Dream Theory in Malaya is titled after a paper by a visionary anthropologist, Kilton Stewart, who in 1935 visited a remarkable highland tribe of Malayan aborigines, the Senoi, whose happiness and well-being were linked to their morning custom of family dream-telling—where a child’s fearful dream of falling was praised as a gift to learn to fly the next night and where a dream-song or dance was taught to a neighboring tribe to create a common bond beyond differences of custom.
OLIVER FOX’S EXPERIENCES
The first detailed, scientific and first-hand account of a series of conscious and voluntarily controlled astral projections were by Mr. Oliver Fox, and published in the Occult Review for 1920. These articles were entitled, respectively, “The Pineal Doorway,” and “Beyond the Pineal Door” and embody the author’s personal experiences. Finally after years of personal research, Fox wrote one of the most important and influencial works on the subject of Astral Projection and changed the course of humanity.
Recently I was asked to review this online course from Awake Academy, but as a long time practitioner of lucid dreaming I felt that I could not do the testimonial justice so I asked a friend to give it a try. I asked him to please dedicate as much time as required to try the complete course and give me feedback.
One of the most accessible and refreshing voices in Lucid Dream circles is the Best Selling Author of Dreams of Awakening, Charlie Morley’s workshops have been introducing new generations of Lucid Dreaming ‘entuasists’ for many years.
Having read his book I was happy to try out Charlie’s online course which promised to be a perfect introduction to the subject using his years of experience in the subject. One of the main benefits from learning from Charlie is his holistic approach to Lucid dreaming and its natural connection with mindfulness in everyday life. Charlie’s method of teaching is light hearted and less intimidating than many other experts on the subject.
Being aware inside of a dream is not unlike the awareness you’re currently feeling as you read these words—except the worlds in your dreams lack certain consistencies. For example, if you were to click back on your browser at this very moment, then click forward, you’d end up on this webpage again. In a dream state, you might click back then forward and end up on a different webpage, or on a sailboat. Dreams are not consistent, and spotting those inconsistencies is one of the easiest ways to realize you’re dreaming, which is the first step to becoming lucid.
But to truly understand what it feels like to be lucid in your dream, you need to possess a better understanding of what it feels like to be lucid in the real world. This exercise, from the book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., and Howard Rheingold, will be your first assignment. Do all of these steps once a day:
- Look: Become aware of what you see: notice the richly varied and vivid impressions—shapes, colors, movement, dimensionality, the entire visible world.
- Listen: Become aware of what you hear: register the various sounds taken in by your ears—a diverse range of intensities, pitches, and tonal qualities, perhaps including the commonplace miracle of speech or the wonder of music.
- Feel: Become aware of what you touch: texture (smooth, rough, dry, sticky, or wet), weight (heavy, light, solid, or empty), temperature, and the rest. Also note how your body feels right now and compare that to the many other ways it feels at other times, tired or energetic, stiff or limber, painful or pleasant, and so on.
- Taste: Become aware of what it is like to taste: taste a number of different foods and substances, or remember and vividly imagine their tastes.
- Smell: Become aware of what you smell: the odor of warm bodies, earth, incense, smoke, perfume, coffee, onions, alcohol, and the sea. Remember and imagine as many of them as you can.
- Breathing: Attend to your breathing. A moment ago you probably were not consciously aware of your breathing even though you have inhaled and exhaled fifty times while doing this exercise. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Let it out. Now take a deep breath. Notice that being conscious of your breathing allows you to alter it deliberately.
- Emotions: Become aware of your feelings. Remember the difference between anger and joy, serenity and excitement, and as many other emotions as you care to feel. How real do emotions feel?
- Thoughts: Become aware of your thoughts. What have you been thinking while doing this exercise? What are you thinking right now? How real do thoughts seem?
Pause and reflect on these things, or even write them down. You use these senses and experience these other things at all times throughout the day, but how often do you really pay attention to them? The more in-tune you can become with your senses and feelings, the more easily you’ll be able to use them as tools in the dream state. After all, you can’t conjure a pleasant sunset beach in your mind if you don’t know how to define and recall the smell of the ocean breeze, the texture of sand between your toes, the color of light on the horizon, or how relaxing it feels to be somewhere so peaceful.
Once you’ve done that, move on to these last two steps:
- “I”: Become aware of the fact that your world always includes you. As William James noted, it is I see, I hear, I feel, I think that is the basic fact of experience. You are not what you see, hear, think, or feel; you have these experiences. Perhaps most essentially, you are who is aware. You are always at the center of your multidimensional universe of experience, but you are not always consciously aware of yourself. Briefly repeat the exercise with the following difference: At the same time you attend to each of the various aspects of your experience, be aware that it is you who is noticing these things (“I see the light…”).
