Inquiry on the Oddities of Alpha Sleep

This may not be the most thrilling post, but it is a subject that I think is worth more attention for my fellow dreamers.

I have been told by a friend of mine that he often experiences these loops of what happened the previous day while he is about to go to sleep. Sometimes as he recounts the repetitive tasks of the day (i.e. playing tennis, checking his phone, ect.) and will be startled awake by sounds or feelings that get “too real” during these memories. This is known as a hypnogogic hallucination, a mental mishap followed by a sudden muscle contraction that is common during the first stage of sleep.

Alpha waves are released when the mind enters a relaxed, focused state and provide a contrast to the other powerhouse Beta waves that are active in our day-to-day life.

Alpha waves have far-reaching potential, ranging from meditative expertise to controlling video games with your mind. I’ll get back to meditation, but the mind-reading technology is getting cheaper and more trendy. In this TED talk, Tan Le describes the accessibility and utility of headsets made to take advantage of this mental energy.

What I imagine a brain-wave to look like. As created by Dale Chihuly, and displayed in Fairchild Botanical Gardens.

What I imagine a brain-wave to look like. Sculpture created by Dale Chihuly and displayed in Fairchild Botanical Gardens.

In July of 2014 I had the opportunity to attend the annual science exhibition of The Royal Society and saw a display on brain function. Strapped into a headset, I won a brain-powered game of pong versus an elderly woman I had just met. The exhibition educators explained that youth, mental acuity, and inherent ability all play a role in the strength of brain waves. With this I’ve come to question how lucid dreaming and meditation could increase our Alpha wave control.

It seems natural to me that if these brain waves are being projected in such a way that can be measured externally, the mode of that projection should be able to be manipulated by the user. With new technology in this field we may not be so far from telepathy. Exercising alpha waves through meditative practices seems like the best way to ensure adaptability to this upcoming realm of technology. Although that’s just speculation.

How does this energy translate into sleep rituals? Is there more to hypnogogic hallucinations than mere inconvenience?

I want to know so badly. In my youth I dreamed of creating DBZ kamehameha waves and moving objects with the power of my mind. The simmering potential of alpha waves proves to me that these fantasies aren’t so far from reality.

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

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How to Sleep When Friends are Nocturnal

This topic keeps me awake at night. It’s hard to hit the hay when your friends want to hang. These are some thoughts of mine, but I’m hoping to receive feedback on some of your methods.

For me gaming, socializing, and lounging can all go exponential into the wee hours of the morning when friends are involved. Bonding time is extremely valuable, but it’s important to note the potential enabling of a poor circadian rhythm. Sleeping schedules can get soft-wired into your system and be a potential nuisance when you want to maintain a work ethic.

It’s easy to ignore long term issues for short term pleasure, no one can argue that hedonism is a fun way to live. However, proper education on the role of sleep can lead to empowered rhythm surfing. Rhythm surfing is my way of saying, smooth and calculated adjustments to your sleep schedule to meet your life needs.

Friends complicate things, I often hear from my Miami friends “The clubs get best after 2 am!”

There may be some value in exploring how group discussion on sleep makes for better cohesion. I imagine that friendships operate better between well-rested people as opposed to groggy ones.

Share any thoughts you have. I could definitely use the advice.

Dream On Little Dreamers,

EB

Dreaming of Dead Ends

Sometimes I put myself under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed. It’s a good trait to have, but the stale sense of doom that whips it into motion can be oppressive.

Lately I’ve been dreaming of, you guessed it, dead ends. The sort that keep sleeping-me confused in blobby dark places and waking-me feeling like I haven’t taken a breath in minutes. The imagery I can gather from my journals is a bit gruesome:

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I remember sitting in a barber’s chair getting a haircut by a large foreign man. I was distressed because I knew I had already received a haircut recently and didn’t want him to botch it. He told me I had to stay for the shave but I complained I had no time, there was work to be done. I left only to be chased through a dark mall by zombies. Circling around the building, I found myself at the barber again just in time to see him use his blade to cut the scalp off his next customer. I was validated in my earlier fears, but also resigned to my doom to zombies and apparently Sweeney Todd. 

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For the most part I’m struggling to remember the fine details of these dead-end dreams. It’s frustrating to know how self-perpetuating these kinds of dreams can be. But I’ll be out of this dreary period soon. Earlier today I had a dream with vibrant color and if that’s not a blessed sign I don’t know what is.

It can be hard for me to post in this blog when I’m not recalling my dreams as well. However, I fully intend to be the pondering hub for all your wiggly dream things. I’d like to thank my small community of followers, every ‘like’ and ‘view’ encourages me incredibly.

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

What Do We Seek From Dreams?

In essence, dreams are our personal window to the subtle mechanisms that underlie our everyday self. Sometimes these insights are inspiring, other times they are frightful. But the question I seek to answer is: how do these ephemeral movies reveal their worth in a tangible way? There is no worth to this practice of journaling unless I can prove that it makes a positive difference in my quality of life.

I’ve just made the five hour drive from Miami to Gainesville, and I listened to the audiobook Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse along the way. The book, published in 1922, depicts the spiritual journey of the character Siddhartha as he seeks the meaning of worldly existence. It was amazingly written, to say the least, but the point of interest came not from Siddhartha but from Hermann himself.

Hermann Hesse was a german-born novelist who, by virtue of his birth in 1877, lived in the interesting time of the two world wars and the rise of psychoanalysis. His commitment to psychotherapy, the practice of dream analysis, is credited with helping Hesse move past periods of writers block caused by the intense strain of his time period. It was through his dreams that Hesse was able to recapture the value of his waking life’s work, and thus continue to work on highly appraised literature such as Siddhartha.

