What is Lucid Dreaming?

INTRODUCTION

Lucid dreaming is a state in which the sleeper becomes alert and conscious that he or she is dreaming. The imagery in this state is reported to be more vivid than in non-lucid states, and it is difficult to distinguish between the dream and reality. The dreamer is able to control what is dreamed.

Lucid dreaming has formed the central core of virtually every shamanic and mystical practice throughout history. It allows the shaman to visit the spirit realms to gain healing power and insight. In the East, lucid dreaming has long been seen as a signpost on the way to enlightenment.

The Goldi shamans of Siberia guide dying or dead subjects through the realms of the otherworld through lucid dreams. Native Americans rely upon conscious dreaming for their vision quests and consider dreams to be central to life itself, and the foundation of all spiritual matters.



The Australian Aborigines are the oldest lucid dreamers, but the Tibetan shamans have carried the process of lucid dreaming more exactly into the realm of mysticism. In the 12th century, Tibet there arose famous schools of Dream Masters who appeared to use lucid dreaming as a powerful method of meditation, which was reported to speed up the process of enlightenment. The Tibetan shaman was always “chosen” through a lucid dream, which transformed the dreamer into a new being.

 



PART ONE: Brain States

 

The sleep cycle is made up of numerous clearly defined stages. The first is a transitional state called the hypnagogic, which is the feeling of floating off, sometimes accompanied by vivid or psychedelic images. At this point, the brain is in alpha, which then gives way to the slower and more rhythmic theta waves of light slumber. These are joined by rapid bursts of brain activity (spindles and K­complexes). About 20 minutes after the beginning of the sleep cycle, the large and relatively slow delta waves take over. This is the deep plunge into the void of sleep.

The quiet phase and the active phase are the two main stages of sleep and can be distinguished by differences in biochemistry, physiology, psychology, and behavior. The quite phase occurs during deep sleep and is known as “S” sleep, as it is characterized by slow-wave EEG. This Delta pattern takes up most of our sleeping time, thus the “S”. It is the state of restful inactivity, your mind does little while you breathe slowly and deeply; your metabolic rate is at a minimum, and growth hormones are released facilitating restorative processes. When awakened from this state, people feel disoriented and rarely remember dreaming

However, the second type of sleep pattern, REM (rapid eye movement) is the sleep state that pertains to lucid dreaming. REM sleep or “D” sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements and is often accompanied by dreams, thus the D. The first episode of REM or D sleep in adults lasts about ten minutes but can increase to as much as an hour throughout the night. During REM sleep your eyes move around rapidly, breathing is quick and irregular, and your dream vividly. During this activity, your body remains still, because it is temporarily paralyzed during REM sleep to prevent you from acting out your dreams.



PART TWO: How to Induce a Lucid Dream

a) How to schedule your efforts for best results

Most lucid dreams happen in the late morning hours of sleep. If you normally sleep for eight hours, you will probably have six REM periods with the last half occurring in the last quarter of the night. The probability of having a lucid dream in the last two hours of sleep is more than twice as great as the probability of having a lucid dream in the previous six hours.

If you are serious about lucid dreaming, you should arrange at least one morning a week where you can stay in bed several hours longer than usual. If you can’t afford more time in bed, there is a simple secret to increasing your lucid dreaming that requires no extra sleep.

If you are serious about lucid dreaming, you should arrange at least one morning a week where you can stay in bed several hours longer than usual. If you can’t afford more time in bed, there is a simple secret to increasing your lucid dreaming that requires no extra sleep.

b) Techniques for Lucid Dreaming

Carlos Castaneda is instructed in one of his books that the best way to have a lucid dream is to shift the attention while dreaming. His teacher advises him to look for his hands or feet during the dream, which will help him remember that he is dreaming, and have access to using his dream body. The technique does work, although it may take many trials before a person actually remembers to look at the hands or feet while they are dreaming.

Training Protocol for Lucid Dreaming.

Should be practiced each night before going to sleep.

  1. Play relaxing music on low volume. Lie down and close eyes. Lie on the left side if comfortable, if not, gently touch forefinger to the thumb of each hand and let hands rest by side.
  1. Listen to the tape and do some deep breathing
  1. Imagine and feel a point of white light in the middle of the forehead. Sense it radiating its light in front of the brain and directly in front of you.
  1. Imagine and feel you are walking along a deserted beach at twilight. Notice the sky, moon, stars. As you walk, sense the point of white light on the forehead, look down at hands and feet. Rotate hands and look at them in the light of the moon and stars.

Next, imagine you reach the entrance to an underground cave. Walk down seven stairs, reach out to open the door and look at the hand. Walk into a cavernous room with many doors. An atmosphere of calmness and peace.

You will find yourself drawn to one of the doors. Know that your chosen door holds something of value behind it. As you walk towards the door, feel the point of light, and glance down at the hands and feet. When you open the door, look at your hand. Enter the next room and explore everything ­ the people or beings you find there may be metaphorical. You may talk to anyone. As you explore, occasionally glance at hands or feet and feel the point of white light on the forehead.

After exploring the room, return to the first room and the entrance that leads to the stairs. Open the door and walk to the beach. Bring awareness back to the physical body, and slowly open eyes.

COMMON QUESTIONS ON LUCID DREAMING

 

If dreams are messages from the unconscious mind, will consciously controlling dreams interfere with this important process, and deprive me of the benefits of dream interpretation?

Dreams are not letters from the unconscious mind, but experiences created through the interactions of the unconscious and conscious mind. More info from the unconscious is available to us in dreams, however, if dreams were the exclusive realm of the unconscious, we wouldn’t remember them. You shouldn’t always be conscious in dreams any more than you should always be conscious of what you are doing in waking life. However, if your actions are taking you in the wrong direction (in dreaming or waking), you should be able to “wake up” to what you are doing wrong and consciously redirect your approach. As for the benefits of dream interpretation, lucid dreams can be examined as fruitfully as nonlucid dreams. Lucid dreamers can even interpret their dreams while they are happening.

Will the efforts of learning lucid dreaming lead to sleep loss, and will I be more tired from being awake in my dreams?

Dreaming lucidly is as restful as dreaming non-lucidly. Lucid dreams are often positive experiences and leave you feeling more invigorated. How tired you feel depends on what you did in the dream. You should practice lucid dreaming when you have the time and energy to devote to the task. If you are too busy to allot more time to sleeping, or to sacrifice any of the sleep you are getting, it’s probably not a good idea to work on lucid dreaming right now. Lucid dreaming requires good sleep and mental energy for concentration. Once you learn the techniques, you should reach a point where you can have lucid dreams whenever you wish just by reminding yourself to do so.

Will practicing lucid dreaming affect my psychotherapy?

Lucid dreaming can be instrumental in psychotherapy, however if you are in psychotherapy and want to experiment with lucid dreaming, talk it over with your therapist. Make sure your therapist is wellinformed on the subject of lucid dreaming, and understands its functions and implications.

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