- Awareness of awareness: Finally, become aware of your awareness. Normally, awareness focuses on objects outside ourselves, but it can itself be an object of awareness… Here, experience cannot be adequately expressed by language.
Congratulations: you have taken your first step to becoming an oneironaut, or “explorer of dreams.” Next week, we’ll go over the many benefits of lucid dreaming—and some of the minor dangers—and discuss the importance of building dream memory. You’ll also get a brand-new assignment.
Until then, feel free to ask questions or discuss your own experiences in the comments below. How did you feel doing the assignment? Have you had a lucid dream before? Some people get beginner’s luck and have a lucid dream simply after hearing about the phenomenon for the first time. This is your classroom, so discuss dreaming with your classmates.
You spend a third of your life asleep. Why not do something with it? Okay, Oneironauts: sleep tight and dream on.
The Korean Powerhouse
For many year now, Korean Cinema has become the leading light of asia and a constant source of inspiration as Hollywood looks east to create blockbusting remakes of well received asian movies. And we believe it will not be long for Hollywood to adapt this latest fantasy movie called Lucid Dream. An impressive thriller based on a similar setting as Christopher Nolan’s Inception.
With an impressive supporting cast headed by Sul Kyung-gu and Kang Hye-jeong, a very popular protagonist in the face of Go Soo, and a more than interesting script based on the concept of the lucid dream, the film ticked all the prerequisites of being a masterpiece.
Dae-ho is an investigative journalist, whose only son is kidnapped at a theme park. Devastated, he gives up his career and devotes himself to finding the perpetrator and his son, but to no avail. Eventually, he learns about lucid dream, a method that allows the patient to control, to some extent, what is happening in his dreams. The method is used for therapeutic purposes, in order for patients to recall lost, traumatic experiences, but Dae-ho, with the help of So-hyeon (Kang Hye-jeong), a friend who is an expert in the field, decides to use the process to find out what happened to his son during the day he was kidnapped. During this process, he faces various obstacles, side effects, and unexpected acquaintances, as he is also assisted by Officer Song Bang-seop (Sul Kyung-gu), who actually believes his findings.
Master of Dreams
Kim Joon-seong-I directs and pens an interesting crime thriller in his debut, setting the film apart by using the concept of lucid dreaming. While the build up and the many plot twists manage to retain the interest of the spectator for the most of the duration, I felt that he took his basic premise a bit too far, as the story also features “masters of dreams”, forceful entries into other people’s dreams, and even a double entry into the same dream. Kim uses these tactics to keep the production entertaining by inducing much action in the film, but in the process, he seems to lose control of the story, even if one considers it a fantasy. In that fashion, he also does not seem to deal very much with the actual concept of the lucid dream, which becomes just an “excuse” for all that is happening on screen.
Furthermore, Kim does not make good use of his cast, particularly of Sul Kyung-gu as Officer Song and Kang Hye-jeong as So-hyeon, with their parts being undeveloped, particularly the latter’s, who becomes almost insignificant after a fashion. At the same time, the choice of Go Soo as Choi Dae-ho seems an unfortunate one, as his physique does not fit the character at all, and I found his performance excessive, particularly in the scenes where the melodrama takes over. I dare say that if the two male actors switched places, the movie would be a much better one.
In terms of visuals on the other hand, “Lucid Dream” is outstanding, with Park Hyun-chul’s cinematography presenting the differences between the real and the dream world in impressive fashion, with prowess that finds its apogee in the action scenes. The same applies to Kim Jae-beom and Kim Sang-beom‘,s editing, which retains the sense of confusion between what is real and what dream in a way that retains the agony for the biggest part of the film.
Comparison of dreams with waking consciousness has traditionally focused on claims that the dreaming mind maintains only a simple awareness of perception and emotion, but lacks the self-reflective awareness and metacognition, that is, awareness of one`s current state of consciousness, which is assumed in wake. Lucid dreams are distinct in that the dreamer does have insight into the present state of consciousness, and is able to maintain some awareness of the fact that they are dreaming, along with a varying degree of control over their thoughts, actions, and dream qualities. While this distinction is tied to the dream state, the truth is that even in waking we often wander around in a state of semi-consciousness, simply perceiving and experiencing emotions as they arise without affording much reflective awareness or attention to the present moment.
