What is Lucid Dreaming

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

What is Lucid Dreaming?

by Neil Brown

Tibetan Monks have used dream-yoga to control dreams for more than a thousand years, but the term "lucid dreaming" was not coined until 1913 by Frederik van Eeden.

British parapsychologist Keith Hearne produced the first scientific evidence of lucid dreaming in 1975 by observing predetermined eye movements from a volunteer who could control their dreams. But it was Stephen LaBerge who replicated the experiment, to whom the accolades are often attributed.

Typically, we are unaware that we are dreaming and react to events as if they were real. In a lucid dream, we are aware of the fact we are dreaming and have some semblance of control over oneself, characters, narrative, and surroundings.

This awareness is not a binary switch - aware or unaware; it is a spectrum comprised of different levels.

Level 0

This level is the customary state for the majority of people. We are ignorant of the fact that we are asleep and respond to events as if they were real. When unusual events transpire - dream signs - we do not conclude that we are dreaming.

When our tyrannical boss breathes fire, we do not surmise that we are dreaming. We might react with fear and perhaps an apology for some ineptitude. We might intuit that our boss's pyrotechnical ability is strange but rationalise it as being a symptom of some underlying disease.

Level 1

We are aware that we are no longer in the real-world but struggle to do things that would contravene the laws of physics. The thin strand of awareness in this stage is easily lost, and we soon lapse back into believing we are in the physical world.

When our boss breathes fire, we become aware that we are dreaming. We decide to fly away, but a strong wind prevents us from controlling our trajector

Level 2

We understand that everything we perceive is a construct of our mind and can manipulate any element of the dreamscape at will. We recognise dream characters as being part of ourselves. We can conjure objects and people and can construct or destroy a scene at will. We are a god of our dream world.

Level 3

We transcend the sensory aspects of the dreamscape and achieve a higher level of consciousness. Through this transcendence, we transform ourself.

The Two Methods of Having a Lucid Dream

DILD - A Dream Induced Lucid Dream. We go to sleep and dream unconsciously (state 0) until something triggers us to realise that we are dreaming. This method is the most common and most taught. This method requires a lot of day time dedication to reality checks, and the results can be sporadic.

WILD - A Wake Induced Lucid Dream. We transcend the boundary between waking and sleep without losing conscious awareness. Daytime obligations are not required, only the intention to retain lucidity when drifting off to sleep. Lucid dreamers employing this method often report a higher level of clarity and increased dream stability.

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