Why is it we dream about being unprepared for a big exam years after we’re done with A-Levels? Or falling from a height and losing teeth? Then there’s the whole turning up to the office naked (cue the awkward meeting with HR) and having *that* infidelity dream, sometimes it’s Jack Grealish, sometimes it’s your neighbour who you don’t even fancy?
Dreams excite us, we want to make sense of them and revel in their madness with anyone who’ll pretend to listen and say, “that’s crazy” at the appropriate moments. Because that’s the weird thing about dreams, no one else really cares how realistic or crazy they are, unless of course, the said dream belongs to them in which case it is WILD and everyone must hear about it on repeat for the next week until it’s eclipsed by another crazy dream. Prime example – the one where you failed to attend Louis Walsh’s 70th birthday bash despite dream-shopping for a sequin jumpsuit specifically for the special occasion.
We want to understand them and discover their hidden meanings whether serious or novelty, in order to make some arbitrary connection with our real conscious minds.
A man who we’re hoping can help us unpack the mystery of our subconscious adventures is Martin Rothery, Sanomentologist, Dream Architect, and Founder of The MacRothery College.
Why We Dream
Science is a good place to start; exploring the function of dreams and their role in helping us to process our day, cache any unnecessary data and clear emotional pathways.
“The ability to dream is one of the most powerful healing processes we possess. It is the ultimate connecting and communication medium across the whole of consciousness. It has been recognised as a healing modality since ancient times, with many civilizations such as the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Mayans all having a form of “Sleep Temples” where people went to heal,” Martin says.
“The science behind it lies in the functioning of the amygdala, a small part in the brain which is key in assessing the input from our senses to evaluate danger. Many of the events of a day get stored in the amygdala for further processing, and when a person is dreaming this is the most active part of the brain.
“Dreams will often bring messages too, messages from the deeper parts of the subconscious. Problems can be resolved, ideas are formulated, blockages get cleared, and clarity achieved. Many inventions and theories owe their development to the power of the dream, the sewing machine, DNA, The Periodic Table, just to name a few.”
Common Dreams & Their Possible Meanings
“The meaning behind the dream is usually personal and attempting to generalise the meanings is often futile. However, we do share a universal set of ideas and symbology that allows us to deduce some of the meaning,” Martin explains. Martin Rothery
“The meaning behind the dream is usually personal and attempting to generalise the meanings is often futile. However, we do share a universal set of ideas and symbology that allows us to deduce some of the meaning,” Martin explains.
Dreaming of flying – This is about accepting yourself for who you are, reaching for your potential, and letting go of everything that weighs you down.
Being naked in public – Often associated with being vulnerable or being exposed as a fraud. It is sometimes linked to imposter syndrome.
Being chased – This dream can have several meanings depending on the chaser, and the emotion related to being chased. If the chase is enjoyable then the dreamer loves attention. If not, and the chaser is unknown it may be linked to unnecessary fear of a situation or event. Other times it can represent unexpressed anger, fear, or guilt.
Falling – This dream is often down to a perception of not being in control or losing control of a situation.
Childhood – Dreaming of being a child is a personal experience. Most of our programming is carried out during our childhood, so even small events can lay seeds for bigger ones in adulthood. The dreams will attempt to resolve the initial seeds to collapse the issue at hand.
Dream cheating is another common theme and can possibly represent your own insecurities, or fears and anxieties around your current relationship.
“If you are the one cheating in the dream, then it may also indicate suppressed wants or desires. If it is the partner that’s cheating, then it indicates trust issues. Dreams of infidelity seldom reflect real life, and the best resolution to these is to talk to your partner.”
Vivid Dreams & The Benefits of Having A Good Nap
Many people experienced more vivid dreams as a result of the pandemic due to heightened stress, increased isolation and a shift in sleeping patterns. If that’s you, there’s no need to worry. In fact, it’s a very natural response to our changing environment.