The practice of mindfulness is aimed at improving an individual`s capacity to maintain awareness of the present moment, with an open and non-judgemental mind, and to diminish automatic habits of mind-wandering and other auto-pilot behaviors. Evidence shows that increased mindfulness is associated with enhanced well-being and decreased negative rumination. Relating to dreams, mindfulness has been shown to be inversely related to dream anxiety and negative dream quality (Simor, Koteles, Sandor, Petke, & Bodizs, 2011). Taken together, by improving attention to the present moment`s consciousness while cultivating an accepting attitude, mindfulness may similarly increase the likelihood and frequency of lucid dream experiences, a dream state characterized by both awareness and positivity. The authors, Stumbrys, Erlacher, and Malinowski (2015), recently set out to test this relationship.
The main measure for assessing mindfulness was the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI; Walach, Buchheld, Buttenmuller, Kleinknecht, & Schmidt, 2004), which measures two interrelated factors of Acceptance and Presence, using 14 items on a 4 point scale. Acceptance refers to the accepting and appreciative attitude towards experience, while Presence refers to sustaining full awareness of experience as it is happening. Presence has been linked to improvements in a wide range of cognitive abilities, perhaps due to the role of cognitive control in maintaining focused attention and continuously monitoring the stream of consciousness. While mindfulness training does not explicitly aim to enhance awareness in the dreaming state, there are many traditions which have linked cultivating awareness in wake with lucid dreaming at night; lucid dreaming itself has even been considered an ideal state for meditative awareness (particularly in Tibetan and Toaist Dream Yoga traditions). Further, while many meditation practices do not specifically define mindfulness, they often have similar aims of promoting awareness and acceptance. Thus, the authors investigated a potential influence of prior meditation practice, even those not explicitly defined as mindfulness practices, on lucid dream frequency.
528 participants (290 men, 238 women) recruited through a German lucid dreaming website responded to an online questionnaire regarding dreaming, meditation, and mindfulness. Both dream recall frequency and lucid dream recall frequency (defined as a dream where `one is aware that one is dreaming during the dream`) were estimated per week. Participants were asked if they had any meditation experience, for how long they had practiced, and estimated how many hours per week they practiced. Lastly, they completed the aforementioned Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory questionnaire.
The main findings of the study showed that participants who reported having prior meditation experience also reported higher lucid dream frequency, with approximately 4.28 vs 2.55 lucid dreams per month. Further, those having meditation experience also reported higher FMI mindfulness scores. Specifically, years of experience and hours of practice per week were correlated with mindfulness scores. The authors conducted more complex analyses to extricate the mediating role of meditation on the relationship between mindfulness and lucid dreaming. What they found was, only in those subjects who have prior meditation experience was there a significant correlation between FMI mindfulness score and lucid dreaming frequency. Those subjects without meditation experience showed no relationship between FMI score and lucid dream frequency.
Thus, their hypotheses were partially confirmed; individual mindfulness is positively related to lucid dream frequency but only in those subjects who practice meditation. Further, these individuals report higher mindfulness and lucid dreaming frequency in general than people without meditation experience. The authors conclude that “higher awareness cultivated during daytime is also reflected in higher awareness of one`s mental states while dreaming.” Future research may seek to delineate which types of meditation practice are most directly influential on dreaming, and perhaps in the future, the possibilities of practicing meditation even from within the lucid dream state.
Michelle Carr, Ph.D, is a researcher at Swansea University Sleep Laboratory. She holds a PhD in Biomedical Science from the University of Montreal, where she conducted research at the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory. Prior to that, she received dual degrees, a BS in Brain and Cognitive Science and a BA in Psychology, from the University of Rochester in 2010. Her work focuses on the role of REM sleep and dreams in emotional memory, along with comparative studies of nightmare disorder and PTSD. Other research interests include sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming, consciousness studies, and the use of dreamwork in psychology.
Simor, P., Koeteles, F., Sandor, P., Petke, Z., & Bodizs, R. (2011). Mindfulness and dream quality: the inverse relationship between mindfulness and negative dream affect. Scandinavian journal of psychology, 52(4), 369-375.
Stumbrys, T., Erlacher, D., & Malinowski, P. (2015). Meta-Awareness During Day and Night The Relationship Between Mindfulness and Lucid Dreaming.Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 34(4), 415-433.
Walach, H., Buchheld, N., Buttenmüller, V., Kleinknecht, N., & Schmidt, S. (2006). Measuring mindfulness—the Freiburg mindfulness inventory (FMI).Personality and Individual Differences, 40(8), 1543-1555.
One of the biggest challenges to achieving BIG lucid dreams is maintaining stability.
