Meet Your Unconscious Mind

Meet Your Unconscious Mind

Rachel Hlad, Senior Writer

For as long as we can remember, dreams have fascinated and puzzled people from different ages and cultures. We have searched for the significance of dreams in order to interpret what might lay in the unconscious mind. 

Over time, theories of dreams have varied widely across cultures. To the ancients, dreams were messages sent from the gods as oracles to predict the future. They believed that dreams had the power to solve problems, heal sickness and bring spiritual revelation. Nowadays, dreams are the subject of psychological and scientific investigation.

A dream is a series of pictures or events that occur in the mind. Although certain dreams seem to bear little or no relation, according to Richard Craze’s book, The Dictionary of Dreams and their Meanings, these images are based off of the dreamer’s thoughts or experiences. Precisely how and why these images occur and what relevance they have is a subject that has inspired a great deal of research and provokes much debate.

Whether or not we remember, we all dream each night. Sometimes when we do remember, they can be hard to comprehend.

During sleep, the brain is active and our dreams are perceived through the deeper layers of the unconscious mind. The unconscious does not communicate in words or through reason, instead, it uses visual images to stimulate intuition and emotion. When we wake up, we are left with a “sense of” something that stays with us through the day or even just for a brief moment when we wake up.

There has been countless studies done over the relationship between the body and mind and between the brain and sleep.

Theories in the 19th century were based on the external stimuli, stating that senses such as noises and smells can influence dream content. At this time, people were starting to give psychological explanations to certain dreams.

Sigmund Freud, a 19th century Austrian neurologist, believed your unconscious mind represents a small fraction of the whole. It’s said to be like the tip of an iceberg – with the conscious lying below the surface of the water. Like the iceberg, part of the unconscious is near the water’s surface, close within reach. Freud refers to this level as the “pre-conscious” and it is relatively easy to get in touch with.

An advancement in technology was able to discover how the brain works. As soon as the physics of the electricity were understood, scientists invented electroencephalogram (EEG). EEG is a test used to detect abnormalities related to electrical activity of the brain. This procedure tracks and records brain wave patterns by placing small metals with thin wires (electrodes) on a person’s scalp which then sends signals to a computer to record the results. This transformed our knowledge of sleep and dreams.

In a way, dreams are letters from the brains. Unfortunately, they are not written in the same language we use in waking reality. Fortunately, we are able to study and decipher the dream by images, or symbols, in your dream.

Animals often represent the part of you that feels connected to nature and survival. Being chased by a predator suggests you’re holding back repressed emotions such as fear or aggression.

Being chased is one of the most common dream symbols in all cultures. It means you’re feeling threatened, so reflect on who’s chasing you (they may be symbolic) and why they’re a possible threat in real life.

Missing a flight or any other kind of transport is another common dream, revealing frustration over missing important opportunities in life. It’s most common when you’re struggling to make a big decision.

Nudity is one of the most common dream symbols, revealing your true self to others. You may feel vulnerable and exposed to others. Showing off your nudity may suggest sexual urges or a desire for recognition.

Vehicles may reflect how much control you feel you have over your life – for instance is the car out of control, or is someone else driving you?

Water comes in many forms, symbolizing the unconscious mind. Calm pools of water reflect inner peace while a choppy ocean can suggest unease.

Recognizing your common dream symbols is a good start to being able to lucid dream – being aware that you are dreaming while it’s happening. Being able to lucid dream, with much practice, can turn your dreams into a vivid and controllable alternate reality. 

There are several sources online that will further your knowledge of dream symbols.