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Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:20 am
by BrandonD
Hi, I tried to start a thread about this on the GLP forum, but I've noticed that there's a much nicer proportion of calm-sane-people to ignorant-loud-jerks on this forum, so maybe this is the better place.

I've remembered my dreams since I was a little kid, I had very long and vivid dreams but I was never able to control them or become aware. I don't think I have a strong personal sense or internal division between what is "real" and what is not real, so it has always been very difficult for me to come to the definite realization in a dream that it is not waking life.

However, after over a year of efforts specifically toward that end, I was finally successful in becoming lucid in a dream. It was a level above anything that had been previously experienced in the dream state. It's been a little over a year since I learned to do this, and I've learned and experienced such strange things that I have trouble describing them. It is really like a laboratory where you can perceive things in a totally new way.

This seems like a good subject to open up, people can add their own insights or ask questions if they are attempting to reach the lucid dream state. I've been given WIDELY varying opinions on the value or worthlessness of lucid dreaming, and I can't help feeling that becoming lucid and exploring that state is something of significance.

Firstly, there is the mystery of one's personal memories, even down to one's own name, being either partially or totally inaccessible. And yet, there is still a sense of self that is maintained through the whole experience and is taken back into waking life.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:45 am
by wordspeak2
That's fascinating. Can you explain, like, how you did it? Have you been working at this for a long time. I've always wished I could lucid dream. Would have helped a lot two nights ago, when I had these terrible nightmares involving a murder.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:01 am
by seemslikeadream
wordspeak2 wrote:That's fascinating. Can you explain, like, how you did it? Have you been working at this for a long time. I've always wished I could lucid dream. Would have helped a lot two nights ago, when I had these terrible nightmares involving a murder.

When I first did this....which was a very long time ago it didn't have a name and I didn't know anyone else could do it or was doing it.....I used a snooze alarm...sometimes going back many times before getting up in the was very enjoyable from what I can remember....

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:43 am
by norton ash
Much more lucid dreaming and clearer recall of dreams for me since I've become an older guy whose physical needs often wake him in the wee small hours.

E.G. last night I dreamt of being in the Berlin airport (I've never been there) with German signage and busy with modern, well-dressed Euro and international folk. It didn't look much different from any other major airport... which is true of airports.

The dream was very clear because my bladder said 'best get up' and I got up at 3:30 am.

I think the 'day residue' that might have produced this one was a recent invitation to visit a friend in France who lived in Berlin a few years back.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:49 am
by Luther Blissett
Here's a fun old thread we had on it: Hypnagogic Hallucinations: Had Any Lately?

The Giffords shooting thread was also full of some musings on the subject. It's popped up from time to time; P2 Lodge, Non-Time and Hauntology, the book club thread, etc.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:57 am
by Bruce Dazzling

What did you do, Brandon, in order to successfully become lucid in your dreams?

I'm envious of people who remember their dreams, as I never remember them past the moment of clarity, which always fades after about 20 seconds

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:58 am
by slomo
I have never achieved lucid dreaming, but I've had the impression that it takes a fair bit of work, requiring a bit more time than I can afford at this point in my life. Kudos to BrandonD.

I have, however, noticed interesting blurring of boundaries between dream and waking life. I go through periods where I try to write down my dreams, and when I do so I notice that they can be strangely precognitive. Not earth-shatteringly so, but enough so that it makes me aware that time is much more fluid than we believe in this culture. On rare occasions, I have received strong warnings in states that seemed to cross over between dreaming and waking life. My boyfriend reports having had similar occurrences in his life.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:53 pm
by BrandonD
wordspeak2 wrote:That's fascinating. Can you explain, like, how you did it? Have you been working at this for a long time. I've always wished I could lucid dream. Would have helped a lot two nights ago, when I had these terrible nightmares involving a murder.

It took me a long time, but it took my girlfriend much less time to learn. I think this is because I have a more rigid and elaborately constructed personal identity, which is like an egg shell that must be cracked. At least, that is how it seems.

Even though I kept failing, one line in the Castaneda books that stood out was "one thing the rational mind cannot cope with is persistence", meaning for me that if I'm attempting something that the rational mind tells me is stupid or impossible, the best weapon against this is persistence - keep going despite what the mind is telling me.

How a person brings an intent into the dream state is a mystery to me. The identity is lost to a great degree, one cannot draw upon personal memories, and yet somehow one is able to bring intentions into that place.

But I've been in a position in my dreams before where I suspected it was a dream. For example, I once saw a giant ship come out of the clouds over a downtown city, and flying towards the city was a red bi-plane with a nazi symbol on the side. I thought, "Is this a dream?" And yet when I tried to test out the environment, everything seemed real, so I concluded that it was real.

The thing that brought me over the top was the hand trick. Castaneda talks about looking at one's hand when in the dream state. It is not common to maintain one's attention on something mundane like your own hand, but if you are able to stare at it for several seconds, you will see that your hand does not hold its shape. It will flow around and morph.

For some reason, one day I was in the dream and I saw a bizarre stick-like figure. It suddenly occurred to me that I may be dreaming and I actually remembered to look at my hand. When I looked at it, it did in fact changed shape and I knew I was dreaming! I was in some sort of strange state I could not comprehend. The closest thing I could compare it to was when I was peaking on LSD.

Here is where stuff gets weird, and I think one can only get the hang of this by doing it: there is a tightrope a person must walk to maintain lucidity in the dream, it is like a balance between control and surrender.

One part of you (which I guess I'd call the "dream self") strongly wants to disappear into the dream, to release the lucidity. The other part of you (the "waking self") strongly wants to bring your normal identity into the dream, to become awake like you are awake in regular life.

To remain lucid in a dream, you must maintain a balance between these two "selves". If you try too hard to remember your waking identity (which is actually a strong impulse, at least for myself), then you will definitely wake up. On the other hand, if you give in to the other self then you will lose your grip on the lucidity and fall back into the dream.

If you feel yourself falling back into the dream, then you just look at your hand again. This helps to strengthen the connection to the waking self. In my first lucid dream, I had to look at my hand at least 10 times, it was just an instinctual thing and I only realized after I woke up that I was "grounding" myself each time I felt like I was slipping back into the dream.

However, if you feel yourself waking up, this seems to be a harder one (for myself) to counteract. But my hunch is that you find an element of the dream that is interesting an focus upon it in order to strengthen the connection to the dream self. The problem is, if you fall too far on one side or the other then you can't turn back... you will either lose the lucidity or wake up, so it is definitely like a balancing act.

If one can maintain the balance and "solidify" this fusion of selves, it is a state that is absolutely indistinguishable from physical reality. In one dream I stood on a highway median. There were cars on either side of me, people, noises, smells, it was incredible that this was not real. Then I flew up into the air and looked down upon the scene, it was still perfectly real!

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:12 pm
by barracuda
I've tried it a few times, also using Casteneda's technique of looking at your hands. I think it's the act of external volition within the circumstance of the dream itself which causes the change to lucidity. It helped me to make a note to myself on a sheet of paper with the very simple instruction, "Look at your hands" on the bed near my head or under the pillow. I have no idea why that worked, but the reminder seemed to kick in at some point.

I've never really been able to maintain the balance you speak of, Brandon. Each time I realise I'm in a dream ("oh, right - I'm suppose to look at my hands now..."), the painted sham scenery of the dream-play tears itself open, and the shock of what's happening awakens me, startled. The first time it happened, the sky above me in the dream ripped in two, and all the objects and buildings and people were swept away on either side of the fissure, but I never saw what was on the other side of that curtain.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:58 pm
by Luposapien
I've had several instances of lucid dreaming, some which only lasted for a few seconds before my conscious mind kick-started my body and woke me up, but a few which lasted for several minutes. I don't think I've ever had one that lasted more than a 1/4 hour. I've never found a specific technique that reliably works to bring them on for me, but I've noticed that they tend to happen more frequently at times that I've been reading/thinking about lucid dreaming, which I'm guessing is just a way of psychologically priming myself (so a preemptive thank you to BrandonB for bringing it up if this thread kicks them back into gear for me!).