Through our lives there will be many sources of anxiety and stress that will lock us away from the drives that fulfill us. It is difficult to achieve our actualizing goals, and easy to forget about their importance in the tumults of life. Dreams are the key to these inevitable locks. It is in our dreams that we cannot ignore the necessities of our eternal witness. Whether you attend to them or not, dreams will remind you of your virtues and your failures.

The thing that we seek from dreams is luminescence on the path of our lives. If we can better see the past and future lain out by our innermost self, we may be better prepared to act upon that wisdom when the opportunity arrives.

What do you want from your dreams? I’m surely missing quite a few potential uses. When was the last time a dream made an effect on your reality?

Dream on Little Dreamers,

EB

No Wrong Way To Remember

The other day I was talking with a friend about dreaming logs and he offered me a glimpse of his journal. The dark leather-bound book filled my outreached palms, a slim steel buckle guarded its contents.

“Are you sure? I recognize these matters are sometimes private.” I sheepishly asked.

“Go ahead!” he urged.

I held my breath. My thumping heart made me fumble with the simple latch. Within were the unconscious records of another’s mind, the first scribbled pages felt like mountaintops of the great frontier.

From these a pattern of heavy pen inked drawings emerged. These etchings were extremely stylized and ranged from incomplete to intricate. Long-armed damsels had their curvature enhanced through trans-dimensional gowns. Gaunt gentlemen garbed in gothic suits were surrounded by eerie smoke. They were inspired bits straight from another world!

My friend explained that he enjoys fashion design and often wakes with the memory of these clothing styles. His journal was shudderingly alive with these images and wonderfully disjointed words to supplement….for about 15 pages.

He felt that he wasn’t ‘doing it right’ with journaling and had trouble committing to the practice.

There is no wrong way to record your dreams! I’d have yelled it at him if I had a more alpha personality, but instead I suggested it gently.

So here’s an experiment. Remember the last time you ate icecream….1……2…….3…….Now STOP!

What did you think of? A word? A taste? A sound? An image? Record whatever you thought of on a scrap piece of paper.

A dream recording exercise.

Ice Cream for Ice Cream! I’m no Picasso, but this record will do.

Try again with something else. Remember the last time you pet an animal. How about an audio story? Was it a fast-paced affair or did you cuddle?

[I made an audio recording of this one but apparently can’t insert that on wordpress, does anyone know how to transmit audio here?]

Keep it fresh!

There isn’t a wrong way, but there’s a whole lot of ways to try. Make it personal and fun, don’t stress over the little details. Your dreams are just that, yours!

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

I Dream of a World of Dreamers

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” -John Lennon.

I dream (figuratively) of a world that prioritizes the substance of dreamer’s visions. These dreams are not the backwash of our daily lives but rather a vision of our possible futures. I refuse to believe the materialist excuse, which dismisses dreams as a mess of neurotransmitter firings left amok in the absence of a conscious overseer. Mastery of dreams equates to mastery of the self.

The path of psychotherapy is deeply appealing to me. I find its progress greatly inspiring and wish the best for those who advance this science. However, with all the assertion of an undergraduate psychology student I feel that there are some structural flaws in its practice. Subjective analysis, an interpretative approach vulnerable to personal biases,  in psychotherapy is its downfall.

Why can’t we nail down the reactions of the unconscious the same way Pavlov could condition the salivation of a dog? It’s extremely difficult to study, sure. It’s made of a smorgasbord of influences from the environment and genetics and dietary influences, sure. It’s a big scary question mark that has brought many psychologists careers to a shrieking halt, sure. Why don’t we try anyway?

Allowing subjectivity to be a core tenant of your scientific theory is the equivalent to sending a man to the moon with no spacesuit. It will fail and when it does it will be a tragic loss.

I want a version of psychotherapy that focuses less on interpretation and more on causality. One that is purpose-driven in its goal to make dream analysis both a valid and reliable science. Why not experiment on the plasticity of the unconscious mind? Give me ten hours of hanging out in the New York subway system and see if I dream of large crowds and rats, I volunteer!

I just want to see people care about their dreams again. Too often I bring up the conversation only to be met with “I haven’t had a dream in years.” Oh but they have, every night they’ve fallen into REM sleep (unless there’s some sleep apnea going on) they’re dreaming so many utilizable things. It’s so very sad they don’t know it.

Dream on Little Dreamers,

EB

How to Respond to Dream Dissatisfaction

Just a short post today, I think I’ll revisit this topic later.

Sometimes we have dreams that we just plain don’t like. It seems like the easiest way to get back at an unpleasant dream is to forget it, and “just leave this one off the books” so to speak.

I’ll admit that I’ve done this countless times (literally countless because there is no record of the times I’ve done it). Earlier this week I had a friend ask me about whether I have dreams that are too dissatisfactory to record. I answered: “Of course! But I do everything I can to fight that urge and record them anyway.” I provided the example of a nightmare I had where I was the victim of an alleyway rape. It was extremely difficult to motivate myself to record the details of this dream but that struggle paid large dividends on my post-record satisfaction.

From that dream there were many deep-seated themes that I felt were not often approached by my dreams. It seems to me that unpleasant dreams are pockmarked with meaning, which may be part of why they’re so distasteful to wake up from. I find that I’m usually quite grumpy when I wake from these dreams.

It’s a much healthier approach altogether to approach the troubles of your unconscious mind than to repress them. It is a natural product of dream recording that you’re going to have unconscious experiences that are extremely unpleasant to offset the pleasant ones that will also come. Each time I asses one of these dreams I find that I am deeply fulfilled by studying them.

deeply-troubling-Grumpy-Cat

So try to think of Grumpy Cat next time you want to grumpily toss aside your journal.

Dream on Little Dreamers,

EB