Lucid Dreaming: Control Your Dreams!

22919x 26. 07. 2019 1 Reader
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Have you ever started to dream and suddenly realized that you are only in a dream? Were you able to gain control of the story going on in your dream? If your answer to these questions is "yes", you have experienced what is called lucid or vigilant dreaming. Lucid dreaming has recently been popularized in films such as Inception. The film discusses people who are able to control not only their own dreams, but also the dreams of others.

Lucid dreaming - the ability to control your dreams

It may seem that such attempts to manipulate dreams are not equally possible in our real lives, but they are not. In fact, certain people are able to experience what is called lucid dreaming, and some of them are able to control part of their night dreams.

Edgar Allan Poe once wrote in his frequently cited poem:

"All we see or judge is just a dream within a dream."

Whether or not he is right is a matter of philosophical discussion, but the boundary between dream and reality is something that apparently explores lucid dreaming. Let us now look at what is considered a lucid dream, whether this experience can have any practical implications, and how one can become a “lucid dreamer”.

What is lucid dreaming?

When dreams seem to us, we are usually not aware that this is not a fact. As one character from Inception says quite aptly: “Dreams seem real to us when we're in them right now, aren't we? Only when we wake up do we realize that something strange has happened. ”However, some of us are able to enter into a dream and be fully aware that it is actually only dreaming.

"Lucid dreaming is a state where we realize we are dreaming while we sleep." experts explain.

The first mention of lucid dreaming can be found already in the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in his treatise on dreams. It describes the state of self-awareness during dreaming. “When we perceive that we are asleep and that we are in a state of perception again, as it happens at bedtime, dreaming thoughts come, but something in us tells us that Koriskos only appears to us in but the real Koriskos is not present, ”he wrote.

Lucid Dreaming

It is not clear how many people are actually able to experience lucid dreaming, although some studies have tried to obtain this information; but it seems that this phenomenon can be quite common. For example, in Brazil, a study was conducted with 3 427 participants with an average age of 25 years. Its results showed that at least 77% of respondents experienced lucid dreaming at least once.

When does this happen and what is it like?

Like most dreams, lucid dreaming occurs during the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase. For some people, it comes spontaneously. Others, however, train lucid dreaming or improve it.

An experienced lucid dreamer said to Medical News Today:

“Lucid dreaming comes to me when I wake up, or when I wake up briefly and fall asleep again. Today I am able to bring about conscious dreaming whenever I want, just keep on sleeping - half awakening. ”

How much one can influence one's conscious dream varies greatly. Some individuals may wake up as soon as they realize that they are dreaming. Others may be able to influence their own behavior in a dream. One conscious dreaming practitioner revealed to MNT that she was able to master the storyline of her dream to create a pleasant experience for herself.

“I can usually control what is happening in my dream. So if I don't like what's going on there, I can change it, ”she explained.

What is its use?

Lucid dreaming is certainly an attractive and fascinating idea - having the ability to explore your own inner world with the full awareness that we are in a state of dreaming has a magical flavor. But can it also be of practical use?

Conscious dreaming can help people get rid of their nightmares or fears

Dr. Denholm Aspy of the University of Adelaide in Australia is a researcher who specializes in lucid dreaming. As explained to MNT, such an experience can be truly therapeutic. According to Aspy, the main positive is that by lucid dreams we can eliminate nightmares - especially the recurring ones that can negatively affect the quality of life. Learning to consciously dream to be able to stop our nightmares, prevent them from returning, is called "lucid dream therapy."

Dr. Denholm Aspy

“If you can help someone who has nightmares get into their dreams consciously, you will give that individual control of the nightmare. Let's say you are attacked during a nightmare. You can try to talk to the attackers. You may ask why they appear in your dreams. Or, "what do you need to resolve this conflict?"

“Some people,” he added, “acquire special abilities or some kind of super power and can fight the attacker. You can also try to escape, fly away, or even practice conscious awakening techniques from a nightmare. ”

Lucid dreaming also has the potential to help people with phobias, such as fear of flying or animal phobias, including arachnophobia (fear of spiders). "If a person has a special phobia, then through conscious dreaming, they get an interesting opportunity for exposure therapy, gradually trying to expose themselves to what they are afraid of, and gradually trying to get rid of their fears," Aspy.

