What are dreams? Are they simply the result of the subconscious mind processing all the information that the brain had stored for the day or days? Or is it more than that? These are some of the questions that are repeatedly asked but few have satisfactorily answered. Now I don’t claim to have the answer to these questions, in fact, by the time you finished reading this article, you might even have more questions then before. What I’m trying to accomplish in this article is simply this; I’m going to try and devise a theory about dreams and their significance, along with what might cause a more lucid dream to occur.
Let’s hypothesize for a second that dreams are not only the manifestations of the subconscious mind processing data. Let’s look at some of the legends that derive from holy books such as the Christian bible, which tells of the story of how the Angel Gabriel spoke to Joseph (husband of Mary) and told him through a dream that the child Mary was carrying was the Son of God. If this story is historically correct, and I say this because religions and their beliefs are just that, “Beliefs”, then this would prove that dreams are a lot more that data being processed. A brief observation by scientists with respect to dreams is as follows:
General observation shows that dreams are associated with REM sleep, but the evidence for this is not strong. REM sleep is the state of sleep in which brain activity is most like wakefulness, which is why many researchers believe this is when dreams are strongest, although it could also mean that this is a state from which dreams are most easily remembered. *
The above statement doesn’t really answer any questions does it? So, how do we proceed with this dilemma? What steps should we take in order to better understand what our dreams are about? If we’re going to have them, then we might as well try to understand them, right? I am of the belief that we are here on this Earth to learn all that there is to learn, so that in the end, we will hopefully become better people for it. One of the tools that we have been given in order to progress our learning, I believe, is dreaming. The two drawbacks to this are as follows; 1) How can we determine whether a dream we’ve had has a deep meaning behind it and what are the means to interpret them? 2) Are the dreams we have simply the result of the subconscious mind working out the details of the previous days evens?
Figuring out this dilemma would in essence be one of life’s many lessons. Think of it as a complex mathematical problem. The answer doesn’t come easy, and I’m sure that there have been many people who have attempted to solve a complex mathematical problem and failed. So, again going on the hypothesis that dreams have a deep meaning, the next logical question would be; can we induce these dreams and make it so that they are more lucid and life like? Imagine a world where we become accustomed to dreaming on a regular basis and using those dreams as a means to interpret our lives and possibly get a glimpse of what’s in store.
I’m sure everyone is aware of the tale that states if you go to sleep shortly after eating you will have a nightmare. I don’t completely agree with that statement in that context, but I do believe that certain foods contribute to a person being able to have more lucid dreams, whether they be nightmares or otherwise I guess would depend on other factors. According to sources on Wikipedia, Vitamin B6 plays a role in converting tryptophan (amino acid) to serotonin thereby increasing the vividness of your dreams. Foods such as baked potato (flesh and skin), banana, chicken breast, and more would increase a person’s chance of experiencing a more vivid dream.
Others yet believe that dreams can be induced by simple meditation, and simply by repeating to yourself that you will remember your dreams in the morning. All of this is great if your goal is simply to induce and remember your dreams, but what if you want to actually know more? My goal is not only to induce dreaming; it’s also to learn why we dream and what they mean to us.
Being a person that doesn’t regularly remember dreams, I take it seriously when I actually do remember one. Let me give you an example of why I say I believe dreams have a lot of significance, even if the dream seems far out there. When I was a child, approximately 8 years old, I flew in a commercial airliner for the first time in my short life. Needles to say, like most kids, I was terrified. My dad had to keep reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. That didn’t give me too much comfort, however, I did manage to endure the 9-hour flight. About a year or so later, I had one of the most vivid dreams to date. The dream goes as follows:
I was playing with some toys by myself at the bottom of a grassy hill. At the top of the hill stood a house, which I knew to be mine. Around the house there were some scattered trees and immediately after the house there was a steep cliff. Whilst I was playing, I heard my mother calling me and telling me that dinner was ready. I gathered my toys and started running up the hill towards the house. Once I got close to the house, I tripped on a protruding rock and fell forward. But, instead of hitting the ground face first, I started to float. I gradually started to float towards the cliff and no matter what I did; I couldn’t stop myself from heading that way. My heart started pounding faster, and this I felt just as much as I would feel a person’s handshake. I kept floating closer and closer to the cliff, and eventually went over the cliff. I started nose-diving down the side of the cliff faster then I could’ve imagined. The feeling I felt as I was falling down towards the bottom of the cliff was akin to the sensation one gets when surpassing that big first hill on a roller coaster. I kid you not when I say that I actually felt as if my stomach was about to pop out of my mouth. Just before I hit the bottom of the cliff, I then suddenly changed direction and started to fly level with the ground and eventually rose up to above the hilltops. The sensation I felt when I was flying was like non other I had ever experienced before in my life, and I don’t think I can do it justice by trying to explain it.
After experiencing the above dream, I overcame my fear of flying and actually looked forward to my next plane ride. This is an example of how dreams can be of extraordinary significance. How does one explain such a dream? Was it my subconscious trying to help me overcome my fear of flying, and if so then that would raise an entirely different question. Is the subconscious a separate entity onto it’s own, or is it tied into something bigger then us? Maybe we’re not meant to discover the true nature of dreams just yet, and maybe the only way we will ever understand dreams and their significance is by first realizing that everything in this life has a significant meaning no matter how small. It’s also important that we first make a concerted effort in trying to understand ourselves before we can truly understand the complex mechanism that is our subconscious.
There have been other significant dreams in my life, none of which have been so intense as the one I just described, but nonetheless have some significant meaning. I’m not going to outline them all here, but rest assured that as I stated before, when I remember a dream, it’s got to have a significance. There are multiple ways one can go about trying to interpret dreams, from books, online resources, and even people who “specialize” in dream interpretation. I think the best way to approach it is to write down all these dreams and look deep within you to see what you find. After some practice you might surprise yourself on the accuracy of dream interpretation.
Any way you look at it, the task of figuring out what the purpose of dreams are and how to interpret them isn’t an easy one, and it’s a task that people have been undertaking for a long time with no real answer to the fundamental questions. The important thing is that we don’t give up on trying to understand dreaming. It’s really no use asking the same question of why do we dream, because everything in this world and in this life happens for a reason. So instead of focusing our energy on why they happen, let’s focus on what they are and how we can benefit from them.
* Definition of dreams through Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreams)