DREAMING IS PSYCHOLOGICAL YOGA

Don’t let anyone take away your dreaming rights. Everyone dreams; those who don’t are exceptions. Dreaming is an important component of our daily activity. Rosalind Cartwright highlights a fascinating aspect of dreaming. She sees in dreaming a mechanism for regulating negative emotions. She says that all the emotional states during waking hours shows itself in dreams. It means, dreaming has a regulatory purpose. The common thread among most dreams is emotion. Recent experiences that have emotional content are carried forward into sleep. Researchers say dreaming modulates disturbances in emotion, regulating those that are troublesome. Disturbing waking experiences, when reactivated in sleep, are compared with earlier memories; a network of older associations is stimulated and is displayed as a sequence of compound images that we experience as dreams. Dreaming diffuses the emotional charge of the event, and so prepares the sleeper to see things in a more positive light. Since dreams are the result of the interconnectedness of new experience with memory networks, and since memory is never a precise duplicate of the original and are subjected to a continuing act of creation, dreams are the products of that creation.

Dreaming is a result of three kinds of experiences: the physical changes in our bodies, emotional feelings we can explain, and the experiences that we can’t explain. Because of these experiences, we sometimes seem to touch the dreams. This is, perhaps, the reason we often see unusual dreams. Dreams help us solve some of our problems. We see certain patterns that take place in dreams when a person is injured, when a person is ill, when a person has been traumatised. Sleep and dream reminds us that “dream loss”, rather than the “sleep loss”, is the most critical overlooked “socio-cultural force” in the development of depression.

Dream researchers say, “Even foetuses dream”. They say that an 18-month-old can talk about dreams. The rapid eye movement (REM) state of sleep is associated with dreaming. As the name suggests, REM is characterised by the rapid and random movement of the eyes. About 80 per cent of the sleep time of the new born is in the REM state. As we get older, the REM state becomes lesser in duration; adults typically have 20 to 25 per cent of sleep time in the REM state. REM sleep normally occurs close to the morning. In old age, there is a slight reduction (around 20 per cent) in the REM state. Dreaming increases in special circumstances, like when one is learning new skills. It is probably good for us to keep learning new skills and exercising our brain in that way. Those of us, who live by natural body rhythms, and not by alarm clocks, are indeed fortunate. We use various metaphors to express our dreams; for example, dreams are poetry. If one dreams of an earthquake, it is quite likely that the person is going through something (like relationship) that is breaking up. The best thing about dreams is that you can fly like a bird in a dream. The take-home message for us is to sleep as well as dream well. Dreams give us a sense of the self. Dreaming has, thus, been called `a kind of psychological yoga that contributes to emotional wellness.