The Benefits of Dreaming
So you want to master the dreaming arts? Dreaming is something we all do. Think about the most amazing, fun, pleasant, and entertaining dreams you have had. While in those dreams, were they not as realistic and detailed as experiences from your waking life? Imagine being able to program, control and shape your dreams to be anything you desired? It’s not hard to do with a little training.
You were born with a gift. The ability to dream. 7.6 billion people in the world have dreams, and only a small percentage develop dreaming as a skill. As more science emerges, more and more people are starting to take an interest in dreaming largely because they hear it’s fun and entertaining. That is the approach we take here at Dreaming for Gamers.
Everyone dreams. Since the written record, humans have realized that when they sleep at night, they dream. Dreaming is not exclusive to humans; modern-day research shows that some birds and all mammals dream. Insects and fish do not experience REM, so whether they dream, it is inconclusive.
Dream research concludes that everyone has 3-5 dreams each night and some as many as 7. In online dream communities, avid dream participants claim to have as many as 11 dreams during sleep. The number of dreams often depends on the frequency and duration of sleep. Sleep less, you will dream less. Sleep more, and you will dream more. The recommended amount of time we require for sleep is 8 hours.
Dreaming is a highly developed linguistic skill between your waking self and your subconscious mind. Dream research and science has exploded over the last decade thanks to fMRI studies. This research not only validates that people can have full waking self-awareness in their dreams but shows that the same regions of the brain that deal with our physical senses, our self-identity, our ability to think, reason and remember all take place in the same regions of the brain for dreams as it does for our waking life experiences. For example, what we see in a dream can be observed producing activity in the Occipital Cortex during sleep. The same holds true for other senses and even activity in our Prefrontal Cortex where our sense of self-realization and awareness resides.
In the image below, we see an fMRI model of a person being awake, a person having a conscious or lucid dream, a person in a non-lucid REM state. Activity in the brain reveals that people who train in dreaming use more of the brain to facilitate the experience of dreaming. This is part of information processing in living systems, and it takes a lot of processing power to render a dream experience. Don’t worry, you already have all the processing power you need, but it may need a little stimulation to bring it out of atrophy and get those neural pathways and neurons humming again.
The research also presents a more damning realization that people who do not stimulate these regions during sleep have developed a form of atrophy with regards to dreaming explaining why some people do not remember where others do. Why some have fuzzy, noisy and random wild dreams and others enjoy rich stories, narratives and adventures.
Imagine not learning a language during your early development as a child into your adult years and all the neural pathways that need to be stimulated by repeat experience and learning are not used. In developmental brains these pathways over time atrophy into adulthood which can cause stunted language skills. Dreams are fundamentally a language that if left underdeveloped and ignored naturally progresses into atrophy over time. People who naturally enjoy and participate in their dreams develop stronger neural pathways which deepen as they age, those who do not suffer the negative consequence, an atrophic underdeveloped dreaming mind.
We develop neural pathways and have neural plasticity up until the age of 25. Once we reach that age, all the pathways we can grow have reached full potential and the brain can now only repurpose pathways to learn new skills making learning much more difficult for adults. We cover this science and what we can do to help treat it for people over 25. If you are under 25 you are in luck, plenty of time to develop good dreaming neural pathways so that dreaming can be enjoyed and explored all throughout your adult life without the rehabilitation needed for underdeveloped adults with regards to dreaming. Cognitive Atrophy is treatable, and we strive to prevent that from happening for those of you who enjoy dreams and don’t want to lose this ability over time by treating dreaming as a skill that is learned, practiced and developed over time.
By developing the skill of dreaming, supported by fMRI studies on active vs inactive dreamers we see more neural pathway and neuron density in all regions of the brain that facilitate dreaming for active dreamers. Inactive dreamers have less neuron density and the research shows that either we use this gift and develop a healthy dreaming mind or it will diminish into atrophy. Here is a 2018 study done by the University of France that covers neuron density and dream recall.
