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I'm Tav, a 29yr old from London. I enjoy working on large-scale social, economic and technological systems.

Top Life Tips: #10 Time Shift Dreaming

This is the first in a series of articles in which I'll share methods that I've been using for a happy and productive life.

Tip 10: Time Shift Dreaming

We spend a significant amount of time sleeping. It's important for many things — not least memory consolidation.

But you can take advantage of this time to improve youself:

  • Come up with creative solutions
  • Learn new things
  • Resolve emotional hangups

How? Using a methodology that I call “Time Shift Dreaming”.

I discovered this method rather accidentally when I was about 6 years old. My parents had told me that the spirit of our ancestors were always watching over us — and being a gullible child, I'd believed them.

And one day, I did something which I wasn't proud of. And fearing the wrath of these all knowing spirits, I tried to figure out how to go back in time.

For days after, I sat around day dreaming — replaying the events of the past but imagining how I would have reacted differently.

The guilt passed and these flights of fancy became a regular habit. I fancied myself a Lord of Time and would “jump” into different timelines/universes and explore alternative realities.

But there weren't enough hours in a day for these fantasies, so I started setting up scenarios just before I would drift off to sleep:

  • Choose a point in time to jump to — in the past or future
  • Define my reason for being there
  • Start exploring the new “reality” as I gradually fell asleep

This is what I now call time shift dreaming.

I spent most of my youth in these fantasies — both awake and asleep. But somehow, despite not spending much time reading my textbooks — I'd just skim them for an overview — I seemed to be excelling at my studies.

This was always a puzzle to me — how did I know things which I had't studied? Instead of actually studying the damned texts, I would be fantasising about what I would be doing in the future with the knowledge I would have by studying the texts.

Years later, Mamading Ceesay would have an answer for me. He postulates that by skimming the texts and then exploring scenarios related to their content in my dreams, I was somehow actually reading the texts!!

Let me break that one down. We have a relatively high level of bandwidth for taking in information. The problem is in the processing of it. It takes time to actually understand the content. But what if we offload this to dream time?

If we trust that our pre-conscious mind will somehow remember every page we look at — no matter how briefly — then we can rely on it to process the information for us. All we need to do is to give it focus — which is achieved by doing the scenario setup for the dream — tada!!

It seems that in my dreams I was doing something similar to those in the famous basketball experiment. And the current research on mirror neurons seems to back up the act of “assuming” knowledge during the dreams.

Dream of Prometheus

I also use time shift dreaming to come up with creative solutions to problems — by jumping into a future scenario where I've solved the problem.

And often I wake up with solutions. Be warned that this particular use of the technique sometimes takes a few iterations though…

But the practice that has really helped me a lot is jumping into the past. This is the reason that I started entertaining these fantasies in the first place — to re-explore the past.

By doing this I've managed to resolve many of the emotional traumas in my life. Most people generally suppress unpleasant events. The lucky ones pay expensive therapists to help get beyond these.

By re-exploring the past in time shift dreaming, I've found that I can practice self therapy and just resolve these myself!

Simply put yourself into a past scenario which you wish could have been different and explore different realities. Watch and listen. Try out different actions on behalf of yourself and everyone else involved.

Keep repeating this — making subtle changes every time. If a scenario proves to be too painful to re-live directly, work on it gradually. Explore related scenarios until you are comfortable enough.

And, eventually, you'll reach a turnaround and find yourself much happier. Not only will you have gained much better understanding of the events, but hopefully you also gained a better understanding of everyone else's actions.

I've used this to good effect and have been able to overcome traumas like growing up in a civil war/genocide and being homeless as a teenager. My anxieties and anger replaced by love and forgiveness.

Again, according to Mr. Ceesay, what's happening here is something akin to anchoring. In my dreams, I'm anchoring pleasant experiences in place of the unpleasant ones.

Whether this is true or not I do not know. Whether any of this will work for you I do not know. All I know is that it works for me. And by sharing I hope I've provided some useful insights for you.

It would be interesting to see how everyone else finds time shift dreaming though. If you're up for it, why don't you have a go? Perhaps even blog about your ongoing experience?

You can leave a link in the comments below for others to follow.

By trying this out independently we could figure out what does work for everyone and what doesn't. At the very least, it's an extremely fun and addictive form of escapism. Enjoy and let me know how it fares for you!

And, oh, let me know if you'd care to know any other life tips of mine or whether this is enough for one life time ;p