[OFN01] Nightmares and Night Terrors

Nightmares and Night Terrors

The first three course modules dealt with cognitive atrophy and our neurological development for the developing dreaming mind in younger people who haven’t reached peak neural pathway and neuron development by their mid-twenties, and rehabilitation of cognitive atrophy in people past their mid-twenties.  We talked about psychological inhibitors and as part of the complete package dealing with fear, anxiety and concerns was already present because those psychological inhibitors can be just as bad if not worse for damaging the dreaming mind and making what should be a fun, entertaining night-time adventure a dream killing unfun experience.

Much of the information in this course is presented for better mental health by using dreams to fix cognitive atrophy, build better neural pathways and neurons, enhance higher-brain function, develop better memory and promote creativity.  There is one area that threatens all this hard work and effort that stems from another negative mental state that over time can damage a person’s brain, and that mental state is known as Fear.

We know that negative emotions and thoughts in the body release hormones like Cortisol that trigger a person’s bodies “alarm” system releasing adrenaline and putting them on edge.  Fear also affects a person’s mental wellbeing and like much of the new neuroscience which is finding out more and more that there is a link to how we feel about ourselves and how our brain develops. Treating fear, phobias and nightmares is important to our mental health and should not to be treated like some joke because the consequences can lead to negative problems which can spiral out of control deepening depression, anxiety, stress, and even leaving a person more susceptible to disease.  It also strips one’s ability to live a happy and positive life leading to chronic depression, a sense of hopelessness, anxieties and phobias.

We’ve talked about regions of the brain that deal with our dreams and memories.  The part of the brain that deals with fear is a memory center that deals with our emotions called the Amygala.  The Amygala also has motor outputs that link to a person’s heart and can change a person’s heart rate.  It also contributes to producing sweat and produces the feelings of anxiety.

The Amygala works closely with the Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex and activates the pituitary gland.  In chronic stress and fear the Amygala enlarges, the Hippocampus shrinks, the adrenal gland enlarges, the thymus and spleen lymph nodes shrink and can lead to gastric ulceration.  A condition known as General Adaptation Syndrome and can leave the body susceptible to disease by depletion of neuroendocrine.

The impact on the hippocampus is loss of long-term memory loss and the prefrontal-cortex dampens creativity.  By now we know that we build neural pathways to achieve specific learned tasks.  The brain is neutral meaning it doesn’t decide how it will be wired because the person who is influencing and guiding the development of their brain is based on their subjective individual experiences and thoughts.  If they start to develop a negative fearful personality, the negative consequences above start to shape their brain and personality enlarging the fear response and this leads to risk of phobias, personality disorders, schizophrenia and needs to be treated not left to deepen.

See “Stress effects on the hippocampus: a critical review” Eun Joo Kim, Blake Pellman, and Jeansok J. Kim https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4561403/#__ffn_sectitle

The other side-effect is nightmares and night terrors.  Quite often the underlying cause is something from waking life that causes PSTD (Post-traumatic stress disorder).  PSTD isn’t limited to soldiers returning from war, this can happen in children who are abused both mentally and physically at a young age.  PSTD can be caused from facing a life-or-death situation that results in injury of self or others such as a car accident or being in a violent confrontation. 

Even watching scary movies when a child is too young can lead to phobias such as fear of clowns and spiders.  Programming a child through fear will also lead to developmental problems later such as lying to them that if they don’t stay in bed the boogie man will get them.  Children are very susceptible to influences from their parent’s and as they haven’t developed a proper sense of what is imagined vs real and are the most prone to develop fears, phobias and nightmares in an unhealthy social environment.

What we might think is innocent fun, telling a child about some irrational scary monster and encouraging fear development based on the neurological impacts is a form of mental abuse.  Parents who want to control their children through fear buying into old archaic abuse systems are ultimately causing more harm to their children’s over-all development than parents who communicate and talk with their children taking a kinder approach to educate their children about risk, consequence and better choices so the child develops understanding.

What happens?  The child goes to bed and starts to have nightmares or even worse night-terrors.  If left untreated by the parents ie, it’s just a dream and I don’t care.  The child left alone to this problem must sort it out themselves, alone.  The wrong way to deal with fear usually results in shutting down dreaming altogether as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from the barrage of wild negative hellish dreams.

