Unravelling Your Mind.

The brain is a wonderfully complicated piece of organic matter and we’re still in the early stages in our understanding of how it all functions. For the most part the basic components are well understood, like neurons and synapses, however when the whole thing comes together we get some extrodinary emergent behaviour. One of the most interesting behaviours that we all experience is that of dreaming, and it was this behaviour that caused me to analyse the last year of my life whilst I was on Turtle Island.

Among the many theories about why we dream there are a couple that really stand out. The first being that dreams are in fact your brain’s way of training you for certain situations (Coutt’s theory). Whilst this might not make sense when you have a lot of fantastical dreams such as flying I can remember many dreams that mirrored real experiences later in life. Whilst I can’t truly estimate how helpful these dreams where some of them did get me thinking about certain ideals and beliefs I had held, sometimes resulting in me discarding them completely. It definitely feels like dreams do serve some form of cognitive evolution to strengthen yourself against the world.

The second, and I believe most important, is for the brain to process, link and organise your memories (R. Stickgold et al. “Sleep, Learning, and Dreams: Off-line Memory Reprocessing”). It goes hand in hand with studies done that show a prolonged lack of sleep affects memory. This also makes quite a bit of sense to me since, for the most part, my dreams usually have some theme from the day woven into them. You can then imagine my surprise then when on the second night on the island I had, and can distinctly remember, around 15 separate dreams with themes that I could trace back to events that happened well over a year ago. It didn’t take me long to formulate a theory on what happened based on the 2 dream theories I’ve described.

Now I don’t usually think I’m a stressed person, in fact I usually thrive in stressful situations. The last 6 months of my life could easily have been described as some of the most stressful in my life, what with the wedding, investment purchases going awry and almost being unemployed. As far as I could tell I can physically cope with stress pretty well, but this series of dreams and the mental clarity I had afterwards lends me to believe that there’s a possibility that my mind was somehow pent up processing my daily life and was in essence backed up on down time processing. With everything being provided for me and the stress of the last 6 months far behind me my brain when into over-drive catching up on processing and linking up those memories. It seems to line up nicely with the fact that I had been waking up tired for about the past 4 months no matter how much sleep I got, which would seem to indicate that my brain wanted more time to catch up on memory processing.

The next few days saw my thoughts become a lot more free flowing and the conversations at the dinner table all that more interesting. I’ve never really gone on a holiday where everything was provided for me so I guess the combination of relaxation and not having to think about anything allowed my mind to unravel itself from the tangled mess I had gotten it into over the past year. I guess the moral of the story is that we all need some downtime to let our brains relax and recover from the daily grind and mine just so happened to be the honeymoon.

Or maybe it was the Kava… ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. dreams are amazing.. one of my most memorable ones was when i was in London, about a week from leaving. I had a dream it was the day of my flight and i was totally disorganised, about to miss the flight. Very stressful dream actually!

    I checked it out online and found this quote:

    “To dream that you are late denotes your fear of change and your ambivalence about seizing an opportunity. You may feel feel unready, unworthy, or unsupported in your current situation. Additionally, you may be overwhelmed or conflicted with decisions about your future. You feel time is running out, and that you do not have time to accomplish all the things you want.”

    At the time, this was amazingly accurate. I’m not someone who believes in astrology etc, but something about dream interpretations feels more legitimate as it’s based on something real that you’ve experienced (as opposed to arbitrary positions of the moon or some crap).

  2. Ties in pretty well with one of the themes I was talking about to, it was preparing you for a situation that could potentially come up. Still it’s all up in the air as to whether or not that’s true (and really, only you know if it had any affect on whether or not you got yourself organised!) but some of the evidence seems to suggest that.

    I’ll have to admit I’ve never looked into the dream interpretation stuff although the wikipedia article on it seems to suggest that some of it has a basis in science. The interpretation you showed there was very close to one in the article to, so there may be some kernels of truth to be had there ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess what separates dream interpretations from things like Astrology is, like you said, it comes directly from you.

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