By stability, I mean maintaining a strong lucid presence in the dream. Because of the huge Aha! moment when realizing you are in a dream, an excitement will take hold of the novice which causes waking up, and the end of the lucid dream – usually seconds after it begins. This is usually the case in both spontaneous/unplanned lucid dreams and also for the desired/yet-poorly-planned-for lucid dreams. Proper preparation involves knowing how to stabilize the “dream body” so that you neither wake up nor fade back into ordinary dreaming.
Not really a problem. Certain “physical” movements and mnemonic techniques can vastly increase your chances of staying tethered to lucidity. The first method is described by Dr. Stephen LaBerge, and many lucid dreamers, myself included, can testify to its efficacy. This stabilization technique requires for you to spin-around in your dream-body like an ice-skater or a Sufi dervish dancer, dreidel, or maybe just a silly child. Usually my spinning was very fast, much faster than I can spin my real body around on regular ground. Something about the motion increases your lucidity, making your perception brighter and your knowledge of being in a dream more permanent. Also, interesting to note, your environment might change after the spinning from what it was pre-spin. Sometimes there will just be small changes: One time I spun around after becoming lucid, and it was dark outside through the windows prior to the stabilization, but light afterwards. You can use this peculiarity of spinning to focus your mind on appearing somewhere particular after spinning.
Another stabilization technique is to rub your hands together. Doing this at the beginning of your lucid realization and occasionally throughout the dream will help to maintain both perceptual vividness and lucidity. But maybe you need your hands for something? A third stabilization technique you can use, and you should probably combine it with the other two, is repeating a phrase out-loud such as “Lucidity Now!” or “More Lucidity!” or something like this.
Movement is the key
There are numerous other stabilization methods, but I’ve found that the above techniques work best. The real key seems to be movement. Conscious thought, all thought, is available to serve physical behavior. Movement of the skeletal muscles by will, or feelings of movement – proprioception – trigger a heightened awareness. Lucid dreaming is sometimes preceded either directly or in earlier dreams by intense movements – being chased or falling, flying, roller-coaster or wild driving, even spinning around like on a rope. If you can relax while primed for a Waking Induced Lucid Dream (WILD), you may be able to consciously visualize yourself spinning around and enter lucidity directly from falling asleep.
Remember, this is easy to forget. It is easy to forget that you are in a dream. Do what you can to maintain an awareness of the virtual reality of your situation.
Initially, Christianity continued honoring dreams and visions as a primary way that God communicated with humans. Dreams and visions literally shaped the birthing and early development of Christianity. Angels, the communicatorsof God, appeared to people in dreams in ways similar to the dream appearances of the gods of the Greeks.
The births of John the Baptist and Jesus were forecast in dreams or visionary experiences. After the birth of Jesus his father, Joseph, was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt to avoid King Herod’s campaign to kill male infants who might threaten his rule. Jesus had numerous visionary experiences during his life that might have taken place in dreams or dreamlike states. For example, Jesus has an important confrontation with the devil after he has fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness. Such a lengthy period of physical deprivation could significantly affect dreaming and alter consciousness into dreamlike states. Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-12 tell how the devil tempted Jesus three times. First the devil tried to persuade Jesus to perform miracles to prove he is the Son of God. Then he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. Jesus resisted and banished the devil.
After the arrest of Jesus, Pontius Pilate’s wife was warned in a dream that her husband should have nothing to do with him. Following the crucifixion of Jesus, the apostles had many dreams and visionary experiences that aided them in their mission to spread the Gospel. One famous account concerns St. Peter, who was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, who planned to execute him. The night before he was to be condemned, Peter slept in his cell bound in chains and guarded by two soldiers. An angel awakened him, freed him of his chains, and led him out of the prison. Peter at first thought he was dreaming, then believed he had a real visitation. The experience may actually have been a combination of dreaming and visionary experience.
Many of the early church fathers who shaped the beliefs of the new religion were Platonic philosophers and Greek converts. They believed in the tradition of God speaking through dreams and visions. But a major turn in the opposite direction took place in the fourth century, and it centered on one man: Jerome.
It was through a dream that St Jerome converted to christianity but later renounced all dreams as dangerous to the faithful. From this key turning point that the Christian Church and dreams diverged and took separate paths.
Dreams are for some an amusing footnote to our nightly sleep cycle, but for others they are an intense experience worth studying. For most dreams are not caused by the the dreamer and they must live the experience without any control over the scenario or their relationship with the dream. But most people may be missing out on the most introspective and important part of their psychology life. Lucid dreaming is different: It is the awareness that one is dreaming while the dream is occurring, sometimes combined with the ability to control the dream. Lucid dreams are the virtual reality of all dreams, a landscape where the strange is real and the real is strange.
