Last week, I was giving a talk on nightmares and people in the audience were having a blast trying to outdo each other with the intensity of their dream images. There is nothing like the vast landscape of the dream world with which to play “I can top that!” There was scenario after scenario, each scarier than the other and the laughter of recognition as this group of individuals appreciated the variety of their dream experiences.
After ten or so minutes of this, one man sheepishly raised his hand. Almost apologetically, he said, “It doesn’t matter what I dream about or where I am, but I am constantly finding myself crawling out of a tunnel that closes in on me toward the exit, to the point where I have to squeeze myself out.” He went on to explain that he could be going from one room to another, or from outside going into a building (or inside one going out) but that he always seems to find himself trapped in some sort of narrow passage. Panic sets in, but just as the tunnel closes, he always manages to get through.
This dream is about transitions and changes in the dreamer’s life. Since he has had it many times throughout his life, it has become a very effective way for his unconscious to use the dream life to help him process the fears and challenges that come up when life is reflecting a big change.
A tunnel brings people from one location to another. In this way, a dream about being in a tunnel is going to symbolize the process of transformation that is occurring when you leave a destination behind and have not yet arrived where you think you are heading to. What is important to consider is that a tunnel is not an organic way of getting to one’s destination; it is a man made structure. The change that is taking place when a tunnel becomes the symbolic representation of that change is one that must be planned, engineered and then executed.
As an example, this dream might come up the dreamer himself must actually construct how he is going to change his life, as opposed to a change when all that really needs to happen is for time to pass, or for someone else to make a decision. Tunnels are also underground, so the transition in life that this dream represents are associated with things you want to keep hidden and out of sight – to occur below the surface so they don’t interfere with life on the ground above. The danger therein is that you could be crushed or squeezed as whatever transition you are undergoing is coming to a close – I am reminded of the phrase “it’s always darkest before the dawn,” in the way that as you go through a big change, the longer and harder you have to work, it is always toward the end that you think you can’t take any more and feel the most squeezed. This is where the anxiety and panic come in.
It is important to notice with this dream that you always get through…just like in life. We are often terrified by change, feel we want to hide the impact of what is going on, keep our challenges below the surface of other people’s ability to see what’s going on and that we have to work so long on something, we might not make it all the way to our destiny. But we do. This dream probably helps you balance out the stress so you can wake up each day and face the next part of the tunnel you are making your way through.
A nightmare is essentially like any dream, mixing familiar and unfamiliar imagery, offering non-sequitors, fragmented stories, and replaying scenes of real life. What make a dream a nightmare are simply the feelings and sensations that accompany it. Dreams are compensatory by nature. They help us restore balance to our emotions. Life can be scary and dreams that leave us frightened are part of what helps us wake up and face life again with a clean slate.
A great many of the images that populate children’s nightmares arrive there via the media children experience. This has created the notion that scary movies will “give you nightmares”—and they certainly can. You watch Snow White with your kids and that night they dream about the Wicked Queen. One of your children wakes up in the middle of the night crying; you find out that they were dreaming about the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. This is not a new phenomenon; one can imagine the children a hundred and twenty-five years ago waking from nightmares after having read the latest short story from Edgar Allen Poe. But certainly the images offered to our children these days—both their graphicness and their frequency—cause nightmares of increasing ferocity.
Nightmares often share characteristics. They are all of common breed. Often there is a sense of danger in an otherwise idyllic setting. Sometimes, there is a clear villain and they feel they are in danger of some kind. Often, the sense of terror is what your child remembers without being able to report on any specific imagery. Whatever the case, the power in the nightmare is its ability to represent the scary side of life.
We need this symbolic representation of the dark. Despite our insistence that life should be all ease and goodness, it really shouldn’t be. A world without fear would be a very destructive place for our psyches. Fear teaches us, helps us grow—it is foundational, one of the necessary elements of being alive. The only way to live free of fear’s domination is to possess healthy mechanisms that help you to deal with fear and express it rather than repress it. Nightmares are one such healthy mechanism, allowing us to express fear in a very practical and effective manner.
They do their job well, and can be so effective that they stay with us for a long time. A friend of mine, Emanuel, a forty-one year old man who grew up in New York and Los Angeles, still remembers a nightmare from his childhood. When he was about twelve, he dreamed of being a passenger in his father’s car. They drove through his neighborhood on a cloudy fall day. When he looked out the window, dead people were sprawled on the lawns of the houses they passed. As he shared his dream, a surprising thing happened. Dozens of details flooded his memory. He began to recall more and more of the dream, and was shocked at how much he could actually remember. His unconscious opened up, and poured vivid details back to him. He said he felt as though the dream had just occurred.
