by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
I’ve always had pretty active dreams. I am one of those people who, for the most part, can remember my dreams. Occasionally I will have one that gets away from me and flits off into the ethers, but not terribly often.
Interestingly, there are some symbols that show up repeatedly in my dreams that seem precede certain types of events in my life. For instance, when I am going through very difficult times, if I dream of whales and dolphins, whatever that difficulty is usually resolves itself within a day or two of the dream. When I dream of a certain childhood friend, it usually precedes a huge change in my life. When I dream about earthquakes, there usually is one within a day. When I dream about train derailments, same thing.
When someone I care about dies, I typically have a very lifelike and vivid dream of that person within days of their death. Those dreams are so vivid that they used to terrify me and I would force myself awake only to realize later that there was nothing to be afraid of.
So what does it all mean? Is there more to dreams than just a surreal world that exists when I drift off to sleep every night?
According to G. William Domhoff of DreamResearch.net, “…the most prominent theory of dream function is that dreams provide solutions to current problems, especially emotional problems (Barrett, 1993; Greenberg, Katz, Schwartz, & Pearlman, 1992; Greenberg & Pearlman, 1993). In one variant, Fiss (1993) suggests that dreams are especially good at registering subtle internal and external signals that often go undetected in waking life, making them potentially useful for picking up early signs of physical illness.”
Domhoff goes on to say that dreams may offer signs of preoccupation with a problem, but if a solution arises as a result of a dream, it is most likely arrived at in a waking state, not a sleeping one.
Here is a dream that I’ve had recurrently at times when my life has felt out of control. I am in a car. It is rolling down a hill towards a lake at the bottom. There is a road where I can either choose to turn right or left, but neither my steering wheel nor my brakes work.
Here is another that I have when I am feeling trapped by circumstances. I get on an elevator. I push my button for my floor. There are others on the elevator as well. The elevator will stop on their floors to let them on or off, but it always goes right on past the floor that I want.
It doesn’t seem to difficult to interpret those dreams. The symbolism and its interpretation appears to be very straight-forward.
There are a large number of theories about dream interpretation – mostly not based on anything scientific. You can find books and websites about such dreams. For instance, I just went to dreammoods.com and typed in “dolphins”. This is what I got:
“To see a dolphin in your dream, symbolizes spiritual guidance, your intellect, mental attributes and emotional trust. Utilize your mind to its capacity and you will move upward in life. Alternatively, it suggests that a line of communication has been established between the conscious and unconscious aspects of yourself. Dolphins represent your willingness and ability to explore and navigate through your emotions.”
Sort of makes sense, I guess.
This is what it said about elevators:
“To dream that the elevator is out of order or that it is not letting you off, symbolizes that your emotions have gotten out of control. It may be a reflection of your life or your career. You are feeling stuck in some aspect of your life, whether it is your career, relationship, etc.”
Apparently I’m not the only one who has that dream.
Last night’s dream involved a clogged toilet. Seriously. Now that is something I want to spend my time with when I am asleep. Anyway – here is what the dream site says about toilets:
“To see a clogged toilet in your dream, signifies that you are holding and keeping your feelings to yourself. Your emotions have been pent up too long and you need to let go of the negative feelings.
To see an overflowing or flooded toilet in your dream, denotes your desires to fully express your emotions.”
Gosh – and here I thought I was pretty good with my emotions. Perhaps I need a plunger.
Scientific studies done on dreams show that dreams most likely have no adaptive function in our lives. This extrapolation points to the fact that we have very little recall of the majority of our dreams, so it is highly likely that they don’t exist as a means of communication.
Obviously, all of those who specialize in interpreting dreams disagree. According to dream interpreters, our dreams are teeming with symbolism that, if we tune into it, can give us guidance about how we are feeling, where we have been and where we are going.
I recently interviewed artist, Jody Bergsma, who will be in our artist spotlight in the August Issue of Paranormal Underground. Jody has always had a very active dream life. And those dreams have become the impetus for her art.
There are many very different extrapolations about what dreams really are. So who’s right? Maybe the answer is that it is that it is all right. Sometimes, dreams are meaningless. Sometimes they are the impetus and inspiration for works of genius. And occasionally, maybe dreams are telling us something if we choose to listen.
We know very little about the workings of the human mind. We know even less about consciousness and what lies beyond our physical reality. How can we ultimately know, then, the significance of dreams for the individual? We can’t.
If you have a dream, and it has significance to you, then maybe there is something in it for you. I guess it’s up to you to find out.