Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In my spare time, I find myself returning to research a subject which has fascinated me for as long as I have been alive - dreams.

I recently had a slight bout of insomnia again, woven in with a nightly repetition of hypnogogic imagery (which was happening whether or not I was having trouble sleeping. Mike sent me the word of the day on a website after mentioning the things I was seeing - that word being hypnogogia.

Hypnogogic and hypnopompic states occur just before falling asleep and after waking up, respectively. In these states, one may seem to be fully awake, but there are images, sounds, and even smells that can occur that one may think is an actual dream.

What was happening to me - and is not an uncommon thing as of late, is I was laying in bed and would open my eyes and see - superimposed on the darkened room, colored patterns - geometric, brightly colored, some of them had a sacred heart pattern - related to the crafts i've been working on. I've seen plenty in this state before - bugs - some which have scared me to the point of shouting and alarming Mike, people laying next to me -whether or not mike was there, people standing at the foot of my bed, floating above me...etc. I've also heard voices, whistlings, other sounds.

So, after a week of this, my interest in reading about dreams has been sparked yet again. Mike says that I really should participate in a dream study - just about anything strange that could happen to me that is dream related has indeed happened.

I clearly remember one of the first dreams I had - I was certainly single digits, 4 or younger. I had vivid dreams and many nightmares all throughout ,my childhood, many of which I could still recount to you, even if only in large chunks. I was also a sleepwalker and talker. Apparently I would walk and talk with my eyes open, according to my parents, who would have to tell me to go back to sleep after encountering me doing...whatever I happened to be doing. The only proof i have of this is waking up in my room, seated on the edge of my bed with the light on, and not knowing how I got there.

Also when I was little, I had very memorable if not frightening experiences with sleep paralysis - which is what is supposed to happen when one sleeps so one does not act ones dreams and sleepwalk or harm themselves. I have specific instances in my memory which terrified me because I did not know what was going on. I'm not going to recount them at the moment, but I will say that the experience was something I'll not soon forget, and at times I still experience such things - although in a much milder way with knowledge of what is happening.

I have had lucid dreams for most of my life as well - lucid dreams being dreams in which you know you are dreaming and can take action to effect or change your dream.
Apparently, lucidity is something that most people can learn (or have to learn). I'm not sure what tips me off half the time that I'm dreaming. the most obvious thing that is noticeable is trying to read - when you try to read in a dream, the symbols change and morph almost exactly like the matrix code, making it hard to read. this has been a clue for me many times. problem is - I read a lot in dreams - that is the letters and numbers have stayed still for me long enough to read papers, paragraphs, books, etc. Sometimes I can watch as the words change and remember what they've changed to. I don't know too many people who can read in dreams.

Anyhow, lucid dreams occur quite a bit for me. i once had a two week solid bout of them - and had so many that i couldn't even write them all down. In a lucid dream, I typically try to keep myself lucid as long as possible by reminding myself that i am dreaming - else i can get carried away into the adventure. I have used techniques like spinning - spinning my body around in a dream to prolong it or change the scene. I have been lucid and conscious in between dreams in a place i like to call - the void - that dark space in between that fades one dream out and another in.

I have learned to do things like levitate objects, change objects or people, change my own appearance, or do "magical" things like making things appear. These abilities are something I have learned and REMEMBERED to do as an adult in my dreamtime. the mere fact that i can remember something I learned in a dream is amazing to me.

Some other things I like to do when i have lucid dreams, is talk to people and tell them that they are in a dream. Sometimes they are amazed. Sometimes, they look at me like i have three heads.

Lucid dreams are almost always extraordinarily vivid - hyper vivid with details that are far sharper than waking life. usually this sharpness is what "awakens" me. I have had very vivid dreams which never became lucid.

Speaking of lucid, the people i meet in dreams are not always as such. I am usually brought to lucidity when i talk to someone who seems extremely "real" and answers my questions the way one would in a normal conversation. anyone whose answer i cannot make out, or mumbles and spews out nonsense, is not a very lucid character.

In general, I never have dreams about the mundane much - i do not dream of the events of the day and/or rehash recent events that have occured in waking life. Some activities i do are mundane, but usually they are taking place in a crazy setting of things are happening that could never occur in waking life. Flying, breathing underwater, seeing fanciful creatures or strange effects is normal for me apparently.

