Astral Institute: How did you first hear about Lucid Dreaming?
David: I spontaneously had my first lucid dream when I was sixteen years old, several days after a psychedelic experience with a purple microdot of LSD. I first read about the phenomenon of lucid dreaming a few months later in Carols Castaneda’s delightful book Journey to Ixlan, and I immediately knew what the author was referring to. Then, a few years later, I met Stanford researcher Stephen LaBerge through a mutual friend, and became familiar with his scientific research on lucid dreaming. Ever since then I’ve been practicing lucid dreaming techniques, and recording my lucid dreams, which has been going on now for over thirty-five years.
Astral Institute: Have you had a Lucid Dream, and if so, could you tell us about your first one?
David: I’ve had hundreds of lucid dreams, experiences with sleep paralysis, shamanic voyages, and out of body experiences over the years. My first experience with lucid dreaming wasn’t particularly memorable, as I woke up from it too quickly, and didn’t fully understand the possibilities. It wasn’t until I met Stephen LaBerge, and began practicing the techniques that he developed, that I began to have more interesting experiences and explore the extraordinary possibilities of fantasy fulfillment. As with many people, in my first lucid dreams I experimented a lot with flying through the air, and exploring erotic possibilities with idealized lovers. It wasn’t until later that I started to use it for psychological growth, performance enhancement, healing, psychic connection, spiritual development, and communication with Higher Intelligence.
Astral Institute: When did you decide to dedicate your time to working on consciousness?
David: I began as a teenager— soon after I began meditating, lucid dreaming, and experiencing with cannabis and psychedelics. It started out as an interest in developing bridges between science, the occult, and spirituality. I spent ten years studying and researching psychobiology— the interface between psychology and biology— at the University of Southern California and New York University. I was greatly influenced by the work of Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, John Lilly, and Terrence McKenna. With time, this passionate interest grew into a spiritual commitment to helping consciousness evolve to higher levels on this wayward planet.
Astral Institute: Can you define your work for us?
David: I’m largely a science writer, and independent scientific researcher, although I also think of myself as an evolutionary agent, here on this planet with a vital mission to help raise consciousness. I explore and write about cutting-edge science associated with the mind. My academic background is in neuroscience and I worked for several years with British biologist Rupert Sheldrake on several studies to do with psychic phenomena. I worked for five years as the senior editor for the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Bulletins, and my articles and interviews have appeared in a wide range of diverse publications. In addition to my books on lucid dreaming and psychedelic science, I’ve written over a dozen books about the evolution of consciousness, achieving optimal health, and two science fiction novels. I’m currently working on my fifth interview collection, with my wife, which will be with women visionary artists and published by Inner Traditions.
Astral Institute: What techniques do you consider to be the most practical in studying lucid dreaming?
David: I think that the best scientific methods for studying lucid dreams would be the EEG and fMRI scans that they do of people’s brains, while they’re lucid dreaming, and when the subjects can communicate to the waking world via voluntary eye movements from within the dream state. The best technique that I’m aware of for initiating lucid dreams is to get in the regular habit of asking one’s self that all important question: Am I dreaming right now? It’s essential that we take this question seriously each time we ask it, and perform a reality test to determine which reality we’re actually in— or else when we ask ourselves this question in a dream, we’ll just conclude that we’re awake and not dreaming! A good reality test is to look at some written words, memorize what they say, look away, and look back again at the words. In a dream, the words will almost always change. Another good reality test is to try breathing through your pinched nostrils; in a dream this can be easily done. Waking up a few hours before usual— and doing something to generally arouse your brain for a half hour or so, and then going back to sleep, also sometimes triggers more frequent lucid dreams. In my book I described dozens of different techniques that increase the probability of having a lucid dream.
Astral Institute: Do you have any advice for those interested in learning more?
David: Yes. Get a journal and start diligently writing down your dreams every time you wake up; the more attention that you pay to your dreams, the more likely you’ll remember them— and the more likely you’ll have a lucid dream. As I mentioned earlier, it’s helpful to get into the regular habit of taking reality tests every hour or so, to determine which reality that you’re presently in. Read as much as you can about lucid dreaming; order a copy of my book Dreaming Wide Awake tonight, and read from it every night before going to sleep. Talk to lots of people about lucid dreaming; mention it to everyone you speak with. The more that you think about lucid dreaming, the more that you engage in conversations about lucid dreaming, the more likely you are to have one. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good percentage of the people reading this interview achieve lucidity in a dream tonight. Wishing everyone sweet lucid dreams.
DREAMING: WIDE AWAKE
A detailed guide to mastering lucid dreaming for physical and emotional healing, enhanced creativity, and spiritual awakening
• Offers methods to improve lucid dreaming abilities and techniques for developing superpowers in the dream realm
• Explains how to enhance dreaming with supplements, herbs, and psychedelics
• Explores the ability of lucid dreamers to communicate with the waking realm and the potential for shared lucid dreaming and access to our unconscious minds
In a lucid dream, you “awaken” within your dream and realize you are dreaming. With this extraordinary sense of awakening comes a clear perception of the continuity of self between waking and sleeping and the ability to significantly influence what happens within the dream, giving you the opportunity to genuinely experience anything without physical or social consequences. In this way, lucid dreaming offers therapeutic opportunities for fantasy fulfillment, fear confrontation, and releasing the trauma of past experiences. With development and practice, lucid dreaming can provide a powerful path to greater awareness, heightened creativity, spiritual awakening, and communication with the vast interconnected web of cosmic consciousness.
David Jay Brown is the author of 15 books, including Dreaming Wide Awake: Lucid Dreaming, Shamanic Healing and Psychedelics, and The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality. He is also the coauthor of five bestselling volumes of interviews with leading-edge thinkers, Mavericks of the Mind, Voices from the Edge, Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse, Mavericks of Medicine, and Frontiers of Psychedelic Consciousness. Additionally, Brown is the author of two science fiction novels, Brainchild and Virus, and he is the coauthor of the health science book Detox with Oral Chelation. Brown holds a master’s degree in psychobiology from New York University, and was responsible for the California-based research in two of British biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s books on unexplained phenomena in science: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and The Sense of Being Stared At. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Wired, Discover, and Scientific American, and he was the Senior Editor of the special edition, themed MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Bulletins from 2007 to 2012. In 2011, 2012, and 2013 Brown was voted “Best Writer” in the annual Good Times and Santa Cruz Weekly’s “Best of Santa Cruz” polls, and his news stories have been picked up by The Huffington Post and CBS News. To find out more about his work see: www.mavericksofthemind.com