If you live in Australia, keep an eye out for “The Art of Healing” magazine in your local news agency, a very beautifully produced magazine I am proud to be a regular contributor to. (You can also subscribe online here.)
This quarter, my column is about using dreams to explore the depths of our emotions. When dreams are speaking of emotions, they often include the symbols of water, the sea and even tidal waves, which you can explore more about on this site.
Stay tuned for the article next quarter, which will be about prodromic dreaming, or using dreams to diagnose and heal physical illness.
Dreams of a tidal wave, a tsunami or any massive wave, may be common, but this does not make them any less terrifying or disturbing. Tidal Waves dreams are usually experienced from the viewpoint of watching it approach, either on shore, from a hill or some other near-by vantage point. This dream may often be accompanied by a sense of fear or panic. To understand dreams of this nature, it can help to start by understanding what water and the sea mean to us in dreams (see “Meaning of Water in Dreams” post.) If we look at water in our dreams as a symbol of our emotions and feelings, part of our inner world, then tidal waves can be like our emotions welling up and getting a little out of control. One of the advantages of being on shore or nearby watching the wave approach in the dream, is that it gives us an opportunity to step outside ourselves and look at what we we are feeling. This is usually a helpful thing to do when our emotions get so strong that they well up into a massive wave!
Tidal waves often appear in our dreams when are under a lot of pressure or when significant change is occurring. They may be a an indication that we feel a little overwhelmed, that maybe we fear we won’t be able to cope or adjust with what we see in our own future. They may occur as recurring dreams, with the wave getting bigger or closer over subsequent nights. This may correspond to our increasing anxiety, or the looming date we fear getting closer. It is worth recognising that when we have these tidal wave dreams there is often an area of our life that we are not looking at clearly, or that we are avoiding. Tidal wave and tsunami dreams remind us that if we don’t confront and deal with things that are out of balance in our life, then they will confront us first! There are fewer clearer signs of confrontation than standing right before a towering body of surging water!
The things that we aren’t confronting may be as easy to identify as a test we are afraid of failing, a deadline we feel we won’t be able to meet, or a location or job move we don’t feel ready for. Tidal wave dreams may come because we are procrastinating, or simply don’t feel prepared. Or as water relates to our emotions, a tidal wave in a dream can come at the beginning of new relationships. We may even feel overwhelmed at how much we feel for someone! But like most dreams, dreams of tidal waves often work on many levels. Whether external pressures are dominant in our life or not, a tidal wave dream will often indicate a period of internal change. Remember that the sea is often a symbol for our own subconscious, so a giant wave in the sea can be like our subconscious rising up, making sure its power is felt through-out our waking and conscious life.
The sea can be a symbol for our own subconscious mind
This need not be such a scary or intimidating thing. By working with our dreams, we can come to feel comfortable in the realm of the subconscious. Those big, powerful, unknown forces that exist inside us and drive us and sometimes feel like they are going to overwhelm us, become far less terrifying when we are familiar with them. When we realise they are simply a part of us and can be managed, tidal wave dreams no longer seem so urgent. To deal with tidal waves in dreams we can apply the same technique that we use when fleeing anything that scares us, and that is to confront it. You may think, how on earth do I confront a a tidal wave? It is so big, it can’t be killed or negotiated with, so how can it be beaten? But just as all things in our dreams are part of us, so too are tidal waves. And if tidal waves are a symbol for our subconscious, this is not something I would suggest we should want to beat into submission or seek to tame. The approach then is to merge with it. Tidal wave dreams and tsunami dreams invite us to dive into our subconscious, then perhaps we can learn to swim or surf and enjoy the experience of being at one with our-self, of exploring our emotions. If we are lucky, we may even learn to breathe under water. Some people are able to use diving into tidal waves as a trigger for lucid dreaming. Like flying then, swimming underwater or surfing a tidal wave can become one of the most exhilarating dream experiences, rather than one of anxiety or fear. Just one of the many rewards of working on our dreams and coming to know our own subconscious mind better!
Ah, water dreams! One of my personal favourites! But it was not always so!
Water in dreams can reveal a lot about our inner state of being. Is the water clear or murky? Calm and bright, or dark and stormy? This can reflect whether we are feeling equally calm and bright, or troubled and upset.
Water is also a useful metaphor for the “surface”, indicating whether we are taking a superficial approach and skating along the surface of our lives, or diving in deep and really immersing ourselves in our feelings and experiences. It is not uncommon to have dreams of diving deep into crystal clear water when falling in love!
The meaning of water in dreams can often refer to the Soul, our creativity and emotions. We may have water in our dreams if we feel the need to be replenished, if we have been working too hard, or giving a lot of emotional support to another. Water in dreams often turns up at times of great distress, when we can feel we are “drowning” in sorrow, in work, or in a relationship that is going wrong. But these dreams also come back when we are growing stronger, showing us that we have learned how to swim, or breathe under water, or surf. This means we are recovering, and even if the outside world hasn’t quite caught up yet, our subconscious is soothing and reassuring us that it soon will, for we have found the strength and the wisdom we need inside ourselves.
“Water is the softest and most yielding substance. Yet nothing is better than water, for overcoming the hard and rigid, because nothing can compete with it.”
One of the most exciting things I find about working with your dreams, is how you seem to enter into a dialogue with the dream, or your dreaming self. As you start to better undrestand your dreams, and therefore, your own self better, your dreams will always let you know when you are on the right track. And this can feel like such a wonderful reward!
After dreaming one night I was in a sinking boat, I worked through the dream and came to the conclusion that this was a good thing, I needed to let go of the boat which in my dream was a “floatation device” something that kept me skimming along the surface an prevented me from getting any deeper in my life. I felt my dream was telling me to let go, to get into the water and swim! I need to be in my element. I need to get beneath the surface. I think this relates to both my work and personal life.
The very night following my dreamwork I was rewarded with a dream of such vivid exhilaration it was extraodinary! In it I watched a toy boat sink into the sea, and then went deeper than the boat, deep, deep deep into the sea. (Getting beneath the surface alright!) And then when I was ready, I shot to the surface with amazing energy, flew into the sky and dived like a bird back into the sea. I could fly, I could walk on water – no, dance across the surface! I could skate, I could glide. I could jump on the water like a trampoline. If I chose, I could stop and let myself sink into it up to my knees like I was in custard. Or I could float – on the surface, or partially beneath it if I chose to. I was totally in my element. I had mastery of it.
Sometimes you have to surrender what seems like a safe and sensible option to really have the most wonderful liberating adventures. What keeps us safe also keeps us separate. The joy of freedom a wonderful thing. The space to play when in the midst of taking life seriously with work, with the discipline of understanding your dreams, is a gift that dreams love to reward us with.