Today’s post is a guest post from David Hamilton.
I’d originally planned to use if for my woo-woo weekend slot, but to be honest that has died a tragic and brutal death.
However, I have had 2 clients recently tell me they used lucid dreaming to great effect and I’m fascinated by it.
I’m really keen to hear whether you have had any experience with lucid dreaming or whether you’d like to in the comments.
The Strange World of Lucid Dreaming
I’m fascinated by anything and everything to do with consciousness, active evolution of human beings, and any processes that increase creativity, well-being and success.
It gets me off like nothing else. OK, it dances in the same ballpark with a few “other” things.
So that’s why I’m writing about the strange and very interesting practice of lucid dreaming here on A Daring Adventure – per Tim’s invite for some more “out there” posts.
Believe it or not, I fall into the category of “open-minded skeptic” or “scientific woo-woo” maybe? I’m willing to try most any self-growth experience at least once, but with a skeptical eye and mind. I want stuff that works and also can be explained with strong evidence, along with having a life changing experience.
Recently, I’ve have some pleasant email exchange with Keelin over at The Lucidity Institute and he’s been very kind to send me lots of information on lucid dreaming, as I’ve been so curious about it.
I’m hoping to take some training in the next year to learn how to lucid dream. Many people say the effects and learning are amazing through these dream experiences.
I imagine this has to do with processing and helping to resolve experiences in the unconscious mind…of which some say about 80% our brain operates within, while 20% only is conscious mind. Makes me want to take care of my unconscious mind like a little baby and let it do its thing to a greater ability.
So onto lucid dreaming, let’s do it.
Lucid Dreaming Defined
Simply put, lucid dreaming is when you’re in a state of full mental consciousness yet your body is asleep. In normal aka non-lucid dreaming, we think we’re in physical reality, though we’re dreaming.
With lucid dreaming you’re aware that you’re in dream land AND you’re completely conscious/lucid. You know it’s not “real” in the sense of being in physical reality.
However, the lines aren’t always so clear between lucid and non-lucid dreaming. There can be phases within dreams that switch between lucid and non-lucid dreaming.
We all have experienced some form of lucidity while dreaming at times. This means we all have the ability to develop “real” lucid dreaming as a skill.
What we’re talking about here though, is the purer form of lucid dreaming where you are continuously aware that you are dreaming, and thus have potentially more control over your dream state. Using the right methodology, this skill can be developed.
Becoming lucid in a dream does not mean that you can control the dream by default. But it does increase the chances that you can control elements within the dream. For me, this also brings up the interesting implications on what is reality, and how much “control” we have over it.
For instance, if the brain can’t always tell between the difference of being in a dream vs. being in “reality”, and we can control dreams with our minds…how much does our mind affect reality by thought alone?
Of course this is the big conundrum that quantum physics has brought about with the findings of the double-slit experiment, on how we observe things MAY affect reality.
Now be careful here…I do think people take this too far and get very solipsistic (aka you’re in my universe, and I have ultimate control) about this perspective.
This is where a lot of Law of Attraction mucky-muck I believe to be misleading as a system. Let’s not get carried away here people.
Nevertheless, the implications are interesting. Perhaps lucid dreaming is a way to increase the practice and probability at which our thoughts affect our shared reality field. Who knows?
Purposes for Lucid Dreaming
People become lucid dreamers for many reasons. I’m the type who wants to learn more and expand myself, make my life and the lives of others around me better.
So my primary motivation would be along those lines. But what do the lucid dreaming experts say lucid dreaming is good for?
Increased Creativity & Problem Solving
This would have to be my main reason for learning lucid dreaming.
Apparently there’s been research done that shows “dreams are more creative” than daydreams or other waking state situations, because there aren’t those believed constraints of physical reality weighing on our minds.
Thus, one is supposedly freer to come up with creative options and solutions to problems. It also makes me wonder if there’s simply more access to the unconscious mind by the conscious mind. A bridging of the two, if you will. Some folks even use lucid dreaming as a way to overcome nightmare issues.
Rehearse for Increased Performance in Life Situations
Lucid dreaming can be used as a way to mentally rehearse before speaking in public (say a lawyer preparing for a big trial), singing on stage, having a difficult conversation with a loved one, etc.
