I often wish that dreams were more useful. I am talking about the dreams found in sleep that mix the past and present together in ways that can never exist in our reality. I am talking also about the recurring themes of dreams that form the outline and background of nightmares and sleep disturbances.
No one, in all the ages of mankind’s existence, has ever found a satisfactory explanation for dreams. Freud tried, but many think he failed miserably. Dreams are often so divorced from our daily routines that they appear to be random fantasies of a brain desiring content. Dreams do take us on an emotional ride, especially when we wake up and remember them vaguely. Yes, they can be positive and they can be negative to our emotional being.
Most often our dreams have some basis in experiences that we have lived and places we have been or called home. These dream experiences are distorted and take on extra dimensions, as though we are eternally reinventing our past and re-visualizing someone or some place based in our experience.
I have noticed that I am almost always young in my dreams. Aging, as yet, has never been a part of my dreams. I also dream of places that were at the cusp of great changes in my life. I can dream of my hometown dressed in bejeweled glamor, places I have lived or worked rewritten in seemingly endless fictional dramas––people and family that I have known are often present, even though they no longer live or are close to me.
Above all, dreams are emotional. They come with intense feeling and awareness. Sexual dreams may involve a person that we may or may not know. It is as though all our sensuality is wrapped in a longing for a person who is more a symbol of our desire than a real person, even if that dreamed person is someone we knew or know presently. Often, the object of a sexual dream is an unknown fantasy that embodies that which we desire. For this reason, some think that dreams serve the purpose of wish fulfillment, but many dreams can take us to places we have no desire to go.
Try as we will, we cannot find a real purpose for our dreams. This is likely that they have no real purpose. Like life itself, the purpose is simply the experience. They most often have no value or reason. The mind is restless and invents images and stories filled with emotional feelings that seem more real than their counterparts in our waking lives.
Vivid dreams tend to waken me from sleep and leave me restless and emotionally confused. Often I cannot get back to sleep right away after a vivid dream. Rarely does the dream continue after falling back to sleep. Vivid dreams are characterized by rapid eye movement and is a state of sleep called REM. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.
Most people have rather vivid dreams for several hours during the course of a night’s sleep. More often than not, these dreams are nor remembered upon awakening. Dreams with REM can be measured with an electroencephalogram (EEG) and last for a few minutes to a 20 minute maximum.
Sleep is necessary to repair body functions. All animal and some reptiles are shown to have dream episodes. Who has not seen a dog sleeping and moving their legs spasmodically in short bursts, sometimes emitting a muffled bark as though they are on the chase of running from a predator? Sleep deprivation is used as a technique for torture. Severe deprivation can actually harm the body tissue.
Then we have déjà vu, the feeling of having experienced something before that becomes manifest in the waking state when simulated with a real event or place that mysteriously feels quite familiar. Two-thirds of the human population experience déjà vu at some time. No one has found any reasonable explanation for the phenomena.
It is easy to speculate that dreams could be connections with multiple unseen dimensions that exist within the mental universe. Since time and space is a product of dimensional awareness, there could well be other dimensions in the eternal now where we tap into electrical stimulus that awakens alternative dimensions. In other words, it might be possible that we live our personal existence many times during the illusory course of time and connect with them in our dreams. However, some dreams are so divorced from our waking reality that is seems impossible that these fictional visions have any actuality at all.
And then there are the productive dreams that inspire and can be built into waking realities. There are man examples of inventors, composers, writers, and makers of films using their dreams for creative purposes that become actuality. Horror films, for example, are filled with black dreams filled with fear and loathing. Some movies and literature describe the dream state,attempting to show that the dream state is the precursor to something real. The line between dreams and really become blurred in many a pop culture film. These dreams are not symbolic so much as an expression of the dreamer’s desires and fears.
Yet there are symbolic dreams. We recognize the symbolism when we wake and remember them. The disliked relative or acquaintance takes on a forbidding and villainous quality. A failed romance from the past becomes a sexual fantasy and we rewrite our lives in vivid visions.
Obviously,we need these dreams. They serve the purpose of making us think and contemplate. Just as sleep renews our energy and body functions, dreams can heal our emotional pains and help us re-envision a future that is more in tune with our desires.