As you read this, one third of the world`s population is asleep and they say that we actually spend over two thirds of our life sleeping. By the time that they awaken, they will have collectively dreamt more than ten billion dreams! We all average two to three dreams per night but it depends on our psychological state of mind and physical health whether we experience more! The individual dreamers will perhaps have experienced their dreams as apparently random occurrances that seem to be to them, unique and bizarre! The vast majority of these dreams, will also have followed some of the familiar themes and patterns that we all experience when we dream. These dream patterns have been emerging for tens of thousands of years and form the basis for our most enduring stories and beliefs in waking life.
I have studied many books about the meanings of dreams, as I have myself had some real doozies!! and have found that the most worrying ones are some of the most common to everyone, phew! that was a relief I can tell you.
When I studied human psychology, I became aware that there are about a 100 of these universal dream patterns that appear over and over again. Dreamers from all over the world, regardless of country or culture, report these sleep patterns with remarkable consistency. From Russian policemen to Japanese chefs, Norwegian bikers to Venezuelan nurses, Indian dancers to Angolan oil workers, everyone everywhere in the world, experiences these same fundamental dream patterns. These universal themes aren`t just quirks of the dream process, they are the deeper reflections of the dreamers who are actually creating the dreams.
Although we may tend to think that our dreams are just random occurrences that we have no influence over, the reverse is actually true! Dreams don`t happen to us, we happen to dreams. When we dream, we effortlessly generate entire worlds, from the twinkling stars in distant constellations to the mundane of everyday scenes. We construct these natural patterns in our dreams because they reflect the essential nature of our waking lives. Beneath the busy bustle of our daily activities, we are trying to become more deeply aware of the true purpose and the real meaning of our lives.
The universal patterns that we create in our dreams echo this deeper search, but paradoxically, it can be easy to believe that dreams are meaningless and serve no real purpose. Although our dreams may seem to be nonsensical, the key to understanding our dream language isn`t just in being able to identify individual symbols but also in being able to comprehend the deeper dream patterns that we create. A solitary symbol can often seem inconsequential, but it can also speak volumes when woven into the richer themes of our dream stories. When we step back and look at our fundamental dream patterns, we start to see the bigger picture, both in our dreams and in our waking lives.
HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS
Your dreams reflect the fundamental patterns of your waking life and, although your nightly dreams and your daily life may seem to have no connection, the word `dream` also means your waking hopes and aspirations, as well as your night- time adventures. Even though the intentional persuit of your waking dreams and the natural creation of your nocturnal dreams may seem to be entirely seperate, they are both primarily driven by a deeper level of self-awareness that we all possess. This more elemental understanding of yourself is a natural human quality and is known as your unconscious awareness.
Unconsciousness is often equated with oblivion, but your unconscious awareness is simply all the information and experience that you aren`t consciously aware that you are absorbing. As rational humans we tend to consciously filter out most of that wider experience during our waking hours and usually only encounter it when we dream. Although your unconscious is an area of yourself that you are often un-aware of, it embodies all your past experiences and your possible futures, and can be immensely valuable in realizing your true potential in waking life.
The dreams that we create are stories that express everything you are unconsciously aware of and reflect what you find most meaningful in your waking life. These stories are the natural language of your unconscious awareness and have a deeper wisdom and a broader understanding than your conscious self.
All around the world, people are consciously creating the same kinds of stories again and again, answering questions that they aren`t consciously aware that they are asking.
Consistently your dreams provide the answers to those little questions like `how can I change my life` or `why does nobody recognise what I can do`? and although it can be tempting to become fixated on the dream experience, there is no dream without the dreamer! You express your individual psychology through your dreams, illuminating the person you really are! what you actually need and what you truly believe. Instead of just hoping that there is some person or practice that can fix you, your unconscious awareness knows that you are already whole. We just haven`t got the technology to help us discover our full potential. We have yet to discover how to travel down that road that is still to explore. It has now been absolutely scientifically proved that we do in fact use 100% of our brains! we just don`t yet know our full capabilities. If we didn`t use 100% of our brains, man wouldn`t in fact be capable of the things that we can do. The old saying that we only use 10% of our brains has been proved to be wrong.
By exploring your dreams, you can become your own private psychologist, guiding yourself towards fulfilment by using the insights from your unconscious awareness. Many psychologists who help people with their dreams can interpret them for the client and advise you to keep a notebook and a pen next to the bed, when you wake, immediately write down your dream while the details are still fresh. A dream journal is very helpful as I discovered myself quite a long time ago when I was having trouble sleeping due to stress. I was suffering horribly confusing dreams and at the same time I was not fully asleep during them, so it was very confusing and upsetting, I thought I was actually going mad! One day I walked into my local library and found a book on how to interpret dreams and was totally staggered to see that many of the dreams I had been having were in fact in the book, I was so relieved to finally see that what I was going through was in fact quite normal, although quite a pain in the butt! From then on I read anything I could get my hands on about dreams and it`s a fascinating subject to study.
You may think it easier to ignore your unconscious expansiveness, discarding its rich ambiguity and just focusing on what you can definitely see and are consciously aware of. Even though you try to lock out your unconscious reflections, they continue to seep into your consciousness, giving you glimpses and little fragments of the bigger picture, just as if an un-tuned television had briefly locked onto your favourite show. These accidental glimpses and serendipitous fragments can often to convey something profoundly meaningful and it can be easy to become fixated on trying to make sense of them. The easiest and most natural way to understand your dreams is by understanding the stories that you create in your dreams. By keeping your journal, this allows you to go back to the details of the dream and it helps you to understand the meanings behind the details.
In 1885, Albert Einstein dreamt he was sledging down a snow covered hillside on a beam of starlight, and he used this inspiration to bring the Theory of Relativity out into his waking light. He once remarked that `the gift of dreaming has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing conscious knowledge` By using his dream visions to expand his conscious understanding, Einstein became a true scientific visionary. Those visionaries who were open to the stories emerging from their unconscious awareness have quite literally dreamed up most of our great advances in science and technology.
Orville and Wilbur Wright used to dream about flying bicycles, they realised their vision on the sands of Kitty Hawk, where their dreams took flight with the very first flight of the first powered aircraft. Nobel Prize winning physicist Neils Bohr developed his model of the Atom from a very vivid dream in which he was sitting on the sun! and all the planets were whizzing around him on separate racetracks. The organic chemist Frederich Kekule discovered the structure of benzene in a dream! Announcing his breakthrough, he urged all his fellow scientists to write about their dreams and to keep a careful record of them all. The advantages of learning how to interpret their dreams were, he thought, and informed them all, absolutely endless, and to keep a diary of all the details for themselves. He also decided to have regular discussions with them about their dreams in regular meetings with them.
As you train yourself to shine your sixth sense or your inner light of your unconscious mind into your surroundings, you aren`t just sweeping randomly, you are actually searching for that part of you that is of huge significance to you. Among all the distractions of life, you are looking for the reflections of yourself as you try to understand the true you. Your true identity rarely reveals itself in a random sweep of awareness, however, and so you are instictively drawn to the situations that reveal your true character. The best mirrors for your self awareness are other people and by unconsciously absorbing what they reflect back, you often become more enlightened about your own character.
Although it may seem more logical to think of yourself as a single identity, every individual accomodates a unique family of characters. Your different characteristics appear at different times, depending on what you are doing and where you are. Sometimes the characters you embody may seem to be quite routine and so, as your day starts, you might find yourself showing up as a spouse, then a parent, and then stepping into your professional identity as you enter your place of work. At other times your characteristics may seem quite unfamiliar and you hear yourself saying things like `I don`t know what possessed me to do that` or `I wasn`t feeling myself`.
You might try and ignore your different identities in your waking life but they will continue to reveal yourself in your dreams. The characters that are revealed in your dreams are aspects of yourself and you construct them from your experiences of people who embody those characteristic qualities. If you are unaware of anyone who has those particular characteristics that you want to express, then you find yourself just making someone up, using a combination of character nuances that you have observed unconsciously in other people. These characteristics can often guide your understanding of a situation that you can`t comprehend consciously and your behaviour in your dream characters usually reflect your relationship to those particular aspects of your character. For example when you dream of a loved one, you`re reflecting on the deeper and unspoken qualities of your character. In any close loving relationship, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish where your identity ends, and the identity of your partner begins. If you are separated from them for any length of time, it may feel as if a part of you is missing. I feel that a huge part of me has died because of the loss of my son to cancer but I am able to stay in touch through my dreams and because I practice meditation. The loved ones in your dreams help you to understand what this person really means to you and how they can enrich and inspire your daily life. And lastly here is the most common dream that people experience.
The most common dream is that of falling. The sensation of falling often seems to happen without any warning. Everything seems normal and under control, but then you feel like your legs suddenly give way under you and you feel like you are falling. Sometimes the fall may seem to be small as you trip and fall or disappear down a pothole. At other times the fall might be more dramatic as you tumble down endless stairs, or plummet off a cliff into a bottomless chasm. There seems to be nothing you can do to prevent the fall and you may feel yourself suddenly stop just before you hit the ground or you suddenly wake up just before you hit the ground!
Falling is sometimes perseived as a failure in waking life. That are usually triggered by the sudden realisation that you will not be able to completely control the outcome of a particular situation. You have probably set yourself high standards for the results you expect and you may feel like a failure if you are not able to reach them. This can bring you down to earth with a bump and make you feel that you are letting others down as well as yourself. Sometimes, however, you need to release yourself from your responsibilities, the sensation of falling in dreams, and from this inevitable process of letting go. As you let go, you give yourself the freedom to move on.
When you sleep you are releasing yourself from conscious awareness so that you can relax your mind and repair your body, and give yourself the opertunity to dream. When you dream of falling it is in fact your body and mind relaxing and you are releasing accumulated tention from your muscles. If you trip over a small obstacle, it often indicates that you are just starting to release the tention in your body from your daily life. A larger deeper fall suggests that you need to let go of some bigger responsibilities that are dragging you down. Hitting the ground indicates that you need to take a more down-to-earth approach, setting your feet firmly back on the ground as you work out a way forward with your problems.
This dream is often triggered by accumulated stress and tention, and so is encouraging you to take a more relaxed approach in certain areas of your waking life. Most of your residual muscle tention can be released by physically relaxing before going to bed or when you lie down. This is where meditation becomes very useful and I thoroughly recommend that you read a book on this subject. Muscular tention often arises from a fear of failure and it can feel like you spend most of your day braced for impact. When you are tense you are far less likely to notice opportunities and take full advantage of them. The more you relax, the more you are able to influence a favourable outcome. As our large anti-gravity muscles, such as our back, arms and legs relax, we physically sink a little lower into the bed. This release of tention is often experienced as a twitch known as a hypnic jerk, from the word hypnogogic, which means light sleep. We are on the edge of sleep or we are just about to enter the full sleep state that is refered to as the hypnopompic sleep state. Falling is often associated with feelings of failure, such as `letting go` or `falling from grace`.