Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

By Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.

Keep Dreaming About Water? Here's What It Could Mean, According To Experts

Image by Matt Hardy / Unsplash

January 12, 2023

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Our dreams are chock-full of signs and symbols that can reveal something about our lives or current situation we may not have otherwise realized. And in the case of dreaming about water, these dreams are often a direct reflection of our emotional state. Here’s what they could be telling you, plus how to work through your water dreams, according to dream experts.


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What does dreaming about water mean, generally speaking?

The element of water is heavily associated with emotions, and that includes when it’s in our dreams. As professional dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells mindbodygreen, just as we can see our reflection in water in our waking lives, water in dreams offers us a different kind of reflection.

“Generally, water will reflect your emotional state, because like water, emotions are very fluid,” she explains, adding that the state of the water, how you’re feeling in/about the water, and what the water itself is doing are all important factors to pay attention to.

Water dreams can also represent the creative or spiritual side of yourself, Loewenberg notes. “Creativity, like water, is fluid,” she adds.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of water dreams, depending on what kind of water or scenario you’re specifically dealing with.

12 common water dreams and their interpretations:

Going with the line of thought that water dreams are related to emotions, to dream of a tidal wave, then, will often signify major overwhelm.

As Loewenberg explains, tidal waves threaten disaster and pull things out to sea in their wake. “So it could be some very emotionally overwhelming situation that’s pulling you, threatening to pull you away from your normal peace of mind or even your normal routine,” she notes.


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Another common water dream is to dream about drowning. As professional intuitive Catharine Allen previously wrote for mindbodygreen, this and other dreams about death could be related to a past life. It could also, however, be related to an area in your life where you feel like you’re metaphorically “drowning.”

Loewenberg adds we often use phrases like, “I’m drowning in work,” or “I’m in over my head,” and so this dream is like your subconscious playing out this feeling of being “in too deep,” as it were.

If you’re dreaming about rain, it’s often direct imagery related to your emotions, and specifically tears, according to Loewenberg. If you’re in the middle of a torrential downpour, for instance, you could be dealing with a lot of grief or sadness. Or, let’s say you’re standing out in the sun and a light shower comes down (aka a “sunshower”). This would indicate happy tears, or that you’re experiencing a full breadth of positive emotions.

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If you were to dream of muddy or stagnant water, such as a muddy puddle or a murky pond, Loewenberg says this is a telltale sign of sadness. “Muddy water in dreams usually represents something upsetting or negative that is dirtying up an otherwise clean psyche,” she explains, adding that you could likely be feeling negative lately.

If murky or muddy water indicates a negative mood, clear water, on the other hand, would indicate you’re feeling emotionally clear and can “see” things well. And we’re not talking about literal sight but rather emotional clarity and ease.


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Dreaming of water that is contained may have to do with how well you’re containing your emotions, Loewenberg says.

As opposed to a vast, open ocean, dreaming of something like an aquarium or fish bowl can mean you’re keeping your emotions in check but can also symbolize keeping your emotions “bottled up,” or even repressed. This is especially true if the fish bowl looks unkempt or stagnant, which Loewenberg says means you haven’t been tending to your emotional well-being. The opposite is also true, though, and a clear and clean fish bowl would mean you have a good handle on your emotions.

Loewenberg notes that water dreams can be really prevalent for people who menstruate and relate to the menstrual cycle itself. “If you’re on the verge of starting your cycle,” she says, “you might see water leaking from the ceiling, or you might see a tub or a sink or other vessel beginning to overflow with water, representing your uterus.”


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If you’re dreaming of floodwater, according to Loewenberg, this would indicate there’s some situation in your waking life that is getting increasingly worse and affecting you emotionally more and more each day. “Just as the water rises, so, too, does your emotional reaction to whatever’s happening,” she adds.

Fish are a very common spiritual and religious symbol, and when fish show up in dreams, they’re often in water. Loewenberg previously told us that fish dreams can relate to pregnancy or fertility; “fishing” for something in your life; and even feeling like a fish out of water, depending on what the fish is doing.

Fertility can also relate to creative fertility, she notes, with the fish in this case representing something you’re creating from your emotional landscape (which is represented by the water in the dream).


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Other animals in water

Aside from fish, other animals may surface in the water in your dreams as well. In the case of scary animals, such as an alligator or a shark, Loewenberg notes that this often indicates fear that is beginning to surface within you. If things are surfacing in the water, that can mean something within you is surfacing as well.


Traveling across water

Sometimes we dream that we’re traveling somewhere, and in the case of traveling across water by boat or ship, Loewenberg notes that these dreams often have to do with relationships. “A ship or a boat will be commenting on a relationship more than any other vehicle because it travels on water, and water tends to represent the emotional self,” she explains.

And last but not least, Loewenberg says, dreaming of breathing underwater is another common dream theme. According to her, breathing underwater in a dream is a sign that you may be dealing with something that’s very emotionally difficult—but you have a good handle on it and know you will get through it.

How to work through this dream.

If you’ve been having a lot of dreams about water and you want to work through them, the good news is there are plenty of ways to do so. The main thing, according to Loewenberg and other dream experts, is to get a clear sense of the emotion that’s being conveyed through this dream, and getting a handle on that emotion in your real life.

“Your dreams will show you—in a brutally honest fashion—how you’re dealing with, reacting to, and managing your emotional state,” Loewenberg says. And as therapist and dream expert Leslie Ellis, Ph.D., previously told mindbodygreen, one of the best ways to ensure those emotions bleed into your dreams is by setting aside time to work through your emotions before you go to bed, especially if your dreams have been stressful in nature.

“Do make time to constructively deal with the sources of your stress,” she says, adding, “If there is a difficult conversation you need to have with a friend or family member, don’t put it off. If you are feeling unprepared for something, put in the time.”

Both Ellis and Loewenberg also recommend dream journaling, which is a great way to get a written record of your dreams down so you can remember them better, start noticing patterns, and make subsequent adjustments in your life to deal with what’s coming up in your dreams.

The takeaway.

Dreams are a powerful part of our lives that can easily go unnoticed or even forgotten. The more you start paying attention to your dreams about water, the more they can reveal about your emotional state—plus what you can do to get your emotions in a better place.