Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sympathetic Dreaming Part 1: Reality Affecting Dreams

Though you can often find me dismissing claims made in the movie Inception, occasionally, the scriptwriter sprinkles in a bit of truth. The chemist had too much to drink, so it's raining in his dream. While this particular causation is unlikely, it's not unheard of for real-world events to manifest in some form within the dream, including but not limited to bodily conditions.

As a child, before the mind finishes maturing, one may find oneself dreaming of going to the bathroom, only to wake and find you've wet yourself. I myself experienced this particular dream well into my teens, and only in my late teens did this stop; instead, I found myself waking with an aching bladder, but no actual accident. The latter still happens to this day.

Beeping or radio alarms can manifest inside the dream as well, as nearly anything, from car horns to actual alarm. Music playing outside the dream can change the tone or the behavior or the storyline of the dream.

Flashing lights, too, can be reflected within the dream, and some devices that help induce lucidity (help wake your awareness within the dream) use this property, including Stephen LaBerge's Kvasar. Even without such a device, you too can train yourself to use outside stimuli to help you gain lucidity, either through then leaking into the dream, or through the WBTB technique.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Micro-Dreams

Crim replied to my earlier text that she wasn't doing much during the week with her family for thanksgiving, except on the day of. I read it, promising myself to reply in the morning; I was just too tired now.
 - Dream, night of November 24 to morning of November 25

Dreams don't have to be long, drawn out adventures. Sure, that's what most people seem to write about, but that's because it's easier to write about those. What I like to consider micro-dreams are sometimes mistaken for hallucinations.

There's no actual length limit in either direction for a dream. Because they exist entirely in the space between our ears, they can run at an accelerated pace, where weeks or more can seem pass inside the duration of the dream, or it can go the other way. You can have a short dream, one that felt only a few minutes have passed, and yet several hours or your entire sleep period have dissipated.

For me, micro-dreams tend to occur most often when I'm very tired but having trouble getting comfortable in bed. My eyes will be very heavy, and I'll be snatching short bursts of sleep in between tossing and turning: a few minutes to an hour here or there.

My micro-dreams are usually about someone sending me a text, or an email, or me interacting with my cell phone in some way. I sleep with it literally underneath my pillow at night and often pull it out if I'm having difficulty sleeping, so it is very easy to mistake these short fictions for truths, and they usually do feel considerably more realistic than my more drawn out dreams.

Recall is usually very near perfect, but I attribute this to the fact that there aren't many details to remember, no excessive storyline. Mico-dreams are usually very simple and to the point, like the one above.

Since vividity is so incredibly high, it's very difficult to discover that I am indeed dreaming while the dream is still going on. It is only when I wake that I start to notice small details that would have given it away if the dream had been longer. For example, for Crim's text messages, even though she's in my address book, it still shows her phone number (which is unusual for many smartphones); during the dream, where her number should have been, was "@@". The unlikelihood of that symbol appearing in that setting, especially doubled up, is significant, but because the dream only lasted a few minutes at best, I didn't have the opportunity to remark on it.

As a child, and into my early teens, I often had somewhat longer "mini"-dreams that were comprised of me turning off my alarm clock in the morning, getting up, and starting my morning routine. I'd usually make it to the stairs before I found myself jolted awake by none other than the sound of my alarm clock going off. These dreams were particularly and disturbingly precise such that the clothing options in my drawers were identical, and my choices were identical. It wasn't until I started studying dreaming in high school that these started to become less frequent and eventually go away altogether.

Note that while micro-dreams can be confusing, disturbing, and disorienting, they are very different from hallucinations, which occur exclusively while awake. I recognize that it can be very difficult to confuse the two, especially if you haven't experienced both, independently and firsthand.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Guests, Visitors, and Co-Participants

There are a lot of characters that join me in my dreams; I almost never find the landscape void of everyone, not that that would necessarily be a bad thing. My characters are varied, their identities coming from all sorts of places.

Also note: while I refer to these characters as if they are people, human beings, that is not always the case for any of the following categories (yes, including the first one).

Twins & Clones
It may seem like a easy way out, a shortcut into populating dreams with duplicates of myself, but it most certainly is not. Being rather attracted to my own self (at least, more than I'm attracted to anyone else these days) and enjoying my own company at least as much as that of others' (if not more), it's a pleasure (in more ways than one) for me. I like being surrounded by self-copies.

Those copies, be they twins, clones, or otherwise, tend to exist in two different types. The first is self-existing bodies, and the second is as an extension of myself. In the first case, they are separate people who simply look and act like me; same body, same personality, but I don't get to experience their perspective. In the second, they act more like an extension of myself, as if my consciousness inhabited or was spread across more than one physical manifestation, not unlike my right hand and my left hand, except they are not joined to each other by flesh.

Experiencing extensions of oneself, and thereby experiencing yourself interacting with yourself is a very unique experience. If you ever find yourself in a similar dream, I highly recommend taking full advantage of it. You might learn some things about yourself and about how other people perceive you.

Splinters of Myself
This is one of the most common types of personality that populates my dreamscapes, seconded only by the next category. Splinters of myself are not twins or clones as I described in the previous section; I do not have any control over them, they rarely act as I would or look as I do. I use the term "splinter" literally: they are aspects of my personality, usually ones that are conflicting, and they manifest without or separate from the alternate part of myself that interferes with them.

The best example of splinter can be found in my (unfortunately mostly abandoned) story "Bands." This story was one of the many that was found in a dream, but unlike most stories that started that way, this was regularly fueled by additional installments in dreams; it was a serial dream, one of my longest running and longest spanning, occurring over the span of several years.

