Rainy Day, Dream Away

(Ok, not rainy, but I’m always up for a Hendrix reference.)

When I first heard of lucid dreaming my response was, “Yeah.  And?”  I thought everyone dreamed that way.  Apparently not.

I always have.  I don’t remember all of my dreams, but all the ones I’ve ever remembered have been the lucid kind.  This is handy, of course, when they’re scary or creepy or disturbing in some other way.  It’s great to be able to acknowledge that I’m having a dream while the scary, creepy things are happening.  Hmm … Does being a lucid dreamer also negate the possibility of being a sleepwalker?  Or a sleep talker?

The two-seconds’ worth of research that I’ve done on this topic tells me that being able to manipulate my dreams can be a good thing for lots of reasons, including the point I’ve already made: helping to deal with nightmares.  I mostly fall into the camp of people who, even though they know they are dreaming and know they can control what happens in the dream, choose to observe.  I talk to myself during my dreams, but I don’t usually try to make anything happen, or change whatever is happening.  In the dream I had the other night, for example, I could have removed Michael from my apartment, from the dream altogether.  Or maybe turned him into someone else.  Or had the cops come and take him away.  But I didn’t.  I did try reasoning with dream me so that I wouldn’t be so afraid, but that’s a pretty mild intervention.  I could have had dream me pick up a big stick and smack Michael in the head with it.

So I’m not much of a dream meddler.  Like Chance the gardener, I like to watch.  I like to offer up my running commentary, but I don’t tend to get involved. 

Now I’m curious to do more than two seconds of research.  I’d like to know if my particular lucid dreaming behavior has a name.  And, too, I’d like to test out the manipulation stuff and see how that affects my dreaming.  Perfect: a homework assignment I can sleep through!

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7 thoughts on “Rainy Day, Dream Away

  1. molly

    the Tibetan monks put a very high value on this ability. They say they have access to wise men from the past who tell them things in their lucid dreams. They alsosay that they can pick up a dream where it left off. I’m with you, that a dream is such a gift from a part of my mind that I don’t normally have access to. I would never mess with it, even if I could. I like to observe where it is going.

    1. Oh, I love the idea that my dreams could be messages from my wise ancestors. Yes, I really love that. I’ve heard about the ability to pick up where a dream left off. That has sort of happened to me, but only when I’ve only just barely come awake and then fallen immediately back to sleep.

  2. No KIDDING! I am beyond jealous, and there are a MILLION (see, now you’ve got me pounding the caps key) things you can do with it. If you want to read a whole book on the subject, the “bible” is Stephen LaBerge’s Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.

    (His seminal work, Lucid Dreaming, is also good, but EWLD is considered by most to be even better, more of a how-to.)

    His work isn’t about manipulating every aspect, but about exploring in ways that can be very positive and enjoyable. Or, as you do, you might never choose to alter anything, but just consciously watch the dream unfold.

    Then again, you could say, “I think I’ll be on the beach in Jamaica for just this one teensy dream,” and have an amazing experience.

    (Being able to remain lucid after a dream ends, between dreams, is considered to be akin to a very deep state of meditation, per Tibetan Buddhists, as molly mentioned.)

    1. I just put LaBerge’s book on hold at the library. I’m getting interested in this now. I really hadn’t thought about it as such an unusual thing, and now I really want to know more. The idea that I could choose to have a wonderful dream about being in JA certainly pleases me!

  3. By the way, sleepwalking and talking in one’s sleep actually happen in non-REM sleep, for the most part, oddly enough. So: you’re in REM sleep, most likely, when you’re dreaming, whether lucid or not, and you’re in “deep sleep” when you’re walking or talking your sleep and generally the twain do not meet.

    If everything is working properly, we’re actually paralyzed while we’re in REM sleep to prevent us from acting out our dreams.

    1. Oh yes, that makes sense. Did you hear Mike Verbiglia on This American Life talking about his experiences as a sleep walker? Pretty scary stuff. So glad I’m not lacking in the chemical (or whatever it is) that turns off my motor functions while I’m dreaming!

      1. I did hear a very funny/horrifying thing on public radio (and indeed it would have been on This American Life) in the past year about a guy who jumped out a window in his sleep–I wonder if that was Mike Verbiglia.

        There are however many thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in this country trying to learn some method of realizing they are dreaming when they’re dreaming (www.dreamviews.com is the home of many a zealot), and then once you start to get the hang of that, it’s a matter of learning methods of dream control. As with anything, some find it easy, some have a harder time, and everything in between.

        Here’s one method you could try to get to JA: Next time you know you’re dreaming, you could say, “I’m going to go into the next room and watch TV.” Since the laws of physics, logic, time and space are suspended in dreams, don’t be surprised if there is a TV in that room even if there isn’t one in real life.

        Then you can change the channels until you see the spot you want and “step into” the scene.

        There are many ways to achieve this, but this is one I’ve read about more than once.

        Then there is the topic of prolonging lucidity, but I’ll quit bending your blog’s ear for now, except to say that I haven’t experimented yet with going anywhere, but I have experimented with saying “I would like so-and-so to walk through that door” and it works like a charm.

        I am excited for you!

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