Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Alternate Meaning in Dreams

This blog post is in direct response to Thewster's latest post.

I've done a lot of reading up on dreams and sub-conscious, and lucid dreams. If you're interested, check out dreamviews for more info on lucid dreaming - it's a fascinating subject.

To start my thoughts on the subject, I'll put to you a scenario that you may or may not have experienced before: that of the false awakening. Your alarm goes off in the morning, you wake up, get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, and suddenly discover that your bathroom is a giant room filled with plastic balls. "What the - ?" you ask. Then you realise you're dreaming, and you snap awake, for real this time, faced with your grimy bathtub that needs cleaning, rather than the glorious fun filled plastic ball room.

The thing with dreams, and with reality, is that it is all a fragment of our imagination, literally. The world we see and hear is a model, created by stimuli from our senses. Our eyes process light waves, and our brains turn this into what we "see". Our ears take sound waves, vibrations, and our brains convert that into what we "hear", and so on for every sense. When we're sleeping, our brain is doing exactly the same thing - only this time, the stimuli are coming from our brain itself, and not our external senses.

It's also possible for our external senses to play a part in dreams - we've all experienced sounds playing in our dreams when they come from waking life.

What does this mean for alternate meanings in dreams? Well, bearing in mind that your brain creates this waking life model, I think all dreams are most definitely creations of our sub-conscious; that's what's providing the stimuli. Are these signals then fired at random? I don't think so. But, do they contain some greater meaning? If you dream of being naked in public, does that mean you're feeling vulnerable subconsciously, and afraid of people's judgment? If you dream of running but not moving, does that mean you're unable to escape some kind of impending doom? Does it mean you're stuck in a rut and not happy with your life?

Maybe, or maybe not. Some elements are common in dreams - flying, running and not moving (or feeling like you're wading through very thick water, and not moving quickly), being unable to scream, your teeth falling out when looking in the mirror, electrical things not working, public toilets not having walls, having large hands or ears - these are all common dream elements among all people. So, does that mean that we all feel these insecurities?

I think that our sub-conscious minds are able to produce a set of stimuli that are directly linked to what is contained in our minds and imaginations. Would you ever be able to dream about being in outer space, if you never knew what outer space was? No! If you were, we would all be dreaming about weird and wonderful things that no-one knows exists. I think it's far more likely that dreams are just a put together model of what is foremost in that part of our minds where the sub-conscious is currently digging.

If you spend your last 30 waking minutes thinking about dinosaurs, there is a high possibility that you will dream of dinosaurs. And that is why I think people often put special meaning to strange dreams - they are constantly thinking about whatever issues are currently happening in their lives, and so that is where the most material lies for their sub-conscious to dig out, and so it is what they dream about. They will often attribute "special" meanings to these dreams, and it's entirely possible that those meanings are true - but only because sub-consciously, they have thought the issues through and have come up with the answer, and that is what the "meaning" is.

The sub-conscious is a wonderful thing, and if you don't mind - I have some daydreaming to get back to. Look for tomorrow's post on politics, and don't forget to check out Thew's blog.

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