History of Dreams and Meanings
From the ancient times to the 21st century, it is still mankind’s quest to decipher the meaning of dreams. Throughout history most of the religions / cultures believed that dreams are prophetic or an alternative reality. During the past, many scholars have tried to decipher the dreams and their meanings and have offered diverse elucidations for dreams. On the other hand researchers have offered conflicting psychological and neuro-scientific explanations for dreams. Some have characterized dreams as meaningless and still another group believes that dreaming process is actually a process of unlearning. Only some researchers believe that dreams are indeed prophetic or visionary in nature. Recently some researchers have come to a point that dreams can act as a pivot in designing the survival strategies. Following are some useful articles on the subject;
- What is Dream Interpretation?
- Purpose of Dream Interpretation
- How it Works?
- What are Prophetic Dreams?
- Science expalins Prophetic Dreams
- Common Misconceptions about Dreams
- What is Symbolism?
- Why Symbolism in Dreams?
What is Dream Interpretation DI?
The field of dream interpretation is very much scientific in nature but no significant breakthrough has been made in this field. Dream interpretation is a careful attempt to make out rational stories from one’s dream. For accuracy reasons while interpreting dreams one has to follow certain set of rules, symbolism guides (dream dictionaries), judgments and intuition. Like any other applied field dream interpretation rules and guidelines should be framed, tested and explained. In this science too rules are dynamic and never remain the same due to continual changes in conditions of subjects of dreams i.e. human beings. By the passage of times, people change their looks, facial appearance, virtues, beliefs, integrity, courage and other related qualities. Variables involved in dream interpretation are too many and always varying. Such variable’s changes can cause the rules and guidelines to change or modify from time to time.
Purpose of Dream Interpretation
Like any other field the objective of this science is to benefit human beings with promising perfection without making any significant mistakes. Dream interpretations can help dreamer to make important decisions in life relevant to health concerns, relationship issues, career question, security or any life struggle you may be experiencing and various other issues. Depending on the individual's personality, the themes of dreams may be freewheeling. The subjects of dreams are intricate and wide ranging. These subject incorporate self-image, fears, insecurities, strengths, grandiose ideas, sexual orientation, hidden desires, jealousy and love. Dream process includes sensory as well as extrasensory experiences and matters of body, mind and spirit are incorporated.
How Does DI Work?
For the simplicity reasons dreams can be thought as rain clouds in the sky. Sometimes it may rain due to the clouds. At other times it is quite possible that clouds will not turn into rain depending upon the climatic conditions. Similarly dreams may come out to be true. As strong winds can disperse clouds without causing clouds to rain, similarly some spiritual or metaphorical events can prevent dreams from turning into reality.
Only by seeing the clouds one cannot predict with precision whether it will rain or not. Only a meteorologist can specifically forecast showers with authenticity. Similarly conceiving a prophetic or realistic dream is not sufficient to be able to predict future happenings. Like every specialized fields, this field also requires aptitude, knowledge of specific set of rules and guides, extraordinary intuition and relevant experience. As in old times man was unable to exactly forecast a rain or weather conditions but today’s technological breakthroughs have enabled mankind to forecast weather with higher degree of accuracy. In the similar fashion it has now become possible to interpret dreams with accuracy by applying data analysis tools to an appropriate database of dreams and their interpretations.
Language and Dictionary of DreamsGenerally all dreams comprise of symbolic imagery. Dream images are created from your own inner personal emotional associations with the dream character, object, feeling or sound in your dream. These pictorial metaphors construct a collage of emotionally significant associations which has meaningful relationships to waking life concerns. First of all one should be able to understand the language of metaphors or the language of dreams. Then one has to determine the dreamers associations with dream imagery with reference to the context. Finally develop a link between images and sounds conceived in a dream. You can work with your dream by figuring out what each image means to you. When you do you may get a connection between the dream and waking life. In this fashion dream language will make perfect sense once understood.During the past, many scholars have tried to decipher the dreams and their meanings and have offered diverse elucidations for dreams in the form of “dream dictionaries”. Such dictionaries list common associations. Common dream dictionaries available on internet are often just guesses or the associations of the author based on cultural traditions. Some authors have developed dictionaries on psychological and neuroscientific reasons. Dream dictionaries developed on religious grounds are also available. These are useful for suggesting possible metaphors – but unless there is relevant experience “meaning” derived from dictionary may be wrong or inadequate. Experienced dream interpreters can work out different stories contained within a dreams but dreaming person can only best choose which story best fits to his circumstances.
