• Altered States Of Consciousness And Dreams Are Good For Us

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    Dreams themselves are an altered state of consciousness. The term – ASC – refers to a significant change in what is considered a normal waking awareness. Therefore a dream is an excellent example of an ASC. For instance in dreams or in a state where the sense of self is diminished, people can sometimes do or experience things they cannot in ‘normal’ waking consciousness.

    An underlined assumption in our society is that everyday waking consciousness is the truest expression of how things are in “objective” reality. We assume it to be more valid than say dream states or other forms of Altered States of Consciousness (ASC) such as visions, trance, hypnosis, meditative states or hallucinations brought on by substances such as ayahuasca.

    But what if this assumption is wrong? What if the realms we visit in an ASC such as dreams, are in fact just as valid, real and important (or perhaps more so) than everyday waking consciousness?

    The Science Behind Our Experience

    The brain does a lot of work behind the scenes to create a coherent, stable and predictable experience. The following are two examples from perception that demonstrate this: Colour vision and the blind spot test.

    Colour is Created by the Brain

    As Sir Isaac Newton famously said:

    … the rays to speak properly are not coloured. …

    In older cultures, ASC’s were frequently sought as a part of the person’s life; as a way to heal psychological or physical illness; as a way of solving a problem, such as where to hunt or whether and where to fight an invader. I believe it is Charles Tart who says in the early part of his book Altered States of Consciousness, that in fact such older cultures felt that if a person could not experience an ASC they were in some way crippled.

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