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    Thread: Thoughts in Dreams

    1. #1
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      Question Thoughts in Dreams

      Does anyone else seem to have a prevalent element of thoughts in their non-lucid dreams?
      Looking back on my dream journals, I see a lot of 'I think...', etc. in my entries.
      For example: 'I wonder if she’s been wearing them [glasses] like this. It still saddens me to think of accidentally breaking them, and I think about buying her a new pair. I also remember her other pair.'
      There is of course a lot of description and action in my dream entries, but I am curious about the thought and thinking portions. Anyone else?

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      Honestly I can't think of any - just randomly checked a few entries in my DJ and I don't see anything like that - it seems to be all action, situations and atmosphere. Except for the NREM dreams of course, which are almost nothing but streams of thought.

      Though I have been known to have the occasional Thot pop up now and then.

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      Darkmatters,
      Interesting. Thanks for replying. Outside of this thread, I have only asked one friend who remembers their dreams about thinking content, and they said they haven't noticed much. I'm thinking, with your reply contributing, that this might be the norm.
      Ah, I hadn't even thot about the possibility of that word play, but now that you mention it, I have noticed some as well. A whole new thread entirely...

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      Though I do notice a lot of things like false memories, ideas (like "I know I have to get to the fountain before midnight" or "I just knew he wanted to kill us all"). Or things like "I'm in an unfamiliar town and I know it's really really far from home". So I guess I'd call that implanted knowledge, not thinking. I'll keep pondering on it and looking through my DJ - this is interesting.

      Oh question - would you say you're a very cerebral person? Maybe 'in your head' a lot or thinking a lot?

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      It occurs to me these things you're calling thoughts could be expressed in other terms, maybe you tend to use the word think or thought a lot? You could have also said "Has she been wearing them like this? I'm sad about breaking them and want to buy her a new pair. The older ones were very nice as well" (or whatever it was you thought about them). No using the words think or thought, but it's the same dream. So it could have more to do with how a person tends to write things. It's quite possible I've had very similar things happen in dreams but just didn't call them thoughts.

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      Found one!

      For some reason (because of something somebody said that I only half understood) I thought housekeeping was coming to wash the sheets and blankets, so I got out of bed and pulled them off - put them in a pile on the floor. The people in the lobby looked at me funny and I thought I must have been wrong about housekeeping.
      I'm not sure this qualifies as actually thinking in the dream though - I could just as easily have called it an expectation or a misunderstanding. It was actually something somebody had told me, not something I thought up myself. At the end I could also just as easliy have said "I must have been wrong" rather than "I thought I must have been wrong".

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      I have been pondering this. Thanks for bringing it up. I don't have thoughts, that is, I don't consider an action....I just take it. In my few lucid dreams thus far, once I realized I was in the dream I just took some sort of action. I don't recall and thought process....just action. I'm wondering if I'll have time to actually think things over once I get used to lucidity.

      I wonder if your tendency to consider things will make it easier for you to remain lucid.

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      Darkmatters,
      I suppose I should've defined 'thoughts'. I think I would define 'thoughts' in dreams as a written recollection that is not a description or action, but a written recollection of a mental process within the dream situation. Therefore, I think your example of "I thought housekeeping was coming" would qualify, provided 'thought' in that instance was describing the actual thought going through your dreaming self's mind and not just a colloquial phrase. Even if it were an 'expectation' or understanding', I think it would still qualify as relating to a mental process. I hadn't exactly taken into consideration that these snippets of thinking might've been due to the wording alone, but I think that when reworded they are still describing the mental process, as opposed to a description or action.
      In my dream recollections, I remember the thoughts that I had in the dream. For example, it's not just "I wonder if she's been wearing them like this", it's actually my dream self picturing the thought as one would in waking life.
      And to answer your question: Yes, I am a very cerebral person. I spend a great amount of time thinking and, thinking about it, visualizing scenarios, past events, etc. Thanks again fro contributing!

