Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Dream symbols – Naked in public

naked in public - Ai Tayebashi.jpgIt’s your first day on the new job, and you’ve done your best to be ready. But wait – you forgot to put on your pants.

You’re in church and the minister is clearing his throat, ready to start the service. But the congregation are looking at you, and you blush all over when you realize why. You are stark naked.
You’re swimming in a glorious pool, as big as the Biltmore pool in Miami, feeling light and free. When you get out, you realize that one reason you’re feeling light is that you forgot to wear a swimsuit.
You are arriving for a private party at a mansion on the hill. You don’t know anybody there, but they receive you as a welcome guest. As you shake hands with your hosts, who are dressed to the nines in black tie and a ballgown, you are shocked when you realize you have shown up in a hospital gown with your butt hanging out.
If you have never been naked or exposed in a dream, you are a rare bird indeed. This is one of the perennial dream themes. It fascinated Freud, who placed “Embarrassing Dreams of Being Naked” at #1 on his list of Typical Dreams. If you are in this kind of dream situation, and you are embarrassed, that may speak about your lack or confidence or sense of vulnerability in a certain situation in waking life. 
Showing up pantless at the new job, for example, may reflect your sense that you are unprepared for your new situation. Finding yourself naked in church may speak of your fear that you won’t pass muster with your pious, respectable neighbors – and may carry an entirely practical caution to be careful how you behave and express yourself in their midst.
Embarrassment at being naked in a dream may reflect your dissatisfaction with your physical condition. For example, you don’t want to show yourself because you’ve put on some weight. 
On a slightly darker note, if you are worried about being exposed in a dream, you may need to think about what you are trying to conceal or cover up in regular life.
But wait: does anybody notice or care that your dream self is naked or under-dressed? Very frequently, it seems that other people in the dream either don’t notice that you are under-dressed, or pretend not to see, like the courtiers in “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
If you are the only one who seems to be bothered by the fact that you are unclad, this may be telling you that it’s okay to show more of yourself in other ways in waking-life situations. You don’t need to fear exposure, or waste time and energy being anything less than your natural self. 
Sometimes this becomes obvious inside the dream itself. The man in the hospital gown had a feast at the dream mansion, and woke in pure joy, knowing he had made some wonderful new friends. He was in hospital at that time, so his garb was realistic. 
As in his case, we sometimes seem to go around in our dreams in what we are wearing (or not wearing) during sleep, so being naked or in our pajamas may simply reflect our vestigial awareness of the body’s condition. Our dream characters may see us differently.
There are many angles of perception on this, as on any dream theme. Our attitudes, in and out of the dream state, will be conditioned by our personal histories and our cultural formation. If you frequent a topless beach, a nudist colony, or a group practicing “sky-clad” rituals, public nakedness – waking or sleeping – will have distinctive resonance for you.Our feelings around a dream, as always, will be our best guide to what is going on.
We can have more than one angle of perception within a single dream. Some years ago, I dreamed that my (then) current self, dressed only in a towel or a loincloth, was seated above and behind my much younger self, who was armored in a fancy pinstripe suit. My near-naked self was trying to play guide and mentor to that younger, over-dressed self, who was certainly in need of guidance at that stage in his life. I relish the idea that an older self, who is content to live and act in a wholly natural way, could play this role.
Let’s hear from you, and don’t be afraid to let it all hang out!
Image by Ai Tayebashi. Used with permission.
  • Nina

    Well, statistically, dreaming about walking almost naked in public places makes up about 5% of the total of my dreams.
    They are all very similar in the fact that I walk carefree along the street and in one instant I become aware that all I am wearing is my underwear. After this embarrassing revelation, I make up my mind to return home at once and make one more attempt to get dressed properly. And naturally I pray I won´t meet anybody on my way back. As a matter of fact strangers whom I encounter don´t seem to notice anything weird about my scarce clothing. They just pass me by.
    I guess one of the most inappropriate places for wearing just underwear is a library. However, my wiser dreamself is apparently of another opinion so in one of my “underwear” dreams I find myself walking across a nice large library hall. I feel content because I have just found the book I looked for. Suddenly, taken aback, I realize my underwear clothing. I look around the place and with relief I see that all scholars are completely absorbed in their studies. It feels better for me but I know I need to have proper clothes. And thus the situation in a dream develops further. Now I am dressed in casual clothes. I wear a pair of trousers and interestingly, one trouser is of blue and one of brown colour. It doesn´t strike me as an unusual combination at all, on the contrary I feel very comfortable and at ease – until I wake up and use my daily reasoning :-)
    Now, I have been looking into more amusing side of one type of “naked” dreams, talking mainly about my vulnerability and awkwardness in some situations. But there is much more about the concept of being naked. The most profound dreams can sometimes mediate the innocence and beauty of our souls through the nakedness of the body. When we can “clear” our sight from all usual projections, “with the naked eye” we may experience that in the essence a human body has all attributes of divine beauty.
    Thank you very much for sharing “loaded” topic with clarity and humour.

