Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Your Dreams: 5 Common Characteristics

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From Denny: Dreams are an endless fascination for humanity. It's how we process our outer and inner worlds. Most times the dreams make sense to us. Then there are those highly symbolic dreams that trouble, frighten or engage us.

The curious, the artists, the psychics, the kings and queens of world governments have studied dreams and gathered around them those who could interpret their dreams. They knew their own spirits or even God was talking to them and they wanted to make sure they got the message right.

In modern society, dreams have been studied by the likes of psychiatrists like Freud, Jung and now a scientist, a sleep researcher by the name of J. Allan Hobson. In a 1988 study he identified five basic characteristics of dreams. Think of it as a simple class in dreaming to get you started on figuring out your own enigmas of self.

Intense Emotions

Emotions in dreams always seem to be excessively intense like fear, anxiety, painful and just plain wear-you-out intense. The most common dream is one of embarrassment like being found nude in public unexpectedly. Like you could plan for that one? :) Then there's the fear dream like being trapped in a seemingly impossible situation or being chased by some unknown attacker for no good reason. Of course, when the dreams are that intense you end up interrupting the dream and wake up abruptly. It's really bad when you fall back in bed too quickly and darned if that crazy dream doesn't start back up right where you left it. Annoying, isn't it?! :)

Anxiety, fear and surprise are the most commonly experienced emotions that are intensified by dreaming. That's why sleep researchers recommend taking time to wind down before you go to bed so your dreams will be calmer. Often the emotion you go to bed on is the emotion that first gets processed - which is why the admonition of not going to bed angry with anyone is good advice.

Disorganized and Illogical Dreaming

This is where the fun begins when you work on interpreting your own dreams. Discontinuities, ambiguities and inconsistency are all hallmarks of where your dreams just refuse to follow an easy plot line and easily identified theme to give you your bearings. You just don't know which end is up. It's like suddenly your magnetic compass came into contact with an excessive magnetic field and starts spinning and you are no longer able to tell which direction to go.

It can be like you entered a horror movie or at least the twilight zone between the world you once knew and now an unknown situation. Whatever the case it turns out to all be a bit bizarre and nonsensical. All the natural laws no longer apply like you are in some alternate universe where time, place and what you thought you knew about people, animals and plants does not work like in your waking world. You might experience talking animals, time travel, find yourself flying over the globe, suddenly people morph into something or someone else (creepy) and my all time favorite: you get whisked out of one setting into another so fast you can't catch your breath or your emotional balance.

Strange Dream Content is Too Easily Accepted by Your Mind

Have you ever noticed that when you wake up from one of those dreams of odd events and weird content that you are hard pressed to logically present the dream in any context that makes sense? It lets you know just how flexible is your dreaming mind to accept anything illogical or nonsensical in order to deliver the message to the dreamer. Makes you glad you can't go to the voting polls in this state, now doesn't it?! There's no telling what kind of politicians we might end up governing us. Then again, maybe that explains a lot of the crazy politics we have had for the past 25 years. Maybe there is a whole generation of sleep walking dreamers going to the polls... :)

Apparently, sleep researcher Hobson thinks that "the unquestioning acceptance of dream content is due to the strength of our internally generated emotions and perceptions." Within the dream context nothing is out of place, even if the events are strange and illogical and our perceptions or objects are not in their usual places or context. These are always the dreams that tend to have very individualized symbols unique only to the dreamer. Say, for example, a cat to you represents happy contentment because of the purring quality while to someone else a cat is feared for their intense emotions. These dreams are often the most difficult to explain because of the oddities in them and the very personalized symbols.

Bizarre Sensory Overload or Unusual Experiences

Don't you just love the one where you experience the sensation of falling? That's a common experience among all of us. It sure is a weird feeling. Some other odd sensations people experience is not being able to move quickly in your dream, like your body does not respond well for some reason that makes no sense. Or the worst experience is not being able to control your body movements and you do weird things like someone who is hypnotized to do silly things for a laugh. Definitely those are dreams about various stages of losing control in your life.

Dreams Are Difficult to Recall

How many times have you experienced those intense dreams you think you can never to forget? Then you wake up, start your day and then when asked what you dreamed about that night you end up drawing a complete blank. Talk about frustrated. Sleep researchers have found that 95% of dreams are forgotten entirely upon awakening. Apparently, our memory is intensified during dreaming, yet when we wake we lose that easy access to our dreaming content and it diminishes quite rapidly as our brain turns away from dreaming and into our waking life. I guess our brains are not happy to be multi-taskers on some situations.

Shared Experiences in Dreaming

Most of us have experienced these characteristics in our dreams. Few realize just how commonly shared are these experiences. In our dreams objects and people and situations can be found to be as naturally behaving as in our waking world. Then again they can be collages of our current reality or just plain unbelievable fantasy only a computer could recreate. Everything could march along according to existing laws of the universe or behave in the most absurd, improbable or impossible manner. What's fun about those situations is it makes it easier to record or remember the dream.

Dreams as Path to Spiritual Maturity

I look at dreaming as a fantastic spiritual source to mine for furthering our spiritual development. Often, dreaming is just processing what happened during the day. The real fun begins when you pose a question or problem that requires resolving before you go to bed and then let it rip during dream time. Keep a notebook and pen by your bed so when you wake up from time to time during the night you can jot down a few notes or key phrases to jog your memory when you fully wake.

When you do wake, before fully shaking off the proverbial cobwebs, make sure to be quiet for a moment and collect your thoughts about the dream, maybe enter it again briefly to refresh your memory of the setting, the characters, the theme and the plot line. Record your dream as best you can into your notebook. Again, later in the day, give it at least four or five hours away from the dream, revisit your notebook and write some more details as you recall them.

When you keep tabs on your dreams like this you tend to take care of business regularly and don't end up with those disturbing intense dreams. Those dreams are usually God's way of talking to your spirit to pass it on and talk to your conscious mind that you are on the wrong course in life and need a course correction.

Many times our dreams talk to us about our attitudes, our choices and our future path in life. Listen to your dreams. They are free, always available and ready to help at a moment's notice.

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