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 Dreaming In Perspective, Guide to understand dreams
Acid09
post Oct 19 2007, 04:55 PM
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This topic is meant to help readers learn how to understand their dreams and to use them to better their lives by providing convenient and objective information on the subjects presented. This first post is an introduction to the content. I've tried to format it in a way that will be easier to read. Simply look at the bold text and you know what that section is about. If its not interesting you can skip on down to the next without any trouble.

For the most part these are just my thoughts. I do not dictate myself as an authority in any of this content. It is, however, based on years of learning, practice and legitimate higher education. As a psych major I have taken courses on dreams, interpreting them and understanding their psychological relevance. I have been using real techniques (that I will share at some point) to help people interpret their dreams for about 3 years now.

As always this is not my thread. Anybody who wishes to contribute may do so (If fact I kinda hope some of you help out as it would be easier on me (IMG:style_emoticons/default/rolleyes.gif) ) So if you have any articles or information to share it would be welcomed.

1. General Physiology: Dreams are a state of mind where the body is mostly paralyzed, unconscious and the brain fires neuro pathways at random. This random firing of brain cells produces the affect of a dream. A dream in and of itself is regarded as nothing more than the random formation of images and sensations. Any five of our senses can be experienced, though smell is the rarest, despite its connection to memory. There is no data proving or disproving that dreams carry any denotative meaning. Also there is no known single location where dreams originate in the brain. One can experience dream like sensations at any time in the sleep cycle. But the most vivid dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement). REM lasts for a period of about 10-30 minutes during the stages of sleep. While the REM stage of sleep only lasts for part of the night, people can expect to go through 90 minutes cycles and experience this stage several times in one night. It is believed some times dreams may actually resume, as though set on pause when REM is over and then continues where it left off when a person reenters REM. We could get into the stages of sleep but they have little to do with dreaming (at least in laymen's terms) and its really boring.

Everybody dreams. Some, like about 10-12%, dream only in black and white. Most people actually have dozens (possibly even hundreds) of dreams in a single night even though the over all period of time that we dream only lasts for about 2-3 hours. Most dreams are short lasting, going from only a few seconds to minutes. Some last up to 15 or 20 minutes and only on rare occassion do they last longer than 20 minutes. It is estimated that people will have from over a billion to possibly even a trillion dreams in a life time. The problem with gauging this is in knowing when a dream begins and when it ends. Over half the total population experiences reoccuring dreams.

Dreams are strongly linked to memory formation and processing. The vast majority of people, something like 2/3, do not remember many of their dreams and for the most part of their life do not regard them as important, even though they spend about 6 years of their life dreaming. When a person wakes they lose about 90% memory of their dreams in about the first 10 minutes. People can be taught to remember how to remember, even control/manipulate their dreams. The most vivid dreams occur either in the latest stages of sleep (like early in the morning) or when people take naps in the afternoon.

Despite common belief only about 10 percent of dreams are of a sexual nature. The reason why these kinds of dreams are thought to be common is because they are the easiest to remember (who'd of thought that?).

When it comes to sleep disorders the only common ones are insomnia (too little REM) andf hyposomnia (too much sleep). Its estimated that 1/3 of the population will suffer from some form of insomnia or sleep apnea (episodes of snoring) in their life time. Other commonly known disorders, parasomnias, such as sleep walking/talking/eating (in rare cases even driving or sexual activity) only happen in a very small portion of people and they very seldom remember such occurances. Despite popular belief narcolepsy is not a sleep disorder. Its a neurological condition that results in sudden sleeping spells caused by brain seizures.

2. Why do we dream?: Really we don't know why for certain.

There are many theories. For example some believe that dreams serve as an occupant to the mind; the mind gets bored and it produces dreams to stay occupied. The thinking is that if the brain produces dreams it pascifies the body as a whole and makes it less likely to react as though it were under attack, in danger or dying.

Some believe we dream because the mind uses them as a mechanism to process sensory information. Sort of like rebooting a computer. In this way dreams are like an organic cataloging system and information we take in is committed to memory based on the degree of experiences.

Another theory is that the mind never really looses total consciousness and that dreams are forms of expression we are not capable of or willing to show. Thus under this model dreams serve to facilitate the basic human need to express itself in a way that doesn't cause harm or where such expression could cause harm in real life.

Still some believe that dreams are nothing more than a bi-product of natural human functions that serve to maintain the greater health of the whole body. Most theories agree that sleeping in general is a restoritive measure for the body. It is also known that if the body is deprived of REM sleep long enough, it dies. If the body is depeprived of its senses through sensory deprivation long enough, the mind goes insane and creates its own reality. Likewise, some researchers have looking into neuro-feedback for therapy purposes.

3. Do dreams have any meaning?: There are two main schools of thought for this. One dreams do not have any intentional/biological meaning at all. In other words we just dream and then give them meaning when we are conscious as a sort of way to justify their purpose.

The second theory is that dreams do have meaning, or more over purpose, that being to process information and act as a sort of second consciousness to help the greater mind realize repressed memories along with their emotions and desires. Under this theory, dreams act as a sort of diagnostic tool bringing physical and mental issues to the attention of the greater mind.

4. States of consciousness: There are four basic levels of consciousness during dreams.

- No awareness or control at all. The vast majority of dreams (about 90%) are spent at this level. These dreams are usually not the ones you remember - you can be not very commonly. In these kinds of dream the content tends to be wild and more like static from a radio than coherent imagery with detail and possibly meaning. People have no control over their actions within dreams at this state and do not know they are actually dreaming.

- Little awareness and control. Of the dreams people do remember these are the most common. They generally take place in a generic theme; like a school, church, home, favorite park, outerspace or under water. In this state people sometimes report flying, falling, talking or writing they cannot understand or see familiar faces. Also people are engaging is some activity like doing the dishes or taking a test, walking a dog - basically any common activity. Most people do not have control in this state but sometimes they get like a "burst" of awareness that allows them to control very simple details.

- Lucid dreaming; some awareness, some control. At this state a person is aware enough to realize they are dreaming. For the most part elements within the imagery and content is still out of control and random. But people at this state can control specific details by willpower alone. These kinds of dreams are vivid and easily remembered but tend to be shorter and only last from a few seconds to minutes. This is because once the mind is aware, its no longer unconscious and it begins to wake up. These kinds of dreams are also very rare, occurring in most only 3% of the time. Incidentally one of the most common themes for lucid dreams in men around the ages of 15-35 is sexual in nature.