Dreaming Person’s Personality and Interpreter PersonalityThe person who is dreaming is of significant importance towards accurate dream interpretation Dreaming person’s vision, memory, exposure to various situations in life, religion, beliefs habits, education, prosperity, status, virtues, qualities, integrity, boldness, etc. contribute towards perfection of interpretation. Before finalizing an interpretation of person, one should explore various factors of dreaming person’s personality.These may be (profession, last eaten food, last thought while sleeping).Similar set of qualities at an advance level is also necessarily required in dream interpreter for useful dream interpretation.
Deducing Calendar of Events from Timing Of Dreams
Another important variable is the time at which someone dreams. Sometimes a dream may become true but at the same timing same dream may become untrue. It has been noticed that dreaming timing can significantly affect the interpretation rules. Therefore it becomes necessary to interpret dreams by taking into consideration dreaming timings. Dreams conceived at some particular time may be interpreted as real, but same dream conceived at some other time causes interpretation to turn around.
However the calendar of events seen in dreams cannot be exactly notified or shown in dream. These are usually attributing values to be deduced from dream. Following deductions have been made on the bases of experience;
- Dreams seen in the first part of the night can become true in a period of five years.
- Dreams seen during mid night can become true in five months.
- Dreams seen near dawn can turn into reality within 10 days only.
- Dreams seen near dawn are nearest to true dreams i.e these are likely to happen in similar way as dreamed and results are seen earlier.
- Dreams seem during spring season usually come true but after longer periods.
- Dreams seem during summer season usually come true soon.
- Dreams seen in autumn and winter usually do not come true.
4. Dream Recall and Dream Narration
For correct interpretations, dream recall and dream narration to the interpreter has major significance. For accurate results dreams should be narrated with as much accuracy as possible. No parts should be skipped or concealed due to any reason. Dream narration ultimately depends upon dream recall. Dream recall largely depends on dreamer’s interest in recalling dreams and mind-set about dreams. Those people having a positive attitude towards dreams can recall dreams well. People or groups of people taking an active interest in recalling a dream especially on a particular night, or during a period of nights, they are more likely to do so. In a study it was found that there was a significantly higher proportion of dream recall in creative people. Dream recall is greater in those with greater memory capability for visual images. Researchers have related dream recall to certain personality factors [Islamic factors of personality] that closely correlate with dream recall including: tolerance of ambiguity, openness to experience, absorption, creativity, fantasy-proneness and ability to be hypnotized.
Dream recall may also be related to one’s sleeping habits. On the occasions when we recall multiple dreams from the same night, it is often observed that a similar theme runs through each dream segment, but that each segment approaches that theme with a slightly different storyline, or set of characters and outcome. It is learning effect in dream experience. Normally we are able to recall dreams that are closer to our wake up timing.
One’s faith, attitude and perception towards dreams might prevent dream recall. This factor has also been pointed out in above findings.
Transition in sleep stages as shown in figure 1 may also prevent us from dream recall and this fact is supported by recent research. Normally during sleep there is a movement from stage-1 sleep to stage-4 sleep and between these stages of sleep. If dreamer awakes during such transitions, he will be unable to recall any dream.
What are Prophetic Dreams?
Not all but certain number of dreams are a kind of disclosure of divine information in which people are informed not only about key future events but even about past events which were not understandable at that time. Throughout the ages there have been many reports of dreams of a visionary nature that provide guidance, comfort or "truth" from what appears to be a divine presence. Visionary dreams of a divine nature can be so striking that they change a person’s life, or the course of history.
