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Lucid Dreaming Introduction

On Lucid Dreaming

In order to understand lucid dreaming, we must first look at dreaming. What are dreams? Where do they come from? Why do we have dreams some nights and other nights do not? These questions will be answered throughout this lesson.

Dreams have been defined by many cultures, religions, philosophies, psychiatrists, and others. However, we don’t conclusively know what dreams are or where they come from. A theory I tend to agree with is that dreams are projections of the subconscious mind based on the prior day’s experiences. In this definition, the mind assimilates the prior day’s experiences, learning from the activities and reconciling emotions both expressed and suppressed.

We have multiple dreams every night. As we put our bodies to sleep, hypnogogic imagery begins. This imagery can influence our body to jerk around. Then, our breath becomes shallow as we enter into deep sleep and the repair process begins. As we start to come out of deep sleep, a sleep stage known as REM, or rapid eye movement, begins. In these REM stages, we dream. We do not have nights where we don’t dream. The weight then lies on whether we remember our dreams or not. We can aid ourselves to remember our dreams through simple tools.

The place we often remember our dreams is after four sleep cycles, or six hours (sleep cycles are 90 minutes). The fifth sleep cycle can hold many dreams inside it, projecting one dream for what seems like 20 minutes, then dissolving, then projecting another. You can have at least 12 dreams within this cycle! This gives another reason for the disjointedness dreams can bring. We may forget where one begins and the other ends so we "jump" to another scene. Three dreams suddenly become one.

Well then, how can we explain the randomness of people, places, and things within dreams? Some theorists such as Freud and Jung believed dreams are symbolic and can be interpreted. Dream interpretation is a spiritual practice by itself. We can become more mindful in our dreams by becoming more mindful in our waking lives. Can we do the opposite though, become more mindful in our waking life so we can be more mindful in our dreams? The answer is yes. And the tool we’ll use to do that in the next eight weeks is lucid dreaming.

To be able to lucid dream, we must first be able to remember our nightly dreams. We may have had several lucid dreams throughout our lifetime, but if we can’t remember them, we don’t know. A tool we’ll be using is a dream journal. Your dream journal will help you remember your nightly dreams by setting the intention the night before.

Every time you wake up and record a dream, you are telling your mind you want to remember your dreams. The mind is a moldable and able machine. It will go where you direct it. The important thing is giving it the correct cues so it may follow your guidance.

Once we can remember our dreams, we are setup to lucid dream. Lucid dreaming is the ability to become conscious you’re dreaming within your dream. If this definition is confusing, here’s an example: You’re in a room that seems like your childhood living room. Some things are different but it’s enough for you to accept it. Across from you sits your mom, a guy from work named Charles, and your grandmother. You realize that your grandmother is dead and this can’t be real life. You must be dreaming! Then you continue the dream in a wakeful state.

There is much to explore, do, and meet in a lucid dream. We’ll examine these throughout this course and learn from each other’s experiences. A group coming together to achieve a goal is a powerful thing.

Now, the question must be “Why lucid dream? What’s the point? What will it offer me in my life?” Good questions. Lucid dreaming is a way to experience freedom outside of your physical body. Yes, I said outside of your physical body. There are no strings attached while lucid dreaming. You can experience flying, walking through walls, conversation with a dead relative, merging with objects, and many other experiences. Know that the actions you take in dreams are not discounted. If we accept the theory that dreams are a part of your subconscious mind, then they come from a deeper part of you than your waking, conscious mind. The actions we take in the subconscious mind will influence the actions we take in waking life. Not to worry though. Experiment. Be curious. We make mistakes and "fail" all the time in our physical world. These supposed failures lead to huge successes for those willing to learn from their missteps and continue trying. The important part is to know your why for lucid dreaming. This will also help with producing the actual experience and is your "point" for lucid dreaming. It could be to experience freedom, it could be because you are curious, want to rid yourself of nightmares, want help creating and/or problem solving, want to experience a deeper part of yourself, want to do something with the eight hours you spend sleeping, want better relationships, want to develop a spiritual practice. These are all valid aspirations.

Lucid dreaming can offer you a way to peace. You can open new, creative ways to approach your vocation, heal your body from something ailing you, manifest what you want to build in your physical reality. Have fun and explore.

Daily Tasks

I’ve mentioned two practices above I want you to concentrate on for this week. The first is recording your dreams. If you do not have a dream journal that is separate from your regular writing tasks or journaling, go buy one. Buy one that resonates with your personality, one you know you’ll be happy to use and write in. Once you have your dream journal, you’ll put it to use. At the front of the notebook record the date. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in long hand or numerals. Underneath it write, "I will remember my dreams tonight". Write this three times in your journal and say it three times before going to bed (like Dorothy while clicking her slippers). Write and speak your intention three times. This statement gives direction to your subconscious mind that you want to remember your dreams. Again, in order to lucid dream, you must first remember your dreams.

When you wake up in the morning, immediately grab your journal (that is resting next to you on your nightstand or on the floor) and start writing. If you wait to write it until after you meditate or shower and get ready for work, you will lose either bits and pieces of it or the entire dream altogether. This sends the message to your subconscious mind that remembering your dreams is not important to you. This is not what we want.

As for interpreting your dreams, that’s a class and a practice all unto itself. Our main goal in this class will not be to interpret our dreams but to have a lucid dream. There are plenty of books and classes out there about dream interpretation. My belief on dream interpretation is there is not a one size fits all interpretation. If I choose to ride a bike rather than drive a car everywhere I go, a bike is going to mean something different to me than a car. If I was a zookeeper or lived in Africa, an elephant will mean something different to me than if I live in the U.S and only see elephants through going to the zoo or seeing them in a movie. There are people who interpret dreams in this class. Feel free to get their opinions on your dream if you’re interested after class or in small group discussions. We will be talking about dreams a lot.

The second practice is geared towards having a lucid dream. This practice is from Tibet. Throughout the day, stop everything you’re doing. Bring your hands close to your face and ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?" Look intently at your hands for several seconds, then look around you: smell the air, taste what’s in your mouth, feel the air against your skin, and listen to whatever sound you’re hearing (emphasize looking intently!). Then, bring your gaze back to your hands. Answer your original question. Do this at least ten times throughout your day. One day, you will ask yourself this question and immediately know you’re dreaming. The answer will be yes and it will be one of the most profound feelings and/or moments of your life.

You will have a lucid dream faster or slower depending on your desire for it to happen. How much you think about it during the day and tilt your attention towards it will have an effect on your conscious mind "waking up" in the dream. The excitement and joy that wells up inside you when you think about lucid dreaming is important. The more emotion we bring to what we want, the more likely it is to manifest in our lives.

Have fun with this practice. Be easy on yourself. Again, you may lucid dream tonight or it may have to wait until after these eight weeks to be experienced. Either way, know you are planting the seeds for it today, and throughout the time dedicated to this class. Happy dreaming.

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