Dreaming and tripping: is there any difference?

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The difference between dreaming and tripping explained

Not everyone remembers their dreams, but if you can, you’ve probably marveled at the funny, bizarre, imaginative or frightening content of your dreams. The striking thing is that dreams are somewhere similar to what you experience when you are tripping. And it’s not so crazy to think that. Recent research suggests that the same areas of the brain become active during tripping as during dreaming. So between dreaming and tripping there is not so much difference!

Dreaming and tripping: a strange experience

In the West, we have always been curious about dreams and the message they can bring up from the subconscious. But at the same time, we also think they are just weird. There are also many people who do not believe that we can make sense out of dreams. Nature peoples, on the other hand, do see dreams as useful experiences. They explore the dream world and even use dream herbs to do so, which can make dreams clearer and increase the chances of remembering them.

Yet we remain fascinated by our nocturnal forays into our inner world. We know that we dream when we are in the REM phase of sleep. During sleep, you enter different phases of consciousness, from deep rest in the nREM phase, to dreaming in the REM phase. When you sleep very deeply, your body can recover. But what is this dream phase for anyway? That is still a mystery. Your brain is then very active, but still researchers do not know why you produce these wonderful, emotional, weird dream images.

Because there are many similarities between dreaming and tripping, a researcher named Enzo Tagliazucchi at the University of Buenos Aires wanted to learn more about it. He began researching on the Internet, using two websites, the archives of Erowid, a site where people share their experiences with drugs. And the one at Dreamjournal, where people write down their dreams in great detail.

Tagliazucchi analyzed the data on these sites, looking at similarities in word usage. It was clear that many similarities could be found in the descriptions of dreams and trips. This was especially the case with the classic psychedelic drugs, such as ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, mescaline cacti and LSD.

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Difference between dreaming and tripping?

In addition to people describing dreams and tripping in the same way, the similarity between the two experiences can also be made clear by a brain scan. In 2014, research was conducted on the effects of psilocybin on the brain. Fifteen individuals who had received a dose of psilocybin were studied. They entered an fMRI scanner (a device that can make a functional MRI). The scan was taken while they were tripping.

The researchers could now clearly see that certain parts of the brain were active; these were the same parts that are active when people are dreaming. It now appears that when you use psychedelics, it mainly inhibits those areas of the brain that regulate logical thinking, decision making and self-awareness. When you are tripping, the very areas that provide excitement, emotions and out of the box thinking become active. So that is a clear similarity to dreams.

How dreams and tripping match and differ

From the research of Dr. Tagliazucchi, who searched the data on Erowid and Dreamjournal, revealed interesting facts. Dreaming and tripping are quite similar.

Thus, during dreaming and tripping, time and location can become fluid concepts. You only have to think of a certain place and you are instantly there. Time can also be strange. Sometimes time moves much slower in a dream, and you can also lose your sense of time completely in a trip.

Both in dreams and in trips, you can come in contact with special, strange and even extraterrestrial beings. Elves, aliens, devils or angels, you can meet them just like that. These beings can help and advise you, or counteract you. Whether these are actual encounters or a reflection of your own consciousness is not clear. But many people have described such experiences.

During tripping, as well as in dreams, reality can become distorted. Your own body may change or devices suddenly function very differently. But out-of-body experiences can also occur in both. In this, you suddenly see your body from a distance and your consciousness floats somewhere in space. Another similarity between tripping and dreaming is the loss of your ego. You feel a strong connection to other people or beings. The universe is one and you are part of it.

Differences between tripping and dreaming

Yet there is also a difference to be found between dreaming and tripping. In general, it is notable that dreams are less detailed than trips. But of course, this depends on how much you remember of your dreams.

Wandering between levels of consciousness

Dreaming, tripping, meditating, yoga, mindfulness meditation. There are many different ways to reach another level of consciousness. David Jay Brown wrote the 2016 book Dreaming Wide Awake, in which he explores the similarities between the different forms of consciousness a person can achieve. Whether you have a near-death experience, are in deep meditation or are on a shamanic journey, it turns out that there are many similarities to be found between these states of being.

So what do we gain practically from this knowledge? Tagliazucchi indicates that his research shows that there are not as many different states of consciousness, as we thought. Tripping and dreaming are actually similar, even though tripping requires psychedelics. If while tripping you make contact with another dimension, angels or extraterrestrials, perhaps that’s why you could theoretically achieve it in your dreams. That can affect your spiritual development.

Possibly dream herbs, such as calea or African Dream Herbs, can also play a role in this. These herbs are also used by nature peoples to get more out of their dreams. They can help induce lucid dreams or make your dreams brighter and more vivid. On top of that, they also usually make it easier to remember dreams. This way you don’t need psychedelics, but you can still get deeper contact with your subconscious and get to know your own dream world better. Whether or not you use mind-altering substances, it is always interesting to dive into the fascinating depths of your mind.

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