breathing under water

Hi Jessica—

Usually when we have dreams that we can breathe underwater we make up some funny explanation, during the dream, that explains our new-found ability.

So.... Do you think you are becoming a fish?

Actually, next dream you have this dream, you can try to remember that this is one of those crazy things that can ONLY happen in a dream. Then you can see if you can’t “wake up” (also known as becoming lucid) inside the dream. Once you realize you’re dreaming, then you can swim around and explore the pond, which maybe will turn into an ocean, which maybe will lead to a foreign land, where maybe you will discover new people... Who knows! Write us back and tell us your dream adventures!

To return to the symbolic meaning of your dream, there are two answers.

The first is that there may not be any great symbolic meaning to your dream. That is, you were curious about what was underwater in the pond, so you stuck your head under, and found that unlike real life you still were able to breathe. The contradiction registered faintly in your mind, but remember also that, in your real life at the time of this dream—while you were lying in bed and dreaming—you still were able to breathe. So therefore the dream was sending you back correct information. You were still breathing fine!

Water is one of the most common and powerful of all dream symbols. It’s presence in dreams is associated with emotions, which is why, when we see it in our dreams, we are alerted that our dream most likely concerns feelings we are managing in our conscious lives. In this light, the ability to breathe underwater is a positive dream metaphor. You are able to visit the emotional and intuitive aspect of your personality freely and easily, and you do not feel uncomfortable in this emotional territory. If you were carried along by a rushing river, or were buffeted by enormous waves in a raging ocean, the interpretation would be quite different. In the first instance you are being “swept along” by powerful subconscious drives and emotions; in the second you feel your overwhelmed emotionally, and are struggling to “stay afloat.”

Thanks for writing, and remember, next time you have this dream, try to remember that you can only breathe underwater in a dream! Then you can turn it into a “lucid” dream - a dream where you know you are dreaming while you still are in the dream. Then you can begin to explore your dreamscape consciously!

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