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So You’ve Outgrown Your Dream Dictionary

Have you woken up from a dream curious about what it meant, only to go online to search for its “meaning” and find yourself reading material clearly written by bot? Or perhaps you have a trusted dream dictionary you bought long ago at Urban Outfitters, but the last few times you opened it to search for answers you felt uninspired, as if you could have come up with that interpretation all on your own?

It may be that you have outgrown your resources for dream interpretation or analysis. Further, you may have moved past a stage where you are solely motivated by dream meaning and instead want to understand more the dream experience.

If dream dictionaries or blogs don’t satisfy your curiosity, this is a good sign you’re ready for dreamwork: either independently or with a teacher / guide. It’s not that dreamworkers or dream teachers have all the answers to your dreams. In fact, a good dreamworker doesn’t have any answers to any of your dreams. She is there to help you find the answers on your own, sometimes by offering active listening, reflection, and support by way of mythology, archetypes, symbolism, case studies, journaling, drawing, or painting (as examples.)  

But your dreamwork teacher doesn’t have full access to your internal world, your hidden fears and desires, or your history the way you do. 

Here’s a secret: Even dreamworkers still consult dream dictionaries sometimes.

This morning, I woke up from a recurring type of dream, a house dream.

This type of dream scenario involves considering a house for rent or purchase. It’s usually an old house. (I like old houses.) The house usually possesses some grand or unique feature. I’m excited at the possibility of living in this house. But then I learn there is “something wrong” with the house.

Sometimes it’s a sense the house may be haunted. Sometimes it’s actual evidence the house is haunted. Sometimes there is a room in the house that isn’t quite right. Sometimes the house is too noisy or too near the street or too in need of repair.

I am pretty well-versed in house dreams so it wasn’t the house itself that got me to Google this morning. It was another recurring element.

I had gum stuck in my mouth in the dream.

Not just a small piece of gum, but a very large wad of gum. A wad of gum that extended back down into my throat, and which required me to pull it out. When this long piece of chewing gum is in my mouth in a dream, I often have to spend a long time fishing it out. Usually I am somewhere I need to hide or conceal myself while I am doing it because there are others nearby and I am embarrassed for them to see.

In my dream last night, I ended up at some point in the kitchen of the house I was touring, with this long, seemingly never-ending piece of gum stuck in my throat. It was very sensory, this experience. The gum was white and rubbery. At first, it was just too big for my mouth. I managed to spit some out. But there was more, and it extended back into my throat. I eventually managed to extract the whole thing — I think. There was a sense there was more, but that it may have retreated into my digestive system. (Sometimes in these dreams, I can’t successfully extract the gum and I wake up gagging.)

A quick search on Google on “dreams of gum stuck in my mouth” offered reasonable, but unsatisfying, mostly symbolic interpretations. (The search also revealed that Kathie Lee Gifford is someone who this is a recurring dream for, too.)

According to various dream blogs, the stuck gum represents “communication problems.” “Indecision.” “Struggling with self-expression.” “Trying to find your voice.”

Okay, maybe so.

I’m not here to minimize symbolism or interpretive styles of dreamwork. These modes are certainly useful, and have, for me at certain times of life, offered solace or understanding of dreams.

But it’s not what I was looking for this morning.

Intuitively, I have known for some time these dreams of gum being stuck in my throat have greater significance for me. I believe they relate to some kind of dream mechanism.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that I believe something is happening to me, my body, or my ethereal body during these moments of “gum extraction.”

For example, a common occurrence among dreamers before becoming lucid in a dream is to hear or feel a “whooshing” inside the dream. This has been reported by many, many lucid dreamers.

Another example would be how out-of-body experiencers can sometimes feel ecstatic or aroused as their astral body begins to exit their sleeping body. 

I believe there may be some force, yet unknown to me, that is involved in the gum-stuck-in-my-throat dream event. 

Conventional science might say that there is something physiological at play: Perhaps, the sleeping body is experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort, perhaps there is reflux or sleep apnea. (Of course, if you are having repeated incidents of choking or gagging in sleep or dreams you should seek medical evaluation to rule out anything serious.)

As with the symbolic approach, I am not discounting the physiological explanation either. I do in fact suffer from digestive upset in the overnight at times. For years, I just assumed this dream was my mind trying to make sense of what was happening to me physiologically.

However, as I wrote above, I don’t believe symbolism or physiology are entirely accountable for this recurring dream event.

So what is?

I don’t know yet. It’s something I will spend more time researching and report back on.

(Or perhaps I’ll reach a conclusion in a future dream, through contemplation, or in conversation with other dreamers!)

If you have a tip on what may be happening that has the dream mind believing gum is stuck in my throat — (ie. My flesh-and-blood body is in the Matrix, and the gum is not gum, but some futuristic AI-created feeding tube I keep trying to yank out.) — feel free to be in touch with me on one of the platforms for connecting listed here.

Or, if you have outgrown your dream dictionary and are now interested in diving deeper into your own dreams, reach out to me to discuss dreamwork.

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