- High lucid dreaming; total control, total awareness. In this state a person is able to control every detail, interact with their dreams, change dreams even explore theoretical ideas like magick and astral projection. Like lucid dreams, without practice, they last only a short time but are extremely vivid. However these kinds of dreams only occur naturally about 1% of the time.

5. Psychological relevance:

- Therapy. Psychologist have linked dreams to memory and memory function. It is believed that with the aid of council a person can recover repressed memories that can shade light on hidden desires, emotions, thoughts, experiences as well as help in the healing process of dealing with traumatic events. Dreams may be able to help amnesiacs recover lost identities, be used to help people with Alzheimers or other memory loss. Dreams in general can be used as a medium by therapists to facilitate recover from mental disorders - even schizophrenia - but especially with depression and anxiety and other mood disorders.

- Recreation. Dreams can be a good source of relaxation. In high lucid dreams one is basically God of their mind and can do anything they want; anything they can imagine.

- Exploration. We have machines to monitor brain waves and pin point what happens where and this gives some insight into the secrets of the brain. But to really understand the brain, more over unlock its secrets, we'll need to actually explore dreams themselves to gather empirical data. Consider this: intellect and memory could be related to our ability to dream. Now consider the really good stuff: Dreams might be able to help us understand paranormal sciences and do so irrefutably - things like psychic abilities, telepathy, shared dreams, astral projection, even telekinesis and mind over matter could be unlocked through our dreams.

- Self diagnostic. Dreams can alert us to health problems if we are able to recognize the proper patterns in our dreams.

6. Mystical/occult relevance: Dreams have long been associated with magickal powers. Shaman thought of the dream world as its own reality independent of this world in which supernatural beings existed and could be contacted for service. Dreams could be the keys to understanding metaphysical existence. We may be able to tare down the doors of perception and see the universe in a way that truly shows us reality for what it is. Dream magick in general is considered a powerful tool and its highly flexible, anybody can do it without having to be a master at some craft.

[edit] Information updated

This post has been edited by Acid09: Feb 24 2008, 08:00 PM


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SPoison
post Oct 20 2007, 01:09 PM
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This was a very good read, and I have a comment to make about lucid to high lucid dreaming. In these states you can explore different ideas with little outside influence on your thinking and can get your best results. In the few times I've achieved High lucid dreaming I managed to study for a test that I was taking and my memory of the information earlier that day was extremely vivid. If you consider this, for people who can achieve High Lucid Dreaming can explore theories in intense detail and even experiment with ideas in their heads.


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A blind person who sees is better than a seeing person who is blind. - Iranian (on wisdom)

Feel your center of power... Feel the world around you... Close your eyes and expect the unexpected...

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Acid09
post Dec 19 2007, 07:44 PM
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Lucid dreams are a potent way to induce an altered state of mind for spiritual exploration. Many Shaman have regarded the dream world as a reality seperate from this one. It has been consider a platform for magickal manifestion and mystical exploration for thousands of years. LCDs also has the psychological ability to allow people to explore and understand there own thoughts, desires, feelings and memories. The potential for LCDs is virutally limmited to one's imagination.

LCDs happen in two ways - either a person is dreaming and then becomes aware or they retain lucidity right into dreaming.

The following is series of techniques that are commonly used to induce LCDs.

"Wake back to bed"
First is the "wake back to bed" technique. I have learned over extensive observation that the most common times I naturally have LCDs is during the early morning hours. I do not know if this common in others as well. But it has allowed me to capitalize on this technique. Its relatively simple. The idea is that you wake yourself up after 5-6 hours sleeping using an alarm or drinking water before bed to make yourself get up and go to the bathroom during the night and then go back to sleep. When you go to sleep the second time you relax, slow your breathing - I generally lie on my back, and then allow yourself to drift off into sleep. Of course this takes practice and more often then not you'll either just fall right back to sleep or wake yourself back up. The key here is self observation, without disturbing the sleep process. What I mean is you observe your own bodily functions as you begin to sleep. Your breathing is slow, you are comfortable, you might feel heart palpitations (skipping heart beat, its normal) you might twitch or jerk your leg (this is also normal as it is your body resisting what it thinks is an attack). As you continue you will start to hear random noises and see things that probably won't make sense. Do not attempt to make sense of this as doing so will cause you to wake up. You have just started to fall asleep and this is where you will most likely either wake back up or lose consciousness. With practice you will learn to retain consciousness longer as you enter deeper stages of sleep. It does take practice.

A variation of this technique is to remain awake for a period time (at most an hour) recalling any previous dreams, perhaps eat a snack, drink some warm milk and then proceed with the rest of the WBTB technique.

"Mnemonic Induction"
Another technique follows the same process of following your sleeping patterns into a LCDs only you do this as you go to bed, there is no waking yourself up and going back to sleep part. The next difference is that one sets an intention to have an LCD. This can be done through writting out this intent in a journal (just as easy as "tonight I will have a lucid dream") and then place the journal under the pillow or bed. Like wise you can create a "dream doll" or blanket, basically to serve as a construct that has the ability to put you into a lucid state. You can also chant the intent out loud as a sort of simple sleeping spell, or it can be an elaborate ritual. You can also invoke any godform/archetype of dreaming. This is known as the mnemonic induction of LCDs.

"Wake Initiation"
The wake initiation technique is like day dreaming. With practice it is still a potent way to induce a lucid state. The idea is to train the mind to retain consciousness directly into the REM stage of sleep. There are certain times where one's success rate is the highest, taking naps in the afternoon, or being extremely tired, or in any state where sleep comes easy. How a person retains consciousness varies. One can count sheep, climb stairs, reenact a sexual encounter (in my opinion that just keeps me awake though). A couple things I have used successfully - meditation while visualizing being seating high on a cliff over looking an ocean. In this the focus was more on the waves of the sea or the clouds in the sky, sun set/rise, phase shifts of the moon - get creative. Then the other way imagining some fantacy (like what would I do in Luke Skywalker's place, would I use the force for good or bad?). This is actually probably the easiest technique to practice. It still takes practice to keep the mind from loosing track of itself and totally lossing consciousness.

