Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nightmares & The Empath

When I was younger, I used to have this dream, which one could classify as a nightmare, where I was running down this long hallway with lots of doorways. All of the doorways were locked. But there were still places to hide, like stacked boxes covered in tarps and such. So I'd end up stopping and cowering behind those boxes, in the hopes of whatever was chasing me not finding me.

One time, I even saw what was chasing me. Have you ever seen the movie, 'The Blob'? It was a rather large pile of gelatinous goo, and yet it was a monster of some kind. And it seemed to mean business, unlike wiggly jiggly jello. And it quite literally scared me to death, at the time, because within it was a sense of drowning, like one would feel if one was falling into the ocean and could not halt themselves when they reach the water. And all they could do, even as they fought to rise to the surface, was fall deeper and deeper into the dark depths of that raging ocean as it consumes them.

I would wake up in a cold sweat, possibly screaming, and my heart racing like I had just run a triathlon. And no matter how much I went back over the dream, which was rare at the time, I could not figure out what the blob really was in the dream. Was it someone I was dating? Was it a friend who had hurt me? Was it someone in my family? Was it someone who hated me? And then I started studying dreams, psychology, and the art of particular the use of metaphor. And from there, I discovered another possible answer, that had never occurred to me, which made so much sense it was scary. The blob I was running away from, was me. It was a metaphor of me and all the things within my life I was afraid to face and deal with. All of the things that seemingly left a gaping hole within my heart, aching with a need no one could fill within me.

So lets look at some of the typical dreams which can be constituted as nightmares, and see how they apply to you. And lets see if we can give you a bit more perspective on these dreams and what they might possibly mean. So lets begin with some basic definitions first, and move on from there.

But keep in mind, these are only possible meanings/interpretations, as it pertains to dreams. And ultimately, any dream interpretation must come from you, because the dream came from your own subconscious mind. Thus you are the best one to interpret it and apply it to your own life.


Dreams are a series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring in the mind during certain stages of sleep.[1] The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.

A Nightmare is an unpleasant dream. Nightmares cause a strong unpleasant emotional response from the sleeper, typically fear or horror. The dream may contain a situation of extreme danger, or sensations of pain, bad events, falling, drowning, being raped, becoming disabled, losing loved ones, encountering unpleasant creatures or beings, being murdered, caught, attacked, eaten, squashed, stuck or burned, becoming diseased, frozen, trapped, decrepit, or otherwise facing death. Such dreams can be related to physical causes such as a high fever or being face-down on a pillow during sleep, or psychological ones such as psychological trauma or stress in the sleeper's life, or can have no apparent cause. If a person has experienced a psychologically traumatic situation in life—for example, a person who may have been captured and tortured—the experience may come back to haunt them in their nightmares. Sleepers may waken in a state of distress and be unable to get back to sleep for some time. Eating before bed, which triggers an increase in the body's metabolism and brain activity, is another potential stimulus for nightmares.

Occasional nightmares are commonplace, but recurrent nightmares can interfere with sleep and may cause people to seek medical help. A recently proposed treatment consists of imagery rehearsal. This approach appears to reduce the effects of nightmares and other symptoms in acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A Metaphor is a figure of speech concisely comparing two things, saying that one is the other.

An Empath is a person who has an acute or highly developed sense of empathy. Empathy is the capability to share your feelings and understand another's emotion and feelings and is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes".

Common Nightmares

Here I will offer up some of the most common types of nightmares. Read through them, if you wish, and see if you find any that you've experienced. And remember that these are only possible interpretations of such dreams. There are many more, which particularly depend on how you view each of these things and what they mean to you metaphorically.

Here you will find 3 different lists of common nightmares and/or recurring dreams. You will note some repetition in the subject matter. This is offered up to give you different perspectives on the same types of dream subjects, so that you can better determine if it has applied to your own dreams recently or in the past. I will over up links to some dream dictionaries, for a more complete list of dream metaphors and their possible meanings, at the conclusion of this essay.

Five Common Nightmares & What They Mean

Spiders are often negative symbols in our dreams because they are seen as frightening by so much of society and often represent a controlling or ensnaring force.
For men (and some women) spiders can represent something about women or a specific woman. 'Spiders are also a very old form of life,' says Dr Lukeman. 'One of the things they represent in dreams is something very primitive and basic - something rooted in the depth of our being, such as our mother. For someone who comes from a family where the mother was unloving , a spider can be a perfect dream symbol. The evil mother becomes and evil spider. ' Spiders can also symbolise an evil male force. It could be an overbearing boss, father or lover. 'If you are in a relationship unsettling to you and you have a spider dream, think carefully about what is taking place,' says Dr Lukeman. 'Are you fooling yourself about the other person? Is he or she what he appears to be? Honor your instincts and feelings.'

Health problems
Dr Lukeman says dreams about health problems can work on different levels - but says they can often actually be an indication of real illness. 'Something in ourselves understands everything that goes on in our body,' he says. 'If you think about it something keeps our bodies ticking over and running as they should without us thinking about it,' he says. 'And this thing often knows if something is wrong with us and will try to tell us. I have had many patients who have discovered hidden health problems through their dreams.' Common symbols for health problems are dreaming of a specific ailment and primitive, evil fish at the bottom of the sea. 'This relates to the fact that the bottom of the sea often represents the depth of our consciousness,' he says. But Dr Lukeman is keen to stress that dreams about health do not always indicate actual health problems. 'Dreams about health can often simply indicate a more general concern about your life,' he says.

Running for your life
Dr Lukeman claims running is linked to the primitive days of our cavemen ancestors where life was short and dangerous and there was a real possibility of being chased by beasts of prey. 'Our brain still contains areas dominant during the earliest stages of human development,' he says. 'These parts of our brain respond instinctively to danger or stress, sounding the alarm and preparing us for flight or battle. Fear and danger trigger the instinctive response: the urge is to run, run faster than the thing that is after us.' He advises trying to identify what is 'chasing' you in real life. This could be anything that is overwhelming you in an emotional, mental or physical sense, from work to a relationship, then identifying what you can do to alter things. 'Chase dreams signal ideas of helplessness,' he says. 'Do something to regain a sense of control over your life. It could be something as simple as re-arranging your day to include time for yourself to relax. It could be as complex as leaving a bad relationship or an unfulfilling job.'

Dreaming that your teeth are falling out is one of the most common nightmares of all. 'Teeth are used to speak and communicate, to chew food, to protect and attack (in more primitive times), to convey feelings, and have a cosmetic value in a world where good looks are valued highly,' says Dr Lukeman. For this reason teeth dreams can relate to many areas of your life: from feelings that you are not being heard or acknowledged or a feeling that you are not able to express yourself properly or a feeling that you are not in control of a situation. 'Ask yourself if you feel frustrated about the way people listen to you,' says Dr Lukeman. 'Perhaps you need to improve your communication skills. If you have the dream more than once, try to identify a pattern of similar external situations that might provide the stimulus for the dream. For example, perhaps you are not comfortable with speaking in public or making presentations at work. these can be situations that set the stage for a toothless sleep experience.'

The end of the world
There are many variations on the common end of the world dream. 'Tidal wave dreams are often about emotional issues, feelings that need expression or a sense of something coming that can disrupt your life dramatically,' says Dr Lukeman. 'One of the of the many symbolic meanings for water is emotion. An ocean of water can represent all of our unconscious desires, unexpressed thoughts and more.' Tornadoes, another common dream image, mostly represent some kind of approaching upheaval. 'I mean an inner upheaval, a 'twister' of the inner self, foreshadowing emotional turbulence, 'says Dr Lukeman. Being struck by lightning, on the other hand, signals irreversible change. 'What it means is that something has been initiated within your unconscious, something has begun,' says Dr Lukeman. 'It's a jolt of pure energy, electrifying and transforming.'

12 Universal Dreams (Nightmares)

By Virginia Linn, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Originally From:

Anthropologists, psychologists and dream workers have found similar themes in dreams. These so-called universal dreams transcend all generations and cultures. While not all experts agree on the same list and frequency, here's a compilation from the book, "The Universal Dream Key: The 12 most common dream themes around the world" (HarperCollins, 2001), by Patricia Garfield, based on her international survey, worldwide travel and research.

While people have many more negative dreams than positive ones, each theme has negative and positive sides.

1) Being chased or attacked

More than 80 percent of people dream they're being pursued or attacked, although who or what is attacking or doing the pursing varies from place to place. These dreams are a natural response to life stress, Garfield says.

The origin of this dream dates back to an era when humans fought off beasts or other tribal members to survive. The "monsters" of today more often are emotional beasts, she says -- fear, anxiety, anger, hatred and envy.

Flip side: Being embraced or loved.

