LUCID DREAMING How to have lucid dreams and pictures with evaluations of lucid dream induction devices
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A lucid dream is a dream where the dreamer recognizes that he or she is dreaming. This phenomenon has been scientifically verified in the sleep laboratory at Stanford University. For a detailed treatment on this exciting subject I refer you to Dr. Steven LaBerge's web site at: http://www.lucidity.com. Another good source of information is Dr. LaBerge's book, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.
This web page presents my own experiments with lucid dreaming and some thoughts about it.
The first thing I'd like to say is that lucid dreaming is real and you can learn to do it. That is, using the techniques in Dr. LaBerge's book, you can learn to become aware that you are dreaming while you are having a dream. You can simply enjoy the thrill of being aware that you are experiencing a world totally constructed in your mind and let it carry you along or you can take control. You can fly, change scenes, summon long-lost friends and, in short, do absolutely anything you want.
I had my first lucid dream within one week of applying the techniques in Dr. LaBerge's book and have had a total of eighteen lucid dreams since then. This does not mark me as a proficient. Still, I believe some of what I've learned may be valuable.
The most important topic to discuss relates to "self-fulfilling prophesies." This is where your beliefs influence your ability to preform a certain task. Consider doing a set of ten pull-ups. Imagine you have enough strength to do them but for some reason you don't believe you can. Now, you reach up to the bar, grab hold, and start pumping them out. Will you do all ten? Maybe. Maybe not. Your belief that you are too weak may be strong enough to make you give up before finishing. On the other hand, in spite of this belief you do have enough muscle to do ten pull ups. The physical reality that you do have enough strength may carry you far enough to complete the set. What this example demonstrates is that in the real world, while our belief's can create a prophesy that those beliefs can make come true, there are physical facts that aren't influenced by our beliefs and these facts can overcome the prophesy. This is not the case in our dreams.
In dreams, there is no physical universe to carry us along. The entire world is a construction in our minds. As such, there are no physical facts to mediate the strengths of our beliefs. In the dream world, what you believe is much more likely to influence your ability to do something.
What all this is leading up to is that if you hear that lucid dreaming is easy or hard and you believe it, it is very likely that this belief will profoundly effect your ability to have lucid dreams and if you do what you will be able to do in them. So, my first suggestion is for you to be skeptical of anything you hear about not being able to do this-or-that as it regards lucid dreaming. You are unique. You may be the greatest lucid dreamer in the world... or the worst. Only you will be able to determine this. If a friend has a hard time doing it, tough. That doesn't mean a thing. If some expert says the average person can only expect to have one lucid dream a month, don't believe him. You aren't the average person. Don't let statements like this get in the way of what you can do.
My own lucid dreams have allowed me to fly, make an old friend appear and talk to that person, feel textures, hear sounds and smell odors in the dreamscape. These sensations were as real as any in the physical world. Lucid dreaming is a unique experience well worth a reasonable amount of effort to achieve.
My own development followed three stages: First, I got Dr. LaBerge's book and used the mental exercises to have eight lucid dreams. Second, having convinced myself the phenomenon was real I invested in several tools available from the Lucidity web site (no, I have no connection with this site other than I bought some of their products) and used them to have eight more lucid dreams. Third, as great as lucid dreaming is, for me it takes a lot of work to have a lucid dream. (This may not be the case for you!) Consequently, I got tired of it and moved on to other activities. However, although I've stopped actively pursuing them, I have had a few more spontaneous lucid dreams. It would seem that once you are aware that they are possible, that awareness alone can be enough to trigger a lucid dream.
In case you were wondering, the devices I got were 1) a Novadreamer (a mask you wear at night that flashes red lights in your eyes when you are dreaming to help you recognize that you are dreaming. This device worked very well for me.) 2) a little electronic reminder that buzzes at me from time to time to remind me to do certain setting-up exercises (this device would be most useful for people too busy to remember to do the exercises on their own), and 3) a recorder that played back a message during a dream (it was triggered by the Novadreamer) to help you remember what you wanted to do during the dream. (This last device functioned properly but always woke me up. Such may not be the case for everyone.) There's a picture and more descriptions of these devices at the bottem of this page.