"Cycle Adjustment"
There is also the cycle adjustment technique. This is where a person wakes and hour or so earlier than normal and repeats this for several weeks. This causes the body to readjust its sleeping patterns. This increases the likelihood that one will have an LCD if they alternate using their old sleep pattern on some days and the new one on others, like alternate every other day. If you also incorperate the process of following your sleeping patterns as you fall asleep and reinforce intent to have LCDs you will likely have them. However with this technique you are not really controlling when you have LCDs you just increase the chances of having them naturally. This technique also works better if you practice dream recall, which I will explain later on.

"Induction Devices"
Another way to induce lucid dream is through induction devices. There are actually devices that are scientifically proven to increase the odds of having an LCD. The way these things work is through monitoring an individual's sleep cycles until they reach REM. At that point the device flashes a red light over the person's eye lids or gives a very subtle electric shock. Some have theorized that by increase the level of electromagnatism around one's brain they will be more likely to be aware while they dream. Some devices emmit low frequency sound meant to mimic one's brain waves at a conscious level. There are various types of brain waves that are measurable at different states of consciousness. For example theta waves are what you might see in a person who is relaxed, meditating or doing some remedial activity, like nitting for example. Someone who is aroused, like laughing or curious, can also exhibit theta waves. Delta waves are what you see in people who are in deep sleep. Some induction devices claim they can be used to increase theta or alpha waves in the mind while in deep sleep to produce awareness while one sleeps.

Personally I have never really given much creedence to such devices though. These also apply to astral projection as well.

"Progressive awareness technique"
One of the most successful ways to have regular lucid dreams is through the progressive awareness technique. It does take the longest to learn, but its probably the most successful for that reason. This technique litterally trains the mind to not only have more lucid dreams, but to have more vivid and memorable ones too. This is also the most extensive way to have LCDs and I will only summerize this process. If you want to learn the whole technique I highly recommend the book "Lucid dreams in 30 days: The Creative Sleep Program" by Keith Harary and Pamala Weintraub. Its based on real research, its easy to follow, its short at like only 90 pages and its relatively cheap.

How this technique works is one first and foremost creates a dream journal, something portable and that can be kept near the bed. I'd even go as far as to write on it in bold letters "DREAM JOURNAL" and use only the same pen/pencil to write in it. This journal has a psychological impact on the mind. What it does is to start getting the mind to pay attention and actually remember dreams. Use it religiously to record your dreams. The next step is create a "dream temple". Essentially one needs to have the best sleep possible in order to have the highest chance of LCDs. A dream temple is just your bed room (or where ever you sleep), but in this respect it becomes a sactuary for sleep. By just walking into the room you are telling your mind "this is where I sleep, this is where I dream" and its affect is not unlike training a cat to use a litter box. You are telling your mind on a primal level to dream in a specific spot. Further more this temple needs to be comfortable, not too cluttered, not to messy, not too wild or have weird pieces of furniture in odds places. It needs to be a place you go and not be bothered by other people or outside noises as well. Of course, you'll can only make do with what you can. After about a week, start telling yourself you will have a lucid dream before you go to bed.

Now spend several days learning to recall your dreams. Basically what I do when I first wake (if you wake up at a regular time, start at least 10 minutes earlier to give yourself time) I lay in bed, I don't open my eyes and I try my best to remember as many details as possible starting backwards from my dream - what I dreamed of last to what I dreamed of first. I litterally try to replay the dream in my mind event by event backwards and then forwards until I have it commited to memory. Then I get up and jot it down in the journal. It is crittical to write in your journal every day as early in the day as possible. This journal alone largely increases the odds of having more LCDs.

Now to summerize the rest of the progressive awareness technique works on the basis of "reality checks" while you are wake. Dream incubation, roleplaying/reharsal, using media to induce theme specific dreams, challenge "scary" themese within dreams and learning how to retain awareness and achieve total lucidity. Reality checks are just that, every time you think about it ask yourself "am I awake? Or asleep?" Consider what is around you, what you are doing, even write it down in your journal. Dream incubation is wher eyou induce specific themes in your dreams by using mundane objects and pictures and placing them in your dream temple. This tells the mind what to dream about. Reharsal is where you script out a desired dream and reinact it while you are awake. Then you can use movies or cartoons and fall asleep while watching them to dream about the movie. Eventually you learn to confront dark corners, and entities within your dreams to learn what they really represent (repressed memories). And finally you work towards greater levels of dream awareness.

"Drug induced LCDs"
Finally we have the intoxication method. Its pretty simple, one uses a relaxing mind altering substance, in doses that are not so great one falls asleep but not in so low doses that one cannot feel the affects, to induce a lucid dream. Of course to me this technique is cutting corners and possibliy dangerous with the wrong substances. I would not recomend using any kind of stimulants or hard opiates like heroin. Opiates can be used but because of their addictive nature I highly suggest against it. Besides its kind of one those drugs where you think you took a low dose and suddenly find yourself totally wasted. I have had success using marijuana, alcohol and low dose seditives like percocet, seroquel and tylenol PM. With the exception of the tylenol, the doses I took were like 25 mg and just one pill. Marijuana has been the most common substance I've used. It is useful in that it is also a hallucinogen and from my experience has created some very vivid and wild dreams.

Several problems with drugs and LCDs, one drugs do not allow the mind to be trained to induce LCDs. IN fact over use can damage the brain (even in low doses) and totally prevent one from successfully ever having LCDs (amung a whole slew of other health problems). The other affect is that while one may experience awareness in a dream like state, really they are just loaded and seldom can one really control the dream. Thats not to say that drugs and dreaming cannot have a spiritual impact. While this technique is the least recommended if you are an avid dreamer and want a spiritual experience if you can find an expert, like a shaman or priest, intoxicants can be used successfully and with incredible results. But I can't over state the need for caution.

These are all the techniques I am aware of. Most of these are things I've just experimented on my own with and didn't even know they existed until I studied them in college.

Key themes to recognize and utilize:
1. Dream Journal - Absolutely essential. It increases your ability to recall dreams and your over all awareness. You don't have to write a book on each dream. You can use pictures or just phrases. I would keep it dated though. This journal will also allow you to recognize common trends within your dreams and allow you to interpret them as they relate to your life. It is a very powerful tool.

2. Recall - Your ability to record your dreams is limmited by your ability to remember them. By simply telling yourself you will remember your dreams before you sleep, you will eventually learn to remember more of them.

