Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lucid Dreaming

I've been a lucid dreamer for some years. Lucid dreaming is when you are dreaming and know you are dreaming, and may be able to control what you do in the dream. On the first occasion I did it, I hadn't heard the phrase Lucid Dreaming, and wouldn't have known that's what it was.

I remember how it happened vividly. In my dream I was at my mother's house, which is slightly unusual in that it has a long room with a staircase behind a door. I was walking up the staircase when I became aware that this was a dream, and I realized that I was dreaming in colour, which answered one of the questions I'd always had about whether I dreamed in colour.

I put out my hand and ran it over the carpet, which answered another question... I could feel the pile of the carpet beneath my hand, and when I put out my hand to the wood it felt cool and smooth - indistinguishable from real life. I've since been told that you can't feel pain in a dream, which is why pinching yourself works.

I turned around and went downstairs, still aware that I was dreaming, and was surprised to find a shop in my mother's living room. I was still fascinated with touching things and feeling the cold of glass, fabrics, the grain of wood, and realizing that I could see bright colours, and feel things just like waking life.

The next time I remember lucid dreaming, I had had a lot of broken nights, and I was trying to sleep in my daughter's bed. I'm not sure how long I had been asleep before I started to dream, but I found myself in a tower with a book open on a lectern in front of me and sun streaming through an open shutter. I looked at the book and was instantly aware that I was dreaming. I thought I could make any letter appear on the book and initially I succeeded, but then the effort woke me up.

Not long afterwards I started to read about Lucid Dreaming, and discovered that keeping a dream diary could help you both to remember your dreams but also to trigger Lucid Dreaming. I did find this to be true. I kept a dream diary for about three weeks before I had a lucid dream. This time, when I realized that I was dreaming, I had an experience I can only describe as being launched from a cannon... I felt as though my body was catapulted forwards, and I believe I may have had an out-of--body experience. I remember floating above my body and feeling a soft thing beneath me, soft and warm.

Around this time I had a lot of false awakenings: dreams where I would wake up and go to the bathroom, realize I was dreaming, wake up and go to the bathroom, realize I was still dreaming, wake up and stand up in my room, realize I was dreaming.... Sometimes I would have five or six false awakenings before finally waking up.

It was a few months later that I restarted my dream diary and tried a technique that I saw on a website: fixing on an object and deciding that if I saw it I would ask myself the question, am I dreaming? I decided on the moon, but in actual fact in the dream I didn't see the moon, but I did see moonlight, and it triggered me to ask if I was dreaming. As I could see a ploughed field outside my living room window, an unnaturally neat and tidy and almost drawn or painted ploughed field, it didn't take me long to decide I was indeed dreaming. Again I had a very strong impression of being pushed forward fast. I don't remember the rest of the dream, I think I woke myself up trying too hard.

Not long after this, I decided to ask myself the question when I saw a pencil in my dream and a couple of days later I did indeed see a pencil. I had the rapid movement forward, and stood up from the sofa where I had seen the pencil in my hand. I took the decision to visit a friend in Rotterdam, and found myself floating over the channel, aware of the swell of the sea beneath me as I travelled rapidly across the sea.

I arrived at a Chinese restaurant I didn't know, and saw people around but didn't know if they were real or dreamers. I started to search for the building my friend lived in but got frightened and woke up.

I have only had the wonderful vibrant colours that some people experience, once or twice, and I have had frightening experiences too... once I felt that someone or something was trying to pull me out of my body, and I found the bed vibrating very strongly, and that scared me. On another occasion I saw horrible faces around me and that scared me too. Maybe I am just a coward, but I didn't want to experience more and woke myself up. The good thing about lucid dreaming is that it is fairly easy to wake yourself - the trick is to remain asleep but lucid if you are enjoying yourself.

I think the experience of lucidity is much easier to gain if you keep a dream diary. I tend to do this for a few weeks and then forget or lose my pencil! Writing down what you have dreamed about as soon as you wake up and before you move or get up is the best way to do that. I find that if I move I tend to forget most of the details of the dream and only retain a general impression.

Certainly the technique of linking dreaming to common objects seems to work for me. And if you think you may be dreaming, always ask yourself the question. If you are dreaming, that alone can be enough to trigger lucidity.

1 comment:

Ian McCormick said...

I think I've experience this too, but I've not been as thorough as you in employing a methodology.

Sometime I feel that an entire novel like sequence is being composed in a liminal space. And it just keeps going on and on!