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Remembering our dreams to gain a better understanding of our waking world

Courtesy of Kate Noble
Kate Noble, Professor of Consciousness at UW Bothell, on her horse, Valor. She says she had a dream about him two years before he came into her life.


This story originally aired on October 20, 2018.

Kate Noble says she knew at a young age that her family was dysfunctional.


“Many layers of conflict. Maternal, psychiatric dysfunction, absentee father,” Noble recalled.


Help came to Noble in the form of a dream. She was three and a half years old.


“I remember then having this powerful, lucid dream and encountering this beam of light, who essentially said to me, “This is a rough life, you know, you have been put together some difficult circumstances to thrive to learn. There are some things you are going to need to know, and one of those things is meditation, how to turn in. And I’m going to show you how to do that,”” said Noble.


From that day forward Noble has been listening to her dreams and letting them guide the decisions she makes. Today she teaches at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, where she holds the (awesome) title of Professor of Consciousness.


At the very beginning of Noble’s course, students are usually skeptical of the idea that dreams contain deep meaning. To challenge this doubt, Noble teaches the students about the discoveries and artistic treasures that began while the creator was asleep.


She notes that Dmitri Mendeleev was able to create the Periodic Table with the help of a dream. She says 17th Century violin virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini created a masterpiece that he heard in his mind while he was slumbering.


In Tartini’s dream, Noble said, “The devil was sitting on his chest playing his violin and playing it so profoundly and beautifully that when Tartani woke up he transcribed as much as he could remember. And it has come down to us as The Devil’s Trill, which is a magnificent piece of work.”


Noble teaches her students that there is constant interplay between the waking reality and the dream reality, and that if we do a better job of paying attention to both of these states we will gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. She says one way to strengthen our connection to what our minds are doing while we sleep is to write down our dreams in a journal.


Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.
Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.