I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland recently and while I waited for a friend near one of the exhibits, the attendant engaged me in conversation. At first he approached me to ask if I wanted to be in the queue for a photo with Lightning McQueen (star of Cars), but on hearing my Aussie accent, his eyes lit up and he asked me what I was doing in the US. When I explained I had travelled to the other side of the world for a dream teacher training, his eyes widened, and he exclaimed, “oh, I have this recurring dream!” He was super keen to tell it to me, and of course, doing what I do, I was equally as eager to hear it.
The same thing happened again a couple of weeks ago closer to home, and again, the woman I was randomly chatting to had not just one dream, but a series of recurring dreams she wanted to share with me and get some guidance on.
So what is the purpose of recurring dreams and why do they come to us?
Why do some reappear only for a few weeks or months, while others keep coming for years?
There are in my experience, two main types of recurring dreams:
- recurring dreams that, as far as you remember, seem to be exactly the same dream coming over and over again over a period of time, and
- recurring theme dreams, where there is a central theme, object or character (or more than one) that is the same but the other elements of the dream might be quite different.
These dreams come – and keep coming – because there is a message that we are not receiving, and the fact that they keep coming indicates it’s an important message – something we really need to hear or resolve for our health and wellbeing, or to make positive progress in life.
Many recurring dreams are positive, however it is the frightening or discomforting ones I most often hear about. The seemingly identical recurring dream can be something that comes because of an unresolved fear. For example, when I was a child, I had a recurring dream for a while that a wagon full of ghostly figures was clacking up our street, coming to get me. I would wake up and lie, terrified and frozen, in my bed. This went on for quite some time, sparked by a noise I would hear in the middle of the night that seemed to happen quite regularly, sort of a scratching, clicking noise.
Then one day, my sister produced this same very weird noise, which turned out to be her scratching the inside of her throat by creating some sort of internal throat muscle movement. (Don’t ask me how – I’ve tried to reproduce it and can’t do it, and I haven’t ever heard anyone else do it!) The instant I heard it, I realised this was the noise I’d been hearing in the night that had been sparking these terrible dreams!
And guess what happened? That’s right. I never had that particular dream again. It was resolved. The fear was dissolved in that moment of realisation, so things were back in balance and I had no need of dream any more.
Then there were the recurring passport dreams, in which I would arrive at an airport and get to customs, only to discover that I didn’t have my passport, so I wouldn’t be allowed through. These dreams were coming regularly for some weeks, and when I was invited on an unexpected overseas trip, scheduled to depart a few weeks later, these dreams inspired me to check my passport before I ordinarily would have. On checking it, I discovered that it was due to expire and if I didn’t renew it before my trip, I wouldn’t be going anywhere!
These are two simple but very practical stories of how recurring dreams bring us important messages to resolve a fear, as in the first story, or actually help us in waking life to prevent a very real problem, as in the second.
There are countless stories documented of people who have been made aware of serious illnesses and even the date of their death through recurring dreams, so these dreams are often very serious messages of survival and we need to listen to them when they come.
Recurring dreams can be:
- Health advisories
- Indicators of unresolved fear
- Warnings of a waking life situation that might put us, or someone we know, in danger (to help us avoid it)
- Signs of a great opportunity we may otherwise miss (new job, new relationship etc.)
- Creative awakenings and ideas
- Revisiting unhealed or unresolved traumas
- And many more
It’s all good and well to know the general purpose of recurring dreams, but
How do you actually work with them? How do you “get” whatever the message is?
(particularly when we often have blind spots around things that confront us or cause us discomfort)
That’s one of the tricky things about recurring dreams – they are often showing us something that we are afraid of facing, or that makes us feel uncomfortable, so we tend to try and ignore them, or brush them off. But they keep coming, making it hard to ignore them, particularly if they leave us feeling uneasy or afraid or out of whack somehow.
And therein lies the first key to getting their messages. I’ve written before about the importance of honouring your dream feelings, and again, I stress the importance of feelings.
If you wake up with a strong feeling after every recurring dream, ask yourself questions about your waking life situations and behaviours. The woman I mentioned above awoke from every one of her recurring dreams feeling embarrassed, after being discovered in her old house by the new owners, who were shocked to find her there. In her waking life she had no attachment to her old house, which indicated to me (if it were my dream) that the old house may have been symbolising something else in “my” life (possibly an outmoded way of being in the world or an old pattern that wasn’t serving “me”). With this in mind, if it were my dream, the questions I may find helpful to ask might not have anything to do with houses, but everything to do with old ways of being or behaviours, where there might be a fear of being embarrassed, or where there might be a waking life situation where “I” feel like an imposter (and if so, what action might “I” take to resolve that)?*
(*Note that stating “if it were my dream” and substituting “her” for “I” allows us to offer our insights of what it would mean for us, rather than telling them what it means for them. The dreamer is the only person who can say whether something feels true for them or not.)
Sit with uncomfortable feelings and ask questions from different angles to get more clarity on what the dream might be showing you.
In the case of my passport dream, if I wasn’t actually planning to travel, I might have considered that these dreams could have been showing me that somewhere in my life I didn’t have what I needed to pass through some kind of gateway or initiation – to get to a new level, perhaps of a relationship, a job promotion, or something else.
Recurring Theme Dreams differ from more simple recurring dreams in that they tend to show us different situations containing the same characters or objects or central theme.
One reason for recurring dream themes is that there is a situation that you are gradually resolving within yourself, so the dreams will indicate that you are making progress with the situation in some way. And this will often happen if you are working to honour each dream in your waking life as it comes to you.
A second reason is that you are still not getting a message, so your dream producers are dressing the message up in different costumes, trying to attract your notice by giving it to you in ways that make you sit up and take notice, and offering you different angles.
Our dream producers are very clever, and I sometimes wonder if they are laughing at our inability or stubborn resistance to see what they are trying to show us!
Do you have a recurring dream you would like to share or receive guidance on? Contact Kate now.