Last month, I had a dream that I was laying on my back in a gazebo looking up at the roof. The gazebo wasn’t mine and it happened to be located at the very edge of a cliff that overlooked a massive car dealership. I stood up and surveyed the rows of cars. Then I woke up.
Undoubtedly, all parts of the dream were strange. When I first set out to decipher it, I first wanted to know what does a gazebo in a dream mean?
I quickly found out that this straightforward question did not yield any straightforward answers. At least any that were actually valuable or accurate. I discovered that there’s a quick and dirty way to interpret gazebos in dreams, but it’s mostly for entertainment purposes.
The more nuanced answer to my question took longer to arrive at but was also far more insightful and useful.
Quick (and Dirty) Answer: What Does a Gazebo in a Dream Mean?
If we consult any of the pseudo-science dream dictionaries out there, we’d discover that a gazebo in a dream means that you are content, happy, safe and satisfied with your current lot in life, specifically your family and home.
While I don’t have a huge problem with that interpretation (for the most part, it’s true), dreams don’t work that way. There are no one-size-fits-all meanings that can be neatly organized in an alphabetized dictionary.
What Exactly is a Dream?
A dream is a story or sequence of pictures that your brain creates while you’re asleep. Dreams have been studied, interpreted, and hypothesized about for millennia, yet they are still largely a mystery to scientists and scholars.
Dreams are usually grouped into 3 categories:
- Dreams = when you (in the dream) don’t recognize that you’re dreaming
- Lucid dreams = when you (in the dream) do recognize that you’re dreaming
- Nightmares = scary or fearful dreams that are thought to be stress-induced
There is no consensus as to the biological or neurological purpose of dreams. However, most theories point to a need for our brains to process and reconcile emotions that are triggered by experiences and memories.
When Are You Most Actively Dreaming?
You have dreams throughout the night but you most actively dream during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. Most adults get somewhere between 4 and 6 hours of REM every night but these hours aren’t necessarily consecutive.
Near the beginning of sleep, most folks will enjoy a short REM stage and their first dream(s) of the night. The dream will most likely be short and your recollection of it will be even shorter.
Your brain will return to a longer REM session later in the night, and your dreams will return in a more sustained state as well.
Regardless of the amount of REM that you clock in a night and the number of dreams that you experience, psychologists suggest that you only remember about 10% of dreams when you awake.
What Determines What You Dream About?
Your dreams are a magical mix of memories from decades past, the last 24 hours, and everything in between.
The famed/infamous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud liked to emphasize two particularly potent time frames for memories that were likely to resurface as dreams. “Day residue” is what Freud called the last 24 hours of memories. “Dream lag effect” is how he referred to the last 168 hours (one week) of memories.
Your brain determines what you’ll dream about every night. Experts think it’s most likely that the brain gives priority to memories that are recent and deemed valuable but not fully understood. These valuable yet not quite processed memories never look the same in dreams as when you’re conscious.
Psychologists are fairly confident that the brain prioritizes emotional memories. They’re also pretty sure that the opposite of that assertion is true: your emotional state during the day is echoed in your dreams at night. If you’ve had a stressful day, those feelings of panic and anxiety will follow you to bed and dictate the tenor of your dreams.
Are There Common Dreams That Most People Share?
While every dream is unique to the dreamer, and thus, carries a unique meaning, studies suggest there are 3 types of dreams that a majority of people report experiencing: dreams about being chased, dreams about a sexual experience, and dreams about falling.
Even though we’ve all likely had at least one of these types of dreams, that doesn’t mean that any of them have a universal meaning. Dreams are meant to be personally interpreted rather than matched with a pre-identified answer.
The “dream dictionary” approach is an entertaining way to think about dreams but these prescribed one-size-fits-all meanings should not be taken too seriously. To find value in your dreams, you must decipher them based on personal experiences, memories, and emotional associations.
How to Decipher Dreams
When you first awake from a dream, lay still in bed and work to actively recollect as much of it as you can. It’s important that you viscerally remember being in the dream.
Record those recollections in a dream diary or dream app on your phone. If you’re serious about wanting to decipher your dreams, you should keep your phone or diary handy on your night table so it’s nearby in the middle of the night.
Use your documented dreams as topics to talk through with a psychologist who uses dream analysis in his/her practice. This doesn’t mean that a psychologist will diagnose you using dream interpretations. It means that they might use your dreams and nightmares to identify underlying emotional issues that impact your waking life.
If you don’t want to seek out an individual professional, join a Dream Group. A Dream Group is a small group of people (usually less than 15) that gather on a regular basis (typically every month) to discuss and interpret one member’s dream for several hours.
Dream Groups use a specific 3-stage process for interpreting a dream that was developed in the 1970s by the psychoanalyst Montague Ullman.
In the first stage of the process, the dreamer verbally recounts the dream to the group.
In the second stage, only the other group members are allowed to discuss the dream while the dreamer listens.
In the final stage, the dreamer responds to what the others have said. Presumably by the end of the session, the dream has been deciphered and the dreamer has gained new insight into his or her emotional state.
Long Answer: What Does a Gazebo in a Dream Mean?
When I equipped myself with the knowledge required to better understand the dreaming process, I was able to deduce a more useful interpretation of my strange gazebo dream.
Here’s my interpretation: I am physically and emotionally at home in a gazebo. Much of my week is spent looking at, experiencing, reviewing, and writing about gazebos. I tend to do most of my gazebo writing either very early in the morning or very late at night so they are top of mind at those times of the day closest to sleep.
In the dream, I think that I’m laying down in the gazebo because I’m comfortable and content with my gazebo activities. I find gazebos relaxing, and I find researching them a comfortable thing to do. My brain codes gazebos as chill.
I’m also currently on the hunt for a new car, which prompts emotions that are far less relaxing. They are the types of emotions that border on jumping off a cliff into a chaotic abyss. And like any good citizen of the digital age, I also tend to scroll through cars on my phone before I drift off into REM every night.
So from my gazebo dream, I garner a little more insight into positive emotions about one aspect of my professional life and much less positive emotions about one personal activity.
I learned that I need to seriously just choose a car and move on with my life (and also that I should probably decrease screen time just in general).
We hope that we’ve provided useful information that will let you glean emotional insight from your strange dreams. It’s certainly an interesting and mysterious field of inquiry.
And if you’ve gotten nothing else from this post, we hope that the quick and dirty interpretation for what a gazebo in a dream means prompts you to seek out the pure unadulterated joy of the gazebo life…see what we did there?