The Fascinating Realm of Dreams
To explore this topic we must first define exactly what dreams are. If we look at the actual penguin dictionary of psychology, dreams are described as a “train of hallucinatory experiences with a certain degree of coherence, but often confused and bizarre, taking place in the condition of sleep and similar conditions.”
Since the beginning of time dreams have fascinated mankind. Early dream explorers described these mysterious nocturnal experiences as messages from gods/demons, revelations, prophecies and spirit journeys. Throughout history we find accounts of dreams from a huge range of sources: the bible, mystics, shamans, wise men/women, poets, authors, artists, scientists and psychologists. Dreams have been a source of creativity and knowledge and dream interpretation is a skill and an art that has been developed over the years.
Ancient scripts and scrolls have provided us with accounts of dreams and their interpretations that date back thousands of years. Clay tablets have been discovered, inscribed with dreams from Babylonian people, dating around 3000 BC and the dream accounts contained in the Indian Vedas are from around 1000 BC. Both the Egyptians and Greeks practised dream incubation, which is the practise of sleeping for the purpose of having a dream that would have profound significance for the dreamer. They had special temples and shrines to do this in. These practises can be likened to an ancient dream study, interpreted more as a spiritual rather than scientific study.
Modern research shows that dreams mirror a day's events, review unsolved problems, help analyse and identify emotional undercurrents we may not have been fully aware of and bring to the surface of our minds our unconscious desires, conflicts and impulses. Dreams can heal, teach, warn and guide us. They can also answer questions, connect us to the past, present and future, provide us with amusement and pleasure, bring emotional balance, stimulate creativity, solve problems, prepare us for the unknown and enable us to live out otherwise unlived parts of ourselves. Dreams can give us signs, reminders and warnings that may help us choose one path or another, but they will never make the choice for us; dreams give us honest, objective insight for us if we listen to them. This can result in us waking up with clear answers, which in pre sleep may have been a problem.
A lot of the science of dreaming and sleep research relates to REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non rapid eye movement). Dreaming can actually take place in both stages but there are differences: in REM the sleeper tends to remember more of the dream upon waking and dreams are more intense and vivid. NREM dreams are more mundane and the dreamer generally does not recall any of the dream upon waking.
In the middle ages, Christianity held two opposing views of dreams; in the east the church preached dreams were provided by God as guidance and that it was possible to experience god in dreams, whereas in the west the Roman Catholic church stated dreams are the realm of devils and demons. In the 16th century dreams began to be associated less with divinity or demons and more with rational manifestations of the mind. They began to be a diagnostic tool for identifying mental illness and of the unconscious self.
At the beginning of the 20th century Freud published the 'language of dreams' in which he outlined that dreams are a meaningful, significant expression of our hidden selves. He revived the ancient concept that dreams can be a powerful tool for self understanding and discovery. According to him, dreams are repressed desires. Because these desires and impulses are forbidden they cannot appear unmasked, because they would shock us into awakening. They safely express themselves into symbolism in our dreams. Jung, who was Freud's pupil, had his theory of collective unconscious, part of our current mind that traces part of the primitive mind. He developed this theory based on the notion that in history and culture people's dreams share similar symbols and themes. He called these recurring motifs 'archetypes', which can be traced back to the very beginning of human history. Jung believed that dreams had the potential to help us become psychologically balanced. Dreams are conversations we have with our unconscious, made conscious, giving a greater awareness of ourselves. These help to sort out imbalances within our psyche.
Freud used a technique called 'free association'; letting your mind wander at will with the help of an analyst, revealing the hidden meaning of the dream. Jung used a technique called 'amplification' where the dream image is carefully examined. Jung also had a theory where he believed we could be dreaming all the time but screening out our dreams because of the noise of our waking consciousness, writing that we may live in a 'hypersensitive dream state that allows us to see and hear things that always exist but are invisible to us because our waking state is a less sensitive form of consciousness.' The ancient Egyptians believed the same!
The Australian aboriginal belief is that the entire physical world as we sense it (time, space and matter), is the dream of the great spirit; it is the dream time and we are within and part of the dreamers and the dream.
Please call, email or message me for guidance on dreams. I will be more than happy to assist you!
Gaynor Marie - PIN 600948