Many years ago, at a dream retreat, a dreamer came to the group I was leading with my partner Bill saying this, “I only have one dream to bring – it is the same dream I have been having since I was a child.”
She reported only remembering this one dream for many years, the exact same dream, every part of it. She came to the group to get help with the dream, which had haunted her and frightened her for all those years. We opened the dream [with great tenderness] and worked with her that morning. It was a moving session.
But the next day was even more surprising. Excited, she found us at breakfast and said, “Can you believe it? I remembered three new dreams last night! The first time in ten years!”
Even more, when we saw her again the next year [it was a place where we returned to lead groups annually for several years], she told us she had not had the dream again.
A recurring dream is our dream consciousness pounding on the door of our conscious minds, desperately trying to get our attention.
A recurring dream is our dream consciousness shouting, “HEY! PAY ATTENTION! YOU NEED TO KNOW SOMETHING HERE!”
As I have written elsewhere, dreaming is a kind of conversation between our waking consciousness and our unconscious/subconscious/dreaming landscape [wherever you believe dreams come from]. Each dream we experience [even if we do not remember it or all of it] is part of that ongoing conversation.
When a dream will not stop repeating, will not stop bringing the same thing over and over again in that conversation, then it is in our best interest to listen and listen closely.
Think of it as a conversation stopper. Or interrupter.
Think of it in terms of a waking conversation – if you are having a chat with a person close to you and they keep returning to something over and over again [especially if you ignore them], you would respond eventually by asking [maybe with a little exasperation] why do you keep saying that?
Your recurring dream would respond, “Because I have something vital to tell you and you aren’t listening!”
Vital, urgent, necessary.
When we open the dream, once we step into that part of the conversation, then the dreaming will [happily] respond back. Often, after working with a recurring dream [like with the dreamer above], the dream will stop. Once we pay attention to the shouting, once we finally open the door and ask the question, “What is it you are trying to tell me?” [maybe with a little exasperation], the conversation can continue and the recurring dream does not need to repeat.
Or, if, even after we open a recurring dream, it does recur again, then the question becomes – how does it differ now? Because the will likely be different or we will be different in the dream.
Like the dreamer from the example above, many people experience recurring dreams first when they are young. I had a dream that repeated for an entire year when I was 8 years old. Scary, relentless and clear each time. Even now, if I close my eyes and bring the dream up from my memory, I feel I am back in it as if I had the dream last week.
But not all recurring dreams are childhood experiences. Let’s look next at different kinds of recurring dreams.
Next Up: Different Kinds Recurring Dreams