I can't say that I've ever done anything more profound with my lucid dreams than play telekenetic games (it's fun to move things with your mind!), or practice my levitation skills. I did have one, though, that freaked me out a bit. I was in a house by the ocean, and walked out into the water. I looked down, and could see the stars reflecting in the water, and began raising myself out of the water. At this point, though I was still fairly lucid, I lost the trick of controlling what I was doing, began to rise further up in the air at an alarming rate, and soon found myself floating in the cold void of space, with a sense of having been completely disconnected from the earth. With this I lost all sense of lucidity, proceded to enter standard nightmare territory, and had a sort of mini panic attack before waking up.

This is the only "bad" lucid dream I've ever had, by the way. Overall, the lucid dreams I've had have been some of the best I can remember, and the level of detail and recall from those dreams is far beyond what I've experienced with my dreams in general. I think the introduction of the conscious mind helps to stabalize the landscape and storyline in comparison to a normal dream, though things like text or numbers are still awfully hard to pin down, especially when being displayed on an electronic device such as a computer or cell phone screen.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:25 pm
by BrandonD
Some other interesting things I've found, which might help other explorers out there:

Just as there is a spectrum of lucidity, there is also a spectrum of control over the dream world. It is not, as many assume, once you become lucid you are immediately in control of absolutely everything in your environment. As the control over the environment grows, the realism decreases, it becomes more and more like a daydream or just imagination. Right at the balancing point, it is to all your awareness totally real and yet you have some sort of control over the world as well.

For example, when I had just learned this technique I was asking some people online to give me tasks so that I could try things and get back to them with what I had done. Someone suggested reading something in the dream state, that perhaps this would be a message directly from the "other side" to myself. I honestly have no idea how I was able to carry this mission over to my dream state, as I was unable to even remember my NAME, but a few days later I found myself in a lucid dream and I immediately thought to read something.

I found that I was unable to simply conjure up a book or something in my hand, I had to be clever and work around some sort of built-in limitation. So I willed the idea that I would walk up to the top of a hill, and from that hill I would see something to read. I walked up the hill, and at the top of the hill there was a little fortune like the kind in fortune cookies. I was able to read it, it said my name and prescribed me with certain foods that I needed to eat, but I was only able to take part of the message back into the waking world.

My intuition is that the limitations within the dream world are tied in with the waking self, our waking identity is composed of things that we are and are not, things that we can and cannot do. The waking identity is partially present, and so we are still partially restricted by some of these identity restrictions we identify with ourselves.

The dream self is pretty much all-powerful, which is why the few times that my lucid dreams have become frightening I instinctually completely release lucidity to the dream self, which can immediately escape or change the situation.

One other interesting thing that I've found is that the "gates" mentioned in Castaneda are true. But they are not what they seem to be, calling them "gates" makes them sound very grand and formal, he also calls them natural restrictions which fits my experience a lot better. They are some sort of natural restrictions along the way that one must overcome in some way in order to keep exploring the lucid state.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:14 pm
by Pele'sDaughter
Not that I've really tried, but I've only managed to be an observer in a dream. That happened after I'd addressed my inner self and the "source" and requested to learn some things. The dream had several parts but what I recall best was like a scene from The Paper Chase. There was a large amphitheater sort of room, and I was watching from a closet with the door cracked as someone that I could see from the back and that I knew was me was in an animated conversation with an older gentleman. During the various parts of the dream I knew what I was being taught was the absolute truth and explained everything, but I was not able to hold onto it after waking. There was a week or two of these intense dreams to the point I had to ask they stop. Even though I remembered so little, I could tell I'd received a sort of "upgrade" from my former state. My thinking became much clearer and no longer circular (round and round without drawing a conclusion), and I could understand some concepts I'd previously had trouble with. My intuitive abilities seemed sharper and more focused as well.