This seems to be an extension of VMR (viseo-motor rehearsal) that has been proven to increase things like athletic performance just by mentally rehearsing alone. So why not do this while getting a restful sleeping AND increasing your performance? Seems like a great use of time to me.
Physical or Mental Healing
Think of it as taking mental rehearsal and visualization to a higher level in terms of self-healing. Potentially, lucid dreaming could lead to this healing of oneself physically.
I can definitely see the benefits at least of put oneself into a relaxed state, stress-free where physical healing could occur more easily as well, if not healing the particular physical issue itself.
I’m a big believer that certainly while how we treat our bodies physically and with diet is very important to our physical health, that mental/emotional issues can also play a huge role in creating physical issues. Bruce Lipton discusses this at length in the Biology of Belief.
What’s more obvious in terms of healing is that lucid dreaming can help to process and resolve mental or emotional difficulties of depression, anxiety, fears/phobias. It’s like having more direct access to your unconscious mind to process experiences and heal from them.
For Transcendence and Pleasure
There are those seeking spiritual transcendence that come to lucid dreaming, which still falls in the category of pleasure from my mind.
Others want more seemingly visceral pleasure experiences like those of flying or having lucid sex.
If it increases one’s well-being and/or pleasure, I’m all for it…I’d just hope that people would use it as a substitute for real sex, or get too caught up in dreamland as a way to replace real life.
How the Process of Lucid Dreaming Works
When learning how to lucid dream, it all starts with the ability to recall your dreams. This is done by writing down your dreams each morning after waking in order to develop the dream recall skill.
It’s important that you have the ability to recall dreams, otherwise your ability to be aware within dreams will be severely limited, and you’ll probably forget the dream after, even if it was lucid, since normally we separate the states of waking and dreaming.
Next you have to work with something called “reality testing”.
This is where when you go throughout your day you look at your watch, read a sentence in a book, or look at some object around you. You then look away and look back to see if the object has morphed or changed in some way. Then you actively try to change the object with your mind.
This is to help ground yourself in the difference between physical reality and dreaming reality.
When in dreams, objects, people and places shift very easily…apparently 75% of the time that something is read then re-read in a dream state, that thing shifts.
That is how you can become lucid in your dream. You are basically looking for oddities that would happen in physical reality in order to make you aware that you are dreaming.
Next up is the topic of “dreamsigns” which are related to reality testing.
You look for things in a dream like flight, fantastical characters, or even someone you know has died appearing in your dream. These are things you know not to be real.
Lastly, there’s even a device called the Novadreamer produced by the lucidity institute (not cheap though, and they’re working on a version 2.0) which you can wear that produces dream signs when you are in a dream state, to help train you to become lucid more rapidly.
Inducing a Lucid Dreaming Experience
There’s a simple step-by-step process called the MILD process or the “Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams”. In the book “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming” Dr. Steven LaBerge describes this in three steps.
- DREAM RECALL: You must learn to do dream recall, which must be done any time that you wake up during the night (yes it’s work, I know).
- VERBAL INTENT: You must actively focus your intent to dream in a lucid manner as you go back to sleep. It’s recommended that as you fall asleep, you create a mantra to the effect of “I will have a lucid dream” Or “I am fully lucid in my dreaming”.
- VISUALIZING INTENT: Lastly is to visualize yourself back in the same dream you just woke up from, but with the intent of being lucid in it.
Then you repeat these second and third steps until you are lucid dreaming.
How to Train Yourself in Lucid Dreaming
The Lucidity Institute offers a home-study course for $100 and an in person workshop for lucid dreaming training in Hawaii.
Keelin at the Lucidity Institute had invited me to the one in San Diego coming up in a few days, but alas funds and time won’t allow (though they do have a scholarship option which is nice).
I may just start with the book or home-study course first, though I think being led by others is the best way to learn some like lucid dreaming.
I see the value in using something like lucid dreaming, particularly for the creativity/performance enhancement aspects of it, as well as problem solving and mental/emotional healing.
Imagine doing these types of activities while sleeping, directly mixing the conscious and unconscious minds…and then just going through your day knowing that you can actively rejuvenate, learn and heal while sleeping.
A most intriguing possibility I must say!
David Hamilton is the founder of Everlution, a personal development site dedicated to helping people to evolve into their true potential. As a professionally trained coach, David also helps people create lives they truly desire and deep change with mindfulness-based and depth-oriented coaching methodologies.
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