Wednesday, February 7, 2007

My Strangest Dream Experiences

I’m not even sure these should be called a dream experiences because they actually occurred when I had been wide awake for a hour or so after a night’s sleep.

On at least three mornings, all several years ago, these things happened. For the sake of the scientific record I must state that on each occasion my wife and I had sex just before the “dream” episode; I wouldn’t mention that except that may be significant, for I never had such an episode on duller mornings.

The first episode was the most overwhelming. As I lay in bed around 8:30 a.m. gathering strength to dress for work I began to have a feeling which words cannot describe adequately. It was as if I were beginning to remember an extremely realistic and powerful dream without quite remembering what had happened in it. The dream world expanded and grew. A strange, disoriented feeling came over me. The dream world began to overwhelm the real world of the bedroom and the sunny windows. It was as if I had earlier been in a world which was much more real than the one in which I lay, and as I began to remember it, it overwhelmed everything else.

The key is that the dream world somehow overflowed its bounds and swamped the “real” world. The overpowering dream world was much more vivid than my physical surroundings had ever been, so that I actually felt – with alarm – that what I had thought was the real world was not the real world, and that a more real world was rising up to take over, making my ordinary surroundings seem unreal. And yet the content of any dream remained tantalizingly just beyond my reach. I could sense faces, voices, colors, but only as teasing hints; I was like a person with amnesia grasping at fleeting clues about his life.

My head was swimming as I tried to get emotional control of myself. When I had dressed and gone to my car, I realized that the thing was not fading away. I was like someone who had been plucked from the past (the dream) and thrust into an unfamiliar future.

I felt uncertain that I was following the simple route from home to the interstate highway, after which I had to drive fifteen miles to Daytona Beach and five further miles to my office. As I began the drive through west Daytona I found that intersections and turns I had negotiated hundreds of times now were unfamiliar and confusing. “Do I turn here? Is it further down? And then which direction?” I felt my way hesitantly past traffic lights and streets that may or may not have taken me to work.

I was quite frightened by now, and I pulled into a walk-in medical clinic. The doctor who examined me studied my eyes with a bright light, checked my heart and blood pressure, and said he could find nothing wrong. He had suspected a stroke, or ministroke, but could find no sign of one. He told me I had probably just suffered from panic because of some mistake on the road.

After that rest I was calmer, and I did find my way to work. As I walked through the court building to my office I felt somewhat as if I were floating rather than walking – I don’t mean literally floating, but with some such sensation affecting my consciousness and body.

Only after I’d sat at my desk for awhile with a glass of cold water did the mighty flood of the dream world begin to subside. My sense of disorientation and unreality gradually faded, and the world of bookshelves and fluorescent light fixtures and computers regained the upper hand. The dream world continued to recede, and within another hour I was feeling what passes for normal.

The same thing happened on at least two other widely separated mornings, but each time it was a little less extreme.

Sometimes after that I felt the flood rising and became lightheaded and concerned, but I fought against it, got out of bed immediately, splashed cold water in my face, and got through without an extreme episode. I began making sure that I had some breakfast before any physical exertion, thinking that perhaps low blood sugar had been a factor.

For whatever reason, nothing like those episodes has happened to me for several years except for a mild version which passes in a matter of seconds. Even so, the extreme experiences were so strange and disorienting – though at the same time fascinating and tantalizing – that even a hint of them is enough to start emotional red lights flashing.

The unavoidable consequence of those episodes is that I feel, based on personal experience, that there is another reality superior to this reality. I wish I could say something more insightful, but that’s it.


  1. On the one hand I think this can be described in the context of a neurological state and on the other, it indicates an alternative reality.

    I went to see a kinesiologist for a series of sessions and after one of them, as I drove away, I did not know which side of the road I should drive. It was in the depths of the countryside, with few vehicles, and I had to work it out intellectually, but the feeling of uncertainty survived for several miles.

    On another occasion, whilst having a hot bath and for some time thereafter, I found that I did not know what year it was or how old I was and it worried me that I might have had a stroke.

    How do we know these things anyway? It does not feel like memory, more that we just know. When I didn't know any more, I went through various possibilities, expecting one of them to feel right. Is it 1999? have we had the "Millennium" yet? I didn't know. What year was I born? I went through various years to see if I felt a certain way about any of the numbers.

    In a way, I think of all these experiences of neurological. But because I am human, and dependent on its quirks for my feelings, I cannot help but treat what it gives me as somehow precious. When alcohol or drugs or sex or beautiful views of the sky "put us in a different place", we refuse to deny the spiritual significance of these things, and why should we, anyway?

  2. I have had many experiences like this. The tragedy, I feel, is that anxiety and fear probably made it impossible for either of us to penetrate that other reality further. Instead of embracing the 'other', we sought to return to our daily lives.

    In almost every case where I experienced a vivid 'other' reality, I was conscious of a dreadful fear that I might not be able to return to THIS reality. I therefore fought against the experience to some extent instead of making a further leap into the abyss.

    Perhaps the fear is an essential part of it, though. Many philosophers speak of 'fear and trembling' in the presence of the Divine.

    There are animals who experience heart attacks and die simply because they find themselves in the presence of a predator.

    Fear usually is our greatest enemy. 'I have nought to fear but Fear itself' and all that. On the other hand, fear is a measure by which we protect ourselves. Without fear, the child would place his hand in the fire and dive from high buildings...

  3. well.......where to begin.

    once the nervous system does a wobble like that there is no going back.

    my view is that when there is a glitch in the programming one tends to have mystical experiences, or if you are deeper into the culturing homeostasis, you panic.

    google "kundalini rising."

    it may give some insight.

    i remember many occasions of what psychology calls dissociation.

    in my first year of high school in canada i would routinely forget where my locker was or forget my lock`s combination.

    there were times where i would totally forget what class i was in or what homework was supposed to be done........

    but as i got a better persective on what was going on around me i realised that teachers and other students seemed to be experiencing similar things and would adapt to thier surroundings too.

    so which is the dream?

    that which is occuring now or where we go on those other occasions?

  4. Yves, I'm glad you shared your experience. The thing that distinguished my episodes from other "forgetting" episodes of mine and other people I know -- such as not remembering one's address or not knowing the day of the week -- was the sense that another level of reality had welled up and overwhelmed what I considered reality. The disorientation was a secondary effect.

  5. Freyashawk, thanks for the insightful comments. Yes, I had that fear of not being able to return to the known and familiar --as if I might find myself trapped in another world -- although I did try hard to recall the dream that seemed to be "taking over". It was like what we describe as "on the tip of my tongue".

    It's impressive that you've had a number of such experiences. I wish you'd either describe them on your blog or post some of them here.

  6. Dr. Alistair, until now I didn't realize so many people had experienced the kind of forgetting you describe. It makes me feel better to find out that it occurs in younger as well as older people like me. I've noticed that people in their 60's and 70's, for example, tend to use the term "senior moment" for their memory lapses, when actually the lapses are no more frequent than they were in earlier years. I forgot things just as readily when I was 19 as I do now.

  7. i forget more things before breakfast than most people do all week!

    yeah, we are all human here.

    we`ll leave the perfection to the perfect.

  8. yves, i`ve literally gone out onto the soccer field and not been able to tell which way i was supposed to be running or which side of the field to line up on.....

    very disconcerting.

    thankfully i had my dear old brother to yell at me.

  9. after sleeping on the woods one eve i lost recollection of events for a week more or less. only explanation of this disoriented sense, loosing track etc is that i was taken by extraterrestrial beings that evening. who knows how long i was in timbuktwo and then they put me back here thinking i would not notice my time loss. i am ok did not hurt :)