Being chased is one of the most common dream themes of all time. The details of the dream and the perpetrator may vary, but the basic theme of being chased is the same. This dream is a response to stress, and when we become stressed out fight, flight, or freeze response is activated. When we go into flight mode, the accompanying feeling is easily translated by the mind into a dream story of being chased.
In distant ancestral times the fight/flight/freeze response was usually activated by a life threatening stimulus such as a predatory animal or natural disaster. According to recent findings of cellular biology, neurobiology, epigenetics, and developmental psychology, the experiences of our ancestors may be passed down through genetic memory, coded in our very DNA. (For an interesting read on this topic – specifically how it relates to trauma - check out ‘It Didn’t Start With You’ by Mark Wolynn, available at East West Bookshop)
While the stress response of our distant ancestors may have been triggered by beasts or nature’s wrath, today our stressors are more likely to be financial concerns, work issues, health or relationship problems. Other sources can include feeling threatened by something or someone, scary emotions such as jealousy or rage, addictions, illness or a health crisis. Any of these can cause the stress response to kick in. When the body prepares to flee, it may actually trigger ancestral memories of being chased by predators and running away in order to survive, thus: a chase dream is born.
One man had a dream that a war was going on, and he was being chased by the enemy. He could run and hide temporarily, but eventually the enemy would get too close, he would have to move on and the chase would continue. Through working with the dream ‘the enemy’ turned out to represent the financial strains of a bad economy that was directly impacting his work and income. While he felt overwhelmed by the stressors of lack of work and money, he was able to find ways in his life to temporarily escape these feelings just like he temporarily escaped ‘the enemy’ in the dream. If a dream is particularly disturbing or recurring, a deeper exploration might consider the epigenetic layer and whether any of his recent ancestors had been to battle in a war. This is not always the case, but an interesting layer to consider especially if more symbolic ways of looking at a dream do not seem relevant. A symbolic layer and an epigenetic layer are not necessarily mutually exclusive, in my opinion.
Having this dream doesn’t mean whatever is chasing you is really ‘going to get you’. It is usually a reflection that something feels like a threat at the present time. Take a look at whom or what is chasing you, as this can be a big clue as to the source of this dream and these emotions. It may be an outside influence, or even a part of your self. Also consider if there is something you are trying to ‘run away from’ emotionally or otherwise? Often just acknowledging this can play a large part in resolving the conflict. Take some time out to pay attention, deal with the fears or stressors, get support, and enlist the best self care possible. These can be ways to help to alleviate the stressors that are causing this type of dream, and when that is resolved the dream will likely no longer occur.
As with any dream, it is important to look at the individual dream story as there may be variations on the classic theme. One man told me that his wife had recurring dreams where she was the one doing the chasing. I had a hit, so I asked him ‘did she do the chasing when it came to your relationship?’ He broke out in a grin and smiled as he said “yes, she pursued me very strongly’.
Mimi Pettibone is the creator of the ‘Enchanted Art Oracle Cards’, and offers private consultations at East West Bookshop. Her practice includes dream interpretation, tarot and oracle readings, and personal growth work focused on relationships, communication and authentic life path. Her background includes social psychology, spirituality, dreams, intuition, and consciousness. Mimi is also a monthly dream columnist for the New Spirit Journal
For more info on Mimi, or to book a consultation: www.thedreamdetective.com
Classes at East West: www.meetup.com/dreamgroup