Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dreamer, you stupid little dreamer ...

The thing I like about daydreams is that I can drift in and out of them. I can visualise something, let it unfold, then come back out to think about what I just thought about. Then I can go back in, let it unfold some more, change it, or start a new one altogether. It's fun, it gives me insights, and I feel like I'm in control.

Sometimes, if there's something I want to give serious consideration to, I'll go into a trance-like state. In this state, I'm more of an observer than a participant. I don't interfere. I let it takes it's course and observe what I see. There's less control and sometimes it feels like I'm slipping away (when I was young, I thought I would go mad doing this) but it's possible to pull myself back. So far.

But my dreams in the night frighten me. They always have done. They are so powerful, real and overwhelming. They assault me with colours, shapes, sounds, and physical feelings. And there's nothing I can do about it.

Dreaming is like slipping into another dimension where impossible thing routinely happen and the nonsensical is very plausible. It's a shape-shifting world where boundaries dissolve and merge. People, conversations, feelings and strange events all conspire to illuminate and confuse. When I wake it can sometimes take a while to work out what is real and what is dream. Often the images and feelings can linger throughout the day and affect my moods and expectations. I spend time analysing what I dreamed and searching for meanings.

(Apparently, creative people fantasise more than the norm and they remember their dreams more clearly and frequently.)

There are two main phases of dreaming during sleep. The one is hypnagogic and the other is hypnopompic.

Hypnagogic sleep is "the state of intermediate consciousness preceding sleep". It's that weird time when you're drifting off to sleep and all sorts of images start to drift across your mind. They may be related to your day or be completely random. Sometimes they will jerk you momentarily back to wakefulness, often with a physical jerk that wakes you (and I don't mean your partner). Hypnagogic dreaming is quite fun because it's often a bit bizarre, but not enough to be really freaky.

Hypnopompic sleep is "the partially conscious state that precedes complete awakening from sleep". For me, this is where the scary hard-core stuff takes place. My dreams in this state tend to be much darker and more disturbing. It's in this state that I have recurring dreams of water overwhelming me (lately, they've been so real that I can even feel the temperature of the water), of people haranguing or ... worse ... ignoring me. The anxiety, frustration and fear can be intense. Often I wake up afraid and force myself to stay awake until the feelings have subsided. But even when my dreams are not nasty, it still worries me that something so powerful can take place and yet I can do nothing about it.

Nevertheless, I'm fascinated by it ... as, I think, most people are. It's such a frequent and important part of our lives, and yet it is so little understood. You'll often hear people say ... "I had a weird deam last night ..." and then go on to describe it in such detail and with such intensity even though basically it sounds nonsensical. But it obviously meant something to them or they wouldn't bother recalling and recounting it.

My dreams are a rich source of images and ideas. They also give me insights into what I'm thinking and feeling, and what's troubling me. But it's the helplessness I feel about them, the lack of control, that scares me. So I'm curious about lucid dreaming (the experience of dreaming with consciousness that one is dreaming, i.e., experiencing a dream with waking consciousness ... I know, it's weird ... perhaps that's why I'm drawn to it!).

But that's for another night.

I once had the misfortune of reading Frood's Interpretation of Dreams - I say it that way because it was one of number of books I'd chosen to read at a particularly troubled time in my life as an attempt at self-analysis (which I now realise is impossible) - but I remember, in between all that over-intellectualising, his ability to explain our reasons for dreaming in the simplest of terms ie 'dreams are just another way of thinking'.
I was just curious to know from what perspective you interpret your own dreams - if at all.
Is it the psychoanalytical approach; a representation of repressed desires and emotional conflicts? The scientific one; somatic disturbances ie the brain trying to make sense of disparate electrical impulses, or the spiritual one; a connection with a higher power and a peak at the future - or something else?
dreaming of water! when was the last time you had your prostate checked?
dreams are just your subconscious filing away the days events, linking experiences to past ones...
Anonymous 1 ... I read "The Interpretation of Dreams" many years ago. Found it heavy going. I'm more of a Jungian than a Freudian when it comes to psychoanalysis. I do analyse and interpet my dreams and I think all 3 approaches that you mention have a part to play. I think, too, that 'higher powers' (as you put it) can communicate with us ... as can lower powers.

Anonymous 2 ... I am at that age ... but I stay away from doctors in case they find something wrong with me.

Anonymous 3 ... I agree, but I take a more mystical view ... that's why I'm an artist, not a scientist.
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