Understanding the layered meaning of tsunami dreams

Understanding the layered meaning of tsunami dreams

Tsunami dreams or tidal waves or other giant waves are some of the most powerful and awe-inspiring images to appear in dreams. You may dream of watching a wall of water approach you from the shore or you may be in the water with it. You may feel terrified watching the wave surge towards you and be filled with dread or you may feel overwhelmed. You could feel a sense of panic and the urgency to flee, or you may feel utterly powerless and rooted to the spot, unable to move. You can also be overcome with a sense of awe. It is also possible to experience the wave as something about to obliterate you, or something full of incredible majesty and wonder.

The magnitude of feelings that tsunami dreams invoke is no surprise when you consider that water in dreams most often relates to our emotional state. A huge overwhelming dream wave can often be directly representative of huge, overwhelming feelings. Tidal wave dreams often occur when big changes are occurring in your life and you are questioning your ability to cope and adapt to them. The fear you experience in your dream when confronting the tsunami can correlate with the fear of the impending change you are facing in waking life.If you are about to move house, start a new job or go to a new school you may be feeling great trepidation about living, working or studying in a new place, and how your sense of identity will be reshaped due to these new people,new surroundings and new challenges.

The idea of formlessness is an interesting aspect of water dreams. Our sense of self — who we think we are, how we behave, our choices and values — is being pretty much determined by the time we are adults. But, as human beings, we are all amazingly adaptable and have so much potential for evolving in new and enriching ways. Tidal wave dreams can arise from the deep inner knowledge that the life you are living is only one aspect of many that you might choose or have the opportunity to experience. It can be terrifying to realise there is so much more to who you are and what you are capable of, just as it can be incredibly powerful and liberating. The huge uprising of water in tidal wave dreams can be terrifying because it threatens to wash away all that you know, all the safe and carefully built up constructs that you believe to be your actual life. However, the power to wash away, the power to destroy, can also be the same power that is required to build something new, to create.

A tsunami dream can be accompanied by a sense of feeling overcome and may occur when you are feeling under great pressure in your waking life. This could be from something as easy to identify as a looming deadline. It is not uncommon to dream of tsunamis as exams approach or as critical reports are due. Sometimes the sense of pressure may be from a source more difficult to recognise. If you feel a pulling need to provide for your family but are under constant pressure to perform at work, you may dream of huge waves threatening to overwhelm you and destroy the life you are trying so hard to protect. You may also feel pressured to care for sick or elderly loved ones while still maintaining the rest of your life. Tsunami dreams, therefore, can symbolise the pressure you feel under to not let anyone down.

Like most dreams, tidal wave dreams are usually understood on multiple levels. While they may appear to reflect circumstances in your current waking life, they may also be symbolic of deeper issues that are of concern to you. Oceans in dreams are often a symbol of the subconscious. You can understand a great deal about your deeper self by understanding the symbolism of the ocean. Tidal waves in dreams can be a sign that profound and deep change is occurring within you. In the many tsunami dreams that have been relayed to me, the people are either watching the wave from a distance or fleeing it. When you are watching a tidal wave from a safe distance, this can be an indicator that you are in a position to observe your deeper feelings from the outside, and not be overwhelmed by them. This can be really helpful when you need to manage a transition in waking life. You may be effectively managing your daily existence, while internally your subconscious is grappling with the hugeness of what is really going on in your life. This is fine. There are times in life, especially when a lot is going on, when we need to temporarily compartmentalise our circumstances in order to function effectively. In these situations, the subconscious deals with the heavy stuff so we can get on with things. The time for reflecting and conscious processing will come later, when you have the time, mental capacity and emotional energy to make sense of everything that has happened. If you have been paying attention to your dreams at these times, you may find that understanding and acceptance comes more quickly than you might have expected.

