memory

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!

(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 *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.