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
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.
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.