Turning Dreams into Conscious Action

People spend on average a third of their lifespan in a state of sleep. About 8 hours per night amount to almost 3.000 a year. Based on an average life expectancy of 75 years, you are sleeping approximately 25 years of your life away!

12 mins read
12 mins read

Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by dreams. Those that came to me at night and the ones that filled my thoughts during the day. I always wondered if there is a connection between what you think, experience, daydream in your awake and conscious life, and the state you are in when you sleep and dream. Is there anything linking your day-conscious and your unconscious night-mind, besides the obvious fact that they’re both yours?

People spend on average a third of their lifespan in a state of sleep. About 8 hours per night amount to almost 3.000 a year. Based on an average life expectancy of 75 years, you are sleeping approximately 25 years of your life away!

Your life is a rhythmic alternation between being awake and being asleep. Each new day starts with 8 hours of work, followed by 8 hours of leisure activities and family time, then followed by another 8 hours of sleep. And every day is more or less a repetition.

Sleep is a hugely important factor in living a healthy balanced life. It is during sleep that your body and mind recover and heal, thus promoting better long-term physical and mental performance. While you are sleep- ing, your body is left in the physical world and your spirit embarks on a journey into the spiritual world, all while your brain is busy processing and storing your daily experiences in your memory. As you sleep, you are not aware of these activities, but by working consciously with your life at night, you will be able to learn from these nocturnal teachings and integrate them into your conscious day mind.

PHOTO ALEXANDER ANDREWS

What Happens When You Sleep?

Traditional science proved there are several forms of sleep divided into four different stages:

Stage 1: Drowsiness

In this first stage, you have barely closed your eyes and the body is starting to calm down. You are still quite a long way from dreamland. The brain waves must first go through the primary cycle of sleep. It is at the transition from drowsy to light sleep that you may experience a sudden jerk in your body or get the sensation of falling. These movements may be due to the body having difficulty controlling the transition from an awaken state to complete relaxation. After 5-10 minutes however, you slowly slip into the second stage of sleep.

Stage 2: Light Sleep

Here is when you fall completely asleep. Your body temperature drops, your brain waves and heart rate slow down, and you are no longer connected to your consciousness.

Stage 3: Deep Sleep

During this phase, the brain waves have become very slow and your blood pressure has dropped. Breathing and heart rate are most often the slowest and most regular during deep sleep. Here is when you really rest and your body recovers, as the blood flows to the muscles and helps to rebuild you. If you are awakened while in deep sleep, it can take up to half an hour before your brain is fully conscious again, and you will often feel confused and dizzy for several minutes.

Stage 4: REM Sleep

When you reach this final stage of sleep, you will most probably dream. The name Rapid Eye Movement comes from the way the eyes move while you sleep, as they follow the experiences you have in your dreams. At this stage, the brain waves are very similar to those from a conscious brain, yet your body is almost paralyzed. It is often believed that your soul leaves your physical body during REM (also known as ‘The Little Death’) to con- nect to the spiritual world and link you to your higher purpose.

Despite most people being blissfully unaware while they’re dreaming, to try and exercise that awareness could actually be the key to discerning memories and the emotions attached to them.

REM sleep usually lasts a quarter of the night, about 2 hours even if you can’t recall any of it.

PHOTO WOLF ZIMMERMANN

What Are Dreams?

A dream includes images, thoughts and feelings that are experienced during REM sleep. Dreams can range from being extraordinarily intense or emotionally charged to very vague, fleeting, confusing or even unmemorable. Some dreams are happy, while others can be scary or deeply saddening. Sometimes dreams seem to have a clear narrative, while others make no sense at all.

Historically, dreams have been used in a variety of contexts. The indigenous peo- ple of Australia went so far as to attach greater importance to the dream world than to the real world. In Eastern philosophy, cultivating the dreamer’s ability to be aware that he/she is dreaming is key to the Tibetan Buddhist practice of dream yoga.

Sigmund Freud suggested that dreams represent unconscious desires, thoughts, wish fulfilments and motivations. According to Freud, humans are driven by repressed and unconscious longings, such as aggressive and sexual instincts. Although many of Freud’s claims have been rejected, research suggests that there is a tendency for suppression of a thought to result in dreaming about it. In his book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, Freud wrote that dreams are “disguised fulfil- ments of repressed desires” and he de- scribed two different dream components: manifest content (actual images) and latent content (hidden meaning).

Thus, dream interpretation is the process of assigning meaning to dreams, which can help enlighten us and psychologically expand our consciousness.

The Unredeemed Power of Dreams

There is no doubt that dreams can have a wholesome therapeutic effect, and perhaps even more so if you learn to make sense of them. They are helping define your ‘real’ dreams and yield strength and purpose. To dream of doing something and actually doing it are very similar processes for the brain if one looks at its activity while they are happening. Dreams can therefore be used to practice something, for example giving a speech to a large audience or doing things you would not otherwise dare but have an inner desire to do.

You can actually have fun in your dreams, build self-confidence, overcome fear and even experience sex. If you learn to master your dreams with a conscious mind, then a nightmare can act as a compelling experiment or exercise to try to overcome some strong emotions and thereby support your journey of personal development. However, this can only happen if you actively use dreams to gain insight into yourself and the outside world. Although the realm in which you move within a dream may feel very dis- tant or nonsensical, it always arises from something deep inside you – on a conscious or unconscious level. In the dream state, your conscious self brings elements from the physical world into the dream, as it knows you will be able to recognize them.

Dreams are like a puzzle, where only some of the motif is visible to you, but the interpretation must be found in the words, images, symbols and emotions that derive during the dream.

Supposing there is a higher purpose to the act of dreaming – wouldn’t it be interesting if you began to open your consciousness and attempt at being present when you dream at night? If you could strengthen your night consciousness, how would that affect your day consciousness? And what if you could use dreams to guide you, the same way you let your gut feeling or logic dictate? Have you ever tried to work out a dilemma or tackle an important decision and were told to sleep on it first? There’s definite truth to these words.

I believe that dreams can contain symbols and insights into emotional struggles, provide you with shrewd observation and help you come to terms with past experi- ences as well as prepare you for new ones.

Dreams are a bigger guide to your life than you think and contain an untapped realm of self that only a few have the mental dexterity to exploit.

If you started working more consciously and focused with your dreams, you could open a door to new insights and abilities that enhance your understanding and awareness of yourself, your life and your purpose and mission here on earth.

No matter what you believe in, it is certain that we all dream and reflect on our dreams in a way that best resonates with us.

I, for one, am deeply fascinated by the possibilities of this huge potential of personal development that lies in working consciously with your dreams and nightly experiences. If we could use our sleeping hours to evolve and transform our conscious mind and take advantage of the 25 years we sleep away, how life-changing would that be?

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