07 January, 2011

Conscious Dreaming

I had an amazing dream last night. Unfortunately, it wouldn't do much to describe the dream to you even if I remembered more of the details. Because what made the dream amazing wasn't the details themselves, but rather the ineffable quality of meaningness imbued in those details. And that's something personal that won't be the same for you as it is for me. Suffice to say, the dream involved me being friends with girls. Attractive girls.

But thinking about the dream did make me realize something interesting. I had a bodily ache overnight that prevented me from sleeping especially soundly, and I suspect that has something to do with why I remembered (partly) last night's dream (I don't remember most of my dreams). It seems that when I'm half-awake, or tossing and turning, I seem to remember my dreams better than when I'm sound asleep. What they call a deep, dreamless sleep, I presume is not actually necessarily a dreamless sleep, but one that is sound enough that your dreams don't break the surface of your consciousness.

Imagine it this way. Your brain is an apartment, and in it live your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. What your subconscious mind does affects the state of the apartment, but you can only directly perceive things through your conscious mind. When you go to sleep, that's like your conscious mind retiring to his bedroom, while the subconcious mind sits on the couch in the living room watching TV (your dreams). If you sleep soundly, then your conscious mind remains in bed all night long, and has no idea what your subconscious mind was watching on TV all night long. But imagine that your conscious mind is restless, and having a hard time staying in bed. Or that you hear a knock on the door to the apartment in the middle of the night. Your conscious mind might get up and go to the door, getting a brief glimpse of what's on TV in the living room. If your conscious mind is really restless, he might stick around and watch a show or two before getting back to bed. In those cases, your conscious mind is perceiving the dream (or part of the dream), and that's why you can remember it, whereas in other cases, only the subconscious mind sees the dream and that's why you have no recollection of it at all. And in some cases, your conscious mind may only get a brief glimpse of that TV, before moving on, or before your subconscious mind switches the channel or shuts it off - and in those cases, your memory of that dream will quickly fade, as you start to think about other things, because it wasn't interesting enough to stick.

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