Lesson 5 – Sleep & Dreams
So what happens when we sleep?
To answer this question we need to expand the idea a little. When we go to sleep, normally the mind gradually shuts down until it goes to sleep. The body, when comfortable with this idea then follows suit and goes to sleep but only when it is satisfied that the mind has already gone to sleep.
It does this by asking the mind questions. Triggers are sent by the body to the mind to see if it responds – these triggers are requests to the mind to roll over in bed or change position, if for example on a couch. If the mind does not respond the body knows its time to sleep.
This is a simple but effective communication method between the two separate systems.
With our mind asleep and body asleep there is significantly reduced activity in the mind but it is not entirely switched off. The mind continues to monitor the limited sensory input from our surroundings ensuring we are not in any danger. If the sensory input goes above a certain threshold, we awake. So for example if there was a whisper in the room, our ears still take the information in, they just do not trigger the waking response until the whisper becomes loud enough, perhaps a shout in some cases!
For the most part of sleep, the Reality Generator is switched off and only switches on for brief periods during the sleep period. These episodes are known as dreams and are created by the Reality Generator drawing on the reserve information from the Sorting Office. The reserve information is all that data that has been accumulated during the lifetime of the individual and hence we dream mostly of past experiences and desires but with no particular order.
As there is reduced sensory input i.e. we aren’t hearing or seeing much, the motivation for the dreamscape is driven, not by the local information input (what we’re seeing or hearing in bed) but by our emotional state at that time. The dream images and themes are therefore frequently constructed from associated memories and experiences of a similar emotional frame of reference. So for example, when we are stressed we may dream of being late for work, when we are free, we may dream of flying.
What is most peculiar about this process is that when the Reality Generator forms the dreamscape, it does not represent a map of a physical space and time occupied by a physical self (as in waking state) but a map of a “non physical reality”. What is even more curious is that the part of the mind that probes our reality does not ordinarily know this. So to the dreaming mind, a wall feels solid and a pinch feels like…..a pinch! However as we will see when we become lucid we can become aware of this (there are ways of knowing) and with experience we can navigate Dream World, knowing that it is just a mental construct with no real physical boundaries. We can walk through walls; fly; breathe under water and so on.
Morpheus tells Neo he must “free his mind….nobody makes the first jump!”