These dreams also have early biological roots. They're driven by our genes to mate and produce children and include the sex dreams. Both men and women, it's been documented in research, experience sexual arousal during REM sleep. These dreams can supply the desired missing elements in an unsatisfying marriage, or heighten during an intense love affair.

2) Being injured, ill or dying

One myth about dreaming is that if you die in your dream, you die in life.

That's not true, of course, but dream deaths do occur. They involve deaths of famous people, your parents or children, a lover and even yourself. Garfield believes that when you dream about an accidental death of any person, that person's death symbolizes something in you that is no longer functioning.

One of the more common scenarios under this theme is of teeth falling out or crumbling.

This might have a physical origin in people gritting or grinding teeth during sleep. Freud suggested that dreams of teeth falling out are related to fears of castration, but women have this dream as often as men, Garfield says. She believes the tooth troubles in dreams are related to anger, with a dreamer acting out the clenching of his teeth. Other psychologists believe the dream reflects anxiety about appearance and how others perceive you.

Flip side: Being healed, born or reborn

Rare, but good, this dream often accompanies a new start, a new job or first day of school. Sometimes dreaming of rebirth represents your hopes for a loved one who has died.

3) Car or other vehicle trouble

Fairly common nightmare among all people and ages, whether or not the dreamers actually drive. Sometimes they have problems with an aircraft they're flying. May occur when the dreamer feels events in waking life are out of control.

Flip side: Vehicular pleasure

When your time in a car or another vehicle is delightful. This can represent freedom, or moving in the direction of your choices

4) House or property loss or damage

In these dreams, your house is damaged or destroyed by fire, water or other causes. These dreams may surface because you feel that some valuable aspect of waking life is at risk, she says.

Dreams about losing a wallet, watch or cherished piece of jewelry, such as a wedding ring, also fall into this category. Meanings vary depending on what is lost or damaged. Biologically, they may reflect a basic need to defend your territory.

Flip side: House or property improvement

You may discover new rooms in your home or dream about repairs or improvements. These dreams may occur when you feel that some valuable aspect of waking life is improving.

5) Poor test or other poor performance

You've probably dreamed of arriving for a test and found the exam has already started. Or you search fruitlessly for the room. This is a common nightmare and can occur years after you've faced the SAT. Garfield says it usually occurs when you feel you are somehow being "tested" in waking life. People continually face situations that challenge their capacity to perform well. This stems from the innate feeling that we need to achieve or compete. Some psychologists think the dreams can denote anxiety about sexual performance.

Flip side: Great test or other fine performance

This may occur when the dreamer feels that she is doing well in waking life. Not limited to exams, the dreamer may envision doing precise spins on the ice or catching a touchdown pass. Sometimes people master certain activities after they've successfully performed them in their dream.

6) Falling or drowning

Falling is one of the most common nightmares among people of all ages, and may be a reflection of feeling insecure, helpless or of having no support or solid grounding. Some people may actually fall from their beds during this dream.

Dreaming about drowning is less frequent, and often occurs when a person feels overwhelmed.

Both scenarios involve life-or-death situations and can be traced to prehistoric origins. Garfield says that dreams of falling reflect a time when our ancestors took risks when climbing trees. Falling dreams of modern day often take place from high buildings, elevators and rooftops.

Likewise, dreams of drowning go to our inborn need to breathe for survival.

People often awake to "escape'' the danger in the dreams.

A person's age and medical circumstances can influence these dreams. Toddlers and young children, as well as older people, are prone to more falls in waking life. People with heart conditions that cause fluid buildup in the lungs or those with severe colds may dream of drowning.

Flip side: Flying, swimming or dancing joyfully

Have you had that feeling of zooming through the air, feeling free, unhindered?

Flying often becomes a person's favorite dream. These can inspire the dreamer, lifting him to spiritual heights or filling him with creative notions. Pleasurable swimming may mean freely exploring your depths; dreams of dance may be a metaphor for moving freely through your life.

7) Being naked in public or inappropriately dressed

This is a common scenario that occurs at all ages, including with children. The dreams involve feelings of exposure and vulnerability, and often include an element of embarrassment or shame.

Appearing partially nude is more common than being totally naked, Garfield says. Meanings vary depending on whether this occurs at school, at work, or on an open street, and depending on what part of the body is exposed.

Wearing the wrong clothing also has various meanings. A bride being inappropriately dressed for her upcoming wedding, for example, could suggest second thoughts she has about the union.