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      Lenscaper,
      Thanks for replying. I'm glad it gave you something to ponder.
      So are your dream journal entries all action and description?
      From my understanding, thought is all but necessary for a lucid dream, as one must initially know it to be a dream (through thought). To continue lucidity, one would also need to sustain the thought of it being a dream. Have you experienced lucidity, and if so, was there not some element of thought in your recollection?
      Also, I have never experienced a lucid dream, so I am also interested in your last sentiment.

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      Well, in the particular quote I posted, there was no actual thought taking place in my head. The reason I "thought" housekeeping was coming was because someone sitting in the lobby (where I was laying in my bed!) had said something to me that I couldn't quite understand, but it sounded sort of like 'housekeeping is on their way' (or something to that effect). So it literally was just a misunderstanding. As for the second one, "The people in the lobby looked at me funny and I thought I must have been wrong about housekeeping.", it wasn't that I actually thought about it, but just because the reactions of the people in the lobby made it clear that I was wrong. It was a dream about being shamed in public, and they were amused at my near nakedness and my stupidity in getting out of bed and piling my sheets beside it on the floor, looking like an idiot.

      In both cases I just used the word thought for convenience or convention, but it really wasn't the appropriate word. It would be more accurate to say "I could tell from their reaction that I was wrong".
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-25-2019 at 05:37 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Well, in the particular quote I posted, there was no actual thought taking place in my head.
      So this would qualify as the colloquial use of 'thought?' I think I see what you are saying, even though it's hard (impossible?) to entirely envision someone else's dream and dreaming processes. If so, they would be examples of a lack of thoughts in your dreams. If there was no memory of a thought in your dream, I would qualify it as an example of lack of thought. I think this may also be broaching territory that I don't have answers for. Still, it's fun to think about.

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      Quote Originally Posted by rshort1202 View Post
      Have you experienced lucidity, and if so, was there not some element of thought in your recollection?
      Also, I have never experienced a lucid dream, so I am also interested in your last sentiment.
      I have only been at this for a month but I have experienced lucidity five times if I include the "accidental" DILD that put me on this path a little over three weeks ago. Since then I have been working very diligently at being aware throughout the day and I have immersed myself in a lucid dream/dream yoga consciousness. Three of my lucid dream experiences have been accompanied by the words, "This is a dream", but all of the lucid experiences came like flashes. Hmmmm....that is not exactly true as I recall now. I had one dream where I actually returned to the exact scene of the lucid dream the night before.......I flew down on the scene immediately upon entering the dream and was fully lucid for quite a while. I did a few things but I still don't recall actually thinking about doing them. I would have to call that almost a WILD as I had laid awake for a very long time in hypnagogia before finally rolling over and going to sleep. In general, though, I kind of see them as spontaneous moments rather than thought out decisions.

      Your thread is helping me to realize that I need to somehow incorporate thought into my lucidity so that I can get stabilized. I know that will come.

      The thought part, for me, has been during my days where I have pretty much convinced myself that I am living in a dream both day and night. It's like I am actively trying to balance things out by becoming more dream-like in my days and more conscious in my dreams.

      My dream journal entries are very short.....just phrases to remind me of what happened.....more like mile posts than journal entries. I only write down dreams in which I felt somewhat conscious even though I would not call them lucid dreams.

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      Quote Originally Posted by rshort1202 View Post
      So this would qualify as the colloquial use of 'thought?' I think I see what you are saying, even though it's hard (impossible?) to entirely envision someone else's dream and dreaming processes.
      I'm not sure if I was making myself clear, but my main point was that people need to check carefully – just because they wrote the word think or thought in their DJ doesn't mean there was any thought in the dream.


      Quote Originally Posted by rshort1202 View Post
      If there was no memory of a thought in your dream, I would qualify it as an example of lack of thought. I think this may also be broaching territory that I don't have answers for. Still, it's fun to think about.
      Yep - in my non-lucids at least, I'm a total NPC!