Lucid dreaming has been recognized since ancient times. There are different levels of lucidity, from a simple awareness of being in a dream to completely controlling the events and outcome of a dream. Some people have a lucid dream every now and then, and others have lucid dreams almost nightly.
In ancient times lucid dreams were valued because they could be used in magic, or as direct ways to reach the gods. Healing dreams incubated at the great dream temples were often lucid. In modern times lucid dreams are believed to be an advanced dreaming skill that people can learn for the purposes of creativity and healing.
Lucid dreams overlap with astral travel dreams and also psychic dreams. A lucid dream may feel like an out-of-body trip or may look into the future. People usually enjoy lucid dreaming because they experience a sense of great freedom and power.
The term “lucid dream” did not come into being until the turn of the twentieth century. The term was created by Frederik Willem van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist. Prior to that, lucid dreams were known by their unusual characteristics or were simply called dreams.
The earliest known written account of lucid dreaming in Western history is contained in a letter written in 415 by St. Augustine, a pagan who was converted to Christianity and became one of the most important fathers of the early Christian church. In the letter Augustine described the lucid dream of a physician, Gennadius, who lived in Carthage. Gennadius had two dreams in which a spirit guide in the guise of a young man took him to a beautiful city and lectured him about the truth of life after death.
Lucid dreams, as well as dreams in general, lost their importance in the development of Christianity. Instead, they found their place in occultism and alchemy. Lucid dreaming is important in Islamic mysticism and in the complex dream traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Tibetan Buddhism has a sophisticated dream yoga in which the yogi learns to have lucid dreams at will in order to understand the illusions of both waking and dreaming states.
When psychology and psychical research emerged in the late nineteenth century, dreams and lucid dreams became the subjects of study. The Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys, a French professor of Chinese literature and language, documented more than two decades of experiments he conducted in learning how to control his dreams. Sigmund Freud acknowledged the existence of lucid dreams but had little to say about them. Carl G. Jung not only acknowledged lucid dreams, he had many of them himself. For Jung, dreams were an important tool for exploring the psyche.
The fields of parapsychology (the modern term for psychical research) and psychology brought renewed attention to all kinds of dreaming. Modern scientific interest in lucid dreams was stimulated in the late 1960s, especially by the publication of books such as Lucid Dreaming (1968) by Celia Green, an overview of the history of lucid dreams. For the most part the scientific establishment has been skeptical about lucid dreams, believing them to be either impossible or else part of occultism. Nonetheless, interest grew in scientific study and testing of lucid dreams.
The state of lucid dreaming was demonstrated in the laboratory in 1970s in independent studies conducted on both sides of the Atlantic. Lucid dreamers were able to give signals with special eye movements during REM stages of sleep, thus demonstrating that they were asleep and aware at the same time.
Lucid dream research is conducted internationally. Stephen LaBerge is one of the leading researchers in the field and is founder of The Lucidity Institute in Palo Alto, California. As a result of studies done by LaBerge and others in the 1970s, many scientists changed their minds about the possibility of lucid dreaming.
Researchers found that lucid dreamers repeatedly could communicate with the outside world by moving their eyes in certain ways while they were in lucid dream states. In all cases the dreamers were in REM stages of sleep when these signals were given. Thus, it was possible for scientists to chart the physiological changes associated with dreaming.
LaBerge’s subjects were measured to show correlations between actions in their lucid dreams and physiological changes in their bodies and in brain wave activity. Dreamers were given tasks to perform, which were then measured during their dreaming sleep. According to LaBerge, lucid dreaming thus opened the way for new approaches to mind–body relationships.
Lucid dream studies have demonstrated that some, but not all, individuals can learn how to cause themselves to dream lucidly or can increase their control over their lucid dreams. Research shows that women who meditate may be more likely to have lucid dreams than men who meditate and that people who are easily hypnotized are more likely to dream lucidly. People who have had near-death experiences (NDEs), which share many characteristics with lucid dreams, also have more lucid dreams than other people.
Slightly more than half of the adult population has at least one lucid dream during life, and about 21 percent have more than one lucid dream each month. LaBerge’s subjects report that with practice, they can increase the number of lucid dreams they experience on a regular basis. Those who experience lucid dreams believe that the skill of lucid dreaming can be applied to creativity, problem solving, relationships, health, and getting rid of nightmares.
