“You see things and you say: ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were, and I say: ‘Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw
Think of our bodies as of perfectly tuned machines, which we are. Our brains are the driving force, the engine. That engine is capable of many great things. So many, that we still have not managed to decipher the entire program that our brains are running on. What puzzles the scientists is our capability to dream and develop fantasies in our minds. Many smart individuals have tried to come up with conclusive results about what actually happens when we dream, and although they made some progress and discovered some new potentials and managed to describe them, we still have no definite answer to the question: what dreams stand for?
Dreams – The Game Where We Set the Rules, But No One Knows the Outcome
Dreaming occurs during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase. It is possible to have several dreams per night. Regardless of the fact whether you dream frequently or occasionally, we can all agree that dreams are very subjective, tailor-made stories consisting of images, clips, memories, feelings. All these pieces of puzzle are rearranged in our dreams and often form the story where only our perception of characters is familiar to us, but everything else is seamlessly unconnected and made up.
Time is another distorted phenomenon in dreams. It has been scientifically proven that dreams can last less than a minute, although to us it seams that we have dreamt for a long time and have developed the entire “movie” in our minds. Dreams last longer the closer we approach the moment of waking up. This is another interesting phenomenon: we still do not know how come our minds know what the exact time of waking up would be?
Not all dreams are pleasant. Nightmares can be experienced to the extent of so-called “night terror”, which leads to anxiety, despair, and real-life problems in everyday functioning. What is especially interesting for episodes of night terror is the fact that the feelings and impressions they leave on a dreamer are usually present the next day, or even longer, although the person is fully awake. It appears we still have not managed to grasp the concept of connection between reality and dreams, and their mutual interaction, as well as the role our brains play in making this bond.
What are Western and Eastern Beliefs?
So, what do we know after all? We have many theories regarding the cause of dreaming. Scientists say that dreams occur because our brains have the need to consolidate memory and to regulate emotions. Ok. Why do they leave us with zillion questions, we still do not know. Whether they present an insight into our subconscious, and whether we should consider them in making decisions for the future – it is still unclear, at least to the Western world. On the other side of the planet, Eastern cultures have completely different understanding of dreams. To some civilizations they present the bond with the higher spheres, call it Gods, higher power or intellect… Eastern practices include meditation, visualizations, mantra recitations, prayers that all lead to a certain state of the mind which transcends reality and leave the practitioner with a subjective and unique experience of reality. Again, this is something we still have to explore, if we want to understand the human beings in all of their uniqueness and beauty. Our Western science is still struggling with results derived from religious and philosophical practices. However, there are researchers who noticed the correlations between similar experiences. For example, the fact that some of the aspects of Buddhism and its” state of consciousness” are very close to what our psychologists call “lucid dreaming”.
The interest in many questions that are still unanswered today has been raised in the 19th century Freud’s teaching. The thing is that many have left his teachings and consider them to be outdated, too focused on theory, and even go a step further claiming that dreams have no meaning at all and are completely irrelevant.
Do you agree? What you dream of?