3. Consistancy - You must recall and record dreams as often as possible, prefferably with as much detail as you can muster. If you are not consistant you can condition your mind to do the exact opposite of what you want and you will adapt your efforts and learn to sleep as you did prior to practicing a given technique. You do not need to practice any given technique everyday, but the journaling is essential.

4. Your sleeping space matters! - Reread the paragraph on the dream temple under the progressive awareness technique section - it matters.

5. Mix and match - You don't have to use just one technique. You can try any of them and you can mix elememts from one and other.

6. Practice and patients - To really get good at having lucid dreams you have to not only be consistant but patient. It took me about 6 months to really learn how to have LCDs, let alone control them. Some people may take less time, other may take more.

7. Limmitation - Never neglect to record your dreams if you can help it. But designate 1 - 3 days of the week where you do not intentionlly practice a given technique. This allows your mind to adjust and helps ensure you do get normal REM sleep. Besides you will likely start to notice that you find yourself in the midst of LCDs without meaning to.

8. Have fun! - Getting good at lucid dreaming is not about following some riggid routine as though it were homework or a chore. If you want to be successful you have to want to be successful (as in LCDs actually interest you) and you need to be willing to enjoy your dreams. Sure there are some scary ones but those can be the most fun to explore too.

9. RELAX - Having a full blown lucid dream is sort of like a drug trip, only you don't OD or hurt anything. One of the biggest reasons people fail at having regular LCDs is because of the anticipation and expection to have them. Let them happen. You can't force LCDs.

10. Experiment! - Go ahead and indulge in your wildest fantacies there are no laws inside your head. Maybe you have a boss you don't like; go ahead kick his ass! Sure there are serious uses for dreaming, but while you're learning to be good at it you should be able to experiment with what ever you fancy.

This post has been edited by Acid09: Dec 19 2007, 07:46 PM


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Acid09
post Dec 21 2007, 07:14 PM
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I forgot to add the meditation technique.

In hindu and buddhism mystics incorperate complex rituals and mantras (chants). But this technique is not so esoteric.

There three main points to be clear about - meditation, visualization and setting.

Basic meditation is simple enough. You get yourself into a comfortable position, you close your eyes and gradually supress all thoughts until you are calm and focused, with a quiet mind. Maintaining this state does take practice. Physiologically you should notice that your heart rate and breathing has slowed down. Normally you want to dedicate about a minimum of 20 min for each sitting. As you get better at this you will be able to last longer and experience deeper meditative states.

Visualization is basically seeing with your eye's closed. Its different from imagination in that you are actually seeing things, and not just imagining them inside your head.

While in a solid meditative state (I would be lying down, myself) focus as though you were looking across an ocean or dessert. Mind you your eyes are still closed. But what you should see is solid darkness with occassional bits and pieces of images. Focus on these. This also takes practice, as in weeks. But you should see some effect within just a few days. The point of this is to eventually be able to visualize clear, solid objects and be able to manipulate them as well.

Visualization is a lot like day dreaming as well. One technique I have used incorperates a land scape image. Find a picture that is appealing and full of colors (this stimulates your visual cortex and allows you to retain images). Spend at least a few minutes gazing at the picture and really focus on the details, is it just a land scape?, are there any structures? (an urban sprawl will work too) people/animals? Really look at whats going on.

Once you have the picture in your head begin to meditate, after you've reached a point where you are very relaxed and focused, try to conjure the picture and try to interact with it. Your mind needs to be focused on this effort. If your mind is else where it will ruin this.

With meditation and visualization combined you should eventually be able to induce a full blown lucid dream and it should be the kind that is very intense where you have total control.

Setting is the last factor and its where you practice (this is true for any technique). It needs to be quiet from outside distractions, it needs to be relaxing/calming, you may incorperate insense or mild fragrance, soft music can also be used. With the music I would suggest not using something thats overly bassy, loud, chaotic etc etc. But it can be of any genre.

At the end of each practice you should write down what you experienced as though it were a dream, even if you didn't actually fall into a dream state.

Meditation alone prior to sleep can greatly increase the odds of having an LCD, especially if you focus on the idea of dream awareness and what you intend to dream about.


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Acid09
post Feb 25 2008, 09:32 PM
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Dream interpretation: part 1
When it comes to understanding dreams from a western perspective most psychologist draw off the foundational works of Freud and his pupil Jung (pronounced Young, just incase readers don't know).

Freud is most known for focusing on free association. He believed dreams could be given meaning if people learn to recognize dream symbols and free associate (or write down random thoughts that come up when one thinks about a specific symbol or image). A variation of free association is where a person writes down their dream, double spacing, and then goes back and rewrites the dream with the random thoughts that can be drawn from the symbols. He was also big on the notion that dreams largely stem from childhood and that sexuality plays a major role in our dreams. For example he believe to dream of your mother signified unresolved desires to have sex with her from childhood and that to dream of your father represented jealously since the father was the dominant male figure. Today Freud is often used as an authority in dream except in his contributions of free association and the psycho-analytic perspective.

Jung is credited more so for his contribution to our understanding of dreams and improved upon Freud's work. Jung believed that the meaning of dreams was found through introspection and using questions that consider how we *are* the symbols in the dreams. For example say a person dreams of their father. Under Jung's reasoning a person would use itnrospection to question how the father they drempt of, is a representation of the dreamer him or herself. Thus dreaming of one's father may represent core values instilled from an early age. Jung believed it was important to consider the negative as well as positive aspects of a given symbol. Dreaming of one's father might represent good qualities like core values, it might also represent bad ones like dead beat or alcoholic. This reflects how he believed each person had their own dream dialogue, where the meaning of symbols vary from one to another. He introduced concepts of achetypes (or alters, as in alternate egos) and typology. Archetypes, as relavent to dreams, are humanistic representations of thoughts, desires, memories, emotions, the ego (or self-identity) and personality. Thus each dream symbol, especially people we dream about, can correspond to an aspect of one's overall being. Typology, for the purposes of this thread, is simply the idea that while symbols can have similar meanings from one person to another, even across cultures, each person is a specific kind or type of dreamer and dream meanings varies by person to person. In away, dreams can mean whatever a person wants them to mean. Finally Jung found it important to consider the duality of dreams, or the feminine and masculine aspects. He believed that every one has both qualities. While in most men their masculine side domminates as does the feminine side in women, both sexes have both qualities to some extent. So when you dream of symbols consider wheather or not it is masculine or feminine as this will make it easier to relate to your overall identity.

