What is it that everyone does every night, week after week, year after year, but so few of us remember the next morning? What is it that creates a feeling of strangeness when we think about it? What is it that we would die without? Dreaming…
Dreaming appears to be a waste of valuable time, especially when one considers that almost a third of our lives is spent in the sleep state, but nothing could be further from the truth. After many years of experiments and behavioural studies, scientists have come to the conclusion that dreaming isn’t as capricious as it seems: its purpose is to keep us balanced and well-adjusted!
The idea that our brain is a computer can help explain what dreaming is about. When we sleep, the sensory input is shut down and the brain reviews the information received, storing that which is valuable and discarding what is superfluous to its needs. Dreaming is the reshuffling of the data by the brain into its memory banks. When we view the information in its disjointed form, we call it a dream, mainly because it is so different to our waking images.
This accounts for the reason why babies sleep so much when they are newborn: they are taking in so many new images that their brains need more time to sort the information out, and then store it for future use. This is also why older people need less dream time: daily, they see fewer new bits of information.
But what about visionary dreams? Where do they come from? It is entirely possible that those kinds of dreams are the equivalent of a program transmitted to a computer down a telephone line, just as if our brains were hooked up to a modem. Again, this may explain how babies seem to learn so much so quickly: they are being “instructed” from an outside agency. I can see it now: my “higher” Self wants to get a message to “little ol’ me” but because my computer is so busy all day long, he has to wait until it’s offline in order to send the instruction.
The clue to “decoding” the computer’s sorting and filing system is word association: we know the concept as “puns”. If you want to figure out what information is being worked on, find the common element in the visual images. For example, recently I took a rare break from normality, travelling by car through France on the way to stay with friends in Spain. On the second night I had the following dream:
A friend transported a man’s mother and myself to a concert and because he was a fan, he didn’t want payment of £28.50 which the meter had rung up — I wondered why he’s left the meter on.
Some of the elements are recognizable: transporting; costs of travel; concerted efforts. But the final two words provided the hint when I worked through them: meter on = Mitterrand (President of France [at the time, 1992]) = mit errant (wandering bug) = an urge to travel. My Sagittarian trait of keeping on the move was showing itself in a bit of a double-entendre.
Sometimes the images have to be examined over and over again to extract all that is contained within them, but one thing should be made as clear as possible: they need not be taken too seriously unless you are ignoring the information. That’s when nightmares occur…
You know the kind of dream I mean: you’re in a public place, without any clothes on, and you feel very vulnerable as the crowd stares and laughs at you. A dream like this, if not acknowledged, can grow progressively more embarrassing and upsetting, until it wakes you up out of a sound sleep, with your heart pounding and your bedclothes soaking wet. That’s when you have to acknowledge your problem: you may be unconsciously aware that you are feeling exposed in some area of your life, and only conscious thought will help you to see where this feeling of discomfort lies.
As a matter of fact, working through your dreams can prevent disease and dysfunction of the body, but above all, enjoy your dreaming — and have a good night’s sleep…