Tag Archive | "dream state"

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Dreams

Dreams have puzzled, motivated, and terrified mankind for all of recorded history and probably beyond.  Although dreaming is universal to the human condition, surprisingly little is known of its purpose and significance in our lives.  And yet, our waking preoccupation with our dreams is a testament to the deference with which we treat them.

 

Scientific investigation has concluded that dreams occur during periods of heightened brain activity when external stimuli are blocked from the mind, as in sleep.  These periods of heightened activity occur during REM (rapid eye movements) cycles from four to six times nightly and in the non-REM period in the hour or two immediately before waking.  During these periods, parts of our brains are functioning at near-awake levels.

 

Aggregately, we remember few of our dreams – less than 3% according to most scientific studies.  And, the dreams we do remember are often fragmentary and evanescent.  Yet, most of us have had the experience of awakening and attempting to reconstruct or interpret the meaning of a dream remembered from our sleep state.

 

In antiquity, dreams were considered to be messages from God or the gods.  And thus, in the Bible are numerous mentions of specific dreams including Jacob’s dream of a stairway or ladder to heaven in Genesis and Joseph’s dreams of contacts with angels that led him to accept the then-pregnant Mary as his wife and later, to flee with wife and child to Egypt, as written in the Gospel of Saint Matthew.

 

Today, many people still believe dreams to be messages, either from natural or supernatural sources.  And, interpretation of dreams has become a booming cottage industry with numerous books and psychics at the ready to assist us in ascertaining their meanings.

 

A basic problem in interpreting dreams is that our dreams themselves, or our memories of them, are frequently fragmentary and disjointed.  Most of us desire stories to be neatly packaged, with a beginning, middle, and end – although, not necessarily in that order.  Dreams, however, defy rules of storytelling and timelines.  They are often snippets or snapshots of places, people, or things, the connections of which are seemingly incongruous.  Time in dreams can be sequential, simultaneous, or nonexistent.

 

Although dreams are hardly the stuff of reality programming, the emotions felt by the dreamer are genuine.  In this regard, dreams may be a subconscious attempt by our minds to come to terms with real-life waking issues.  But, whether messages from the supernatural or own subconscious minds, dreams, depending upon their nature and content, will continue to divert, bemuse, and plague us.

 

Perhaps, in the gulf between reality and dreams lies eternity.  Or perhaps, as in the lyrics of the late, great Roy Orbison, dreams enable us to recapture  something precious that has been lost.

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