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

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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

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

Lucid Dreaming: The Basics.

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For the sake of ease of understanding I’m going to explain lucid dreaming in my own words. This is to say that I will not do any outside research for this post and will instead focus on the key basics which stand out as prominent in my mind after 5 years of lucid dreaming practice.

 

The first and most important thing was the subject of my last post: Write down your dreams! Even starting with the most vague memories is useful along your path to lucidity. Pictured above is an example of how an entry I made looked after I could only remember a few hazy facts. As you can tell the sentences are disjointed and oddly placed, in fact I’d be the first to admit that looking back on this story I hardly have an idea of what it was about at the time. The purpose of writing your dreams is not to document them for further use, rather it is to study your memories so that you may become stronger at recollecting them
To this end your notes should be taken in whatever way you feel suitable. Whether it be in drawings, lists and/or full sentences (I often use a combination of the three) just get down whatever you can whenever you can. A disclaimer: don’t allow this to make you lazy in your recollections, the more you remember the more you should write down. It won’t take long for you to realize that oftentimes the little details are the quirkiest in dreams anyway, which is always fun.
Secondly, it is key that you develop a healthy sleeping schedule. I know this will probably be the most painful part for a lot of you (it sure was for me). It takes an hour and a half to complete a full REM cycle. Only about 30 of those minutes are spent in deep, restful sleep and fewer time still is allotted to prime lucid dreaming time. It is my experience that unless I’m getting at least two REM cycles (three hours) I have a very small chance of developing any meaningful dream experience. Three hours alone for a night can be detrimental to your health for obvious reasons, there is however a variety of alternative sleep schedules such as the “Uberman“. I have no experience in that topic, but I do think it will make for an interesting post with some research in the future.
Back to the point, giving yourself ample restful sleep is key. I also recommend using relaxing music, incense or meditation videos to ease your way into sleep. The more at ease you go into dreaming the more likely that you’ll have a pleasant, meaningful dreams as opposed to “stress dreams” (such as falling and delusions of missed assignments). Some ambient chill music that I would recommend are bands like Trentemoller, Royksopp and Air France to start. A youtuber I found recently, lillium, has an array of relaxation videos meant to put you to sleep.
My last bit of advice is the “anchor.” In the popular movie Inception the spinning top was the example of the character’s hook into reality. It is your duty to find an object that is comfortable to you to learn intimately. I feel as though a top may be a little cumbersome to carry around so try something that’s already on your person. A watch, bracelet or ring is often a good choice. Objects that will be around your hands/arms are nice because you’ll see them over the course of the day whether you like it or not.
The reason for this odd practice is to serve as a way for you to know the difference between the sleep world and the real world. To do this you have to habitually analyze your chosen object and learn it’s form. You’ll find that if you successfully develop a habit of checking the object you will also do so in your dreams. When you see the object in your dreams it is your goal to be able to recognize the flawed details in the object. This small logic exercise has the power to give you conscious control during your dreams. The first few times you do this you might wake yourself up in the middle of the night, but it’s worth it! Examples of this dreaming phenomena include: A watch that has the numbers mixed around, a bracelet being made of twine instead of gold or maybe a pair of glasses that has too many frames.
Don’t worry yourself too much about mastering that last part just yet, that’s the part that takes the most practice. For now just try and find an object and stick to it, wear it or carry it everywhere. Personally I’ve managed to lose 3 of my anchor’s so far (my propensity for being a air-head far outweighs my skill with lucid dreaming, clearly), so don’t fret too much over your selection just get it done.

Dream on little dreamers,
EB

The tools of the trade

The tools of the trade

My series of half-completed journals available to me daily. The leftmost journal is usually in my book bag, the middle journal (the largest one) sits on my nightstand and that last journal goes in the living room for easy access.

The reason I bring this up as my first post is that before you do attempt any sort of lucid dreaming it is critical to grant yourself the availability to the tools necessary to train yourself. I’ve seen too many people try to get into lucid dreaming only to get frustrated within a week because they feel like they’re not remembering their dreams. Often this is a symptom of the fact that dream memories are very fickle and can quickly fade if not remembered actively.
It’s completely normal for memories of dreams to pop up in the middle of the day, only to be lost in the tumult of life’s hurdles. It’s with that reality in mind that I advise the practical solution I have taken to journal keeping. My motto is to purchase smaller journals to carry along my travels while a larger journal near my bed acts as a “home base” for the more interesting dreams. Smaller journals like the black ones pictured on the left and right side can sell for as low as under $10 for packs of three at your local office supply store. Oh and make sure to buy some pens while you’re at it of course. 🙂
The on-the-go journals can act as notepads for the large at-home journal or you can just fill them up with dreams as mine are. Keeping a strict sequential organization of your dreams is hardly important if you’re struggling with just writing the dreams at all.
In my experience many of my friends will be able to keep up with keeping a dream journal for a couple of weeks and then get into the habit of just remembering the dreams until they get home. This leads to a stressful backlog of dream memories that inevitably ends up causing the person to get unmotivated.
My humble opinion on the subject is if you just use on-the-go journals to little-by-little scribble as much as you can remember about dreams you’ve had you’ll be better resistant to the woes of loss of moral. While you wait for class, eat lunch or just decide to zone out try to write and doodle any dream recollections you might have. Don’t be ashamed to be a day or two late on writing your dreams, just write them!
That’s all I have to say for now, hope this will be an acceptable first post for you all.