QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Dreams Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I had a dream where I was taking a vacation to Yosemite. My wife and my kids were with me at first, but after we set up camp I wandered off on my own and found a beautiful waterfall in a hidden area. Something began to chase me and I began to run back to the camp, but I couldn't find the camp and hid in behind a bush. I heard the footsteps and was terrified. At first I thought it was a bear, but saw it carrying a gun and I ran, though I was sure I was going to be shot.

Answer

Being chased in a dream is very frightening for us all, though very common. Though only you, the dreamer, can know the final meaning of a dream, I can offer an example of how I might work with this dream if it were mine.

1. Take the dream metaphorically. That is, turn each part of the dream into a functional characteristic. Each dreamer will have different meanings, these would be mine if it were my dream:
Vacation = getting away from the routine
Yosemite = A beautiful get-away for the whole family (whole part of myself)
Waterfall = A fresh channel from a natural source
Unknown Pursuer = Something I want to get away from but can't
Gun = A powerful and demanding force once useful, now a mostly a problem
2. Putting this together, in my dream I am seeking and able to find new sources of restoration by going into the unknown. I can't quite leave behind a powerful part of myself that was once useful but now is mostly a problem. There doesn't seem to be any way to flee from it.

Hmm, makes me think about my fleeing problems in general. It used to work, but doesn't much any more. It also brings to mind my friend's issue of getting his way by having a tantrum. Worked really well when we were young, but now is a habit he can't leave behind and so he missed out on the magical waterfall, the fountain of youth.

Just a final note on chase and pursuit dreams. In waking life, large threatening things can't always be confronted directly and we do the best we can with alternative routes. But pursuers in the dream do less damage and so direct confrontation almost always brings about unexpected transformation.

When children have nightmares, we often ask them to draw the beast and then put it in a cage or put a magic circle around it. One child who was pursued by a monster in his closet did just this and he asked the monster, why are your chasing me? When the little boy was asked what the Monster said back, it was "I'm lonely, and just looking for a friend". Sometimes more than a magic circle and quick dialogue seemed to be called for in adult chase scenes, but the idea is the same. This also puts the suggestion in our minds that the next time in a dream we are pursued, there are creative options to fleeing.

2/19/98

Richard Wilkerson is general editor for The Internet Dream E-zine, Electric Dreams, and director of DreamGate, the Internet Communications and Dream Education Center. He writes the Cyberphile column for the Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter.

 

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