Dream Recall Frequency Is Associated With Medial Prefrontal Cortex White-Matter Density
Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Brain Dynamics and Cognition Team (DYCOG), INSERM UMRS 1028, CNRS UMR 5292, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Université de Lyon, Lyon, France https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01856/full From the study: We found an increased medial prefrontal cortex white-matter density in HR compared to LR but no other significant difference between the two groups. These results are consistent with previous studies showing that lesions within the white matter of medial prefrontal cortex are associated with a partial or total cessation of dream reporting and suggest an implication of this region in dream recall or, more likely, in dream production. HR stands for high frequency, LR stands for low frequency. This study is on dream memory and recall, what they found is people with high-frequency dream recall have more neuron white-matter density in the regions of the brain that deal with dream recall and more so dream production. The article doesn’t focus on the reasons as to why this is, but in other studies that look at neural pathway and neuron development for language skills, we see the similar increased density of pathways and neurons because the brain when stimulated towards a skill, develops neural pathways ( I like to call them learning pathways ) and neurons to do the processing required to accommodate that skill. An active brain is a healthy brain. This is why we focus on training the brain through repeat stimulation of areas that deal with the dreaming mind.
Treating dreams as an Art Form and an Entertainment System will be far more advantageous and fun than taking a negative perspective towards dreams. You are the dreamer. You are the one doing the dreaming. What would you rather gain from dreaming? A fun adventure or a nightmare or nothing at all? Let’s make dreaming fun because it’s a form of creative thinking that has tremendous benefits that can spawn new ideas, innovations, creative writing, music, art, and the list goes on. Let’s look at what we gain from dreaming if we harness this gift instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Dreaming can be fun! Dream enthusiasts and practitioners like dreaming because when skilled at dreaming, you can dream whatever you want. Fulfill any fantasy, any desire that can appear as sensory real as waking life. Avid dreamers agree dreaming is like virtual reality on steroids.
You gain time and experience. For non-dreamers who sleep 8 hours. They lose 8 hours of their life to amnesiac sleep. Lucid dreamers gain back this lost time in a second-life experience that only dreams can offer. Since life is an experience, and time is limited, i.e.… we all die. Cultivating time through dreams adds experience to your over-all life cycle. It’s not a fountain of youth, but it does buffer in more time to exist in a safe, natural, and fun way. (No one has ever died from dreaming… that’s a myth)
Think about this. If a person lives for only 70 years but doesn’t remember their dreams and sleeps 8 hours each night. Over 70 years that is 204,000 hours or 23 years of potential time and experience wasted to amnesiac sleep. That means such a person only really gains 47 years of conscious experience in their lifetime. A person who participates in their dreams can reclaim some of that lost time in the form of dreams. If this person was an avid lucid dreamer and averaged only 3 hours a night for 50 of those years, that’s 54,750 hours or a little over 6 years of lucid dream experiences.
Not only that, but those 6 years are also usually the best form of dreaming in what we call BTL or better-than-life dreams. Life is short, existence is limited, dreams are a means of adding valuable experience and time during sleep rather than gaining nothing at all.
Dreams can Inspires Endless Creativity
From creative writing, songwriting, movies, video games, the arts, many people throughout history have used their dreams as inspiration for novels, songs, movies, and video games. If you are a creative person stuck in a writer’s block or need a new song idea, tap into your most potent art-form and mine your dreams for new stories, new ideas, new artforms, and new music. It’s all there if you know how to use it.
Books Inspired from Dreams.
Stephen King wrote Misery based on a dream he had while falling asleep on a flight to London.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, who had a vivid waking dream after her imagination took hold.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, who in 1886 dreamed up three key sequences for his novel.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, who took fancy to the subject of dreams and the wandering mind as encapsulated in this wonderful work.
There are many more examples not covered in this course.
Songs Inspired from Dreams
Yesterday by the Beetles inspired by Paul McCartney when waking up from a dream. So clear was the song that he thought he must have plagiarized the tune.
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, who based the song on a dream in which he walked under the sea before a purple haze that surrounded him.
The River of Dreams by Billy Joel who woke up from a dream singing what would become his title track.
And of course, many many more.
Movies inspired by dreams.
Inception by Christopher Nolan where Christopher took the idea from his own Lucid Dreams.
Terminator by James Cameron inspired by a nightmare caused by the flu where he saw the chrome torso appearing from an explosion and dragging itself with kitchen knives across the floor.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, who said the idea came to her in a dream which she wrote down and documented, which later became the source material for her novel. Hmmm… maybe writing down your dreams isn’t such a waste after all.
Of course, more movies inspired by dreams are out there, I won’t cover them all for brevity.
There are many famous artists who create artwork inspired by dreams, so many that it’s best just to do your own research. Even some Video Games have been inspired by dreams. Starting to see the bigger picture of what dreams can offer if you use dreaming as a creative resource?
Dreaming can solve complicated problems
That age-old term “sleep on it” isn’t without merit. Many inventors, engineers, and scientists have benefited by the subconscious mind’s ability to sort out problems through dreams and can have epiphanies, breakthroughs, and inspirations that can change the landscape of innovation.
The Periodic Table of Elements discovered by Dmitri Mendeleev came about from a dream. Look it up.
The Structure of the Benzene and Aromatic Chemistry by August Kekulé in 1865 dreamed up the solution.
Many Mathematical Proofs discovered by David Hilbert first being shown to him in a dream, later proven in waking life.
Srinivasa Ramanujan considered one of the most advanced mathematicians of his time by G. H. Hardy and came to his theorems through dreaming. He had visions of scrolls of complex mathematical content unfolding before his eyes and wrote them down upon waking.
The Scientific Method by René Descartes , who wrote that the basis of the Scientific Method came to him in dreams he had on November 10th, 1619.
Discovery that Nerves Transmit Signals Chemically by Otto Loewi, the father of Neuroscience in 1903 who in 1920 had a dream about the problem and woke up scribbling down the notes and carried out his research based on his dream in 1921.
The Sewing Machine by Elias Howe, where the sewing needle design came to him from a violent murder in a dream.
Of course, there are more, and I’ll leave that to your investigative mind.
Dreams can help with emotional challenges
Depression, PSTD, Trauma, Fears, Grief, Loss, Anger, and more can reflect back in our dreams not to punish us, but in a way that the subconscious mind is trying to release and resolve those negative experiences. Many people find new perspectives for their personal problems reflecting back at them in the dream state.
Perhaps there are already existing benefits you’ve uncovered through your own dreams, not included on this list. One of my most favorite benefits of dreams is being fully self-aware and awake during a dream, known as Lucid Dreaming or Consciousness During Sleep. Scientific evidence of Lucid Dreaming emerged in the late 1970s with Keith Hearne, and Dr. Stephen LaBerge further solidified with EEG/PET and fMRI. Dreaming is not a religion, or a cult, or a belief-system. It is something every person needs to do as part of memory consolidation. We do not take any religious perspectives in these courses rather present the skills, the science, and the facts. If you want to incorporate your beliefs and apply them to your dreams, we do not discourage that either. They are your dreams to evolve and develop as you see fit. Let’s dive in!
The Four Fundamental Stages of Dream Preparation.
Every dreamer has a toolkit of skills that they use as part of their routine. Thankfully training for dreaming is far easier and requires a lot less work than training for most skills. The pre-sleep preparation should only take minutes, and the longest involvement of time is making a choice to write down or record the dream upon waking.
Unlike going to the gym lifting heavy weights for 45 minutes, practical dream techniques are merely attention focusing and intent orientated practices. To undo many of the bad habits, we do need to self-program for dreaming and orientate our focus and intention with regards to wanting to remember, wanting to participate, and having a plan.
Many dream instructors, myself included, know people who start to train for dream memory can start having results within the first week. Like any skill, the more practice and routine you apply, the more results over time occur.
The more you start to practice dream memory and recall, the brain starts to adjust to accommodate this new cognitive skill, just as it would any skill you are learning. The build-up is always a bit slow to start; however, once you strengthen the memory regions, it becomes automatic like many skills where it naturally happens without the initial practices to get there in the first place.
