Not all dreams are created equal. Just as your conscious mind can focus on a variety of thoughts throughout the day, your dreaming mind also places emphasis on numerous themes while you sleep. During the day, we think about all kinds of things. We worry, problem solve, multitask, daydream, create, and have flashes of insight. Our dreams have a similar pattern of randomness and importance. What is different about our dreaming mind is that it doesn’t seem to be as influenced by rational thought and doesn’t censor the feelings and images contained in our dreams.
Depending on how much attention you give your dreams, you may have some kinds of dreams more frequently than other ones. Since our dreams communicate mainly through symbols and archetypes, dream types can overlap and incorporate pieces of more than one category in a single dream. As you work with your dreams, they transform, providing you with an endless source of creativity and information. Similar to a snowflake, no two dreams are identical.
Here are 5 common dream motifs. Note if certain ones appear more regularly in your dreamlife.
1. Recurring Dreams
These are the dreams that may produce feelings of worry and distress. You miss the bus or plane, forget to show up for class or work, or find yourself in an embarrassing situation that others witness. Each time you have this dream, the situation and the people involved may change slightly, but the experience of the dream is similar. Think of these dreams as potential stress-relievers. These repetitive dreams usually make their way through to your conscious mind at some point. They get your attention and remind you to slow down and evaluate your current circumstances. Notice the emotion(s) you feel the most strongly in the dream. These can be the same emotion(s) that you find uncomfortable and difficult to express when you are awake. When you are going through periods of change and uncertainty, these dreams can intensify.
Taking time to relax and quiet the mind before going to bed and acknowledging these dreams upon waking can shift the emotional tone of these dreams from a sense of anxiousness to feelings of recognition, understanding, and appreciation.
2. Problem-solving Dreams
In these dreams, you go to sleep not knowing the answer to some dilemma or situation happening in your waking life. Your conscious mind has exhausted itself trying to come up with a solution with no success. Worn out mentally and physically, you collapse into bed. The next morning, you have figured out the answer through your dreams. The mystery is deciphered, and you implement the instruction and inspiration you received from the previous night’s dream. Problem-solving dreams energize you. Feelings of excitement, optimism, and gratitude commonly accompany these dreams upon waking.
Many inventions and artistic creations have originated from ideas found in these types of dreams. You can increase the frequency of these dreams by concentrating on matters that you want to resolve before you go to bed.
3. Dreams of Inspiration
These dreams are a gift. You receive wisdom and guidance that is beyond what you know or have experienced in your life thus far. They show or teach you something new. You wake up with feelings of awe, curiosity, and wonder. Dreams of inspiration encourage you to explore the messages contained in them. The information given to you requires reflection and/or action. These dreams can be life-changing and stay with you for a long time. Sometimes these dreams can feel surprising to you because they include people and places that are foreign to your way of thinking and being. You may receive guidance and have the impression of someone talking to you and showing you scenes pertinent to your personal growth and self-awareness. Depending on your beliefs, this communication can feel like you are interacting with your higher self, soul, or divine intelligence.
There are many layers of meaning contained in these dreams since the images are likely to embody mythical and archetypal symbols, and in these dreams, you can feel as though you are playing a part like an actor in a much bigger story.
4. Prophetic Dreams
Prophetic dreams predict some current or future event. Sometimes the dreamer receives this information as a feeling or intuition about what may happen. It is also common for the dreamer to witness the occurrence as it will happen or is happening in reality. Usually, these dreams include people or situations that are important to you. Persons that are sensitive and sympathetic to their environments and world conditions can have prophetic dreams that involve global issues. These dreams are significant to the person because the accuracy of the dream is confirmed by real-life events.
In the case of large-scale matters, many people worldwide may experience similar dreams at the same time. Prophetic dreams are the most literal of all the dream types and require little interpretation; however, they occur less frequently than the other types for most individuals.
5. Dreams of Loved Ones that Have Died.
Sometimes people have these dreams soon after their loved one has died. These dreams play a part in their grieving process, and allow the person to express their love, say goodbye, and receive information that tells them their departed loved ones are ok. In other instances, the person dreams of a loved one many years after their death. The dream can bring closure, a special message, or assistance. The loved one often provides guidance and can appear as a younger version of his or herself. There is a reassuring quality to these interactions and any difficulties the loved one experienced while they were alive has fallen away making it easier for the dreamer to receive and remember the dream.
Persons that have these dreams often question themselves as to whether they were actually communicating with their loved one, but at the same time, they have a strong knowing that convinces them they did. These dreams aren’t limited to humans that have died. Many people dream of their pets or other beloved animals.
Your own dreams may be a variation of one or all of these dream motifs. Keeping a dream journal to record your dreams will help determine the pattern and frequency of certain kinds of dreams. The more you interact with your dreams, the more information they provide. As you learn how your dreams communicate with you by becoming familiar with recurring symbols, your dreaming mind will respond by providing dreams sequences that are more vivid and precise in their imagery allowing you to understand them with more clarity. Since the language of dreams in rich, you can go back over the same dream many years later and glean new insights regarding meanings that were not obvious at the time of the dream. In the beginning, you may believe that most of your dreams are trivial and unimportant. Try not to judge them. If you treat your dreams respectfully, you will be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of wisdom and inspiration that lives inside of you.
Let your dreams inspire you!
Lisa Finander is a published author, developmental editor, and consultant/teacher specializing in mind, body, spirit subjects.
Throughout her college coursework, Lisa created Independent Studies combining subjects such as tarot and dreamwork with personal development, resulting in her completion of a B.A. in Psychology & Symbolism from Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota.
She is the author of Disneystrology: What Your Birthday Character Says About You. For Disneystrology, Lisa incorporated the teachings of astrology, tarot, and numerology to create 366 unique birthday entries with a corresponding Disney character... read more about Lisa