Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dreaming: Who Needs Drugs?

I really like dreaming.

I'm not really into things like astrology telling you what kind of person you are and everything, but I think there's definitely something to be said for dreams and what they say about how you think and how you deal with certain things.  It's also great entertainment, even though I don't feel like I sleep very well on the nights when I remember my dreams.

It's weird-- when I have those really realistic-feeling dreams, where you wake up and for a while you don't realize that none of what you just dreamed actually happened, I feel a bit out of sorts for most of the following day because 1) if it was a bad dream, it was so real that I feel really disturbed by it, or 2) if it was a good dream, I'm really sad that it didn't actually happen.

BUT, I still really enjoy having those dreams because I do like thinking about what it means and how it all applies to my life.  Some of them are harder to figure out, like one I had last night where I was chased by a gang down a dark alley and saved by my high school history teacher.  But others are pretty obvious.

I had this one dream in the late Spring of my freshman year in high school that I will never forget.  It was an apocalyptic dream where various members of my family and I were running through a forest being chased by zombies who all looked like characters from the TV show, Lost.  My brother and sister, S and N got caught by the zombies and I ran to get help.  I went into this strange mansion-type thing where there was a nice fire going in the fireplace and my aunts were sitting around it chatting.  I yelled that N and S needed help and they didn't do anything.  I ran to the window and saw all of the dead bodies of the victims of the zombies being thrown into a fire and burned, Holocaust-style.  I have a vivid memory of seeing N and S's bodies being thrown into the burning pile.  The last thing I remember from that dream is seeing that fire and feeling completely helpless.  I woke up crying and had to go into my parents' room and talk to them so I could reassure myself that it wasn't real.  It was the most traumatic dream I can remember having (up there with it is when my best friend died in my arms, when my dad and I were driving on a mountain road and an avalanche started, and when a volcano went off in my town like Vesuvius with Pompeii-- oh, and when I fell off a cliff, and upon hitting the ground, pulled back and saw myself lying there dead).

It was pretty obvious that the dream was a subconscious manifestation of how I was feeling at the time about N and S graduating high school a couple of weeks later and then going to college and leaving me as the only child at home.

I also really like that, most of the time, so I'm told, things in dreams don't literally represent what they are in the dream.  I went through a long phase where I kept having sex dreams with some wonderful, identity-less man.  I asked my aunt about it, who knows a lot about things like this, and she told me that usually when there's another leading character (for lack of a better phrase) in your dream, it's usually representing a side of yourself.  Everyone has a male and a female side to them, so if there's a male involved in the dream, that probably means that you're somehow getting in touch with your male side.  The same thing applies to a female or an animal.  What's happening in the dream also doesn't carry it's literal meaning (i.e. sex)-- I guess it is some positive or negative representation of how you are handling that part of yourself (female, male, etc.)-- for example, I believe that disaster dreams mean you're dealing with a change in your life.  It's so fun to analyze things like this!!!

Aunt K, if you're reading this and I'm explaining it really badly, please correct me.

Then there's LUCID DREAMING!!  I really like lucid dreaming, even though sometimes it's a really unpleasant experience in the moment (of the dream).  Lucid dreaming is when you're aware of the fact that you're dreaming and you can control the dream.  I had my first lucid dream last semester when I was napping in between my classes at school (in fact, the only lucid dreams I've ever had have been while I was napping...don't know what that's about).  It's the trippiest thing I can remember ever experiencing.

When you're in the stage of sleep when you're dreaming lucidly, as I understand it, you're not fully asleep, and your body is paralyzed.  I think that the fact that my body is supposedly completely stiff when I'm dreaming lucidly has contributed to what happened in a number of my lucid dreams.  There have been times when I realized I was dreaming and decided that, in order to end the dream, I had to get out the door of my dorm-suite-- I couldn't get to the door because I kept falling over the furniture that was between me and it.  I couldn't bend my legs.  It was so weird.  There were other times when I realized I was dreaming halfway through the dream. The last time this happened, it turned out I was completely topless.  I was immediately really embarrassed and wanted to end the dream so I told myself, "just open your eyes and it'll stop!" but I kept opening my eyes and being back where I started, usually with more people looking at me.  So I guess I didn't have complete control over the dream, but I had some control, and I was definitely aware that I was dreaming.  So perhaps I've never had a full-on lucid dream...or maybe all this still counts...

The eye-opening thing also reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  It's not really about dreaming, per se, but it is a little bit.  It's a good movie.  I'd watch it.
Salvador DalĂ­'s Persistance of Memory...very dreamy
There are things online that teach you tips on how to get yourself to dream lucidly, but I don't think I'd like that.  I'd be too afraid that it would make it so I wouldn't ever be able to not dream ever again.  Plus, the tips are things like, "close your eyes and don't move while you're trying to fall asleep," and, "go to sleep in a place with little or no noise."  DO THEY REALIZE HOW HARD BOTH OF THOSE THINGS ARE?!  A place with little or no noise?  For the past year and half or more, I've been living predominantly in Boston and now LA...little or no noise...I ask you!  And trying not to move while falling asleep?  That's WAY harder than it sounds.  When you're trying to sleep and your nose itches, see how easy it is to fall asleep without scratching it first...try it.  I dare you.

I wonder if they make how-tos on how to make sure you don't would probably just be something like- "clear your mind."  Well, most of the time, sleep does that for me, so...

Anyway, dreaming is lots of fun, and it provides me with wonderful fodder for writing and thinking and over-analyzing.

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