Had a Naked-in-Public Dream? Here’s the Psychology Behind It…Vasilis Stergiou
We all know the expression, “it’s like sleeping on a cloud.” None of us actually know what that feels like, but we imagine that luxury e-commerce mattress brand DreamCloud comes pretty close. The mattress has eight layers that combine 15 inches of premium materials—we’re talking a hand-tufted cashmere blend top, gel-infused memory foam, quilted memory foam (that’s the cloud part), hypoallergenic natural latex, “Dream Plush” high-density supporting memory foam (OK, more clouds), another layer of super dense and soft memory foam, a foam-encased pocketed micro coil compression system, and, you guessed it, another layer of high-density soft memory foam. In our fast-paced world of technology and on-the-go lifestyles, that’s a welcome combination and we’re falling asleep just thinking about it. We checked in with Lauri Loewenberg, a dream expert currently working with DreamCloud, to get her take on all things sleep-related. “Our thoughts are meaningful and our dreams are subconscious thought,” she says. “Nothing in a dream is random. Every detail, down to the color of clothing you are wearing, has meaning and is a piece in the puzzle of the message your dream is giving you.”
How did you come to find Dream Psychology? Ever since I was a child, around 2 or 3 years old, I could remember my dreams. I would draw what I could remember from, and when I got older I would write them down. When I was 19 my grandfather passed away. He was the first person in my life that I was close to that had died. His funeral was an open casket and seeing his body made me lose all faith in life after death, heaven and all those concepts I was brought up to believe and I went into a depression. About two weeks after his death I had a dream. My grandfather and I were walking arm in arm through an art gallery. I knew he had died so I asked him what it was like where he is now. He told me, “I am not allowed to tell you. But what I can tell you is that it is secure.” He then hugged me, began walking up a spiral stairway, and then I woke up. I could smell his Old Spice and feel him near me—It was crazy! That dream propelled me to study Dream Psychology so I could find out what is really going on when we dream.
Why do we dream? We dream because we think. Dreaming is a thinking process and is merely the continuation of your thought stream from the day. That inner dialogue you have with yourself all day long continues as you drift off to sleep. Once you enter REM sleep, the stage of sleep where dreaming takes place, that thought stream is still happening but it has changed languages, in a sense, because the brain is now working differently. Certain parts of your brain, like the part of the prefrontal cortex that controls rational linear thought, has become dormant, while other parts, such as the amygdala that controls emotions, has become highly active. So, while in REM sleep, you are still thinking. But rather than thinking in words you are now thinking in symbols, metaphors and emotions.
This nightly thought process is very important because it is a deeper more focused way of thinking. Your lights are out, your eyes are shut, the outer world is tuned out and your thoughts go inward, without distraction, and focus on what you may have dismissed or denied or simply didn’t know how to handle during the day. The dreaming process allows us to think honestly, to dig deep and explore and figure out our issues, relationships, behaviors and current circumstances. This is why, when we’re faced with a dilemma, we automatically say, “Let me sleep on it.” We are actually dreaming on it.
Do our dreams reflect what’s happening in our lives? Yes, they’re a direct reflection. As mentioned above, your dreams are a continuation of your thoughts and emotions from the day, so they will reflect your truest feelings of what’s going on in your life right now. Certain dreams seem to be universal—like teeth falling out in public or being naked in public—where does this action come from? We call these common dreams archetypes because they are typical among the population, and the reason why is because they are connected to common or typical behaviors and feelings many of us share. For example, the teeth falling out dream is often connected to the common or typical behavior of speaking without thinking, saying things you wish you could take back.
Being naked in public in a dream is connected to the common concern over how others view or perceive you. This dream tends to happen when you are in a situation where all eyes are on you, such as when you have to give a presentation in the boardroom, when you are hosting the in-laws for the first time at a dinner party, etc. Basically, when you worry others may see your flaws or mistakes. You may also notice, in this dream, you are the only one freaking out about your nudity. No one else in the dream ever seems to care that you are naked. This is the way your subconscious is trying to show you that you are the only one having this concern in waking life. No one else is giving it any energy, so relax about it. No one will judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.
D R E A M O N
BACK TO SCHOOL
School dreams are most often caused by job or career stress because school is your first job in life and holds the same dynamics: you need to be on time, you need to be prepared, you are being tested and judged and you want to keep moving up to the next level. The stress in the dream will often be similar to some sort of stress you are dealing with at work. Having to take a test often means you are feeling tested in some way in waking life: is someone or something testing your patience? Are you having to learn something new? Where in your life or in your career do you have to prove yourself? This dream often comes as a reminder that is time to be fully prepared for what is in store in waking life.
Photo by Romello Williams
Falling is often connected to losing a sense of control or power somewhere in real life, losing a sense of stability. This is especially common when we have suffered a let-down: when plans fall through when something you had high hopes for did not work out, when something goes in the wrong direction. You want to go up in a dream as that usually means something is progressing and going down is often connected to regression. This is also a common dream for people who suffer from depression and is a warning that they are about to “fall” into another bout of depression.
If you have been cheated on before, this dream is a good indication you are not over the betrayal. But, more often than not, this dream doesn’t point to an actual affair. This dream usually happens when there is a third wheel in the relationship, but not necessarily another woman or man—could be work, fantasy football, a new baby. This dream is a very good indication that you feel something is taking your partner’s time and focus away from you and it’s causing you to feel cheated out of that time, focus and attention. These dreams can be helpful to your relationship because they’re alerting you to an underlying issue that you may not be addressing. Bring it up to your partner and find a way the two of you can make the time you do have together meaningful. This will make the dream stop.
Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger
This dream is caused by avoidance and tends to happen when you are running from an issue rather than facing it, such as avoiding a confrontation you need to have with someone, trying to get out of an obligation, avoiding the truth, etc. This dream is the way the subconscious is telling you to stop running away from your problems.
PLEASE TAKE YOUR POSITIONS
The Fetus (Curled and lying on one side, like a fetus in the womb): This position reveals you are tough on the outside but sensitive inside. Things affect you more than you let on. You tend to be shy at first but are able to relax soon enough.
Log (Lying on your side with both arms down by your side): You are easy going and social and often considered part of the in-crowd. You love meeting new people but have a tendency to be too trusting and gullible.
The Yearner (On your side with both arms out in front): You have an open and welcoming disposition yet can just as easily be suspicious or cynical because your openness allows for a lot of disappointment. You are slow to make up your mind, but once you do, there’s no changing it.
Photo by Danny G
Soldier (Lying on your back with both arms pinned to your sides): You are generally quiet and reserved. You won’t put up with drama and nonsense and you hold yourself and others to high standards.
Freefall (Lying on your stomach with your hands around the pillow and your head turned to the side): You are upfront, brazen and often have no filter but also have thin skin. You don’t like to be criticized and you let it sit with you for a long time before letting it go.
Starfish (Lying on your back with both arms up around the pillow): You are very contemplative as well as a good listener. You will help others at the drop of a hat. You generally don’t like to be the center of attention.