Part of our 40 Day Yoga challenge requires us to keep a daily yoga journal. In this daily log there is a section on dream recall.
In the wee hours this morning, I was jolted awake with new insights into my existing ‘Dream Recall’ theory, explained in full below … (below The Procession to Calvary by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted in1564, kept in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
ALI’S DREAM THEORY
Dreams may be thought of as highly fluid and largely internalised ‘altered’ states of consciousness.
Dreams allow sensory data streams – from personal lived experiences – to flow in along existing neural pathways during sleep. Incoming data streams, which become fragmentised and randomised during REM states, are eventually stored inside our memories and imaginations. This processed data feeds our ‘dream archives’, where it is reimagined in the form of dream states.
Whether we realise it or not, we have unlimited access to our dream archives during our dream states … imagine logging onto a site that has millions of compressed data files (compiled through a lifetime of personal and collective experiences). This site, or dream archive, is stored within the massive depository of our imaginations.
IMAGINED LANDSCAPES – ‘DREAMSACPES’
A single dream may access multiple nested sites within our dream archives, creating new imagined landscapes, or ‘dreamscapes’. Some dreamscapes are completely surreal, not governed by the laws of nature, which means that in these dreams we can jump over buildings, breath beneath the water, fly above the ground, or visit imaginary locations. Other dreamscapes are highly complex or contain disturbing content, which may make them difficult to access and recall. Other dreamscapes are completely random, therefore easily forgotten.
Yet, sometimes dreamscapes belong to a broader ‘dream genre’, which have been encoded by memorable life experiences, making them easy to recall.
For me personally, my common dreamscapes include: tube-train dreams (I lived in London for 10 years), market-place dreams (I love markets), church dreams (I am fascinated by churches and temples), beach dreams (I lived on the beach as a teenage), as well as lift dreams (I live at the top of a 24 story tower block) etc. Interestingly, by charting my dreams over the last three decades, I have been able to recognise that numerous dreamscapes, which I thought were random, can actually be mapped together to form a larger dream metropolis. In my dream metropolis there are beaches often with tsunami waves, mountains threaded with sacred tracks, estuaries to enjoy picnics beside, civic areas with interactive museums and libraries, CBDs with big hotels and hostels that I stay in, old industrial areas with markets, as well as suburban houses where I sometime meet dream friends. This city only exists in my dreams, yet I can visit it whenever I want, even in my waking state. I can see it now all in full, even as I write.
This means, by practicing a dream recall technique (outlined below), anyone can access their own ‘dream genres’, where multiple dreams are stored within dream files. Furthermore, I believe that almost anyone adept in dream recall can revisit pre-existing dreamscapes, and move around their inexhaustible dream archives, whether going off to sleep or remaining actively awake.
Because dreams seem to use existing neural pathways in the brain, accessing the vast field of the imagination, they are often diverse, limitless and extremely fluid. Dreams change rapidly from one scene to the next. Yet, it’s the catching hold of and recalling a dream at will, that is difficult for many people to achieve.
DREAM RECALL TECHNIQUES
Strangely, many people are not adept at recalling their dreams on demand, even when they have been explain how to do it. Do not despair if that is you! Dream recall takes regular and diligent practice to master. However, one your master it, it is yours for life!
Sometimes too, when you are going through the process of recalling an old dream, a ‘pop-up’ dream may open up. A pop-up dream is where a dream that you may have previously forgotten pops up into your cognitive memory as you practice dream recall. Sometimes I get multiple pop-up dreams. When this happen I have to decide which dreamscape or dream genre I wish to pursue!
Here is a dream recall technique that I designed and often practice at bed-time: