Dream world

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

We all see dreams. Dreams are explained as a succession of images, ideas, emotions and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, although they have been a topic of scientific, philosophical and religious interest throughout history.

As per Hindu scriptures, dream is one of three states that the soul experiences during its lifetime, the other two states being the waking state and the sleeping state. Even in our tribal customs, many of our priests and elders draw meaning from dreams. Many people even plan or cancel events based on dreams.

Dreams occur mainly during the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. It is reported that the length of dreams can vary from a few seconds to 20-30 minutes. It is also reported that the average person has three to five dreams per night; however, most dreams are quickly forgotten.

During a typical lifespan, based on these figures, an average person could spend a total of about six years dreaming only. Opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and changed through time and culture. Many endorse the theory of Sigmund Freud – that dreams reveal insight into hidden desires and emotions. Many say that dreams are based on random events.

I have personally experienced some of the best dreams in life while flying fighter aircraft. When fighter pilots carry out extreme manoeuvres, their bodies are stressed due to centripetal/centrifugal forces subjecting their bodies to very high ‘g’ forces. This leads to lack of blood in the eyes and brain, finally leading to a semiconscious state. It is during this semiconscious state that dreams are seen during fighter flying. Most fighter pilots experience these dreams during their flying careers. To expose fighter pilots to such situations, they undergo indoctrination training at specially built centrifuges which are rotated at very high speeds to simulate high ‘g’ forces. It is seen and recorded during these training sessions that dreams last for 3-5 seconds only. These 3-5 seconds are felt like eternity during dreams.

There are also other types of dreams like daydreaming, hallucinations, dream walking and nightmares. Common citizens also see slightly different forms of dreams. They see dreams of employment, development, free education, free medical care, good roads, 24/7 stabilised electricity, peace and stability, etc. Like it is difficult to realise dreams seen in our sleep, it appears that many of these dreams of common citizens are also difficult to achieve.

To paraphrase former president late APJ Abdul Kalam, “Dreams are not those that we see while sleeping… Dreams are those that don’t let us sleep.”

By the way, in which language do you see dreams?  (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)