For many of us, dreams are a strange other world – sometimes puzzling, terrifying and beyond our control – other times, they can be downright fun and you hate to wake up.
I dreamed last night I was weeding my front garden in my underwear. The garden was filled with strawberries, but they were black. People were honking and laughing and I was mortified when I realized my state of “undress.” Believe me, I was grateful to wake up!
Frankly, I’ve sometimes wondered if our dreams are not our reality and our waking life is only a nightmare!
Chances are that you’ve often found yourself puzzling over the mysterious content of a dream, or perhaps you’ve wondered why you dream at all.
A dream can include any of the images, thoughts and emotions that are experienced during our sleep. Dreams can be extraordinarily vivid or very vague; filled with joyful emotions or frightening imagery; focused and understandable or unclear and confusing.
Why do we dream? What purpose do dreams serve? While many theories have been proposed, no single consensus has emerged. Considering the enormous amount of time we spend in a dreaming state, the fact that researchers do not yet understand the purpose of dreams may seem baffling. However, it is important to consider that science is still unraveling the exact purpose and function of sleep itself.
Some researchers suggest that dreams serve no real purpose, while other believe that dreaming is essential to mental, emotional and physical well-being. Ernest Hoffman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, Mass., suggests that “…a possible (though certainly not proven) function of a dream to be weaving new material into the memory system in a way that both reduces emotional arousal and is adaptive in helping us cope with further trauma or stressful events.”
Sigmund Freud concluded that dreams are “disguised fulfillment of repressed wishes.” Yeah, Siggy, like I secretly want to weed my garden in my undies! I don’t think so.
I did some research and learned that “exposure” in dreams often reveals some vulnerability that lies just below the surface of our more confident selves. This vulnerability comes from the self that we hide from others. The hiding may be conscious, such as taboo behavior, or less conscious, stemming from a general sense that if you were fully known, you would not be fully accepted.
Hmmm. I’ll have to examine that more carefully and see what I’m hiding from the world.
Furthermore I learned that fruit can be symbol for femininity, harvest, or decay. Since I was weeding a bed of black strawberries, I conclude that I am vulnerable to binging on strawberries and breaking out in a rash.
Supposedly we can dictate what we will dream about by thinking about what we’d like to dream about just before falling asleep. Tonight I will think about binging on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in hopes that will safisfy my secret desire to do so in my waking state.