Wild Minds Network

Where wild minds come to rest

An unintended round of self-experimentation has me wondering how similar daydreaming and regular dreaming could be in how they function. Specifically, I've noticed some curious parallels between regular dreams and the daydreaming state itself, rather than the content that plays out in it.

While the daydreaming is active, the thoughts involved don't feel out of place even if they should. That is to say, if I run into a chain of thoughts that I would normally reject due to it not being "how I think", I don't reject it. It is automatically accepted as correct no matter the fallacies. After snapping out of this dazed state, it felt like I "wasn't myself" while in it. Time seems to pass at random, fluctuating speeds: I look at the clock after an hour and it's only been 10 minutes, then I look at it again after another hour and it's actually been 4 hours. Finally, the control over the content of the daydreams is only partial, there are constant jumps between scenes whether I like it or not, and whatever detail I'm not actively focusing on ceases to have a distinguishable form until I focus on it again.

This is strikingly similar to what happens in standard dreams. The dream feels real while you're in it, you find yourself perfectly understanding (and sometimes speaking) "ghost" languages that don't exist and/or make no sense after waking up; throwing a punch in the air in front of you and hitting someone on the other side of the road anyway doesn't seem odd at all; time inside the dream will often be incomprehensible, nonlinear - you might even notice it while still dreaming - but it will still make sense somehow; you don't control the dream nearly as much as it controls itself, frequently and randomly teleporting you to different situations; only certain details are visible at any given time, after waking up you'll likely notice how little you actually managed to "see", even though it didn't matter while in the dream because you somehow knew what was going on.

Is this relatable, even if only in part?

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I was always intrigued by the connection between the two. Do you ever dream about the content of your fantasies? I've always found it fascinating that I myself almost never ever dreamed about what I daydreamed. There had to be some sick dissociation happening when the content of my fantasies never made it to my dreams. It's like fantasies happen in some isolated brain network that never gets activated in night dreams, which for me tend to be very self-referential, real-life oriented. 

Strictly speaking, not that I recall. The content of my fantasies never leaked into my dreams directly. If my dreams were in any way related to my fantasies it was always through subtle references or events leading to the same concepts. Whenever I happened upon any such events, for a brief moment I'd move into an "enlightened" state (without waking up in the process) in which I'd think "oh I know what this means", but it always seemed to trigger a wakeup shortly after.

Later on I received some insight on how information is stored in the brain and how it might be accessed in dreams, and everything I figured out from that leads to an interesting conclusion.

I think that the content of our daydreams doesn't show up in our sleeping dreams simply because it can't. Daydreaming requires actively simulating sceneries, emotions, words and many other things, and all that requires the tiresome manipulation and careful placement of complex concepts all over the place. However in regular dreams there's no such thing as a concept.

Think about it. Dreams defy all logic, things happen effectively randomly but it never matters because there are no rules. The apparent randomness itself is due to the information being accessed sequentially, following the connections between neurons, rather than using the usual concept-based approach where the pieces making up an idea are searched and then reordered. Instead of looking down at the pile from above and filtering out only the relevant stuff, we just crawl through it and chew whatever information we run into.

I might be completely wrong for all I know, but I think it does make some sense.

Daydreaming requires actively simulating sceneries, emotions, words and many other things, and all that requires the tiresome manipulation and careful placement of complex concepts all over the place. However in regular dreams there's no such thing as a concept.

I personally view daydreaming as something quite automatic, kind of like a flow state where daydreams just emerge without any conscious effort. Your brain is actively drawn to that state and it doesn't require much mental straining to enter it. If I daydreamed in the morning while still lying in bed and fell asleep while doing it, my daydreams would almost always extend to dreams where I had almost full lucidity. But these were almost always unimportant daydreams, not something I'd consider important on an emotion level. I can only speak for myself but what I observed is that the further away an emotion embodied in a daydream was from the self, the less I'd dream about it. The more I integrated these emotions in my real life (or rather, self), the more they'd appear in my dreams. The more I talked about my daydreams, the more they'd be exposed to the conscious awareness and would accordingly be closer to myself, resulting in a daydream content bleeding more easily into a dream. This is absolutely not a rule or a pattern. You have people who experience the exact opposite - the further away an emotion is from their real life, the more they dream about it. I don't think there's any universal rule but I do think there are a lot of individual patterns as to why we dream the way we do.  


Think about it. Dreams defy all logic, things happen effectively randomly but it never matters because there are no rules.

This is true for most of the dreams; they are either just reprocessing of things that happened to you blended with random nonsense. But there also more profound meaningful dreams that are all about unconscious struggles manifesting there in bits and pieces. It depends, really. It depends on how much awaken one is to their unconscious. 

I did notice the tendency to just realize that I've leaned back into the daydreaming state, but the daydreams themselves are usually summoned on demand... even though they do spiral out of control after a while and need to be reined in every so often.

You mean to say that any "segregation" from the unconscious while we're awake affects the random/meaningful ratio of what we see in our dreams? I'd assumed it not to have much of an impact, with the rest more or less handling itself, and since we aren't really conscious while dreaming I thought any such deliberate barriers would be temporarily down, giving the hidden stuff a chance to dig its way out for a while.

Sorry for replying late. Super busy lately. 

You mean to say that any "segregation" from the unconscious while we're awake affects the random/meaningful ratio of what we see in our dreams? 

Not the ratio. Instead, the content. The content that is separated from conscious awareness is less likely to appear in those boring, regular dreams that are the most common. But then again, there are many different types of dreams. Traumatic content, for example, that isn't really integrated into conscious awareness, which is similar to MD, is very likely to reappear during nightmares as mind tries to reprocess asleep what it couldn't process while awake.

What I know for sure is that whenever I talked out loud about my fantasies to other people, the content of that fantasy would leak into my dreams the following night. Daydreaming is subconscious or unconscious activity, while every our attempt to make fantasies emerge to the surface, like talking about them out loud, takes them closer to conscious and that would result in them bleeding more easily into night dreams because conscious content is more likely to make it there than subconscious one. 

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