Consider this freaky dream. You're at a black-tie gala in a fancy hotel banquet room with lots of other people. You're all having a good time eating dinner, dancing, and talking. When it's time to go, you look for your purse, but it's gone. As you anxiously search for it, a fast-moving river appears out of nowhere, bisecting the room. Your purse is floating on the river, but you can't reach it. It is moving too swiftly. When you awaken, you're filled with a sense of panic.
Now if you plugged the dream into an online dream analyzer, such as you might find at Freakydreams.com, you'd learn that a purse is a symbol for wealth and resources, a hotel represents transition, and a river connotes emotion. Since you have been living through a kitchen remodeling -- with its attendant financial stresses and upheavals -- this dream echoes and amplifies what's going on in your waking life.
What Are Dreams?
Human beings dream, and so do, scientists believe, most mammals and some birds. On the most basic level, a dream is the experience you have of envisioned images, sounds, or other sensations while you sleep. They are an internal mental process. But dreams are actually much more than that.
Sigmund Freud's theory was that your dreams are an expression of what you're repressing during the time you are awake. And Carl Jung believed that dreams provide messages about "lost" or "neglected" parts of our selves that need to be reintegrated. Many dreams simply come from a preoccupation with the day's activities. But some offer rich, symbolic expressions -- an interface between the conscious and the unconscious that can fill in the gaps of our self-knowledge and provide information and insight.
In his book The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination, Robert Moss writes, "Dreams are open vistas of possibility that take us beyond our everyday self-limiting beliefs and behaviors. Before we dismiss our dream lover, our dream home or our dream job as unattainable -- 'only a dream' -- we want to examine carefully whether there are clues in the dream that could help us to manifest that juicy vision."