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Calvin S. Hall and Edgar Cayce on Dreaming
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Late Night's Dreams May Show You Learn

In humans, other mammals and many other species, regular sleep is essential for survival. Dreams are a series of images, sounds and feelings in the mind during sleep, accompanied with rapid eye movement. Dreams typically last between 5 to 45 minutes.

During the recurrent sleep phase where there are Rapid Eye Movements (so-called REM sleep), there are dreams. Normal adults spend 20-25% of their total sleep time in REM sleep. Those who are woken up from their REM sleep, report they were dreaming. Dreaming mostly occurs during the REM phase of sleep.

In a human being, during a normal night of sleep roughly 1 1/2 hour or so may lapse between the dream sleep phases; they are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. Most memorable dreaming occurs in the last sleep phase or the two last ones.

Dreaming has its functions. REM sleep fulfills important physiological needs vital for survival. Sleep itself is related to memory. Recent research claims that sleep has the overall role of consolidating and organising synaptic brain cells connections formed during learning and experience. Thus, the dream flow may help the brain strengthen the linking and consolidation of semantic memories. It is also quite probable that in many times of stress, dreams have more work to do in resolving our problems and thereby get more salient and memorable. [Sources: Horne, 2007:128-47 and WP, "Sleep"; "Rapid Eye Movement Sleep"; "Dream"]

Calvin S. Hall's Dream Studies

From the 1940s to 1985, Dr Calvin S. Hall (1909–85) at Western Reserve University collected more than 50,000 dream reports. It shows up that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. Also:

  • Personal experiences from the last day or week are frequently incorporated into dreams.
  • The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety.
  • Negative emotions are more common than positive ones.
  • The US ranks the highest amongst industrialised nations for aggression in dreams with 50 percent of US males reporting aggression in dreams, compared to 32 percent for Dutch men.
  • The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10 percent of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid teens.
  • The content of most dreams is dreamt only once, many people experience recurring dreams - that is, the same dream narrative is experienced over different occasions of sleep. Up to 70% of females and 65% of males report recurrent dreams.
  • Today, 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white.

Common themes in dreams. Hall focused his study of dreams on the content: Content-analysis studies have identified common reported themes in dreams. These include: situations relating to school, being chased, running slowly in place, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, a person who is dead being alive, teeth falling out, flying, future events such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc. (with different scenarios), embarrassing moments, falling in love with random people, failing an examination, not being able to move, not being able to focus vision, car accidents, being accused of a crime you didn't commit, suddenly finding yourself naked, going to the toilet, and many more.

Explanations. Dreams are in a way or at bottom ideas that are enlarged on as a sort of video, or cognitive process. Accordingly, dreams provide a map or route to deeper and perhaps otherwise unrecognised areas in your mind, that is.

Hall believed dreams are the best way to discover personal thoughts and to explain one's behavior. Dreams can reveal things about yourself, and do not necessarily hide them, once you know the "dream basics". Hall systematised dreams into five types, and a dream commonly belongs to one of the five dream types, which reflect and/or respond to five "principle areas of life".

  • Concepts of Self refer to roles you play in your dreams.
  • Concepts of other people refer to roles other people play in your dreams. Consider your feelings toward them and how you interact with them.
  • Concepts of the world represent the dream surrounding and landscape. The adjectives you use to describe your dreamscape is how you view the world.
  • Concepts of impulses, prohibitions and penalties indicate your behaviour and how it is driven by impulses and urges, and regulated by punishment.
  • Concepts of problems and conflicts symbolize the key struggles, issues and problems you are facing in your waking life. These dream may well signal insights and resolutions to many a conflict - coming from your deeper sides at least.

Hall believed that by using these five concepts you may be able to analyse the dream content and trace your way toward the inner workings of deeper mind, also called the unconscious. What if the five are not enough, not inclusive for that undertaking? "How strongly felt a dream sequence is, reflects how you feel about the issues hinted at," could well be added to them, since intensity is a factor reckoned with in such as Jungian dream analysis, where the most intense dream scenes (sequences) are noted down and drawn to get a clearer view. The memorable scenes are like hilltops in some foggy valley. If you remember something from a strongly felt sequence, it may help you recall more, and so the "hilltops" may serve as a help to come up with a lively and open-ended interpretation.

Cultural outlets. Dreams have a long cultural history. Throughout it, people have sought meaning in dreams or divination through dreams. In modern culture some researchers regard dreams as indications of the dreamer's deeper working problems, and the problems may lie on several levels. And some dreams evidently contain symbolic depictions. (Hall, 1966)

A few proposed functions of dreams

  • Ferenczi has proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
  • Dreams create new ideas, and some of them may be perceived as valuable and therefore retained.
  • Hartmann thinks dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place", allowing us to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.

Dreams have been used for healing (as in ancient Greece), for guidance, and for inspiration.