Quite often with people who deal with a lot of developmental issues around fear, stress, depression, anxiety don’t like dreaming.  It’s not that dreaming is bad, but when programmed by an accumulation of negative thoughts and feelings that become the source material of the sensory episodic and semantic replay it can be like living in a horror filled movie of which one is constantly running away, having jump scares, replaying traumas, abuse and the core problems that started it all in the first place:  Negative waking world influences and experiences that are now replaying in the dream state.

Certain medicines are known to cause medication-induced nightmares such as Blood Pressure medications, Antidepressants (SSRIs), Antihistamines, Sleep Aids, Steroids and more.  This can be treated if they are prescribed medicines by the doctor adjusting the time and dosage that they take. If substance use and medicines become too severe, they can cause something known as Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder.

Not everyone responds well to certain street drugs where some may have a positive effect, others may unlock and deepen mental health disorders like fear and paranoia from taking them. Marijuana, Cocaine, LSD, Magic Mushrooms, Alcohol, Opioids, Bath Salts and many more have potentially harmful and negative effects on certain people if not most depending on the severity of the substance. 

Mind altering and mood-altering drugs are often short-term benefits with long term consequences that develop problems over time such as addictions, dependencies and both mental health issues and physical diseases.  The impact of the dreaming mind can be nightmares resulting from substance abuse as the cause.  Therefore, these courses do not, and will never encourage the use of any stimulant, drug or experimental supplement for dreaming.  We leave the medical advice up to experience medical practitioners and doctors familiar with treating mental-health disorders through pharmaceutical treatments that are known to work. 

Quite often when I talk about the “Art of Dreaming” where I am talking about painting the blank canvas of our REM screen with our thoughts and experiences gained during the day by simple acts of observing waking life experiences.  Many people bring up Carlos Castaneda who wrote “The Art of Dreaming” and think this is what I am promoting, to be clear… absolutely not.  Carlos started his journey investigating Peyote, a hallucinatory entheogen which sparked a big drug movement for dreaming during the Woodstock era. 

Here is a fact some of these people don’t realize.  Carlos found out later from Don Juan that they he didn’t need to take drugs to dream.  In the beginning, it was Carlos who convinced Don Juan to let him try peyote and Don Juan reluctantly gave in to that request.  Carlos wanted to take drugs, Don Juan advised against it, so remember that if someone uneducated in his work tries to promote drug use for dreaming citing his work to do so is likely not seeing the bigger picture and the bigger problems.    

Drugs are not a pathway to a person’s already existing 3-5 dreams they have each night and can have life-altering negative side-effects if abused or managed improperly.   Many entheogens can deepen fear in some people and even risk bringing out permanent psychological disorders and there are many scientific studies with peered reviewed evidence to support that as literal fact.  To be clear, we do not endorse, encourage or promote the use of drugs when it comes to dream development with these courses or on this website. 

Many drugs can be the cause of nightmares that people may want to treat.  Ultimately a choice must be made for people who use drugs that must come to the honest conclusion of their negative impact on their dream life if nightmares are a cause.  That person needs to look at the reality of what damage drugs do and be honest with themselves about their impact on their daily lives if the drug has formed dependencies, addictions and force them to self-justify always using them regardless of the self-destructive properties of some drugs. 

Like any positive change, people who face their problem, seek help and start supporting better long term sustainable mental and physical health recover.  Those that do not can have dire consequences later such as depression, anxiety disorders, social problems that can lead to suicide, homelessness, psychotic breaks resulting in harming others and the list goes on.

Substance-Induced Nightmares cannot be treated by this course alone because the cause is drug related and the use of the drug must be first addressed.  There are techniques offered in this course that “may help”, but if the cause of nightmares are linked to substance use then that person may need more help then what can be offered in an online course designed to turn dreaming into an Art Form and Entertainment System. 

If substance use is the cause, the correct course of action for that person is seeking help and treatment first.  This should be done through professional health care providers that specialize in treating drug addictions and mental health issues as the first step.  Working on resolving nightmares through learning to control how one dreams can work in conjunction with treatment but should be now closely monitored by a health care practitioner who understands how substance use causes Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder and Substance-Induced Nightmares.

As everyone is different, and there is case-by-case level treatment that is needed for many mental health issues that stem from PSTD, early child-hood abuse, drug use and even harmful fear-based beliefs that deepen from early childhood exposure to a source of endless fear.  Dreams “may be” helpful with some of these challenges, but for deeper rooted problems it never hurts to seek counseling, professional help to deal with the deeper emotional problems and challenges. 

I cannot make any claim that this course is solution to all our mental health issues – a nightmare cannot be easily treated without first addressing the source or cause.  Quite often they stem from something very negative in a person’s life.  Others, it could be just an addiction to horror movies.  Everyone is individual having gained experiences that shape a psychological model of how people view themselves and the world they live in.  This ultimately will shape their dreams.

Dreams alone are not adequate to treat real-life problems because an untrained dreamer may reinforce and deepen fear rather than face and resolve them.  Dreams are the result of waking life influences impacting episodic and semantic memory replay, not the cause of those influences.  But the ability to dream can be damaged by negative waking life influences.  Saying dreaming is the cause of mental health issues without addressing the source from waking life is quite irrational.  The dream encoded by those waking life issues is what is trying to resolve itself to prevent further damage to a person’s psychological wellbeing.  It’s how an individual uses their naturally ability to dream that determines the positive or negative outcome of said dream experience.

Taking a positive, fun and entertaining approach towards dreaming is likely already helping resolve some underlying fears.  We know that negative thoughts have the potential of developing long term psychological problems and positive thoughts lead to better mental health, brain development and over all wellbeing.  But this alone is not enough for some people.  Combined with eating for nutrition, exercise, managing stress, blowing off steam all work to release, and reverse damage caused by the negative alternatives that created the problem in the first place are some options.  Dreams can help facilitate many of our challenge areas by providing creative solutions to resolving these issues as they do become stored episodic and semantic memories that replay in our dreams and over time can be released and resolved if one works to accomplishing that goal.

Nightmares are usually early signs of a fear acquired in waking life that a person’s subconscious mind is trying to resolve.  They are an experience from the past, that no longer has relevance to the present moment but are made current only by the reoccurring episodic and semantic replay caused by persistent reinforcement of that underlying fear.  Left untreated, it leads to paranoia, phobias and other health issues so making the first step to face one’s fears and resolve them is the right step.  Leaving them to fester and build will affect how people think about themselves and the world around them.   If they constantly draw upon those negative influences and there are negative consequences on their brain and body as a result of letting fear go unchecked and unmanaged.

Fortunately, most people rationalize themselves out of fear before it becomes a problem.  We outgrow childhood nightmares and reconcile these problems naturally.  People who are avid dreamers try to avoid things that promote fear and control the waking world influences that might shape fear in the first place by focusing on positive, rewarding and pleasant influences.  They turn their dream life into something positive, fun and rewarding and nightmares become a thing of the past.

Since fear is often an intellectualized survival-drive instinct that has become imbedded with an over-protective sense of self-preservation from a strong emotional response it embeds a learned pattern into the mind to deal with often a simple negative response to a stimuli ie… the root cause.  The waking world is where all the consequences happen.  The dream world is just a mind-generated narrative that has zero consequences to the one having the dream.  Being bitten by a spider in real life is bad, a spider bite from a dream has no physiological ramifications whatsoever.  You just wake up maybe feeling a little scared of a harmless experience.

It’s when we associate survival mechanisms that are there to protect us in our consequential waking life where physical harm in our daily life is real, these same mechanisms when present in the dream state are nothing more than simulated role-play and are fundamentally harmless but believe it or not, in the case of nightmares and night-terrors they can cause the same damage that fear can cause in waking life.

Fear in dreams are a psychological coping mechanism to waking life self-preservation and the mind knows that irrational fear needs to be resolved so it plays back the irrational fear but this is the enigma of this problem.  In saying dreams are entirely harmless is a little fallacious because when a nightmare plays out and you engage the drama with fear, it has similar effect to fear in our waking life from a neurological standpoint causing a physiological effect on both the brain and body.

The amygdala response as if the event in the dream is real, while sleeping a person’s body will respond using the same mechanisms that take place from waking life when dealing with a real-life survival situation where fear is a mechanism of fight-or-flight.  The body begins to prepare itself to fight-or-flight even though the person is sleeping, and the simulation of the nightmare is effectively harmless.  The neurological and physiological responses however are not.

The neurological response and process starts with the Amygala that sends a response to the hypothalamus which activates the pituitary gland where the nervous system engages the endocrine system to release hormones.  The pituitary gland releases andrenocorticotropic (ACTH) hormones into the blood.  This causes the sympathetic nervous system that regulates the flight-or-flight response a surge of epinephrine from the adrenal gland into the blood stream.  This activates Cortisol response to the ACTH which causes blood pressure to rise and converts fatty acids into energy for muscular response.  Several other hormones prepare the muscles to take action if needed.

The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex activate to assess the threat which will now either overpower the primal parts of the brain’s response ie calm down the amygdala or elevate the response if the person believes the threat is real, even if it’s entirely fictional ie a scary movie or a dream.

The physiological response is increased the heart rate, peripheral blood vessels constriction around vital organs. Epinephrine, norepinephrine and catecholamine release can boost heart rate and heavy breathing.  Reduces activity in the Stomach and Intestines and dampens other sensory systems like vision and hearing.

If the fear isn’t dampened down, and the person continues to elevate their response and not rationalize it down, there is a bundle of fibers connected to the cerebellum called the pyramis that cause fear paralysis in people and in animals.  The night-terror level fear response.

Therefore, people wake up in terror, heart racing, breathing heavily and sweating when faced with a powerful nightmare that is stimulating the same neurological and physiological response in the sleeping body.  As we know, this leads to negative neural pathways and neuron development by stimulating the wrong regions of the brain enlarging the Amygala and shrinking the hippocampus causing long-term memory loss and other problems.

See “Dissecting terror: How does fear work?” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323492.php#9

In treating phobias, health practitioners know that the sooner it is resolved the easier it is to treat, the longer it begins to embed itself ie build deeper neural pathways and becoming a hard-wired learned response the more difficult it may become to treat.  Why some people shut down their ability to dream maybe linked to the mind protecting itself from replay that causes an unnecessary fear response in the body.  All of the negative effects of fear on the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex could be throwing up a survival-drive defense mechanism against nightmare-based replay.  This is just a theory as many people end up walking away from dreams later in life.  Nightmares are likely a root cause of that abandonment, or at the least one of the likely candidates.

How do we resolve nightmares then if our dreams have been riddled with this negative side of the dream experience?  All our fears stem from our waking world influences.  There are different sources of fear that require different methods to cope with and treat.

·         Fully Rational Fear Responses

·         Semi-Rational Fear Responses

·         Irrational Fear Responses

Fully Rational Fear Response
In the real world, people face life-or-death situations that trigger a proper fight-or-flight response from being in a war, being attacked, being abused, being in an accident, dealing with traumatic events, dealing with death of a loved one or pet and the list goes on.  Children raised in abusive homes are most prone to problems with fear.  All these real-world events that require fight-or-flight are legitimate times when fear is real.  Some of these events can be so tragic, so traumatic that post-traumatic stress syndrome develops, or long periods of grief are required.  These are the most challenging and difficult to work through and dreams are notoriously and seemingly cruel for replay on traumatic events.  Research studies on dreams and PSTD and grieving do show positive improvements as the repeat simulations appear to help work through the past trauma and experience.

See “Dreams Can Heal Mental Wounds” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/12/dreams-can-heal-mental-wounds/249672/

In the cases of a genuine real fear response to a survival situation and you are one of the people who suffer from PSTD or other complex deeply embedded issues caused from such events, you are likely already working through treatment.  If you are slugging through it on your own and still need to work your way out of the fear that it may have embedded it is better to work through this in a support group, or with proper medical mental health practitioners because it is a past-event that cannot be changed and having survived through it shouldn’t rob you of a better today by constant replay while awake or asleep. 

The replay is dreams is there to help you work through trauma bit by bit until it’s gone but can backfire and deepen the problem if the response feeds the fear in the replay.  Trauma and fear can be deeply embedded that dreaming alone not be enough to resolve, recover and move on.  Dreaming may help, it may not. 

Much of the advice that follows is better suited to semi-rational and irrational fears and potentially can help with deeper problems, but I don’t make any claim, nor falsely promise that it will as each individual is different and how we cope is subjective.  Like anything, time heals, it takes time to work through a healing process towards recovery.   If I can at least help make dreaming fun and entertaining then that’s something better to look forward too with sleep.

In case-by-case situations the severity of the fear and trauma may need professional help and this course is not designed to fulfill such a deep requirement for those people in need.  Wish it could, but it’s a course on dreaming for entertainment not resolving PSTD and trauma.  Need to be honest with the audience as to not raise some false expectation.  Using dreams as an Art Form and Entertainment system as a skill is achievable regardless of any experience as it’s merely learning to do something based on study, practice and routine with something everyone does when they sleep including animals.  Quite often, fun and pleasant dreams are helpful for people suffering from other negative events in their lives so that may be of some benefit. 

Dealing with semi-rational and irrational fear responses is more suitable for the advice that is offered such as a fear management program when the fear is not real or at all life-threatening. 

Semi-Rational Fears
A semi-rational fear responses can come from harmless events such as seeing a spider crawl across the floor but responding to the spider with fear rather than rationalizing that one can do far more harm to the spider than the spider can do to them.  Survival-drive instincts are part of us.  Nature has already pre-loaded us up with things to be afraid of in nature so from a primal survival drive instinct thus it’s not to uncommon for a spider to trip that survival instinct.  That is a semi-rational fear response and yes it’s ok to be afraid of a spider.  But even better to manage that fear and not let it become a phobia.

Even though a spider may be dangerous, it is fundamentally likely harmlessly going about it’s business making the fear semi-rational meaning the person recognizes a potential risk, but the risk isn’t direct ie… the spider is biting them or on them and they are at zero-risk of injury.  So the choice is to either dampen or elevate the fear response.    

The rational choice in that situation would be to dampen the fear response and rationalize away the irrational components of the fear ie making the spider more of a threat than it is.  That is what embeds the fear deeper, so the next time a spider is observed, the mind replays the elevated response deepening it again, and again, and again if the person doesn’t rationalize away the fear and dampen the response.  This repeat replay of fear deepens neural pathways and neurons as a learned behavioral response that then leads to a phobia.

Irrational Fear Response

An irrational fear responses occurs when there is absolutely no threat what so ever and the fear is entirely mental role-play over something that triggers this response.  The stimulant can still trigger the flight-or-fight mechanism such as a jump scare video, a horror movie or even someone planting a fear in someone else convincing them of a fictious threat like a boogie man is in the closet to scare a child to stay in bed.  Seems harmless enough  if one doesn’t understand the dangers of cognitive development with regards to developing learned responses to fear.  Once understood, it’s likely another alternative solution to controlling a child’s behavior is used rather than abuse through irrational fear programming.

In certain scenarios, it is replaying a fear repeatedly in one’s mind that is starting the self-programming towards further problems.  In a semi-rational or irrational fear event, a person needs to adopt a fear management program to nip the fear in the but at source before it becomes an embedded event for replay.

One tested method has always been rationalizing through fear and not feeding the fear ie… don’t elevating a response, calm the mind down, tell yourself you are ok.  If the fear pops up in the mind again, tell yourself you acknowledge the fear, there is no current threat, let the fear go and replace it with something positive as in, “I’m not afraid of that.  That’s just a silly and irrational fear”.  Do this at source and this positive self-programming over-time will be a natural response to the harmless but bothersome moments of irrational fear.

Using positive reinforcement is sometimes needed.  Knowing what you now know about how fear impacts mental and physical health, is developing a proper fear management program to stop a fear at source and do some house-cleaning to disarm and let go any minor semi-rational and irrational fears over time a good or bad idea? 

For past fear management, take a moment to look at when a fear took place, notice the emotional charge in the body?  That is the first to address the charge, you need to let that go by diminishing it, calming it down and then letting it go reinforcing calmly that you are ok, everything is fine and you won’t let that fear carry forward into your future as a repeat response.  Don’t feed fear, resolve it the moment it creeps up.  Do some house-cleaning and fear management or … pay the consequences.  Be more afraid of what fear is doing to your mental and physical health than the fear itself.  And always say to yourself, “I’m not afraid!” A little courage goes a long way in the never-ending bombardment of waking life fear influences.

What you don’t want to do is embed the fear by self-programming, “I’m scared of it!”  that’s the downward spiral to feeding fear especially if it’s semi-rational and irrational where no harm is done.  If harm is done then the fear is legitimate or if it saved your life by making you run away from a dangerous situation.  That is what fear is designed to do, keep you alive and safe in the physical world but our developed intellectual mind can over-rationalize fear to some pretty elevated and unnecessary states.

The other area for fear management if you are prone to fear is managing waking life influences that may expose you to something unpleasant.  We talk about garbage in = garbage out with dream content.  Many people don’t watch horror movies because it gives them nightmares.  They automatically have a fear management plan stopping a potential influence from adding more material for the subconscious mind to scare them with.  This isn’t a bad method.  There are other people who don’t respond to horror movies because the irrational fear response is recognized ie, it’s not real, just a movie and don’t embed a emotional response that needs to be let go.   Remember, everyone is different, but each person has their own coping mechanism with regards to fear.

