Dreams. Where to start? What is a dream...?
The most commonly accepted theory, at least in the western world, seems to be that dreams are somehow the mind's way of dealing with stressful situations, putting things into context, related with what's going on in your "real life".
I agree with this in some cases. I'm not sure whether dreams make suggestions or merely point out things you're already thinking. The example I consider is that of partners (girlfriend/boyfriend things).
A particularly interesting example is that of dreaming about someone other than the person you're 'with'. Is the dream suggesting, recommending, randomly causing, or is it foretelling? Perhaps a combination.
Which leads nicely into the less accepted aspects of dreaming... Precognition, or deja-vu (depending whether you're looking at it before or after the event) is a fairly common facet of dreaming for me. Never about anything important. Snippets of conversation, fairly lengthy sequences of life in which very little is happening, always in great detail. I've found it's very difficult to make a conversation differ from that which is dreamed-in-advance. I did it once, and felt distinctly uncomfortable for the rest of the day. And it was a very irrelevant conversation. But does the dream foretell the event, or does it instigate it? I have to cast my vote with "foretell", on the basis that my dream can't influence what the other person says... And it's often far from predictable (to my conscious mind, anyway).
(A side note - accepting the Multiverse (cross reference : Multiverse) theory, the dream could influence what the other person says in my perception.)
Another common dream-aspect is the dream of flying, most often experienced by children. In my own experience, these dreams were almost always flying around the locale I knew. Of people I've spoken to of such things, it seems the direction of flight is usually controlled by concentration or willpower. A similar situation, to my mind, might be that of "astral-projection" or the near-death "out of body experiences". Who's to say that dreams of flying are just dreams? The American-Indian "dream-time" seems to be a similar astral-projection style thing. So why, in the western world, is it mostly confined to children? I guess because children haven't yet learned that such things "aren't possible" because they're "unscientific". Maybe so. Someone should invent the test-tube spirit guide.
There are a lot of stupid "facts" about dreams, presumably from the same sort of people as those who write statistical "facts". For example... Dreams are in black and white? Not mine. You can't read in dreams? I can. I've distinctly remembered text. You can't feel pain in dreams? I certainly can. Knives and flames, quite realistically. Maybe these "facts" are true for some people. I expect my experiences don't match up with some people's. I don't presume to declare facts about dreams - I declare facts about my dreams.
My dreams often include aspects of the world around my body. Several times I've had an alarm clock incorporated into a dream (as a fire-alarm or some such), which prevents it from waking me. I'm told I've also dodged things being thrown at me in my sleep, which is rather more inexplicable and pleasing.
A fairly commonly quoted "fact" about dreaming is that if you practice remembering, you'll remember them more. Writing as much as you can remember about a dream as soon as you wake up will be about three words a week when you start doing it, and evolve into an essay each morning a few weeks later. This, by my experience, is true. It's more convenient to have someone to tell your dream to, though.
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