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What Are Dreams?

Updated on October 22, 2011

Dreams are the manifestations of subconscious human aspirations and experiences. They act as directional forces that give some guidance to the dreamer.

Modern science has been researching this phenomenon of dream since decades and every new exploration, unveils the various mysterious and interesting aspects of dreams. Whether asleep or awake, the human consciousness acts as a representation of the surrounding environment created by the brain using the best available resources.

When we are awake, this representation is drawn from the sensory input, which provides the most recent information regarding the current circumstances. During sleep, a small amount of sensory input is available, due to which the surrounding condition that we experience is comes from all the remaining information of our daily life, and expectations from past and future.

Hence, our dreams are a manifestation of mainly our fears, hopes, expectations and unfulfilled wishes and are the perceptions beyond the constraints of external sensory input.

In this regard, lucid dreaming is also an interesting aspect of research for the scientists.

The phenomenon of lucid dreams has been observed and studied since the times of Aristotle. The word ‘lucid' means to have a clear and full consciousness of something. Lucid dreaming is the awareness of what we are dreaming about while sleeping. Modern science claims that a dreaming brain is competent enough of performing a high level of mental functioning and consciousness. Scientists claim that in lucid dreaming we are in the position to fully control our dreams with whatever changes we want. Lucid dreaming also enables the dreamer to create his/her fantasy dreams.

The Process Of Dreaming

The process of dreams occurs in five stages. The first is when we actually fall asleep and in the second, third and fourth stages we fall into a deeper sleep by slowing the working rate of the brain. After remaining in stage four for at least 25 minutes, we return to stage three, then two and then the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage begins.

After five to 10 minutes, we again drift into stage four. After around 90 minutes of deep sleep another REM session begins, which lasts longer this time. During the REM stage we fall in lucid dreaming condition.

It was found that during lucid dreaming, one can rationalise clearly, remember the situations of waking life, and can act upon reflection or in accordance with the ideas formulated before one sleeps.

Hence, all the cognitive properties - related with waking consciousness - happen while we sleep peacefully. We experience a world of dreams which is usually almost indistinguishable from the real world.

Experimental studies suggest that some of the eye movements of REM sleep stage correspond to the reported direction of the dreamer's gaze. However, lucid dreaming does not interfere with the normal sleeping pattern of the individual.

Benefits Of Lucid Dreaming

There are many beneficial uses of lucid dreaming. Some expert healers, who creatively use third dimension to treat various physical and spiritual ailments of an individual, use lucid dreaming as a tool.

Besides this, it can help in fighting against psychological problems, for example, the fear of lizards, rats or spiders. We can overcome these phobias through consciously practicing to imagine and feel these creatures during lucid dreams, since we will know that we are safe from them during that time.

Scientists say that if one wants to get better at something, for example tennis, then lucid dreaming can help them to improve the skill, since it increases our motor skills. All this is not just due to the vividness of the imagery, but also because the physiological nature of REM sleep is considered to be ideal for establishing neural pattern without actual movement. Some experts claim that lucid dreaming can be used for activating the subconscious mind to read at the rate of one million words per minute and to obtain conscious awareness over the knowledge.

Experts add that if someone has achieved complete conscious control over a dream, they can also use it to travel in time, to explore the future and for sharing pre-cognitive dreams. With some practice, they can also use lucid dreaming to leave the body and explore the outside world. According to scientists, by doing this one can also meet other spirits and travel in time.

Lucid dreaming is a technique that anyone can learn depending on how well an individual can recall his dreams, the level of self motivation and the use of proper techniques. This also depends on the number of hours the practitioner sleeps. There are also herbs, vitamins - especially vitamin B - proteins, minerals and drugs which can help to dream more and recall the dreams in a better way by making the brain consciously aware of them.

Other useful ways include remaining conscious until we begin dreaming, or finding signs in the dream which can act as a reminder that it is a dream. This increases the possibility of a lucid dream. Once we enter lucid dreaming, all our senses should be alert, since we can smell, feel, see or even touch anything that we are dreaming with the tangible senses.

However, we should try to ensure that our logical abilities are working. Once we are satisfied with the logical abilities, we can cut loose and start controlling the dream.

Techniques Of Lucid Dreaming

There are many categorised techniques of lucid dreaming, like Dream-Initiated lucid dream. We have to look up at the centre of the third eye before closing the eyes. After giving ourselves positive affirmations, we can fall asleep and visualise ourselves having a lucid dream or leaving our body.

The next type is of Punishment Induced lucid dream in which we can set punishment for ourselves for every time we fail to realise that we were dreaming. The other type of lucid dreaming is of Reward Induced lucid dreaming, which works by rewarding ourselves every time we succeed in having a lucid dream.

Then there is a Thirst Induced lucid dreaming, during which we refrain from doing a task like staying thirsty for a long time and then dreaming of drinking water which in reality is not the case.

In the Letter Induced lucid dreaming, we can use a letter or symbol to induce lucidity, whereas in the Orgone Induced lucid dreaming, we can make use of orgone energy to induce lucidity through crystals and magnets which sends out orgone energy.

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    • louiseelcross profile image

      Louise Elcross 

      6 years ago from UK

      I found this hub interesting as I have been experiencing some terrible nightmares recently. My dreams feel real even for a while after I have woken up which leaves me distressed. In one of my dreams, a friend who had committed suicide, appeared in my room. She was smiling and telling me everything was going to be ok. I told her it was not possible for her to be there as she died. she just smiled and told me not to worry. The next morning I discovered that her daughter had been killed the night of my dream and appearance of my friend. How strange.

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