This is one of the benefits of having afternoon naps, as it allows the amygdala to clear half a day’s information and start the afternoon afresh.Martin Rothery
“The amygdala is the key part of the brain responsible for the path our dream takes. The more danger it perceives and the higher the level of fear or anxiety, the more information it stores and has to deal with. This is one of the benefits of having afternoon naps, as it allows the amygdala to clear half a day’s information and start the afternoon afresh, which is why napping dreams can be so much more powerful, and helps a person sleep easier at night,” Martin says.
“It’s for this reason that the higher the state of anxiety caused by things such as the current pandemic, the amygdala has a lot more to deal with, so dreams become more vivid and enhanced. The subconscious is purely trying to make sense and deal with something out of the ordinary. This happens with any major unusual event, wedding, moving house, illness, but coupled with the heightened fear driven by social and conventional media, with opposing views, the subconscious mind has a dilemma to resolve, making the dreams much more vivid and real.”
If you’re experiencing recurring dreams repeatedly, often accompanied by negative or disturbing dream content, it could be a sign that the dreamer has an unresolved persistent conflict or trauma in their life.
“If someone is experiencing a recurring dream, it is the sign of either an unresolved issue that needs addressing or an ongoing situation/current event that is happening daily. The same problem is presenting in the subconscious and it’s attempting to give the answer, but the dreamer may not be accepting it, or acting on it.”
So, we’ve covered vivid dreams but what about those of us who don’t remember our dreams at all? Fear not, you’re still dreaming at some point…
“We dream every time we sleep, as long as we reach that level of sleep where REM takes place. The average is estimated at 4 to 6 dreams every night. The actual active part of the dream is often over in under two minutes; however, the processing will continue for much longer, taking between 2 minutes and an hour.
The actual dream is stored in the short-term memory, and once a person awakens there is no need to recall the dream. Martin Rothery
“The ability to recall dreams has many factors. The actual dream is stored in the short-term memory, and once a person awakens there is no need to recall the dream. Think about working out a problem. Once you have the answer you don’t need to keep all of the scribbles and workings out, just the answer. This is the same for the dream. The deeper the sleep, the less likely it is to be remembered. The lighter the sleep, the more we are aware of the dream, and the more likely it is to be stored in the long-term memory. There also seems to be a link to open-mindedness and the ability to recall dreams.
For any journalling enthusiasts, jotting your dreams down on paper to look back on another day isn’t generally recommended: “Occasionally revisiting the dreams can be detrimental as it can reactivate the issues that the dream was created to resolve. It brings awareness back to the problem, which in turn places it back into the amygdala. Once a dream is done, the natural process is for it to be forgotten quickly,” Martin says.
What Are Lucid Dreams?
“Lucid dreaming is where you become aware that it’s a dream and take control. It can be beneficial as it allows you to steer and control the dream to suit. However, without guidance, you may not be aware of the purpose of the dream and therefore interfere with the process. Our signature Interactive Lucid Dreaming program allows you to have the lucid dream whilst being guided by one of our experts to ensure a successful dream.”
Sleep Paralysis (or “old hag” syndrome as it’s sometimes known) is a glitch in your natural sleep-wake cycle when an individual passes between wakefulness and sleep, often causing vivid hallucinations and temporary paralysis.
“When we are dreaming, we have a clever mechanism that stops our bodies from acting out the dreams we are having. When sleep paralysis occurs, it is purely an extension of the dream. The dream is happening during the waking state,” Martin says.
“In our work, we use the ability to dream whilst awake to resolve problems, and because we are guiding, we can prevent the fear, however when it happens naturally it can cause fear to set in. Sometimes the dreamer is unaware it is a dream and will think it is all real. This has led to reports of demons, abductors, aliens, and many other strange happenings, but they are just dreams, the same as the ones experienced when dreaming. The paralysis usually only lasts for a few minutes, therapeutic interventions can help to prevent or resolve Sleep Paralysis by dealing with the unresolved issues causing it.”
What Are Nightmares?
“Bad dreams are no different to good dreams in their purpose. They are still there to resolve an issue stored in the amygdala. One element at play is the fact that the inner mind has no concept of fantasy or reality. It doesn’t realise zombies, ghosts, etc are not real, and that the movie you watched before bed was make-believe. Therefore, it needs to resolve that in the same way as any other event it has stored away. Your fear and dread of the nightmare or bad dream is only your perception in the moment. Good and bad is a conscious concept programmed into us.”
