Tag Archives: Sleep

Behind a dream

I had a strange dream last night. There was this girl in the dream who was possessed and I was there to exorcise the spirit. The dream was set in a kind of somewhat unfamiliar environment – there was a building with many houses in a row and we were doing this in one of the rooms on the first floor. I remember having done the exorcism (with some reluctance); but cannot recollect anything post that as the dream ended somewhere there.

A friend of mine had rung me up in the evening – he had wanted me to talk to his 7th standard daughter, who seemed to have become uninterested in anything. I advised him to take her to a child psychologist – but he pressed me to have a conversation with her first. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this – at the same time I could not refuse his request.

Reflecting on the dream, it was evident that this incident was what lead to it.

But what I could not figure out was the part with exorcism- where did that come from?. As I was pondering about it during my drive back home in the evening, the whole thing dawned on me and I couldn’t but be amused at what’s going deep inside the mind.

This is what had happened behind this dream:

In the evening, I had watched some part of a film called ‘Resident Evil- Part 2 apocalypse’ on the television for about half an hour while I was on the treadmill. I saw the part where the character Alice escapes from the ‘Hive’ and is caught again and to the point where ‘Operation Alice is activated’. I didn’t quite get the whole story, but sort of figured out that Alice was being programmed to be evil – something like that. Alice’s daughter appears in multiple scenes and there was this scene where she asks Alice if she would be alright again.

Now in the dream I connected these two together. And what was the connecting link ? – The child, that was common between the incident and the dream.

And why these two specific incidents – because both of them were sort of incomplete. In the case of my friend’s daughter I was in a dilemma whether to do it or not and in the case of the film, I did not understand the story.

Imagine something like this – everyday while you are asleep, all the unresolved / incomplete things precipitate in to the unconscious mind (who obviously do not like anything unresolved) and it tries to make sense of them.

If that’s what dreams are made of, then what’s it that this world is made of?

Dreams and Feelings

So much has been written about dreams, but it’s still a great experience to dream. What do dreams convey? I have had several experiences where subtle feelings are expressed in dreams. Here are two recent dreams.

1)This happened few days back. I had been working in the balcony in the evening and left my laptop there. As I went to bed at night I remembered that the laptop was left at the balcony and someone could steal it. I got up, brought the laptop in and went to sleep. And that night I had the following dream.

I had boarded a bus at a strange hilly region. The bus had travelled some distance when I realized that I had boarded the wrong one. I decided to get down. My bags, including the laptop bag, was kept at the back of the bus. As I moved to the back to pick them up, some strange people rushed past me. I reached the back to realize that the bags were missing and then it struck me that those people who rushed past had stolen my bags and laptop.

I think I woke up at that point….

2) I had an early flight to catch today morning. The taxi was to arrive at 5.00AM and this meant that I had to wake up at 4.30. Waking up early is something that I really hate.

I had set the alarm at 4.30 before I went to bed. I was in deep sleep when I heard the message alert tone from my mobile phone. I immediately understood that it was the message from the taxi company with the chauffeur details and confirming the pickup. The alarm was yet to ring (but I knew it was close) and I drifted back to sleep. Then I had this dream.

I was at some strange place with a group of friends. We were all leaving to some other place in what looked like early morning. Then suddenly I looked  at my watch and realized that it was only 1:30 AM (or so) and we had misunderstood the time. I informed my friends and proceeded to my room to sleep further.

The alarm went off and I was awake.

What had happened is when I heard the message alert tone, subconsciously I knew that I will need to wake up shortly. But then the subconscious mind expressed its desire to sleep through the dream

 What remains in the mind after the dreams is a very subtle feeling. In the first case it was fear and the in the second case it was a relief. Probably the unconscious mind attempts to express its feelings through dreams!

Sleep like a baby

One of our coffee time conversations last week was about sleep. My colleague told me that she was having disturbed sleep these days that makes her drowsy during the day. I suggested her some techniques to for getting a sound sleep. Then it occurred to me that there could be many who would actually benefit from this and hence this post. A sound sleep for me is very important, without which my cognitive abilities do not function properly. A good sleep is also important for a good memory because the data transfer from the temporary memory to the permanent memory is done during sleep (this is called memory consolidation and that’s the reason why people under the influence of alcohol do not remember what happened on the previous night. An alcohol induced sleep is of poor quality and hence the memory transfer does not take place).

Here is a brilliant technique that I have come across for getting a sound sleep. This is practiced by the ancient sages in India and suits people who lead a very stressful existence.

