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Reply To: Exploring Lucid Dreaming


I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve added these titles to the thread Helpful Books on Dream, along with a fairly expensive two-volume collection of interdisciplinary research on the subject.

This is an endlessly fascinating subject (interest certainly ratcheted up after the 2010 release of the film Inception). As I noted in our exchange in The Conversation with a Thousand Faces forum, I haven’t consciously attempted to incubate lucid dreams, not wanting to subject my dreams to control by my waking, muscular ego (which I want to abbreviate M.E. – or “me”), though anyone serious about chronicling their dream lives has likely experienced lucid dreaming (which might be defined as being awake within a dream, aware that the dream is a dream).

But as you pointed out in your response,

One of my own most important lessons, back when I was following a strict lucid dream induction practice, was allowing ‘the dream to unfold on its own,’ as you so aptly put it. I think for many people new to lucid dreaming, as I was at that time, the will comes to the forefront of the lucid dreaming experience, experiencing that power and control is exhilarating, especially at the beginning. But you’re right – dreams contain messages, usually in the forms of images, symbols and story, and when we impress the will too deeply upon the dream, we run the risk of losing that message.”

Nor, from the reading I have done, when aware one is dreaming, though it may be possible to influence the dream, “willing” things to happen doesn’t always work: dream characters don’t always react to what we do or say the way we want them to (indeed, many seem to have their own motivations, back history, and even their own inner life!), nor, given the fluidity of dream, do circumstances necessarily remain static once we “will” them. That jives with my experience.

And then, even if “awake” within a dream, remaining lucid isn’t necessarily all that simple, often taking waking intention, discipline, and practice to learn how to maintain awareness when dreaming. Indeed, in my own experience, often the awareness that I am dreaming is a prelude to waking up; other times, I may be lucid for a space within a dream, but then something shifts, awareness slips, and I am back fully immersed in the dream state.

But then there have been dreams when I am lucid for an extended period; I don’t attempt to influence the way the dream unfolds when that happen, but I do pay special attention to my surroundings, and the feelings and sensations and interactions I experience within the play of the dream.

In my retro-hippie period (which I’ve never exactly outgrown), I focused attention and discipline on ingesting and learning from teacher plants and the visionary state – particularly recording and reviewing my experiences in my journals once I surfaced and returned to consciousness. I find much resonance between the texture of the psychedelic state and the dream state – including an awesome, fascinating hyperreality when lucid in each.

I am curious, andrewl – are there specific techniques you apply before falling asleep to foster lucidity within a dream? And once you are awake in the dream, is there anything you do to maintain that awareness for the duration of the dream?