If you are fleeing the tidal wave in your dream, it could mean that the changes going on in your life seem so overwhelming you would rather deny them than face them. If you fear the end of a relationship or if one is ending around you, if you are worried about financial difficulties or some deep, personal, significant change, you may dream of running from a tidal wave. Some tsunami dreams involve a search for higher ground or a building, as a safe place to avoid being washed away. This can be symbolic of the need to take time and space to reflect on what is happening, to gain some perspective on the situation. It may also indicate that you are looking to use your conscious, higher reasoning mental faculties. This can be helpful if you have been reacting in an overly emotional way recently.

It may also arise as a fear response. If facing your emotions and honestly admitting to yourself the depth of your feelings is terrifying, you may seek to reason your way out of having to feel anything. This can happen when you judge certain feelings as being less appropriate or acceptable. If you strive to be a kind, compassionate human but have feelings of rage against someone who harmed you, you may bury these feelings in your subconscious — where they will later appear as tidal waves in your dreams. Similarly, if you feel like you are falling in love with someone who you consider inappropriate, or perhaps even fear the pain of loss and don’t want to give up your heart, you may dream of tidal waves as an expression of your suppressed emotions. Anger, resentment, jealousy and fear are all common tsunami feelings. You may also dream of running from a tidal wave if you are in the midst of extreme emotions and not sure how to cope. The grief and loss of bereavement or the breakdown of a significant relationship can trigger these dreams.

Though it may seem that dreams of giant waves signify impending doom or that you are powerless in the face of overwhelming circumstances, it can be helpful to remember that the dreams are symbolically revealing your own inner state. Feeling that everything is going wrong is quite different from everything actually going wrong. Your dream is showing you your own feelings, not an objective truth. The magical thing about dreams such as these is that even as they reveal your fear, they also remind you of your own power. Tidal wave dreams contain huge, awe-inspiring energy, energy that is within you.

The giant wave is as much a part of you as the you you’re dreaming of who is running away or watching it from the shore. Remembering you have this magnificent power within you can be the source of energy you need to confront the challenges you face. You are the wave.

While it is often the most terrifying thing to do, you can gain the greatest benefit from facing your fears and facing your true self — or, in this dream context, of facing the wave. If you dream of standing to face the wave as it crashes over you or dive into it as it approaches, you are likely to be gaining confidence in managing big changes in your life and embracing deeper parts of your own psyche internally.

One of the most exhilarating of dream experiences can be to learn to swim in or surf on the waves. These kinds of dreams are special and rare and can symbolise a kind of emotional freedom. The process of inner growth requires an element of surrender. Joyous tsunami dreams reflect a process of merging with your subconscious, of the removal of artificial barriers between who you think you are and who you really are.

In this way, surfing or swimming a tidal wave can reflect a kind of integration and acceptance of your own authentic wholeness. These dreams can also relate to exhilarating relationships, where you feel the joy of immersion in deep emotions.

Swimming or surfing giant waves in dreams can also symbolise a sense of mastery. These dreams may arise after many years of dedication to a craft, indicating that you are now able to participate so fully in the experience that you enter a flow state. Here, what you need to do comes naturally. You no longer have to think about where to put your fingers on an instrument to play a certain note, or which darker shade you need to create depth while painting. You may experience a dream such as this when creativity becomes a pure expression and there is no distinction between your inner and outer worlds.

For some people, dreaming of giant waves can be an entry into lucid dreaming. The emotion of the looming body of gigantic water is sometimes enough to trigger conscious awareness that this is in fact a dream. If this occurs, you can choose how to interact with the wave as you would like, perhaps swimming or surfing the surge, or simply diving under it until it passes, emerging into peaceful waters on the other side.

Tidal wave dreams can at times feel overwhelming but they also remind us that emotions are powerful, and so is the subconscious. It cannot be tamed or beaten into submission. But it can be merged with. Tsunami dreams invite us to dive into our subconscious. They challenge us to face the things that we fear within us and offer us the power to survive in even the most challenging of times.

Want to learn more about what your dreams mean? Visit our Dreams archive page.

Ella Palfreyman

Ella Palfreyman

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