For example think of the word child and just jot down some ideas that come to mind. Some of you will think of things like playful, innocent, curious and learners. While others of you may think immature, burden, undiscilpined, impressionable and so on. At the same time many others who think of the word child will have ideas that overlap. This is because each person thinks of ideas based on their personallity type. For this thread it is not necessary to look at each personality type as long as readers understand that it is only relavent to know their own personality in order to interpret their own dreams.
With these concepts in mind I believe it is possible for anyone, of any culture, to interpret their own dreams with stark accuracy.

Both Jung and Freud agreed that in order to really understand dreams one needs to be able to recall them in the first place. And the tool paramount to doing this is the dream journal. It is not necessary, but it is a VERY powerful tool and highly recomended even if the first few dreams written down are nothing more than a few sentances about sensations and partial images.

Dreams are like stories. They have all the same elements and they play like movies where we are often times the star (or villain) of our own show. And like stories they reflect ourselves, who we are as individuals, our values and desires. The meanings we derive from stories also varies. In school we are hand fed the meanings of great stories like Macbeth or the Great Gatsby. But there is no singular meaning to any given dream. Some think that reoccuring dreams, although may represent similar themes and contexts, may have their own individual meaning for the given circumstances.

Characters - archetypes within the dream representing aspects of our inner ego.

Theme - day time vs. night. Mood can be a theme, a place in time like childhood vs. the future can be themes. Themes can overlap in different settings. For example some dreams that take place at home can be from your
childhood and so can dreams that take place at your old elementary school.

Plot - what actually happens in it and its genre, like comedy vs. tragedy.

Setting - where the dream takes place. As you learn more about your own dreams you'll realize that setting can change and when the setting changes often so does the meaning.

Climax - events leading through "conflict", or changes, don't have to be negative or upsetting they can be very pleasant, but these events build up to a final point (I call it a punch line).

Resolution - after the climax of the dream it follows events leading to an ending point, usually to when you wake up but also to a new dream.

Understand that while these are key features of any story, in a dream it might be difficult to identify certain things. Like there may be characters you know are there but never get to see or they are distorted (like shadows or blurs). Or you may dream of a place you don't know of. Do not ignore writting these details down, just describe them and take notes about them, they may manifest later. Some think these symbols may be things that are either suppressed or we not consciously ready to know what they mean.

Meaning - the meaning of the dream is determine by its contexts and how one interprets the symbolism within it. Kind in mind that will symbols pretty much anything you can describe (even if you describe it as indescribable) can be considered a symbol. The context of the dream is how you apply it to your life - is it about your past, presant or future. The context of the dream can related to a pattern or trend of dreams and can be related to the theme. Multiple dreams with similar symbols and themes probably draw from the same context and have similar meanings too. While Freud and Jung pioneered dream interpretation in western culture, they are by no means the limit. I believe dreams don't have to symbols only internal things, but external as well. I think it is important for anyone who is looking for meaning to consider not only the positive and negative things of a symbol, but also internal and possibly external sources.

So to put it all together:

1. Record your dreams in as much detail as possible and identify the symbols - remember this can be anything. Archtypes are most pronounced through people, but they are not limited to that. Ask yourself how do you factor into the dream? What is your role? People dream as though they are themself in the first person where they are directly involved in the dream. They dream in the third person and the "camera" or the view point is more like from that of an observer. Or they dream of themself as a different person, even a different gender from the first or 3rd point of view.

2. Find the key elements of a dream - plot (how the symbols interact with one another), setting, climax and resolution. Consider the relationship of symbols to one and other. Don't forget about the dual gender polarity symbols often have. Was the dream pleasant? Or terrifying? An interesting fact that many dream psychologist agree on is that just because you have a bad dream doesn't mean that it means there are bad things meant by it. And likewise, a pleasant dream can be pointing towards something of concern. The theory is that the mind only produces bad dreams do to supressed thoughts, memories, desires and emotions. So if you are not under a lot of stress, no severe trauma or mental disorder, the vast majority of your dreams should not be nightmarish.

3. Finally and probably the most difficult part is trying to relate all the symbols, themes, archetypes etc etc. There really is no right or wrong answer as to what dreams mean. And don't get discouraged if a particular symbol has you stumped. While they may not be for everybody, dream dictionairies can give insight into what symbolism means. Of course its probably best to use whatever resources that pertain the most to your culture.


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Acid09
post Mar 6 2008, 10:23 PM
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Sample dream interpretation

My Dream:

I was dreaming I was in my old house. It was empty and I noticed the white walls and brown carpets. I am standing in the kitchen and I let my dog in from the back yard. But instead my dog, a giant ferret waddles in. Same coloration as my dog, she's just a ferret. I am trying to pet the ferret and for some reason it seems timid towards me. I ask it "whats wrong with you?". My aunt picks it up and when she picks it up, it becomes more receptive towards me and even wags its tail and pants like a dog.

Now I'm in the living room and I pick up my back pack. As I do I actually grab two bags. For some reason it seems normal to be carrying two backpacks on my shoulder. They both look like the same back pack I use. I turn to leave and say so long to my aunt. As I am walking down the stairs I turn around because I think I have forgotten something. But when I try to get back in the door is locked. I don't have my cell phone or even car, which I actually have both. I walk out and I see my neighbor's youngest daughter. Apperantly she is suppose to be giving me a ride to class at the college. Its at this time I notice the weather of dream. It is cloudy, cold and seems like early spring beause the grass is a vibrant green. I walk over to Alex's house where her car is parked in the front drive way. She emerges from her car and informs me that her older's sister's boyfriend is suppose to take instead. She wakes into her house and gets him and he and a friend emerge. I do not recognize either of the two boys. I know they are younger (highschool age) and they act their age. They come off as very immature. They walk down to an old brown truck, perhaps from the mid to late 80's and get in. I through my backpacks in the middle between the two and walk back to my house. I have realized that I have no ride back and I wanted to go call a friend to make sure I had one. What stuck out to me at this moment was that I actually left my two backpacks there with these two strangers I did not know or trust. When I walk to the door and knock I hear dogs barking. Each knock is not a banging like you'd expect, but instead sounded like a dog's bark. I then awoke to the sound of my neighbor's dogs barking.

