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Dream Meaning: Common Dreams, Recurring Dreams & Nightmares

Date 4/24/2024
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Common Dreams

Many people have dreams they wish they could understand. Through vivid dreams, recurring dreams, and nightmares, your subconscious mind and your Spirit Guides can conspire to bring to light fears you’re having in everyday life, or feelings that you’re ignoring and need to pay attention to.

Get To Know Your Dreams

Are there specific symbols, themes, or feelings that repeat in your dreams? Recurring dreams are extremely common, often beginning in childhood and continuing well into adulthood. Recurring dreams are often populated by people you know, and familiar faces will often act as stand-ins for the people with whom there may be cause for concern in real life. These recurring dreams often arise in response to stress and disappear when the stress has passed, only to reappear later, recycling the same imagery or scenarios in response to a new trigger.

Not all recurring dreams are related to negative emotions or dangerous scenarios. Some recurring dreams can be exciting, like dreams of flying or of new creative endeavors. On the other end of the dream spectrum are dreams which evoke fear, anxiety, or sadness, which are commonly referred to as nightmares. Nightmares typically occur during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and usually cause the dreamer to wake up with a start. The content of nightmares may be symbolic, or it could be related to trauma or a past life, especially in the case of recurring nightmares.

While it’s likely that all dreams represent some level of the subconscious mind attempting to resolve a concern, some dream researchers view recurring dreams and nightmares according to degrees of repetition.

  • At one end of the spectrum, specific dream elements may reoccur over time, but with different scenarios or emotions attached, such as dreams that take place in a familiar place from childhood, but which have nothing more in common than the location.
  • Next, there are dreams with familiar themes that repeat, such as dreams of being late, of not showing up for a class for which one has registered or other scenarios which evoke a specific emotion.
  • Further along the continuum of repetition are dreams which replay in part or in whole, such as nightmares of being chased or of falling.
  • Finally, according to psychologist William Domhoff, there are traumatic nightmares in which the dreamer directly relives a trauma, a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.    

From a metaphysical perspective, the Universe uses repetition to call our attention to the things that we need to pay more attention to. Recurring dream elements, themes, emotions, and nightmares are all ways that Spirit communicates using metaphor and imagery.

Whether it's a happy reverie or a vivid nightmare, dreams carry important messages. Decoding common dreams meaning can be both satisfying and enlightening. Keep in mind that every person is unique and so are their dream meanings. For example, to a person who loves dogs, an image of a dog running free could mean loyalty, childhood, or untamed desires. To someone who has a fear of dogs, it can mean trauma, fear, or being hunted. This is why it is helpful to connect with a psychic who can explore both the universal symbolism as well as personal meaning in an online dream interpretation.  

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Common Dreams

Falling in a Dream

Dream Meaning: Falling 

The dream meaning of falling is likely to relate to unresolved anxiety, a loss of control, or an indicator that you need to work through a sense of inferiority or failure. The difference between a dream of falling and a nightmare about falling is the degree of fear you experience, and whether you crash or wake yourself up before hitting the ground.

Dreams of falling in which you wake up just in time relate back to your inner child. In most falling dreams you never hit bottom and that’s because as a baby when you’re placed in your crib, you know you’re safe. The dream serves as a wake-up call that you need to address a situation that feels out of control, and that you have the power to fix. Nightmares of catastrophic falls, such as falls off buildings or cliffs or down elevator shafts indicate you’re facing a more serious stressor impacting your emotional state and ability to cope. Reach out for help if you experience recurring falling nightmares.

Dream Meaning: Running or Jogging

One dream that many people commonly have is of jogging, often without any specific destination. This can indicate that you're heading through life at a stable pace, that you're on the right path - one that's comfortable for you - at this point in your life.  However, if your jogging turns into a run, this may indicate that you're trying to get away from a nagging problem in your life or are having trouble accepting reality for what it is. Running nightmares could also indicate a past life message is trying to come forward.

Dream Meaning: Being Chased in a Dream

Being chased in a dream is one of the most common nightmares. A monster, animal, unknown person, or shadowy figure is not only after you but may even be trying to hurt or kill you. You run, you hide and then run some more attempting to stay one step ahead of who or whatever is after you. This kind of dream indicates you’re feeling threatened by someone or something in your waking world. It may also suggest that you’re trying to avoid a situation that seems impossible to overcome.

