Have you ever woken up after a nice slumber and felt particularly disoriented about the weird dream you had? Or ever woken up with excitement, and realised that reality sucks? Does the subconscious mind fascinate you? Welcome aboard, fellow dreamer. I am an avid dreamer. I dream often, and I dream vividly.
Dreams have fascinated philosophers from all times and eras. Theories have come and stayed and gone, but never has the meaning of dreams been understood for sure. From the more scientific reasons of dreams being a reset mechanism for our brains, to them giving us glimpses into the future, this intriguing function of the subconscious brain has been answered by myriad explanations.
It was with the invention of the Electroencephalograph that scientists were able to study sleep in ways that were not previously possible. Sleep is of two types: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). So during my research, I figured out that our sleep was basically divided into 4 stages.
NREM Stage 1
NREM Stage 2
NREM Stage 3
Now, we won’t bother ourselves with NREM Stage1, 2 and 3. Dreams usually occur when the body is experiencing REM. Keep in mind that it’s not really necessary for the body to follow the stages in that particular order. And the stages are repeated at least 7 times each night.
All men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.
I remember waking up one morning, after binge watching Harry Potter on Pogo, with a dream that was so vivid that I could remember the whole dream with no blurriness and the exact details. I saw my school turning into a school for the wizards and witches of my city. And of course, I got my letter. I remember standing in front of my school gate, looking at my old school, in new colours - colours that muggles could not see. But I could, which was great, since it made me feel very special. And I saw this dream not only once, but at least four or five times. And then I started wondering. Did it mean something? And then my curious self stumbled upon this immensely spiritual website. Apparently, my subconscious was trying to tell me something. According to the website, Your Higher Self also speaks to you through dreams. Such bold visions during sleep are meant to both teach and activate you as a being.
So… I was supposed to awaken and realise my magical powers? Nah! Doesn’t really make sense. After all, wizards don’t really exist. And even if they did, I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to get to be one.
And so, I turned to my mother and told her about my dream. At first, she giggled. It was so stupid for her. (P.S. She isn’t really into fiction. She finds it stupid.)
Hence began her scientific explanation of what dreams are. According to her, dreams are a manifestation of our fantasies. Our brain is most active during sleep. Circuits in the brain are activated during REM sleep, which causes areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations and memories, to become active. On further research, this turned out to be ‘The Activation-Synthesis Model of Dreaming’. But what my mother actually believed was that the subconscious brain tries to make sense of these activated nerves and forms loose connections between thoughts and ideas, guided by the emotions of the dreamer.
I am still not completely satisfied with any theory. I mean, how do you then explain the numerous accounts of premonitions that people all over have all the time? Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe.
But what I have been able to understand about dreams has been aptly caught by Sigmund Freud in his book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’: What is common in all these dreams is obvious. They completely satisfy wishes excited during the day which remain unrealised. They are simply and undisguisedly realisations of wishes.
Everyone dreams - whether they remember them in the morning or not, is a different issue altogether. And no one, for sure, knows the whole truth behind dreaming. I, personally, am just amazed by my dreams (and somewhere quiet proud that I am a regular dreamer; they are fun stories).
Our mind is a very complex organ and the funny fact here is that through the researches and tests, all we are trying to do is teach our conscious mind something that our sub-conscious mind already knows.
The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.