Dream Journaling and Problem Solving Among Living Creatures
First I’ll discuss journaling dreams to help grasp their meaning. Then I’ll examine the problem solving aspect of dreams among animals and insects.
Think about your recent dreams. Do you recall dreams where you had really good experiences?
Those dreams can actually give us peace of mind, especially when we're lacking emotionally happy events. It’s our brains way of making sense of whatever is troubling us.
Dreams can also help us make examine issues when we are feeling confused. This is also the same process that helps us solve difficult problems.
So what do the events in our dreams mean? What is our brain trying too achieve as it pieces together a somewhat meaningless series of events? Is our mind trying to organize misplaced thoughts?
There are many dream interpretation guides around. But your dreams may have a totally different meaning for you than my dreams have for me.
The obscure events in our dreams can’t always be revealed with definite explanations. So it would be meaningless for me to give a specific answer to the question: What do our dreams tell us?
I'll show you how you can analyze your cryptic dreams. This is a result of an experiment I tried. And it may help discover how our subconscious mind is trying to organize thoughts that have become misplaced in our daily lives.
How to Keep Track of Your Dreams with a Journal
I decided to write down everything I remembered from a dream the moment I woke up, so I wouldn't forget it.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night. I find this to be the best time of the night to remember a dream, since I had the last one just before waking.
If we don’t wake up in the middle of the night, but rather sleep through the entire night, then when we wake up in the morning we usually don’t have a recollection of any dreams. This might be because one usually dreams in the middle of the night, the time when REM sleep is at its peak. This period of our dream cycle usually ends long before we wake up. But this may vary with each individual.
We have a better chance of remembering dreams if we are fortunate enough to wake up during the dream, or soon afterwards.
However, two things make it difficult:
- We tend to forget our dream soon after waking.
- Active dreaming usually occurs long before we wake up.
By quickly writing down everything we remember from the last dream before we forget it, and doing so every time we wake up from a dream, we will create a journal of our dreams.
This journal will provide a story of our dreams that we can analyze at a later time. This can help to get a clue of what our dreams mean.
How to Grasp the Full Story of a Dream
Wait for those precious times when you wake up in the middle of the night. As I mentioned before, this is the time period where we are in our active dream cycle.
You may discover that you have a clearer memory of the last dream at this time. I think it’s because the dream was just happening. So it has a better chance of being available at a conscious level.
In order to remember the full extent of the dream, you need to lie there for awhile in the same position you were in when you woke up. While in this position, think about the dream you just had. If you move or shift your body, you will soon forget it.
If we remember any of our dreams, much of it may seem weird, or not connected with reality.
You might say that things are so off the wall in our dream experiences that we'd know we're in a dream. But the thing is: While we are dreaming and while we are the character in the scene, it all makes sense to us.
It's only when we awaken that we consider it to be total nonsense. But it's not. There is more meaning in all of it than we may ever know.
The Value of a Dream Journal and How to Create One
Your mind has been working on a problem, or on an issue that has been troubling you. A dream journal may provide answers, or enlighten you to things that you didn’t even know were on your mind.
It can provide an enormous awareness of concerns that you may subconsciously have had. Now you can give mindful attention to these issues, and maybe even resolve matters that were previously hidden from your conscious mind.
You may use a different routine that works for you, but I like to use my iPad. I leave my iPad next to my bed for this purpose.
Sometimes I wake up around 4 AM. And that is the time I usually come out of my sleep with a full recollection of the dream that was just occurring. So I lay there for a minute recalling the dream in as much detail as I can. Then I quickly take my iPad and type as much of it as I can remember.
I have three specific rules I made for this process:
- Try not to leave anything out.
- Don’t censor your dream.
- Don’t include analysis, just facts.
When you create a journal in this fashion, you can later review it. It is at that time when you can give thought to it and find hidden clues about what’s going on for you in your life.
Note that a journal does not include any form of interpretation. It’s just a storyline of a dream in linear sequence of how the dream occurred.
Your dream story may seem fragmented without any meaningful flow. That’s the way many dreams occur and must not be judged.
Interpretation can be done later when you review your journal. Maybe some connection will materialize over time as you add to it.
