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Tuesday 01 July 2014

Work in Progress

 

Since the start of its journey back in 2012  Dreamboard and its users have seen us grow and develop. Just as we listen and learn from our dreams we at dreamboard have listened and learned alot from YOU, our dreamers.

As a result of your feedback and comments, our developers are working hard on important changes and upgrades to our technical infrastructure in order to improve the performance  of both the Dreamboard website and mobile application.

These technical issues may have impacted accesss and use of your dream journals in the last few weeks and we are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. We ask you to be patient and bear with us while we work on the new upgrades.

Keep checking here on the blog, Facebook and follow us on twitter for News, developments and articles on dreams and dream science

Thank you for your patience and we look forward to continuing the exciting journey ahead.

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Tuesday 27 May 2014

Guest Blogger Dr Rory Mac Sweeney offers his insights on Lucid Dreams

You are dreaming right now… Real as it all seems, this is a dream, or perhaps it is not, but how would you know, how would you propose to investigate the nature of your world, so as to distinguish it from your physical state of familiarity?

My name is Dr Rory Mac Sweeney and I have pondered this question endlessly, why is it that we encounter the world of dreams with such acquiescence? We are thrust into a nightly nebulous of infinite possibility, the likes of which would nurture the soul with endless fantasy, an invitation to experience the impossible and yet, we miss it completely, because something in the psyche is missing, an ability to be present and critically aware enough to ask the question “Am I dreaming?”

Lucid dreaming is different; in this case the dreaming subject gains sufficient insight into their state of consciousness, and recognises the fact that they are dreaming. This is nothing short of a miracle by any modern account, as we are plunged into the deepest of philosophical concerns about the nature of consciousness.

Our conventional view of consciousness was a rather binary affair, with sleep indicating a state of unconsciousness and waking implying the opposite. Although dreaming was a more dubious affair, with some evidence of consciousness awareness being precipitated and measured by both experiential and empirical data, it was still safely assumed to be a state of non-critical awareness.

I would like to draw the reader’s attention to this term, non-critical awareness, so as to distinguish it from the normal sense of awareness that we have in dreams. The latter state is very much a stimulus-response type motif, which is not a great deal different, in terms of intellectual supervision, from withdrawing your hand from a hot surface. The critical self alludes to something far more sophisticated, with the sense of a satellite perspective emerging into the picture, please allow me to elaborate.

You see, in this case, not only am I reacting to the environmental stimulus, but there is also a kind of meta-consciousness being observed and commented on by my prevailing mind. I am able to make enquires to myself, about the nature of my circumstances. This is what we would normally define as self-reflective awareness, and it is the kind of consciousness that ordinarily associate with human beings.

It is because we are critically self-aware, that we can describe the world the way that we do in the first place, and this is what allows us to build a language frame to distinguish between waking and dreaming. In this regard, lucid dreaming is therefore something that is only ever likely to be experienced by higher thinking animals. There is certainly evidence to suggest that many animals do dream, but the likelihood is that they lack the intellectual function to question the fabric of their existence, in the way that we do, and hence would unlikely ever encounter a lucid dream.

Being able to lucid dream has countless implications for us as a species; it is a step over the threshold of consciousness as we have historically defined it and an invitation to explore the mind from the inside out. Familiar fields like Psychology and Psychiatry will certainly be entering into a new paradigm of possibility, as we no longer sit at the table of idle speculation of whether or not this is a scientifically verifiable state of mind, on the contrary it has not only been proven by the work of Stephen Laberge and Keith Hearne, both of whom were able to show experimental evidence of the state over 30 years ago, but we also are now looking at more sophisticated imaging technology, to show us what actually happens to the dreaming brain when lucidity occurs.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich have been able to peek into the dreaming brain, and have literally watched the light of lucidity switch on in their test subjects who,  became critically self-aware during the dream. This ground breaking exercise has allowed the team to observe which specific areas of the brain became excited during the event, thereby giving an indication of where the seat of meta-consciousness might actually be in the brain. The areas detected included the right dorseolateral prefrontal cortex, to which commonly the function of self-assessment is attributed, and the frontopolar regions, which are responsible for evaluating our own thoughts and feelings. The precuneus is also especially active, a part of the brain that has long been linked with self-perception” according to Michael Czisch, head of a research group at the Institute.

