If you are lucky enough to attend this year’s annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, you might attend a workshop with dream interpretation icon Patricia Garfield, Ph.D. She is co-founder of the IASD and most impressive in her wealth of knowledge of dreams and dreamers from around the world.
In her book The Universal Dream Key Garfield distills the results of her study of dreams contributed from 500 dreamers - 325 from the United States and 175 from thirty-six other countries.
The product is a practical guide for applying dreams to our daily lives as well as understanding our dreams in the greater context of the “epics that have been told since the dawn of time.” Garfield goes on to say that “the intimate stories that you tell yourself tonight when you go to bed have flowed across the centuries from cave dweller to condo dweller…They unveil not only your most intimate secrets but also the dreads and desires of humankind.”
Here are the top two of the 12 most common dream themes that Garfield has identified in her book. You are sure to recognize them from your own nocturnal travels!
#1. Being chased or attacked v. being embraced or loved. More than 80% of dreamers report one or both sides of this dream motif. Garfield cites the usual meaning of such dreams as it equates to the dreamer’s waking life: I feel hounded, threatened or attacked by a person in my environment or by a strong internal emotion.
Sound familiar? Such dreams will occur when desperate feelings dog us in our waking lives. The dream can be a not-so-subtle prodding to deal with the situation or experience nighttime replays until you do! More depth of understanding comes with insights into who or what is chasing you.
In contrast, being embraced or loved in a dream may speak to that universal human yearning to connect. Again, who or what the dreamer is embracing, or being embraced by will offer another important layer of meaning.
#2. Falling or drowning v. swimming or dancing joyfully. A hefty 64% of dreamers in Garfield’s study report one or both sides of this dream scenario. She offers a starting point for understanding the frightening experience as equating with a waking emotional state of insecurity, feeling adrift without solid footing or support.
If you are feeling helpless, overwhelmed or wanting to give up, surrender (drown), an accompanying dream of falling or drowning is likely slated for your restless sleep. Such a dream prompts you to acknowledge your feelings and circumstance and to seek the appropriate support and assistance.
It follows that swimming or dancing joyfully in your dream would speak to a sensation of skill or accomplishment in your waking life. Perhaps your dream depicts you in the mode or seeking it as an encouragement to press on in your endeavors.
The IASD Conference is slated for Berkeley in June this year. Hope to see you there!
Sweet Dreams to You!