      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      I only write down dreams in which I felt somewhat conscious even though I would not call them lucid dreams.
      If you know you're dreaming then it's a lucid, though sometimes it can be hard to tell 'knowing' from dreaming about being lucid, where you might say "I'm dreaming" and go through the motions of joy, or of reality checking, but without the feeling.

      Rather than say 'I would not call them lucid dreams', it might be more useful to call them lucids with low awareness.

      Now I'm interested in whether I think in my lucid dreams. Need to dig into the DJ again.

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      As soon as I finished posting here, I looked at another thread that came up in my feed, about music in dreams, and wrote this:

      One dream was dominated by trying to remember "What band did the song Black Hole Sun?"

      Much of the dream took place at an outdoor environment next to a concert venue where they were playing (though it was actually indoors, like inside a concrete parking garage). It seems like I kept hearing the song throughout, or parts of it, and I asked a room full of people if they knew the band's name. Nobody did, but they tried to think of it for me, after intially looking at me like I'm a lunatic. I kept trying but couldn't remember the name (it's Soundgarden), but I did remember the singer's name (though I got it wrong). I thought it was Dave Navarro (that's actually the guitarist for Jane's Addiction) Then toward the end I was walking, still apparently outside of the concert, when the person in question (who's name I thought was Dave Navarro but was actually Chris Cornell) was standing there outside of his own concert in the crowd and talked to me. He was my neighbor or something, and he apologized for not answering my question earlier (about who he was!) because he was inside playing at the time lol. I thought it was interesting how the whole dream was permeated by the idea of 'who did this song?', and I kept trying to hard to think of him, and he showed up as well.
      It's an example of trying hard to remember something, which I guess qualifies as thinking. I wasn't doing a great job of it, but hey, I tried anyway! This was a non-lucid.


      ____________


      Some very interesting thoughts about thinking from Jordan Peterson: https://youtu.be/f12vT2kRKE0?t=104

      Start @ 1:44, it's just a very brief snippet (speaking about Nietzsche's assessment of DesCartes' "I think, therefore I am"):

      "He wasn't sure that it was the 'I' who thought, in some causal manner. He said well, it's more like thoughts – it's something like thoughts appear in the phenomenal field, and maybe you choose between them, or maybe they possess you."
      What does it mean to 'think' in a non-lucid dream I wonder? I believe there is some left-brain thought going on even in low-awareness non-lucids, but not much, and usually extremely unfocused. I also believe there's a lot of right-brain stuff going on that in some ways mimics left-brain activity. Such as gibberish phrases and gibberish thoughts, or psuedo-thoughts. In another Peterson clip I saw recently he said that we usually think of the left hemisphere as Linguistic and the right as Imagistic, but that's not quite right. He said really it's more like the left works in terms of the familiar and the well-worn (habit patterns I suppose), and the right is about the novel and the unexpected. To me that suggests that the left hemisphere uses words in the ways we're used to, the way's we've been taught to use them for effective communication, but the right brain uses words creatively and the familiar meanings are distorted or just not there.

      I suspect in all but the most advanced lucids, at least for me, what passes as thought in a dream is simply 'dreaming of thinking'. Though I'm sure that varies between people and even between dreams of the same person.
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-25-2019 at 02:42 PM.

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      Now, I normally have a lot of cognition in my dreams that feels like the waking-life sort, but I have the impression that this is fairly uncommon and probably related to being an unusually reflective person in waking life. Just to grab a few (non-lucid) instances from my DV journal…

      Problem-solving:


      …A small group of oni is building a campfire there, in the courtyard area between this wall and the outer one. They’re larger than humans, with colorful skin and wearing rough clothing, some of it made from animal skins. It’s odd, I think to myself. It’s been ages since I’ve read, watched or played anything with oni in it. The ones I can recall looked different. And yet, these guys strike me as familiar—familiar as individuals, even. I can’t account for it….

