Dream a little dream of me: an expert unpacks what our dreams really mean

March 1, 2016

 

So, I’m waiting for an elevator. Just a boring looking elevator except for the fact that it’s packed with all of my exes. Every single one of them. I have to make a decision, do I want to ride the elevator to the bottom with them or jump out of the window?

 

And then I woke up. This happens to me constantly. I’ll wake up from a strange dream like this and think, what the fuck was that all about.

 

So, in a quest to answer this question I got in contact with well known dream therapist, Jane Teresa Anderson who gave me a little insight into what is actually going on in our heads when we’re busy snoozin' away.

 

Since ancient times humans have been slightly obsessed with decoding our dreams and as technology has advanced so too has our desire for answers. Anderson explains that everyone does in fact dream and it’s actually a pretty important process for our brains to go through.

 

“Dreaming is a process necessary for our physical, mental, and emotional health. If you allow someone to sleep but deprive them of dreaming, which can be done in the lab, they become very sick,” she said.

 

It might surprise you to know that dreams are actually a culmination of the last few days of your life, so even something that happened to you on Monday could spontaneously pop into your Wednesday night dream. 

 

“Our dreaming brain and dreaming mind process our conscious and unconscious experiences of the last 1-2 days, updating our mindset. Think of it as like updating your hard drive.” 

 

So we know that dreaming is important, but what do the darn things actually mean?

 

For starters, have you ever wondered why you keep having that same dream about pulling out your own teeth? Anderson suggests that we shouldn’t rush to our nearest dentist too fast. The dream isn’t stemming from a lack of brushing our teeth but in fact a lack of brushing up on our communication.

 

“Dreams of losing teeth can be about what the dreamer feels [they are] losing in waking life, and is often related to communication – speaking, smiling, spitting out words (like teeth), losing face, loss of confidence, wishing you could take back the words you’ve spoken, or feeling as vulnerable as you were when you were a child losing milk teeth, or as vulnerable as you fear you’ll feel when you get old and lose your teeth. Each interpretation is individual,” she said.

 

If you’re already a dream aficionado, you might have heard about the phenomenon of lucid dreaming. This is when you are actually aware you are in the middle of a dream and have the ability to influence and control that dream. Pretty cool, hey?

 

“Dreaming is a process necessary for our physical, mental, and emotional health. If you allow someone to sleep but deprive them of dreaming, which can be done in the lab, they become very sick."

 

Jane explains that, “the key is that you are aware of two realities: you’re aware that you have a waking life and a dreaming life and they can seem equal while you’re lucid.”

 

While it might seem like a fun idea to control your dreams and perhaps finally get the chance to sleep with Ryan Gosling, Anderson warns that it’s not always the best thing to try and do.

 

“Your dreaming mind and brain need to process your experiences in their natural way, and not be stopped from doing this. Also, you can’t interpret a dream that you have taken control of, so you can’t reap the benefits of deep insight into your self that understanding a dream brings.”

 

Now, you might be thinking that dream therapy sounds a little too alternative for your taste but perhaps that just means that you haven’t needed to use it yet.

 

“Most [people] begin dream therapy because they feel that something is missing in their life, or that something needs to be addressed and healed. Some want deep understanding about how their past has influenced present so that they can make the changes as they move ahead in life.”

 

So, will I ever know why I dreamt about being stuffed in an elevator with all my exes? Probably not. Does it even matter? Maybe in some way it does. Dreams can be weird, wacky and sometimes seriously messed up but they are usually harmless to most people. So if you're feeling stressed about a seriously effed up dream that you had last night,  don't worry because you’ll probably forget all about it by 9am the next day.

 

 

Artwork: Silje Soldal

 

Alessandra Melville is a twenty-something writer and dreamer. She blogs at thedailymouthful.org 

 

 

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