- Mental Health
All About Dreams and Dreaming
What are dreams?
Dreams are an imaginary series of events- in the form of images, thoughts, emotions and sensations- that are experienced involuntarily in the mind while asleep. Dreams are sometimes used by the mind to explain events that are occurring physically while the individual is asleep.
Dreams have always fascinated man, both modern and ancient. In modern times research into dreams have taken on a more scientific approach, which so far have brought about little or no results. In ancient times, however, dreams were seen as messages, warnings or predictions. In Africa, dreams are still greatly heeded as messages from higher powers. It is believed that there exists a connection between the spiritual realm and the physical realm and dreams are the minds attempt to interpret messages passed from one realm to the other- usually from the spiritual to the physical. It is also a common belief that evil spirits can take the face and form of loved ones in dreams in other to deceive the dreamer.
Arising from this belief, different definitions have been given to specific phenomena in dreams. In Nigeria for instance dreams involving copulation are a dread, it is believed that these dreams portend marital problems as the dreamer is believed to have acquired a spirit spouse, these spirit spouses are very jealous and prefer not to share their physical spouses. A dream which depicts the dreamer in rags is a sign that the dreamer will encounter great wealth very soon. Dreams in which the dreamer is being chased by a masquerade has double meaning. It could mean that the dreamer would soon encounter death or, in some traditions, wealth. There exist numerous modern as well as traditional interpretations of dreams some "modern" interpretations can be found in the following links.
Dreams and consciousness
For the purpose of this article consciousness is defined as a state of awareness. Consciousness while awake and consciousness while asleep vary. While awake an individual has access to all his senses whereas in dreams the sense of smell is missing (this might in itself explain more about dreams as there is a part of the brain called "the smelling brain" this absence of the sense of smell in dreams seems to indicate that this part of the brain is not involved in dream generation). Another difference between sleep consciousness and waking consciousness is the ability to be introspective. While dreaming an individual is unable to ask himself questions as to how such things which are naturally impossible occur. It is possible, however, for an individual to increase his state of awareness in dreams, this phenomenon is called "Lucid dreaming."
Sleepwalking and dreams
Otherwise known as somnambulism, sleep walking is a sleep disorder which causes an individual to perform actions physically while in a sleep state. There is a big misconception that somnambulism occurs as a result of dreams, nothing can be farther from the truth. Sleep walking occurs in a stage of sleep called NREM- non rapid eye movement stage. In this stage of sleep, dreams do not occur. The stages of sleep are divided into two; REM and NREM, NREM is further divided into four stages. Dreaming is known to occur in the REM stage.
A nightmare is an unpleasant dream involving distressing, unpleasant and horrifying emotions, images and sensations. Nightmares sometimes occur due to an uncomfortable sleeping position. Some other causes of nightmares are illness and stress.
There are suggested cures for nightmares as they are believed to be sometimes caused by repressed memories. Most of this cures fall in the realm of medical practitioners. For more informaton on these cures please consult a therapist.
Incubus and Succubus
A Succubus is a female demon of legend. Many believe it was coined as an attempt to explain wet dreams as well as the inability to get up when an individual is entering a state of wakefulness. According to legend, the Succubus is a female demon which sleeps with men at night in order to steal their sperm, this gives the Succubus a certain power over the individual. An Incubus is a male version of the Succubus. Some legends view them as different entities while others believe that they are one and the same, changing their forms at will.
What causes dreams and why do we dream?
As yet no proven scientific theory exists to explain the purpose or causes of dreams, however several hypotheses exist to explain them. One of such hypotheses was postulated by Sigismund Schlomo Freud otherwise known as Sigmund Freud; he states that dreams are a result of suppressed desires. He sees dreams as a way for the mind to fulfill wishes which it ordinarily cannot realize consciously. He believed that dreams have a psychological meaning to its images, this underlying meaning he described as the "latent content".
Yet another hypothesis for dreams exists, it describes dreams as being a result of certain parts of the brain circuitry coming alive when we sleep. These parts of the brain are those related with emotions, sensations and memory. According to this hypothesis our dreams are a subjective interpretation of these sensations and emotions.
Do we dream only at night?
The answer to this question is no. Dreams are capable of occurring any time of the day insofar as the individual reaches the REM stage of sleep. Dreams are not usually experienced in the day time because sleep during this period is quite short.
Why don't we remember all our dreams?
Only a little memory is reserved for dreams hence most of our dreams are not retained long term. Dreams are only retained in the long term if they are so profound that they make a great impact on the mind. The best time to recall dreams is when the individual is just waking from one. For this purpose it is advisable for the dreamer to keep a dream journal close to his/her bed so as to record dreams that are of particular interest.
Religion and Dreams
Dreams in Christianity
In Christianity dreams are believed to be sometimes sent from God, it is also believed that the devil can sometimes plant evil dreams in the human mind. Numerous cases of dreams exist in the Bible; these include- but are not limited to; the dream of Jacob in which he saw Heaven and Earth connected by means of a ladder and angels ascending and descending and also the dream of Joseph which predicted that his brothers would bow to him. In the new testament are reecorded the dreams of Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus Christ as well as the dreams of the magi (the wise men from the east) as well as other cases which cannot be cited here for lack of space. The following link however will lead to the bible for further consultation.
Dreams in Islam
In Islam dreams are basically divided in three, good, true and bad. Muslims believe that good dreams are a gift from Allah (God). According to Islam, Allah sends good dreams to faithful Muslims to register his pleasure. True dreams are dreams which come true in future and these are also gifts from Allah to faithful Muslims who keep his words. In Islam dreams have meanings and as such can be interpreted.
Dreams in Buddhism
Many people make the error of assuming that Buddhism in itself is a religion, however it is not. Some essential characters of religion are missing in Buddhism. For instance Buddhism does not preach to be the only source of salvation as most religions are wont to do- as a matter of fact it does not preach salvation at all but Enlightenment. Digressing to state this fact is of absolute importance as Buddhism is listed in this article under religion as most people are known to confuse it to be.
The birth of The Buddha was preceded by a dream hence there is a certain belief in dreams in Buddhism. According to Buddhism certain dreams are prophetic. These prophetic dreams are believed to be sent by Devas to an individual for certain purposes such as a warning of an impending danger.
Having fun with dreams
Usually when dreaming an individual has no control over the events in his dream, he is just there for the ride, moving at a pace the mind dictates. Lucid dreaming, however, gives an individual a large amount of control over the contents of his dream. For more on Lucid dreaming click the link below.
According to Wikipedia, "Dream incubation is a practiced technique of learning to "plant a seed" in the mind, in order for a specific dream topic to occur, either for recreation or to attempt to solve a problem."
For more on this topic view the link below.
P.S. If any member of Hubpages has written hubs relating to any of the links I have posted I would like him/her to share it with me so I can help post it on this hub. The hub should be of good quality.
Please note that the publisher of this article has no affiliations or links with any of the linked pages and is therefore not responsible for their contents.