Among the most common of dream motifs that almost everybody has experienced is the flying dream. Other motifs include such common scenarios as falling dreams, dreams of nakedness in public, and unpreparedness dreams. These shared dreams arise from experiences and anxieties fundamental to all people.
In flying dreams, unlike other types of shared dream images, it is difficult to clearly identify the source of the experience. One explanation sometimes put forward by occult/metaphysical writers is that during sleep we sometimes project ourselves (our spiritual selves) outside our physical body and travel through space unencumbered by such physical limitations as gravity. These out-of-body experiences are then remembered as dreams.
Whatever the origin of flying images, in dreams the processes of the human mind tend to deploy images that symbolically express our hopes and fears. Flying dreams may thus reflect a sense that one is “flying high” or that one has “risen above” something. Flying also represents freedom and joy. Sigmund Freud associated flying with sexual desire, Alfred Adler with the will to dominate others, and Carl Jung with the desire to break free of restrictions. Contemporary research tends to support Jung’s perspective.