However In this scientific era, it is believed that psychic powers do not exist. Scientists rationalize that dreams that seemingly come true may actually be a suggestion or guidance for you making it seem as if the dream is coming true. You are willing it to be true. Another argument is that you may have a tendency to self-edit your dream to match the outcome. Because dreams are so easily forgotten, your memory of the dream may not be accurate. Still another theory is that your dreaming mind is able to piece together bits of information faster that your conscious mind. Your mind is able to see what will happen based on information that it has already collected.
Still, there are believers that dreams can indeed predict or foretell the future. Prophetic dreams are linked to major disasters, wars, assassinations, accidents, lottery numbers or even with winning horse race. Such dreams have helped solve crimes. In recent history, Abraham Lincoln was said to have dreamt of his own body laying in a coffin two weeks before he his assassination. British engineer, John Dunne dreamt of the eruption of a volcano in France which came true.
In a prophetic dream, you see the future through your dream. It is difficult to determine that a dream is prophetic because we can only confirm such a dream after it has taken place. Even then, we only hear of the success stories. There are so many other dreams that do not come true. Thus, prophetic dream may just be mere coincidences.
Realistic dreams are a subcategory of prophetic dreams. In realistic dreams you see the same event as it is going to happen in waking life. Realistic dreams can be considered an urgent note of some urgent or alarming situations. Therefore these are conveyed without using any symbolism. These dreams are likely to happen in the same fashion as dreamed of. Your dreaming mind has access to vital information that is not readily available to you when you are awake. All dreams generally have direct relevance to situations we are experiencing in waking life.
Prophetic dreams or realistic dreams contain many images and events that are relatively commonplace. A study was conducted using an equal number of REM and NREM dreams of the subjects by applying a standardized “Bizarreness Scale” to the dreams; the results indicated that about 70% of the REM dreams were reported as bizarre compared to 20% of the NREM dreams. Study suggests that 80% of NREM dreams are similar to daily life events. In the morning, sleep tends to be less deep and closer to waking, with longer dream periods. Usually when our sleep is at final stage we are experiencing the last cycle of NREM sleep. Therefore dream may be most likely to be a prophetic or realistic dream. When we are closer to waking our off-line memory becomes online now. This increases the probability to recall a dream. One should develop habit to wake up after each and every dream and should change the side. This also improves dream recall as offline memory becomes online when one is awake.
Science explains Prophetic Dreams
Revonsuo states that threat perception and harm avoidance lie at the heart of many dreams. When working on a dream with one or more sudden scene changes, treat each scene as a separate, but related, dream. Trying to relate it as one dream, with a logical connection between scene changes, rarely works. Also working with the entire dream as a series of related dream sequences is more revealing than working with a single segment. This produces coherent dramatizations that often portray the dreamer's conceptions and concerns in waking life. Due to the activity error and conflict monitoring function, the resultant dream stories can focus on conflict and anomaly resolution in our lives, making dreams somewhat forward looking and predictive. Thus dreams often end with a projected direction, path or solution, even if it is not always a positive one or the direction fully formed prior to waking.
Common Misconceptions about Dreams
Greatest misconception about dreams is that people either assume that all dreams are true or all dreams are false. Not all but only a certain number of dreams are prophetic or true indeed. Most of dreams are mere dreams and are difficult to interpret accurately. However some people having intuition can dream and predict well.
It is usually believed that dreams lack orientation stability. People, times and places are fused, plastic, incongruous and discontinuous. These misconceptions are categorically due to lack of specific knowledge in the subject area.
People seen in dreams often are not the ones we conceive. It is one of the basic rules while interpreting a dream to correlate the person seen in dream to a similar person in waking life. Similarities may include but not limited to the same or similar name, profession, relationship, position, qualities, habits etc. Try to understand some logical connection between the two persons. Pay attention to the context of events and figure out the person who best fits in your dream plot. Dreaming mind usually depicts a person who is closer emotionally and chronologically For example consider two people with same or similar names. You are associated with both in waking life. Person A is your buddy and person B is a colleague in office. Now if you see person A in your work place then dream may refer to person B your colleague. The reason is simple as person A has a long term association with you, dreaming mind will portray image of person A due to similarity in name and long term stronger association. Therefore seeing someone doing something in dream is likely to happen to his brother or sister and son or daughter and so on so. Child’s dream is associated to his or her parents while interpreting.
