dream recall

Lucid Dreams can happen whenever regular dreams happen. When we sleep we go through a number of different cycle of consciousness, delving deep into our psyche and ‘resurfacing’ a number of times. There are typically around four or five major dream periods in a single night, approximately an hour and a half apart, but getting close together as the night progresses. Each period can contain multiple dreams, so there is plenty of opportunity to make the most of our dreams.

When we start training our dream recall, we can find ourselves becoming more conscious and even waking up in the periods in between cycles of sleep, where before we were unaware. This gives us an excellent opportunity to record dreams we would otherwise forget, furthering our dreaming memory, but not just that… It helps us to become lucid because we are becoming conscious at just the times which are most conducive to lucid dreaming!

Lucid dreams usually occur at around these times because we are far closer to our waking consciousness and able to activate our conscious mind more easily. Not only may we find ourselves becoming aware or fully lucid just prior to waking in these periods, they are also the times in which lucid dream induction can be the most effective. With practice you can re-enter the dream you just had consciously or instigate a new lucid dream through your intention, with little or no break in consciousness as you do so!

(question from George)

THC, the active ingredient of cannibus/marijuana, certainly has a definite affect on one’s dreaming. However, insomuch as THC itself affects different people in different ways, the effect of one’s dreaming will vary from individual to individual too. Some scientific studies have shown that REM periods are reduced or suppressed by THC, and though unfortunately these are quite old, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting this too. While some people may experience vivid dreams shortly after use, generally, most people (again, not all) who smoke or ingest pot find that they have more trouble remembering their dreams, or even a complete lack of dream recall.

One likely cause of this is that THC builds up in the Hippocampus area of the brain, which has been identified as relating to dream interpretation and short-term memory, resulting in less dreaming or less dreaming memory. How quickly this happens, whether with one-time or regular use, is probably different for everyone, though with abstinence, full capacity generally returns in about a week. Personally I don’t go near pot any more, not because I have anything against it, but because I enjoy my dreaming far more. So for some of us it may come to a choice between the two.

When it comes to lucid dreaming, obviously having an impairment of one’s dreaming memory is going to be a bit of a problem, since memory is one of the foundations of lucidity. But for those who want to both smoke marijuana and lucid dream, it may be a worth trying some other herbs to counteract this undesirable side effect… A herbal tea before bedtime of Mugwort (known to increase the vividness of dreams) and Ginko Biloba (known to improve memory) may prove beneficial. In fact, I would recommend trying this whether you smoke or not! These two common herbs will give a nice boost to your dreaming.

Hope this helps! If you want to read more details on studies of THC on REM, check this forum thread (not exactly light reading though.)

The degree of lucidity you have in a lucid dream can vary according to a number of different factors. We must always remember that lucidity is awareness and it is not something that is ‘on’ or ‘off’, it varies as much as your waking consciousness does and often more so.

First, what is the strength of your conscious focus? Are you brightly aware or dimly? Do you feel tired or groggy, or have you never been more awake in your life? Both of these can happen and anywhere in between in a lucid dream, and can affect your ability to make lucid decisions. The sharpness of your focus can be affected by your mental energy.

Second, is the dream stable? If you are having to spend your time and attention on stabilizing a lucid dream rather than doing anything, it can be quite distracting. That said, it is undoubtably a necessary distraction if you want to stay in the lucid dream! Training your dream stability also trains your lucidity as you stay focussed on the fact you’re dreaming while using stabilizing techniques.

Third, how present is your critical faculty? Do you accept things at face value, or do they engage your curiosity and attention? Are you aware of what is possible in a dream? Are you able to form logical or complex thoughts? It is all very well to be aware that you’re dreaming sometimes, but when you want to use it for more indepth applications, learning to awaken your critical faculty more can be important too.

Fourth, how is your memory? Can you remember who you are in waking life? How you got where you are in the dream? Perhaps even what other dreams you’ve had recently. If you consciously exercise your memory while in a lucid dream, this will help you increase later recall by opening memory channels to your waking memory from the ‘other side’.

Finally, what is your ability to take control of the dream itself? Can you do ‘anything’ or are there things you don’t believe you can do. These beliefs can affect your dreaming abilities and dream control. What, you can float but you can’t fly? How strange. You can lift that trashcan with your mind, but you can’t lift that building? Hmmm… Maybe you aren’t as lucid as you think then… Remind yourself it’s a dream and you can do anything!

Came across this one awhile ago… Wish I could remember where now. But it still cracks me up! And it makes the point so well too… how can we be taught to so flippantly ignore or devalue a huge portion of our inner experience? Should we continue to let the uninformed beliefs of society about dreaming influence the way in which we treat our private or public dreams? If that is considered ‘normal’, I’d rather be considered a raving lunatic! It seems a little backwards though, don’t you think..? Perhaps as this comic satirically suggests, the way in which people ‘usually’ treat dreams is just a little wacko.. At the very least, we might want to know a little more about what we’ve been experiencing in the period we know as ‘sleep’ before we write it off. Well, that’s what I think anyways. 🙂

The *MOST* important skill you need to have a Lucid Dream is Dream Recall. Why? Simple. Lucidity means awareness, and dream recall *directly* improves your dream awareness. So if you want a head start on having Lucid Dreams, the first thing you should do – and keep doing – is start remembering and writing down your dreams as soon as possible.

It’s not really about training to remember Lucid Dreams – honesty, most are pretty unforgettable! – it’s about using your memory to build a bridge between your waking and dreaming selves. You also aquaint yourself far better with the dream dimension, allowing yourself to more readily recognise when you’re dreaming.

Here are some great dream recall tips:
* get a dream diary and always keep it handy so you can use it whenever you need it (a small torch or book light is helpful too)
* always get enough sleep – mental tiredness will certainly not help your recall
* before sleeping, tell yourself “I will remember my dreams.” (This is very effective!) “I will write them down when I wake up.” And optionally “I will have vivid exciting dreams” (hence more memorable as well.)
* don’t move too much when you wake up, remember as much detail as you can about the dream you just had first
* give your dream a title or keywords
* once you’ve remembered as much as you can, write down the important elements as soon as you open your eyes, don’t wait even a minute
* elaborate on your notes later, as the writing process will trigger more detailed recall

After a few days of this, your recall will vastly improve. But don’t stop!!! It’s like muscle building. You don’t just want to exercise your memory, you want to start stretching it and build its capacity. See how many dreams you can remember in one night and try to best it. (My record is seven – two of which were lucid – no guesses why!)

Well, that’s Key Number One: *MEMORY*. Simple, but EXTREMELY important.