Hanging On to the Day as I’m Fading Away

I’ve approached an interesting point in my lucid dream career where the memories of dreams are often as poignant as those in my day to day life. The nightly occurrence of vivid dreams is a boon that I find difficult to resist at times.

I’ve recently whipped my sleeping schedule back into shape after about a week of sleeping 12 hours a day. As I slept-in my circadian rhythm creeped closer and closer to the sunrise until the morning birds were chirping a concerto before I made it to bed. There was a certain peak moment in that binge of dreams where I was recalling up to three dreams in a night, but it was soon drowned out by the grogginess and work-stress that comes with a terrible sleeping schedule.

It is with this that I present the advice: hang on to the real world, no matter how tempting it may be to fade into your dreams. It is only with the experience and turmoil of the real world that dreams have any significance or substance. As I slept every sun-lit hour out of the day I sensed the quality of my dreams decrease. It was as though I had processed all the important bits and my brain was just running through the motions of mediocre falling dream, mediocre running dream, and mediocre underwater dream.

My sleeping schedule is back under control and my dreams are at a healthy one recalled per night. It’s unnerving to think of the temptation of my unconscious mind as a legitimate drive from living my life but there are worse things.

Dream on Little Dreamer,

EB

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Fairytale dreams buried in the database

Today I discovered a treat of the imagination. I have been meaning to use the databases available to me at the University of Florida to find dream research that I could review for the sake of interest. Yet, as I began my first forays into searching the digital collections database I was quickly sidetracked by this curious piece from 1890: Dreams by French Firesides by Richard von Volkmann and translated by J. Raleigh.

Essentially it’s a book of fairytales inspired by the dreams of a bored German soldier stationed in a fort during the long siege of Paris in the Franco-German war.  I read the first four tales, fruitlessly trying to maintain a semblance of professionalism, enraptured by the wonderfully woven stories that seem to be there just for stories sake. The preface of the book doesn’t seem to differentiate between the final product of the book and the direct dreams of the author but I have some reservations about believing that someone could dream so intricately.

Despite the likelihood of some creative liberties being taken with the original dreams, I think the author did a great job of illustrating the wacky characters with great detail. One story in particular that I have read so far would be The Invisible Kingdom. Here’s a quote that had me rolling with laughter as the author described the dream-kobold, a trick-playing creature from the land of dreams:

“He runs into the nearest house, picks up the first man he sees out of his featherbed, sound asleep, carries him to the top of the church tower and throws him over head first. Then he leaps down the tower stairs like lightning, reaches the bottom first, catches him, carries him back home…Then he [the sleeping man] rubs his eyes, looks about in great surprise, and says: “Good gracious, I felt exactly as if I were falling down from the top of a church tower. How very lucky that it was only a dream!” (Volkmann, 1890, p. 23)

I would love to be able to utilize my dreams in such a way. It seems wasteful to have so many diaries of dreams past without drawing some sort of inspiration from them. While the child-like fantasy format seems very appropriate for some dreams, I think that others would have to be given very careful transcribing to be translated into full-fledged stories.  It could be a long time before I’d be able to write so elegantly, but hey a guy can dream. 😉

So I’d like to ask you all, potentially using this book as an example, what do you think of stories written from dreams? Do you think they would help or hurt an individual trying to forge into the world of lucid dreams?

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Fishing for meaning in an ocean of dreams

Lately I’ve had an unusually high density of dreams of the nautical nature. Within the past week or so I’ve had three separate dreams that involve fishing as the main plot point.
To give some background I have been fishing since I was about 13 as it is my go-to bonding experience with my grandfather. Ironically neither of us are very good at fishing and we end most outings having caught/released fish too small to eat but happy to have spent the time with the water. Being a 21-year-old now means that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a Hemmingway trance staring at the beautiful yet unyielding ocean. However, now that I’m in college I live too far from the water to make an easy trek so it’s been a long time since I’ve gone out fishing. 

Now on to the dreams.
I’m out on a anchored speedboat in the middle of a vast ocean. I have my very familiar grey fishing rod with me and cast it out to sea. I wait, the pressure building as I attempted to anticipate the movement of creatures hidden just below the waves. My line pulls taut and I know I’ve caught a big one. For a moment I worry that the rod I brought isn’t strong enough to hold but I end up reeling it in with relative ease. I pulled it up next to the boat and found that it was a marlin about half the size of the boat and clearly heavier than me. Throwing an arm over the side I began trying to haul it up on the boat when I realized there was a princess in the water. Dressed in a fluffy pink dress reminiscent of Princess Peach she was swimming towards the boat to get a better look at the fish. The distraction gave the fish the opportunity to thrash about and break the line. To my surprise he went straight for the princess and casually consumed her before sinking back into the ocean. 