I’ve helped people who never dream at all (or at least they believed) to start having several dreams each night. What I did was provide them with a routine, but they did the work and got the results they wanted. As a teacher, I cannot dream for you, nor will I tell you what to dream. All I offer are techniques that provide results proven by many dream practitioners and researchers because they work
This routine is the 4 fundamental stages of dream participation, and like building a house, it’s the foundation that needs to be built first. Throughout these courses, this routine will always be used, why? Because it addresses dreaming in each inevitable checkpoint of sleep. Meaning, you are still going to have to address each checkpoint as you fall asleep and wake up with regards to dreaming skills. Let’s dig into 4 foundational steps for better dreaming, and you’ll see right away why they are fundamental and unavoidable as part of your toolkit.
The Four Fundamental Stages of Dream Participation
1.) Pre-Sleep Orientation.
2.) While falling asleep.
3.) During Sleep.
4.) Upon waking up.
This is your pre-sleep orientation. In this course, this is where you stand at the edge of your bed and prepare for dreaming. Review your plan, set your goals, and focus your intention on dreaming. Why start standing at the edge of your bed? Many of us developed bad habits with regard to dreaming and need to start to create better habits to replace the bad ones. Unless you already train in dreaming, you probably never prepared for dreaming and just go to sleep.
Preparing for dreaming before you enter the bed is one way to break that pattern because you won’t automatically fall asleep once you lie in bed. You will enter bed prepared to dream.
While falling asleep.
This is where you begin to relax naturally into sleep, and focus your attention on the onset of dreaming, reinforcing your goals and intentions. In the beginning, no fancy relaxation techniques, or focusing your awareness to some single point will be required. We do not want to interrupt your natural sleeping pattern for the first sleep cycle and keep you awake using hard attention focusing techniques. If you have already orientated yourself to use attention focusing during your first sleep cycle then continue to use it otherwise for a beginner it is better to build up to more focus attention focusing techniques and allow for natural sleep to occur.
This is within the dream itself and is more applicable to lucid dreaming as in the beginning, you will likely not be aware while in the dream that you are dreaming at all until you train to break the trance-like immersion of dreams to assert your control. This becomes more prevalent later on in the courses for those interested in becoming self-aware and conscious during their dreams. That is also something you can opt-out of and not train for. The courses accommodate both focus-states.
Upon waking up.
This is when you wake up, but instead of rushing out of bed, take some time to start to recall dream memories and then proceed to log the dream experience. By not taking time to recall or write down the dream, you will not benefit from stimulating the memory regions of the brain to help build better neural pathways and bring dream recall out of atrophy. It is best to wake up softly rather than using a loud alarm. The reason for this will be covered more extensively but has to do with loud alarms triggering a stress response activating a survival drive response that causes dream memories to flush quickly so you are ready to deal with danger if any.
Let’s put it all together for your first assignment and dream practice. To make it fun as this is Dreaming for Gamers, pick one game genre, movie genre, RPG or book that you want to see if you can dream in and start immersing yourself during the day for a minimum of 15-30 minutes with the intent to dream in that genre while you work on these initial courses. This way, as the influences of those source materials, need to be sorted out by your subconsciousness during sleep, you may start to find already elements of those source materials surfacing in your dream experiences.
As you progress, you can switch to other source materials along the way or stick with what you enjoy most. The goal is to turn your dreams into an entertainment system and make dreaming fun. Only you know what is fun for you, and by taking this course, I am assuming you want to dream your way fulfilling your fantasies and desires in the rich realism that dreaming offers.
Now we will start to build the foundational skills needed to improve dream memory and recall with your desired intention to dream in your selected genre. It is best to immerse in this source material before bed, so the memories and experiences are fresh on the mind. Now proceed to your first quiz and assignment. The assignment will contain the exercises you will apply right before bed. But before you continue, you must mark the unit complete. If you are using the course manager there should be a banner and a blue checkmark will appear before this Unit. This sets the timer countdown for your next Unit and unlocks the next Unit. You will not be able to proceed in the course Unit by Unit until they are checked complete. Then proceed to do the assignment.