Your actions in a chase dream equal how you respond to pressure, as well as cope with fear, stress, or numerous situations in your day-to-day life. Instead of facing situations head-on, the dream implies you have a propensity to run away to avoid a situation or issue.  At the same time, who or whatever is pursuing you can also represent a facet of yourself. Feelings of anger, fear, and even love, often manifest as threatening figures in a chasing dream. To gain insight and a better understanding of the source of your fears and anxieties, try deciphering who (or what) in your daily life resembles the figure chasing you.

Of course, not all chase dreams have such symbolic interpretations. Some chase dreams can represent a deep fear of becoming the victim of a crime, which is more common with women who feel vulnerable or afraid in their waking lives. Their fear manifests in their dream state as a chasing dream.

No matter what the factors are that are causing a chasing dream to occur, it’s possible to reduce their frequency by examining the underlying issues. It doesn’t matter if the dream is a manifestation of a symbolic or literal fear. Simply confronting the things that you’re most afraid of is usually the best way to end this kind of nightmare.

Dream Meaning: Swimming, Diving, or Drowning

A dream in which you are swimming in a pool can indicate a feeling of confinement, whereas dreaming of swimming in the ocean could mean that you’re struggling with unconscious thoughts. A dream in which you dive into the water can indicate a readiness to dive into your subconscious to figure out the parts of yourself that you have suppressed, or even to discover your past lives. 

Context and emotion are essential: if your dream feels like a nightmare in which you’re struggling against drowning as you try to swim, you may be struggling with an emotional conflict when you're awake. If you're swimming to get away from an individual, this can symbolize your intentions to run from your feelings.


Flying in a Dream

Dream Meaning: Flying 

Dreams of flying are one of the most common recurring dreams from childhood through adulthood. Fortunately, flying dreams are some of the easiest to interpret, because they generally mean a feeling of freedom after a period of restriction. Sometimes the dream meaning of flying is an indication of a wish for freedom, but it often means you're internally liberating yourself from a restrictive force in your life, such as letting go of a painful childhood. During dreams of flight, you may feel liberated and free to accomplish all your goals. Flying dreams are centered around regaining a sense of power. However, finding it difficult to fly in a dream can be an indication that you are having trouble controlling something in your life when you are awake. Many people dream of flying because they are attempting to flee from a conflict or personal problem.

How you fly in your dreams can uncover more information about your reality. Soaring freely means achieving goals easily, without much effort. Look closely at what you are soaring over as this could give a clue about what efforts your dream is alluding to. Are you flying over your house? Domestic bliss is imminent. Are you flying over your office? Success will be achieved at work. If you dream of flying high and free, then falling back to earth, unable to maintain a steady course, this erratic flying implies that you are unsure of your ambitions or have a real fear of success. 

If you are flying close to the ground or flailing your arms and legs in a determined effort to maintain your stability, this implies that success will come after a concentrated effort.

Sometimes flying indicates astral traveling where your soul moves between different realms.  You can learn more about astral travel and use this guided meditation for astral travel to explore more.

Dream Meaning: Dancing

To dream that you are dancing denotes that some unexpected good fortune will come to you. The dream meaning of dancing is that you are expressing yourself fully. Dancing commonly symbolizes celebration and joy. A nightmare about dancing could indicate that you fear being possessed by an evil force.


Running Late in a Dream

Dream Meaning: Being Late

One common dream that many people have is of showing up late to an important event. If you regularly have dreams of being late, it might be an indicator that you're feeling relatively unprepared about something happening in your life. This might also be a sign that you aren't ready to handle certain changes coming your way.

Dream Meaning: Being Abandoned

Abandonment dreams are particularly scary, especially if you're truly dependent on the person who’s abandoning you. These bad dreams can be set in motion by a recent loss or fear of losing someone dear. Those healing from a difficult childhood also experience abandonment dreams.

However, these nightmares can have nothing to do with a particular person, but everything to do with yourself. If abandonment is showing up in your dreams, the Universe may be showing you a sign that it's time to leave your past behind you and move toward a new, more liberated future.

Dream Meaning: Being Naked

In these dreams, the Universe may be telling you that you feel vulnerable in a certain situation. You’re completely open, and maybe even a little too open depending on the dream.  Similarly, dreaming of being naked or of not being able to find a toilet can represent fears of embarrassment or concerns about modesty.

Dream Meaning: Teeth Falling Out 

Dreams of losing teeth are very hard to interpret; it depends on what is happening within your life. Since your teeth are directly related to your health and energetic channels, it’s always good to begin taking better care of yourself when these dreams pop up (just to be on the safe side), because something that begins on an energetic level often works its way into the body.