Can cheese and caffeine really affect dreams that much, and if we dream-kill does that mean we’re a psychopath, or does it just mean we’ve been spending too much (viewing) time with Love Quinn & Joe Goldberg? We tasked Martin with busting a few dream myths:
If you do decide to look up your dreams in a dictionary, please don’t read too much into it, take it with a pinch of salt.Martin Rothery
“Let’s start with dream dictionaries. I’m not saying they are wrong, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Because dreams are a personal experience, although the interpretation in a dictionary may be right, it could also be wrong, and will impede the purpose of the dream. When we work with clients, we never give an interpretation of their experience, as we could reverse or interfere with the process if we are wrong. If you do decide to look up your dreams in a dictionary, please don’t read too much into it, take it with a pinch of salt.
“Food, including cheese, can appear to affect your dreams. In reality, it doesn’t, however, the digestive process at play can cause micro fluctuations in your sleep pattern which will make you more aware of your dreams.
“Doing bad stuff in dreams doesn’t mean you are bad. Killing or hurting people does not make you a potential psychopath. It is purely your subconscious mind’s way of bringing about closure or resolution to an issue.”
Getting Into a Good Dream Routine
If you suffer from bad dreams, there are a few good practices you can utilise to help improve your dream routine. This might be stating the obvious but watching Squid Game at 10pm is probably not conducive to a sound night’s kip. Decline that invitation, people.
Martin says, “Seeking help to resolve this issue is beneficial if it is a reoccurring one, but if they are random and sporadic then be mindful of what you allow into your awareness. What you watch, read, and think about will all affect your dreams. Acknowledge to yourself that these situations are not real and you can release them safely from the amygdala. Addressing your problems and issues and being aware will help to prevent bad dreams and promote good ones. We also have a number of waking techniques that can help to prevent bad dreams.”
Nightmares are not always bad and can inspire creativity much the same way as dreams. “The inventor of the sewing machine accredits its success to an extremely harrowing nightmare. He was chased by cannibals who were going to eat him. At the end of the chase, one of them threw a spear at him and it landed in the tree next to his head. He looked at it and saw the hole in the spearhead, and this made him realise that the thread needed to go through the point of the needle to make the sewing machine work,” Martin adds.
Sanomentology: Dream Architecture & Healing
“Sanomentology is a form of therapy that uses dreams in a directed and guided way. We design and create the dream state in the waking client, and then allow their subconscious mind to take over and run the dream, while we guide it and keep it focused. Because of the busy world we live in, and the abundance of information bombarding the senses, often dreams are muddled and confused, not dealing with what it needs to deal with effectively. With a guide we can make sure it is focused on the issue.”
Unlike traditional hypnotherapy which relies mostly on the subconscious mind, Sanomentology works across the whole consciousness, giving the client’s mind the freedom and permission to resolve the issues at hand using the dream state as a communication bridge.Martin Rothery
Martin explains, “The dreamer remains in control, allowing the dream to play out in a way that is safe and effective for them. We make sure that the confusing and muddled overload is removed and the healing can take place.
“All emotional issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma-based responses, and even chronic pain (pain that seems to have no underlying medical cause) are rooted in the mind, and the dream is the place where these issues can be resolved. Chronic pain appears physical as the emotional and physical pathways are shared, but that pain is still usually an emotional response. Most issues can be resolved in a single session, with long term success. Sometimes when the issue is deeper or more complicated, we need more than a single session, but with dedication from the therapist and client, success is assured and guaranteed.”
Seeking Professional Help
If your dreams are causing undue distress, fear of falling asleep or affecting your day to day life on a regular basis, then please do seek professional help. However, make sure the professional has a track record and experience, as dreams are very powerful, and misinterpretation / misguided meddling could cause deeper issues.
To find out more about Martin and his Sanomentology program visit: http://www.sanomentology.com