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Dreaming and lucid dreaming

Category: Actions

Type

Involuntary and voluntary

Introduction and description

During sleep the time when we dream is during REM sleep. There are two types of dreaming – both of which I will be covering here.

  • Ordinary dreaming – in which one only remembers the dream [if at all] once you have woken up
  • Lucid dreaming – in which you become ‘conscious’ in a dream and are thus able to both direct and remember the entire dream.

 The term ‘lucid dream’ is a relatively new one, other names for lucid dreaming include ‘conscious dream’ and Dream yoga.  The technique is not confined to Europe and the USA.  In Tibet  - where it is known as Dream Yoga  - the technique goes back far farther than any western technique.  It is also a technique used by numerous societies worldwide – Native Americans, Australian aborigines, numerous African cultures and so on.

A person who has a lucid dream is asleep. They are not in a trance condition, they have generally passed from a waking state into unconsciousness in the normal sleep cycle, and have entered – usually later on in the night – into a dream state.  But what makes lucid dreaming special is that by various methods, within the dream they are able to recognise that they are dreaming and thus from then on they are able to ‘direct’ events to a certain extent.

There is a thin dividing line between lucid dreaming and the effects of total Relaxation, but strictly speaking they are different. During total Relaxation you maintain conscious control throughout, and drift into the state, whilst with lucid dreaming you gain conscious control within a dream after you have slept  - often for some time.

Background

One of the strangest aspects about dreaming is that nobody calls them spiritual experiences. 

We access a world which at the time of the dream is often totally outside our normal experience.  Scenes flash by like a strange surreal film, we seem often to be accessing things of which we have no experience whatsoever, we may awake still convinced we are there.  But nobody says ‘aaah’ this must be a Hallucination or is a Vision or some communication with Intelligences!  They say …. ‘I had a really odd dream last night’….

Because dreams happen to everyone and usually every night - though we may not awake - we consider them ‘normal’.  A rethink here is necessary.  I actually consider this activity one of the most important on the whole site.

Method

First you obviously need to get lots of sleep for this to work.  If you don’t, your body won’t repair itself, your Memory won’t be defragged and managed and you will never have access to the spiritual world.  The order in which tasks are undertaken depends on the need, thus if your head is spinning from all the Perceptions it has gathered during the day, the night will be spent managing Memory.  If you have a sick tired poorly body then the time will be spent repairing it.

 

It is only when the Memory is defragged and managed and the body is repaired that the Composer will start to give us access to the spiritual world, so you need a lot of sleep to get a spiritual experience. 

Although you may wake early on in the night, the chances are you will be watching Memory management tasks.  Most significant experiences occur right at the end of the sleep cycle [which is why it is often a good idea to practise Relaxation techniques in the morning rather than the evening].

The Dreaming process

No method here!  It just happens.  But there are specific steps to follow if you want to Lucid dream.  I have added an extra section you can go to to get an explanation of how this works, see Lucid Dreaming.

Recording the dream

One way of ensuring the dream is not lost is to ensure we always have paper, pen or pencil handy by the bed or wherever we may be sleeping.  A torch is also useful [particularly if you are married or have a partner!]. 

If you choose to record the dream you must do it at the moment you are awoken and it must be recorded exactly as it occurred with no analysis of the dream until later. 

It has to be direct transcription only. 

This is because if our logical mind starts to intervene in the process of recording it has a tendency to distort the dream sequence and thus make a nonsense of the content.

 Some helpful advice can be found in observations 001996 Mrs Arnold Foster and 002007 - Professor Daniel Levitin.

Recognising the type of dream

It is essential to realise that much of the dreaming that takes place during Learning will be meaningless to us – a jumble of images, impressions and data. Remember that some of the dreaming is you watching your Memory being reorganised, which is why I tend to classify it as not that ‘useful’ – it is a form of spiritual experience I suppose, but it is hardly eddifying.

It is why any form of analysis of dreams of any sort is fraught with dangers as the dream might be wholly unrelated to any form of underlying problems or meaningful messages.  This is why the psychoanalysis of dreams is also somewhat risky.  Sigmund Freud probably did more than most people to promote dream interpretation, postulating that ‘dreams were the symbolic expression of frustrated desires’.  In some cases they might be, but on the other hand they may simply be a record of what we have experienced as data is reclassified and reordered.

You will not know when you wake or become lucid whether you were undergoing a period of Learning or a full spiritual experience.  Occasionally when we ‘thump’ back there is just the hint in this that we have been Out of body, but where the dream was presented as a Vision we simply won’t know. To differentiate a ‘Learning’ dream, where we are simply a party to the Learning process, and a full Vision it helps to understand something of the Learning process. Learning during sleep follows the following distinct steps. 

The verification process uses Perceptions, but it may also look for outside help – Inspiration – so later dreams may incorporate ‘external’ parts of the spiritual world, which makes them a bit more exciting.

Interpreting the dream

Any dream which is not a Learning dream may be either a dream ‘Vision’ or a dream ‘Out of body’ experience. 

