I was watching the Nova episode called What Are Dreams the other day, and I was particularly interested in one bit of information from the show: if you practice enough, you can tell your brain what to dream about. There are some caveats, in that it only works about 50% of the time, and that you’re still not in total control of what happens.
I tend to remember a lot of my dreams, so I thought I’d give it a go. For the past three nights, as I close my eyes, I’ve thought this:
“I’m going to help Sherlock Holmes* solve a mystery. I’m going to help Sherlock Holmes solve a mystery!”
Two nights, and nothing (that I could remember, anyway). But then last night, something seemed to happen! Ryan came to bed after working late, and I woke up enough to say “Shh! I’m dreaming about Holmes!” before I passed back out again. This morning, I actually could recall several dream sequences in which I was in a Holmes mystery-solving situation of some kind. My problem is that I fall asleep almost the moment I hit the pillow, so I don’t usually get enough time to try and convince my brain to dream the way I want it to. It’s more like “I’m going to…” and then I’m out cold.
But hey, it was pretty cool! Dreams are important for helping our brain work through issues and problems from our waking life (and I’m not just talking murder mysteries), but if you can program it to work like your own personal holodeck, how entertaining would that be?
Anyway, give it a shot sometime. This isn’t some kind of weird self-help thing (Learn to ski with your dreams! Come up with your million-dollar idea in your sleep!), it’s just an interesting way to explore what your mind can do.
*I’m going through a Sherlock Holmes phase. It started with reading The Beekeepers Apprentice, then the complete Arthur Conan Doyle collection, and will culminate with the viewing of the movie this Christmas. So, a little obsessed.