Light. Darkness. Stasis. Where do we fall into those categories while we dream?
From the moment we fade into a subconscious state of mind at night to the moment we regain consciousness the following morning, we go through an average of three to five, and sometimes even seven dreams. Most dreams occur in spans of two hours, alongside the cycle of REM sleep. In that span of six, seven, eight, or more hours we are asleep, we, in a way, live a plethora of new lives that are likely entirely different from our own. Sometimes they are happy dreams, sometimes they are sad dreams, sometimes they are nightmares, and sometimes they are mixtures of all three and then some. What holds true for all dreams is that they are all adventures from start to finish. All adventures are journeys that teach us how to navigate the marvel we call life. There are so many neurons firing in the span of REM sleep, as well as rapid eye movement taking place that it is no wonder we all forget over 90% of our dreams in the first ten minutes of waking up. The environment and our interactions with the subconscious world change so incredibly fast that we are left with only the general idea of what happened—the details fade from existence. Dreams, in essence, are a part of our long-term memory, which means that the fine details become distorted over time. We end up telling ourselves and others a whole new story of what really happened in the dream. So why do some dreams stick with us completely while others are nothing more than mysteries merely a few days later? Why do we have dreams that we have had once or twice before? What do nightmares tell us about our health? What do common types of dreams tell us about ourselves? All these questions will be answered.
The most intensive dreams typically stay with us for a long while thereafter. Additionally, the more emotional our dreams are, the more we tend to remember them. Why? Because they have a lot of meaning to us. That being said, if we are depressed, angry, or not emotionally sound, we are more likely to have dreams of the similar sort. If we are stressed the day before, we tend to wake up several times during the night. This is because we are not in a state of peace and our minds are not at ease, even though we are sleeping.
The act of sharing a dream with someone else is enough for us to remember it for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes, if our dreams are so powerful, we write everything about them on a piece of paper as soon as we wake up. That is perhaps the easiest, most reliable way of remembering a dream for as long as we live. By writing the events of our dreams on paper, we can recall them with ease whenever we read through them. So, here is a tip of advice: we must write our dreams down! The second we open our eyes to start the new day, we must record our dreams. If not, we risk losing them forever. Sometimes we have dreams of the future or of the past. Would it not be cool to predict the unknown? Try it. Sometimes our dreams are true predictions of our futures. Don’t believe it? We won’t at this moment since the future does not yet exist and our minds cannot comprehend something that is not real, but we will once it comes to pass. We should give a title to each of our documented dreams, so that we can distinguish between the others.
The dreams we have in the last few hours of sleep are more easily accessible to our memories upon awakening. We remember the most recent ones more so than the ones we had first. This phenomenon is attributed to a common cognitive psychology term known as the recency effect.
Dreams sometimes repeat themselves. The reason for this is rather mind blowing. It all comes back to stress. Recurring dreams mean we have not done justice to a certain aspect of our life that needs attention. For example, if we keep on dreaming about space, then we probably have not had as many adventures in our life as we would like. If we keep having the same nightmare, it means we are in fear. For example, if we keep dreaming about our own death, chances are we fear death and are worried about not living life to the fullest. Or perhaps we have lost a loved one and cannot seem to cope with their passing, save for in our subconscious state of mind.
On that note, having nightmares is a sign that we are deprived of oxygen, water, and vital nutrients. Our first and foremost duty, in life, is to our own body. If we are not healthy, we cannot function properly and cannot think properly because we are so disturbed by either hunger, thirst, or uncomfortable feelings. However, if we interpret nightmares in the smart way, we will know that they teach us many valuable lessons. They are intended to help us improve our daily lives and they act as the catalysts for new beginnings, correction of old habits, and enlightened mindsets. If we look at all things by how we can gain on them and how they can help us improve ourselves, not even nightmares can phase us. Instead of allowing the fear, the anxiety, or the trauma to overtake our minds, we must expunge these thoughts and replace them with positive, forward thinking. Dreams are, in a way, a coping method of their own for past experiences that influence us. They are meant to be a problem-solving technique to alleviate our suffering. What may kill us in the subconscious will never kill us in the conscious because we already survived and are aware of the things that may bring us down if we let them.
The common dream of falling off a cliff can leave our stomachs churning and our hearts pounding. What does this mean? We could either be afraid of heights, overloaded in work and in need of a helping hand to save us from the fall to chaos, or in fear of an upcoming event we believe will result in failure. Undoubtedly, when we suddenly awaken with the feeling that we just fell, it means we are drowning and need someone or something to lift us up.
As we begin to notice, dreams themselves are a transition from our conscious world to our subconscious state of mind. Every single dream is had so that we can cope with challenges and fears we experience from dawn till dusk—the first and the last; the beginning and the end. Our thoughts, motivations, and desires are navigated and applied in our adventurous dreams. It is up to each and every one of us whether we take them to heart and use them as tools to improve our lives or overlook them and let them fade into an archive of forgotten memory, never to be recovered again.
If we are capable of something as extraordinary as dreaming, what is to say we are not capable of having lived a life in the past and simply not being able to remember it? It is the same thing as having a dream and not ever remembering it. Is it possible that we have taken the identity of multiple beings in the past and are just living a new one in the present? It would explain why we so often dream of places we’ve never been before and time periods we’ve never lived in, in this life. What is to say against the idea that we may live yet another life after this one? We must not be closed to ideas such as these. We must broaden our spectrum of the hunt for knowledge and continue to always find the answers to our questions. Just as how a utopian society can never exist, so too can all our questions ever be answered entirely and perfectly. There is always room to improve and attempt to attain what we seek, for one day it may very well be the way of things. For now, we are but an instrument of knowledge—we have the information necessary to interpret these entities; we have our minds to guide us on our never-ending quest for the unknown to become known. Now, we must interpret them as best we can and prove our answers to be true. Proof is fact, fact is the truth, and the truth may sometimes hurt or build us up.
Of course, it is because we are human that we can never truly know what the meaning of dreams are. What we can do is interpret them as best we can and reflect on their purpose and meaning. The continuous goal of life has been, is, and always will be to improve on the knowledge we have of ourselves and how we fit in a world of ever-growing population. One person’s dreams can be world-changing. One person’s dreams can lead to the invention of something entirely out of this world. One person’s dreams can turn to real life. Therefore, we cannot say that dreams are non-existent. They are as real as our daily lives are! Anyone who says otherwise is blinded to the truth and way of things. We can learn much and more about ourselves when our eyes are closed than when they are opened. We must allow our dreams to catalyze our successes, so they can carry meaning and value in all things good, bad, and somewhere in between.