In Bands, there are three main characters: Paul, Katie, and Chris, and each of them was a splinter of myself, with something "more" thrown in. That more was something ethereal and borderline magical, something beond the normal that the real me, either with all the parts pulled back together or if I'd majored in one and let the other parts of me go, would never be capable of.

They were splinters that were literally living their own lives, and as they told me of their adventures, or I watched in dreams (sometimes through Paul's eyes but usually as an omnipotent observer), I would write them down, compile the pieces, and there was the story.


Somebody I Used To Know

This is definitely the largest demographic of people who populate my dreams. Whether I knew them for only a few hours, or I saw them regularly for several years, they have about an equal chance of showing up and participating in some way. They usually behave as I would expect them to from the impressions I picked up while I knew them, and I rarely have any control over their actions, even in lucid dreams or WBTB events.

When I make note of these people in my dream journal, I generally try to only refer to them by their initials or a nickname that few besides myself know. It's mostly because they are usually people I don't interact with anymore and I don't wish to draw them into being associated with me without their consent. I'll leave them to make that decision, and if they find the dream less than flattering, well, all the better that I referred to them in an obscure enough fashion that they can't accuse me of libel.

They are sometimes main characters and sometimes background characters, but I rarely get duplicates of one person in a single dream. That feature seems to be limited exclusively to myself.

Celebs
Popular media too often portrays dreams as a place where you can do anything you want in the presence of celebrities and famous people, whether it be socialize, flirt, or something malicious or erotic. For myself, it is only very rarely that famous faces take the stage in my dreams, and when they do, it's usually only in a supporting role to those in the above categories.

Again, when sharing these dreams publicly, I try to leave only initials or limited references of their identity; though it is far less obscuring (and usually easier to guess) than private citizens' names, it still allows for a sense of humility: I'm not publishing the dream to celebrate the presence of someone famous, I'm publishing it to share and complete my dream journal. The purpose is the dream and the storyline contained therein, not the people.



Somebody That I Haven't Met Yet
It's strange, but sometimes my mind seems to invent people. They're not a part of me, not a part of someone else, not someone I once met, or saw off in the distance. They seem to be completely of themselves and no-one else. These people are hard to spot in my dream journals, because I largely describe them by referring other people I know who share or remind me of particular characteristics.

That's not to say that these new people are just people I've met before wearing a new skin; everybody shares some aspects of their personality with someone else; given a wide enough friend-base and a comprehensive index of their characteristics (both physical and behavoristic) I could describe just about any mixture.

Summary
If nothing else, I'm hardly ever lonely in my dreams, and when I am lonely, I'm not truly alone. My interactions with people in the dreamworlds are more akin to my online interactions with consensual-reality personages: more cultured, more comfortable, than my face-to-face interactions, where I generally come off as shy and borderline anti-social.

What sort of characters and creatures populate your dreams?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Serial Dreams and Repeating Themes

Serial Dreams
Ever wake up in the morning feeling like you started the story but it's not quite finished yet? Maybe it's not. It is not uncommon for dreams to run like a television series, short episodes spanning the course of several nights, which may or may not be consecutive.

Dreams can be very long and yet still be contained in a single night, and yet, if they are very detailed, even that time dilation may not be enough to play out everything. There is no precise time ratio as you saw in Inception, where they could mathematically figure out how much time they would spend in the dream until the drug runs out. This time dilation depends entirely on the detail level of the dream--the greater level of detail, the closer to true waking time it runs. This may not even be consistent within a single dream: it can fluctuate considerably.

If you have difficulty completing a dream sequence, when it feels like more should be added on to give you a finished feeling, be sure to include in your dream journal (or just plain remember, which is much more difficult) not only the close of the dream, but how you felt as it ended. When you go to sleep next, bring those thoughts and feelings back into your mind, and the dream will hopefully continue.

You can find my experience with Serial Dreams on DreamCollectier.

Repeating Dreams
Those who insist on interpreting dreams (of which I do not participate in) usually claim that repeating dreams indicate a message that your mind (or a higher power maybe) is trying to tell you, or a lesson you need to learn.

Repeating dreams can be a cause of something considerably more simple. As shown in How To Initiate Lucid Dreams, your thoughts as you fall asleep can have a considerable influence on your dreams, especially for those practiced in using those related styles to make themselves dream lucidly. If you live a repetitive lifestyle, where you work regular hours, participate in regularly scheduled activities, and such, going to bed feeling very similarly can cause your brain to behave similarly when you're asleep.

It's also possible that your brain is trying to tell you something.

Repeating Geography
Outside of serial dreaming (where the geographic is mostly expected to repeat) and repeating dreams (where by sheer nature of the concept, it must), geography and landscapes may repeat, even as the topic of the dreams change.

When each of us thinks about a immaterial concept such as "home," even though there is no actual place called Home, a consistent image is drawn into the mind. As in the waking world, so in the dream world.

For regular and experienced dreamers, calling oneself to wake in one's personal domain is not unusual. It allows the dreamer to start somewhere familiar, and either continue on their current or most recent journey, or to go seek out a new one.

Mabon is such a place in the dream world of Charles deLint. It makes for a magnificent starting place of journeys both simple and grand, and allows the dreamer to find or build a home for themselves in the dream world. Similar places also appear in Stephen Harper's Silent Empire series and Bruce Balfour's Prometheus Road.

Our minds may be wondrous things, but even so, they can only create a limited (but seemingly infinite) supply of geographical features. For regular dreamers, these landscapes and landmarks are bound to repeat, even if they are not always recognizable as repetitions.