by Zoey Miller,
What Does It Mean To Dream Lucidly?
The concept of dreaming lucidly involves using the untapped areas of the brain that are ordinarily not engaged in normal, conscious life to manipulate dreams for the benefit of the individual. These unused areas of the brain are often most active during dreaming, and this unique state of mind can be implemented to enjoy new experiences, practice new skills and develop more effective tools for daily living. Dreaming lucidly gives you the opportunity to test new ways of perceiving experiences within a different framework of reality.
History of Dreaming Lucidly
Humans have always been fascinating with the act of dreaming, with what dreams mean and how they can utilize the power of dreams to influence everyday life. In Ancient Greece, Aristotle pondered the awareness of being in a dream when one is dreaming. A 17th century physician, Sir Thomas Browne, described an ability to dream while being aware of it in one of this texts. It wasn’t until 1867 that the French Marquis d’Hervey de Saint Denys wrote a treatise on the control of dreams. The term “lucid dreaming” was coined by a Dutch psychiatrist Frederik Willem von Eeden. But it was in the 1960s that the study of dreaming lucidly began to be popularized. In the 1980s, Stephan LaBerge at Stanford University began studies on this type of aware dreaming, and his research was confirmed by other scientists. Psychotherapists have also investigated dreaming lucidly as a method of treating individuals with chronic nightmares. They found the technique did, in fact, help to reduce the frequency and severity of nightmare events in these patients. Science is only beginning to probe how dreaming lucidly can be used to help individuals increase their creativity, improve their ability to heal from disease and develop greater confidence in their abilities and their understanding.
What Does Dreaming Lucidly Feel Like?
In typical dreams, individuals may experience a different world where many of the laws of physics don’t apply. They may fall and never become hurt. Physical structures form and disappear in a moment. Many people interact with others on an entirely different level in dreams and feel emotions much more strongly than in waking life. When you become accustomed to dreaming lucidly, you accept these differences in perception more easily. You know you are in a dream state, and therefore can observe what is going on in a more detailed manner. In the lucid state, you become highly aware, but not awake. Novices at the technique may have difficulty staying in this alert-but-not-awake state, and there are techniques you can learn to ensure that you return to the dream when you have become too fully awake. Many people say the feeling of dreaming lucidly is much like playing a role-playing game or video game. It is a feeling something akin to being in an alternate reality, in which distances have no meaning and time is compressed in a strange way. Each person may bring individual aspects to their dreaming, such as running, being chased, speaking without words or working out a particular problem. When you are dreaming lucidly, you are able to change features of the dream to increase some aspects or decrease others, as you desire.
Why Would People Want To Dream Lucidly?
An individual that engages in dreaming lucidly can enjoy new experiences outside of the limits of normal reality. These experiences can be used in real life in a number of ways:
1. Creative imagining
Individuals involved in creative work can try out concepts in an imaginative way, in an environment where the normal rules of social restriction and physical limitation do not apply. This freedom can provide limitless potential for creative expression.
2. Problem solving
The dream environment provides an open situation where various solutions to a real life problem can be applied and tested for consequences.
Similarly, the dream environment can be the perfect place to practice activities for real life that may cause anxiety and stress. This rehearsal can be used for public speaking events, artistic performances, athletic endeavors or interpersonal confrontations. The ability to practice in a lucid and controlled situation can provide increased confidence for the actual event.
Dreaming in a lucid state allows individuals to use the experience as positive imagery to activate the body’s own ability to fight disease. Dreaming lucidly can also help individuals deal with psychological issues, allowing them to practice experiences in a safe environment so they can then transfer their increased confidence into waking life.
5. Spiritual development
Dreaming in a lucid state can help to provide unique insight into spiritual concepts. It provides a different viewpoint that encourages the individual to question the meaning of reality and how people function within the context of the normal world.
6. Adventure and fantasy
Many individuals engage in dreaming lucidly to engage in new adventures and fantasies that they would not ordinarily experience in their normal lives. The dream world can be a safe place to experiment with new activities, personal identities and emotional states that might be problematical in normal life.
7. Nightmare treatment
Dreaming lucidly can also be a method of treating nightmares that allow the individual to control dream situations, rather than being the victim of terrifying experiences and emotions. The dreamer is able to re-design the dream to defuse the frightening aspects and transform them into more benign, acceptable images.
Developing the Ability to Be Aware While Dreaming
Some people have a natural ability to dream lucidly, although they may not recognize that this is what they are doing. Once their ability is recognized, they are able to focus their intentions within the dreams to influence desired actions relatively easily. Other individuals may have never experiences lucidity in their dreaming, and the nature of their dream symbolism is not well understood or may be a cause of fearfulness or anxiety. These individuals can learn to gradually take control of their dream lives, so they can create a more beneficial state during their sleeping state. A number of classes and workshops are available to learn how to dream lucidly at will. These classes can be of significant help if you are having difficulty becoming or staying lucid in your dreams when you desire to do so.
If you feel you have never dreamed lucidly but would like to know how, you can begin by preparing your mind for this unique state of consciousness:
1.Work on recalling your dreams
Dream recall will help to get you accustomed to the symbolism and themes of your dream state. You will then be better able to intervene in the dream when you know the basic structure of it.