Orientations of places seen in dream are often confused and incongruous. Familiar places in waking life are relatively easy to recall. It is very hard to estimate the exact orientation of a place conceived through dream which you have not seen in waking life. Only chief landmarks may be recalled. If interpreter has visited or heard about such place then he can guess the playground of his dream. When we talk about places and their orientation in dreams we should again explore our long term associations. Native town or city may compose your world in dreams, globe or frame of reference in your dream. All places seen in dream will be mapped to your native city or town. In some cases your work place site may be your frame of reference in your dream. While interpreting such dreams you can map your frame of reference to the whole world and can work out place seen in dream. Still sense of orientation is missing. Remap and think about the locality seen in dream in certain radius or range and probably you may get the answer.
What is Symbolism
Brain partially active during sleeping and dreaming could not title objects therefore it associates these objects with their contextual role, function or purpose. In waking life we combine word symbols to form meaningful verbal stories composed of sentences; while in dreams symbolic images are combined to form meaningful dream stories of images, and metaphors. Consequently a constructive “language” seems to emerge from the telling of the dream. Each of us had learnt a system of conceptual metaphors, as a result of repeated experiences in the course of childhood development. This may be a reason that when we tell the dream, we often use metaphors to describe the actions, feelings and imagery in the dream. These metaphors are figures of speech that not only describe the dream, but link it to similar events and feelings in our waking life. Therefore all the dream dictionaries use language of metaphors which is also called symbolism.
In short we can conclude today the man has learnt about need of certain protocols for safe and secure information transmission. We are using different protocols for addressing, routing, and the fragmentation and reassembly of information packets in our daily communication. Similarly prophetic dreams are transmitted using “Symbolism” protocol.
Why Symbolism in Dreams?
Various situations in dream may have complexity many folds and cannot be perceived accurately. For example take the case of “Tsunami and its aftermath in Japan and America”. The situation is complex in nature, lengthy on time scale, encompasses large geographical areas and involves circumstances which are not easily conceivable for someone with average brain potential and he has no background in dreaming and interpreting. Also he has no previous exposure to such an incident. The situation becomes more complex when dreaming person has no background in nuclear reactors events as a result of earth quake disaster.Such situations in a dream of shorter interval cannot be foretold as such. Cerainly it will require some sort of notations and signs.
Someone may dream of future events in life like a large scale disaster in Japan, historical floods in Pakistan, political turmoil in Arab countries like Egypt, Tunis and Libya, Hurricane/tornadoes in America etc, Fire outbreak in Spain. Due to complexity of scenarios symbolism is effectively used to convey the divine warning or messages in shorter time interval. To communicate crucial information without significant losses i.e. by avoiding information corruption to maximum possible extent which is diverse in nature and vast in amount to dreaming person, Symbolism is used in dream. Conveying information using Symbolism protocol is an efficient process and causes minimum burden on brain or without overburdening the brain.
On the other side personal affairs or events like death of someone dear, promotion in office, a road accident etc. usually may be dreamed of in simple and clear-cut manner with similarities and confusions already discussed. Symbolism in dreams has certain advantages. It is time efficient, secure, universal, effective and less burdensome for brain.
This article and all content on this website indeed is original research work or something like that. Practical research work is undertaken by the author on the subject. Also research material already published from time to time in past on various platforms, has been re-organized and compiled in such a manner that it may fall within the vicinity of Author's views. Author’s imagination, personal views and experiences have also been incorporated. Finally ideas presented by neuroscientific researchers have been analyzed in perspective of religious teachings. Limitations of research have also been pointed out.
As the author is non-native English Language writer therefore no serious effort has been made to rephrase sentences created by researchers in the best interest of readers. Therefore it may not be thought-out as a violation of Intellectual Property Rights.