Friday, October 23, 2009

The abducted brain

I was pissed – I just stepped off the shuttle to my hotel-resort, everyone's bags made the trip except mine. My green fabric suitcase was not there. All the guests sauntered in to check into their rooms; the shuttle driver was no help, he just looked at me blankly and shrugged.

I followed the others into the hotel, the lobby was huge and I was having difficulty finding the hotel front desk. To make matters worse, I was wearing my pajamas; I really needed my suitcase to get into some decent clothes. Wandering aimlessly past banks of slot machines and gift shops… I could feel my anger rising. Where the hell is that front desk?

I was still angry as I lay there in the dark in my bed until I slowly came to the realization that -- I had been dreaming. There was no shuttle, no hotel, my suitcase was empty and stowed in the garage… and I don’t wear pajamas – ever!

I am amazed how our sleeping brains free-associate unencumbered by our logical frontal lobe. How it can weave intricate stories, images, even create “extras” walking, talking in the background. We know, for example that this place we may be in is our home, yet it doesn’t look anything like our real home. And why is it, when we are in a hurry, the atmosphere turns into molasses forcing us into slow motion, like running under water?

The brain is active all the time, regardless if we are awake or asleep. I believe the brain does some very interesting “filing and sorting” of the information it takes in and processes. For example, we seem to forget our dreams rather quickly upon awakening unless we rewind and run them again in a conscious state. Barring that, they fade from memory like frost on a window.

I think this is intentional, a result of brain evolution. It is why I can still remember after 40 years that the scientific name of the Western Fence Lizard is Sceloporus occidentalis but can’t remember what I had for dinner two nights ago. The brain chooses what is important and needs to be remembered (like where the car keys are) versus that dream which quickly goes in the mental trash heap when we awaken.

And I think that sometimes, a system as complicated as the brain may occasionally drop a datum or two as it sorts millions of bits each minute. I find it significant that a lot of supposed Alien Abductions happen at night when someone is tucked away snugly at home in bed. Is it possible that this memory is merely misfiled in the “real” file when it should have gone into the “dream” file? Remember, if you rewind and rerun your dreams, you can put them into a different level of consciousness.

Hypnagogic hallucinations are events many people experience when in the first stages of sleep. At these first stages, the brain is releasing its hold on reality and lapsing within to its very normal inner realm of sleep. For example, it "disconnects" motor functions so we don't actually run in bed during our dreaming. Seeing deceased loved ones at the foot of the bed is a common experience at this stage. For me these hallucinations are usually auditory; I think I hear the doorbell ring or someone call my name. Once in a motel room, I quite vividly heard someone say in a hushed voice: “I think they’re asleep now”. Thinking someone was hiding in the room with us, I flew out of bed and turned on the lights. I was relieved to confirm that the room was locked and we were quite secure. But it was still creepy. Had I not become a "Skeptic" and learned about hypnagogic hallucinations, like many I could have easily attributed such an experience to Paranormal origins.

Some people are able to experience Lucid Dreaming where they can control the action as one might control a game or role play. My brain isn’t that talented, apparently. I seem able only to go along for the ride. -- Unfortunately, my suitcase didn’t make it to my destination with me on this last trip.

1 comment:

kara said...

and don't forget that sleep paralysis...when people are somewhat awake but can't move. that one freaks me the hell out.