Very simply put, a lucid dream is a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming. So long as you remain conscious of this fact you remain lucid (‘lucid’ is synonomous with ‘aware’ or ‘clarity’.) Lucidity is a sense or more a ‘knowing’ of your participation in dream reality, brought about by the realization that you’re dreaming.

The degree of your lucidity will vary between lucid dreams. You may be dimly aware that this is a dream, you may be consciously participating in a ‘normal dream’, you may have partial recognition and control, or you may be fully aware and awake inside your own dream world. This last is what most lucid dreamers aim for.

You’re likely to experience each of these in stages as you learn lucid dreaming, and each experience is a kind of breakthrough into greater awareness. As you increase this dreaming awareness, the more fully lucid dreams happen more regularly. For this reason lucid dreaming does get easier every time, just as with any practice you can get good at.

Lucid Dreaming implies a certain degree of dream control, though this also develops over time. Mostly because it takes a while for it to sink into your conscious awareness in a usable way that you can do anything, that you actually are control. But once you ‘get’ that, the possibilities are limitless!

It might seem a little strange to consider that you have more than one identity at first, but when we look at identity we realize it’s not a fixed thing anyway. Are you the same person you were yesterday? What about five years ago? As we see, identity changes over time. When we make the transition from waking to dreaming, we also transit from our waking self to our dreaming self so that we can operate proficiently in dreaming reality.

To ‘get’ this, let’s use an analogy. If you hold both hands out wide, one hand is your waking self and the other hand is your dreaming self. If you turn your head and shift your focus from one hand to the other and back, is either one ‘less you’ or ‘less real’? Of course not. Both exist simultaneously and are equally valid. So when we switch between our waking and dreaming selves, we are just changing focus. We may or may not remember we have another ‘hand’, another identity while we’re busy using the other one! And in the same way, your waking and dreaming selves are both still ‘you’.

One of the many benefits of lucid dreaming is that by training our lucidity, we are opening channels between our waking self and dreaming self identities, blending them in a way that will enrich the experience of both. We are integrating into a more whole being. We bring more of the creativity and knowing of our dreaming abilities into waking life, and the sharpness of conscious focus, intent and reflection into the dream world. And in the process, we get to explore lots of new ideas and have a whole heap of fun!

What are currently recognized as dreaming periods are the REM (rapid eye movement) portions of sleep. What is generally not known however is that we dream and have other experiences at deeper levels of the psyche that aren’t usually fully consciously remembered. Some of these are formless or imageless interactions. The information and experiences we have on these levels is translated into dream imagery at levels closer to our waking consciousness, and this is what is recognized as REM dreaming.

In other words, we still dream in non-REM periods, but these dreams are trickier to remember directly the deeper we go, because there the information we receive is usually too vast for our conscious minds to contain. So we translate it in symbolic form through the image-laden medium of REM dreams. And yet, as we stretch our dreaming attention and conscious capacity, we are more likely to remember more information from these levels, which is more akin to a direct knowing.

The confusion that REM periods and dreaming periods are exactly synonymous is one that has come about through the scientific study of dreaming from outside observation. But by recognizing that REM is associated with the scanning of dream imagery, it is easier to see that those non-REM periods of sleep are not necessarily ones of ‘unconsciousness’ but quite the opposite, they are periods of superconscious activity that escape our conscious focus, imageless ‘dreams’ of a magnitude that is mind-blowing to glimpse!

A while ago I reviewed the Ultimate Astral Experience Course here.

This is just a heads up for my readers that you can now get the course for $47 instead of $87. Noice! It’s a bargain at that price, and a worthy read for anyone considering lucid dreaming or astral projection as a pastime or practice…

Do yourself a massive favour and check it out!

A few years ago I had the experience of dreaming in Zen! For those unfamiliar with Zen stories, they are often short but insightful tales about experiences that have helped people realize the truth… (I recommend Zen Flesh Zen Bones by Alan Watts, a great collection of Zen stories.)

But I was fortunate enough to bring this one back from the dream world! I saw it from the eyes of the characters and third person simultaneously, but here is my attempt at a written version… Enjoy!

…A travelling zen monk was passing through a city one day, when he was approached by one of the locals seeking his help. There had been a number of deaths in the city by poisoning recently, and the man knew of the particular shopkeeper responsible for supplying it. He was, however, too afraid to approach the authorities for fear he might be next. The monk assured the man that he would look into it, asks directions to the shop and proceeds to it.

Upon entering the shop, he approaches the counter and politely says “I require one dose of your finest poison thankyou.” The shopkeeper is visibly surprised at such a request from a monk, but is not in the business of asking questions, and after all, this could be a disguised assassin who it would not be wise to refuse. He recovers his composure, bends down under the counter and shortly produces a small vial for examination.

The monk studies the vial, and satisfactorily pronounces, “Yes, that should suffice for everyone.” The shopkeeper is again taken aback, and says quite seriously, “Sir, I do not think you understand. As you asked, this dose is for one person. It is not sufficient for more.” The monk smiles and replies, “No, it will certainly suffice. For you see, I intend to take this myself tonight… and tomorrow, everyone else will be dead.”

At which, the shopkeeper is enlightened, and never sells poison again…

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. 🙂

It should really be emphasized that there is quite a difference between the realism of normal dreams and lucid dreams. Many people assume that because their normal dreams are often vague, dim, cryptic, even unpleasant, or otherwise just ‘unreal’ seeming, that lucid dreams are equally as ‘unreal’. This is definitely the wrong conclusion to jump to, and yet how many people dismiss dreaming practices as a result on the basis they are ‘just dreams’?

Fully lucid dreams are as real as waking life. We must simply understand it is a different reality, a different dimension of experience. Imagine if you went through waking life being drugged and were half-asleep like a zombie all the time, would you call your life ‘unreal’? If you stopped being drugged, you’d exclaim how real it is but you just didn’t know it! Can you see the parallel? The point is that no one can call dreaming reality ‘unreal’ until they’ve experienced it for themselves in an aware state.

Consider, all our senses, emotions, thoughts, feelings and responses in a dream are as though the dream were ‘actually’ happening. It is! Only upon later (poor) reflection we may call an experience ‘just a dream’. It’s not less real, but it is a more dynamic and fluid reality. And, when we become lucid, we usually find the acuteness and sensational aspects of the experience increase many times over, similar or beyond peak alertness while awake. Dreams are real, and we find this out directly by becoming aware in them.

“Some dream events are more vivid than waking ones. It is only when the personality passes out of the dream experience that it may seem unreal in retrospect.” – Seth, Seth, Dreams and Projections in Consciousness p.219