Researchers Develop Device to Influence Direction of Your Dreams
Sleep is strange; at the end of the day we fall unconscious, our bodies become paralyzed, and we hallucinate vividly, before quickly forgetting what was just experienced. But now researchers at MIT are engineering an interface to influence this bizarre state, believing it may hold the key to our creative genius.
There is a period between wakefulness and that deep, restorative slumber, known as hypnogogia. These fleeting moments have long been considered a place where creative brilliance can be accessed.
Innovators including Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Salvador Dali all intentionally tapped into this state for inspiration, attributing much of their inventions and masterpieces to it.
Holding a pair of steel balls as they fell asleep, they would drift into the hypnagogic state for a few seconds, before their muscles would relax, the balls would fall to the floor, and they would be jolted back awake. This brief entry into the dream state would allow them to remember the bizarre hallucinations and ingenious thoughts floating in the creative ether.
This was part and parcel to Dali’s famous paranoiac-critical method that produced his most trippy and iconic work. But instead of steel balls, Dali used a metal key and an upside-down plate for it to land on, producing a loud clang.
Dali found that not only did these micro-naps spark creativity, but they also provided a refreshed mental state, without the grogginess of a longer rest.
Taking note from these innovators, MIT researchers are developing a modernized version of the steel ball technique through a worn computer interface called Dormio. But instead of waking them, the interface influences sleepers in hypnagogia, attempting to control the direction of their semi-coherent state, and they’ve had some preliminary success.
Using a glove fitted with a series of wires and biosensors, the interface tracks users’ slow descent into sleep, measuring the subtle muscle relaxations of the hand. From there, an app provides an audio cue that prevents users from going into a deeper sleep, suspending them in the hypnagogic state with a prompted word or concept to focus on.
Thus far, the words ‘fork’ and ‘rabbit’ have been used successfully as a theme for “dream content.” Users are then asked questions to capture ideas floating through their mind, without fully waking them, before they are then allowed to fall asleep.
We spend close to a third of our lives sleeping, where our minds exist in creative, fantastic hallucinatory states. Researchers on the team want to figure out how to tap into that world and potentially take advantage of it.
The unconscious mind has been the subject of study by scientists for centuries, yet we still know so little about it. It’s also been proven that we are all born creative geniuses, but through the constructs and demands of our society, our originality is constantly suppressed. Could that creativity be resurrected with hypnogogic enhancement?
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30 Meanings Behind Your Dream Symbols
Are dreams messages delivered to us from our subconscious? Or are they just last night’s pizza gone wrong?
Out of the average human night of sleep, we dream for 90 minutes to two hours or more each night. Sometimes, we might wake up amused, scared or confused about our dream time. Interestingly enough, there are several common dream themes that crop up in every culture and background, regardless of age, gender, or country.
Suzanne Bergmann, a licensed social worker and professional dream worker for more than 16 years, notes, “Dreams are a universal language, creating often elaborate images out of emotional concepts.”
Of course, not every single element of your dream has an unconscious meaning. Sometimes, it is just the pizza. To start noting important dreams, however, you should start keeping a dream journal with dates to compare your dreams to your situations. You can start understanding your subconscious in a fascinating way. Write in the present tense as if you’re re-living the dream, and underline any unusual or poignant aspects which are central to the story, or which instinctively attract your attention.
Then, take a look at these 30 symbols. Treat them as a simple starting point to jump off of and discover what they could mean for you.
They often represent the part of your psyche that feels connected to nature and survival. Being chased by a predator suggests you’re holding back repressed emotions like fear or aggression.
Little infants or toddlers can symbolize a literal desire to produce offspring, or your own vulnerability or need to feel loved. They can also signify a new start.
3. Being chased
This is one of the most common dream symbols in all cultures. It means you are feeling threatened, so reflect on who is chasing you (they may also be symbolic) and why they are a possible threat in real life.
They make a statement about how we want other people to perceive us. If you dream symbol is shabby clothing, you may feel unattractive or worn out. Changing what you wear may reflect a lifestyle change.
They are interpreted subjectively depending on your religious beliefs. Some see it as symbolizing balance, death, or an end to a particular phase of life. The specific circumstances will help define these dream symbols.
This can signify self-evaluation, with the content of the exam reflecting the part of your personality or life under inspection.