Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daydreams vs Sleep Dreams

Daydreaming_Gentleman (Photo credit: mijori)

         We all daydream on occasion.  Daydreams can be very similar in theme and content to night or sleep dreams.  Essentially, daydreams are waking fantasies that may involve wishful thinking, curious ponderings, or even devious plotting.  When we daydream we are typically mentally distant from our immediate surroundings, yet with a conscious awareness that usually allows us to function in a normal way.  In fact, especially when involved in repetitious activity or activity that involves a drawn out state of concentration such as driving, for a major percentage of that time the mind may be engaged in thought activities that would fit in the category of daydreaming.

Wikipedia says:
Daydreaming is a short-term detachment from one's immediate surroundings, during which a person's contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake

          A daydream is a distracted thought that has duration and a storyline of sorts--much in the same way as the dreams we have during sleep.   A typical distracted thought is more commonly a brief diversion of attention that does not involve much more thought than the initial observation.     If the distraction involves more extended thought that might include an imaginary encounter with that which has been observed or a story line then the thought thread is a daydream.   If the daydream is recurring and consuming then one might be dealing with an obsession and that can be in most cases unhealthy from a psychological perspective.

         Some of the benefits that can come as a result of daydreaming are creativity, problem solving, relieving boredom, and visualization of possibilities.    Often daydreaming is associated with laziness or idle mind play, and while this may be at times the case, daydreaming can have productive and rejuvenating outcomes for the dreamer.  
         How are daydreams and sleep dreams related?   They both come from within the mind and probably in the majority of situations they rise from the subconscious level.  What we daydream will sometimes appear later in our sleep dreams either literally or figuratively.   Our dreams can be influenced by what we see, do, hear, or think during our waking hours.  This may be obvious to us in a remembered dream or we may not realize it.   Our daydreams say a great deal about who we are and what we want in our lives.  As long as we don't stay lost in excessive daydreaming, the daydream process is important for keeping our minds healthy.

         When do you most commonly daydream?  What is your favorite thing to daydream about?   Have you ever found yourself daydreaming obsessively about someone or something?

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Music to Dream By: Gymnopedies No. 2

        French Impressionistic composer Eric Satie wrote a series of three piano pieces he called "Gymnopedies".  This is some of the dreamiest music around.  Here is an orchestral version of the second of the series.  The music is accompanied by some wondrous visuals.

         I hope you enjoy.

Eric Satie   "Gymnopedies No. 2"  (@1888)

           Are you familiar with the Three Gymnopedies of Eric Satie?    Do you like the music of the Impressionism movement (Debussy & Ravel are most commonly associated with the movement)?   What kinds of music do you find to be the most dreamlike?
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Does More Sleep Mean More Dreams?

Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brothe...
Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, an 1874 painting by John William Waterhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         During my recent periods of feeling a bit under the weather, I found myself sleeping much longer than normal.  One Saturday evening I went to bed earlier than normal and the next morning lingered in bed later then I typically would have.  Since I was intending on going to church on Sunday morning, I got up and had some breakfast.  Upon returning upstairs to the bedroom I noticed that my wife had returned to bed and appeared to be dozing.  Still feeling rather poorly, I too got into bed and realized that I needed more rest.  I told my wife that I was not up to going to church and then went back into a sporadic sleep that lasted until after noon.

         And so it was on several days.   Sometimes I would sleep in later than usual while on other days I would take prolonged naps late in the morning or early in the afternoon.   But did I dream?   Most of the time I couldn't remember my dreams or they were very ambiguous.  Then other times I would have seemingly long dreams that were broken by occasional awakenings but continue after I returned to sleep.

         I don't think that more sleep necessarily means that I have more dreams.  It's probably a function of how poorly I feel or the nature of any medication I'm taking.  Also the dreams are possibly less "story" oriented and more sensory relating to any pains I might be feeling or the discomfort of the symptoms of illness.  Sensory dreams--that is dreams that are essentially colors, shadows, lingering images or feelings, and the like--are less likely to be remembered since there is nothing tangible to latch onto such as characters, settings, or story-lines.

         Sleep is undoubtedly always accompanied by subconscious activity at certain points.  More lengthy periods of sleep should in most cases have the same ratio of idle brain activity to dreaming activity as during shorter periods of sleep.  The fact that there are typically more dreams spread over a lengthier period of time, those dreams are pushed into the recesses of the mind making them more difficult to recall.

         Do you dream more when you are sick?    During times of illness do you remember your dreams more or less?   When you are well do you sometimes sleep longer because you want to keep dreaming?     

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dream Iconography

Rudolph the mug deer
Rudolph the mug deer (Photo credit: Renato Pequito)

         The imagery of dreams is frequently considered in terms of symbolism.  However it may be that certain recurring images symbolize different things from dream to dream depending on the context of the dream story or the circumstances in which the dreamer finds themself.   Could certain flexible images be considered iconography that covers a broad spectrum of meanings?

          My dreams will often feature certain people who appear in various dreams playing a variety of roles that influence my thinking in different ways.   Some primary dream figures that I think of in this context would be my old friend Fred who passed away in 1995, my father who passed away in 1990, and my former employer and his son both whom I would consider to have been my bosses when I worked for them and both still living.

         These iconic characters reappear in different dreams that are often very dissimilar in content.  Their appearances can evoke a variety of emotions and thoughts in my mind.   While the characters themselves don't appear to symbolize anything in particular their presences may be symbolic in accordance to the circumstances of the dreams in which they appear.

          To use another example, let's say I frequently dreamed about a favorite coffee mug.   In one dream I am enjoying a beverage from the mug, in another the mug gets broken, in another I see someone else drinking from the mug, and in another I am looking for the mug because it has been misplaced.   Each dream might cause me to have different reactions and emotions.   Maybe the mug symbolizes something or maybe it is a dream icon that becomes an inherent part of my emotional being and my personal history.

        Perhaps the iconic people or things are merely actors and props necessary to tell the dream story.  They do not mean anything symbolically in and of themselves, but they are important to give the dream story meaning and to evoke emotion from me the dreamer.

          The concept of dream iconography is not clearly established in my mind and may be too involved to discuss in a short blog post, but it's an idea that had crossed my mind after a recent dream.  I thought it might be worth airing in a post.

            Do you have repetitive images--people or things--that seem to have different meanings and roles in different dreams?    What do think would be good examples of dream iconography if there were such a thing?    How many dream characters appear repeatedly in your dreams and who are they?

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