      Recalling memories:

      …As I stand there watching, a small bird is fluttering around my face, very close. It’s annoying, and I want to wave it away, but that doesn’t seem right somehow. There must be a reason for this. I stand still and let my mind go blank. I can feel vague memories begin to stir—very old memories, stories concerning this kind of bird. And suddenly, it occurs to me that this is how birds behave when there’s a predator nearby….

      Metacognition:

      …But what’s more troubling is the fact that he’s mentioning things that happened since the car chase, and I don’t remember anything between now and then. I try to determine how big of a memory gap I’m dealing with. Very shortly afterwards, I conclude that this is not something it’s possible to do without knowing what happened during that time….

      Speculation:

      …I examine the glass: it’s quite pretty, with some transparent colored parts in an art nouveau-like abstract pattern—and above that, a silhouette of the Prague skyline. The golden city and one of its golden ages. I briefly wonder if he has a whole stockpile of these just for giving away to people….


      I’ve heard it claimed that becoming more aware of your thoughts makes it easier to gain lucidity. And I can see how it could help, but judging from my own experience, it’s not the thinking itself that gets you lucid. There are just too many instances where it ought to have led to becoming lucid—in my first excerpt there, I even thought that something I was seeing was probably pulled from some kind of media, and that really only makes sense if I assumed I was dreaming—and yet I still didn’t make the connection.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Rather than say 'I would not call them lucid dreams', it might be more useful to call them lucids with low awareness.
      This is something that I am trying to wrap my head around in this early stage.

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      LeaningKarst, your bringing up problem solving made me remember the various tales of famous people who had solved big problems through dreams. Such as Einstein figuring out some vital part of his theory of Relativity (I believe he dreamed of being on a train going one way and watching things happen on the ground as well as on a train going the other way? Or was that just how he explained it in the book?)

      There was also whoever invented the sewing machine, who was struggling with the problem of how to feed the thread through the needle. He woke from a dream, filled with excitement and knowing he had his answer now. He had dreamed of savages carrying spears or javelins, and each had a hole through the end of it near the tip.

      In each of these cases an important aspect is that they were already struggling to solve these problems while awake. What happened in the dreams was the right brain sorted through all the various possible solutions and selected one that would work. This parallels experiments done with rats who had electrodes inserted into their brains and ran through an unfamiliar maze. Scientists could watch lights rippling in very specific patterns as they chose turns and later tried to remember them, and they also watched the EEGs as the rats slept. The exact same patterns ran again in NREM sleep and appeared, broken up and interspersed with other patterns if I remember right, in REM. They then ran similar experiments on people (without the electrodes, but there were adhesive sensors on their heads) using an immersive video game about skiing down a mountain. In this case they could ask the subject questions afterward. People reported their dreams were often about walking in snow and sometimes about stepping in already existing footprints in the snow, as if following a trail already made by somebody, or by themselves previously.

      Apparently it works sort of like this – when you're facing a novel problem, in dreams your mind will sort through old memories of problems you've solved that are similar. And it'll show you situations very reminiscent of the old ones you had solved, overlaid in some way on the new problem. This is like when you see your bed and dresser in the corner of an airport or in a cave or something - two situations compressed into one.

      I agree that you're more cerebral than most people, that's probably true for rshort1202 as well, and I think people like that might have a better left-right brain connection, though I don't know.
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-25-2019 at 04:02 PM.

    18. #18
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      I know I sort of missed this thread, but I’m hoping you won’t mind my belated 2₵:

      I read through this thread a couple of times (okay, I read it once, and then pretty much scanned it), and, though the conversation was thoughtful (no pun intended) and fairly intriguing, I had one thought of my own hovering in the back of my head throughout:

      Of course there is thought – of all varieties – in dreams!

      Now I know that is just my professionally uninformed opinion, but think about it: Dreams, all dreams, are by definition conscious events, and conscious events, by definition (in my opinion), require some level of thought. Now, this level could be as low as making a decision – or even finding yourself making a decision – to do some specific thing in the dream; and it can be as high as realizing that you are in a dream, then contemplating/examining/changing/enjoying its content (aka, lucidity). The level of thought will likely range somewhere in between those two extremes, but it is still there.

