medicine pairs dream symbols with physical ailments. Indigenous cultures’ dreamtime connection to spirits, and spiritual beliefs, are vast and integral— too much for here, but check this out.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung made dream interpretation into a mainstream narrative in Western society, and Freud’s reason for why we interpret dreams may be the most practical: to fulfill our childhood dreams — touché.
Freud believed that, as children, we had pure dreams and feelings. Then, life happens and our honest wishes get muddied with what we’re “supposed” to feel and do. Dreams and the practice of interpreting them remind us of our pure desires, and also nudge us in the direction of fulfilling them.
Interpreting your dreams before they slip away from your memory is an art. Start by keeping a book and pen beside your bed. Even just intending to remember your dreams can jumpstart your memory in the morning. Some people suggest staying in bed until you remember something about your dream. If a dream wakes you up in the middle of the night, toss an item off your bedside table onto the floor — you’ll remember why it’s there in the morning, and something from your dream too.
The most honest method for interpreting your dreams is to feel into them. Suppose you had a dream about going to buy ice cream — it was sunny out and you went alone. How did you feel about going to get ice cream alone? Were you lonely? Did you sit in the sun? Maybe your dream was congratulating you for achieving your goals and going after what you want.
The point is, don’t rely too heavily on dream dictionaries. You’re going to decode your own dreams more accurately than you would be if you relied on an outside resource, and feeling into your dreams will help to resolve some of those childhood wishes that Freud was talking about.
Still, dream dictionaries are fascinating to flip through. Keep your mind’s eye open for these common dream themes in your sleep tonight:
This is all about feminine mystique; your intuition is telling you to look inwards for the answer to a problem. The moon can also signify an emotional change in your life.
Teeth falling out? This may symbolize a loss of control, or fearing a loss of control. What’s going on in your life that feels beyond your means? What can you do to fix that feeling?
Death in your dreams is all about entering a new cycle of your life. It’s rebirth and regeneration, so nothing to freak out about. In fact, you should be excited! Something new is coming your way and you’ll feel like a whole new person.
Is there someone in your life you feel threatened by? Talk to them. After you do, you won’t have dreams about being chased anymore.
Being naked in your dreams can be about feeling vulnerable or exposed, or it can symbolize your sexual energy. Check in with your love life and see if you’re feeling confident, satisfied, loved — all those wonderful things.
How you’re actually feeling about an event in your life is how water presents itself in your dreams. If you’re really upset about something, and really good at repressing your feelings, you may dream about choppy waves atop a deep, dark ocean. If you’re marrying your best friend and feeling really #blessed, you may dream about a gently flowing river.
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