Dreams can have a profound affect on how we view ourselves and relate to others. The contents of our innermost thoughts are played out in surprising and sometimes bewildering dream sequences. They can have a fleeting impact on our day or create a lasting impression. Our attachments to places, people and objects are fully realised through the dreams we remember, which are drawn up as an emotional map of our circumstances.
Dream dictionaries, interpreters and diaries are common ways of explaining and defining the meaning of dreams and the various realms we seem to experience. Dreams squeeze a lot of information from the big unconscious mind to the small conscious mind, condensing messages into information packed symbols that overlap and converge, normally resulting in confusion when the dreamer wakes.
The idea of different sized sections of the mind contributing to our dream content in specialised ways relates to Freud’s iceberg model or Typography of the mind. The model is an iceberg made up of the Unconscious, Pre-conscious and Conscious mind, where the conscious mind makes up 10% of the overall model, as it protrudes above the water as the visible section of the iceberg, while the rest exists hidden underneath the water and is enormous in comparison; Freud believed this part of the mind was not directly accessible to awareness, containing urges, feelings and ideas which exert influence on our conscious awareness.
Dreams can also be categorised by their character:
Precognitive Dreams are thought to be prophetic dreams, where future events are revealed. For example, a dream in which you are on a plane that crashes would deter you from boarding a flight booked the next day, which is then reported in the news when it crashes. This could be explained as a coincidence but then again could also hold some value.
Lucid Dreaming occurs when a person realises they are dreaming. For example, they may wake up and recognise that a dream is playing out but are unable to control the dream or wake up fully.
Recurring Dreams are repetitive dreams. One theory is that a dream symbolises an unresolved issue, another is that the dream represents a conscious or unconscious fear. Recurring dreams can plaque the sleeper, sparking a desire to unravel the content, and expose the root of the dream, which may in turn prove to be a cathartic and healing process.
Past Life Dreams are thought to contain the memories of former lives as they resurface. It is thought that every memory from every past life is banked in the subconscious mind and that authentic memories from past lives can be recalled when in an altered state of consciousness. This category of dream is often undermined by sceptics.
Other beliefs include astral travelling where it is thought that an out of body experience occurs, so that the soul transports itself wherever it wants to go.
It is believed that the best interpreter of your dreams is actually yourself, as you hold the key to their creation. Dreams are very personal and reveal the pattern of your thoughts. Every element of a dream is supposed to symbolise meaning, no matter how insignificant. From colour and numbers to people and places, dreams are laden with significance, representing a feeling, mood or memory. However, dreams can often mask meaning and are almost cryptic in nature, which makes them an elusive but enticing form of communication that can transcend time and place, as well as connect us to both past and future.
There are scientific, as well as more romanticised explanations of dreaming, where rapid eye movement is said to produce hallucinations we call dreams, whereas the magical and psychic associations keep dreaming a subject that is firmly divided.
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