by Chiara Liane
The more I think about it, the more I realize that dreams are essentially alternate realities. We believe that dreams are fabricated, false illusions. Waking up after a nightmare we find solace in realizing “it was only just a dream”. It’s crazy that every night, we lie down, close our eyes and go unconscious for several hours. But in a way, we’re just entering another world: the dream world.
Sometimes we wake and keep memories from this distant world, other times there’s no recollection. A lot of people say they don’t ever dream but that’s a lie. We all have dreams during our sleeping hours, with the most vivid occurring during the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle. Yet, many of us can’t recall them due to being bombarded with thoughts of the day’s ‘to-do’ list once we open our eyes. Or maybe the dream wasn’t significant enough (or weird enough) to recall. Our recollections of dreams tend to dissolve as the day goes on as we consume more and more information, getting on with our daily duties.
I think we all have one or a few dreams that stick with us for life, whether that’s because they held some form of true meaning, or because they were downright weird, or seriously frightening. It shocks me to think that some nights I’ve dreamt up something parallel to Friday the 13th, whereas other times I’ve been on a date with Zac Efron. Trying to explain a really vivid or strange dream to someone is truly a struggle – for some reason, it made perfect logical sense in your dream but then explaining it out loud to your friend it loses all coherent structure and normality. Although it still remains a hilarious task to tackle.
The past year or so, I’ve been trying my best to record my dreams as soon as I wake up. Well, mainly ones that tend to stick out or made me feel a heightened emotion. I’ve heard that the more we record our dreams, the easier we can recall them. But it has to be the very first thing you do when you wake up! Give it only 1 minute and it seems to be fading and dissolving and by the time you pick up your pen, it’s gone. Yet even when the dream has left me, it often leaves me with some distinct feeling or emotion that colours how I experience the day. Another reason I try to recall my dreams is because it increases your chances of having lucid dreams, which is something I’d love to get better at.
I first heard about lucid dreaming when I was in high school, maybe grades 8 or 9. It honestly freaked me the fuck out, which I’d like to blame on watching the movie Insidious, which kind of made me mix up astral projection with lucid dreaming. I thought that you could get stuck in lucid dreams, or enter a treacherous dream universe filled with demons and ghosts. Nevertheless, I was still interested in trying it out for myself despite my fear, and would try almost every night to go to sleep and remain awake. Every single time, I would either fall asleep without lucidity, or not fall asleep because I was trying too hard not to move and keep my mind awake. This led me to giving up and deciding to just stick with regular old dreaming.
I’ve had bursts of lucidity in dreams in the past. However almost always I wake up immediately, after getting a rush of excitement in realizing I’m dreaming. It wasn’t until earlier this year I had my first true lucid dream and it was entirely by accident! It was a total revelation – mid dream, after something bad had happened to my friend, I was walking along with another friend discussing the event and all of a sudden my genius self said “but this is only a dream”. And then everything about the quality of the dream changed. The colours were brighter, the people looked realer, everything felt like I was living and breathing in reality yet I knew I was dreaming. The usual haze and fog which clouds my dreams had totally dissipated.
That’s how I came to the conclusion that dreams are just an alternate experience of reality, which can feel just as real as if we were completely conscious. They help to sift through all the unconscious matter that’s swirling in our heads throughout the day. They say that every person in your dream you’ve seen at some point in your life – our minds have imprinted and encapsulated so much of our lives that we are totally unaware of. I sometimes wonder if we can access every memory we’ve ever had if we knew how to activate different regions of our brain.
Lucid dreaming is in essence exploring the unconscious consciously. It can be used as a tool for spiritual growth, a portal to explore, uncover and heal emotional blockages that can’t be recognized when we’re awake. For me, the dream world will continue to be a mystical, enjoyable escape from what we call ‘reality’.