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How many times have you had a strange dream and wondered what it could have meant? If you do not believe that dreams mean anything at all then that is okay. Some recent research argues that they are simply electric signals firing in our brains. If however, you want to attempt to interpret if your unconscious mind is trying to tell you something, then I have six common dream scenarios below and their potential meanings.

We only dream for around two hours every night. Dreaming occurs during the deepest part of sleep, during what is known as the ‘REM’ or ‘rapid eye movement[5]’ section of our sleep. This is when you brain is arguably working on consolidating long term memories. In addition to this, and as the name describes, your eyeballs move rapidly under the eyelids during this phase of sleep. If you are woken up and disturbed during this deep sleep then you are most likely to remember your dreams because they will be most vivid during this period. On the other hand, if you have had a good night’s sleep then you will have got through that REM cycle successfully and you will wake up and most likely not remember any of your dreams.

It can be useful and insightful, not to mention helpful, to explore if your dreams could possibly be trying to tell you something. If you have recurring and disturbing dreams for example, then these could be being triggered by stressful life events. If you can work out what these stressful events are, then you could possibly exert control over them and improve the quality of your sleep for the better and in the long run. Whilst this article is by no means definitive, it will hopefully offer you some insight into the meaning of your dreams. Let us now explore six of the more common dream scenarios out there.

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1. Being Chased

This is one of the most common dream scenarios which is widely described and discussed. In general, if one agrees with the premise of associating dreams with real life in the first place, then being chased in your dreams could mean that you are feeling threatened in some way. For example, if someone at work is exhibiting threatening or intimidating behavior towards you. It can also symbolize that you are worried, anxious or even feeling nervous about something such as an upcoming exam. Stressful family life or a busy work life could also be potential contributing factors for you.

If you experience this sort of 'chasing dream' scenario on a regular basis, then perhaps consider if there are areas of your life which you are feeling stressed about. If you can reduce this stress even in a small way, then it could have a positive impact on the quality of your sleep patterns in the future. 

TrappedCredit: DTL

2. Feeling Trapped

In a similar manner to being chased, feeling trapped also signifies that your unconscious mind is displaying a certain anxious and nervous energy. Perhaps you may be feeling stuck in your job prospects and unable to move up the career ladder. Are you stuck or restricted in a specific area geographically due to work or family commitments? These sorts of scenarios can lead to having dreams about being physically trapped.

Do you find yourself dreaming that you are trapped in a box, confined in a room or even stuck under water or in a car? Try to stand back from your daily life and find what the root cause of this dream could stem from. This is especially important if you have recurring versions of this dream which are worrying you. Your cognitive functioning and overall levels of happiness will be vastly improved by a good night’s sleep so it is worth exploring potential causes for you. In addition, seeking help could be an additional step to consider. 

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3. Falling

If you have experienced a dream concerning the experience of falling then you are certainly not alone. Many people have dreams regarding falling, be them falling down the stairs to falling off a cliff or even from a building. This often symbolizes that you are suffering with some level of anxiety. This could be over a specific issue and does not necessarily reflect that you are suffering with an anxiety disorder per se.

Instead, perhaps you are worried about losing control over a certain aspect of your life. You may have reached a very high level in your career and you are unconsciously displaying nervousness about your high status and position. You may be worried that you will eventually fall from this elevated post or have concerns that your status is being threatened in some manner. It could even potentially reflect a fear of falling from the good graces of your employer or family members.

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Facets of life in which you need to be in control or in charge of all the time can naturally put pressure on you, both physically but also mentally too. It is this mental pressure that can sometimes become overwhelming. Falling dream scenarios could be your brain's way of telling you to relax more and let go of controlling things or situations in a specific way. Once you address these sorts of issues in your life and you can identify them and make changes, then hopefully this sort of dream will fade and become less frequent for you.

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4. Flying

Dreaming that you are flying can certainly be a very literal experience for your unconscious mind. If you are soaring high above the clouds, buildings or scenery, then perhaps this reflects that you are doing very well in your career or that you are feeling very happy and content or powerful. However, if you are flying near to the ground and bumping into obstacles, then perhaps you are pushing yourself forwards in life but stumbling along the way. Could you be struggling with revision for a specific exam or are you feeling frustrated with something?

If you are feeling inspired, powerful and confident, and that you are achieving your life goals, then flying high in your dreams could be your unconscious mind processing this in some manner. Flying dreams are certainly one of the more positive dream cases discussed in this article, and unless they are causing you distress, they should not be anything to worry about. (Unless you are scared of heights of course, then seeking help may be preferable).

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5. Animals

Among the many other dream ‘symbols’ if you will, are animals. Animals ranging from your pets to wild lions and tigers could feature in your dreams. (You may even have the occasional dragon or unicorn pop up too). If the animal is dangerous and approaching you or chasing you, then this could relate to an unconscious fear of something else in your life. It has also been said that this could be linked to a repressed emotion you are feeling such as aggression.

On the other hand, if the animals are small and sweet and not harming you in any way, then this reflects your closeness to nature. Perhaps you have recently acquired a new pet or have recently suffered the loss of a loved pet. Your dreams can be a place to process this sort of emotion on an unconscious level. To some extent, these dreams could bring you a sense of closure around the issue. However, it could also leave you asking questions too, especially if you have never owned any pets before, or if you dislike certain animals which present themselves in your dreams.

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If you have ever been afraid of animals as a child or even bitten or attacked by one, then dreaming of them could indeed symbolize some kind of latent fear of animals that has crept back into your life. Perhaps a recent visit to a zoo, pet store or even a television programme has triggered this memory and fear for you again.

One way to overcome a fear of animals if you have one, would be to educate yourself as much as possible about the specific animal that you are afraid of. Watch nature documentaries on them, read books and learn about them online to further confront the subject. If it is possible, and only when you feel ready, maybe attempt to see one in real life, perhaps at a zoo. Hopefully equipped with your new understanding and knowledge of the animal, you will be better able to overcome your issue with them. As the well known saying goes ‘knowledge is power’.

WaterCredit: pedrojperez

6. Water

Water can frequently feature in dreams, and depending on the nature of it, can have many different meanings. For example, if you frequently dream of calm lakes and ponds, then water may be bringing you inner peace and tranquility. However, if you dream of choppy rapids and waterfalls then this may reflect a strong sense of aggression, fear and unease about situations in your life at present.

Being trapped in water can also occur in dreams, so refer to point two regarding feeling trapped for further information. However, being trapped in water or perhaps an upturned boat, could symbolize a real sense of urgency and panic regarding something in your life. Do you have exams coming up? Perhaps you have a looming test or something else which you are finding equally as stressful to prepare for? Learn to recognize this feeling if your dreams frequently feature water in this kind of rapid or aggressive manner.

If your dreams are frequently causing you concern, then try to find coping mechanisms to ease that sense of tension that you are experiencing in life. From trying out yoga exercises to meditation or even listening to calming music, there are many ways in which you can lower your stress levels and improve the quality of your sleep for the better.

Whilst there are countless other dream scenarios out there which you may experience, hopefully this article can provide you with a few useful explanations to some of the most common ones. Lastly, remember that whilst dreams can convey truthful aspects of reality, they are essentially simply the inner games and thoughts of your unconscious mind.

Below is a YouTube video from the channel ‘DNews’ with the presenter Annie who discusses if our dreams really do mean anything today.