Dream Interpretation: Being chased, can’t get away

I’ve been experiencing nightmares since my early teens, even sometimes night terrors where I wake up swinging at the air or pillow and screaming. There’s always a common theme of someone or some group chasing me and I can’t get away. I panic and I feel out of control and very anxious. I do not take any medications and am a very healthy individual but wonder why the heck I am so anxious in my sleep? I would like to get this solved and sleep in peace. Any insight and help would be very much appreciated.
Thank you,

There is some issue in your past that you have still not gotten closure over, or not resolved. It keeps chasing you and you keep trying to get away from it. You are avoiding (out of fear) facing something, someone or some event from your past, probably dealing with your teen years since that’s when the dreams began. It could be earlier, in your childhood, however. The inability to get away in the nightmares may stem from a feeling of helplessness and uselessness in waking life. This nightmare may be triggered any time you feel useless or unable to resist something during the day. What are you avoiding facing? Anything? And what is making you feel out of control in your daily life? It could be something small or something buried in your past, but whenever you feel the slightest bit out of control it triggers this anxiety program in your mental computer. Up comes the program and starts its mission of seek and destroy. It destroys your calm sleep and your normally calm demeanor. There is something you’re not able to look at just yet, but very soon will be able to. Self-examine, observe, observe. You will find the unresolved issue and once you do, it will finally have to go away. Just identifying it “solves” it when it comes to nightmares. Another solution is to hold onto the nightmare after it wakes you up and try to go back into it while still awake. There you are, just woke up in a panic, but don’t turn on the lights, don’t open your eyes, don’t get out of bed. Instead go back, find those people that were chasing you…remember what they were like this time. See ’em? Look at them. Picture them stopping the chase and standing there behind you. Now turn yourself around (in your mind’s TV screen) and face them. Yes, look squarely at them and speak. Say, “Who are you and why are you following me?!” Now wait. Listen. See what the pursuers “answer” back in your self-guided dream replay. Usually some message will come forth, just see what pops into your head — what they “say” — after you ask that question. Demand an answer! If the dreams keep coming night after night and no luck with this post-dream replay method, you can conjure up the dream right before sleep. Then enact the scene described above. Turn, face, confront, demand an answer. For some people the before sleep method works better than the after-awakening from nightmare method. Try one or both — and let us know how it goes. Good luck, we’re here for ya.


Great feedback!! Thank you!!
When I was 12 my mom would let anyone come over and boys were allowed in my room alone. I had sex at 12 and was date raped at 13. I felt unprotected and so ashamed. I also grew up in a home with lots of yelling and my mom would “freak out” under almost any semi-stressful circumstance. You never knew when the next outburst would be. So that explains it more. So what do I need to face is a question I need to answer. To be haunted all these years, literally, is exhausting. I’m frightened to face the past, and my mom, for fear she’ll blow up!!! I would like to face this head on and not run anymore. Will try the staying asleep technique and do dream journals and see if there’s any success. I’ve been in therapy on different occasions over this issue with some success, but not full, and currently nightmares are very often. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 9 month old and as you know with children, you can’t control anything. I get tense when I feel out of control and have to make a conscious effort to breathe, and just chill. I’ve had success in my daytime life with being “chill,” but have an uneasiness I carry around with me. When I’m around my mom I go on major “chill” mode but inside I want to scream!!! Any further advice would be appreciated. Thanks again!!
Anonymous, 30 years old, Calabasas, CA.

My twenty-odd Gospel of Thomas Commentaries

Our seminarians and I got talking about  different translations of the Gospel of Thomas (GoT). I realized I own about twenty different GoT’s. There are so many cool commentaries and several powerhouse translations-with-commentaries!  My faves are Tau Malachi, Jean-Yves Leloup, and Miller’s newish one. I have Elaine Pagel’s, the only GoT commentary by a woman, as far as I know. [UPDATE: Oops, forgot April DeConick’s GoT translation-and-commentary, see comments below…]

Here’s a list on Amazon of all the many Gospel of Thomas translations available. I own about every other one of these…<laugh> It has turned into a “collection”.

But you know a favorite I must mention doesn’t even have GoT in the title, yet is indeed Thomas with short pithy zen commentaries on each verse. ‘Tis a little hardback book, slightly bigger than pocket-size. I love it.  It’s called Christian Zen: The Essential Teachings of Jesus Christ by [Sophiologist] Robert Powell.

Tips to Eliminate Nightmares

As many of you know, I worked as a dream interpreter for years and still co-write the column The Dream Zone for Sedona Magazine with my friend Dr. Lauri, “the dream lady”. This item came to my inbox today, 14 Tips for Getting Rid of Nightmares. It’s got the wisdom of the world tucked in between. The technique I used the most with my clients was number 10 — Not one of the ancient wisdom ones, but very effective. The author’s free ebook at the end looks good, too. — +Katia

By Ryan Hurd
Dream Studies
September 2, 2010

Sometimes the only dreams we remember are the ones we wish we could forget.
Nightmares can be instructive, and most psychologists believe that they are
a healthy part of life. But if you are plagued by repetitive nightmares and
are losing sleep, sometimes changing your daily habits can reduce nightmare
frequency. In general, nightmares can be caused by insufficient sleep, poor
exercise and diet, and stress. The tips below all are aimed at cultivating a
healthier sleep and dream life, drawn from my ebook Enhance Your Dreamlife:

1. Don't go to sleep angry or stressed out. Give yourself time to cool down.

2. Regular sleep patterns = better dreams. Including weekends.

3. Don't eat right before bed. In particular, foods that take longer to
digest, like meats and cheeses, can increase nightmares.

4. Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption.

5. Cultivate gratitude. If this doesn't come easy, do a "thankfulness"
exercise every day in which you list the aspects of your life that you are
thankful for.

6. Reduce exposure to violent images in the media, especially in the
evenings. Horror movies can cause lingering nightmares for years.

7. Spend time in nature as often as possible, even if this means sitting in
a city park for fifteen minutes every day. Many therapists believe that we
all suffer from "nature deficiency disorder."

8. Don't sleep on your back. This encourages a special kind of nightmare
known as sleep paralysis, in which you feel like you are awake and alert
while at the same time you cannot move. Sufferers also feel breathless
and/or sense an ³unknown presence² in the room.

9. Start a gentle body practice like yoga, walking, or tai chi. In general,
moderate exercise increases the quality of sleep.

10. If you have repetitive nightmares, role-play how you will face your
nightmare attackers next time.

11. Keep a dream journal. Often writing it out can dispel a lot of the
powerful emotionality.

12. Join a dream-sharing group. Many larger cities have them. If not, start
your own.

13. Give yourself some self-love and acceptance. Easy to suggest, but hard
to do. I use journaling to remind myself that I am loved. Affirmations --
while they can seem cheesy at first -- are effective as well. My backlog of
journals is essentially a history of pep-talks I've given myself over the
years and it still works.

14. Keep fresh flowers or aromatic oils in the bedroom. Research shows that
good smells positively effects your dreams.

Note: If you have numerous, repetitive nightmares that are related to
childhood scenes or some personal trauma you encountered, I recommend seeing
a counselor or therapist. Severe nightmares are a common symptom of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can be caused by war, devastating personal
loss, rape and suffering through a natural disaster. Ministers and priests
are also good resources for dealing with nightmares if you attend a church;
many are trained in working with the spiritual and traumatic side of dreams.

For more information about getting better sleep and exploring dreams,
download my [Ryan Hurd's] free ebook Enhance your Dreamlife