I do have repeating themes, but I have no recurring dreams that I recall. I almost always have at least part of one dream a night at the house I grew up in - and I usually can't go much further than a block from it before the dream changes. My parents as characters are fairly frequent, as is Mike, but there are some people who are good friends that I rarely dream about. I tend to meet a lot of people who i don't know. I have discovered myself palying the role or living the life of another person - usually I end up being lucid when i realize i'm not being me. Most of the time though, I am me, or me willing and aware of playing another role, and most often am part of the action. I have had dreams where I am "watching" the goings on, but these are rare.

Other common themes I've had are the losing teeth (these are rarer now that I'm older), picking up coins on the ground and the more i pick up the more i see, being chased, flying (i'm the only one in my dreams who flies), falling (i've hit - you don't die when you hit folks, sorry to tell you). I don't fall much anymore - it's almost all flying. Also i dream about the tower - or the dark tower, however you want to put it. the tower appeared in my dreams far before i knew about the stephen king novel. The tower is almost always a baroque era church spire, very tall and ornate - usually black or gray but sometimes (lately) with a patina finish. I am always startled by it or fiercely afraid of it and have a hard time looking at it. in recent dreams, I have been seeking it out and overcoming my fear of it. I also had a history of dismemberment dreams when younger that disturbed me, as well as a recurring theme of cars trying to run me over or crush me in parking lots. trucks especially.

While it has been years since i had a car trying to run me down in a dream, I did have a repeat of that theme a few nights ago when a red semi was coming after me from out of nowhere and i could not escape. i had to end the dream to be free of it.

yes, i can make dreams end if they are bad. i can either go into the "void" or wake myself up if i sense things going awry. This is something i learned at a very young age when i was having a lot of nightmares. my mom sat me down and talked to me about ways to control my dreams so i wouldn't have so many nightmares.

Other lingering themes i've noticed are fear and distaste for industrial landscapes, highways and commercial areas. I'm always trying to get away into the trees or forest.

On the really messed up end of the scale, I have had experiences that can only be described as "leaving one's body". Call it what you will, i recall having this experience when i was little and I have it more frequently now. Basically, I am on my way to sleep, and can feel myself falling asleep - I am conscious all the way down. I feel heavy, i am aware of my body position, and i pay attention as the room sounds warp and change - other sounds often take their place. At some point, I realize that i can sit up and move - I am still aware of the position my body is in, but, i can walk away from it and go into a dream which is usually lucid for most of the time.

I realize that for most people, you're not gonna get this and it sounds really out there. but trust me - whatever weirdness exists involving sleep and dreams - I've had it and it only gets more poignant all the time.

I remember several dreams a night, and unlike Mike who seems to have to "remember" them, I can usually recount them as if they were a waking event that just happened. Sometimes the info gets lost or buried for a bit, but the dreams I do remember surface quickly and even if i lose specific details, i can tell you the overall jist.

there are Some spells when i don't remember dreams. these times usually frustrate me and make me unhappy, as I enjoy my nightly vacation. Not remembering is rare for me.

And, I must also say that i usually dream in color - vivid color, although some dreams are fuzzy and grey.

I have pulled ideas, foreign words I shouldn't know, drawings, and inspiration out of my dreams. Sometimes i wonder, do I dream this way because i am an artist, or an I an artist because i dream this way?

I've read in a few places that some people view dreams as having no adaptive purpose - that is, they really have no use or pertinance to the waking world as gleaned from some statistics of how people dream and how dreams (or lack thereof)effect people.

I tend to disagree with dreams not having some sort of adaptive purpose. If nothing else, i know that I have slept well if i have dreamed well. I can't count the amount of times I've gotten info from dreams that helped somehow in my art, or my emotional situation. I've at times - rarely - asked a question and gotten an answer.

I have, over the years, figured out what much of my dream symbolism means to me and have been able to apply it to my waking life. there have been paralells between my behaviour in dreams and my awake behaviour. I do keep a dream journal, but I don't write everything down. I'd be up all night if I had to wake up and write down my dreams the way they tell you to. I've been able to recall dreams and details well into the morning when i wake - and have spent a half hour to an hour scrawling my adventures.

Whatever the actual purpose, I feel very fortunate to have the weird experiences that i do. I realize that i am not wired the way most people are and that i am an exception to the rule for the most part. In fact, I really wonder what the hell is up with me sometimes, as NOBODY I know has had the experiences i've had. (this is just one of the reasons i feel i will never need drugs) I actually wish more people i knew remembered their dreams as i do - i enjoy talking about them, and listening to others dreams. I can't imagine not remembering them the way many people I've encountered claim. It would be like missing an arm or a leg.

that said, I should wind down and pet pigs so I can be ready for the nightly excursion. If any of you "see" me on the other side, feel free to say hello! ;)

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