An Altered State of Consciousness
Grab your favorite beverage and pull up a chair, because we’re going to chat about something that’s as elusive a topic as it gets — even more so than, say, politics or whether or not alien life really exists. Note: It’s no accident that I mention politics and alien life in the same sentence, but that’s a totally different topic altogether…unless, of course, the elements of your latest dream had something to do with both — which is completely plausible in this day and age.
Okay, take a moment to think about the latest dream you had. If you’re like most, that may be a daunting task. While we’re typically able to recall remnants of our dreams, rarely are we able to fully recall enough of a dream to “put the pieces back together,” so-to-speak. Depending on the encounter, we may recall random glimpses of what occurred during a dream that we quickly discount as “weird or bizarre.”
Human thought exists on several layers or aspect planes. Loosely defined, our mind operates in three dimensions:
· the conscious
· the subconscious, and
· an altered state of consciousness (or alter-conscious)
“Altered states of consciousness are sometimes also called non-ordinary states, and include various mental states in which the mind can be aware but is not in its usual awakened state (hypnosis, meditation, trance, and dreams).”
It is the alter-conscious plane where dreams principally occur, and the one aspect that is the most elusive and difficult dimension to define. All three dimensions freely interact with one another and have some level of affect or influence on each other.
A great deal of focus has been given to the study and science (both psychological and physiological) of our dreams. Oneirology is the official title given to the scientific study of dreams.
Because of our cognitive limitations, we’re not yet able to fully understand how to control and/or manipulate our dreams. But what if we could actually control and manipulate them? How cool would that be? So cool it seems, that I used that exact premise to write my first novel, Dream Operative, where the protagonist has an ability to recall, control, and manipulate his dreams. It can be a double-edged sword, as I explain in the novel. Nonetheless, recall, control, and manipulation remain a focal point for increased knowledge and understanding where dreams are concerned.
Like the early pioneers of our existence, we do the best we can by assigning meaning and interpretation through symbology and conjecture. An understanding of dream symbology requires a delicate approach and an admission that this too is not an all-inclusive or absolute method of clearly defining that which still eludes us.
With every attempt to increase the wisdom of our understanding through symbolic reference, we must be open to the likely possibility that we are simply wrong. After all, symbolism is not an all-encompassing approach that is universally applicable to a population of those who dream of common symbols. That said, this “uncharted territory,” is a rich forum for unbridled opinions, insights, theories, and interpretations — all of which lend themselves, albeit in an eclectic manner, to the advancement of our understanding of a fascinating aspect of the human psyche.
One of the methods used to understand dream symbology is a practice called amplification. Amplification is a process of focusing on the remnant elements of a dream that we’re readily able to recall. Those elements are analyzed as symbols that are associated with similar elements and circumstances we have come to know through the knowledge, wisdom, and interactivity of life. In other words, we associate the alter-conscious with the conscious…the unknown with the known…in much the same way we do with virtually any science or process of discovery.
It has always intrigued me to listen to someone describe a dream they have had. From a listener’s perspective, we associate and filter the information with the bias of our own symbolic visual, emotional, and psychological references while listening. We can never truly enjoy a first-hand account of another person’s dream…unless of course, we’re paired with them in the same dream. Yes, that has been known to happen in more of a psychic versus a scientific setting. See? I told you this could go in virtually any direction. We’ll save that discussion for another time.
Suffice it to say, our dreams, as elusive as they may appear to be, have a purpose. That purpose is, in large part, a deeply personal process that I believe offers infinite possibilities of insight and introspection — both of which can increase knowledge, wisdom, creativity, expression, and spiritual acuity.
What are your dreams telling you? Are they a mere reflection of your conscious life? If so, do they offer insight on the state of your life…opportunity, warning, assurance? Carefully analyzed, do they reveal a hidden nature previously unknown and plausibly possible, yet to be discovered?
Leave a comment and share the experience of your dreams. And don’t be concerned about how bizarre it may sound. You’re principally looking for signs and symbols.
In fairness, I’ll be the first to disclose one of my dreams. For some reason, the major themes of my dreams seem to be most closely associated with maneuver, conflict, weapons, driving, and water.
Walking down a dusty street, minding my own business, I was approached by a man. He had a sinister sense and directed me to sit at a table at the edge of the road. I sat motionless, curious as to what he wanted. He placed a hammer on the table. I took it as a threat. He confirmed the threat and told me I was to go with him to be interrogated. I looked around to assess the situation and saw that there were other men behind me. Several thoughts ran through my mind…what information would I divulge? What were my escape and evade options? The dream “warped” (dreams tend to move quickly sometimes, going from one scene/experience to the next) and I was with an unknown ally. We were hiding from a pursuer and were forced to make a decision to jump off a rooftop into a body of water to swim to a nearby boat…
The dream elements became sketchy after that, as they often do. But, in my dream, there were the typical elements of maneuver, conflict, weapons, water, and even some kind of vehicle in the end.
The birth of my first novel stemmed from my dreams. You can read more about that story here…
What are your dreams telling you? Are they a portal to your next novel or a spark that ignites your vivid imagination leading to your purpose? Do they haunt you, inspire you, excite you, or confuse you? It may help to chronicle your dream elements. What may seem utterly confusing at first may in time reveal a pattern that you can make sense of just by reading the elements you record.
Meantime, embrace the experiences of your dreams. You never know what you’ll discover or where it’ll lead.
“Dreams are made of the elements that are an intrinsic part of who we are, the guide of our souls, and the possibilities of our existence.” — G. Westfal