Flip side: Being well dressed

Dreaming of being dapper or wearing a special outfit may suggest you feel good about your body or attractive, or feel good about your life.

8) Missing the boat or other transport

You rush to catch a departing bus, train, airplane or ship, only to have it leave without you. These leave you engulfed in an overwhelming feeling of frustration rather than fear. Garfield suggests that these dreams reflect feelings that you are missing out on something in waking life.

Flip side: Pleasant travel

Very infrequent dreams, but may arise when you feel content about how your life is going.

9) Machine or telephone malfunction

Moderately common, and more frequent in women. These occur when you feel anxious about making an emotional connection or when you feel you're losing touch with someone. They can relate to mechanical difficulties with your body.

Flip side: Smooth operation

These usually occur when you feel there is an improvement in emotional connection. Garfield says many of the dreamers who participated in her study during bereavement reported dreams of clear connections with their deceased loved ones. Messages they received during the dreams helped them cope with their losses.

10) Natural or man-made disasters

You're confronted with overwhelming floods, tidal waves earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, bombings or chemical warfare. These dreams may depict personal problems raging out of control.

They can be among the most frightening dreams. People through the ages have sought to harness nature, which can help them survive but also destroy them.

Flip side: Natural beauty, miracles or rituals

Dreams of vibrant flowers, verdant hillsides or uplifting music can leave the dreamer rejuvenated. Color is intensified, with bright yellow-green most often mentioned by dreamers. This may illustrate new growth.

Dreams of natural beauty can inspire and invigorate.

11) Being lost or trapped

In these highly common dreams, you're lost and feeling desperate. You may be buried alive or locked in a cage. Or you dream of not being able to move; you're powerless to scream or breathe.

These dreams may occur when you feel confusion or conflict about how to act in waking life.

The images are influenced by biological roots and experience. Feeling trapped or paralyzed also mirrors what occurs to the large muscles of the body during normal REM sleep, when they're paralyzed to prevent the body from acting out the dreams.

Such dreams could reflect frustrations in waking life, such as feeling trapped in a relationship or a dead-end job.

Flip side: Discovering new spaces

You may open a door in your home to find a new room or find something new in the neighborhood. These dreams occur usually when you feel an aspect of your life if opening up.

12) Being menaced by the dead or a spirit

You feel you are being haunted or berated by someone who has died. There may be feelings of terror, guilt, resentment or abandonment. They may occur when you feel guilty or responsible for a death, or anxious about the situation. Although they are quite rare, Garfield says these can be among the most uncomfortable dreams we have.

Flip side: Being guided by the dead or a spirit

These usually occur during active grief, which can last years. Visits from a deceased loved one may give you the feeling that he or she is OK, or inspire you to change your life. There's a feeling of hopefulness and comfort.

Another List Of Common Bad or Recurring Dreams & Nightmares

· chase or attack : The pursuer usually represents a fearful aspect of our shadow, and hence an exaggerated version of a denied or inhibited portion of our own personality that would benefit us if integrated and appropriately expressed. (ideal outcome: standing our ground, facing and dialoguing with our pursuer, and eventually, acceptance and embrace)

· falling dream : Am I feeling heavy, unsupported, worried about something? How can I feel freer, lighter? Also: do I need to be more grounded? (ideal outcome: feeling safe, landing, floating or flying)

· car out of control : Is life too hectic, out of control? How could I slow down, act more peacefully and "enjoy the ride"? (ideal outcome: driving well & within speed limits, walking peacefully)

· unprepared, late for or failing an exam : Am I feeling unprepared for some upcoming event? Unconfident about my performance? Am I worrying needlessly or do I actually need more preparation in order to feel confident and do a good job? (ideal outcome: feeling assured about oneself, performing well)

· stuck in slow motion, unable to move or make any noise : Where am I feeling stuck in life, like I’m getting nowhere or unable to voice my true feelings? What can I do to change it? (ideal outcome: relaxation and acceptance, and eventually, peaceful action & self-expression)

· embarrassed to be nude or naked in public, though nobody seems to notice or mind : Where in life am I feeling unconfident, embarrassed, unskilled? This type of dream is usually pointing out, by the fact that the other characters in the dream don’t seem to notice, that we are the only one viewing our self this way, and usually mistakenly so. (ideal outcome: comfortable with oneself as is, confident)

· personal injury, dismemberment : What part of my life—not usually the physical body—have I been neglecting, mistreating, forgetting—i.e. dis-membering as opposed to remembering? (ideal outcome: healing)

