One of the most compelling descriptions some have made about the nature of dreams is their homologous relationship to what's happening in waking life. I generally tend to believe that simply by virtue of having fervently studied something for more than a day or two. I will have nothing but dreams about whatever that may be. This has even occurred after writing hubs. I'll dream of nothing but writing hubs.
Another teleological description of dreams is that they are what you might characterize as the mind's attempt at solving problems and forgetting irrelevant details. But it can only do so with a certain degree of clarity or salience. What's more, dreams are often emotive. Likely due to the fact that we suppress our emotional responses on a regular basis, typically as a consequence of abiding by social norms. This is a pretty standard theory with regard to unconscious processes.
Strangely enough, I've had some unsettling, apocalyptic dreams as of late yet it's negatively correlated with what's happening to me in waking life. Over the last year, I've made some very meaningful strides in my life, not least significantly curbing a lifelong struggle with depression. Things are on the up and up and my dreams are telling me something different. Perhaps there is simply an unconscious fear that what I've gained and maintained will be taken from me at any given moment but I don't feel this type of angst even when I look for it during meditation or by the effort of conscious inventory. I suppose that's why unconscious influences are defined as existing below the level of awareness, however, most of the time I can at least detect some rustling beneath the leaves. It's not always obvious that dreams are bound by a set of rules that have anything to do with anything.
I feel dreams do have a purpose, end of the day they too are triggered biochemical process inside our CPU. But, then again, not every dream is relevant and even those that are, appear to be seemingly stupid at times. Like the one you mentioned in the begining, the dreams about your certain obsessions or about the the daily chores or a confused mix of them. Those I feel is, often the mind flushing out irrelevant information to free up more RAM
Decoding a dream is the interesting and tricky part, it is more like a case study. A necessary sin nonetheless, when it comes to recurring dreams.
I can't argue with that. It would seem preposterous for anyone else to legitimately weigh in on what might be occurring in my little nook of the cosmos.
What's even more strange is that dreams seem to happen to us rather than us having them. Who know's what ot make of that?
I hope (that is, an earnest expectation) to comment later on your observations, but I would like to congratulate you right now on your victory with depression. How you have achieved this victory is none of my business, but you must consider it to be a major milestone no matter what. I too have had several bouts with “situational depression” in my lifetime, so I can identify with you.
I strongly believe that some depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and might require medication. However, there is another site to the coin as well. Living life backwards, my bouts of depression were all caused by having “depressing thoughts” for three minutes, three hours, three days, three weeks, etc. before the actual manifestation of the depression itself. In essence, I planted a toxic seed into my mind (depressing thoughts on whatever or whomever was bothering me) and the net result was full-blown depression with all of its unpleasant symptoms.
I have also learned the hard way to avoid (if possible) “slippery” people, places, and situations that could ultimately cause depressing thoughts.
Thanks for sharing your unique experience with that and I say "unique" because depression seems to manifest itself in a multitude of ways depending on the person and, yes, your biochemistry.
Couple things there, sometimes we have to differentiate between a psychological state or just simply tragic circumstances. Sure the two interact with each other but when someone is upset because they lost their job and a loved one dies on the same day, it's not quite obvious that this is only a psychological problem. Chaos intervenes. Sadness, guilt, shame, and anxiety are all natural and appropriate responses to tragedy.
Secondly, I believe you're correct about chemical imbalances but the biggest problem with that is no one knows what the ideal balance of neurochemicals actually is. Many different things influence states of experience: hormones, environment, experiences, genes, culture and so on.
It wasn't until recently that I discovered my type of depression was linked to my dopamine reward system. Often the drugs that people are given for depression (SSRI) are designed to regulate the half-life that the neurotransmitter serotonin spends on synapses between neurons. In the past, serotonin anti-depressants always produced the opposite effect for me. Higher aggression. Higher frequency of suicidal ideation. Highly agitated. While, in contrast, stimulant street drugs that work on dopamine activation like cocaine and speed always made me feel what I can only describe as "level". They stabilized me temporarily (with a much greater expense to be had later).
The only way to naturally modulate healthy dopamine levels is to acquire a proper aim in life and spend every day moving towards it. Find something to do that interests you in a way that can last a lifetime. Find out what's meanigful to you and commit your life to refining it. That and coffee haha.
It also sounds like your experience in depression is cognitively driven. You mentioned thoughts followed by negative emotion. You might simply be one of those peole that could benefit from serotonin drugs granted everything else in your life is stable.
Do you have people that care about you?
Are you employed?
Are you engaged in an intimate relationship?
Do you have any hobbies?
If you answered "no" to all these questions, then those are the things that need to be fixed first.
One more thing on that:
One of the most revolutionary ideas in spiritual and psychological practice is that we don't have to believe our thoughts.
Take Cognitive Behavior Therapy, for instance. This program essentially forces people to write out past events in order of Antecedent, Beliefs, and Consequences, otherwise known as ABC's. First, writing about the past helps people organize their experiences. It draws memory from the unconscious faculties into the higher cortical regions where we can actually grab them and take a good look at them. Second, once we begin to see a pattern of how every negative outcome is a consequence of our thoughts then we're forced to contend with ourselves. And third, we begin to see how those thoughts are connected to an entire belief system. Our belief systems are merely internal representations of the world. Models, so to speak. So, often when things don't turn out the way we want them to, its because we operate on inaccurate simulations of how the world is supposed to work.
Meditation is probably one of the best tools we have for further divorcing who we think we are from the thoughts and feelings that we have. If you sit quietly for 20 minutes and you begin to notice that certain nagging thoughts appear, you can also realize that this, like dreams, is something that's coming AT you. Not YOU producing the thought. Thoughts seem to fall out of a blind void. We don't have to identify with them. They are merely contents of consciousness. Machinations of uni-motivational systems within a larger system of the mind. That's why certain cultures started out polytheistic (Greeks). They personified certain aspects of personality that seems to take over even when we know better. Often we are the "playthings" of the Gods. i.e. Lust, Anger, Hunger, etc.
I just remembered something that I haven’t thought about in a long time. My grandmother on my father’s side of the family had a “dream book” that she always consulted to decipher the relevance of a particular dream.
More and more, I find dream journals to come highly recommended. I started one a few months back but between the time I wake up and the time I sit down in my office, I've already set my mind to other things. It's all about habit building.
I had some troublesome dreams last night that were probably due to a hub that I just completed. I wanted the editors to move it to ToughNickel.com and I was keyed up over the issue. Well, everything worked out well in the end. I had to make some minor adjustments to the manuscript as a prerequisite and the rest is history.
By taking circa 30 minutes each day and renewing my mind through meditation, I can move from one victory to the next. However, when I become l-a-z-y and believe that spending 30 minutes engaging in “frivolous nonsense” is more important than renewing my mind, I can and will have unpleasant consequences.
Depression is sometimes referred to as anger turned inward. Whenever we are angry about something or with someone, it also signifies that we are afraid of something. In any given situation that involves anger, we must isolate what we are specifically afraid of.
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