Monday 15 August 2016

A Dream About Breathing Under Water

Dreams where the dreamer finds himself underwater are common. Often, there is panic as the dreamer wonders if he will die due to a lack of air. But then he discovers that he can breathe.

Highlighting a dream about being underwater
This week I will look closely at such a dream. I have three reasons for this. First, since the theme of breathing underwater is common, many readers will identify with it.

Second, while so many dreams highlight conflicts that the dreamer is experiencing, this particular one is congratulatory. The symbols—as you will read—are startling and, to some, they would be frightening. But as is so often the case with dreams, once the dreamer divorces him/herself from the literal imagery, the dream tells a completely different story. This dream gives the young man who had it cause for celebration.

Third, I want to use this dream to illustrate, again, the importance of having the dreamer himself analyze his own symbols. As you will soon read, this is a dream about being submerged by a huge wave. Water, from the Jungian perspective, is a symbol of the subconscious mind. By contrast, in many Eastern philosophies, water symbolizes God—the endless ocean of love. When I ask dreamers to, “Tell me about water,” common responses include remarks like, “It’s life sustaining.” “It’s mysterious.” “It’s deep and unfathomable.” “It’s powerful.” So it was my turn to be startled when I asked this dreamer to “Tell me about a wave,” and without even the slightest hesitation, he replied with one word: “Stress.”

An unusual reply
To me, that was so curious a reply that I wanted to pick his brain a bit further to learn where his response came from. It turned out that he is a lifeguard at a water-themed amusement park. The park has a wave generating machine, and this young dreamer/lifeguard always has to be on heightened alert when the wave machine is going, because that is when swimmers are most likely to get into trouble and need his assistance.

How many of us would have had that association if we had dreamed of water? I suspect not many. Were there references to this dreamer’s subconscious in this symbol, or to some power greater than himself? Yes, there were, as you will soon see. But all the facets of the symbol’s meaning also needed to be filtered through the dreamer’s own personal experience.

Here is the dream:
I’m at the beach, wading in the ocean. I’m wet just about up to my shins. Suddenly a huge wave—like a tsunami—comes crashing down on top of me, and I am completely buried by the water. I flail around for a while and wonder if I am going to die. But I never panic; I am never afraid. Then I start breathing and realize that I am fine. I have nothing to be alarmed about.

On Wednesday, we’ll start dissecting this dream so that we can better understand the symbols.

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