Water, waves, and warehouses: an interpreted dream

Happy summer, dreamers!  Since I haven’t posted in quite a while, today, a dream from the mailbox, and an in-depth interpretation:

Dear Dr. Tonay,

I had a dream the other night about somehow getting into water. I can’t remember where I was prior to that or the area I was in. Once I’m in the water I see a tidal wave from afar and I come into contact with an Asian woman and her young daughter. They were in a tiny boat and I was just swimming in the water.

The prior post, Water Dreams, describes what these dreams are typically about:  unconscious emotions, or feelings we aren’t paying attention to. Here, this female dreamer is “in the water” (immersed in feelings) and about to becoming overwhelmed (tidal wave).

All of a sudden the tidal wave was very close so I felt that I need to help the mother and daughter as well as save myself. I told the mother that we need to swim under this, and she seemed very scared. I turned to the little girl and told her she needed to hold her breath for a little bit.

This scenario is unlikely to happen in everyday life. Dreams like that often hold particular, important meaning, and can have a mythical quality–like a fairytale. The dreamer is alone, she sees others in the same predicament, there’s an impending danger, and then, she copes by instructing the others on what they need to do.

The obstacle is natural (ocean); my research found that natural obstacles are the most common obstacle in creative people’s dreams (they also have more dreams about water than do others). What the dreamer does to cope in the dream often mimics what s/he does in waking life when encountering an obstacle. In this case, she takes charge and focuses on helping others, something feminine people (male and female) tend to do first.

At a deeper level, the dream may also be representing the dreamer’s relationship with aspects of her self–a ‘foreign’ (unknown) woman and a little girl part of her own psyche, floating on the surface of feeling and afraid–possibly herself as a child, or a new, emerging, creative aspect the dreamer has been nurturing for about as long as the age of the dream child.

The moment we came back up to the surface I felt so relieved! All 3 of us swam in, to a dock where there were other people who had survived as well.  I saw everyone with a loved one and being so happy to find each other.

And it works! Nurturing others, and directing them about how to cope with their feelings (hold your breath, dive in and through!) enables the three to reach safety and solid ground.

I remember walking through a warehouse type of place searching for someone as if I had lost someone and I was seeing if they had survived. I felt very alone at that point and all of a sudden I woke up.

And now, the mystery… for whom is she searching; without whom does she feel alone? From the outward perspective, this could be a real person. It’s more likely, though, that the searched-for other is another, deeper aspect of herself she just began to explore when she dove under the wave.  Warehouses are where things are stored; sometimes, they represent memories and experiences from our past, waiting to be rediscovered or worked through.  This dreamer might want to imagine herself back in the warehouse as vividly as possible, and draw the space, or write a story about entering it.  Often, the unconscious will reveal itself when we use our dream images creatively. The more we know of ourselves, the clearer our creative spring will flow.

Well, the garden is blooming, a charm of goldfinches arrived last week, and a pair of nesting chickadees from spring returned to chirp and splash.  Have a cup of tea, and enjoy your summer dreams…

About Veronica Tonay

International dream expert, Dr. Veronica Tonay, earned her masters and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1990s. She has been a licensed psychologist in private practice since 1997 (CA PSY 15379), and has taught psychology courses to undergraduates at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 1989.  Her work has been featured for over 25 years in many media outlets, such as Psychology Today, NPR Public Radio, abcnews.com, and The Chicago Tribune. Dr. Tonay was featured dream expert on the Discovery Health TV Channel's 3-episode miniseries, Dream Decoders. She has organized several dream conferences for the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and has published journal articles and three books, including: "The Creative Dreamer, Revised: Using Your Dreams to Unlock Your Creativity" (Ten Speed Press/Celestial Arts) and "Every Dream Interpreted," published in London by Collins & Brown.  She lives with her husband, Steven, in Santa Cruz, California, gardening, painting, writing, dancing, and dreaming.
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