Dream Meaning: Spiders

Spiders are also common in dreams, and there are a number of spider dream meanings according to the kinds of spiders and what happens in the dream. For example, spiders can indicate a dominant female in your life, or a feeling of being trapped. People with overbearing mothers often dream of spiders. If you kill the spider in your dream, it's an indication of bad luck. If the spider spins a web, it's a sign of an upcoming reward for your hard work. If the spider climbs a wall, it means your desires will be realized soon. If the spider's web has eggs in it, it means you're not acknowledging your own potential. Getting bitten by the spider means you're involved in a conflict with a woman. Eating the spider means you've exerted control over a situation.

Dream Meaning: Escalators

Escalator dreams can signify that you're drifting between levels of consciousness. Moving up an escalator can specifically mean that you're coming close to confronting your underlying emotions and thoughts. This can be beneficial if you're conflicted in your waking life.

On the other hand, traveling downward on an escalator can mean just the opposite. While you don't necessarily need to be concerned, this dream may indicate that you should be more adamant about acknowledging your feelings on a regular basis.

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Dream Symbolism

Dreams of Water

Dreams of Water 

Water is a common dream symbol for many people. Since water is a life-giving source, it can signify the flow of energy itself. Generally, water illustrates subconscious emotions. 

  • If you dream about a choppy sea, the Universe may be telling you that you are feeling aggravated about a particular situation.
  • The dream meaning of floods typically represents emotional chaos.
  • Falling into muddy water is a sign of feeling confused and making mistakes.
  • Dreams of washing may be a sign that you are attempting to rid yourself of negative feelings.
  • Placid water means your emotions are calm.
  • Clear water foretells prosperity and pleasure.

Dreams of water indicate a need for you to go with the flow of your life and find your rhythm to alleviate stress. You could be fighting an inner battle with yourself rather than just going with it to see where it leads. 

Dreams of Trees

In dreams, the tree represents your life: its roots being firmly entrenched in practical everyday living, while its limbs stretch toward the sky, uniting with the very essence of life itself. Branches signify the chapters of your life, while the leaves show the way you communicate with the world. Trees can also symbolize the family unit. 

  • Did you dream of large branches and full leaves? Your personality is open and loving.
  • Smaller leaves depict more of a restrained way of being.
  • Did you chop a tree down in your dream? That can imply that you need to reorder your life, perhaps start from scratch.

Dreams of a Desert

Did your dream include walking through a desert? Such dreams often symbolize a feeling of being lost, hopeless, or lonely. Being stranded in a desert symbolizes despair, especially if the dream vision occurs night after night.

Dreams with Circles

The circle, a predominant shape is nature, is very meaningful in a dream. If you dream of going in circles, or if there are numerous circle shapes in your dreams, this symbolizes the Universe, or soul. This type of dream has much significance, and usually occurs at life-changing passages in your own existence, or at a time of great upheaval such as war, or the death of a loved one. 

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Dreams About Work and Money

Money Dreams

Dreams About Your Boss 

Dreaming about your boss is often a sign that you're getting in touch with your own authoritative side. It's an indication of self-confidence and assertiveness. However, if you have a bad relationship with your boss, these dreams might highlight your fear of authority and the uneasy feeling of someone else controlling your life. Workaholics often have these dreams, meaning work has taken over too large a portion of their lives.

In some instances, people believe that dreaming about work is actually a wake-up call. If you're constantly envisioning yourself sitting at the office, you might want to think about what you're procrastinating on in your waking life. Some dream interpreters claim that this recurring dream indicates the need to stop procrastinating and make a career change.

Dreams of Money

If you're receiving or finding money in a dream, you may soon see some significant successes in your life. These aren't necessarily related to actual finances, though. As with all dreams, pay attention to context and emotion.

In dreamland, money usually has little to do with your finances. Seeing money in a dream is more symbolic, representing spiritual wealth. A dream of finding money is associated with finding happiness, success, and fulfillment. While some of these are certainly easier to attain with money, none are completely reliant upon having riches. You can, in fact, be unhappy despite having financial wealth.

With this in mind, it's important to look at the surrounding situation when you encounter money in a dream. The way that the money appears will tell you a great deal about what it really means.

Dreaming of Having Money

If you dream that you have an abundance of money, this means that you're feeling satisfied with your life. You have all that you need spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Dreaming of money is one way that your subconscious can convey feelings of security and satisfaction.