As we dream based on waking life experiences spending more time on happy, positive and joy filled entertainment that will replay in your dreams.  Some people need that if fear becomes a problem.  There are others who can handle irrational fears saving survival-drive fears for real life-threatening moments like having a gun pointed to their head or ducking from a random object flying in ones direction.  There is a time and place for fear to do it’s job.  And that is in the real world, where there are real world consequences and threats.

Would you rather rationalize through a fear while awake, or face that fear in a dream as some form of nightmare?  It carries over to the dream state if it’s not resolved first as a waking life influence while awake.  And if it does carry over into the dream state, you’ve already been developing an entire system that lets you set aside fears, anxieties and concerns programming the dream for positive artistic and entertaining feedback. 

Certain nightmares may have already surfaced but now that you are more self-aware with regards to how you are dreaming you my have already dismissed them or resolved them in favor of better dreaming.  Developing dream control is a weapon against any nightmare for the self-aware dreamer.  Knowing you are the one creating, directing and controlling the dream content is where hacking down bad dreams becomes fun and entertaining.  Make a game out of it, and level yourself up kicking fear in the ass where it belongs.  It belongs here in the waking world as a survival-drive mechanism but has no place in your dreams unless you want it too. 

If the fear is so deep it triggers fight-or-flight mechanisms during sleep as a chronic nightmare, dreams are generally safe and harmless.  The goal is to prevent any dream from becoming so severe that it triggers a physiological response and fear is likely the only use-case where this will happen.  Positive dreams likely have the same positive response on the body during sleep.  They can be euphoric, blissful, erotic, fun, exciting and much more if used for those purposes.

7.7 billion people sleep and dream 3-4 dreams each night, how many of those people today have died from a dream.  Unless there was some serious medical condition already predisposed in there body where a scary dream may in the absolute most rare and extreme condition trigger a heart-attack, it would be far less than all the people dying from gun violence, opioid addictions, car accidents, famine, disease and other real life situations.

I don’t doubt that there are likely a few cases in our history where a dream triggered a heart attack in a person already predisposed medically for that due to activation of the fight-or-flight mechanism.  Chances are if the same mechanism triggered in waking life the result would have been the same.  But I would need to see some cases to support that theory so far, I’m not aware of cases where dreaming resulted in death.  I can certainly cite nearly endless of cases where war, famine, diseases, fires, accidents, and violence have.

In this course module, we will start to address how feelings play a very big role in our behaviors and how an emotional charge imprints a pattern of experience that causes repeat reoccurring patterns to replay as the subconscious mind tries to release the negative impact of that feeling in our dream psychology and how some of our dreams are trying to resolve the emotional imprint of an unhealthy pattern so you can grow, move forward and not be trapped in fear, depression, anxiety and so on.

Our feelings are all derived from neurochemical hormones released by the brain and other organs in the body.  There are millions of combinations of hormones that our body uses to modify our behavior from making us hungry, angry, happy, sad, depressed, guilty, nervous, anxious, afraid and so on.  These feelings drive behavior, you feel hungry so you eat.  You feel horny so you reproduce.  You feel angry so you act out in violence.  You feel afraid so you run and hide.  You feel an addiction to a substance, so you take that substance. 

The power of feelings produced in the body drive your behavior more than most realize, and this can lead to benefits and consequences depending on how we respond to these behavioral neurochemical drives.  Where it becomes a problem is if we become a victim of our feelings, a victim of our desires and a victim of our fears.  Many of these paths lead to addictions and behavioral problems when left unchecked.  They can also lead to patterns of abuse both as self-abuse and the abuse of others.  This is when the wildness of our subconscious mind becomes the wildness of our conscious lives.  Can dreams help with that?  Well, neuroscience is just starting to realize that they are playing a role in addressing many of our underlying accumulated problems because feelings form patterns that form behaviors that loop as reoccurring problems.  Nightmares are one of those causations.

Fear is just the tip of the iceburg in how our neurochemical response to stimuli is influencing our dreams and our behaviors in our waking life.  But in understanding the psychology of emotions and their impact on our behavior, our body and our mental health gives us an advantage in learning to monitor, manage and control how they influence and impact our quality of life.