  • Clay Wilder

    I have nude dreams quiet a lot, usually I am working, I own my own business. So I am in my clients house working nude, sometimes if there are kids or family around I look for a towel or something to wrap around me because I am concerned about making them uncomfortable, but the work must go on so it does. I love working in my dreams
    I had a different nude dream the other night though. I was approaching a swimming pool and there were people around at tables and lounging. I noticed I only had an open shirt on. I considered it for a moment and continued to the pool. I go to the opposite side of the pool and start to float, I was bent at the waist and was hanging in the air buns up.
    Then an employee or manager comes up and tells me that floating like that may be upsetting to others who may not understand. So he gives me a Long pole to hold on to to disguise my nonchalant floating. So I started to use the pole with one end on the ground and the other to the sky to position myself in a number of floating but not floating poses. It was o.k. at first, Then I noticed that the pole made it very difficult to float and began to take effort and just didn’t feel natural any longer.

  • Lynette

    Every so often I have a dream in which I’m out in the middle of the desert naked as a jaybird. No one else is around. The sand is multi-colored and moving under my feet—much like what you see watching the northern lights in the sky-just under my feet. I’m dancing and twirling and singing and I’m toasty warm from the shining sun. I like that while in. the desert, I have no “stuff” to contend with. No computer, no IPods, no phones. I always wake from this dream happy and energized. I usually have the dream when I’m very busy with work and travel here on the earth plane. A reminder to find the “lightness” in my day. I’ve named the dream Naked As Can Be, Freedom Welcomes Me.

  • Azima

    I don’t remember any “naked dreams”, but when I was a child I remember frequently dreaming that I am let off from a ride to school and find myself in my pajamas – oh, how vulnerable and exposed I feel!

  • Wanda Burch

    I am accutely aware of what I am wearing – or not wearing – in my dreams, possibly because of working with material culture in my waking life. In times of feeling the least confidence in my waking life I often dream of wearing exotic clothing in exotic settings, sometimes in other time periods, or wearing colors that I don’t normally wear, one memorable dream in which I am wearing a stunning red dress. In clothing stores I still check for that dress – I’ll recognize it when I see it and I’m sure the situation will be perfect when I find it. I have a history of dreams in which I am in historic dress or dress from Asian cultures, one a stunning dream in which I am royalty, in another Asian clothing is being vended on a street where I live. In another I am wearing Muslim dress, blending in on the streets of a Muslim country.
    In a difficult work time I found myself in a hotel room with a male colleague. The two of us were exchanging clothing with a pile of clothing on the bed, alternately naked as we chose our next clothing. Neither of us were uncomfortable. Both of us, in our waking lives, were working in situations where we seemed to be constantly monitoring our reactions depending upon the person “in charge” in state government.
    The most difficult dreams of dress or un-dress occurred after my mastectomy. I had many dreams of being naked and people seeing me with only one breast. In those dreams I hid in closets or tried to hide behind curtains or something else in the dream that was inadequate for covering my nakedness. In a “turning point” dream, I am hiding in a locker room and finally realize that the opinions of other people are more about their own discomfort and not mine and certainly more about their own misguided association with a woman as – or not – a sexual being without a breast. So I came out of the locker room in that dream.
    Reading Don’s post on this topic on your forum interested me. He spoke of the natural-ness of children being nude in other decades in countries where poverty was more normal than not or in places where it was part of normal village life. In West African villages, the small children are often naked or even the older children bathe outside in tubs visible to the village houses. The small children are clothed when they go into the larger villages or go shopping at the market in the next village. I became accustomed to a naked child climbing into my lap. Don also mentioned times when swimming nude felt right. Swimming nude with good friends was part of my dreaming when I was younger. Actually doing that – in the evening or spontaneously in a protected environment – was always fun and I always enjoyed the immense freedom. I must admit – with a body part missing – it was years before I felt that comfort again.

  • Azima

    Wanda, great to see your post here (just reading about you in “The Three ‘Only’ Things).
    Coincidence on the red dress: I had the same (not in a dream, but in my imagination), and one day I saw it in a catalog. I rarely buy clothes online, but I did buy that one. For me, it represented the “me” that was going to meet my Unknown Beloved sometime soon, and some day we would go somewhere special together, and I would wear that dress. (I still have the dress; he hasn’t shown up yet.) Then recently I had a dream of being wrapped in a large circular scarlet cape, that same color, and being recognized by a man whose energy is very lovely. I just realized the connection between the two as I read your comment.

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