Dream Lucidity: Find Oneself Dreaming
By Lisa Coates (BlueDove)
The Silver Cord by Chris Wayan, http://www.worlddreambank.com
There are those who believe that dreams are what happen to us while sleeping and others who believe that dreams are the creations of our own dreaming mind. Perhaps dreams may be a mixture of both a brave new world laying out pathways of both surprises and creations before us.
We are the pioneers here. Every step we tread is a before-unexplored discovery. Such power of opportunity!
Never assume to fathom what lies just beyond the winding curve in the road. You will continually be awed by the intensity of the experience and surprised by the unexpected imagery.
Yet, to experience control in a dream even once is to ponder that dreams hold much more magic then we before imagined. Here may reside the power within ourselves for mastery and direction. Tantalizing such power is because we intuitively understand that to learn how to control
and manifest the direction of our dreams may be the tentative first step in controlling entirely the direction of our very lives here on this tangible Earth.
Have you ever become aware in a dream that you were dreaming? Some sort of feeling or vision seems to trigger your conscious mind into this awareness. Im dreaming, you realize, and this is what is meant by the term lucid dreaming to become aware in the midst of a dream that
you are actually dreaming. During this state there arises the awesome potential for controlling ones dream at will. The dreamer also seems to come into an expanded sensory enhancement. Colors seem more vivid. Perception broadens into a wider panorama. It is as if the very experience of lucidity spirals your mind into an entirely new and
unexplored higher state of consciousness. What was before unfathomable becomes not only possible but malleable.
Lucid dreams are most recognizable by their intense vividness and memorability. Upon awakening, the dream experience is vividly recalled. The details stay fresh in your mind as if they really did just happen. The
intensity of recollection is somewhat similar to recall after a traumatic or intensely emotional life experience. Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated? or What were you doing when you first heard the news on September 11th? We remember instantly. The experience of that moment comes flashing back to us as if it just
happened. Lucid experiences while dreaming seem to share a space of the minds recall ability that is produced by sudden extreme focus of the conscious mind.
English writer Hugh Calloway, who wrote under the pen name Oliver Fox, described the vivid intensity as his dream shifted from an ordinary dream into the heightened awareness of lucidity:
Instantly the vividness of life increased a hundred-fold. Never before had sea and sky and trees shone with such glamorous beauty; even the commonplace houses seemed alive and mystically beautiful. Never had I felt so absolutely well, so clear-brained, so inexpressibly free! The sensation was exquisite beyond words, but it lasted only a few
minutes and I awoke.
The inexpressible freedom that he writes of seems to be a common experience in lucid dreaming, especially when a lucid dream moves on to an awareness and application of will and control. As one becomes aware of being in a dream, there sometimes develops a connecting bridge
between the conscious and subconscious realms of the mind. As if an inner light of realization is switched on, the dreamer becomes more aware of movement and manipulations, directing his actions to move with his thoughts. Thought being the catalyst for creation, not only actions may be manipulated, but entire dream themes and scenery may be shifted by the dreamers control.
Fly, Dancer! by Chris Wayan, http://www.worlddreambank.com
The best way I can think of to describe the immense sense of freedom and expanded perception experienced is to use the example off a lucid dream of my own. I dreamed I was flying through the sky, and at the moment that I became aware I was dreaming, my entire perception
seemed to expand. The sky widened into a panoramic view, as if suddenly I was unhindered by the usual, limited human scope of vision and was seeing all directions around me at once. The ground rose up to me in minute detail. I could see every valley and pathway below me whilst simultaneously absorbing the blue sky all around.
Each sensation seemed intensified far beyond normal and mundane perception. As I flew into each current of air, the cool briskness of it rippled in waves through my entire being. I began to manipulate my direction of flight by thought, but in a calm way that seemed a natural
extension of the feeling of freedom I felt. In other words, there wasnt an intellectual coldness to my movements, as if saying to myself, OK, now I shall move this way or that. Rather, it seemed a natural, unforced feeling of thought that directed me. Up, I felt. Up I swooped. Down, I desired. Down I dived. Side to side I glided, coming in tune with
the air pockets around me as naturally as a bird in her first discovery of flight. Words fail to describe the boundless joy and ecstatic freedom that expanded within me and grew greater with each movement. I felt an otherworldly kind of freedom so exquisite that I ponder whether it is attainable at all in earthly existence the unbridled freedom of a soul
embracing all realms of its potential in a moment.
Of course, this was a personal dream of mine, and each lucid dreamers experience is as different as her own unique mind and soul.