BrandonD, you've inspired me to try again. I would love to have another chance in order to remember the astonishing information I was given. Don't know why I haven't just asked to have the experience since that worked before.

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:42 pm
by justdrew

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:13 am
by The Consul
That's a cool movie for sure where you put away the pop corn and the bong, well, maybe the first time, and dig it in different ways especially if you kinda nod off while your watching it. But I don't know, maybe one could try the Ben Franklin trick where you hold a nine pound cannon ball in your hand while sitting in a chair...then boom when you nod off, quick write down your dreams, do it long enough they find you in another county having taken the neighbor's bananna bike with sparklers in the handles, all the way to another county where the difference between sleep and waking is less relevant, though downstairs neighbors might turn on you...then of course there is always writing yourself to sleep where you try to keep writing while you empty your mind and let in the undertow like the time you had the wheezing from the onset asthma and that sound in your chest wass that of a weak baby crying and you were hiding in the coats in the corner of the gym at the dance where everyone threw their coats and you were sure someone had a baby and hid it there and you went digging for it but instead found only Play It As It Lays with this wooden cover and a rusty hinge binding no baby no baby half awake what is that sound in my chest still writing letting go wondering how is it that that shadow seems to be casting the tree and the wind is like a breath this slow thing ever being pronounced never being said the baby below the book whining how did you get here did you believe all of their lies or just pretend as an excuse landing in the water instantly forgetting everything else in that instant coming up to surgeons wearing rings on their plastic gloves with tiny baby heads as he sticks an instrument in your side, the nurse said with a smile painted on her mask, you know, that's right it is the Jesus side, and the Dr. says intercranial my ass this stupid bastard insists fish have feelings peddling in the wind with it like you are the smallest part of an unknowable word with the wind as the wind reacing the ear like light the eye the constant speed of meaning every flower a revolution a dried up forgotten memory of a kiss singing about guns and losing the branches the veins in her eye the baby crying again oh fuck it i'll go ahead and take the prednazone now...

Re: Lucid Dreaming

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:04 am
by MacCruiskeen
This is a really interesting topic and I've been wanting to say something about it, but I can't formulate what I want to say. I found a way to escape nightmares quickly when I was a kid, but I can barely describe it. That's the nature of the beast, maybe.

But one thing that strikes me about dreams is that everything in them is equally important, and in fact very important, always, regardless of how "mad" or "silly" that particular dream may be in retrospect. And in retrospect all I have is fragments, anyway; ashes of the dream, you could say. Why is that? Why do they vanish so quickly? Does that have something to do with age? Or does it mean that we have no culture of dreaming, i.e. that no one's encouraged to develop the habit of remembering dreams? (Maybe most of life is habit. Addiction is habit. Work is habit. Culture, any culture, is habit.)

Just some random notes about my own experiences (but I'd be curious to know how many people share them):

- When I was a child, I often dreamt about food - especially strawberries, which I loved, but to which I was allergic. But as soon as I tried to taste that food (whatever it was, and it wasn't just strawberries), I woke up immediately. Experiencing the sense of taste was apparently impermissible in a dream. Why should that be? Can the mind not cope with it? Can the mouth not cope with it? Exactly what's going on there?

- If I start laughing in a dream, even if I'm fully "in it", then I always wake up very quickly, usually actually laughing. And those are always good dreams in retrospect, not nightmares. I feel refreshed after them, even if I can barely remember the content five seconds after waking, however much I try.

- Grief has wakened me instantly as well, as soon as I felt it.

- Trying to describe a significant dream is like trying to describe your life, or the face or body of somebody you love, or the taste of a strawberry (or whatever). Words just won't do it.

I don't want to throw this thread off-topic, but I'm wondering how much this vague but intense feeling of significance has to do with the absence of a conscious mind. It's weird, also, that that this feeling of intense significance goes hand-in-hand with the inability to laugh or to grieve or to taste food.

Can anyone dream lucidly on a regular basis without killing the dreams?

What would be the long-term effects of only dreaming lucidly?