Hopefully you'll discover something you didn't realize was troubling you, something your mind was trying to work out in your dream state.
Dreams Can Contribute to Problem Solving
Sometimes something completely knew comes from a dream. Have you ever woken up from a good sleep; only to realize you have the solution to a problem you went to bed with?
Somehow our brain was working on that problem in our sleep. Neurons readjusted to form new connections in our brain that made the awareness of the solution clear when we awoke.
All this is manifested via dreams. We usually don't remember our dreams. But I can assure you that you do dream.
Psychologists say we would go insane if we don't dream. And tests have been done to prove that -- by waking a sleeping person each time they begin to display REM sleep. REM is Rapid Eye Movement that happens when we are dreaming.
How Are Dreams Different for Humans, Animals and Insects?
It is an accepted understanding that humans dream as a way of healing emotionally. Our brain is trying to work out a problem. It uses representations of everyday real things in our lives as it tries to satisfy interrelationships among all the unresolved issues we have.
Dreams are only required by forms of life that need to protect themselves from insanity, in my opinion. I never heard of an ant going insane.
Unresolved issues tend to leave disconnections in our brain cells. This is my way of describing this. As I see it, we dream in order to help those loose connections mend.
Dreams sure help with resolving issues when feeling confused, giving us peace of mind, and problem solving.
Through evolution humans developed intelligence that helps us survive (Although that can be argued). We need intelligence because we are the weak and feeble among all species, and dreaming is the time when the brain is working on problems and trying to make sense out of misunderstood issues.
We know from sleep research that dreams are important for our sanity, but what about other animals?
Dream States of Dogs, Cats, and Other Animals
We know that dogs and cats dream. They shake and twitch when they’re dreaming. But I think cats and dogs dream for different reasons than humans. They don't need to solve problems in their dreams as we sometimes do.
Nevertheless, dreams among the animal kingdom still serve a purpose. It possibly helps make sense out of experiences they’ve had. That’s something we have in common.
Insects Don’t Need to Dream
What about ants? Or bees? Do they dream? And if they do, what do they dream about? Do insects have nightmares of people stepping on them?
We really don't know for sure, but I would venture a guess that insects don't need to dream. They have it all under control by functioning on instinct.
An article in the Huffington Post suggests that if we dream of sweeping bugs under a rug, it means we want to ignore or end some annoyance in our life. Humans need to overcome disturbing issues in life an dreams sometimes help clear up those problems.
Any individual insect is not at all worried about its own welfare or its own demise. They are each simply a cog in the machinery or the entire colony. They are drones that function for the entire species. The advancement of the species is well defined in their genes.
Insects don't function on intelligence. They function on instinct. And for that reason they most likely don't need to dream to work out problems. All their activities are born into them instinctively.
Any creature that survives on instinct does not need any other tools to assure continued development. They don't need intelligence. And I'm thinking that they don't need to dream.
Insects do have a resting period. But they don’t go into a deep sleep. This has been determined in scientific studies. Insects may need to remain somewhat aware of their surroundings for survival purposes. So their sleep state is mostly just a resting state.
As I mentioned earlier, we know that REM sleep (the time when we have Rapid Eye Movement) is when we have our dreams. I can’t imagine how insects would be dreaming if they don’t even go into REM sleep.
Is Our Existence In The Universe Just a Dream?
I can’t resist considering the philosophical idea that everything is a dream, that nothing is real.
That would account for a lot of unanswered questions and mysteries of the Universe. It would leave an open door for anything to occur, since it’s all a dream anyway.
I once had a dream that I woke up and started my day. I got dressed, ate breakfast, and went to work. But then suddenly I woke up again and realized that I had only been dreaming that entire day.
Who’s to say that the second time waking was also just another dream within a dream?
A wild thought would be that we are just some sort of electric or chemical existence in the Universe and those electrical impulses or chemical reactions are forming the thought patterns that we experience as daily existence.
I may not be serious, but I do enjoy letting my mind entertain these far out thoughts. You never know, I might be on to something. Or maybe not. I might just be dreaming. After all, I’m human.
© 2014 Glenn Stok
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