The Meaning Water in Dreams

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

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6 Responses to The Meaning Water in Dreams

  1. Gblaze June 16, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    This is such a helpful post! Thank-you! I just joined your dream forum you posted on Twitter and literally just posted there about a dream under water. I will still be interested to hear more, if possible, but this post alone answers a lot of questions.

    If water is emotion, and a man made container is a way of seeking control of that emotion (or an uncoscious exploration), would the waking so suddenly gasping for breath mean I feel it is beyond my capability right now? I was very surprised first by the vividness of the dream, then the very slow-motion of it, and then finally the physicality of the waking literally gasping to inhale as though I could not wait any longer to breathe even though in the dream it seemed I would be fine and make it to the surface.

    At any rate, the discussion here of what water means in a dream is helpful and extremely interesting. Thanks again!

  2. mlennox June 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm #


    Thank you, I’m so pleased the post was valuable for you. I think your perspective on how to interpret gasping for breath as you wake up is right on the money! If you want to go deeper with this dream, try this exercise – get very relaxed and use your imagination to picture yourself back under water, just as you were in your dream. Then imagine yourself being able to open your mouth and breathe freely under water as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Check back with me to let me know how that feels and if you have any dreams in the near future that reveal more!

    Dr. Michael Lennox

  3. Shannon November 20, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    I had a dream I was sitting in between two bodies of water.. One like a lake and small waves.. And on my right clear water with white fish swimming in my backyard.. Like spring water, I could see to the bottom.. I’m not sure what this means.. It was vivid

  4. Jillian May 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    I have dreamt of this person that I’m not very close to in my life but I know and every time I do I start off looking at the ocean and then proceed to meet/talk to him and usually I have some sort of panic afterwards usually from a different source. It is not a reoccurring dream but the dreams follow the same stencil/outline. Does this mean anything?

  5. Cherie December 13, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    I keep dreaming that rain or water gets into the roof of my house and then I pull out a bit of cotton and the roof caves in. I save all the children, that don’t appear to be mine. But then we have a house with no roof.

  6. Tanya December 5, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    Okay, water dreams mean we are having emotional depths that need exploring but how does one explore the meaning? Last night, I had an often recurring dream. I was riding with someone whom I didn’t know, down a mid size hill into a huge body of water that had a causeway. Sing the water, we immediately turn around and leave. Why this same crazy water scene dream?