Now for some specific experiences.
I had a problem staying lucid at first. The excitement of becoming lucid woke me up on several occasions. This problem took care of itself as familiarity with the lucid experience allowed me to stay calm enough so I wouldn't wake up.
The few times I tried flying I discovered I couldn't just levitate myself, I needed to flap my arms. This sounds silly but it worked. I think this needing some action to cause an effect is the result of my being an engineer.
I tried reading printed material a couple of times in dreams and found that the spelling and message changed constantly. This is consistent with what most people experience.
I tend to be a little more stupid in dreams than in real life. So do the people inhabiting my dreams. I believe this is caused by an overload condition the mind experiences in dreams. In the real world, the world itself provides all the sensory information that makes up the world. In dreams, all this information has to be created by our minds at the same time we are trying to think. Doing both tasks at once strains the computing power of our minds. It's rather like an old 25 megahertz computer trying to run Windows 98. It may be able to do it but only very slowly.
In my youth I had a close friend who I parted company with in less than friendly conditions. I have no idea where this person is and yet I found I wanted to see them again. I tried summoning them in a lucid dream. It took me three tries. The first time I attempted to make them appear by magic. All that happened was that I woke up. The second time I tried making their image appear in a picture frame. The frame appeared but the picture was flat gray. The third time I imagined they were on the far side of a door then I walked through the door... there they were. It seems that this was a case similar to a self-fulfilling prophesy. I was anxious about seeing this person and that translated into a reluctance, and hence inability, to summon them. Persistence paid off in the end. If you have something you want to do in a lucid dream and can't, don't give up. It'll come eventually.
The primary technique for having a lucid dream is to develop the habit of continually asking yourself if you are dreaming now. This habit carries over into the dream state and once you ask yourself if you are dreaming you will probably recognize that you are. Another powerful technique is to repeat to yourself as you fall asleep that the next time you are dreaming you will recognize you are dreaming. Motivation and visualization plays a major role in this so really want to have a lucid dream and imagine becoming lucid. Finally, all of this will be meaningless if you don't remember your lucid dream. Get in the habit of keeping a dream journal where you write down all of your dreams as soon as you wake up, even if it's in the middle of the night. This exercise will greatly increase your ability to remember dreams.
This picture shows four lucid dream induction devices. In the upper left hand corner is a Nova Dreamer mask, which is worn at night. During REM sleep your eyes move around. Sensors in the right side of the mask detect this and trigger the mask to emit any one of several signals consisting of flashing red lights. The Nova Dreamer cost $200. It originally came with one elastic strap that went around the head. It kept coming off so I added a chin strap to prevent this. Once I found a signal strong enough to intrude into a dream yet not wake me up, this device helped me recognize I was dreaming eight times out of forty times using it. It's important to use daytime reality checks geared toward recognizing the flashing signal for what it is or you'll just keep on dreaming without being aware of what the signal means.
In the upper right corner is a tape that comes with the mask. You listen to it as you wear the mask during a daytime exercise and at the appropriate moment in the tape, the mask flashes. It's an excellent way to practice recognizing the flashes as a lucidity cue.
The lower left corner shows the PEST, a small device you carry during the day to remind you to do checks for lucidity. It can emit flashes, buzzes, or vibrations. It cost $120.
Finally, in the lower right corner is the Dream Speaker. You electronically record a 17 second message into the black box which plays back the message (something like "you are dreaming") when you enter REM sleep. It's triggered via a cable that plugs into the Nova Dreamer. The white disk is an under-the-pillow speaker. I never had success with this device. Messages that were loud enough to penetrate a dream were loud enough to wake me up. However, I am a light sleeper so others may have better luck with it. Another problem was that the RAM that stores the messages is set up in an endless loop. You can't control what part of the signal you're recording over. That makes it difficult to edit a message you've already recorded. These two pieces cost $150.
The discussion I've given here barely scratches the surface of an interesting and rewarding subject. I encourage anyone interested in lucid dreaming to get Dr. LaBerge's book or at least check out his web site. I think you'll find it worth you time.
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