From the very beginning, man has pondered the cause and meanings behind his dreams. These multi-faceted adventures we experience during sleep have held our fascination throughout the ages. They have been alternately theorized to be everything from the uncoordinated thoughts within our brains while the conscious mind is not in control to the very messages of the gods.
Early humans and even modern aboriginal tribes do not differentiate between the waking experience and the dreaming one. Anthropological studies of the people of Australia and the deep Amazonian forests have shown that many “primitive” people share the rather complex theory of the mind travelling to another type of world where the body cannot follow. These people put a great value on the messages and experiences they have when in the dream state.
Scientifically, the study of dreams and the dream state show that their most observable form of manifestation occur during the brain wave activity closest to the waking state and that is why we can remember them. It is hypothesized that this brain activity
occurs during all levels of sleep and utilizes several distinct sections of the brain. They have determined that whatever causes dreams, they are not solely a human thing. All mammals and birds have been proven to dream.
From the beginnings of humanity the desire to understand the meanings of our dreams have held a great interest. Oneiromancy, the study of dreams as a tool of divination has long been a spiritual and religious concern. From ancient shamans to biblical prophets to modern psychoanalysts, the interpretation of dreams has been held as a tool to understand the inner workings of the body and soul. Interestingly enough, people from all over the world, despite cultural or religious bias, still dream very much in the same way about the same things.
Whether dreams are part of the collective racial memory of the species as the Swedish psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed, or random non-linear thoughts running through the synapses of our brains, many people take their dreams very seriously. Spiritualists and occultists practice mental exercises that are intended to promote and increase the vividness of dreams. They develop routines to help create such lucid dreams that there is not always a readily noticed way of telling them apart. In both the ancient religions of Buddhism and Hinduism there is the philosophical argument that even our waking state of consciousness is but a dream on a different level.
Dream dictionaries have been compiled to try and explain what different actions and figures in dreams might mean to the individual who experiences them. Many who act upon the interpretation of their dreams report that the information has been very helpful in resolving problems or avoiding dangers that their dreams showed them. While many dreams seem random, there is the phenomena of the recurring dream. These dreams will play over many times for some individuals. It is the recurring dream especially that interpreters find need to be studied as they are usually trying to point out a major difficulty in a person’s life that must be faced and resolved.
Whatever you make of your dreams, they are an integral part of your existence. Observing and caring for the events you experience in your dreams has been shown to be as important as caring for the body you carry yourself around in everyday.