There may be other, more mysterious sides to lucid dreams as well. Physicist Fred Alan Wolf has suggested that lucid dreams—and maybe dreams in general—are visits to parallel universes: small holograms within a larger cosmic hologram. Wolf calls the ability to lucid dream “parallel universe awareness.”
Some lucid dreams seem like mystical experiences, involving a sense of connection, or oneness with, the divine. These lucid dreams often feature spiritual figures such as angels, saints, guides, and divine beings. Some modern researchers believe these dreams are signs of the spiritual evolution of humanity. Perhaps their purpose is to gently introduce people to realms in other dimensions.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LUCID DREAMS
How does one know he or she is dreaming while experiencing a dream? The answers are not always obvious. Lucid dreamers experience certain conditions that clue them in to real-time dream awareness. Here are 10 of them.
1 Knowing a dream is progress. The dreamer realizes that he or she is in a dream while it is happening. The realization may come in a false awakening. The dreamer thinks he or she wakes up, while in fact he or she is still dreaming.
2 The ability to change the course of a dream. Lucidity enables dreamers to control their dreams in different ways. Sometimes dreamers can decide exactly what is going to happen, such as the actions of themselves and other characters in a dream. They can also rewrite people vary in their ability to have lucid dreams. Some people have lucid dreams almost every night, while others have them infrequently. Researchers have learned how to teach people to in-crease the number and frequency of their lucid dreams, usually by fol-lowing the trial-and-error mental experiments recorded by dreamers throughout history.
For about the past 50 years, people have also experimented with technological devices that supposedly provide that extra helping hand better than any visualization or thought process. Some of the devices for aiding lucid dreaming are:
Masks and goggles. These devices are designed to alert a sleep-ing person when he or she starts to dream, usually by detecting the fluttering of their eyelids during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. When those stages occur, the masks either flash soft lights or make sounds through tiny speakers. The cues are not supposed to wake the person completely, but alert them to a dreaming state. The idea is that the dreamer can deliberately gain lucidity or awareness in the dream.
Headphones. These pump in brain wave entrainment signals, such as pulses of sound that are designed to alter states of consciousness. The sounds help a dreamer stay in a prolonged state of borderland sleep. Through this method it is hoped that lucid dreams will be more likely to occur.
Hypnosis. Tape or CD recordings of hypnotic suggestions are played while falling asleep. The suggestions instruct the dreamer to become lucid while dreaming and to remember the dreams upon awakening.
Do dream tech devices work? Results are as varied as the natural abilities of dreamers. Some dreamers say their success rates dramatically increase, while others say the devices do not work well, or not at all, for them. Bottom line: An individual simply doesn’t know until he or she tries them. Not all lucid dreamers have total control. Sometimes it is possible to alter only a small part of a dream.
3 The ability to feel physical sensation. Touching objects in a lucid dream feels as real as it does in waking life.
4 Unusual abilities and actions. Lucid dreamers often feel weightless. They fly, float, and levitate.
5 A strange “atmosphere.” Lucid dreams have a different “feel” to them. For example, the atmosphere may feel heavy, like being underwater, or else have an electrical quality, like the supercharged air just before a thunderstorm.
6 Brilliant light. Lucid dreams may be flooded with intense white light, sometimes enough to make dreamers squint or shield their eyes.
7 Vivid colors. Colors in lucid dreams are exaggerated. They are exceptionally bright, sometimes fluorescent. Some lucid dreamers say the colors are “not of this world.”
8 Intense emotions. Like colors, emotions are exaggerated and heightened. Lucid dreamers report feelings of euphoria and excitement.
9 Mental sharpness. Lucid dreamers feel they have increased brain-power and are able to understand complex things and find solutions to problems.
10 Out-of-body sensations. Strange sounds in the ears, such as ringing, roaring, and buzzing, as well as electrical sensations in the body, are sometimes experienced at the start of lucid dreaming. People who have out-of-body experiences report the same sensations.
While these characteristics appear in many lucid dreams, they do not guarantee a lucid dream. All lucid dreamers must learn over time what signals a lucid dream to them.
HOW TO HAVE A LUCID DREAM
Lucid dreamers experiment to find the best ways to encourage lucid dreaming. Many find that meditation before going to sleep is one of the best techniques. They quiet their minds and concentrate on an intention to have and remember a lucid dream: “I will have a lucid dream tonight and I will remember it when I wake up.” It is necessary to relax one’s body as much as possible and focus on calm breathing. Let go of thoughts about the day.
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Another technique is to decide on a symbol that will help awaken one to lucidity whenever it appears in a dream. For example, one might say, “Whenever I see a dove, then I know I am dreaming.” The symbol should be something that will stand out and be noticed.
