Thursday, February 28, 2013

Does a Written Story Work in a Similar Way as a Dream?

Deutsch: Julie liest einen Brief von St. Preux
Deutsch: Julie liest einen Brief von St. Preux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       Julie at Julie Anne Nelson: Young Adult Author brought up a topic about writing that made me wonder if the fiction writing process often works in much the same way as dreaming.  The writer has control of the writing process for the most part, but what about the imagination that puts the stories together?  Are the origins of the story streamed from the subconscious to the conscious mind where the story becomes developed?    How much is the shaping of the stories done somewhere deeper within the mind before being projected onto the page?

       Julie had this to say:
I have been working like a mad writer lately, trying to get through the rough draft of the fourth book in my series before I put the finishing touches on the third.  I like to make sure that I know where this ship is going so that I can add a bit of foreshadowing here and a few hints there.   What I discovered as I blazed through the end yesterday was that I had no idea where this story was going, and I have to say I was shocked at the darkness that is coming for my characters.

      In her post, Julie goes on to describe a difficult real life situation that she has been dealing with and suggests a correlation between that and the direction her story is taking.   She sees her characters plunging into a darkness that is very similar to a struggle a friend of hers has been going through.

       This immediately made me think of the dreaming process.   This post raises some interesting questions about how events happening around us and in our own lives might be reflected in the things we do, say, and write.  This is especially curious in Julie's case of not quite knowing where the story was heading and her life directing the course of the story. I wonder if it is somewhat comparable to dreaming, where the subconscious mind writes the dream story as a symbolic reinterpretation of waking life.  Just a thought.

      Whether writing fiction, telling stories to others, or merely daydreaming, we are creating controlled dream scenarios of a sort.   We build archetypal worlds that represent that which is familiar to us, yet disguised and reimagined for our audience or ourselves.

        The writer is the dreamer and the reader is the reaper of those dreams.

        What do you think about the concept of writing as a form of controlled dreaming?   Have you ever developed a story from a dream that you have had?   Have you ever gotten so lost in a story that you were writing or reading that the experience became dreamlike and essentially a process of the subconscious mind?

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Do You Remember Your Dreams?

65 - Perfect Recall
65 - Perfect Recall (Photo credit: tourist_on_earth)
         Many readers of A Faraway View have said that they don't dream.   Most research would counter this claim and say that we all dream, but we often do not remember our dreams.  Not remembering dreams is probably a more common situation than having good recall.   What makes us remember certain dreams, but have little or no memory of most other dreams?   Why are the dreams we do remember forgotten so easily and quickly?

        A recent study at the University of Notre Dame suggests that walking through doorways can cause you forget.   The researchers came up with the premise that moving from one environment to another can create enough mental distraction to cause a thought change when one enters into the new place.  Perhaps this is similar to what happens when we awaken from a dream.

        During a dream our mental faculties are focused on an often abstract thinking environment that often makes little sense.   Upon awakening we enter into a mind shift that consists of the logical world that is tangible and easier to comprehend.  Our attention is now focused on our senses and our surroundings.  Like passing though a doorway into another room, we leave behind the old thinking of the dream which is typically forgotten as we now respond to stimuli in the waking life.

         When we manage to carry the dream thoughts into the waking life and continue to dwell on them, those thoughts become clearer, more real, and remembered if we tuck them into memory.  The more we think about the dreams and tap into the dream memories, the more we solidify that dream memory in our mind.  It takes a conscious effort to isolate those memories and retain them for the long term.

        Writing the dream account can cinch the memory for us, but usually the timing is prohibitive for engaging in such a practice.  We usually are getting ready for the day, eating breakfast, or attending to family members.  There is often little or no time for dwelling on dreams.

         Sometimes prompting from others can help tremendously.  In a recent example I encountered, as I was going to bed one night, my wife, who had already been sleeping for some time, began sobbing in her sleep.  When I asked her if she was okay, I woke her up from a dream.   She told me the dream and why it had made her cry.  The next morning I asked her if she remembered crying in her sleep. She remembered and recalled the dream in detail.   Later that same day, after she came home from work, I asked again and she still remembered the details of the dream.

       For most of us, a dream awoken from in the middle of the night is forgotten the next morning.   However, if we were to get up from that dream and write it down, the memory would be more clear.  Likewise this would be true in the morning if we wake while dreaming.  If we have a dream journal or a note pad beside the bed or nearby, even if we write down a brief description and some key words, we are very apt to remember the dream, especially if we thoughtfully contemplate the dream for a time.

          Remembering a dream might be compared to memorizing a poem.  The first read through is the experience.  Most of us will forget the poem if we read it only once.  But as we study the poem, pick out key words that strike us, and continue to review the poem, we begin to commit it to memory.

           Such is dream memory.  To make the memory last after the initial experience, we must rehearse the dream in our mind and recite it until that dream is seared upon our memory.  Dreams are fleeting.  Work is required to hang on to them.

            Have you ever tried writing down dreams or keeping a dream journal?   Have you ever remembered a dream due to telling someone about it immediately upon awakening?    How good is your dream memory?

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Types of Dreams Provide You Comfort?

Dream girl
Dream girl (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
         There are times when I wake up in the morning feeling tired from stress-filled dreams.   There are other times when I might wake up feeling happy and even amused because I've had humorous dreams.  Then there are those dreams that leave me feeling very peaceful, calm, and comforted.   My sense of well-being after having this sort of dream may last for a short period or throughout the course of the day.  When I think back on the dream, I recall the comforting feeling the dream provided.

          Usually the dreams that make me feel comforted involve people who have passed away.  The most frequent dreams of this nature feature appearances by my father, who passed away in 1990, and my friend Fred, who passed away in 1995.  These dream characters rarely speak and if they do it is only a few words.  Primarily their roles in my dreams are mostly a presence much like a guardian angel or a spirit.  The dreams may contain some potential of a threatening circumstance, but my dream guardians seem present to protect me if need be.

         On some occasions in the dreams about my father I will hear his laughter and that tends to soothe me.  In life he had an infectiously fun laugh and hearing it in the dream lifts my spirits.  When I awaken from dreams where the deceased make an appearance, I am never sad or afraid, but I feel glad that I have been able to be with them.

         Another type of dream that gives me a peaceful satisfied feeling is the dream where I am recognized for an achievement or some particular level of status.   This is usually involving a work scenario where I have accomplished a job well done or I feel confident about my position.    Occasionally these dreams can involve a school setting, but this is not as frequent as when I was younger and actually still attending school.

         A final dream contentment scenario involves dreams where all is well with family, life, job, or some other life circumstance.  There is no frantic activity in these dreams or if there has been earlier in the dream, before waking all has been resolved.   These dreams would be more similar to normal waking life when nothing extraordinary or unusual is happening.

         My guess is that these dreams are partly wishful and partly reflections on states of well-being in my life.  When one of these dreams has occurred there is no abnormal stress or anxiety in my life and my time of sleep consists of good rest.  Like most dreams, these probably are symbolic examinations and reinterpretations of my day.  If the day has been peaceful, then likewise the dream.

         Do you have dreams of deceased loved ones?   Are you comforted by these types of dreams or do you find them disturbing?    Do you find the stressful dreams more easy to remember than the peaceful ones?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Have You Ever Woke Up Laughing?

humor (Photo credit: bertknot)
        In the previous post we looked at dreams that make us tired.  Those are typically complex dreams involving work and stressful situations.  We actually may be dreaming these sorts of dreams because we are already tired and stressed and these sorts of dreams are an ineffective way our mind deals with these circumstances.  We go into sleep tired and emerge from sleep still feeling unrested due to our dream stress and activity.

        But what about dreams that relax us by making us feel more lighthearted and amused.  There may be different reasons a dream might relax us.  In this post we'll look at funny or nonsensically amusing dreams.  These dreams might include silly imagery, absurd situations, or actual "jokes".  If we awaken from a dream of this nature we might feel happy, we might be smiling, or we can even awaken in laughter.

      In a recent example from my sleeping life, I was dreaming of activities with my family at a location I cannot remember--perhaps my mother's house. Both of my granddaughters, Marley and Lillee are present. I one point I realize that Marley, age 4, has been put to bed. My youngest granddaughter, Lillee, age 2, is still awake and on my daughter's lap. Lillee begins saying a number of phrases that include the word "no". However, instead of saying "no" she makes some sort of sound and gesture that I find tremendously funny. I begin laughing and awaken while laughing.

         After I've awakened having had this dream, I feel very upbeat and happy.  I try to relate the dream to my wife but I cannot describe what it was that I found so funny about my granddaughter.  I am unable to recreate the sounds or gestures my granddaughter had been making in the dream.  It all seems cute perhaps, but no longer funny in waking life.

         The humor in this particular dream seemed to be related to a verbal joke.  In other funny dreams the "joke" is what has appeared to have been an actual spoken joke that seemed funny in the dream.  Rarely do these dream jokes seem funny after I wake up and attempt to relate them to someone else.  Perhaps the sense of humor in dreams is far different than that of waking life or maybe it's not even humor at all, but some sort of symbolic subconscious representation of humor.

          In other funny dreams I may see some sort of ridiculous image or find myself in some sort of ludicrous circumstance and wake up laughing about what I've experienced.   Usually I either don't remember what it was that made me laugh or if I seem to remember, I cannot express the dream experience in any words that make sense.

           My wife and others have sometimes told me that I was laughing in my sleep.  In those circumstances I rarely remember since typically remembered dreams are only those dreams from which we awaken.  Likewise, on a few occasions I have heard my wife or my children laughing in their sleep.  They too have been unable to relate the reason for the laughter and were unaware that they had done so.

          Humorous dreams probably alleviate mental and emotional stress that we may be experiencing in our lives.   A silly dream is probably a nice way to wake up from sleep and face the new day.

         That wacky subconscious dream mind sure has a peculiar sense of humor.

          Have you ever woke up laughing?   Does dream humor that you've experienced make sense?   Where do you think dream humor comes from and why do you think it happens?

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