Are you someone who has a lot of nightmares? Some of us have them more often than others, and it can feel like we don’t get a break: our days are stressful, and then our nights are stressful, too. It’s normal to have the odd nightmare here or there, but what about when you have them frequently? What is the spiritual meaning of bad dreams?
Trauma or Unprocessed Experiences
Bad dreams, and even more specifically, having the same one over and over, can be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some scientists believe that the function of our dreams is a little bit like a video game: it puts us in certain scenarios to see how we’d react so that we can figure out the best ways to face the reasonable threats in our lives. But when we’re having frequent nightmares, it can feel like we are threatened all the time, never able to have a night off from practicing fighting off whatever is after us.
If we know we’re safe in our daily lives but our dreamscape doesn’t see it that way, there is likely something that we need to process in order to bring ourselves back to a general feeling of safety. There are many treatments for trauma
(or toxic stress) that lives in the nervous system, and somatic practices like yoga, bodywork, and somatic counseling can be really powerful for releasing this trauma and returning to balance.
Past Lives (or Intergenerational Trauma)
Some people believe that dreams can be a window into lives we’ve lived in the past, especially when we are dreaming of ourselves in a different body or different gender. There’s also evidence that we are able to essentially download traumatic experiences from our intergenerational line into our nervous system, and this could show up in our nightmares. Either way, we may be carrying some residue from a life that wasn’t ours.
[Read: “How I Finally Awakened From my Past Lives.”]
As interesting as this is, we have to remember that we are in this
life now, and what’s important about it is how we process these feelings and emotions in the present day. It doesn’t matter so much what may have happened as how we are handling it right now.
How to Tap Into the Spiritual Meaning of Bad Dreams
Here are a few ideas for tapping into the spiritual meaning of bad dreams:
- See an intuitive, energy healer, and/or therapist that you trust to help you release traumatic energy from your nervous system.
- Create a ritual around releasing this past life
energy or experience. Sit by a fire or candle flame, for example, and offer the old energy into the fire, or do a ritual cleansing of your body.
- Ask yourself about the feelings that come up in the nightmares and whether those feelings remind you of anything happening for you right now.
- Ask yourself about the history of your family and/or culture. Are there unprocessed traumas in your family line? How does your family/culture cope with stress? Do you do the same thing or could you manage it in a new way?
Exploring the Spiritual Meaning of Nightmares Through Dream Symbols
Sitting with the meaning of our nightmares can be a powerful way to learn about what they might mean to us. There are many books out there that will tell you what a given dream symbol means. But you can often discover the meaning of your dream symbols yourself, without looking anything up. Pick out a few specific symbols from your dream. This can include characters, images, objects, and so on. Ask yourself:
- How do I feel when I think about this object/image/symbol?
- What is my relationship to this symbol? Is it positive/negative? Familiar/unfamiliar?
- In the context of the dream, what does this symbol/character want? Not want?
A Spiritual Wakeup Call
Nightmares can be one way that your subconscious is trying to get your attention. Sometimes it means our spirit is not aligned with what’s happening in our lives at the moment. When we are having frequent nightmares, something is imbalanced in our lives or our nervous systems, and our subconscious minds are asking for our attention. It can also indicate that we aren’t connecting in a safe and nourishing way with our spirit, whether that means spirit guides, our own intuition, or our connection with a deity.
Nightmares might be an indication that we need to pay a little more attention to our spiritual practice, whatever that looks like for us. Here, the spiritual meaning of bad dreams isn’t about what happens when you’re asleep, but rather how you answer a spiritual wakeup call.
Dream on with “Befriending Nightmares: How to Keep Bad Dreams From Bothering You.”