Receiving Money in a Dream

Receiving money in a dream indicates that you have or will soon receive something of value. Pay attention to the person who gave you the money. If your parents gave you money, this could indicate that you have a strong and healthy relationship with your family. If you dream your friends are giving you money, you have an engaged social circle that provides you with a sense of confidence and pride. Checking your horoscope may provide more insights into what type of abundance is coming your way.

Dreaming of Needing Money

If you dream that you need money, this can indicate that you're lacking something of value in your life. Remember that dream money doesn't usually relate to your finances. Having money stolen from you might indicate that someone is going to harm your reputation or sense of self-worth. If you dream that you're poverty-stricken, you're probably feeling fearful, unsure of yourself, and unfulfilled.

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Dreams of Birth and Death

Pregnant Woman Dreaming

Dreams About Pregnancy

One common dream that people have is dreaming of being pregnant. The meaning behind this is often linked to creativity – if you dream of being pregnant, you should consider pursuing other passions to find more fulfillment in your everyday life.

If you have dreams about pregnancy, you are likely craving time to be creative, or 'dreaming up' a new and exciting creative project that will come into existence down the line. Even men dream of becoming pregnant. Men usually dream this when they question their own creativity. Women usually dream this when they're in the process of self-development.

If you're trying to get pregnant in real life, this dream is a form of wish-fulfillment. To dream of seeing many beautiful children is a sign of great prosperity and blessings. To romp with children denotes that you will be lucky with love. To see a child working or studying denotes peaceful times ahead.

Baby Dreams

Common baby dreams include forgetting to feed a baby, forgetting that you have a baby, and suddenly needing to take care of another's baby. Often, baby dreams are about bringing back an idea that you've forgotten. 

Babies are a common theme in dreams for women who feel they put their own lives on hold to raise their children. The suppressed creativity is many times unrelated to raising kids, so these baby dreams can serve as a wake-up call to remember the earliest stages of a once-loved idea put on hold.  

Dream Symbols of Rebirth

The Universe also sends you signs of rebirth in your dreams. There are many symbols of the natural world that signify a part of your life will be reborn. 

In the real world, seeds are a symbol of rebirth as they are the first stage of new life and growth each year. Seeds represent rebirth in dreams. A seed or seeds signify your capacity to seed both your present and future. You need to find the ability to plant these seeds, and then take a few moments every day tending to their growth. 

Though seeds may feel like an obvious sign of rebirth, snakes are not the first thing that comes to mind. However, dreaming of snakes represents shedding old skin. Snakes regularly shed their skin and continue to survive. Renewal means you can keep moving forward on your path, and so snakes appear as dream guides for you. In your dream, take on the power of the snake to ask what knowledge of rebirth the snake has to share. 

Another animal that represents rebirth in dreams is the bird. Often it will be a bird that drops the seed near you to remind you of your hopes, desires, and aspirations. When you come across birds in your dream, follow and fly with them as your future is about to start. 

Eggs are symbols of new life in countless cultures. It should not come as a surprise, then, that dreams of eggs can signify your own rebirth. Something new will hatch for you very soon. A dream of eggs can have you revisiting the cosmos' origins too. 

Whether you're dreaming of seeds or eggs, snakes, birds, many of your dreams represent themes of rebirth. Look out for these themes and symbols occurring in your dreams to know when change and renewal is on the way.

Understanding The Meaning of a Dream of Death

One dream that many people often have is that they are dying, whether it be due to an accident or at the hands of another person. It's an unnerving nightmare, especially if it is a recurring dream. However, as with all dream interpretations, the meaning of a death dream is often symbolic of something less frightening.

A dream of death often means that you have a prime opportunity to grow and progress in your life. While it might initially seem like it has a negative connotation, the truth of the matter is that it's a sign that you can create something positive if you take action.

Dreams of death also tend to symbolize that a certain period in your life is ending, whether it is a job or a relationship. This can be bittersweet but could show you that new doors will be opening soon.

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Discover the Personal Meaning Behind Common Dreams

Couple Dreaming

These are just a sampling of the common interpretations of dream symbols and metaphors. Dream interpretation is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. The feelings and details you remember from your dreams help guide the process and uncover new layers of meaning.

The best way to dive into nuanced meaning of your dreams and nightmares is to discuss the details and feelings with others who can offer insight and a fresh perspective. Our psychics can combine their insight about dream symbolism with the energy they read from you to help you find the meaning in message.



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