Some people discover that sleeping in certain positions is helpful; these vary according to individuals. Sleeping on one’s back or on either side is more successful for most than sleeping on the stomach.
Some lucid dreamers experiment with techniques for WILDs, or Wake-Initiated Lucid Dreaming. Some prefer to sleep first, then wake up and focus on having a lucid dream through self-suggestion. Others have more success during the day at times when they feel like taking naps.
WAYS TO STAY LUCID
One of the most difficult aspects of lucid dreaming is staying in the dream. For many dreamers, as soon as they realize they are lucid, the dream ends. Researchers have learned a few methods of retaining lucidity that work for many people.
1 Focus on something solid. Focus on an object, the ground, or the body. Touch something solid. Hold your hands up in front of you.
2 Spin around. This is a favorite technique of LaBerge. As he or she spins, the dreamer should say, “The next object I encounter will be in the dream,” and then stop spinning.
3 Stay calm. It’s exciting to be in a lucid dream, but the heightened emotion may actually be a dream killer. One way to stay calm is to repeat, “This is a dream” or “I am dreaming.”
WHAT TO DO IN A LUCID DREAM
The first thing to do in a lucid dream is direct the action, which will be determined by the dream itself. It is fun to experiment by trying to levitate or fly. With practice, lucid dreamers attempt more complicated tasks. They may ask for a creative idea or a solution to a problem. They may visit specific places and people on earth or travel around in other dimensions. They may seek to be healed of fears, phobias, injuries, and illnesses.
Researchers and lucid dreamers agree that it is important to act responsibly and not do anything in the dream world that would not be proper in the waking world.
Lucid dreaming is one of the most exciting frontiers in dream re-search. By studying lucid dreams, people may learn more about the reasons for dreams and how dreams work.
The Creative Dreams
The dreaming mind has creative capacities beyond what the waking mind can fully come to terms with. Like full-blown hallucinations, in dreams a deep part of our own mechanics can put together places, people, and situations. And the dream-generator does this in real-time. The construction of entire worlds, at least, the appearance of a world from the vantage of a viewer – you (usually). It is thoughtlessly repeated all-over that waking imagination is like dreams. But it’s not. When we close our eyes while awake and attempt to envision something, this is a very pale comparison to the hyper-realistic perceptions and complete emersion of the dream-state. What predominates in dreams are the ancient concerns of our lineage. Survival. For early humans, running from other human men and beastly animals was an important scenario to rehearse. In dreams we did this rehearsing. We dreamed of falling, and connected a terror to it – preparing us to perceive an imminent threat of falling and avoiding it while awake. We dreamed of the territorial imperative, the all-pervasive understanding all animals have that there exists property lines, and we would dream of being on the wrong side of these lines or “the other” infiltrating onto our side. Our forefathers dreamed of dangers to their resources and to their social standing. Mother’s-to-be had similar dreams, and dreams of pregnancy complications. And today, we still have the same dream architecture, and basically the same dreams.
Along with being chased and having a difficulty in getting away, teeth falling out, monsters in the night, we also dream of issues in the modern world – computers and phones not working properly, being late for a meeting, cannot complete a paper for school. And yet, amidst all of this seemingly “negative” content and thematic structure, dreams have given humanity many of our Aha! moments – the crucial breakthroughs that made it possible to invent and bring into the world that which was needed but not already present. It is likely that in the majority of trials and simulations run by the dream-machine, the average person will not perceive the missing ingredients that will lead to enormous scientific discoveries. As creative as dreams are, they require your day-time devotion to a craft or endeavor in order to weave together during sleep something of lasting use to the world.
In REM-Sleep, the dreaming mind has the capacity to make connections, like metaphors on steroids, that the waking mind would rarely conjure. But to make these connections the raw materials must be present. While awake, the work and effort must be put in, the devotion to doing all we can to figure-out how to reach a goal. It can take years of hard work before a breakthrough is reached. In the examples of dream inventions and discoveries below, the people behind the dreams had already put their 10,000-hours in. They had already been at their grind, practicing, tinkering, re-evaluating. It takes an expert to not only accumulate those raw materials which the dream-generator would need for its combinatory magic, but to also recognize a gem of an idea when the dream projects one. But if you put the requisite time in during the day, dreams can provide the glue that bridges problem with solution, and this is true for many fields of endeavor – music, literature, cinema, science, and technology/invention.