· trapped, locked in : Where am I feeling trapped in life? How might I open myself up to a new perspective, and explore new courses of action? (ideal outcome: breaking out, exploration)

· drowning, threatening waves, tsunami (tidal waves) or flooding : Am I blocking, denying or feeling overwhelmed by my emotions? How might I better acknowledge, accept, and feel these feelings—which often include vulnerability? (ideal outcome: swimming, surfing, breathing underwater)

· helpless, abandoned, or crying baby, monkey, bunny or small animal : Have I been taking care of my "inner child"? Is there a creative project or relationship that I have forgotten or abandoned that needs my attention? Maybe I need to laugh more, play outdoors, express my creativity, be more spontaneous, or enjoy more personal warmth and intimacy? (ideal outcome: caring for baby or animal, playing, simply having fun)

The Nightmare & The Empath

Why am I offering a discussion on nightmares up on a blogsite for Empaths? What do dreams, and more specifically nightmares, have to do with being an Empath? Well, everyone dreams, even ones who consider themselves Empaths. And dreams are metaphors for daily turmoil, hidden trauma, repressed emotions, avoided issues, and so on. And metaphor, quite literally, is the language of the mind, and more specifically the language of Empathy, because it is emotion based. This is because dreams are expressions of emotions felt within the self, even if they are repressed or avoided. And emotion, whether it is one's own emotions or that of another person, are what Empaths are all about ~ feeling their own emotions deeply and being able to feel the emotions of others as though they were their own.

So when a nightmare, particularly a recurring nightmare, creeps into one's sleep cycle, as they often do, it is extremely important to be able to interpret its meaning and deal with the issues being raised within it. And this means understanding the use of metaphor, particularly one's own personal metaphors, or how you, specifically, associate the images in your dreams with the daily workings of your world and the issues you face.

If there is an emotion involved, like utter terror, perhaps because you are being chased, what do you associate that emotion with? Is there an experience within your past that you associate with this emotion? Perhaps you may not even realize you associate the two things ~ emotion and experience ~ or you assume you have gotten over the issue, so it is moot. Perhaps its something more current going on, which raises the issue within your subconscious mind, even if you have dealt with the past event you associate with that emotion. All the same, its worth exploring because it helps you learn about what is troubling you and to what depths its troubling you, while at the same time it helps you know yourself a little bit better.

As Empaths, who are very emotion based anyway, this can be the key to pointing to issues you need to work on due to repression, particularly if the dream is recurring and escalates in its nature. This is an issue that is holding you back and possibly tinting, and possibly tainting, your perspective while dealing with others. And if you are the type that reaches out to others to offer them help, this could cause the Empathic Process to stagnate.

Methods Of Resolution For Nightmares/Recurring Dreams

Here are some helpful methods of finding resolution to your dreams:

Recurring Dream & Nightmare Resolution Exercise: Re-scripting a dream

Select a nightmare or upsetting dream which you’ve recently had (especially if it happened this morning!) and either from the recurring dream suggestions above or on your own, re-design a different ending to the dream. Choose something which leaves you feeling empowered, free and confident, and great about the new scenario, instead of the way you felt during or after the actual dream. Before lying down to fall asleep tonight, sit in a comfortable position and relax your body and mind completely for a couple minutes. It may help you to alternately tense and relax different parts of your body, and witness instead of concentrate upon any thoughts which cross your mind. Let it all go until tomorrow. Then, once you’re calm and quiet, mentally visualize or remember the dream you’ve selected for this exercise, running through as though you were watching a video, except at the point where things begin to turn unpleasant, replace the old ending with the new empowering one you created earlier, and imagine it as vividly as you can, "making it up" as you go if you need to. Make it a special point to experience the new feelings of confidence, freedom and empowerment that your new ending gives you. Then give yourself the clear suggestion that not only are these new thought patterns now spreading into your waking life, but also that tonight or some time soon you may have just such a dream, which includes the new, more fulfilling ending. You may even suggest to yourself that you will recognize the dream as a dream, while it’s happening, in which case you can consciously direct it as you feel appropriate towards a more uplifting outcome.

Some other methods are offered in this video:


Websites About Nightmares:

What Causes Your Nightmares?
Common Questions About Nightmares
Dreams & Nightmares
Nightmare Help

Dream Dictionaries:

Dream Moods
Dreams: A Dream Dictionary Dream Dictionary
SmartGirl Dream Dictionary
HyperDictionary Dream Dictionary

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