He remembered being at a party before leaving in the car with his father. He recalled the layout of the house, its roundness, its large, spiral staircases surrounded by balconies of varying size and shape. After climbing the stairs, he went out onto one of the balconies, where blood began dripping from somewhere above. He remembered running to the floor above, where he found the source of the dripping blood was, in fact, a decapitated head.
After remembering these additional details, Emanuel now had more pieces of the puzzle. He recalled walking through the neighborhood, staring long, gated driveways that led to mansions hidden by hedges and trees. The dead bodies on the lawns were the security guards, and there was no one else around. Alone, he remembered his father had gone up to one of the houses to see if they could find out what was going on. Standing on the street, he saw a woman dressed only in a black negligee ride past on a bicycle. He described her as a prostitute and added that she seemed very out of place.
That’s a lot of detail, all resting in his unconscious for thirty years, waiting for a moment to be let out again. What can we make of this? Well, let’s start with a little interpretation. Without knowing exactly what was going on with Emanuel when he had the dream, we can’t be too precise about what to make of it. But given that he says he was about twelve when he had it, we know that we are talking about the period of time just prior to adolescence. Given that, there are two images that stand out: the decapitated head and the prostitute on the bike. This could very well connect to the intense thoughts that preoccupy most adolescents, sexual feelings exposed and out of place, could be symbolically represented by the bike-riding whore. These thoughts might just be too much to bear, hence the decapitated head.
There are more themes being expressed in this dream as we look at some of the other imagery. Houses often represent our sense of self in dreams, and in this dream, the houses are not visible, conjuring thoughts of not being ready to show one’s self to the world. The security guards protect these homes and have been killed, further emphasizing a sense of vulnerability.
But why did this dream stay with this dreamer for so long? The human mind is still more mystery than mastery, but I can surmise that there is some very important function that dark, scary images provide for us. They give us the hooks on which we hang the coats of our fears and uncertainties, so that we can approach life with confidence and self-assurance. And just like waking life experiences that stay prominent in our memory, so can the traces of long ago dreams last well into adulthood. By staying with him so long, Emanuel was certainly able to gain some insight into his childhood experience by examining this dream several decades after it occurred.
Dr. Michael Lennox
Houses in dreams are the symbolic representation of the dreamer’s sense of self. No matter what other imagery or circumstances may present themselves in a dream, a house should be considered an unconscious expression of your sense of personal identity. This also applies to any home-like dwelling, such as an apartment, hotel room, trailer, grass hut or any of the possibilities of “home” that exist in the imagination.
The perspective or view of the house takes on specific meaning. The front of a house connects to the persona, the part of you that you show the world. The back is what is private or hidden. What you discover on the inside reflects various, compartmentalized aspects of yourself. Side views or alternate angles may connect to presenting yourself in the world in a limited, partial or inaccurate fashion.
The size, style, condition and reflection of abundance levels will play a key role in interpreting this symbol in a dream. You will need to consider both the feelings evoked by the house in the dream itself, as well as what comes up for you when comparing it to your actual, waking-life home. Whatever shades of meaning you glean from your dream must be interpreted as reflecting an unconscious expression of self.
A mansion on a grand scale may indicate a sense of opening yourself up to greater levels of abundance. This could also be revealing a level of inappropriate grandiosity, depending on your current levels of esteem. Conversely, a moment in life that feels constraining and steeped in lack might evoke a dream image of a house that is more hovel than home. Yet, this same image could be a symbolic representation of deeper levels of humility emerging within you.
A new house might mean a new sense of self is on the horizon, or needs to be. An older, dilapidated model reflects feelings in sync with such a visual image. Adding an extension indicates such an expansion may be occurring on a personal level. A house on fire is expressing that powerful levels of transformation are afoot. Whatever the Dreaming Lens is offering you about a house should be incorporated into an interpretation of your sense of self at the time of the dream.
If you dream of a specific home from an earlier time in your life, you are looking at the person you are today as a direct result of what was going on back then. This can refer to occurrences in the environment associated with the home and the people in it, as well as developmental issues based on your age at the time, which brings us to our next concept.