In terms of our scientific appraisal, one might ask what the potential side effects of lucid dreaming are. Our current model does not speculate any particular impact on the mind although one must consider the ontological affair that we so commonly address as our reality. J. Alan Hobson remarks that the dreaming brain is actually an essay in schizophrenia as we (in normal dreaming) become disoriented, dissociated and co-confabulators in a fantasy world, that has no other consensual observer. One might have to question whether or not engaging this world warrants a degree of caution, especially for the less psychologically stable person.

If lucid dreaming is something one would like to pursue, then how might we best achieve it?   This is certainly a question to which there are many answers, but I expect most people would agree that a familiarity with the landscape of your dreaming mind is a foremost. We normally experience our dreams retrospectively and the memory we attain decays promptly, so what we essentially have, to examine our dreams, is a very narrow window of opportunity. On this basis, we would best record our dreams in a diary. We can then look for certain patterns within our dreams, to help to focus our awareness, in order to flag a future event as a potential dream scenario. To make this process easier and more effective, I would advocate the Dreamboard design, as their online facility helps you to orchestrate your often irregular dreaming activity into more coherent patterns, in order for you to familiarise yourself with. These are precisely the kind of tools that will help bring more opportunity for you to become lucid, and I, for one, am a firm advocate.

So in summary, what we are witnessing here is a transition in the state of our consciousness, a step up the evolutionary ladder, one cannot help but to speculate, for what is it to be essentially human, but to ask the question “What am I?” The answer it seems, may prove to be even more queer than we imagine, or to quote J.B.S. Haldane “even queerer than we can imagine”

 

Dr Rory Mac Sweeney

www.wakeupinyourdreams.com

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Thursday 08 May 2014

Sleep and Dreams when you are expecting

written by  Prof Patrick McNamara

Both men and women the world over can attest to the fact that dreams increase in frequency and intensity when you are expecting a baby. It is a time of great joy and great apprehension and fear. Will the pregnancy proceed without complication? Will our baby be healthy? How will the baby change our schedules, our finances, our lives?  Am I ready and able to be a parent-to have this helpless little child depend on me?

Given the huge responsibilities associated with becoming a parent it is no wonder that we undergo an emotional roller coaster during the pregnancy. That emotional roller coaster is reflected in our dreams. Dreams of both men and women during a pregnancy are filled with fear, apprehension and worst case scenario “What ifs….”.  Nightmares are frequently reported as well. That much is to be expected. But it is also true that dreams appear to help us to prepare for parenting.

Koukis (2009) analyzed dream content reports from 24 pregnant women and 24 expectant men and found that the dreams of both groups of expectant parents departed markedly from the age-matched gender norms. Unlike non-expectant men and women the expectant participants reported far higher numbers of family members in their dreams, reduced aggression and reduced male characters. The expectant men also evidenced a far higher “success percent” than the male norms.

What do these results mean for people working with their dreams during a pregnancy? It is a striking fact that the expectant father’s dreams actually reversed typical content patterns for male dreams. Most of the time men dream of interacting aggressively with other male characters.  This pattern is reversed in the dreams of expectant fathers. They instead dream of friendly interactions with family characters. The typical dream of non-expectant females includes a mix of friendly and aggressive encounters with a range of familiar and unfamiliar male and female characters. This typical patterns is dramatically changed in the dreams of expectant mothers. Once again expectant mothers dream far more often of familiar characters-mostly family members.

Thus pregnancy dreams do not merely reflect the fears and apprehensions of expectant parents. Instead they appear to facilitate a shift into a family oriented emotional orientation. That shift very likely helps to ensure that the newborn comes into the world with parents who are far less aggressive than their non-parent peers and far more family oriented than their peers.

 

References

Koukis, M (2009). Pregnancy Dreams. In S. Krippner & D. J. Ellis (Eds.),    Perchance to dream: The frontiers of dream psychology. New York: Nova Publishers Pps 167-180.

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Tuesday 18 March 2014

“Go to bed and Sleep on it”

As a child after a fall or loosing a toy, teenage angst, exam time, break ups, even through our whole adult life when there’s a time of worry and stress or problem that seems nigh on impossible to solve how often do the phrases “sleep on it” or” things will look better in the morning” get said and how often are they right?

Are they just “old wives” sayings or did those old women really have knowledge and insight into how our subconscious comes to life in those dark night hours, able to seemingly provide solutions to problems, rationalize, consolidate, forgive and to heal.

