How often do you dream? Do you find that you are able to recall your dreams easily at night, or do you have some trouble remembering what you are doing during your sleep? What about daydreaming? Do you find that you are sometimes lost in thought, that you find yourself doing something one moment and then seemingly several moments later you are asking yourself, “How did I end up here?” In this posting, I’ll be taking a look at a topic that has received some study and discussion recently, but has been a topic of discussion for quite some time, just in varying forms. That topic, for today, is Lucid Dreaming.

The mind is an incredible tool, but we all know that. Just thinking about the number of things that your body does naturally is staggering. And you have had no input in any of these things that your body just seems to know how to do. But what if there are methods that allow our conscious selves to be able to interact with the subconscious to pursue a variety of goals? Dreaming is a segment of time that doesn’t seem to get much credit. We go to sleep, we wake up and carry on with our day flowing from one day to the next, week after week, and so on. However, think about the amount of time that you do end up sleeping during the week. The average amount of sleep that research has said we should be obtaining each night is around 7 to 8 hours. That’s 7 to 8 hours of time where, seemingly, nothing is happening. We’re just asleep, right? And multiply that by 7 nights a week, 4 weeks in a month, 12 months in a year, and you can quickly see that time adds up very fast.

Anyone that has had vivid dreams can tell you, though, that sleeping opens the door to dreaming and taking the steps through that door presents a world that most seem to write off or not even remember after they wake up, but unbeknownst to them, can provide so much more to them.

“But, what is so important about dreams anyway? They’re not real. The bills I have on my table, the kids I need to take care of, the homework that needs to get done, the trash that needs to be taken out, all those things are real. I can’t waste time on dreaming/sleeping when there are real world items to do.”

That is absolutely true. There is no substitute for the work involved with taking care of any of the points mentioned. You’re not going to develop telekinesis in dreaming and be able to use it in real life. Just think about applying that if it were true! The point of dreaming is that it can lead to several important points of personal progression, for example:

-Overcoming a fear, such as a fear of speaking in front of crowds, or maybe a fear of a particular animal like spiders or snakes.
-Accept and overcome recurring nightmares
-Practicing actions so that you are able to perform them in real life to be do it better in real life.
-Meeting with dream figures and talking with them that could reveal insight into ongoing issues or hints about how to solve problems.
-Exploring new places and seeing things that would only be visible in the imagination.

Dreaming is a way of opening your own mind and experiencing something that can make you a more fulfilled you. That is why endeavoring to not only to make time to rest in order to have dreams but to also record those dreams can turn out to be very useful.

So, how does one start? Well, unfortunately, research into dreaming, I believe, has shown that it is a very personal process. What works for one person will not work necessarily for another. People respond differently to sights, sounds, touch, and others are more able to use their mind to visualize or project while some cannot or have a difficult time. I don’t think there is going to be a one size fits all for dreaming, recalling dreams, or even a method that can be deemed reliable. It is going to be up to the individual to take it upon themselves to not just dedicate time but to find what works for them and stick with it. Instead of seeing it as work or a frustrating climb, change your point of view to one that sees this endeavor as fun, something to explore and try, and if you fail, just try again.

There are several key components that are especially handy that can aid you in becoming a master dreamer:

A) A dream notebook – Many say that this is the first essential element you need to obtain and keep up on, and for good reason. Remember the amount of time you sleep, and think about how much of that time draws a blank in your memories. A dream notebook will allow you to start recalling more dreams, more often. When you start recalling more dreams, it may start to show recurring patterns, and these patterns you can recognize in the dream, allowing you to “wake up,” so to speak, in the dream itself (Lucid Dreaming).

B) Apps or schedulers on phones for reminders – When going throughout your day, it is helpful to be reminded of your effort to be a little more aware or to even “reality check.” Reality checking is the process when you take moment and really question about the state of reality around you. If you can think back to dreams that you have had previously, why didn’t you recognize the dream for what it was? For whatever reason, when we dream our brain does not activate the more conscious part so even when we are “aware” during dreams, we simply accept the situation as it comes, even though skydiving into a pool of whipped cream wouldn’t exactly count as normal. Just taking those few moments though can reaffirm your practice and keep your mind on the task of dreaming.

C) Meditation – While this is a topic that can be discussed greatly in an of itself, meditation is a method that has been used by monks, aesthetics, and many everyday people that allows your mind to become more aware of itself and its state of being. Meditation focuses on the aspect of quieting the mind to the point where you can simply be. Meditation is very similar to the relaxed state we fall into while sleeping, and expert practitioners are able to go that extra step further to actually be aware during moments of dream-like events. I would strongly recommend you looking into meditation as a stand-alone action as it has many health benefits which have been documented, but I would also caution that, while meditation is a great helper, it can also lead to frustration as progress is difficult to measure.

Now that we have some methods to develop a practice of recalling our intention to dream and meditation to develop a practice of getting to a state similar to dreaming, what can we do with dreams themselves? Most simply enjoy the dreams they have (hopefully, they’re not nightmares). Again, dreams hold the opportunity to experience events that can only be thought of in the imagination. However, as a dream practice progresses, you can begin attempting Lucid Dreaming. Think about all those places and things happening in a dream, only now think that you are aware during the dream and are able to control the contents and events in that dream. The possibilities are endless at that point leading many people down many different routes of what they would like to achieve in their dream state. That is possible in a lucid dream. Admittedly, it is a difficult process because not only are you trying to dream, but you are also looking to become aware during the dream, then you need to be experienced in trying to take control of the dream, and so on. How difficult it can seem when you don’t even remember what you dream about! However difficult it does seem, I believe that it is a process that is worthy of pursuing, and one that yield so much joy and achievement when you finally succeed.

To conclude this writing, there are several books and articles that can be very helpful in starting or even refreshing yourself with information. The first is the kind of handbook for a ‘how-to’ to start your journey in dreaming written by Dr. Stephen Laberge called Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. Dr. Laberge is a researcher who has been working with lucid dreaming since 1980 when he began studying it for his PhD at Stanford. The second is written by Robert Waggoner named Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. Mr. Waggoner is another researcher in this field and his book contains many amazing accounts of dreams that hold many different uses. Finally, a couple articles that you may find worth reading are from The Atlantic and Scientific American.

I hope that you have enjoyed this writing and will consider looking into this even further. It is an interesting topic that holds many benefits, albeit it may require some effort to not only get started, but to also continue in practicing.

By Matt Buynak Jr. (5/15/14)

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