Dr Michael Lennox
Water represents emotion, and the physiological association of emotional expression and tears is at the heart of this meaning. Crying is perhaps one of the most intense of all life experiences. When we are moved to tears, the pervading emotional state is a feeling of loss. Even tears of joy embody this perspective. When we cry out of happiness, we are actually being moved by how the joyous stimulus reminds us of previous moments of loss. It is a powerful notion, then, to consider that such emotional experiences cause us to literally lose part of the very element that makes us up.
The shedding of tears is a marvel; the welling up and overflow of water from inside the body is a fascinating mystery. Almost entirely exclusive to human beings, tears are a phenomenon that has implications of a deep connection between us and the planet we call home. It is common knowledge that the human body is comprised of more than sixty percent water. This essential, life-sustaining compound literally leaks out of us when we cry. If one were to consider how our water-rich bodies mirror our water-rich Earth, there is no corollary planetary equivalent to the human process of crying. Only rainfall is similar, though there is a complex system of replenishment with rain that does not have a corresponding function with tears. Remember, too, that rain is frequently found in literature and films to suggest certain moods. These images figure prominently in our imagination as symbolic for crying.
Weather formations of water in a dream–from rainy mist to torrential storms–connect to the flow of conscious emotional expression. Bodies of water–from a babbling brook to the deepest ocean–relate to one’s unconscious emotions; those which are hidden below the surface. Both offer you a snapshot of your emotional state at the time of a particular dream. Any symbol of water indicates that an unconscious emotional investigation is underway. The size, scope and behavior of the water will inform you of the depth and impact of the emotions as they are being experienced.
To discover the various possible shades of meaning, it is best to get very literal with your interpretation. The larger the body of water, the more emotionality is being revealed. One that is smaller reflects a less imposing amount of feeling. There are deep bodies of water where only the surface is visible, such as an ocean or lake. These symbols imply levels of emotion that are primarily unconscious as represented by the sheer amount of it that is below the surface and therefore unseen. The deeper the bottom, the more hidden the roots of the issues at hand.
Moving water connects to emotional flow: the volume of that flow will illuminate your level of manageability or overwhelm. A creek does not have the same power as a mighty river. Waves often show up to represent sudden, overwhelming onslaughts of emotional material. Fresh, clean water indicates a purity of emotion, whereas polluted water would demand that you consider the toxicity of the emotions that are present in your life. Water that is stagnant could be showing you the harmful effects of emotions that are not being expressed.
Water that is contained in any way points to an unconscious desire to exert emotional control, especially if the container is man-made. A fountain, for example, could represent a desire to be emotionally expressive, but in a way that is manageable and pleasant. Smaller receptacles, such as cups or cookware, may indicate levels of emotionality that are both containable and constructive, where water can be nurturing and cleansing. In such cases, water is capable of dissolving that which is stuck as well as able to wash away dirt and debris.
Dr. Micheal Lennox
is an innovative concept designed to help you effectively interpret the symbols that appear in your dreams. It guides you through the examination of specific dream imagery in three easy steps. By looking at this material on universal, contextual and personal levels, the resulting interpretation will reveal what your unconscious mind is expressing through your dreams. Through this technique, you can gain even more insight from your unconscious to help you in your waking life.
When most people attempt to interpret an image or symbol that appears in a dream, they begin with their personal feelings about what they are attempting to understand. Since we experience our lives through our conscious minds which can only view the world through the lens of our individual perspective and experience, this is quite natural. However, it is not the most effective way to approach the unconscious mind.
There are many psychological theories that attempt to explain how our unconscious mind works and why all human beings seem to be related through what is known as the “collective unconscious.” You don’t have to know or understand these theories to use them. However, if you are interested in exploring your dreams, then you have probably already noticed the strange and wonderful connection that all human beings share. Nowhere is this more evident than in the dreams people have as exemplified by the similarity of images and themes reported by dreamers from completely different walks of life.
The language of both the personal and collective unconscious is symbolic in nature and predominantly expresses itself through creative endeavors such as art, slips of the tongue, seemingly accidental behaviors, and of course, through our dreams. Though it is the much larger part of our psyches, the unconscious is felt as very separate from everything that we experience consciously. The meaning we assign to something with our conscious minds is the personal meaning and includes our thoughts, feelings, opinions and judgments. In order to bring you to a truly revealing interpretation of a dream symbol, you must combine both the personal meaning and the universal meaning of that symbol. DreamSight is designed to help you accomplish this often elusive and misunderstood task
Dr. Micheal Lennox