Tapping Into The Power Of Dreams

by Hervé Boisdé

Salvador Dali 'The Persistence of Memory'

Salvador Dali 'The Persistence of Memory'

We're all a bit fascinated by dreams even if we don't actively analyze them like Freud did. I mean...where do they come from? Do they have a deeper significance? I think we've all wondered about that. While we can't really be sure of the purpose of dreams, what we can agree on is that some amazing ideas have been born from them.

Salvador Dali's most famous painting was inspired by a dream, and he called many of his paintings "hand painted dream photographs". He also had a painting named 'Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate One Minute Before Awakening' (1944).

This video about the Beatles' Yesterday explains that Paul McCartney came up with the song in a dream and was fearful that he had unknowingly plagiarized it from somewhere he couldn't remember.

John Lennon also claimed that one of his songs, "#9 Dream", also came to him in a dream.

Niels Bohr, known as the father of Quantum Mechanics, had been struggling with the correct structure of the atom when a dream helped him with the discovery. In his dream he saw the nucleus in the center with electrons spinning around it much like planets orbiting the sun. When he awoke he became certain that the image he saw in his dream was correct.

On a less scientific note, director James Cameron credits the idea for his blockbuster film Terminator on a fever dream he had when he got sick. The ambitious director was little known at the time having only directed Piranha II: The Spawning up until that point. But when he had the fever he dreamt of a robot, cut in half, pulling itself along using a kitchen knife and dragging a broken arm, as it chased after a fleeing girl. He said it was "a really horrific image" and when he woke up, despite his illness, he forced himself to make a sketch of the robot which became the inspiration for the movie.

So we can see that dreams can be a source of creativity and ideas. But how do you tap into that?

Some people claim that they don't remember their dreams. It's been proven that we all dream, even if we don't seem to remember them later on. Many people have been able to improve their dream recollection by keeping a dream journal close to the bed. Often-times when we awake after we've experienced a dream we are still in a semi-asleep state and then we fall back into sleep and the dream disappears. If you can train yourself to jot down the dream in a journal immediately after you wake up then you will be able to get better at recalling your dreams more easily, even if you don't write them down every time.

People have also been able to train themselves to have lucid dreams, where they are asleep but aware that they are dreaming, and thus able to control what is happening in the dream. This is a bit like being a director in your own mind movie and there are inspirational possibilities with that also.

Meditation and hypnosis tap into the alpha and theta brainwave cycles known for accessing the subconscious mind, which is the seat of imagination and emotion. Similarly, hypnagogia is an altered state that everyone experiences when we are between sleep and being awake. We can have dream-like visions and this is a very creative brain-state to be in. Many people have had moments of clarity, epiphanies, or the spark of "Aha!" moment where they have come up with the solution to a problem that that has been troubling them for a long time.

On a more spiritual level, some people believe that there are dreams that are memory fragments of a past lifetime, especially if they are extremely vivid and seem to be set in a distant time. This has led some adventurous souls to look into Past Life Regression hypnosis to explore the possibilities of past lives. Dr Brian Weiss, author of 'Many Lives, Many Masters' (who trained me in Past Life Regression Therapy), advises people to look down at their feet and notice if they are wearing antique footwear if they suspect they are having a past life dream or past life experience in trance.


Creativity, Intuition, (and getting out of your own way...)

By Herve Boisde

Albert Einstein once famously said "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Supposedly, we live in the Information Age and one of the buzz-words that people use is that this or that is "data-driven" and that seems to correlate to efficiency. But does society also value intuition? 

Maybe more and more. As Einstein also once said to a colleague "When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge." Elaborating, he added, "All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration.... At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason."

Geniuses like Einstein might be naturally intuitive and also creative because they use their intuition in very productive ways. Intuition and creativity are closely linked, and while the Information Age has gotten us to where we are today, some are speculating that the next phase of civilization will depend on BIG creative ideas, high-concept thinking and looking at the big picture rather than just the details. After all, problems such as Climate Change, income inequality, limited resources with an ever-growing population were created, in part, by thinking from a past era. The solutions will come from a new way of thinking and seeing the world.

Another way of talking about this is to compare Linear Thinking versus Holistic Thinking. Linear Thinking refers to cause and effect and a rational, logical order to the way everything is connected. Analytical people tend to think in linear terms. More intuitive people tend to think more Holistically. The thoughts of a linear thinker tend to form a line (i.e. one thought leads to the next, then to the next, and so on). It is more ordered and organized if thoughts can have an linear formula. A non-linear or Holistic thinker might have thoughts that are more abstract or circular. In other words, a person who thinks holistically can jump around as if the thoughts are flowing across the middle of a circle rather that having to go across a line (A to B to C to D could instead be A to F to M to C). From a visual perspective the thinking become holistic because rather that move along a 2 dimensional line, the thoughts can move into a 3rd dimension across the plane of the circle.

Ok, so if creativity and intuition are almost the same thing, and abstract, creative thinking comes from less-analytical non-linear ideas, how do you train your mind to be more intuitive? Einstein said that all his breakthrough ideas came to him in the form of pictures or images in his mind, rather than words or math equations. He would then translate those images into language or math. That might explain why he thought that all scientists were artists as well.

Einstein first described his intuitive thought processes at a physics conference in Kyoto in 1922, when he indicated that he used images to solve his problems and found words later (Pais, 1982). Einstein explicated this bold idea at length to one scholar of creativity in 1959, telling Max Wertheimer that he never thought in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings, and even musical architectures (Wertheimer, 1959, 213-228).

In other interviews, he attributed his scientific insight and intuition mainly to music. "If I were not a physicist," he once said, "I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.... I get most joy in life out of music" (Calaprice, 2000, 155). His son, Hans, amplified what Einstein meant by recounting that "[w]henever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties" (quoted in Clark, 1971, 106). After playing piano, his sister Maja said, he would get up saying, "There, now I've got it" (quoted in Sayen, 1985, 26). Something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.

It's also useful to note that the seat of imagination and intuition reside in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the logical, analytical part of your mind but when you get really absorbed into a task or project, you go into a kind of trance and your subconscious mind will get more involved. This is a natural and normal form of hypnosis. Anytime you notice that you are in the "zone" or time seems to go by very quickly you are actually having a hypnotic experience. We also, through no coincidence, tend to be more creative and inspired in these states of mind. Many books and articles have been written about tapping into "flow" or these phases of inspired creativity. What it boils down to is letting your logical, analytical conscious mind get out of the way and letting your intuition take over.

To further illustrate this notion that the best creative work happens when the rational, self-editing mind gets out of the way of the intuitive inclination — something Ray Bradbury articulated beautifully in a 1974 interview — Picasso offers an illustrative example. Despite being both a professional admirer and a personal friend of Matisse’s, he cites the painter’s notoriously methodical creative process as a betrayal of this notion that an artist should honor his or her initial creative intuition:

Matisse does a drawing, then he recopies it. He recopies it five times, ten times, each time with cleaner lines. He is persuaded that the last one, the most spare, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and yet, usually it’s the first. When it comes to drawing, nothing is better than the first sketch.