A Discovery at Least as Old as Aristotle
Dream lucidity is not a recently discovered New Age concept, although the interest and fascination it has aroused in New Age spirituality has perhaps given it more recent focus. The first recorded reference to lucid dreaming is in Aristotles On Dreams, where he writes that, Often when
one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.
The first description of a lucid dream experience was described in a letter by Saint Augustine in 415, in which he recounted two dreams experienced by Gennadius, a Roman physician who was troubled with doubt about the existence of life after death. In the first of those
dreams, a young man appeared to Gennadius and guided him to a city where he heard music: sounds of a melody so exquisitely sweet as to surpass anything he had ever heard. When he inquired of his guide about this music, he was told, It is the hymn of the blessed and holy.
On the following night, the same youthful guide appeared in a dream and asked Gennadius if he recognized him. Gennadius replied that he knew him well and relayed to him the dream of the previous night. The dream guide then asked him if the experience of the night before was
while in sleep or while awake. In sleep, Gennadius answered. The youth then confirmed that indeed it had been while Gennadius slept, and that he was again sleeping. The guide explained:
Asleep and lying on your bed, these eyes of your body are now unemployed and doing nothing, and yet you have eyes with which to behold me, and enjoy this vision, so after your death, while your bodily eyes shall be wholly inactive, there shall be in you a life by which you still live, and a faculty of perception by which you shall still perceive.
Beware, therefore, after this of harboring doubts as to whether the life of a man shall continue after death.
And so, after that amazing dream, Gennadius never more doubted the continuity of life after death.
In ancient Tibet, Buddhists strove for mastery of lucid dreaming, believing that if a monk developed the ability to control his dreams, he would be able to reveal the illusionary nature of the dream, and therefore, in time, this lucid mastery while dreaming would reveal the illusionary nature of the world.
In 12th-century Islam, Spanish Sufi Ibn El-Arabi persuaded his followers that, A person must control his thoughts in a dream. The training of this alertness will produce great benefits for the individual. Everyone should apply himself to the attainment of this ability of such great value.
In 1867, the Marquis dHervey de Saint-Denys used the term reve lucide to describe dreams in which I had the sensation of my situation. But the person most commonly credited with coining the term lucid dream was Dutch psychiatrist Frederik Van Eeden. Dr. Van Eeden presented a
paper to the Society for Psychical Research in 1913. The paper consisted of descriptions of Van Eedens lucid dreams and also of various experiments used in testing the boundaries and range of his dreams.
In the United States, a great deal of the modern interest in lucid dreaming was sparked by Carlos Castanedas series of books, beginning in 1968, which described the young anthropology students apprenticeship in sorcery with Yaqui Indian sorcerer Don Juan.
Techniques to achieve lucid-dreaming mastery were first detailed in the third book, Journey to Ixtlan, wherein Don Juan explains how to set up dreaming. The goal, he says, is to have concise and pragmatic control over the general situation of the dream.
Don Juan tells Castaneda to look at his hands in his dreams. Other familiar objects may be used for focus, but the hands are most favored because they will always be there. When his hands begin to change shape in the dream and he feels control is being lost, Carlos is advised to
look away from them and pick something else to focus on briefly, and then return to his hands once again. Don Juan explains:
Dreaming is real when one has succeeded in bringing everything into focus. Then there is no difference between what you do when you sleep and what you do when you are not sleeping. Dreaming is real for a warrior because in it he can act deliberately, he can choose and reject, he can select from a variety of items those which lead to power, and then he can manipulate them and use them, while in an ordinary dream he cannot act deliberately.
Don Juan discusses dreaming with Carlos again and again throughout the apprenticeship, explaining that in order to integrate such new awareness into the mind, such sorcerers concepts must be repeated to the point of exhaustion before we open ourselves to them, for repetition
is the way the world has programmed us to function in the daily world from the beginning of our lives.
In the book The Art of Dreaming, Don Juan delves into every aspect of dreaming, from techniques for achieving lucidity and control in dreams, onward to shifting ones normal position of perception, or assemblage point, to travel to the other worlds of the universe.
Scientific Recognition of the Phenomenon
In the decade from the 1970s to the 1980s, a new heightened awareness of dream lucidity brought the concept into more focus in metaphysical studies as well as in scientific research. Books such as Castanedas, as well as others such as Creative Dreaming (1974) and The Dream Game (1976) by Ann Faraday, brought something of a double
inspiration into the world on the one hand, inspiring the open-minded, such as spiritual seekers and healers, to ponder the wonders of lucidity as a new way for enlightenment, and on the other hand, inspiring more skeptical thinkers, such as scientists in the field of sleep research, to use REM (Rapid Eye Movement) monitoring techniques to prove or
disprove the concept once and for all.
Yet, until Stephen LaBerge burst on the scene in the early 80s with the results of his amazing research, few psychologists and scientists were willing to think of lucid dreaming as anything more than partial waking during dreaming. LaBerge, a lucid dreamer himself since childhood and a
young researcher at Stanford University, resolved to focus on lucid dreaming for his doctoral thesis.
The first problem he and his colleagues at the Stanford University Sleep Lab encountered was how to gather enough data for research. At that time, LaBerge was experiencing about one lucid dream per month. By using a technique of auto-suggestion developed by psychologist Patricia
Garfield, he began telling himself before sleeping each night, Tonight I will have a lucid dream. Soon LaBerge was able to increase the frequency of his lucid dreams to about five per month.
In time, LaBerge developed his own method, which he named the MILD technique (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams). This method involves waking from a dream, visualizing yourself back into that same dream, seeing yourself becoming lucid, and then telling yourself, Next time Im
dreaming I want to recognize Im dreaming. With his MILD technique, LaBerge was able to increase his rate of lucid dreams to over 20 a
The second challenge in LaBerges research was finding a way of sending a signal during sleep to alert the other researchers that a lucid dream was being experienced. Already aware of past dream-research studies that revealed that most dreaming occurs during REM periods of
sleep, LaBerge saw the opportunity of using eye movement as a means of signaling a lucid dream.
Originally using himself as the primary subject in this research, he chose for his signal two vertical sweeps of the eyes. Upon examination of a series of such sessions, LaBerge noticed that a group of zigzags were recorded through brainwave-detection equipment, which revealed the
eye signal he had wanted to send. To prove that the eye signal wasnt a mere indication of REM sleep, he then signaled from a lucid dream by clenching his fist.
He described the results of his studies in a paper he submitted to the journal Science in 1980 and then produced four papers at the annual Association for the Psychophysical Study of Sleep meeting in Massachusetts in 1981. The results were impressive. LaBerge had not
only proved through solid scientific means that lucid dreaming was a real phenomenon, but his research also inspired a new wave of interest in sleep-research labs throughout the world to begin studying lucid dreams.
With new study also came many various techniques for inciting lucid dreams. Dream recall is an effective beginning on the path to lucidity. The more detail a person recalls from his dreams, the more likely he is to eventually achieve a lucid dream.
Some do well using auto-suggestion, such as repeating to oneself throughout the day or on the verge of sleeping that one will become aware during a dream. A variation of this method, called the intention technique, is to constantly tell oneself during the day that particular
objects or events in the dream world will trigger the dreaming mind to awareness. For instance, if one frequently dreams of riding in a car or being at work, then while awake that person could tell herself that when these events occur in a dream, it shall alert her that she is dreaming.
The reflection technique consists of asking oneself as often as one can throughout normal activities of the day, How do I know that I am not dreaming now? Then, instead of looking for obvious answers, really ponder the difference in waking and dreaming life. It then becomes
easier to distinguish dreaming from reality, producing lucid awareness in dreaming.
An interesting exercise produced by psychologist Carl Jung and inspired by various Eastern traditions, is the technique of active imagination, in which one imagines one is dreaming while awake. By entering this virtual awakened dream world, the mind can see ones own creations
and illusions all around, and by separating the illusions from realities, a link between waking and dream consciousness can be formed, creating an alertness that extends into ones dreams.
Why such great desire to achieve lucid dreaming? Recent breakthroughs of discovery in lucid dreaming show us that we are entering a new frontier of awareness of our subconscious minds and possibly our souls as well. To think of Stephen LeBerges achievements in contacting
others from within the realm of a dream is amazing in itself. Like an astronaut relaying back to us here on the Earth the scenery of a planet that has never before known the presence of man, his contact confirms that we are all pioneers of the mysterious places that exist within the human mind.
Each night that we sleep, not only do we have the wondrous opportunity to explore, we also have the god-like power to create. With this knowledge we can swirl into theories and an abundance of philosophies as to the possible connections of the dream world to the
afterlife. Does this power to control and create our dreams signify the power that we may have to create our own life after death? Heaven may be only a thought away
here and now, as well as thereafter.
- Our Dreaming Mind by Robert L. Van de Castle
- Mysteries of the Unknown Dreams and Dreaming, Time-Life Books
- The Secret Language of Dreams by David Fontana
- The Dream Encyclopedia by James R. Lewis
- Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda
- The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castaneda
- The Lucidity Institute Inc. website: http://www.lucidity.com/