2. Keep a notebook and pen by your bed
As soon as you awaken from a dream, describe what you remember of it in as precise detail as you can.
3. Actively hold the intention of remembering your dreams
As you fall asleep, repeat “I will remember my dreams” over and over to set the intention in your mind. You will then be better able to recall the dream.
4. Do “reality checks” several times each day
A “reality check” is a way to check if you are in a waking state or a dream state. Reading a sentence in a paper, looking away and then, reading it again can be a good way to check your reality. If the words have changed, you are probably dreaming. Looking at a watch and seeing time changes can also tell you if you are awake or dreaming. These exercises will be useful when you become adept at dreaming lucidly.
5. Practice mindfulness in your daily life
Most people do through their days without paying attention to most of what occurs, focusing instead on what they have to do next or where they have to go next. Try to be more mindful of everything in your life, increasing your awareness of things, people and events in your everyday life. This exercise will help you to also be aware of these things in your lucid dream state.
Common Methods of Inducing the Lucid State
Once you have become comfortable with focusing on your dream world, you can then begin the experience of becoming more lucid in your dream. At first, you may find that you can only practice lucidity in your dreams on a sporadic basis. As you become more experienced, you will be able to have more of these dreams, and you will become more comfortable interacting in your dream. You can learn a number of methods to dream lucidly whenever you desire it:
1. Imagine your surroundings are a dream
Take a moment during the day to imagine what it would be like if everyday life were a dream. Notice the sounds, smells, lights, colors and activity that occur around you. Now, imagine if unusual reactions happened. For example, what if you suddenly floated off the ground? What if people starting talking in an unknown language? These events could easily occur in a standard dream.
2. Choose something you’d like to do while dreaming lucidly
Maybe you’d like to experience the feeling of flying. Perhaps, you’d like the feeling of giving an important speech that crowds of people applaud. Maybe a romantic encounter with a celebrity sounds enticing. Set this activity in your mind for your upcoming dream.
3. Practice your dream signs and symbols
Once you have learned to recognize the recurring symbols in your dreams, look for them in waking life as you go about your day. This awareness of your dream signs will then be transferred to your dream state, and you will become more aware of when a dream is occurring, by the presence of these special signs.
4. Set your alarm to awaken from dreams
If you set the alarm to wake you during the night, you will be more able to catch yourself in a dream. You can then use this interruption to stay lucid as you fall back into sleep. You can also use your snooze alarm to fall back into a dream for better lucidity and recall.
5. MILD technique
MILD is a method that uses the power of memory to suggest to yourself to remember the dream while you are in the wakened state. You suggest strongly to yourself that you will remember the dream, and you visualize yourself becoming lucid within the dream. You then repeat the intention several times before sleep, so it is the last thing on your mind.
6. Using meditation to transition into dreaming
The mental technique of meditation allows individuals to trigger certain types of brain waves that can be helpful in recognizing dream states and allowing the individual to influence events within the dreams. Tibetan Buddhism has long used the practice of “dream yoga” to understand the true nature of reality and man’s place within it. The mental exercise has often led to leaps in spiritual understanding and into a state of profound reverence. Meditation can also put the practitioner into a state of heightened awareness that allows them to transition more easily into the lucid state.
Getting Creative in Your Lucid Dreaming
Once you are able to fall into a lucid state during your dreams at will, you can then begin to develop the ability to manipulate the details of the experience. You can become a more active player within the dream, rather than being a passive presence. You can utilize your intention to initiate experiences you would not normally encounter in the waking state. You can also participate in activities that transcend normal physical limits in your dreams. Maintaining the lucid state, without fully becoming awake, can be challenging. However, practicing the special techniques used in dreaming lucidly can help individuals to stay focused within the dream state.
What technology is available to assist lucid dreaming?
A number of devices have been developed to help individuals get into a lucid state easily and reliably. This technology can be of assistance to those who have difficulty moving into the lucid state. The devices usually produce sound or light cues that trigger the individual to remember their intention to be lucid while dreaming. Certain herbs and supplements are also available that are said to assist individuals in achieving the lucid state while dreaming. However, there is little scientific evidence available on the effectiveness of these compounds, and in some cases, they can inhibit achieving the proper lucid state.
Can Dreaming Lucidly Be Dangerous?
Generally, dreaming lucidly is a safe and enjoyable experience that allows individuals to experience difference states of reality that help them function in the waking world. However, occasionally, individuals with an underlying mental health condition may have a severe reaction to an experience. In these cases, the individual should discuss the use of dreaming lucidly with a psychological professional to determine if the techniques can be continued safely.
Many people understand the idea of dreaming lucidly instinctively because they have often experienced the feeling of being aware that a dream was occurring. They may have been experiencing lucid dreaming since childhood. Other people will find the concept a bit mysterious, but one that offers potential for greater personal and spiritual growth, as well as a way to bring greater effectiveness to everyday life.
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About the author: I am the woman next door, dealing with the problems and joys of everyday life. I know that the more I give, the more I’ll be given. So, the goal of my blog is to help more and more people cope with their everyday quandaries, and in doing so, I hope to become a better person myself.