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Dreams

Enter a subconscious realm, where anything and everything is possible.
by

Adam Yoder

on 18 February 2013

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Transcript of Dreams

zzz... zzz... zzz... It's time to go to sleep. Your body begins to slow down as you reach the first phase of sleep. You slowly fall more and more asleep, as your brain slows down. Your breathing and heart rate slows, and your muscles start to tense up. Then your brain slows down so much that all it produces are slow delta waves. At this point, you've fallen asleep. About an hour and a half after falling asleep, your eyes start to twitch and move. This is called REM sleep. Then, your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure rise, your brain becomes just as active as when awake, and you become paralyzed. And at this point you've entered... The realm of Dreams (by Adam Yoder) And something strange is about to unfold. Then, once the brain has reached a certain level, it begins. What are dreams? Dreams are a series of images and sensations that course through the mind while asleep. Throughout the ages, people have tried to make sense of their dreams. Today, there is much that can be used to assist in interpretation. The mechanics of dreams Why do we need sleep? It has been proven that sleep is vital to one's well-being. Sleeping allows us to rest, repair our bodies, and managing the day's activities. Studies have shown that people- or any creature in general- requires sleep in order to function. Rats that were deprived of sleep lived far shorter lives than those who did sleep; those who were deprived of dreams became anxious and moody. Types of dreams There are many, many types of dreams. Just to sample a few, there's lucid dreams, inspirational dreams, vigilant dreams, recurring dreams, and nightmares. Lucid dreams are dreams in which the dreamer is conscious of the fact that they're dreaming. With practice, it is possible to stay asleep while asleep, and even control the contents of the dream! Inspirational dreams are just that- dreams that provide inspiration for something. Vigilant dreams are dreams that incorporate external stimuli into the dream. For example, you may be falling... and it turns out you fell off your bed. Ouch. Or you might be walking or talking in dreams and real life alike. Or you may be in a blizzard, because the room is cold. Recurring dreams, obviously, are a specific dream or theme that happens over and over again. They are usually caused by an unresolved situation in real life, or an unresolved fear or phobia. Nightmares are a very well-known kind of dream. They are characterized by being strong emotional experiences (frightening, embarassing, saddening), and often ending before the conflict can be resolved, or at its peak. Because they are such strong emotional experiences and occur at the end of the dream, they are often vivid and easy to remember. They can feature being chased by a monstrous entity, being in a bad situation, having a loved one be injured/die, or seeing a horrible thing. Dream control With such an incredible realm available, many people have figured out ways to control their dreams. These methods have been sorted into two major types: dream incubation and lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the ability to recognize that the dreamer is dreaming, and manipulate the contents of the dream. Although lucid dreaming is well-known throughout the ages, it wasn't until 1989 that a technique was created for this purpose. This technique, known as the "reflection technique" or "reality checking", consists of watching for signs or asking if you're dreaming. (Think of the spinning top in "Inception") It requires much training and practice to be able to pull off, but there's the promise of dreaming whatever you want (or other helpful things). A different method is known as "MILD", which basically consists of recognizing dreams, and using previous dreams to think of and imagine what you wish to do. Dream incubation is the method of "planting a seed" for the dreaming mind to answer. Doing this involves taking something that needs answering or addressing, keeping it in mind throughout the day, and telling your mind that it will find the answer it seeks. This doesn't have to be restricted to questions- happy experiences or searching for inspiration can work, as well. (more on that later) The history of dream interpretation Dream interpretation has been a truly ancient practice. Early civilizations believed that dreams were messages from the divine and had healing powers. The ancient Greeks, however, proposed that dreams were internal messages. Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Plato all dabbled in dreams. The first dream researcher was the Greek Artemidorus, who wrote the Oneirocritica ("The Interpretation of Dreams"). He believed that the most important aspect of dream symbols is their significance to the dreamer. Dream interpretation slowed to a stop in Europe until the early 19th century, when members of the German Romantic movement revived interest in the topic. Sigmund Freud (1858-1939) Freud was one of the major dream analysts. His controversial theories include the idea that many of our dreams are wish-fulfillment fantasies with roots in infantile urges. He also thought that the "id" (unconscious mind) is allowed to express itself while the "ego" (conscious mind that controls the id) is inactive. Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1965) Jung supported some of Freud's ideas, but not all of them. He believed of the concept of the "collective unconscious"- or, the archetype system. This concept was that there is a collection of experiences and instincts common to humans, expressed in universal symbols. In his theories, he believed that the only way for the unconscious mind to fully express itself was through dreams. "Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." "Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy." Dream interpretation The "big two" of dream interpretation A quick guide to interpretation Since dreams convey most of their information through symbols, knowing what those mean are essential to understanding and interpreting a dream. Knowing what each symbol means to you personally is also a key strategy to interpretation. Now, some dreams are simple to interpret. Flying through the air? That can represent freedom, new perspectives, and control. Being chased or attacked? That's a typical response to stress, or trying to run away from a situation. Standing in a flooded street at sunset, with eyeballs floating in the water? ...not so simple. But others... Venturing through a fantasy-land forest and garden, and being attacked by a pumpkin monster? Where your only weapons are shoes? And your sister appears for no reason, wearing a blue dress? Trying to fight off a zombie horde (consisting of three face-painted individuals) with weapons resembling musical instruments, then finding a horse sinking into a lake who says "nope" and drinks from a bottle of whiskey while sinking into the lake, then dropping books into the lake? (yes, these were real dreams of mine) Being naked in public? Vulnerability and exposure, with a bit of shame thrown in there. Dreams last an average of 5 to 20 minutes apiece. Roughly six years of our lives are spent dreaming. Fun Facts Numerous dreams have inspired the creation of some things. The chemical structure of benzene, the sewing machine, "Yesterday" (The Beatles), and the "Frankenstein" story all originated from dreams. Other people have had premonitions in their dreams. For instance, Abraham Lincoln dreamt that he heard people say that the president had been assassinated- days before his actual death. Originally, nightmares were a kind of demon that sat on people's chests while they slept. When people are snoring, they don't dream. People go into a period of muscle tension so that they don't act out their dreams. Sometimes it fails, and they sleepwalk or talk in their sleep. Comedian Mike Birbaglia suffers from sleepwalking- one night he dreamt his hotel was about to be struck by missiles, so he leaped out his second-story room. In real life. Hence why his memoirs (and film based on his life) are called "Sleepwalk with Me." It's been discovered that animals other than humans have REM sleep. This means they dream. But about what? Studies have shown that eating blue cheese causes the most vivid dreams. Camembert is another potent cheese, favored by Salvador Dali. Nightmares only occur during REM sleep. They are more likely to occur later in the night. Nobody knows when a dream will end. But when it does, it starts to fade quickly, unless recorded... And the next night will be a different experience... Oneirophobia is the fear of dreams. On a similar front, there are fever dreams. They are bizarre sequences where nothing makes sense (well, even less than usual) and everything seems to drag on. They obviously occur when you are very sick- your body is in overdrive trying to fight your sickness, and thus things just go crazy.
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