In elementary school, a classmate dreamed that our teacher died of cancer. He told her the next day, and she got a screening; he saved her life.
Was this sheer coincident? Intuition? Prediction?
One of the claims-to-fame of the human mind is its ability to identify patterns. Our brain actively processes information from the outside world and searches for patterns. Without patterns, predictions would be impossible; predictions are only fueled by the associations between experiences.
But our brain makes two very distinct types of patterns: deterministic and logical patterns, and probabilistic patterns.
Our awake minds work to solve deterministic and logical patterns, while during our brain’s state of rapid eye movement (REM), we are more apt to solve the less obvious probabilistic patterns.
These probabilistic patterns are based on experiences that have a tendency to associate, but in which we cannot have complete confidence. Take human behavior for instance—based on past behaviour, we can know it is likely for someone to behave a certain way, yet it’s not as determined as predicting that night follows day.
But many of our dreams are too interpretive and seemingly random to make sense of the information we're supposed to be receiving—believing in predictive dreams requires a bit of blind faith.
So let’s throw some science in here:
Behind the forehead on both sides of the head we can find the lateral prefrontal cortex, responsible for logical reasoning, planning and focusing on the most obvious solutions to problems. Simply put, the lateral prefrontal cortex plays the role of the antagonist in problems in which we must ‘think outside the box.’
While in REM, the lateral prefrontal cortex is deactivated, thus the known people, places, and situations in our dreams rarely ever appear as they are in reality, but rather are rendered to the bizarre. Thus, our dreams created during REM sleep don’t replay memories, but rather patterns created through the association of familiar elements.
I dreamed that a friend had blocked me from all social media; it seemed a bit extreme, but to my dismay, we did drop communication for the following several weeks.
It isn’t to say I predicted the future, but rather my subconscious picked up on patterns of body language, human behavior, and situations in my awake state to illuminate this worry I had deep inside me, and projected it through my subconscious.
Dreams emerge from the unconscious, picking up cues from the energy of people, places, and situations in our lives. Our unconscious taps into this collection, proving a rich source of spiritual direction.