My Interpretation:

In order to understand the meaning of this dream I need to brake it down into its basic story elements. So very plainly I make a list:

Plot: (just paraphrase the dream) I am at my old home. My dog is a ferret. I am going school for class with two backpacks. My neighbor is giving me a ride, but instead her sister's boyfriend does. I walk off to find a ride back home.

Setting: My old home and my neighbor's front yard.

Characters (include other symbols as well): myself, my ferret/dog, my aunt, Alex, her sister's boyfriend and his friend. Other symbols - two back packs, my old house - empty, cold weather, green grass, alex's car, the truck, going to the college

Climax: After trying to get a ride to school I realize I need a ride back. (not very dramatic)

Resolution: I leave the truck to find a ride back from the college.

Meaning:

Now I just run through the list and place a meaning to each of the characters and symbols and simply weave them together. Myself - represents my center ego, acting observer and lead character in the dream. My dog as a ferret may represent deception because my dog is suppose to be a dog, but she appears like a ferret. She also seems to distrust me, which may mean that I do not trust a part of myself or that I feel I am not trust worthy on some level.

Carrying one backpack would symbolize personal/emotional baggage. Since I am carrying two I am really carrying twice the load, weather by choice or necessity is not clear. My aunt probably represents my caring and protective nature. The empty house represents my overall self, as I am entirely and the emptiness may represent a feeling of loss or like something is missing (which I did just move so that makes sense). When I left the first time, by trying to get back in probably means I wanted to make sure I didn't leave something behind, as though maybe there is something I did, but I don't know what because I cannot remember it.

Leaving to go to the college symbolizes exploring options around myself, rather than in myself, to learn something (probably about either why I feel empty in the dream, or how to fix it) The green grass symbolizes feeling lively and full of energy. This is in contrast to the cold weather, which may symbolize hard times. My neighbor's daught Alex probably represents the unreliable side of myself. She came off as though she was suppose to give me the ride, but didn't. Her combined with her car both could mean that I am not suppose to take that ride, that is not right for me.

The two boys who I don't know probably represent manifestations of my own immature self. The old truck means the vehicle of choice is something I know best and both the boys and the old truck combined probably mean I am facing a situation in an immature way hoping to learn something so that I don't feel empty inside. By leaving the truck to find a ride back I am acting dependantly. In real life I would just drive myself. But the need for a ride, both ways, could indicate part of myself that is at least reliant on others for support.

So what I have here is an interpretation or each of the characters and symbols. While I can see there are many meanings, there is no single meaning to the dream overall. No fortune in the fortune cookie so to speak. So now I relook at the dream and instead of seeing it in terms of symbols and characters I can see it in terms of meanings that are like pieces of a puzzle that fit together. The thing about dreams is there really can be multiple meanings. It just all depends how you look at it. And almost always, at least in part, if someone else were to tell you their meaning for your dream, it'd also come out differently.

Overall meaning:
By looking at the meanings of the symbols and interactions between them, instead of the content itself, I can piece together an overall meaning: Facing situations where I may be self-deceptive (ferret) about the emptiness (old house) I feel inside from lossing my home and while live is fair (the green grass) I am facing tough times (weather). I am also carrying heavy burdens (the two backpacks) and want to search for ways to fix or handle it (going to school). I look inwards in myself for answers on which direction to go. At first I am facing the situation with the part of me that is unreliable, perhaps acting more emotionally than normal (Alex/her car). But taking this route doesn't work. Instead I go with what has worked for a long time (the old truck) and to take the immature route (expressed by the two boys), which is to rely on others (explaining the absents of my own car). Before going down this path I make sure I can find my way back when the time is right (getting out of the truck and looking for a new ride)

Now of course this interpretation can apply to my life in any number of ways. Sometimes dreams are really talking about multiple issues within life. In my case I did just recently move. I have been feeling a little home sick and have been seeking knowledge to get over this. By doing so I have turned towards friends and family for support. I don't think I have done it in an "immature" way though.

In the near future I'll add other dreams using different techniques. But this one is probably the most thorough way I know of so far.


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Acid09
post Jun 2 2008, 07:19 PM
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Why your dreams don't mean anything:

First started in the 1950's, scientific studies involving sensory deprivation found something startling. When the human mind is unable to sense anything for a long enough period of time it begins to form its own reality - it hallucinates. And very real, often frightening hallucinations at all that. The first such experiments were carried out in water chambers. Later in preasurized capsules - sensory deprivation chambers. It was found that after just a few hours the mind began to hallucinate and that prolonged sensory deprivation could provoke long term psychosis, sometimes permanently. However sensory deprivation is still a useful tool in metacognitive therapy and biofeed back therapy.

What does any of this have to do with dreams and dreaming? What those studies demonstrated was that it was possible to provoke the brain to produce dream like imagery and sensations while it was still awake. And when I mean people in these experiments hallucinated I mean they would do things like try to swim like a frog or scream histerically as they thought they were falling or try to run believing they were being chased by a monster - very dream like. What this says about the human psyche is that the brain tries to make sense of reality as best as it can through the sensations it experiences. The experiments showed that the brain needs stimuli to maintain a coherant sense of reality. If the brain does not have enough sensory stimuli it breaks down and starts to make up its own reality. This results in psychotic behavior. The amazing thing was that EEG readings showed that even though the subjects in these studies were wide awake, their brain wave patterns mimicked those of the sleep cycle, especially the N2, N3 and REM phases.

(the sleep cycle goes as follows : N1, N2, N3, N4, N3, N2, REM, lasting about 90 minutes, give or take).

So if people have dreams because they really do serve some kind of meaningful function why would people have such frieghtening experiences in a labratory? Well first off when people dream they are "under" or out cold, unconcsious. The misconseption is that the brain is essentially turned off. Fact is the brain remains active at all times and goes through different stages of activity all the time, for many different reasons. The only part of the brain that is "turned off" is the cognitive part of higher awareness. Yet even this remains active to an extent.

Why do we dream at all?
Short answer, we really don't know why. But we do know that we must sleep in order to live. Dreams in and of themselves are nothing more than the brains reaction to being asleep. Its how it tries to continue to maintain an understanding of reality based on sensory persception.

One way to look at it is that dreams are not a function of sleep but rather a reaction to it, much the same way people react to prolonged sensory deprivation by producing hallucinations. When your brain is reacting to the sleep process it is not producing dreams to tell you a hidden message, it is simply trying to do what it was genetically hard wired to do - make sense of reality through sensory perception. During sleep neurons randomly fire through out the brain stimulating any number of senstations and memories - dreams. Again the brain is not shut off, just in an altered state of mind. If you did not having dreams, you would be in a coma.

Thus dreams are just how the mind percieves its reality while in the altered state of mind that sleep produces. However that doesn't mean we cannot ascribe meaning to dreams or that dreams do not reflect the inner workings of one's psyche.

This post has been edited by Acid09: Jun 2 2008, 07:22 PM


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Acid09
post Jun 2 2008, 08:08 PM
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The Sleep Cycle
The reason this post is important to this thread is because by understanding the sleep process you can further learn to control, manipulate and benefit from your dreams.

As previously stated the sleep cycle goes as follows - N1, N2, N3, N4, N3, N2, REM ('N' stands for non-rapid-eye movement, or NREM). For most people a single cycle lasts about 90 minutes, give or take. Factors like age, drugs/alcohol, mental conditions, sleep disorders, genetics and so forth can all influence one's sleep cycle.

The following is a picture of the various brain waves as monitored by an EEG (Electroencephalography - say that ten times fast (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif) ) machine:
(IMG:http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i246/Acid9/Psychology/valovi.gif)
If the picture does not show you may viewit from its direct link here:
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i246/Aci...logy/valovi.gif

Note the differences in the various brain waves. Beta waves are what the normal waking mind experiences. This is the most common brain wave, what people experience the vast majority of their waking lives. Alpha waves are measured when a person is wake and alert, but relaxed. Theta waves are what a person would experience during deep meditation. Theta waves are associated with deep creativity and cognitive ability. It is also when the brain can visualize objects and produces sensation easily. Note that gamma waves are also associated with higher mental faculties, deep concentration, relaxation, creativity and ability. But for the most part they are not measured during the sleep cycle, though some researchers have started to include them. Delta waves occur during deep sleep. During deep sleep one is very hard to awaken.

Each human has an internal mechanism called the circadian rhythm based roughly on a 24 hour clock. This basically tells us when its time to go to bed and when to wake up. This is an important thing to remember as it can be a useful tool to manipulate your sleep cycle to produce more vivid and lucid dreams.

So when a person gets tired (their circadian rhythm) is telling the brain its time to go to bed, the brain starts to release melatonin (neurotransmitter that makes people sleep). At this point as a person lays down they start to shift from their waking beta state to the relaxed alpha. One May read a little out of a book, close their eyes and think of their day or whats going on tommarow. Eventually they get tired enough to let go of there thoughts (not unlike what a person is taught to do during meditation). This is the theta state (N1, N2 phases) and one is very relaxed at this point. During this time one readily experiences visuals, even sounds. People often report random twitches or "knee jerks" and heart palpitations as well. Then the mind falls asleep. It is at this point that dreaming really begins, though through these initial stages dreams are not often remembered except in part perhaps.

Then the mind shifts from showing theta waves to delta waves. The N3 phase of sleep can produce intense dreams but again they are harder to remember. During the N4 phase the mind is in deep sleep. This is where any number of parasomnias can manifest - snoring, sleep walking, drooling, night terrors etc etc. Still the mind is dreaming, its just the conscious mind is unaware of most of the content. After this the mind fades back to the N3 and N2 phases as though it was about to waken but then instead the mind enters REM sleep. This is not deep sleep, you can wake a person relatively easily at this time. But during this stage, as mention repeatedly before, is when the most intense and vivid dreams occur. This is when the brain seems to mix and match brain waves as an EEG machine would show. What is really happening is that the brain is stimulating multiple areas of the brain, randomly. Then the mind goes back through the stages of sleep all over again. Generally 4-6 times a night.

By keeping a dream journal or just making a mental note of your dreams, you can begin to identify when during your sleep they occur. If you identify when you have the most vivid dreams you can alter your circadian rhythm to allow you to take advantage of those times. To mess with your circadian rhythm, the easiest way is set your alarm about 20 minutes earlier than normal. When it goes off hit the snooze botton and allow yourself to drift back to sleep. For many people this time during the morning is when they can experience the most vivid and lucid dreams.

Again, the more you know about something the more you can influence or control it. When developing skills as a dreamer it is important to learn as much as possible to gain further awareness. A simple technique to increase your overall awareness, not just during your dreams is to simply take a few minutes several times a day and compare your waking life to that of your dreams. Do this for even several days and you should notice a difference in how you percieve the world around you.


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Acid09
post Jun 4 2008, 07:05 PM
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Dream Recall

This should have been my second or third post in this thread. Dream recall is paramount to any attempt at gaining greater awareness of what you dream about when you sleep.

Essentially what it comes down to IS awareness. The more aware you are about something the more details of it get files away. Therefore by simply thinking about dreams and dreaming, be they your own or just the concept will improve your ability to recall dreams.

The biggest thing that will help you recall dreams is a journal of some sort. It can be online, it can be off a cell phone, prefferably written. You can make it as detailed as you want. You can even include drawings and photos. But even just jotting down several sentances is better than nothing. What a journal does is act as what psychologist reffer to as an anchor. It draws the sub-conscious mind in and makes it focus on the topic, or intent of the journal - record dreams. In order for your journal to work as an anchor it is best if it is right next to each night before you go to bed, even under your pillow. This signals intent and causes your brain to retain more information from your dreams. It is best to record as many dreams as you can each time you wake up and in as much detail as you can. But even once a day is better than nothing.

The journal is just the written form of your dreams. Recall itself is an exercise in its own right. What I do to recall my dreams is when I wake up I don't even open my eyes if I can help it. I just lay on my back and think about what I drempt of that night. I just let the images come to, its almost like meditation. What helps me is if I remember the dream backwards from the way it happened. Sort of like a rewind botton. But it might help you if you start from the begining instead. There is no one way to do this. I spend about ten minutes or so remembering as many details as I can until I have them commited to memory. Then I write them down. Yes 'them'. As you gain more awareness of your dreams you'll start to notice that you have many in one night. You will also notice a higher frequency of lucid dreams. In fact from my own experience recalling them this way, I've many times fallen back to sleep and found myself in very vivid and intense lucid dreams. Sometimes the dreams just pick up where I left off when I woke up, like a marker in a book that keeps your place.

