Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where do dreams come from?

After many years of studying dreams and consciousness, one of the most common questions still asked of me is "where do dreams come from?". Historically, there have been many suggestions of where the dreaming mind originates with basically two explanations arising: 1) dreams come from outside of the dreamer's mind or, 2) the dreamer creates the images while sleeping.

From the studies of consciousness we know that the mind is a vast and boundless entity that is constantly active during the waking day and then continues to be active during sleep. During sleep the mind assimilates and consilidates information that is stored with new information that has been acquired. Studies have shown that during sleep, the mind does not become dormant but rather, it becomes busy and more productive than ever. It is in this essential and active state of sleep that the dreaming mind is activated.

It is here that events of the past, present, and future come to life and play out in the nighttime images. It is here that the true inner self of the dreamer is revealed in many ways. The images are personalized with all the elements created from the dreamer him or her self. The images are produced from the consciousness of the dreamer-the conscious, unconscious, waking life experiences, and the very matter that makes one alive. So where do dreams come from? From the very place that makes a human life alive and that, is still a mystery.


  1. Questa domanda di Teresa mi ha messo in crisi.
    Poi ho capito che forse la cosa migliore era non tanto rispondere al quesito, quanto chiederlo a se stessi e rispondersi…perché i nostri sogni siano sempre più vivi e, per quelli di noi che lavorano con i sogni durante la terapia, chiederlo all’altro :
    “da dove immagini provengano i tuoi sogni ?” .
    Io forse li vedo “piovermi” addosso dall’esterno , come da una nuvola …
    E come i monaci di un tempo , che vedevano sia il positivo che il negativo provenire dall’esterno (Dio o il Diavolo ) , così noi , immaginando il sogno provenire da un luogo preciso forse
    gli permettiamo di divenire più vivido…

  2. This is the great question-where do dreams come from? We can think of them as coming from our own stream of consciousness which must originate from somewhere (this is the mystery of life). Where do our thoughts come from? Where were our thoughts before we were born into this body? Does the stream of consciousness that makes us "alive" continue after death? If dreams are generated from this rhealm, then perhaps they are from outside of ourselves.

    The second view is that dreams are internally geerated and driven by our emotions, personality, life experiences etc. Our brain physiology and chemistry produce the images during sleep and we can explain this with sleep science.

    The third notion is that dreams are a combination of BOTH of these factors. Perhaps there is an interface of our consciousness with our own personal filter (beliefs, experiences, emotions etc.) and this is what creates the dream experience for the dreamer. This third notion is rarely ackowledged but the more we learn about the science of consciousness and dreaming, the more this becomes a theory worthy of testing.

  3. Teresa writes:

    "The third notion is that dreams are a combination of BOTH of these factors."

    This is my stance also.
    I'd like to add that in my mind the question "where do dreams come from" is one with another, namely the question that the Lord posed to Adam in the garden after the sin: "Adam, where are you?". After the sin he and Eva committed, Adam felt lost and disconnected from everything he loved and belonged to: his God, his world, his wife, himself. Just worried to hide and full of fear... and God came to him to start with him a very very long process of healing and recovering, the beginning of which was that simple question: "where are you?"
    So any dream we have could bring about the question: "dreamer, where are you?"
    I strongly believe that the ancient wisdom, that claims that dreams are a gift of God, should not be considered as opposite to the most updated attainments of science and research.

  4. Massimo's comments are in line with new writings and research that is emerging. This research is illustrating that dreams are a force or dimension that can be studied yet they are something that we don't understand as of yet. Dr. Hallman's work speaks to the 4th dimension of dreaming; that time and space are elements that exist in dreams and may explain phenomena that has yet to be explained. For example, dreaming of events that have not yet happened in waking day or two people having the same dream on the same night. There is clearly an element of life or life-force that is at play. Asking the question that Massimo posses can shed some light on this: "dreamer, where are you?" The question can also be asked: "dreamer, who are you?" Who is watching the dream? Who is the one actually creating the dream? This may be the core question to explore....