Saturday, January 9, 2016

When dreams do a morning flit

Some mornings I have a dream – it might be a big one, full of romance and adventure – but it gets away before I can find any way to hold it. Then I am like a fisherman kicking his creel, stretching his arms to show the size of the one that got away, but not managing even that. Sometimes I know a night visitor slipped out the window in the instant I rolled over and turned my back..
     How do dreams do this vanishing act? Notice I am not talking about the absence of dreams, not at all. We can absent ourselves from dreams. We might even say, “I don’t dream” which only means “I don’t remember” or “I don’t want to remember”. Because dreams are never absent from us. We dream for hours every night. The guys in white coats in the sleep laboratories can show you the physiological evidence for that.
     I am talking about something more specific than a chronic or occasional lack of dream recall. That is a common condition and when it is protracted it is a real malaise, gravely injurious to your health and well-being, for which I have offered remedies, notably in my book Active Dreaming.
     I am talking, quite specifically, about how and why dreams get away. Waking, you have them. You may feel you have perfect recollection of what you were doing and with whom in another reality, just a raised eyelid ago. The next moment, all that is gone. Your memories have been erased, as if a Man in Black zapped you with a Neuralyzer
    What’s going on here?
     I’ve been going over some of my own experiences of dreams doing a morning flit. Here are some of my thoughts on how dreams get away:

It is hard to remember one world when you are in another world

Neuroscientists talk about how retrievable memories are established when data is passed from the cortex to the hippocampus. But what we experience in dreams is not just a matter of seeing movies between our ears. We enter an altered state of consciousness and then find ourselves in other realities. So the memory download is not just between areas of the brain, but between the nonlocal mind or the traveling dream soul and the brainbox receiver. The brain is an awesome organism that can handle far more than most of us ever imagine. But the download from multidimensional reality into forms and linear narratives we can recognize and use in ordinary reality is an awesome operation. We grasped something in the deep but it slips from our hand as we rise into the shallows and soon all that is left is a little froth, until that is gone too.

Your dream was so real you didn’t think you could forget it

On the other hand, our experiences in dreams may be so very real, engaging our inner senses, that – whether or not we become aware we are dreaming – we may feel no need to lay down a memory trace. Few of us would feel the need to write down that we took a certain road to work, or that a lover’s kiss tasted of wine or raspberries, at least not right away. These are actual events, they happened, how could we forget about them moments later? Well, it can be the same with dreams. They happened, they were real – and so we let them slip away.

You haven’t been taking action to honor your dreams

If we do not take action to honor our dreams, we do not dream well. Our dream producers may become so disgusted by our lazy neglect of what they have been giving us that they actually close down their movie-making, or pull a heavy curtain after a screening. As a writer, I am grimly aware that I have been given far, far more ideas for all kinds of new productions – novels and screenplays and novellas and short stories, as well as new nonfiction – than I have developed. When I have a patch where I can’t hold onto my dreams (or the dreams I do snare seem paltry) I often ask myself: Is this because I have not been doing enough to create from the scenes and scripts I have already been given?

You got zapped

Sometimes it feels like something intervenes to erase dream memories. When I write this, I remember the Neuralyzer used by the agents in the Men in Black scifi movies to make sure that regular people are not freaked out by memories of alien life forms.
    We are all subject to inner censors, and maybe sometimes to psychic interference.
     However, I like the idea that sometimes there may be a benign agency at work that seeks to ensure that we don’t bring through too much from other worlds before we are ready to integrate the knowledge.
     I gained insight about this from a good friend who is usually a prolific dreamer. She is also one of those who rarely fails to take action to embody the guidance and energy of dreams. Even so, she entered a period when her dreams were doing that morning flit. She willed herself to stay present, alert and conscious, in that moment when she felt herself stepping through the door between the dreamworld and her ordinary reality. When she did this, she noticed there was a figure standing beside a doorway, with a large timepiece in his hand, a pocket watch as big as a clock.
    “Who are you?” she demanded.
    “I am the Timekeeper,” he told you. “I decide when it is time for you to remember what happens over here.”

So, what can we do if we want to prevent our dreams doing the vanishing act?
    I like to visualize a door-stopper, that holds the door between the worlds open, just a chink, when I come back to this side, with dreams fluttering all around me. This gives me a chance to reach back in and grab a few before they have flitted away entirely. In my house, we use an old flat iron and a brick, and a stone the shape of Africa as door stoppers. In my imagination, the door stopper is sometimes a black dog, generally bigger than this little cutie I acquired from an antiques store.

Please Note: This article is not about the general problem of lack of dream recall, a widespread malaise in our society which is partly related to the absence of social reinforcement for the practice of sharing and working with dreams. You'll find my thoughts on common causes for a generalized dream drought n my book Active Dreaming, together with many fresh and effective suggestions for restoring your dream flow. This book also explains the Lightning Dreamwork process I invented, which gives us a safe and fun way to share dreams, get helpful feedback, and be guided towards actions to apply the guidance from a dream and embody its energy. This gives us a strong incentive to bring more from our dreams to the table of life.


Aylee said...

Funny, as I started reading this I had instant recall of one I thought had gotten away this morning, Thanks Robert! And on another note of the mysteries of bringing information from other worlds: Sometimes I have dreams in which there are activities that have no words in our world that I can use to describe them, I can see it when I get back but there is no way to articulate the images and memories that came with me. Its a stupefying experience.

Patricia said...

Last night a dream left before the net of my memory could draw in it's detail. I went to bed imagining what a goddess like Inanna would teach about the process of taking. I know it was an amazing dream because that's the feeling I woke with. My body had a subtle electric tingle through out and then it dispersed. And the net that was full of detail, emptied. However there was a residue of a knowing. "The balance in the process of taking is not allowing, it is in the asking of one present in the moment."

A side note: I typed the word president and then prescience before I made it to the word present. I use to get so frustrated with my inability to go straight to a word, now I will sometimes use this as a sidewalk oracle. I do beieve your book Sidewalk Oracles should be taught to teachers.I imagine it would unleash the gifts and un bind the dys from dyslexia.

When I ponder the neuroscience of dream travel and go to the circumventricular organs in relationship to the vestibular system, I feel on the edge of wholistic breakthroughs. And the dreaming gets magnetized to water dreams. And equally to dreams of light and color, wether in a cavern, or between earth and stars or among the stars.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation! This verifies what I have been suspecting as, lately, I have experienced several dreams that are packed with activities and groups of characters, then I awake and they immediately disappear like wisps of smoke when I usually can remember so much of my dreams. I thought it felt more like a quantum travel experience than a dream (as if I am living two lives).

Unknown said...

I am so glad you wrote about this, Robert. It happens to me all the time, unless I immediately write down at least a fragment. Once in a while, a BIG DREAM will come through, and those are not forgettable. But these MIB experiences are there unless I pay homage to at least the fragments.

James Wilson said...

Hi Robert, thanks for the detailed description of this problem. I recognize the problem you describe. It happens to me regularly that I wake up with a vivid memory of a dream. And a few seconds later the memory of the dream slips away. It surpizes me every time because the dream does not feel different from other dreams that I can easily remember. Even half hour after getting up. That’s also the reason that I fall for it every time. The memory of the dream is so present in my mind, I don’t expect it to be lost in a few seconds.
From experience I know that thess dream memories are not really gone, but are still present somewhere in my head. Over the years I often had the experience that I remember a dream I ‘ve forgotten later that day. The memory is usually triggered by an element from the waking life. As an example, I ride at noon on my bike through the city and see a striking house on the corner of a street. Spontaneously I remember a part of a dream I've had the same night. In this dream, I was walking down a street and went inside a building on a corner of the street. Thanks to this fragment I was able to recall a larger part of the dream I had teh night before.
I sometimes wonder if maybe , in this situation, our brain acts a bit like a computer. On each computer are all kinds of software programs installed which are updated automatically every so often. Windows, a virus program etc.
In most cases, this updating happens without any problem and in the meantime we can continue using our computer. Sometimes it happens that a computer has to be restarted again after installing the update, to properly integrate the new piece of software in the existing software. And in the meanwhile we can’t acces our files.
Who knows, maybe this can also be a reason for forgetting a dream that quick after awakening ?
That after awakening right out of a dream which gave a lot of new information or experiences, the brain needs (so to speak) time to start up again to process all the new information from the dream (or more dreams) which makes the new information of the dream very quickly temporarily unavailable?