Why Study Dreams?
In the world of dreams, 1 plus 1 can equal a pink elephant, and still be correct. It’s this collision of personal puzzle pieces that create an art to life. Putting the pieces of a dream together is a toughie. It’s like trying to build a 5,000–piece jigsaw puzzle, all sky. When you finally have the puzzle pieces fit together to form a perfect picture, you realize the pieces may be re-arranged to form something else.
So, why even bother?
Though dreams don’t always make sense, it’s as if there is a cause to its complexity. It’s a whole other world that allows yourself to think and feel in ways you couldn’t otherwise entertain.
Paul McCaurtney was inspired by a dream to produce the song “Yesterday.” He thought the dream was reminiscent of a tune he may have heard before. Once no one claimed the tune, he turned it into his famous hit. Other dream experiences such as flying , breathing under water or cracking a secret code are just a few examples of our creative powers.
Once I had a dream of playing the song “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens on the piano. It was a song I learned when I was 12 but now forgot. I haven’t touched the piano in over 10 years and cannot play anything other than some nursery rhyme. However, in the dream, I felt my fingers run over each familiar piano key and the complicated song simply flowed. I felt like I was 12 years old again.
It appears that there exists a deeper realm to our minds that is highly receptive, knowledgeable and dream inspiring. There are many cases that involve people dreaming of perhaps an old friend, only to receive a phone call from that same friend in real life shortly after the dream. These are sometimes called pre-cognitive or psychic dreams. Some of these psychic dreams serve as warnings or reflect new information that were later confirmed as true. A number of famous people who were assassinated had pre-cognitive or psychic dreams that predicted such events.
More on this can be read under the Famous Dreams section of this site. Whether it’s just coincidence or reflection of a deeper inner knowing, there are many people and theorists who believe dreams are worth investigating:
Freud believed that dreams were a reflection of our unconscious mind. He further believed that each dream hid a secret wish or desire – most of which are carnal. According to scientific research, damage done to the forebrain associated with motivation and desire would result in the person’s inability to dream. This highlights some of Freud’s key points on how dreams are greatly responsive to our desires. For more information on Freud, be sure to check out the post called: Freud’s Pleasure Principle.
He believed that dreams were only hard to understand because dreams speak an abstract language. Unlike Freud, he believed dreams reflected the unconscious commentary on the present and its direction into the future. He believed dreams are purposeful with an ultimate goal to help improve our conscious functioning.
He is also well known for his theory on the Collective Unconscious that contains the inherited experience of mankind. For more information on Jung, and some of his spiritual views on dreams, be sure to check out the post on Carl Jung’s theory of the Collective Unconscious.
With a very philosophical approach, Boss believed that dreams are just another way of being in the world that was much closer to the real world than we think.
For example, a dream could reveal your emotions for someone a lot better than physical time and space. He believed that a purely scientific approach to analyzing dreams would only handicap our ability to access the deeper meanings of a dream. For more on his theories, check out the Medard Boss section.
Native American Vision Quests:
According to the rich Native American culture, a Vision Quest is a type of spiritual journey into the wilderness. It entailed spending time appreciating the beauty of nature and taking time to contemplate the wildlife, flowers and trees. It is believed that the time spent meditating upon the small things in life clears the mind and lifts the spirits, allowing the mind to focus on the Vision Quest. This Vision Quest often appeared as a dream that provided great wisdom, life guidance and connection to the great divine. For more information on the Native American Vision Quests, see the related section.
As we can see, the diverse beliefs around dreams give us different ways of seeing the dream world. When we look at the world from different perspectives, it expands our view. In connection to dreams, different theories help us notice associations and meanings we may not have noticed before. By analyzing dreams and uncovering its multiple layers of meaning we also learn so many practical skills.
Some of these skills that stand out for me are:
Flying socks, purple skies and candy mountains are just a few of many bizarre images we may dream of. Many people tell me that when they do see such visually confusing dream images, they are surprised when they don’t question these things in the dream. Is it partially a reflection of how we choose not to question many things in the waking world and instead, pretend everything is as advertized – pretty and perfect? Or is our critical thinking mode shut down to keep us asleep when we dream?
Whatever the reason may be, I noticed that the more I recorded my dreams, the more I trained my eye for attention to all kinds of fine detail. Many dreamers became more aware of details in their waking life that strike parallels with their dreaming life.
Recognizing strange dream imagery, helps dreamers become conscious of the dream and further explore any patterns or deeper symbols.
Like grand playgrounds, dreams toy with words, concepts and symbols. Dreams play with a collage of anything known and unknown. It’s this type of unconscious brainstorming that may hide much unlocked talents, solutions and wisdom.
As the dream is of a creative design, it requires a creative approach to further unlock its complexity and underlying messages. For me, the more I analyzed my dreams, the more I was able to view seemingly random dreams in a more meaningful way.
In the dream world, there is much emotional nudity and uncensored symbols. In order to further understand any inner conflict emotions or new information, we have to discard our propensity to judge first and think later. Our attitude towards a dream greatly influences the nature of the dream. If we approach the dream with the desire to learn and not take, it plants the seeds of positive thinking that helps flourish positive and purposeful dream experiences. Interestingly, enough when I learned to become lucid in my dreams, I began to act less and instead, observed more intently.
After endless time spent on dream recording, I unexpectedly delved into the deeper realm of dreaming. This realm is popularly known as lucid dreaming.
At one point, we’ve all had a lucid dream – simply put, knowing that you are in a dream. In that wakeful state, our conscious mind meets the deeper unconscious self.
In a lucid dream, we can consciously explore the dream in many ways. Some lucid dreamers like to change the landscape of the dream by envisioning what they would like to see or experience. Others like to learn from this lucid state and see it as a way to become more conscious of hidden aspects of the self. More interestingly, in a lucid dream state, it is possible to talk with dream characters, confront nightmares or even converse with dreams to reveal a solution to a mental conflict.
However, during lucid dreaming states – though, we like to think we have control of a dream, I noticed that dreams can respond in unexpected ways. Dream characters can respond differently and even outcomes of lucid dreams can deviate from your desires. It’s as if dreams are wide awake and respond to lucid explorations with messages of their own – usually from deep within the unconscious. To me, these are the most profound moments of self-discovery.
Over time, my personal experience with lucid dreaming heightened the importance of reflective awareness and respect for lucid dreaming as a journey inward. With new awareness, we allow a chance to understand the self in an consciously expanded way.
-By Nikita King