THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Recurring Dreams and Their Meanings

Do you have recurring dreams of being back in high school or college? Walking into important meetings naked? Falling down from high places? If so, you are not alone. Recurring dreams are universal, and so are human efforts to understand what they mean.

Writer Tanya Bennett has just posted her top ten list of recurring dreams here. It is a good introduction to common dream themes, and has links to some websites that offer dream interpretation.

The internet has become a huge dream dictionary, with dozens of sites now offering definitions and interpretations. The problem with these sites is the same as with published dream dictionaries: there are no "one size fits all" meanings for dreams. And because there is no standardized training for dream interpreters, you run the risk of getting lots of not very good information for your efforts.

When looking for someone to help you understand your dreams, ask if they belong to the International Association for the Study of Dreams. This group is at the forefront of dream research and training worldwide, and every reputable dreamworker should agree with its ethics statement.

If you are looking for dream dictionaries, here are the five books I consult most often.

The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Huge, encyclopedic, cross-cultural, and full of interesting stuff.

A Dictionary of Dream Symbols, by Eric Ackroyd. This book lists the most pertinent information about each symbol with a minimum of fuss.

The Dream Book, by Betty Bethards. I don't agree with a lot of it, but many people use this book as their go-to dictionary and it is a decent place to start exploring meanings. Just don't stop here.

In Your Dreams, by Gayle Delaney. Organized by dream theme, setting, animals and other objects, this is a great resource for learning about your recurring dreams.

Symbols, by Sandra Forty. This book is arranged visually, by the symbols and pictures that we see in dreams. You will find arcane mathematical, religious, political, and cultural symbols from around the world, and it may just help you figure out that elusive dream!