And another one…

I’m in North Carolina on a vacation with my three female younger cousins. We’re in a jacuzzi on the balcony of a rental house overlooking the snowy deciduous forest scenery. All four of us have a fishing rod and are fishing in the middle of the jacuzzi. My grandfather comes out of the house and tells us that there are no fish in the jacuzzi. I got the sudden sense that the jacuzzi was too deep and fearfully got everyone out. I tried to help my 16-year-old cousin put away her fishing rod on the way back into the house but it continually warped into impossible shapes as I tried to secure the hook on the line. Giving up on the rod, I watched as a minuscule child with a somewhat purple hue, who I did not recognize, toddled its way to the jacuzzi. With a quick scoop I saved the child from falling in. I woke up with a strange sense that the tiny child represented my unborn daughter.

The last one is nice and short…

I was lost on a pier. I had the vague inkling that I was there for a purpose but had forgotten it. I saw a large rod left baited leaning against the railing. I cast it out just to see what would happen. For some reason as I cast the line I took the perspective of the bait and went diving headfirst into the water. The shock of this woke me up. 

 

My dreams have been pretty gracious in letting me experience a favorite activity of mine from the comfort of my bed. What do you all think of the fishing in dreams? Is it some kind of metaphor for facing the unknown or something else entirely?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts below. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

 

Let’s start dark

Nightmares are, if nothing else, a great selling point for people to gain an interest in their subconscious. There’s something about waking up shaken and under rested after a nightmare that calls attention to the hidden musings of the id. Personally I think this a very healthy experience, and my assumption on the matter led me to make the statement “It began, as most metamorphosis do, with a nightmare.”

After doing some research, mostly skimming the abstracts of nightmare-related scholarly articles, I discovered that this notion is not necessarily shared by the scientific community. The first results I received oft cited the connection of nightmares as a possible indicator to disorders such as PTSD and schizofrenia (For example this article published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2010. http://www.aasmnet.org/Resources/bestpracticeguides/NightmareDisorder.pdf). This article offers the existence of “nightmare disorder” as a symptom and offers medication options for treatment. According to the article 80% of PTSD sufferers report nightmares related to their disorder. Nightmare disorder is said to affect 4% of the U.S. adult population and potentially cause sleep avoidance, deprivation and the exacerbation of underlying psychiatric distress and illness.

Is the nightmare itself a disorder? I would contend that the nightmare is less a disorder in and of itself as opposed to the projection of an underexposed psychological weakness. Whether this indicates a disorder or simply insomniac tendencies is something to be addressed on a case by case basis. I think the labeling of “nightmare disorder” deserves careful critique due to the risk of over diagnosis. 

Another study, More Than Just a Bad Dream by Frederik Joelving, proposes that nightmares may make the dreamer more susceptible to anxiety as opposed to acting as an “emotional release.” A major point of this article is that those who report troubled sleep fall prey to anxiety easier than even those who experience troubled real life events like the divorce of parents. Joelving cited an article about REM sleep deprivation by Tore Nielsen, director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory at Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal, as evidence of his point. In this study those deprived of REM interestingly showed better adaptation to negative-emotion inducing photos overnight, a point which Joelving expands upon to say that dream-states don’t necessarily make a person more resilient.

Were I able to read the full article I would feel more confident about my response to it, but here is my first impression. I appreciate the attempt to gather some hint at the association between nightmares and anxiety using meta-analysis but I feel the studies used don’t justify the topic of the paper. Joelving cautions at the lack of proof of a casual relationship between the two factors at the end but the overall message of no REM being better than REM with nightmares seems too dismissive to me.

What do you think about the role of nightmares? Purposefully jarring messages from a concerned id? Or anxiety-inducing affliction on a roaming mind?

Dream on little dreamers,
EB

Dissected Dreams

Dream interpretation is as subjective as the dreams themselves. There is no one way to go about interpreting a dream, but there are a few good things to keep yourself reminded of in the process. 

Carl Jung began a discussion on this topic in Man and His Symbols (1964) by emphasizing that there are two different things encountered in dreams. There are signs which are always less than the concept that they represent and symbols which always represent more than their obvious meaning. 

Signs in dreams are typically things which contribute to an overall theme in the dream, whereas symbols give the dream a “point.” The tricky part is determining what is a sign and what is a symbol as relevance is not always linked to importance in the time of the dream. Arbitrary objects can be key symbols while main characters or scenarios can be just signs to continue the plot. 

In Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) he references the mystical feeling of dreams in our morning recollection of them. He continues to mention that the great majority of dreams will lead us back to our everyday life rather than release us from it. The content of dreams is determined by the personality, age, sex, education and habits of the person who dreams them. In that way it is essential to look not at the symbols as having some kind of set meaning but rather look for your own reaction to said symbols. 

What I mean to get across through all of this is that when you’re attempting the process of dream interpretation it is not the dream you’re interpreting, but yourself. Stigmas of everyday life do not apply in dreams and you should avoid applying them. If you have sexual contact with a friend from years ago in a dream try not to immediately interpret it as a fantasy and consider your own meanings of sex and that person. 

After all, in dreams and in reality not everything is what it seems. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

A key to the past within

It may seem obvious that dreams would draw from the past. Many characters and objects found in your dreams are taken directly from your past experience. But what about when it is not your personal past that your dreams seem to draw from?

Freud termed this “archaic remnants,” a phrase meaning psychic remnants that lie in the human mind from ages ago. This term is used to explain why certain archetypal images seem to reoccur in many peoples dreams. Images such as an evil snake or benevolent angel could be traced back to this psychic residue. 

Is it true or is it theory? I couldn’t say at the moment. I would like it to be true as it would give justification for a future fantasy like that found in Frank Herbert’s science fiction series “Dune.”

In the story of Dune there is a guild of characters known as the Bene Gesserit who essentially use a perfected recall of the memories of their ancestors. This allows them to have super-intelligence and become almost immune to the turmoils in the large scope of the series. 

If we are to ever truly learn from history it is important to internalize its lessons on a personal level. Personally, I’d like the human race to reach the level of the Dune series for a lot of respects (they are really fantastic books by the way). 

In “Man and His Symbols” edited by Carl Jung these “archaic remnants” that we find in dreams are the link between the rational world of consciousness and the world of instinct. 

It would be an interesting future to say the least if we all became better at observing and learning from these instinctual lessons of our subconscious. 

 

That post was a little bit rambled. I hope you don’t mind. What do you think we can learn about the archetypes of our dreams? Do you think dream’s images have the potential to speak from our biological past? 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

Movies: The second showing is free!

If there’s one thing I’ve really come to notice about movies is how directly they influence dreams. TV shows and series can also have an influence, but movies are unique in the ability to affect your perspective in just 2-3 hours. I’d like to take a quick look at how and why movies imprint themselves in this way.

It’s late in the evening and you have a few hours to kill before bed. You curl up into your favorite recliner or just a theater seat that has no one in front so you can put your feet up. The next few hours it’ll be you and a screen, sometimes you’ll be so enraptured that you’ll  forget you’re even watching a movie. As though in a trance, you’ll dote on every quirk of the characters and twist of the plot.

Personally I’ve come to dislike watching too many movies as I feel their affect is too pronounced on my dreams. But that doesn’t mean that movies are a negative influence for lucid dreamers. In fact learning to manipulate the power of movies can give you a useful tool to have all sorts of dreams.

It’s common sense for most to think that a scary movie like The Exorcist or Insidious: Chapter 2 will cause you to have nightmares. In just the same strain of thought movies like Spirited Away or Memento can cause fanciful and thought provoking dreams. Similarly, its entirely possible to have dreams of movie universes like the Star Wars trilogy or The Avengers by having a movie marathon (bring a friend!).

I think a lot of the reason that movies become so imprinted on our subconscious is because our mind is processing the bulk of new information presented to us. The same affect happens when we read a new book, or go to a vacation somewhere exotic. The only difference being that while reading a new book or traveling may take half a day or more, movies pack all that newness into 3 hours. Superheros, demons and space stations are not things that we see on a daily basis, so our minds asses those images by reanalyzing them in our dreams. At least that’s my theory.

So why does it matter? Well it matters because fictional or not the characters in movies become symbols in our dreams long after we watch those movies. By contrasting what a movie character originally is versus our relationship with that character in our dreams we can make some interesting interpretations.

For example, I recently had a dream where Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean was sprinting around my apartment complex cutting into ship sails fastened to the side of the building with a scimitar. I wondered if I should stop him but he was running way too fast to catch. Soon he had ripped every sail attached to the apartment complex, leaving it woefully unable to go to sea again.

The unbelievably fast saboteur is quite different from the drunken free-spirited pirate from the movies. This might represent a feeling of being held back by those that once seemed fun to me. Or maybe something else entirely. What do you think?

What movie do you think has the best atmosphere?

Dream on little dreamers,

EB