Nightmares are not punishment for something you have done.
Unpleasant or frightening dreams contain characters and other symbols which frighten the dreamer, often into waking. Nightmares exist to draw our attention to something. Their message is urgent.
Nightmares usually reflect fear and unresolved emotional issues, especially hose we find difficulty in facing.
A common nightmare involves a ”bad” person chasing the dreamer. This usually relates to something the dreamer feels anxious or worried about or would prefer to get away from without facing up to it. Helpful questions to explore are about what makes you feel vulnerable and what undermines your feeling of safety and security.
Another common nightmare is about being lost, searching up and down streets looking for one’s way. This dream is about feeling lost, trying to find direction, identity issues, and deciding what to do with one’s life. Again, the message is urgent and the issue should be pursued. Sometimes the dreamer has so many things going on at the same time, life is like a journey up and down many streets in town without reaching a destination. Think over where you are headed in life, where you’d like to go, where you have been. This will help provide answers as well as a calming effect and usually ends the nightmare form of dream.
If a person had done something gravely wrong and was experiencing nightmares about it, the dreams would likely be trying to move the person toward reconciliation and possibly making amends with others. This will allow something good to be made out of bad. The dream itself is not a punishment but a way to open a door that will eventually lead to peace.
Sometimes nightmares haunt a person when he/she is operating in a blaming mode. If that person has caused harm to someone or is reaping the ill effects of immature actions, the guilt or fear of further repercussion may result in nightmares. In some cases, when a person owns up to wrongdoing, the nightmares cease. The nightmares have probably been urging the dreamer to be accountable and make right. This is not intended as a judgmental, critical attitude, but as an openness to acknowledge and accept what is.
In other cases, when whatever has happened is not the fault of the dreamer, the nightmare is leading the dreamer to a different perspective. This often results in letting go of the past and gaining personal insightwithout harsh judgments.
Nightmares may be a sign of imbalance, disharmony, conflict, being oversensitive, or wanting to be released of traumatic memory. For certain, the nightmares are intended to get your attention.
If you awaken with a nightmare, take a moment for some deep breaths and lie still. If the dream is very troubling, take a few moments to say some prayers or just repeat a sacred name, like Jesus or whatever is spiritually significant to you. Try inhaling a breathing method such as one recommended by Thich Nhat Hanh, inhaling as you say to yourself “calm heart” and exhaling as you say “clear mind.” Repeat this. Another calming breath is inhaling “peace” and exhaling “mercy” or “surrender.” Many people are comforted by touching someone or being touched, by a person or pet. For those living alone, even a holding a pillow or stuffed toy can be soothing.
Remind yourself that this is only a dream. It can’t hurt you.
Later, when you talk out the dream and reflect on it several times, it will lose its punch, because the repetition lessens your sensitivity.
Whatever you do, don’t jump to conclusions or rush to interpret.
If you want to refer to your dream as a “terrible nightmare,” instead try giving it a name as if you creating a title to a story or play. Jot down notes about the dream as soon as possible. Then write the dream out in full.
Remind yourself to cooperate with the process, by thinking something like:
-OK, you’ve got my attention.
- I don’t need to bury this or ignore it, because it’s only a dream.
- I have some skills and tools to work with this.
After waking from a nightmare, If you are going back to sleep, ask for a helpful (but not scary) dream. When you reflect on the dream later, ask yourself if to identify your experience in the dream. Note your feelings.The emotions you feel in the dream are literal.
Ask yourself when you feel that same way in waking life.
What or who makes you feel that way?
Step back from the dream and summarize it in a nutshell.
Then if you want, fill in the details. Talk out the setting.
Describe the other people. The “bad person” reminds you of ______________.
Even if the dream reveals an aspect of yourself that you consider a weakness,
this does not define youit only describes one part of you.
You are more than any one aspect, positive or negative.
Let go of the idea that the dream will make you do something you’ll hate or ruin a situation or something you want in waking life. If your nightmare is warning you not to do something (like don’t marry this person), remember, it’s not the nightmare that approves or disapproves of your intentions. It’s your inner wisdom working overtime to wake you up so that you will avoid a terrible mistake.
Be aware that cultural and societal issues and problems may play a part in your
dreams (like dreaming of terrorists or even villains from movies). This is still likely to be a personal message. Also, pay attention to your other dreams. They will tell the rest of the story.