Remember that dream where you would run through a dark, narrow tunnel being chased by someone? Or the one where you flew over the vast fields, observing the landscape from above? Finding yourself in a classroom right before an exam you weren’t properly prepared for? These are just some examples of common activities and dream themes we probably all had at one point or the other. According to Patricia Garfield (1) there are twelve major dream themes that we all dream about at some point of our lives:
1) Being Chased or Attacked (versus Being Embraced or Loved)
2) Being Injured, Ill or Dying (Versus Being Healed, Born or Reborn)
3) Vehicular Trouble (versus Vehicular Pleasure)
4) Property Loss or Damage (versus Improvement)
5) Poor Test or Other Performance (versus Fine Performance)
6) Falling or Drowning (versus Flying, Swimming or Dancing Joyfully)
7) Being Naked in Public or Inappropriately Dressed (versus Being Well-Dressed)
8) Missing the Boat or Other Transport (versus Pleasant Travel)
9) Machine or Telephone Malfunction (versus Smooth Operation)
10) Natural or Manmade Disasters (versus Natural Beauty, Miracles or Rituals)
11) Being Lost or Trapped (versus Discovering New Spaces)
12) Being Menaced by a Spirit (versus Being Guided by a Spirit)
Each of them can be viewed as a symbolic representation related to something in our waking lives and thus “interpreted” in order to gain a better understanding of why something is happening to us.
On the other hand we can also look at them just as “activities” similar as we would if they actually happened to us. If we look at them as such, several questions can be asked: Do certain dream activities happen at the time of certain events in our waking life? Do different people experience the same activities at the same time? Can these activities be connected to a specific “location” in the dream world? If we learn something in our dreams, can we also do it in our waking life?
When looking for answers to the above questions, becoming familiar with the activities in your dreams opens a whole new field of research. Let’s take a look at nightmares, for example. I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the feelings of fear and dread when waking up from one of them in the middle of the night (not counting the false awakenings here, for they seem to be a completely different kind of dreams). Have you ever considered if your nightmares have a common theme? Did you ever think about what you were doing (or what was happening to you) in them? Or maybe even, “where” did they happen?
When speaking about nightmares we usually think in terms of some suppressed trauma or deep fear residing within us. But if we change our perspective, we can also find a great treasure within each of them. By facing our “inner demons” we actually face (and if successful, even defeat) our fears which can lead to a happier life. And that’s what we’re all striving for, right?
Until next time – happy exploring! 😉
(1) Garfield, Patricia. The Universal Dream Key: The 12 Most Common Dream Themes Around the World, HarperCollins, 2001