Both Sigmund Freud (1913) and Carl Jung (1974; 2007) identified dreams as an interaction between the unconscious and the conscious. Jung argued that the dream's bizarre quality is an efficient language, comparable to poetry. [Jung on Dreams]

[Cf. Wikipedia sv "Dream"]

Try to benefit from dreams

In order to benefit from dreams, they have to be understood heuristically and much on their own terms, that is, as expressions of the deeper sides of us. Parts of the content from a dream, if not all of it, may contain crypted or plain insights about physical, mental, and spiritual conditions. By skilled interpretion of the dream we arrive at estimates of what it may be about.

Proficient dream analysis can help us diagnose health problems, encourage us in the decisions we make, or reprimand us for negative behaviour. Dreams can be instructive and practical, lighthearted fun or spiritually uplifting, depending on what we could need most there and then.

Typically, dreams from the first long hours of the nightly sleep reflect the day that passed, in that they work with residue from it. Late at night more deep-going forms of dreams may appear, dream researchers affirm.

Dreams may contain symbols, although they tend to be highly individual, just like the dreams themselves are. For all that, knowledge of typical dream cues and also outside feedback can be valuable.

Those who write down their recurrent dreams on awakening, may also go on to look at the dream from different levels: job, health, interpersonal relationships, and any circumstances being dealt with in waking life.

Dreams that are worked on can add to our conscious understanding if given time to impress the mind well enough. Dream work is a form of growth process, and may result in deeper and clearer level of insights to be instructed in, and some of them may be helpful if worked on. In such ways and many others, the study of dreams can help us develop higher potential. Give it a try and see for yourself whether such work suits you.

Derive Benefits from "Higher Dreams"

Late night dreams may inspire, encourage, confuse or much else. Much depends on interpretations. There is good reason to let them be quite open-ended.

Many people came to Edgar Cayce to have their dreams interpreted. In 1924 Edgar Cayce was asked while asleep: "What is a dream?" He replied that the best development was to give the greater increase in knowledge of the subconscious, soul or spirit world. Develop meant going toward the higher forces, etc. When we tune into these higher levels, as we may in dreams, we become aware of what is being built.

He also said that dreams should be interpreted depending on the physical condition of the individual and on what produced or brought about the dream. Dreams can give valuable information about the status of the body.

Some dreams may foreshadow happenings, or warn against them so that the person in question may abort the bad things to come - perhaps by glimpses and be warnings that what we are building now may come into fruition later.

Recall and Analyse Your Dreams

Some tips from the Cayce readings to help you in the analysis of your dreams:

  • Keep a notebook, a dream journal, beside your bed. Record your dreams as soon as you wake up.
  • Suggest to yourself at night as you fall asleep, "I want to remember my dreams."
  • If you wake during the night and remember a dream, write down the key points of it, including the great and impressive symbols, and the entire dream may come back in the morning.
  • Practice keen observation in your dreams through nice self-suggestion prior to sleep.

Dreams are the reaction of the inner self to daytime activity and often show the way out of the dilemma. So relate them to current activity, because dreams may be retrospective as well as prospective.

Dreams are primarily about self.

If dreams are illogical, three reasons are possible: (a) Only the fragments of the dream have been recalled. (b) The dream is reflecting something illogical in the dreamer's life. (c) Mental blocks have erased your recall.

Look for these components in your dreams: the setting, the people, the action, the colour, the feeling, and the words.

Be practical in your interpretations. Always look first for a lesson. What have you refused to face or been ignoring?

Work on analysing your dreams every day, otherwise their progression will be difficult to assess.

Dreams can be either literal or symbolic, also as warnings. Observe carefully recurrent dreams, as well as the serially progressive ones. These often illustrate progress or failure.

If you are unable to decipher an important dream, suggest to yourself, before your next sleep, that the dream repeat itself more clearly.

Dreams come to guide and help, not to amuse. They direct your attention to errors of omission and commission and offer encouragement for right endeavors.

If you receive an unusual message, reduce it to common terms. See if a handy dictionary of symbols (dictionary of symbolism) can be of help in interpreting the dream. However, there is a great chance that such stereotyped interpretation do not fit the individualised "mind movie": a person's dream. Dream dictionaries may over-simplify, label things amiss, and misinterpret, so it is fit to ask for goood evidence that things are as they purport. Calvin Hall's research offers clues in that respect. Otherwise the individualised "terrain" is difficult and hardly clear-cut. Symbols that appear in your dreams are better tailored to you and your situation, is the general understanding. You are supposed to react sensibly.

Look for former experiences and settings in weird dreams. They may caution against repeating ingrained mistakes; certain people and places; and enable you to better understand life. Only a few dreams relate to family, friends, and world events.

Calm persistence is necessary to learn any new language, and dream symbols are the more or less forgotten language of the subconscious.

