From time immemorial, we human beings have tried to decode the reasons behind why do we dream and how it is affecting our lives, and we have come up with ‘n’ number of theories. Some say dreams are a result of disturbed sleep, some say dreams disturb our sleep, and some say problems in our awake state cause dreams while we are asleep.
In all these logics of ours, we always take dreams to be something that is not a necessary part of our lives and is just happening as we have no control over our mind while we are asleep, but studies have shown that lack of dreams and lack of REM, i.e., rapid eye movement, are responsible for many health problems that humans face today. From this study, it looks as if dreams are not just an inevitable part of our lives but are also as necessary as sleep or being awake.
But the point remains the same: how do we understand the cause and relation of dreams to our lives?
What Are Dreams?
Let’s go back to the oldest ‘life science’ present today, which is Ayurveda.
According to Ayurveda, dreaming, or Swapna, is a very normal function of the mind, and it happens for seven major reasons. “Drista Sruta” are the types of dreams that occur due to what we see while we are awake; “Shruta” types of dreams occur due to things that we hear; “Anubhuta” types of dreams are due to some heart-touching incident that happened in life; “Prarthita” type of dreams are believed to be caused by the supernatural; “Bhabik” type of dreams are based on an emotional incident that happened in life; “Doshaja” dreams are due to the influence of the supernatural; and lastly, “Kalpita” types of dreams are purely a result of our imagination.
Also, old Indian scholars mention in Ayurvedic texts that nidra, or sleep, is a state where the mind is not in contact with the senses, and hence they purely talk about the conscious mind getting at rest while we are asleep.
Looking at the explanation that we get in Ayurveda, it can be easily understood that dreams are purely the result of the subconscious mind, and the conscious mind has nothing to do with them.
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Why Do We Dream?
When we are awake, we tend to use only our conscious mind, which is about 5–10% of our mind, but there are a lot of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness and are reserved for the unconscious mind.
Dreams occur to understand the feelings or emotions that we unknowingly suppress in our awakened state and to untangle the knots of thoughts that are stored in the subconscious mind, which is why we feel emotionally charged once we wake up from a deep sleep. It is thus essential to pursue dreams to remain sane and have a better quality of life mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
Why Do We Tend To Remember Some Dreams?
The mind is like a clean whiteboard, and there is no demarcation between the conscious and unconscious mind; it is us who, by our inability to face some emotions, feelings, and situations, tend to segregate them in such a manner that with time it becomes quite clear that there are two sections of the mind, one being the conscious section or the section about which we can talk and think without any fear or hesitation, and the other being the unconscious section or the mind that we keep suppressing.
But these two sections of our minds are always tangled with one another, and that is the reason why we can remember certain dreams and why we sometimes wake up after a dreadful dream. While the subconscious mind is trying to untangle the thread of thought, sometimes the end that is present in the conscious mind gets pulled, triggering it to come into action.
How Do Dreams Impact Our Lives?
There are a lot of feelings and emotions that we try to suppress or unknowingly tend to ignore while we think rationally. And this is a major cause of anxiety, stress, disharmony, and depression in our lives because we are afraid of confronting our own emotions and certain situations. But as our body and mind are much stronger than we know, they keep confronting and dealing with each emotion and situation of our lives and dreams.
In our dreams, we deal with the thoughts, emotions, and situations that the conscious mind is afraid of, and without even our knowledge, a lot of things keep on getting solved. This is the major reason why we feel like sleeping when we are distressed and why, as time passes, certain things no longer feel like a burden and why, with time, we can deal with similar situations in a better way.
Dreams enhance the quality of life, and thus it is essential to get a proper amount of sleep so that we go into a deep sleep and can start to dream.
Dreams may be pleasing, they may be horrifying, or even sometimes they may not allow you to sleep, but do not add more and more thoughts to them. Let the mind do its work, and without your even knowing it, let it make you stronger mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually so that you can function at your full potential when and where it is needed.
About The Author
Dr. Annusuiya Gohil (MD Scholar)
All India Institute of Ayurveda
Expert in Immunity, Diet & Lifestyle daily routine