In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumbering upon the bed, then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instructions (Job 33:14-16, 29). In this scripture Elihu states that God gives us sealed instructions in the form of dreams (Milligan, p.21).
According to Bible, God communicate mostly with the people through dreams. As God is an invisible entity to human, his communication means may also be different from the ordinary communication means popular among the human beings. Hamon (2000) has mentioned that “the Bible contains more than 50 references to dreams and visions in which God delivered messages” (Hamon, p.22). In short, for believers of God, dreams are the messages from the God. On the other hand, psychologists have different interpretations about the dream. In their opinion, dreams are often happened because of the actions of the subconscious mind. In their opinion, our mind has two partitions; one belongs to the conscious mind whereas the other belongs to the unconscious mind. Psychologists argue that conscious mind is active when a person is conscious or active whereas the unconscious mind is active when a person was sleeping. In other words, our thinking patterns will be based on the information stored in the unconscious mind while we are sleeping. These thinking patters often appear in the form of dreams while we are sleeping. In any case, dreams are a controversial topic like many other things in our life. It remains as a misery to us even from the start of human history. This paper briefly analyses the scientific principles and reasons behind dreams.
Understanding dreams scientifically
“A dream unifies the body, mind, and spirit. It provides you with insight into your own self and a means for self-exploration. In understanding your dreams, you will have a better understanding and discovery of your true self” (Welcome to Dream Moods). As we all know all the humans have a body, mind and spirit. Only body will be visible to us whereas the mind and spirit are invisible to us. But we know that apart from body, we have a mind and spirit as we are experiencing the activities of these entities in our life. The miseries surrounding our life have not been unveiled yet even though science and technology has developed a lot. What controls or drives our body is not well known to anybody. Religions believe that our body is controlled by a soul which has no death at all. On the other hand science keeps a silence over this issue. Science is not sure whether an energy form is controlling our life and body or something else. In any case it is clear that our body without life is dead and life should either be a form of energy or spirit.
Most of the dreams are normally associated with our own past experiences. In some cases, these experiences might be even decades old. But our unconscious mind has a habit of storing all the information even if the conscious mind doesn’t bother about it. This stored information in the unconscious mind often establishes similarities and contrasts with the new information we receive without the knowledge of our conscious mind. The results of these interactions between the stored information in the unconscious mind may appear as dreams while we sleep.
The act of dream is physiological (physical), whereas the content of the dream is psychological. The images, emotions and activities of the dream are a product of the individual’s unconscious mind, having to do with the total make-up of one’s human condition (conscious and unconscious). Most images (symbols) in dreams are personal representations of the individual (dealing with events and emotions in our waking lives), but also found within the dream are representations (symbols) that have nothing to do with the individual’s personal knowledge (Raffa).
Our thinking and perceptions have an important role in controlling the characteristics of the dream. Some people are negative thinkers. They always see the darker side of life. Such people mostly have dreams of that caliber. I have a friend who is taking treatment from a psychiatrist for delusions, kind of psychological disorder. The problem of this person is that he always thinks of negative things in life. Even when he was able to win great things in his life, he forgets about that and worrying about his simple failures. He was suffered a lot because of the inconsistent sleep due to frightening and threatening dreams. Because of such negative thoughts and dreams, he always started his days on a gloomy note. He was able to recover well after a prolonged treatment by an experienced psychiatrist.
On the other hand some people look only at the positive sides of their life. They have the knack of justifying even big mistakes committed by them. Such people project even simple achievements as great things and they always sleep well. Moreover, these people may have good dreams during their sleep which will encourage them when they wake up for actively performing their daily activities. In short, dreams can affect a person both physically and mentally. Positive energy is required for a person to actively participate in his works such positive energy often can be derived from positive dreams. On the other hand, negative dreams always retard the activities of a person. In other words, positive thinking may leads to positive dreams which can make a person extrovert and hyperactive whereas negative thoughts may lead to negative dreams which can make a person introvert and depressive.
Charmaine Saunders (2007) has mentioned that “dreams are direct messages from our subconscious mind and are therefore an invaluable source of information. However, because they come to us in images rather than verbal language, they can be frustrating and difficult to decipher”. Saunders classified dreams into different categories such as; digestive dreams, creative dreams, anxiety dreams, nightmares, recurring dreams, warning dreams etc (Saunders).
Digestive dreams are the ones which summarize the day’s events, concerns, thoughts, and ideas. This type of dreams may not have memorable things in it. For example, consider a person has passed an examination. It is quite possible that he may see a dream on that night while sleeping in connection with his success in the examination. Such dreams can be referred as digestive dreams as it is related to his daily experiences.
Creative dreams increase creativity
Creative dreams on the other hand encourage people to do something creatively. Many literature writers have mentioned that the idea of their great literature works was presented to them through dreams. “Many famous creative works such as the poem “Kubla Khan” appeared firstly in the form of a dream. Paul McCartney says that he got the words and tune for his classic song “Yesterday” through a dream experience” (Saunders). I have a personal experience in which a creative dream helped me in winning a story writing competition during my school days. In our school, every year annual celebrations were conducted and lots of competitions were involved in these celebrations. Story writing competition was one of the major events the annual day celebrations. The theme of that story which helped me in winning the competition was received through a dream.
Anxiety dreams are related to something which worries the person in his life. A person living in poverty may have lots of worries which may haunt him in his waking life. These worries and concerns may appear in different forms in dreams while he sleeps. A person with failed love affair or doubt over the activities of the partner may experience anxiety dreams of different kind. Most of the worries and concerns may result in anxiety dreams and we would be able to recollect or remember it only if it creates severe impacts during our sleep.
Nightmares are serious and it needs treatments. Nightmares can lead to severe psychological disorders. Nightmare dreams often appear in the form of violence, ghosts or dangers. Even after the waking up, the person may feel the after effects of nightmares. Repeated nightmares may make a person afraid to sleep. The absence of sleep and the concerns about the nightmare may destroy the physical and mental health of a person.
A recurring dream, often a nightmare, is trying to get a message through to the conscious level without success. The only way to stop it is to take notice of its message and make an actual change in your life. Dream life and waking life are but two sides of the same coin; therefore, as you adjust one, the other alters as well (Saunders).
Warning dreams are also repetitive in nature
This type of dreams always warns us about certain thing. For example, when we approach the end of life, we may develop lot of concerns about our life after death. Young people may not have many worries about the life after death as they may have more time left in their life to think about it. On the other hand, old people always have the worries about their future after death. No science or technology has ever succeeded in unveiling the miseries about the life after death. On the other hand, religions teach us that we will get punishments after death for every evil acts during our life span. According to holy Bible, all the people in the world are sinners and no saints are there on the earth. So the concerns about the punishments after death may haunt the person once he crosses his good days on earth. All these worries and concern may appear in the form of warning dreams while person sleeps.
Some of the amazing facts about dreams are;
- Blind People Dream
- You Forget 90% of your Dreams
- Everybody Dreams
- Dreams Prevent Psychosis
- We Only Dream of What We Know
- Not Everyone Dreams in Color
- Dreams are not about what they are about
- Quitters have more vivid dreams
- External Stimuli Invade our Dreams
- You are paralyzed while you sleep
(Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams)
Some people have the belief that only people with proper eye sights may have dreams. But it is an illusion. According to some scientific studies, dreams have nothing to do with eye sights, it deals with insights. Even blind people can have dreams just like the ordinary people because of their insights rather than eye sights. We might be able to recollect only 10% of the total dreams we are experiencing. That means around 90% of our dreams were insignificant and it dies in our mind itself without our conscious knowledge. Another important fact is that all the human beings have dreams. Some people believe that not only humans but, even the animals have dreams.
In a recent sleep study, students who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but still allowed their 8 hours of sleep, all experienced difficulty in concentration, irritability, hallucinations, and signs of psychosis after only 3 days. When finally allowed their REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep the student’s brains made up for lost time by greatly increasing the percentage of sleep spent in the REM stage (Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams)
It is impossible for us to dream about things which we were never heard of. Dreams are related to the information received to us from our surroundings. In other words dreams are occurring as result of information processing. It is not necessary that all the dreams might be experienced in colors even if the incidents which lead to that may occur in colors. The language of dream is symbolism and the real incident which caused the dreams might be represented symbolically in the dreams. People who quitted smoking, alcohol and drug addiction may have more dreams than others. This is because of the fact that even while engaged in smoking and drinking, these people may have a guilty consciousness which may follow them even after quitting. Some people have the belief that drinking some water just before going to bed may prevent dreams. We are paralyzed while we sleep in order to prevent us from acting someway in response to the dreams.
Even after the huge advancements in science and technology, we are still unable to unveil the miseries of dreams. Religious people believe that dreams are the medium through which God is communicating to us. But psychologists believe that dreams occur to everyone because of the various information stored in our unconscious mind. In any case, the exact reasons for dreams are still unknown to us. In my opinion, the miseries surrounding dreams can be unveiled only after we would be able to unveil the miseries surrounding our life and death.