      The trouble with consciousness in NLD’s isn’t that we’re not thinking in them; consciousness is working just fine – almost as well as it does during our non-lucid time in waking-life (which equals almost all of it, for most of us). No, the trouble is that our consciousness is disconnected from key sources during sleep, primarily memory, so reality-based critical thinking is pretty much absent, which pretty much means that, upon waking, the thinking we remember seems wrong and, well, just stupid. So it isn’t a lack of thought during dreams that is the issue, it is the lack of quality thought.

      It was mentioned several times, I think, that that quality of thought can vary from person to person in dreams, just as it varies from person to person in waking-life. Yes, if you are a deeply thoughtful person during waking-life, that deep thoughtfulness will bleed into your dreams – even if you’re being thoughtful about things that become patently absurd upon waking.

      Also, keep in mind that consciousness does not need to include self-awareness, which is necessary for lucidity, but not for thought.

      Finally, I agree that yes, if you are an extremely thoughtful or introspective person in waking-life, that thoughtfulness could bleed into your dreams, lucid or not, even if you are being thoughtful during the dream about something that appears absurd or just wrong upon waking. And yes, dreams can be excellent problem-solvers and creativity engines, but, if lucidity is absent, your consciousness in the dreams from which that creativity emerges is just as disconnected from memory and critical thinking as ever; it’s just that you can remember their significance upon waking. Here's a hopefully relevant example:

      Imagine a 19th century engineer struggling to figure out how to make a plane fly; he watches birds, flies kites, etc., but nothing seems to explain how they get in the air and stay aloft, even without flapping their wings. Then he has a dream about two groups of ants heading for his picnic blanket on a beach. One group is marching on a level section of beach at a slow, almost lazy pace, and the other is marching at a very fast pace over a lump of sand – yet both groups get to the blanket at the same time. The dreamer finds this race curious, and questions the leaders of the two groups upon their arrival at the blanket, but their answers are full of empty bravado and clearly show they have no idea how the tie occurred. Upon waking, though, the engineer has a eureka moment when he realizes that all he has to do is give a wing a curved shape so that air passing over its upper surface moves faster than air passing under the straight surface giving the lower surface more pressure and, thus, lift. And of course he shakes his wife awake to announce that his solution came to him in a dream, even though it really came to him upon waking.

      Tl;dr: Your consciousness is working fine during dreams, NLD’s included, so thought by definition should be occurring, at some level. It’s the quality of those thoughts that are effected during NLD’s, not their existence in general.
      Ic161 likes this.

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      Very good point Sageous, as always.

      I was assuming the OP was referring to what you called "reality-based critical thinking". Which I would call a specific KIND of thought, rather than a level of it (though it might include a bit of both).

      In the majority of my NLDs I would say any decisions or choices I make are usually part of the dream script, pre-created by the unconscious. Very rarely, except in lucids, do I actually consciously ponder choices and make my own decision. They're coming from the unconscious. But then, as Jordan Peterson said in the video clip, we often aren't even responsible for what we think of as our own decisions in fully conscious waking life - instead it's more like "The idea appears in the field of cognition, and we choose it or maybe it chooses us, or maybe it POSSESSES us!"

      Adding that into the mix makes me think about rethinking what I thought I knew about thought... I think!!??!?

      (I could complicate this even farther by asking - are we talking about experiencing actual conscious thought in an NLD, or are we talking about DREAMING about conscious thinking?)
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-27-2019 at 08:03 PM.
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    20. #20
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      The way I see it, thoughts are just combinations of knowledge. Knowledge is the basis of thoughts. Without knowledge, there is no thought.

      Our present knowledge is based on our previous knowledge, which is organized through our schemas.

      I think the combinations of knowledge that form our thoughts are based on how our which schemas are activated and the schemas have organized our knowledge.

      When we're dreaming, there is less sensory information coming from our outside sleeping environment to influence which schemas get activated, so this ends up influencing our thoughts.
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