This is possible because dreams can provide a very realistic environment without feeling dangerous. During lucid dreaming, people know that this is not a reality, so they can safely explore their concerns without feeling really threatened.

Lucid dreaming is a kind of creative activity

Lucid dreaming also attracts as an unusual type of entertainment - a similarly immersive experience as virtual reality. A person with sufficient conscious sleep experience may be able to "undertake adventure" and communicate with people and things differently than they can in real life. One of his trainees told MNT that it was like telling stories that made her feel happier when she woke up:

“To me, lucid dreaming is a kind of creative activity - I explore what my dreams tell me a bit, as opposed to what my conscious mind wants. It's very interesting and it usually brings me feelings of happiness. I usually wake up quite happy. I practice lucid dreaming for fun, ”she said. “I enjoy it, just as someone enjoys telling stories, writing or playing a video game. You will delve into a story that will somehow pull you into the action. ”

Techniques of conscious dreaming

There are many techniques that people who want to achieve lucid dreaming - or who want to improve in it - use. The text moves in dreams, so you realize that you are dreaming by trying to read it again. Study conducted last year by Dr. Aspym and his colleagues tested the effectiveness of three common techniques.

1) The first is known as "reality testing". It is about finding out whether you are dreaming both in real life and during a dream. For example, a person may ask himself during the day while trying to push his hand through a solid wall, "Do I dream right now?". This technique works with intent. In real life, the wall remains solid and impenetrable, while in a dream her hand easily passes through.

2) Another "reality test" is the repeated reading of a line of text. For example, if we read the text on the poster, it stays the same, even if we read it more than once. In the dream, however, the text is constantly shifting. Conducting these experiments repeatedly throughout the day will help you remember trying them in a dreaming state, allowing the dreaming person to realize their dream.

3) Another technique is “waking back to bed”, and requires setting the alarm and waking the sleeping individual after about 5 or 6 sleep hours. Once he wakes up, he should try to stay awake for a while before returning to bed. It is believed that with this technique, the sleeper will immediately immerse himself in the REM phase of sleep, during which conscious dreams are most likely to appear.

Lucid dreaming can also be achieved through “mnemonic induction”. This technique requires a lot of effort and practice. Before you fall asleep, repeat: “When I wake up from a dream, I remember it.” In this way, you can “program” for conscious dreaming.

Dreamy diaries and meditations

It also seems that those who achieve lucid dreaming more easily have little trouble remembering their dreams often.

Dr. Denholm Aspy explains:

"As for lucid dreaming - the main predictor of whether or not you have lucid dreams is how well you remember your normal dreams."

Therefore, some people who are interested in knowing their dreams consciously can help keep a dream diary. In it, they record the course of their dreams every night. The woman with lucid dreams we spoke to confirmed this idea. She noticed that for a long time she liked to write down her dreams right after she woke up.

Another technique to promote lucid dreaming may be meditation or awareness because they 'train' people to become more aware of themselves and their surroundings in general.

“Many people are interested in meditation and awareness as a way to achieve lucid dreaming. The idea behind this is that if you are more conscious during the day, you are more likely to realize that you are dreaming while you sleep. ”

Concerns and risks

One of the worries people have in lucid dreaming is that they can get stuck in a dream and have trouble waking up. Dr. Aspy, however, MNT explained that this there is no risk we should be afraid of; a person is normally able to sleep and dream during each night only for a certain period of time, so it is unlikely that someone will be “stuck” in their sleep.

“The main reason is that there is an average length of sleep and dream, no matter what you do during them. There are several ways to extend this time a little, but not much, ”he told us. Another concern is that conscious dreaming requires so much concentration and effort that the sleeping man does not get enough rest. Dr. But Aspy assured us again that he had never worked with people who would complain of increased fatigue for lucid dreaming.

At the same time, while he was talking to us, he warned those attempting lucid dreaming:

"Generally, I do not recommend trying lucid dreaming if you have certain mental problems."

One example is schizophrenia, where people may lack the ability to distinguish between some of their thoughts or fears and actual events. In some cases, lucid dreaming may actually worsen this condition, noted Dr. Aspy.

Lucid dreaming can be a fascinating, helpful, or enjoyable experience, but before you try to experiment with your dreams, you should still consider why you are interested in it and what you expect from it.

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