When you look at a negative event that has built up over time be it fear, grief or other there is another feeling that comes when you finally release that charge.  A release from a trauma can become emotional, we can cry, we can laugh about it and finally have a breakthrough.  There is build-up then there is release.  Anger is another emotion that builds up and if enough charge is compounded the release can be violence. 

In behavioral psychology they try to nip a problem in the butt before it compounds neurologically forming neural pathways and neurons making it now part of a hardened neurological learned pattern.  By storing feelings and not releasing them, ie letting go.  They compound.  This is why many people turn to drugs, sex and alcohol because they need a release.  But what are they releasing and why?

Is there a better utility to let go of past experiences that are driving our behaviors?  We may find our dreams have always been there to address many of these underlying subconscious issues but in how we respond we can deepen or resolve those issues.

Why do you think people have erotic dreams that cause a physiological response known as a “wet” dream.  Well something built-up and needed release.  It’s part of our nature.  Feelings over time compound into patterns that the body is trying to resolve, release and let go.

A nightmare is a fear that your subconscious mind is trying to get you to release and resolve.  The dream is not trying to hurt you, it is trying to help you by releasing a past trauma that seeded the fear that became the nightmare in the first place. 

Many people learn to dream as a skill, to treat their nightmares by learning dream control and dream programming.  Once you learn that you are quite capable of directing your dream experiences fears tend to naturally shed.  The first obvious reason is that dreams are not a physical reality where the dream can harm your body.  You always wake up with zero consequences with an experience gained.

You may have found that by focusing on source material, doing daily exercises your dream life is already changing but not every time we sleep will we be free from the underlying fears and psychological inhibitors that may be part of your 3-5 dreams that your subconscious mind is working on.

It’s important to drill into your logical, rational mind that dreams are harmless simulations of experiences.  They do not have consequences.  You cannot be killed by a dream.  A nightmare although unpleasant is trying to resolve a deeply embedded fear so you can move on.  There is no instant cure for nightmares like anything we do with dreaming, it takes time to resolve, release and move on to better quality dream adventures. 

When I was first learning to control my dreams, I went through a series of dreams where I was dying over and over again.  At first I thought that these simulations were scary but in each instant where I woke up I realized that it didn’t hurt me.  As I progressed, I started to control those dreams using dream control and like Neo in the matrix, nothing present in any dream was a threat thus for 33 years I have not had a single nightmare.  And why should I?  No one said we have to be at the mercy of the wildness of the subconscious mind.  I chose to push through dream training regardless of any unpleasant or scary dream and as I progressed those dreams faded away resolved.

A large portion of those fears and nightmares stemmed from events in my life that were traumatic, from the loss of a family pet, being bullied at school, being abused sexually at the age of twelve, and being indoctrinated with a fear-based belief-system that produced hellish dreams as a result of that programming.

There was certainly house-cleaning but what countered those negative dream experiences were all the fun and entertaining ones where I would dream in my favorite movie, role-playing game and genre.  The fun aspect of dreaming outweighed the negative aspect of dreaming.  When I had my first lucid dream at the age of 15 in 1987, that was the start of the end of all nightmares.

How can any dream be scary when you are the master of your own dream world?  I was catching on very quick to how dreams were nothing more than highly-organized thoughts running as a type of mind-generated simulation producing a type of experience. 

When lucid in what could end up being a nightmare, I knew I was dreaming.  I knew that dreams are harmless inconsequential experiences and best of all, I had a utility of skills now to control the dream making resolving the nightmare fun because I could simulate super-powers, conjure up a magical sword, use force powers, turn my body into pure steel, put of force-fields, pause the threat in the dream, disassemble the threat into a mesh of hypnagogic swirling fractals.  Yep… dreams were no longer threatening.  All those role-playing games, movies and video games gave me a lot of utility for my imagination to resolve a harmless dream threat, and in a fun and entertaining way.

But that’s me, that’s how I evolved my dream training over years of dedication and practice.  How you approach your dreams will be different but knowing that you can just blow up a monster with a gun that you create just by thinking, “I need a gun” and the dream just renders out a gun does come in handy.  Or that you can just force push any dream character flying because you’ve got some new found utility and pizzas with your own dreams.  Or you can go full no-clipping mode and run through a wall, or teleport away.  That’s when dreaming becomes fun, and nightmares become harmless.  It’s good to be in control, and in the drivers seat of your own dream experiences.

In this assignment we will do some fear house-cleaning in the pre-sleep process to whittle away at the negative stored patterns of fear and replace them with something more fun and positive.


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