The human mind has two domains: the conscious and the unconscious.

The conscious or “waking state” is the time when we are subjected to our problems or “we take in the pieces of our personal life puzzle”, the unconscious or “sleep dream” time is the time we work on the images and if the pieces are the right ones put them into some kind of order.

Dreams are reported as highly visual and often illogical in nature, which makes them ripe for the type of “out of the box” thinking that some problem-solving requires, says Dr Deirdre Barrett, a Psychologist at Harvard University who has studied problem solving in dreams for more than14 years.

After a breakup or emotionally upsetting event our dreams allow us the opportunity to “replay” scenarios often with different endings or “what if” scenarios, which allow us to accept, forgive and deal with the situation and enable us to move on.  When faced with similar situations in the future we are perhaps better equipped to make better judgment calls in a similar scenario.

Professor McNamara from Boston University also adds that the situation is a familiar one and these alternatives are called scientifically counterfactuals.

In psychology and cognitive neuroscience counterfactuals are treated as mental simulations of possible worlds or how things might have been if one variable in a mental model had changed, i.e. (I failed the test), we generate a counterfactual (if I had studied more) against which we compare the negative event.  The comparison process reveals that the counterfactual alternative seems plausible (I could have studied more) By engaging in these counterfactual simulations, we may more easily learn to how to avoid negative outcomes in the future, or we may learn how to strive more effectively for current unmet goals or desired outcomes”.

Garfield (1974) stated, ” Once your dream has provided you with your own poem, or painting, or solution to a problem, you know. Ever after you will be able to seek inspiration and help from your dream state. Those who do not believe in dreams have only nonsensical ones”

Dreams are therefore the recognition, re-examination and recomposition of our own unique “pieces” and only the dreamer possesses both dimensions of the puzzle, therefore only they can use them.  This is why dreams if captured can be a very personal and powerful self awareness and self help tool.

“Old wives” saying? We think not. Dreams are a means by which we can observe ourselves, give us a better understanding of who we are and an awareness of how we function, they give us a freedom from preconceptions and a new dimension of problem solving unattainable in the conscious mind.

Naturally to use our dreams wisely we first need to remember them, record, and reflect on how they make us feel.  This can be challenging. We often wake up in a rush and tear headlong into the day without giving ourselves the chance to reflect on a night’s sleep, an event which takes up to a third of our daily lives.

This is where dreamboard comes into its own. The Dreamboard app has both a daily reminder feature and an alarm function that will gently wake you and allow you to instantly record your dreams.  You can then capture your immediate thoughts and feelings through simple user-friendly icons and symbols and then add the additional dream narrative in a separate text field.

Should you wish to reflect on or even edit this later, logging onto your personal account at dreamboard.com can presently do this. However we know how much people would like this on their mobile device. Watch this space for future developments!

So keep recording and reflecting on your sleep and dreams at dreamboard.com or via the Dreamboard app and let us know if your dreams have offered you a solution to a problem and if “things really did look better in the morning”

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Friday 15 November 2013

Love and dreams

Hi Dreamboarders,

How are things? Are you still tracking your dreams?

Since we know you are passionate about dreams, we’d like to share the following thoughts with you.

First of all, how many times have you taken a moment to ask yourself what your dreams mean? It’s natural to wonder what they are trying to tell us, especially if you have recurring dreams.

It’s a little like when you fall in love with somebody – at first you probably aren’t even aware or you don’t want to admit that you have feelings for a certain person. It’s also common to meet someone who, at first sight, seems really annoying and then, maybe months or years later, you have to admit to yourself that you admire or are perhaps even a little jealous of that person.

Probably your unconscious had been trying to tell you this for a long time, but you were always too busy or distracted to listen. So you just kept on with your normal life, acting as if nothing in particular was happening, until one day you found yourself faced with a stark new reality.

We at Dreamboard are here to remind you that people can learn to listen to their unconscious, without any help from fortune tellers or interpreters, by looking instead at their dreams. There’s no need to ask someone to interpret your dreams for you – your dreams are yours alone. They are representations that your mind has created only for you, starting with your feelings and emotions.

By using Dreamboard, thanks to the feedback that the application gives you and the opportunity to read, day by day, your dream journal, you can understand more about yourself and – who knows, you may even discover a secret love!

Why not start now? It’s a challenge for both you and for us – a path we will take together toward your inner self and the wellness of your mind and body.