WHILE YOU WERE SLEEP­ING

WHAT­EVER SCI­EN­TIFIC THE­ORY YOU SUB­SCRIBE TO, DELV­ING INTO YOUR DREAMS CAN BE AN EYE-OPENER. HERE’S HOW TO TAP IN TO WHAT YOUR UN­CON­SCIOUS MIND IS TRY­ING TO TELL YOU

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | BIG READ - WORDS: CAR­LIE WALKER

It’s a ques­tion some of the great­est minds the world has seen have pon­dered. Why do we dream? And what do our dreams mean?

Some peo­ple dream of fall­ing, oth­ers dream of fly­ing.

There are peo­ple who re­mem­ber their dreams in vivid de­tail and oth­ers who for­get them soon after wak­ing.

Years of re­search has been done on find­ing mean­ing in our dreams.

In 1900, Sig­mund Freud’s book The In­ter­pre­ta­tion of Dreams was pub­lished. It ar­gued that the con­tent of dreams was driven by un­con­scious wish ful­fil­ment.

Swiss psy­chi­a­trist and psy­cho­an­a­lyst Carl Jung, a friend and fol­lower of Freud, later de­vel­oped his own ideas.

Jung’s dream the­ory hy­poth­e­sised that dreams re­veal more than they con­ceal and are a nat­u­ral ex­pres­sion of our imag­i­na­tions.

He be­lieved dreams were do­ing the work of in­te­grat­ing our con­scious and un­con­scious lives.

Bris­bane dream ex­pert Jane Teresa Anderson has spent years hear­ing thou­sands of dreams from peo­ple from dif­fer­ent walks of life.

She says dream­ing is a way in which our brain at­tempts to process the past cou­ple of days.

“The point of this is to try to make sense of your world,” she says.

“That’s why we of­ten go to bed with a prob­lem, sleep on it and in the morn­ing you’ve got the an­swer.

“A lot of it is pro­cess­ing the past one to two days and com­par­ing it to the past.”

Jane firmly be­lieves that dreams can change a per­son, give them new per­spec­tives and new be­liefs.

“Un­der­stand­ing how to in­ter­pret dreams is vi­tal so we can un­der­stand the un­con­scious be­liefs and ideas that are not work­ing in our daily lives,” she says.

Re­cur­ring dreams are of­ten a sign that the dream isn’t be­ing in­ter­preted prop­erly or that harm­ful be­liefs or be­hav­iours are continuing.

“If is­sues are un­re­solved, the dream will keep say­ing this is where you’re stuck,” she says.

Jane says help­ing peo­ple un­der­stand what their dreams are telling them is im­mensely sat­is­fy­ing.

“It’s why I do what I do,” she says.

She says dreams are in­ter­preted dif­fer­ently by ev­ery per­son.

One per­son might be fright­ened of fall­ing in a dream, while an­other per­son might find it ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

Fly­ing is a com­mon theme, but in each dream there is dif­fer­ent drama and a dif­fer­ent rea­son to fly.

It was Jane’s own dreams that made her want to help oth­ers.

“I’ve al­ways dreamt vividly since I was a child,” she says.

Dreams can pre­pare you for the fu­ture, help you con­front fears and help peo­ple pre­dict what may hap­pen in the fu­ture.

Martina Ko­cian, also known as the

Dream Doc­tor, is fas­ci­nated by what our dreams are telling us.

“I think they’re pretty amaz­ing. I’m pretty fas­ci­nated with the whole genre of dreams,” she says.

“I love that we’re re­ally con­nect­ing with our un­con­scious.”

Through the cen­turies, the idea of dream­ing has played an in­te­gral role in books, plays, movies and songs.

One of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s most quotable so­lil­o­quys was about dreams.

“To die, to sleep — to sleep per­chance to dream — ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come,” Ham­let laments.

Dreams are also men­tioned in Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopa­tra, Mac­beth and King Lear and many other no­table Shake­spearean plays, of­ten con­tain­ing fore­bod­ing mes­sages of what is to come.

“It is fas­ci­nat­ing, even in Shake­spearean days there was al­ways a mes­sage that was ap­par­ent in the dream,” Martina says.

On av­er­age there are five cy­cles of REM sleep each night and peo­ple will ex­pe­ri­ence about the same num­ber of dreams.

Those dreams can go any­where be­tween 10 to 40 min­utes and, un­less one wakes after ev­ery cy­cle, it’s un­likely the dreamer will re­mem­ber them all.

Martina kept dream di­aries that helped her re­mem­ber and pon­der the mean­ing be­hind her dreams.

She says of­ten dreams help to as­sim­i­late in­for­ma­tion, ce­ment learn­ing, help us pre­pare for the fu­ture, sig­nal new be­gin­nings, help us heal emo­tion­ally, and gain in­sight and wis­dom.

“There do tend to be com­mon themes, but each dream is so unique,” she says.

Martina started analysing dreams in 2008 and ad­mits she ab­so­lutely rel­ishes it.

“It’s just like go­ing down a rab­bit hole,” she says.

“Our dreams are our best friends, al­ways help­ing us grow.”

She says it has been proven that ba­bies also dream, and other mam­mals as well. “We’re not the only species,” she says. New re­search from the Univer­sity of Ade­laide sug­gests we may soon be able to con­trol what we see in our dreams.

Dr

Den­holm Aspy and his team have re­searched lu­cid dream­ing, in which the dreamer is aware they’re dream­ing

DREAMS CAN CHANGE A PER­SON, GIVE THEM NEW PER­SPEC­TIVES AND NEW BE­LIEFS

while it’s hap­pen­ing and can con­trol the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of tech­niques, the team was able to in­crease the chances of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a lu­cid dream.

The most suc­cess­ful tech­nique, known as the mnemonic in­duc­tion of lu­cid dreams, has a 46 per cent suc­cess rate.

It’s not just a tool for en­ter­tain­ment. Dr Aspy says that as we move closer to be­ing able to suc­cess­fully in­duce lu­cid dream­ing, it could be used to treat night­mares, and im­prove phys­i­cal skills and abil­i­ties through re­hearsal in a lu­cid dream en­vi­ron­ment.

It is pos­si­ble to sign up to his ex­per­i­ments now for those who are in­ter­ested in hav­ing more con­trol over their dreams.

In their find­ings, Dr Aspy, Paul Delfab­bro, Michael Proeve and Philip Mohr say that lu­cid dream­ing is a learn­able skill, but re­search had been lim­ited by a lack of ef­fec­tive and re­li­able lu­cid dream in­duc­tion tech­niques.

It’s cer­tainly some­thing to sleep on.

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