Have you ever heard someone say, “It was just a dream?” Instead of being so flippant about that strange time in between our sleeping and waking hours, what if dreaming was one of those things we should be taking more seriously?
We’ve come a long way. Rapid scientific development and breakthroughs in technology continue to advance us forward. And yet, there’s still so much that we just don’t understand. Why we dream is one of those things.
Although researchers have offered theories that range from memory consolidation to threat simulation, emotional regulation and a whole jumble of big words, science has still not given us a unified explanation, established among all experts.
Without an answer (and without one in sight), we are left to ponder on the strangeness of dreams, never fully understanding or utilizing the possible power and wonder of that alternate reality that we have all visited (even if we don’t remember it). The possibilities for creative insight, being able to get your pesky home tuition or school work done while you sleep or even to have strange premonitions that seem to come true, continually remain unexplored by many of us.
So, is a dream just a dream? Is dreaming a gateway to a greater mystery or is it nothing but the flailing signals of your mind as the lights go out?
An ancient awareness
The idea that dreaming takes us to an alternate realm has been part of ancient cultures across various tribes for centuries.
Long before the modern age, Arab tribes across the Middle East practiced the art of dream interpretation to uncover patterns and take a glimpse into the inner self for answers about life or health. They understood that our subconscious could communicate the condition of our mental, emotional or physical state through the power of sleep.
Much more interestingly, they believed in the possibility of premonitions and that unlocking the riddles of dreams could sometimes enable us to peer into the future or give us insights into the unknown. We’ve all heard stories, or even experienced firsthand, how dreams can sometimes have an uncanny resemblance to future occurrences (or vice versa). Given that time itself is a frail concept and the full capabilities of the human condition have yet to be uncovered, recurring situations remain a pertinent mystery.
The Aborigines of Australia have long held as part of their belief system the idea of a dream realm. Known as the Dreamtime, the Aboriginal understanding of the world points to its creation and its great stories. The Aborigines refer to the Dreamtime as the beginning of knowledge from which laws of existence originate, and they hold that all life as we know it (human, animal, bird or fish) is all part of a vast network of relationships that can be traced to the great spirits of the Dreamtime.
This concept of “Dreaming” carries on in the spiritual lives of Aboriginal people today. They consider the dream space a sacred one, with ties to spiritual origin.
Native American culture also is deeply rooted in the concept of dreams and stands as a testament to the power of the dream realm throughout history across numerous ancient civilizations. Perhaps most popularly known in the modern world as a trinket or fashion accessory, the dreamcatcher is a handmade willow hoop on which a net or web is woven. It may also include sacred items such as feathers or beads. Traditionally, dreamcatchers were often hung over cradles as a form of protection, for it was believed that they trapped evil dreams or spirits to keep slumbering children safe.
Here’s another mysterious thing about dreams: You can control them! With a little bit of practice, what’s known as lucid dreaming can happen.
The process of being “awake inside your dream” begins way before sleep, by shaping your habits and environment, using a dream journal and more. Through consistent effort, you can transform the realm around you while you dream. Landscapes are free for you to mould and situations morph according to your desires.
The best minds have long known that reality is subjective and the dream realm has long been regarded as more authentic than the waking world (life is but a dream…).
Lucid dreaming is a way for us to connect not just with ourselves, but also with what lies beyond the boundaries of the self.
Various sources and communities online guide the aspiring lucid dreamer into achieving full control of his/her dreams. The ability to turn the time you spend dreaming towards exploring your inner self, having fun, getting tasks done or venturing outwards into the great unknown is so accessible to us today.
Utilizing your dream time for productivity has one added benefit. The stuff you build or work you do in the dream realm remains there forever and you can keep coming back to it again and again. Now, the next thing we should probably think about inventing is a 3D printer that brings the work we do in the dream realm into the waking realm. Imagine what you could do with an extra eight hours in a day!