When you retire to bed, lie on your back, relax you body and close your eyes. Now trace all the events of the day backwards from the point of closing your eyes. Just watch yourself going through the activities in the reverse order. Recollect as much of detail as you can including what was going on in your mind. Continue this till the point of waking up in the morning (most of us won’t make it past the evening, we would already be asleep)

Try this. You will sleep like a baby.

This is not a technique to get a good sleep alone. The real purpose is to remove the subconscious impressions in the mind that are caused by the days activities. After few days of practicing this, you will find your mind very lighter. So if you have lots of emotional stress in your life, you know what to do.

Leave your bed as soon as you are awake

Ever wondered where all that negativity gets reinforced deep in the mind? I think here is one to watch out for.

Say there is a compulsive thought that you are trying to shake off. You do some reflection in the evening or try some distractions to free your mind. As you go to bed, it looks like you are successful and calm. The next morning, you are awake (at least partially) but you still remain in your bed. As you lie tossing between sleep and waking state, all that suppressed thoughts take over. You are not really awake, so you watch helplessly as the mind start playing those ‘video clips’. By the time you are really awake and decide to step out of the bed, all that negative thoughts would have reinforced in the mind.

Some time back, a friend of mine mentioned to me that he has all the negative thinking in the morning. I didn’t have this answer for him, then. But now from my own experience, I think this is true.

People who have undergone severe stress in life would tell you that they find themselves awake in the middle of the night to find those compulsive thoughts taking over the mind. You would also have noticed that when you have spent lot of time in bed in the morning (say on a holiday), you are much less cheerful and positive.

So, the solution? Leave your bed the moment you are awake in the morning. Not very easy, try it. Your mind will not let you. It will tempt you with ‘that extra bit of wonderful sleep’. But if you can resist that, you are more likely to start the day with a positive note.

Try it.

Tips for a good nights’ sleep

There is nothing like a good sleep. In my post on brain, I had mentioned how important it ‘s from the point of  memory consolidation.

But some of us have problems with our sleep. I have faced three types of issues with sleep. Let me describe them and the fixes I have found:

  1.  Can’t get sleep easily, you are tossing your self in the bed
  •  This could be because of a stimulation. Doctors advice to avoid exercises, yoga, pranayam, coffee, smoke etc at least 2 hrs prior to going to bed (anything that stimulated you). Also avoid reading things that can excite you; same holds good with TV programs. If for any reason you are excited physically, try the following:
    Lie on your back with hands on either side of the body. Stretch your entire body (start with your toes, then legs, angle, lower leg……..till head) and relax it with a Haaa….. sound. Relax. Repeat three – four times. (it should take about 20-25 seconds for one cycle)You will get a good sleep
  • This could be because there is a thought running in your mind. This could be about a problem you have at work, or some thing wrong you have done ..whatever. You are caught in the trp chewing on the thought. How can you get out ?
    One way is to just listen to the ticking of a clock (brings you to the present moment….)
    A better way to really clear your mind, try this: Sit up and start talking loudly and continuously. The only condition is that don’t use any language that you know. Just go on talking for few minutes. Stop. Observe your mind for a while and go to sleep. You will sleep like a baby.
  • Deep abdominal breathing always helps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing)

2. Can’t maintain the sleep, you wake up in between.

  •  One common situation is that you wake up (mostly in the early mornings 2 – 4 am) and find yourself chewing on a problem that has been bothering you. If this happens, take my word for it, it’s not a good sign. This is a very clear indication that you are getting in to stress. Seek help. Btw, the talking technique above will help you flush your mind
  • The other common issue is a continuously disturbed sleep with lot of dreams (I used to tell my wife, it was as if sleeping in a cinema). I think typically this happens when you disturb your sub conscious mind. Could be that there was an incident that troubled you deeply, or you took a real strong decision or you are trying to change a deep rooted pattern. Normally they don’t stay, just leave them and they will vanish. And normally you don’t feel tired after such a night.
  • Another problems I think is having subtle fears in the mind. Not just fears about job loss or health issues, it could just be in the environment. You might just feel ‘insecure’ at the bottom of your heart.

3. You don’t feel fresh when you wake up in the morning

  • This used to happen to me often when I was a smoker and used to drink. Even if I slept like a log, I would be so lethargic in the morning and this would also pull my mid down. After I have given up alcohol and nicotine , this is a not a problem.
  • But I found some thing interesting. When I started doing some creative stuff (link), I slowly started looking forward to each day. And I wake up pretty early these days feeling fully rested. Therefore to have a great sleep, have a purpose in life and look forward to every new day.

Have a good sleep and a great day ahead!