Dreams as “Redo”s

After significant life events, especially “level-up”s, I’ve noticed I experience a surge of recurring dreams for a few nights. These are dreams I’ve been having for years and which are kind of amalgams of all the major themes in my life. They are usually set in locations from my childhood, e.g. the local park, my primary school or my childhood home, and are populated by avatars representing aspects of how I view the world and my relationships with people. So fears are represented by specific characters and situations, how I feel about women will be represented by a female avatar I interact with, and so forth. A dream of this nature will typically be a journey, involving walking a single path through many situations, and interacting with primary avatars along the way.

The interesting thing about this is that the avatars often “swap out” with their current versions. So a primary school situation consisting of a girl I liked back then will have her “swapped out” for my current female avatar (usually someone I’ve been interacting with more recently). In this way, the dream is combining all elements of my sexual history with women, from foundational experiences right up to today, and including settings, emotions and the women themselves, into a single gestalt representation with which I interact.

The same thing happens with fears: an old bully for example might be swapped out with someone else who’s bothered me recently. But the situations are usually very similar. The unconscious mind seems to store the hugely complex set of interactions and emotions that make up one’s lifetime into a simple story. A single narrative.

If you could gain access to this story file via lucid dreaming, I dread to think of what you could do to your own personality. You might be able to make superhuman improvements to your confidence by changing your relationships with the avatars. But by the same sword-strike you could also lose all grounding in reality and sense of appropriateness in your behaviours. For example, if you slew the bully archetype in the dream, would that result in simply more confidence when encountering his counterpart in real life — or would you behave dismissively, obnoxiously or even sadistically to him? If you edited the dream story to the extent that it bore little resemblance to real life, that could possibly be a recipe for cognitive dissonance, or at worst psychosis and derealization. I have never edited the dream story, and would be rather worried about trying, unless I had some expert guidance. If I were to try, I would probably start by purposely feeling compassion for each of the avatars. This seems the safest route, as it is essentially what many Buddhists do during compassion meditations.

Back to organic “level-ups”, and their effects on the dream narrative. If I kick some ass socially in real life, then in the dream I’ll relate to the avatars, old and new, in the new confident way, and they will respond accordingly. It’s like it’s “sealing in” the change. If I stand up to a bully in real life, I’ll stand up to my avatar representing all bullies in the recurring dream, and win. If I pull a really hot girl in real life, I’ll behave with a lot more confidence towards my female avatar in the dream. In fact I had a bizarre one recently whereby I far exceeded my ordinary standards and consequently my old female avatar in the dream (represented by a real-life girl I had thought about quite a lot up until that point) suddenly looked ugly as hell, and I dominated her easily. I am sure in the next iteration she will be swapped out for a much hotter girl to represent the new standard.

So I think of these types of dreams as “redo”s. It is how the unconscious mind updates its model of reality, particularly interpersonal relationships, in light of new experience. The dream is a single narrative describing all of life — relationships reduced down to single-character archetypes, with which the new “you” interacts in order to update the master story and thus your sense of self. This fosters interesting thought regarding karma. Karma is strongly associated with repeating cycles, and the nature of your actions today causing corresponding events in the future. Viewed through this lens of personal narrative, it means that all our interactions in life are repeats of our archetypal character-situations. Your interactions with your boss, for example, might be a repeat of those with your bully archetype. Then again, maybe he reminds you more of your father, and triggers that archetype, so you get a repeat of that relationship. Whichever archetype he most strongly resembles is the interaction “script” he triggers within you.

And there also seems the possibility for one person to trigger multiple scripts. For example, a girlfriend could ordinarily trigger your female mating avatar. But sometimes she could trigger your mother avatar. Which archetype within you she triggers, and when, and the nature of your relationship with those avatars, will be reflected in your relationship with your girlfriend. Through these archetypes, life will send you the same experiences again and again in different guises until they are faced with right action — usually courage, love, truth, or combinations of those things. When that happens, your experience going forward is changed accordingly. The relationships to your archetypes are changed in accordance with the new actions, and those changes are reflected in your real-life experiences (which your perceptions are constantly drawing on in order to make sense of the world). The narrative update in the dream is the process by which that change is effected. The flipside is that if you continue to approach the same situations with the same actions, the archetypes will not change, and the dream will recur with similar themes, as will real life. The dream is a condensed mirror reflection of real life. They project into each other. Unfortunate situations in real life may make the avatars in your dream hostile. Then their real-life projections will also be perceived as hostile. You must therefore work hard to do right action in your thoughts and dreams as well as in reality — especially following unfortunate incidents. To practise courage, love and honesty in one’s mind is to experience it as a reflection in real life. Reciprocally, to practise these things in real life also makes for a better mind.

The one thing I do not like about the “dream update” idea is that it can be interpreted as the brain being more like a computer — and dreams, as wondrous as they are when experienced, as nothing more than an “update program” which writes the new data back into the master record. Anything which brings us back to determinism gives me an uneasy feeling. Yet, perhaps by knowing we can change the story, our freewill is returned. Thus, determinism and freewill are inseparably intertwined to form the gestalt we call conscious experience.

Need help with your meditation? Book a Skype coaching session →

You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. tasty says:

    i noticed that few months back my usual dream locations changed – my childhood house for example has been replaced with an alley which has been a place i spent more time walking in when i was in my teens to early adulthood. why do you think this change could have occurred?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I get that as well E.g. currently my dreams are more often set at my primary school rather than my childhood house. I don’t know what it means. The house usually contains family avatars though. Who is present in your alley? I would look at the avatars first. If there are no avatars, it could represent loneliness.

  2. tasty says:

    most often in my dreams meet people i never met in real life. they have rich back-stories, relationships with world around them, as do I have with the world. I “know” them in dream world (usually), even if I don’t in real life.

    For example I met my “dream” father in a forest another new location of my dreams. he was nothing like my real father. his looks, character everything was different. I don’t think he was in any way my father figure avatar at all, also I never had a chance to develop our relationship, he was killed by my female cousin few scenes onto the dream (another dream character that doesn’t resemble anything in RL at all) but both of them are an exception, not a rule, usually dream people I meet don’t have such close relationships with me, or none at all before we develop some based on the things taht happen around us.

    I don’t see characters I meet as avatars at all, when I think about it. Only in rare oneitsy dreams. Maybe I should start trying to notice them, probably it requires practice.

    By the way, thanks for the post and reply

  3. Illuminatus says:

    UPDATE: My dreamscape changed as expected. Female avatar changed to beautiful Eastern European woman. Primary school reverted to its status before half of it was bought and built over by some sleazy residential development, back to lush pastoral green fields. Interpretation: my innocent childlike wonder at the world returned. And I’ve had many amazing adventures the last few weeks. 🙂

  4. tasty says:

    Slightly off topic: I had two close to identical dreams in the last seven days – very vivid dreams about blood pouring very strongly from my nose and mouth while i’m in my bed, like it is reality. when I wake up I still need some time to realize it is just a dream, resulting in me trying to wash the blood from my jaw with my hands and asking my girlfriend can she she it while looking at my palms and belly with a dumb expression on my face.

    To be honest I’m feeling as if something bad is coming up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *