HEALTHY LIVING
07/13/2011 02:03 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2011

Dreams About Water: Dream Meanings Explained

Dreams about water are a fairly common theme at bedtime. If you or a loved one have been covering this ground at night, you may have questions about what it all might mean. As part of a Huffington Post series on dreams and their meanings, we spoke to Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., M.T.S., L.C.P.C., a psychotherapist and author in Chicago to get expert advice about the meanings of your or your loved one’s water dreams. Note: While dream analysis is highly subjective, this post might provide some insight into why this dream occurred or is recurring.

What do dreams about this subject mean?
For many analysts, dreams about water can shed some light into our feelings and emotional state of mind. "Water tends to be about purification, change, renewal and new life when it is not otherwise significant to a person," explains Sumber. "However, if a person living in the desert who has never before seen the ocean dreams of swimming with dolphins, it may mean something very different from a person who lives on an island dreaming something similar."

What can I learn about myself from dreaming about water?
Sumber says that the lesson a person can learn from dreaming about water has much to do with the context of the dream and the person's role and relationship to the water. "For example," he says, "if the person is pouring out water to others, it may represent offering new life, new changes or even purification. If the dreamer is being swallowed up by a typhoon, it could mean he is overwhelmed by change and transition to the point of great anxiety and dread. Always, in all dream analysis, it is essential to determine the emotional state one has during and after the dream."

Are there any tricks to avoiding or inducing dreams about this subject?
According to Sumber, "There isn't much the average person can do" to avoid dreaming about water or something else that is on a person's mind when he or she goes to bed. "Obviously, if one spends the week at the shore, there is a greater likelihood that [the person] will experience water-related dreams," he says. In other words, the less time thinking about or being around water could likely reduce a person's chance of dreaming about it at night.

Beyond analysis, what cultural symbolism can be found in dreams about this subject?
Sumber notes that dreams about water have significant cultural symbolism for some groups. For example, many Native American tribes "incorporate water as a sign that a person is transcending this world or that a deeper state of consciousness is taking place."

Who tends to have dreams about water most frequently?
"Dreaming about water tends to symbolize a change in consciousness and is common in those who are transitioning in their life some way or another," he says. "Some psychologists have suggested that plunging through water or being immersed in some way is actually the mind translating a specific change in the sleep cycle."

Does dreaming about a lack of water have any significance?
"Assuming that we are not living in the desert and there is not a terrible drought in our immediate environment, then a lack of water can sometimes suggest that a person is feeling depleted by their work, relationships or physical condition," says Sumber. He adds that dreaming about a lack of water can also indicate feelings of deprivation or emptiness regarding something important to the dreamer -- in that case, change is in order.

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Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., M.T.S., L.C.P.C., earned master's degrees in theological studies from the Harvard Divinity School and in transpersonal psychology from Southwestern College. He has also taken specialized courses in dream interpretation at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. In addition to teaching psychology at National-Louis University in Chicago, he has served as a licensed clinical counselor for over ten years.