The dream will always be symbolic – it will be packaged up into a story which has symbolic meaning. Nothing in spiritual experience is literal.

To interpret the dream you may find the explanations I have given on this website for Symbols useful.  The Composer may use Universal symbols [which I have described], or culture specific symbols [which I have very partially described] or symbols only you will understand. Thus interpretation may depend entirely on how you understand the symbol.

Freud was NOT CORRECT when he said that dreams are convoluted. They are actually very straightforward as long as you understand the symbolism. This is our own Higher spirit helping us – why should it make things difficult for us?  

Dreams are taken extremely seriously by cultures based on hunter gatherer and shamanic societies.  The dreams, if remembered, are interpreted in an identical way to the Visions of the shaman.  A person may not be gifted with the ability to have waking Vision, but he or she has the ability to dream, so everyone can have a sort of Vision in reality and the symbolism is regarded by these societies as the same in all cases. 

The Iroquois used to have a rather fun way of interpreting and classifying dreams  ….

Iroquois – Dream events
From Native American Wisdom [Sacred texts]
After having a dream, let someone else guess what it was.  Then have everyone act it out together.  Have participants run around the centre of the village, acting out their dreams and demanding others guess and satisfy them.

Separating the ‘wheat from the chaff’

 There are four ways of identifying a really significant dream. They tend to 

  • occur in brilliant colour
  • come just before the dawn
  • be presented as a full ‘story’ or ‘lesson’
  • and may be repeated during the night or over several nights.

Recurring dreams -  A dream that recurs over and over again is often the way the Composer uses to help resolve a problem which cannot be resolved easily during the waking state – hence our expression that we need to ‘sleep on’ a problem.

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa – Zulu Shaman [Dreams, Prophecies and Mysteries]
When you find yourself confronted by a problem on which your very existence may depend, sometimes you can go to sleep and in the morning there is the answer to your problem.  Where was it hiding all this time?  How does it happen that a man who has never seen a certain thing can find himself building that very thing guided by no more than a dream?

Stories – Many of the dreams that appear to relate a coherent story with a series of set scenes as opposed to sets of random scenes appear to relate to areas where the Composer is attempting to give help. 

Late dreams - the dreams that occur later in the night often have extreme significance.

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa – Zulu Shaman [Dreams, Prophecies and Mysteries]
One thing our people know is that dreams with a really serious message behind them have a very strange characteristic; they are almost always in brilliant colour and they come just before the dawn is about to break.  Also dreams that occur two or three times in the night are dreams that have something behind them.

So, once the mind has done its reorganising and defragging and learning and storing and indexing, you may move on to dreams that are both symbolic and significant – lessons or ‘greater truths’.

How it works

It may be helpful here to read the more generic description of How spiritual experience works.

What is the difference functionally between an ordinary dream and a lucid dream?  If we look at the Model of the Mind, we see that when we are sleeping, Nervous sensations, and sensations from the 5 senses  are subjugated.  The 5 senses and Nervous system are never totally subdued because from a survival point of view they have to be ready to act on any sudden ‘Threat’, but on the whole they are not as active as in everyday life. 

The Objectives [desires and obligations]  have been squashed and forgotten and because there are very few Perceptions from the 5 senses there are no Threats or Opportunities to tend to.

The Autonomic system obviously still continues, but only in ‘tick-over’ mode.   This is why we may wake up suddenly in the middle of the night desperate to go to the toilet.  The Will has had a message. 

The Perception process is active and still receiving messages from both the Autonomic system and messages from the Composer.  But when we are asleep [or in a coma] very few external Perceptions get through to the Will except some extremely basic sensory Perceptions, which serve to ensure we are protected from danger.  If we smell smoke, for example, we should wake up.  If the alarm goes off and we hear it, then that Perception gets through and we wake up.  So in sleep the Will is not totally deprived of sensory data, but in a coma it often is.

A coma could thus be thought of as a much deeper ‘sleep’ in which the Will is being deprived of practically all external Perception. 

The following table may be helpful in showing the effects . 

Level of dream

 Extent of perceptions

Trance [vision hallucination]

Light awareness of composer input

Full awareness of any external stimulus

Light and lucid dreams

 

Light awareness of composer input

Medium awareness of any external stimulus

Dream

 

Medium awareness of composer input

Medium awareness of any external stimulus

Deep dream

 

Medium awareness of composer input

Minor awareness of any external stimulus

Light coma

 

Greater awareness of composer input

Practically no awareness of any external stimulus

Deep coma

 

Full awareness of composer input

No awareness of any external stimulus

The Reasoning function is totally subdued.  But there may be considerable Learning in which the Perceptions are used to update Memory.   This is clearly a background task and one of which we are never consciously aware, but it does mean that some dreams are simply glimpses into the Learning process itself.

Now for the difference between a lucid dream and an ordinary dream.

