In ancient Greek mythology, Morpheus was the God of sleep and dreams. His brother Phoebtor, was the God of nightmares.
About last night…
Have you ever tried to pre-program your dreams?
Neither had I — until last night.
Psychoanalysis theories, dictate that our dreams are more than just a series of subconscious images and scenes. These theories dictate that dreams are trying to reveal something to us about ourselves, as well as offer insight on how to navigate the lives we are living.
Psychology says it’s possible that we can pre-program our dreams, with practice using skills akin to metacognitive thinking.
I know, I know — like, what the what!
In essence (and yes, I am simplifying for the benefit of this piece), metacognitive thinking is ‘thinking about thinking’ ‘knowing about knowing’ ‘becoming aware of ones awareness’.
So this suggests we can apply deliberate focused thoughts just before sleep, to activate our subconscious and pre-program our dreams.
Once you are settled and ready for sleep, with your mind wandering as it does — consciously choose something, someone, or a situation to think about. Despite your minds best efforts to wander — keep consciously thinking of that something.
I did that last night, I consciously thought about a particular relationship that remains somewhat unresolved — that I need resolutions to. I thought about it, about us, over and over again — then fell asleep.
I find myself just as I am, at forty two — back in my childhood bedroom. I recognise the single blue metal framed bed I’m laying in, and on the opposite wall in the corner — a familiar small, dark brown, wooden wardrobe. There’s a small pale sky blue Nike handbag, it has a pale blue strap handle — it’s hanging on the wardrobe door handle. Suddenly, a mouse appears from somewhere higher up it would seem — it’s clambering onto the bag. Horrified and panicked, I quickly grab the empty water bottle next to my bed, I hurl it towards the mouse. The mouse scurries away, disappearing out of sight — I wake up breathless.
Beyond the wandering mind
Let me confess, I am petrified of mice *shudders*. Meaning, last night I definitely fell into the arms of Phoebtor — and had a nightmare.
So, what should I deduce from my nightmare? Well, firstly I have to be willing not to take dreams/nightmares literally. On the surface, it appears my pre-programming experiment did not work. After all, my childhood bedroom and mice have no correlation to the relationship I’m pondering over, right?
Or, maybe it actually does. Remembering not to take what occurs in our dreams as literal symbols, but rather consider these scenes as clues pointing to the state of our deeper — emotional well-being.
In a theory called Neurocognitive Model of Dreaming, Psychologists Ross Levin and Tore Nielsen tap into this emotion based offering. This sits halfway between psychoanalysis dream theories and psychology dream theories.
Whether our dreams actually mean anything at all, continues to divide opinion in the field of psychology and amongst us all.
Still, I’m left wondering — who’s arms will you and I fall asleep in tonight?