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I am a writer in Central Florida with strong interests in the ways in which religion and philosophy intersect in popular culture. I especially enjoy examining how this is expressed in film, literature, music, and art.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On the subject of dreams...

I never understood why so many people don’t bother thinking about their dreams upon awakening. Dreams are such an integral part of how the human body functions and it is such a necessary activity with the capacity to provide deep insights about the problems we face, warnings about trends that we may not acknowledge in our conscious lives, and rejuvenation for our minds.

I find it interesting that studies have shown that when a person is deprived of the REM stage of sleep during which dreams occur, when they are finally allowed to sleep without interruptions their dream cycle changes to allow more time for the dream stage. It is almost as if dreams are such an essential component to our well being that our brains must make up for lack of them.

Ancient civilizations all assigned great importance to the act of dreaming and the interpretation of dreams was considered an art and was prized highly. With the Enlightenment and the dawn of The Age of Reason, dreams and the act of dreaming began to be viewed with a sort of patronizing manner and lost its importance in advanced society. However, the rise of psychology at the dawn of the 20th century reintroduced the public to the importance of dreams. Carl Jung argued that there are certain archetypal symbols common to all humans which can illumine what goes on in our subconscious. I agree with this notion. I also agree with Sigmund Freud that the interpretation of dreams is a necessity for all people. However, no dictionary of symbols is needed nor is it true that the images we see in our dreams will mean the same to all people who dream with that symbol. Dreams are unique and as such are subjective to each individual.

I have a vivid dream life and frequently remember my dreams in detail upon waking up. Lately, I have noticed a trend in my dreams. This tells me that there is something I am supposed to get from these; a message if you will. There are two patterns that consistently repeat in my dreams. First, most of my dreams have prominent bodies of water ranging from crashing waves in an ocean to swimming pools. Secondly, most of my dreams are dreams of persecution where I am in great danger. The persecutor varies from the devil himself hidden beneath the familiar faces of friends to crooked FBI and at times even gang members. Still, the terrifying helplessness I feel and my struggle to survive is always the same regardless of who it is I am fleeing.

So, knowing is half the battle and the fact that I remember my dreams is quite helpful. But what do they mean?

Water is sometimes seen as a symbol for evolution or change...it erodes even the strongest rock and is a useful metaphor for perseverance when faced with obstacles. Your subconscious might be letting you know you are on the right path, so keep at it.
Water is also a metaphor for emotions and intuition. Tempestuous waves and churning waters can symbolize conflicting emotions and anxieties. Pacific waters can signal a state of mind that is clear or feelings of peace regarding a specific area in your life.
Water can also be a symbol for fertility. Are my recent dreams perhaps an expression of a wish to carry life within me; some latent desire to become a mother?

Dreams of persecution often indicate anxiety in your daily life and can even signal a subconscious desire to escape your current situation. Something is causing this apprehension, since stress is not a normal human emotion. Stress serves to indicate those situations where we are in some sort of danger, be it physically, emotionally, or metaphorically in some sense. These dreams are a warning and should be thought about until a successful interpretation is figured out.

All dreams should be interpreted in light of each individual’s own past and memories. How will you know you’ve arrived at the correct interpretation? Chances are, once you have figured out what wisdom your dreams hold, they will stop. For example, once sources of anxiety are removed or at least acknowledged, dreams of persecution should become a rarity rather than a given.

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