[kml_flashembed movie=”http://ianwallacedreams.com/wp-content/uploads/flash/midnight-sea.swf” height=”180″ width=”240″ /]Our personal myths shine with meaning. They collect and connect all the remembered fragments of what we have experienced and what we hope to experience, and weave all our memories and hopes into a single shining story. But our memories are not static isolated objects filed away neatly in our brain. Instead, when we remember, we reconstruct fragments of past experience into a pattern that has meaning for us now. We don’t remember data points; we rebuild them by remembering the stories around them.

Towards the base of our brains, there is a pair of seahorse shaped structures, known by the Greek name for a seahorse, hippocampus. When we dream, and when we store and access memories, these two small seahorses become very active, playing a vital part in our dreams, memories and emotions. The hippocampus is largely responsible for creating new memories of experienced events and our waking experiences are reprocessed into connected memory fragments during dreaming sleep. Dreaming is how we create our meaningful memories.

In the deep currents of the brain’s electric oceans, memories of the specific are re-experienced and incorporated into the archetypal, blending the future into the past. Our dreams take the ancient repositories of all our memories and reimagine them with shiny newness. Dreaming is not something we experience passively; it’s something that we do very actively as we search for meaning. The main function of our memories is not storage, but to create a meaningful space for the creation of our individual meaning.

The hippocampus is also very active when we are emotionally aroused and we tend to be most emotionally engaged when experiencing something that is deeply meaningful for us. This is why we often learn more when emotionally immersed in a particular experience. This is also why most knowledge management and corporate memory initiatives tend to fail; they are usually so bland and dull that they put us to sleep rather than encouraging us to dream.

Corporate memories retrieved from a knowledge management system are usually presented completely out of context. That is why they often seem meaningless. Our memories are formed in recreations of the spaces that we originally experience them in, so they are always much stronger when experienced in the original context. Our dreaming awareness recreates those original spaces to most meaningfully record the memory. If want to know about gardening, ask a gardener. In a garden.

Dreams help to select and retain memories that are significant to us, the stories that are meaningful. Our dreams work through all those experiences that we are unconsciously immersed in during the day, and allow us to reflect on what was successful for us and what was not. This dreaming helps us to improve our strategies, and our key survival strategy as humans is to find meaning in our lives. Without meaning we cannot survive.

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