Opinion: The mirror of consciousness

Sanjana Iyer is a sophomore fashion merchandising major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Sanjana Iyer

How many times have we dwelled upon a dream we had the previous night, which seemed so remarkably bizarre, that even hours of pondering would not give us an answer as to what it was trying to tell us?

I recently read an article in scientificamerican.com about our dream states being a peek into consciousness – something most of us are already aware of – and felt inspired to talk about how the operation of consciousness in the dream state can be compared to reality.

Robert Berezin from Psychologytoday.com had a very interesting perspective about this, explaining how consciousness works as a filtering mechanism for how we perceive the world around us.

If you study at the human body, you learn that whatever we consume as nutrition during the day is then filtered and digested by the respective organs during the night. Similarly, all the events and emotions that our consciousness perceives during the day when our mind is awake, are then digested during the night.  This digestive process is what appears to us as our dream state.

Our consciousness is not the same as our mind. Mind is the by-product of consciousness, or the filter through which we perceive things.

Consciousness is the constant “I am” presence we all feel as human beings.

What really occurs when we are asleep, and our consciousness, now withdrawn from the theatre of physical reality, is now active in the theaters of our minds.

Unlike our waking state, we cannot intentionally write out the script of how the events unfold when we dream. The consciousness writes its own scenes and plays them out for us in our minds.

Some theories have been put forward to suggest that this is the mind’s way of interpreting external stimuli. During this dream state, our consciousness is so untethered to reality that we catch many glimpses of its unadulterated state. In fact, this is the only time when we see our conscious mind for what it is, without willingly altering it.  

Dreams often have a very strong emotional component to them. Normally, it is a single very distinctive emotion that sometimes stays with us much after we wake up. Sometimes we have dreams about our loved ones being harmed, or something not turning out the way we want, and we wake up feeling anxious and worried.

More often than not, we are convinced that these dreams are trying to “tell us something.” Sometimes, we have recurring dreams, in which case we are certain that our subconscious mind is trying to forewarn us or generate prophetic messages. But this is not necessarily the function of a dream in the first place.

The purpose of this subconscious phenomenon is fairly straightforward – it acts as a mirror. Standing outside the mirror is our conscious perception of reality, including its emotional and physical contents. Consciousness is the mirror, and our dreams are the reflection of all that we have really perceived, whether or not we are aware of it.

What this really tells us is that our actual subconscious perception of reality may be entirely different to what we think – and our dream state may be key to that lock.