Lucid Dreaming Essay, Research Paper
Roughly one-third of our lives are spent sleeping, and a significant amount
of this time is spent dreaming. You have the ability to be conscious, awake, and
well.. lucid, in your dreams.
Lucid dreaming is dreaming while being aware of being in a dream state.
The term ?lucid,? coined by Frederik Van Eeden in 1913, is used in the sense of
mental clarity. The basic definition of lucid dreaming is nothing more than
becoming aware that you are dreaming, of which many people have experience
However, among these people, the amount of control and clarity varies
greatly. A low-level lucid dream is one where you know you?re dreaming, but
that?s it. In experiencing a higher level lucid dream, you have the power to
control, influence, and react to various events and contents of the dream.
For those who achieve the state of lucidity, the benefits are potentially
enormous. It gives you the chance to experience adventures unsurpassed in
everyday life. You can, literally, do anything you wish; the only limits you are
bound to are set by your imagination. Lucid dreaming gives us the ability to tap
the power of the unconscious, and subconscious mind, giving us a valuable insight
into our daily lives. By learning to make the best of the worst situation
imaginable, you can overcame nightmares and fears in the waking world.
There are several techniques for inducing a lucid dream, and The Lucidity
Institute, Inc., founded in 1987 by lucid dreaming researcher Dr. Stephen LaBerge
to support research on lucid dreams and to help people learn to use them to
enhance their lives, has created special devices to assist people in achieving lucid
dreams. Inducing lucid dreams takes concentration, effort, and time, which some
people may not be wanting to sacrifice to learn what they perceive as a ?pointless?
skill. The key is perseverance, and you will be successful.
Some people have been able to have lucid dreams on the very first night of
attempting to do so, however, it has taken others up to a few weeks. This varies
greatly from person to person, as people who remember their dreams with
greater ease tend to find it easier to have lucid dreams when compared to those
who remember only a few every month. However, all is not lost if you fall into the
latter category, as increasing dream recall is a fairly easy task to accomplish. One
of the best ways to advance your dream recall ability is to keep a journal of
dreams, and record them when you first awaken, doing so will train yourself to
remember dreams for more than a mere thirty seconds. (LaBerge)
Many people confronted with the chance to learn of lucid dreaming ask
themselves, ?Why would I want to lucid dream??. The most common use of lucid
dreams for those who have achieved the skill is for pure fun and adventure.
Unlike reality, you are not restricted by the laws of physics, or even the
government. There is no need to be afraid of social consequences, because they
are non-existent. You can fly, visit other worlds, other times, or even have sex with
the most desirable partner you can imagine. There are no limit to the possibilities,
except by your imagination.
Entertainment is not the only use of lucid dreaming. Because of the strong
link between the mind and body during dreams, there is evidence to suggest that
dreams can be used for mental and physical healing. (Ziesing)
?Does lucid dreaming interfere with the function of normal dreaming??
Lucid dreaming is normal dreaming. The body and mind are in the same
physiological state as in ?normal? REM sleep. Dreaming is the result of high
activity in the brain, but at the same time exists sleep paralysis, which stops us
from acting out our dreams, or sleepwalking, by paralyzing our muscles. Your
mind creates experiences based solely on your thoughts, fantasies, concerns, and
Having the knowledge that you are dreaming allows you, simply enough,
to direct the dream experience, like you direct your thoughts while awake. The
thinking of dreams being an unconscious act is a close-minded one. Your
conscious-self is always present in dreams, if it weren?t, you would not be able to
remember your dreams, as you can only remember events that have been
experienced consciously. Lucid dreaming adds nothing more than the awareness
of being in a dream state.
?If I am going to be conscious and awake in my dreams, won?t that leave
me tired when I awaken?? Some people claim that they find lucid dreaming
mentally tiring, but for the majority of people, lucid dreams are no more tiring
than non. Your mood, however, will reflect your actions within the dream.
(Ziesing) If you battled to the death with an archvillain, you will probably feel more
tired upon awakening. If you achieved some personal goal or aspiration in a
dream, you will probably carry over the feeling of great joy and fulfillment into
reality upon awakening.
While learning to become lucid, you will most likely spend more time
waking up in the middle of the night to record dreams, and to practice induction
techniques. This may leave you feeling more tired and spent than usual, so you
should be sure to get enough sleep while learning lucid dreaming. Don?t force
yourself to learn it if you haven?t the free time to do so, wait until you are less
stressed, and have the time to devote.
The two most effective methods of inducing a lucid dream are reality testing
and mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD). For these techniques to succeed,
you must have faith that they are going to work. Don?t force yourself, and try too
hard, this will only result in utter frustration. If you feel you are gaining nothing
from the technique, change or give up for a couple of weeks. (Ziesing) People
often start having a lucid dream after giving up, oddly enough.
Reality testing is the assurance, and constant question, of whether or not
what you?re experiencing is indeed reality. Several times a day, ask yourself, ?Am
I dreaming?? You may be quite surprised of the answer some day. (Van de
Castle) Another good test of reality is to carry a watch, or note, read it, look
away, and see if it?s the same when you look back.
Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) is a technique developed by
Dr. Stephen LaBerge, and is used by him to induce lucid dreams at will during his
Ph.D. study. The steps to lucid dreaming via MILD are to set your mind to awaken
from dreams and recall them as completely as possible. After you have recalled
it, concentrate single-mindedly on your intention to remember to recognize that
you?re dreaming. Say to yourself, ?Next time I?m dreaming, I want to remember
I?m dreaming.? Try to feel that you really mean it, and focus your thoughts on this
idea alone. At the same time, imagine you are back in another dream you had
recently, but this time you recognize it as being a dream. Repeat these until you
have your intention firmly set in your mind, and it is the last thing on your mind
before you fall asleep. (LaBerge)
A lucid dream induction device is another technique to achieving a lucid
state while dreaming. Developed through laboratory research at Stanford
University, the basis of these devices is to remind someone of their intentions while
dreaming. It has been observed that some sensory events are incorporated into
ongoing dreams on occasion, such as your clock radio, or neighbor?s lawn-mower
appearing disguised in your dream, rather than awakening you. For example, a
tape recording of a voice saying ?You?re dreaming? played while a person is in
REM sleep will on occasion come through and remind the person to become lucid.
The Lucidity Institute settled on using flashing lights as a lucidity cue, as they have
less tendency to awaken people, and were easily applied. The DreamLight and
NovaDreamer work by detecting the rapid eye movements of REM sleep, and
alerting the wearer with a light cue. There has been much discussion, but the tests
have consistently shown that these devices give a 73% higher success rate into
lucid dream induction. (LaBerge)
I see lucid dreaming as a playground for the imagination, and though I
only have one or two a week, it is the ultimate vacation for the mind. I can see no
ill side effects to lucid dreaming, at least, not until there is a %100 success rate to
lucid dreaming, as that?s when you may have people becoming severely
anti-social. I would suggest for anyone to give lucid dreaming a fair chance, they
won?t regret it.
1. The Lucidity Institute, Dr. Stephen LaBerge (President), 2555 Park Blvd., Suite 2, Palo
Alto, CA 94306-1919. Tel: 1-800 GO LUCID. WWW: http://www.lucidity.com/
2. Control Your Dreams, Jane Bosveld and Jayne Gackenbach, New York: Harper & Row,
3. Our Dreaming Mind, Robert L. Van de Castle, New York: Ballantine Books, 1994
4. Fabianweb, Fabian Ziesing, WWW: http://www.stud.uni-hannover.de/user/73853/