Music in Dreams
Music in dreams has always been especially powerful to me. I have had soundtracks playing during lucid dreams, mood-setting melodies accompanying my flying or other adventuring. I have created all-new rhymes or witnessed my favorite rappers freestyle. Sometimes during the dream it seems as if these are songs I already heard, but upon further inspection after awakening it is apparent that this was all new material. I wouldn’t be surprised of a good deal of music, at least in part, was first heard in dreams. Keith Richards dreamed the guitar riff for “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Paul McCartney dreamed the tune for “Yesterday”, and when he woke it took a while to realize that this wasn’t a song in his memory that he just couldn’t place but was an entirely new song. In fact, “Yesterday” is so perfectly catchy and resonates on such a deep level that it is the most covered (copied) song in modern history, maybe ever.
In the world of literature dreams have proved very fertile ground for plots and details. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was taken from dream, starting with “It was a dreary night in November…” Stephen King takes information from dreams for parts of his novels; the plot for Misery was dreamed up. Robert Louis Stevenson claimed that dreaming was a regular source of material for his writing, and he would form entire stories with this medium. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde were dreamed up after two days of Stevenson racking his brains for a plot. More recently, parts of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series were drawn from her dreams, including the sparkling-in-the-sun vampire skin.
And how much of Hollywood’s silver-screen entertainment has come from visions in sleep? James Cameron dreamed-up “The Terminator” while sleeping with a fever – the steel juggernaught emerging from fire “dragging itself across the floor with kitchen knives.” Before dreaming this seedling-scene, Cameron was broke and living in hotels. After…well, you know.
Discoveries from Dreams
The realms of science have been profoundly touched by dreams. Some of the most famous dream discoveries came about after gargantuan brain-storming in the day couldn’t satisfy solutions. Otto Loewi had a dream which ultimately resulted in our understanding of the chemical transmission of nerve impulses. When he awoke, Loewi new how to begin triggering chemical release in frogs and transferring the liquid products between frogs, commencing a series of experiments that would alter a fundamental understanding of how the nervous system operates (although the full series of experiments afterward took many years to convince all skeptics). Loewi won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1936 as his reward for recognizing his dreams and acting on them. The scientist Kekule realized the ring structure for the benzene molecule when he saw snakes biting their own tails in a dream, ushering in the foundation for much of modern chemistry. Dmitri Mendeleyev created the periodic table in its entirety after falling asleep to chamber music and dreaming about how chemicals are related to one another as are the components of music. With some dream inspiration, Frederick Banting isolated insulin. Albert Einstein better conceptualized his Theory of Relativity based on a dream about sledding.
Technological inventions have on occasion received their breakthrough in design from dreams. A famous dream invention includes Elias Howe’s sewing machine; in a dream Howe was taken captive, and as the natives danced around him with spears in hand, he noticed the spearheads had holes near their ends – that’s it! The sewing needle should be threaded from near the tip. Larry Page “spent the night scribbling out the details” after dreaming up the idea of indexing the entire internet, and the idea for Google was born. Floyd Ragsdale had a dream about putting springs in tubes, which when applied improved the manufacturing of Kevlar fiber (the bulletproof material).
It could be assumed that most seminal religious inspiration was the product of dreams and/or dream-like hallucinations. Many wars and battles were first seen in a dream had by a general, and then executed deeming the visions as divine province. Today, we invent new varieties of aliens and abduction experiences in disturbing dreams.
Dreams are also inventive when it comes to producing beautiful scenery and even comedy. Especially in lucid dreams, I have been raptured and wrapped up in awe at the majesty of the sky – clouds catching and refracting sunglow brilliance or moonbeam shimmer. I’ve also seen ground-level vistas of noble nature at her best and grand cities representing no architect or builder other than my own imagination. When it comes to jokes, I have to hand it to the comedian that is the sandman – whether rapid-fire and brief or taking the more pronounced trajectory of a longer setup and unexpected (but perfectly timed) delivery, humor has a home in dreams. And don’t think that a little comedy takes away from the threatening nature which I claim predominates in dreams – what we find as “funny” is very often the release valve attached to our fears; we laugh to temper the harshness of a situation or description.
As a creative and inventive species, humans should neither refute the fact that dreaming is filled with threats, nor believe that these disturbing hallucinatory worlds offer us nothing for our modern existence (which has done a good job of mitigating the threats most haunting our ancestors). Stories – in cinema, in books, as musical progressions – are well-suited to the macabre and frightful titillation of dream inspiration. Even embedded in a capture and threat dream as was Elias Howe, clues to a cultural breakthrough may be apparent. First, we must try and try again to achieve our creative aspirations while awake, and then, every now and again, the prepared eye or ear will capture a glimpse of that next-level invention in a dream.