Lucid Dreams and Two Realities

vdonely's picture

 

As I am soaring above New York City, my stomach is turning over and dropping as if I am on a rollercoaster. I mean, I really feel my stomach doing somersaults. That is so crazy because I am flying, by myself, above the Big Apple. How am I feeling, knowing, that my stomach is doing flips when I am in a situation that is obviously not reality? I am dreaming. In dreams, anything can happen and people will believe it because they are in an altered state of reality. In most cases however, people do not realize they are dreaming and can not control their dreams. This does not make it impossible; in fact, it is the opposite.  A phenomenon called lucid dreaming has brought people’s dreams to the forefront of their minds. Lucid dreaming is defined as knowing you are dreaming and being aware of it, while having a dream. (1)  There are different stages of lucid dreaming and to achieve the highest state requires great patience. When one has reached this stage, he has the ability to control his dreams.

            Although a popular thought, it is false that the term “lucid dreaming” refers to the ability to control one’s dreams. “Lucid dreaming” is simply the awareness, while in a dream, that one is dreaming. From this awareness, and with much patience and determination, it is possible to gain control of one’s dreams. My personal interest in lucid dreaming stems from excitement and curiosity. I believe as humans we are incredibly lucky to have the brain capacity to have dreams and to be able to take control of them. I am very interested in exploring what the brain does and its different functions, and I am positive that the brain can do more than we can even imagine.

            Just the thought of dreaming blows my mind. In our dreams, we are in a separate reality where anything can happen and we believe it is real! In my mind, dreaming is comparable to a hallucinogenic drug, in that we are in a different state of thought completely. What seems ludicrous and dangerous in real life is normal and easy in “dream-world.” To have the power to control “dream-world” with lucid dreaming is a great gift.

 For the adventurous, people can explore anything they want in their dreams. They can go any place, eat anything, and meet anyone. Dreams are the perfect place for an excitement junky because they can control how much excitement they get. Lucid dreams can be used to rehearse for situations in real life. (1) For example, if a politician has a big speech to give they can consciously think about dreaming of that speech. In their dream, by the practice of lucid dreaming, that politician can say the speech as many times as needed.  When the politician awakens refreshed, he will not be nervous about giving the speech because he has done it before, many times, in his “other reality.” A third reason why people may turn towards lucid dreaming is to get rid of nightmares. When you are having a nightmare, with the power of lucid dreaming, you can realize it is just a dream and change what is happening. Nightmares are so vivid and real that it is a relief that it may be possible to change them. Finally, it is worth noting that some people have even tried to dream with others. They believe that by entering a lucid state of dreaming, they can interact with others who are also in that state. This stirs the question of whether we are all connected in some way, be it with our thoughts or perhaps we have certain energies that interconnect. Personally, I do not believe it is possible to have a dualistic lucid dream. Because of the patience and determination required, I think that lucid dreams are completely independent of each other.

It is possible for everyone to have lucid dreams, although the control factor varies from person to person. In order to be able to realize you are dreaming, you must be able to recall your dreams. People have on average between 4 to 6 dreams per night, with the longer dreams occurring later in the night due to a prolonged REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage. (2) Since so many dreams occur and because of fatigue, it is difficult to remember one’s dreams in the morning. Therefore, it is necessary to wake up during the night to write down one’s dreams. Once one is able to remember his dreams and read over them, it is easy to find dream signs and repetitions.

 Dream signs make it easier in the future to figure out that one is dreaming. For example, in one’s dream book, he may have a repetition of Elvis appearing in his dreams. Later when he is dreaming and he notices Elvis walk in the door, he can put two and two together and realize he is in his dream state. A good method to recall your dreams is to repeatedly believe you can do it before you fall asleep. Therefore you will be in the state of mind to remember when you wake up.

To fully initiate a lucid dream, it is important to do many reality checks on your surrounding area. When you do this often, it is easier to tell whether you are in a dream world or in the real world. Once you have realized that you are dreaming, you can work on controlling the things around you. Some people may try and never reach this type dreaming. It takes great patience and concentration. It is common for people to experience lucid dreaming without even knowing it. They realize they are dreaming, but still can not control their actions. In the morning, the entire dream is forgotten.

My interest in lucid dreaming is not just about seeking adventure. I first heard mention of it when I was 13 and was interested in it even then. I forgot about it until now and I believe that now that I have done more research I am going to try lucid dreaming for myself. As previously mentioned, my interest does not only lie with adventure, although that is a large part. Oh, the freedom of controlling all your surroundings and your life! There is nothing comparable. However, it is in the mind where much of my interest lies.

What part of the brain do we use when we dream? How do we tap into that reality when we fall asleep? It almost seems as if our mind goes to a different world when we are sleeping; a world where anything is possible if we just imagine it. I previously thought that we could only control one part of our reality, our wakened part. However, I now see that it is possible to control both sides of our life. I can control what I do with my everyday life and with perseverance will be able to control my dream life. The idea of the mind entering lucid dreams amazes me and I am sure that this is only a small part of what the brain is capable of. Perhaps in the future, we will have gained enough power and knowledge of our minds to control what happens in our everyday, awakened lives.

 

 

References

·         "Lucid Dreaming." Dream View. 18 June 2003. Web. 9 Nov. 2009. <http://www.dreamviews.com/index.php>.

"Frequently Asked Questions." Dreamresearch.net. Web. 9 Nov. 2009. <http://psych.ucsc.edu/dreams/FAQ/index.html>.

Comments

Paul Grobstein's picture

the benefits, and limitations?, of lucid dreaming

" It almost seems as if our mind goes to a different world when we are sleeping; a world where anything is possible if we just imagine it"

Is anything possible, or is it just that more is possible than seems possible when one is awake?  Might there actually be more things possible in the waking state than we sometimes think there are?  Maybe the two states/worlds aren't actually so completely different.  Check out Neurobiology and Behavior next semester to continue exploring such questions?

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