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1. Twilight… Avatar… Google… The Sewing Machine… The Theory of Relativity… were all inspired by a dream… an actual REM kind of dream that you have when you sleep. Throughout history, artists, writers, inventors and scientists have solved problems and drawn great inspiration from their dreams. You’d be surprised how many great ideas and personal solutions you are literally “dreaming up” each and every night too.
2. You dream every night, every 90 minutes, throughout the night whether you remember them or not. Every cycle of dreaming grows in duration throughout the night. The first dream of the night may only be 3 minutes or so and the last dream you have before waking in the morning, provided you had a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep, can be 45 minutes to an hour long. On average, you will dream about 5 times every night, and if you’re lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, you will have had well over 100,000 dreams throughout your lifetime!
3. In 2001, an expedition into the Chauvet Cave in the valley of the Ardèche River in France discovered cave drawings that are believed to be depicting a dream. Even in prehistoric times, mankind has wondered about their dreams.
4. The ancient Romans thought dreams were messages from the gods and many would take long pilgrimages to Dream Temples where they would spend the night in hopes of receiving a dream of wisdom or healing.
5. There are over 700 references to dreams and visions within the pages of The Bible, all suggesting that dreams are messages from God or His angels.
6. The ancient Chinese believed that a dream is when the soul leaves the body to travel the world. However, if they should be suddenly awakened, their soul may fail to return to the body. Even today some Chinese aren’t too keen about having an alarm clock! Essentially, the time tested consensus is that dreaming is a powerful experience and is connected to something greater than ourselves.
7. The Greek Philosopher Plato believed dreams originated from the liver. Two thousand years later Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychoanalysis, affirmed that dreams indeed come from the self, the subconscious part of the self. He even brought us a step closer by teaching us that dreams not only come from the self but are about the self – the sexually suppressed self.
8. According to Freud, just about everything in our dream can somehow be connected to our genitals and our wanton, misguided and lustful desires. Sigh. I guess living in the prudish Victorian Era will do that to you.
9. Freud’s protégé, Carl Gustav Jung, taught us that yes, dreams do come from the self, dreams are indeed about the self, and what’s more, understanding dreams helps us to improve the self, not just the sexual self but the entire self. In fact, I subscribe to Jungian Dream Philosophy. I believe that everything in our dreams is connected to some part of the self or to something or someone that directly affects the self. I believe there are many common archetypes (symbols, images and themes) that appear in all of our dreams that hold a collective or shared meaning for almost all of us.
10. Dream analysis, or Oneiroscopy, which is the medical term for it, is the most insightful form of self discovery available.
11. Dreams are thoughts. You see, when you are dreaming, you are thinking, but on a much deeper and focused level than when you’re awake. Think about it, when you go to sleep the lights are off, your eyes are closed and the world around you is shut out. There are no distractions. The mind doesn’t stop working at this point. Whatever your stream of thought is as you drift off continues and begins to go inward, and as your conscious, waking, literal mind slips into a state of rest, your deep inner subconscious mind takes over.
12. Once you enter REM sleep, when dreaming takes place, a structure located on the brain stem called the pons, sends signals to the cerebral cortex (the region of the brain responsible for most of our thought processes) that dreaming has begun, which means some very serious and deep thinking is now happening. So that waking stream of thought that was using words and that your conscious mind had control of is now controlled by your inner subconscious mind and is no longer using just words but is also using images, experiences and emotions. Your thoughts have turned into dreams.
If dreams are thoughts, then why are they so bizarre? The best way that I can explain it is that…
13. When you are dreaming you are thinking with metaphors. “He’s as healthy as a horse,” “It’s raining cats and dogs out there.” “She is such a big baby.” Metaphors compare two things in order to create a picture that helps us make our point. The next time you have a conversation, try to take a mental note of how many metaphors are used between you and the other person. You’d probably be surprised how quickly the tally will go up. We naturally communicate this way. Dreams work in the same way. But rather than speaking the metaphor, they bring it to life.
14. Our dreams will show us how to handle specific problems, especially when we dream about the people we see in everyday life, like our children, our spouses or our bosses. Through our dreams we speak to ourselves about what is going on in our lives, how we guide ourselves through difficult situations, and how we point ourselves towards what we really, truly and deeply need to live the life we are meant to live.
15. Nightmares are caused by difficult, ignored and unresolved issues in your life. You see, the various themes in your dreams are connected to specific areas of your life or your personality. For example, House dreams are connected to your state of mind and self image. Weather dreams are connected to your emotions and so on.
Why Understanding Your Dreams Is So Important
When you can understand your dreams, you’ll find that they are the best glimpse of reality available. They are the way you are brutally honest with yourself when your conscious waking mind refuses to be. They are the way you nag yourself over a recurring behavior you need to correct or an issue you aren’t giving enough attention to, hence the persistent recurring dream.
They are also your very best friend and advisor when you need to make a tough decision or solve a difficult problem. No one truly knows what is best for you… than YOU! The truth is, your best thinking isn’t done in the shower, it’s done while you dream. In fact, when we say, “Let me sleep on it” what we’re really saying is, “Let me DREAM on it.”