Cayce as Stenographed

The source: Frejer 2002, 195-202.

In dreams, those forces of the subconscious, when correlated into forms that relate to the various phases of the individual, give to that individual the better understanding of self, when correctly interpreted. . . . 3744-4

[T]he Creator; the gods and the God of the Universe; speaks to man through this individual self. Man approaches the nearer condition to that field when . . in sleep or slumber. 3744-4

When those forces through which the spirit and soul have manifested themselves are re-enacted by this same soul and spirit force (in such a manner) as to convey or bring back impressions to the conscious mind in the earth plane; it is termed a dream.

This may well be caused by those forces that are taken into the system. The action of digestion that takes place under the guidance of subconscious forces becomes a part of that plane through which the spirit and soul of the entity pass at such time. Such manifestations are termed or called nightmares, or the abnormal manifestations on the physical plane of these forces. 3744-4

In the normal force of dreams, those forces are enacted that may be the foreshadows of a condition, when the soul and spirit force compares the conditions in various spheres through which (the soul and spirit of) a given entity has passed in its evolution to its present sphere.

The best development of the human family is to give the greater increase in the knowledge of the subconscious soul or spirit world. This is a dream. 3744-4

Q. How should dreams be interpreted?

A. Depending upon the physical condition of the entity, and that which produces or brings the dream to that body's forces. The better definition is this: cor-relate those truths that are enacted in each and every dream that becomes a part of the entity of the individual and use such (for the purpose of) better development; ever remembering that "develop" means going toward the higher forces, or the Creator. 3744-4

Those who are nearer the spiritual realm, their visions, dreams, and the like, are more often – and are more often retained by the individual; for as is seen as a first law, it is self-preservation.

Q. What state or trend of development is indicated if an individual does not remember dreams?

A. The negligence of its associations, both physical, mental and spiritual. Indicates a very negligible personage!

Q. Does one dream continually but simply fail to remember consciously?

A. Continues an association or withdraws from that which is its right, or its ability to associate. There is no difference in the unseen world to that that is visible, save in the unseen so much greater expanse or space may be covered! Does one always desire to associate itself with others? So individuals always seek companionship in this or that period of their experiences in each day? Do they withdraw themselves from? That desire lies or carries on! See? It's a natural experience! It's not an unnatural! Don't seek for unnatural or supernatural! It is the natural – it is nature – it is God's activity. His associations with man. His desire to make for man a way for an understanding.

(Cayce:) For one faculty to function while another is functioning in a different direction is not only possible but probable . . . Beautiful, isn't it? 5754-3

There are those (dreams) that are of the purely physical nature . . . Then there is the mental condition of the body wherein worry, trouble, or any unusual action of the mind – mentally – physically – causes seeking for the way and manner of understanding. . . . These may appear in the form of visions . . . or they may appear in conditions as warnings . . . Then there is the action of the purely subconscious forces, giving lessons to the body out of its own experiences. 4167-1

[W]e find visions of the past, visions of the present, visions of the future. For to the subconscious there is no past or future – all present. This would be well to remember. 136-54

Dreams and visions ... are of various classes and groups, and are the emanations from the conscious, subconscious, or superconscious, or the combination and correlation of each depending upon the individual and the personal development of the individual, and are to be used in the lives of such for the betterment of such an individual. 39-3

In visions there is oft the inter-between giving expressions that make for an awakening between the mental consciousness, or that that has been turned over and over in the physical consciousness and mind being weighed with that the self holds as its ideal. 262-9

The conscious forces feed the subconscious, and for the better indwelling of the subconscious, good and only good thoughts should be projected into the subconscious, for developments come through such. . . For dreams are that of which the subconscious is made, for any condition ever becoming reality is first dreamed. 136-7

A dream may be either in toto to that which is to happen, is happening or may be only presented in some form that is emblematical. 5754-1

The entity should keep a record of its dreams. . . . enabling the entity to warn others as well as self. 2346-1

Dreams . . . should be made record of, else the physical in gaining its equilibrium often loses much that may be worthwhile. 294-46

Interpret them (dreams) in thyself. Not by dream book, not by what others say, but dreams are presented in symbols, in signs. 1968-10

The body may analyze same (dreams), interpret same, better; for it can do it better for its own activity than were it done by the most wonderful of all interpreters. And so may it be given to all. 257-138

In dreams, visions and experiences each individual soul passes through or reviews or sees from a different attitude those experiences of its own activities. 257-136

(Through dreams) the entity may gain the more perfect understanding of the relationships between God and man, and the way in which He, God, manifests himself through mankind. 900-143

As the consciousness of the entity becomes nearer to that one consciousness – that is, as the body-conscious, the physical or sensuous consciousness, and the subconsciousness, becomes nearer in one, or nearer in accord with each, the visions, the dreams, as are seen, are more profound in their presentation. 900-240

Related pages


Edgar Cayce literature

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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