In an ordinary dream the Personality or ego has been entirely squashed.  As consciousness resides with the Personality, if it goes we lose consciousness and the Composer takes over completely.  But in a lucid dream the Personality suddenly ‘wakes up’,  becomes conscious and is able to witness what the Composer is doing – it participates in the dream constructed by the Composer or may simply witness the Learning process and be utterly bemused by what is happening!

In some lucid dreaming, people actually meet their Higher spirit [shown to them as a constructed image] and together they go on adventures – quite wonderful.  And as such what they are actually undergoing is Ecstasy – see Types of Spiritual experience.

Advantages

  • In a true dream no one, especially yourself, can accuse you of inventing it – whatever is in the dream is definitely not invented by your conscious self, thus this is true spiritual experience
  • Benign
  • Needs no practise or special equipment or the ingestion of dubious substances
  • Safe
  • Free
  • Everyone does this, so anyone can experience it
  • Most of us are able to sleep for around 7 to 8 hours, so it is potentially a long time through which we can make the most of this experience
  • Dreaming itself is a natural process that we experience at least once every day or night

Disadvantages

  • Ordinary dreams can ‘escape’.  We may be so bleary eyed when we wake that we simply don’t remember them however important they are
  • We may not wake or become conscious at all during a dream that is highly significant.  There is a school of thought that says that this does not matter.  A significant dream will be there in our Perceptions and will be dealt with by our Learning systems either when we are next asleep or even whilst we are awake, but as a ‘background task’ of which we are unaware.  But, of course, we don’t get the satisfaction of conscious experience – the sheer wonder of the often truly surreal nature of the images and sounds composed for us.  To put it crudely, we miss out on the ‘entertainment ‘ value.
  • Learning how to lucid dream is exceptionally difficult and remains elusive and impossible for the vast majority

References and further reading

In general the main books that I found the most helpful are the ones from which I have quoted most often, the following  provides references that may prove useful for those wishing to delve deeper into the subject 

  • Lucid dreams – One of the first books on lucid dreams to recognize their scientific potential was Celia Green's 1968 study Lucid Dreams.  I have drawn extensively from this excellent book in order to write this section.  This book is very good with numerous example observations and a well focussed description of the different ways people have managed to lucid dream 
  • Le Reve - Yves Delage (13 May 1854 – 7 October 1920) was a French zoologist known for his work into invertebrate physiology and anatomy. He also discovered the function of the semicircular canals in the inner ear.  His book Le Reve [Les Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1919] was a psychological, literary and philosophical study into dreams of all sorts including lucid dreams 
  • Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self  -  Robert Waggoner.  The best, in my view, of all the ‘how to’ books.  Again written by a practitioner of many years and described in a clear and very easy to understand way.  It has the advantage over the other books in that he pulls together some of the techniques from other books that have worked for him and other practitioners.  I recommend this book if you want to go into this subject deeper as it has more details on manoevering, experimenting, learning from the dream, communicating with figures in the dream to help unravel the symbolism and so on. 
  • A Record of Out of the Body ExperiencesOliver Fox – The text can be quite confusing at times as Fox mixes out of body experiences he achieved by using total Relaxation and self hypnosis techniques whilst awake, with a small number of examples of lucid dreaming, so that you don’t know which techniques and characteristics apply to which method.  But the book has the real advantage in that it was written by someone who could actually do both, so we have the description of a genuine practitioner 
  • Studies in Dreams - Mrs H. O. Arnold Forster –  a most enjoyable book which covers dreams in a generic way written in an approachable style and from experience.  It is available as a reprint from a number of book publishers and can also be obtained free on the Internet 
  • Master of Lucid Dreams: In the Heart of Asia a Russian Psychiatrist Learns How to Heal the Spirits of Trauma  -  Olga Kharitidi (Paperback - 1 Aug 2003) 
  • The Art of DreamingCarlos Castaneda – entertaining, alarming, possibly partly fictional, it does nevertheless have some rather interesting ideas that are worth using.  Waggoner picked up some of the techniques he uses from Castaneda 
  • Inception [DVD] [2010]  - Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor), Ellen Page (Actor), Christopher Nolan (Director) | Rated: Suitable for 12 years and over | Format: DVD.  Fiction of course, but about lucid dreaming and if Castaneda is believed, it is about the ultimate talent in lucid dreaming to be able to enter another person’s dream and create dreams in which others can participate – create your own Reality.  In most factual accounts, the composer sets up all the scenes and the person has very little real control over the scene or what happens next, in general the person can manoevre and manipulate objects and ask questions – all things designed to help us learn.  But in most factual accounts, the person has not melded with the composer – become their Higher Spirit – transferred consciousness to the Composer.  In a way this film is about those who can.
  • Jeff Iliff - TED talk One more reason to get a good night's sleep - The brain uses a quarter of the body's entire energy supply, yet only accounts for about two percent of the body's mass. So how does this unique organ receive and, perhaps more importantly, rid itself of toxins? New research suggests it has to do with sleep

Observations

I have provided a mixture here of both lucid dreams and ordinary dreams

Related observations