Next trick is to use reality checks - when awake just ask yourself if you are dreaming and look around your surroundings and just consider how your dreams might reflect them.


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leech
post Jan 13 2009, 10:42 PM
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What a cornucopia of information! I was very pleased and intrigued by your insights. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/spoton.gif)
I have been working with my dreams and journaling for close to a year now. I've always been skeptical of the directive and clear cut ways dream dictionaries presented personal interpretations for the masses. When beginning my adventures in dreaming, I read Living Your Dreams by Gayle M. Delaney. The core of this book is focused on beginning and keeping a dream journal but also includes personal dream interpretation through interviewing, dream incubation, lucid dreaming, and other dream phenomena such as OBEs.
Your dream interpretation techniques are very well thought out. I adore the way you break down your dreams for realization of significant symbols presented in dream production. My concern however, is how an inexperienced dream producer could keep themselves from self sabotage through misinterpretation? In your personal interpretation, it seemed very easy for you to recognize your own symbolism. For those just beginning, they may find themselves struggling with certain symbolism, as you mentioned. By breaking symbols down further and questioning yourself about each specific symbol, you gain further understanding not only of what your dreams are telling but also, a broader perspective of the foundations unconsciously created through life experience. In the book mentioned above, the dream interview method is conducted more as an "alien observer." For example, you dreamed your dog was a ferret. As an "alien observer" you completely eliminate basic human knowledge and ask yourself what a ferret actually is. By answering this question, you can see the conclusions you draw from human experience. Maybe as a kid, you were attacked by a ferret therefore, you associate ferrets as fearful, sneaky, or harmful animals. Others may have had good experiences with ferrets and see them as playful pets and nothing more. I especially find this useful when in discussing dreams in pairs or groups. When you are completely objective, you allow the dreamer to draw their own conclusions while not straying from the meaning of symbolism.
I just wanted to offer a further breakdown for those beginning, get your opinion on the matter, as well as offer a good, well researched read on the subject.

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Acid09
post Jan 20 2009, 09:08 PM
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The only experience I had with ferrets personally was with one of my fifth grade teachers who had a couple as class pets. I can't remember their names but they were adorable and very gental, albeit stinky, creatures. So if that's the case then within the context of my dream then the ferrets would mean something pleasant.

You also brought up several good points. Within the realm of dream interpretation Freud is often qouted by saying "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". What he meant was there are so many different icons and symbols within dreams and that the content can be so complex and enriched with so many details that its nearly impossible or simply impractical to break down every detail. Further more Freud meant that you don't need to define or explain everything within your dreams. What matters is that you find a context, as in a way to look at your dream as though it were a movie or play. As with any movie or tv show you don't care about the people in the back round its all about the main characters and what they are doing, how they are interacting and what they are interacting with.

People new to interpreting dreams often do one of two mistakes - they over complicate the process by looking at too many unimportant details or they over simplify their interpretations and ignore important details. An example of over complicating dreams would actually probably be the example I showed myself. The reason I shared an extensive example is merely to serve as an example and help readers understand the process. An example of over simplifing a dream is by simply looking up things in a dream dictionary, label definitions to those things and have that be the end of it.

The purpose of dream interpretations is not to know that dreaming of your dad means you're dreaming of masculine issues. That is trivial. The point is to find an underlying message. What is your subconscious really trying to tell you? So when you look at individual symbols its important to try to associate other sensations you experience and then apply them to other symbols in order to make a "big picture" from which you can find a message. It is certainly possible that dreams can have mutliple meanings, in fact I'm sure dreams can have countless meanings depending on how you look at them.

The subconcsious mind is at a disadvantage. It thinks and feels and has desires but unlike the higher mind, it cannot simply express those things through art or direct talking. And do not think of the higher and lower mind as seperate, but rather the same on different levels. Both make up the whole of an individual. Dreams act as a sort of dialog and through metaphorical symbolism (not just of objects but all senstations and even ideas) attempts to express deep down emotions that a person may or may not be aware of.

One way to look at it is like this: Imagine if you could experience everything around you at the same time. You could hear everything, seeing all different colors at once, feel everything touching your skin, smell everything near by. Really imagine what it would be like to be consciously aware of all those sensations. As a human being you couldn't make sense of it all. It'd just be too mind boggling. As humans, as complex creatures, we have evolved to have brains that filter the unimportant back round stuff and allow ourselves the ability to focus on finite things around us, things that are affecting and stimulating us. On a psychological level, the same filtering mechanism is working. Imagine stopping to think about every thought and feeling you have in a day and think about how it makes you feel, how that reflects upon your desires and out look in life. You litterally have up to hundreds of thoughts in a minute. There is no way you could ponder everything you're pondering it'd be metacognition in hyper drive. At the same time most of the information is stored in the brain - just not on a conscious level. Thus when a person dreams they are essentially working through those thoughts that were otherwise pushed aside by the higher mind. - so the theory goes. Again, at least that I am aware of, there is no one single reason why we dream. And overall dreaming is still a mystery in many ways.

Still we can find hidden messages through dreams. Messages that can truly be beneficial in so many different ways. Really that is what dream interpretation is all about - unlocking hidden knowledge and exploring ourselves from within. In that respect there is no one definition to any one single symbol within a dream. Its all connotative and relative only to the individual as they percieve the symbol within the context of the dream. In other words people experience symbolism within their dreams, but the same symbol does not have the same meaning from one person to the next. Not only that, but to truly understand the meaning of a dream, a person needs to be able to piece together multiple symbols into a sort of narrative and read like a script for a movie. Then understanding dreams is merely how it relates to each person.


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openthepath
post Aug 2 2009, 01:39 PM
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Acid09..This has been a great read for me. I've joined this forum just a while ago, browsing and reading comments here and there. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/ohyeah.gif)
Your insight on dream magick is certainly a wealth of information. The dreams I have almost always comes true, the way they were dreamt,
Lately I have been having more as i went deeper on my self journey. I wondered if I could understand them more and this has certainly
shed more light on my situation.

This is my first post. But i'm looking forward to more of the many insights and understanding into the occult/majick on the sacred-magick
board.

Thanks! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/ac42.gif)

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