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Lucid Dreaming

From 'Lucidity: Where Realities Merge, by Jill Gregory in DNJ 7.4 All dreams are Jill's unless stated otherwise.

One of the most sought after and highly prized levels of awareness within the dream state is known as lucid dreaming. In this case the dreamer is aware of dreaming while dreaming, thereby able to enter consciously into the dream reality, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned about lucidity; for example, levels and types, applications, and ways to encourage and maintain the lucid dream state. I'll begin by describing levels of awareness in the dream preceding actual dream lucidity. These dreams can indicate a movement toward increasing levels of lucidity.

Degrees of lucidity

Level 1: Hyperconscious dreams

The first of these levels I call the hyperconscious dream. This is a dream in which one thinks, reflects, reasons, recalls, carefully observes, questions or takes charge of the direction of the dream without ever questioning the state which one is experiencing.

I've been given charge of a special squirrel. According to my instructions I'm supposed to feed my friend Ellie to the squirrel. I don't have any problems with that in the beginning. But then I think that it would be a shame to kill my friend to feed the squirrel if the squirrel just took a few bites out of her. So I decide to feed another squirrel to the squirrel. I don't recall actually killing the other squirrel, but I think about it again and decide that the squirrel probably really wouldn't eat another squirrel either. (Bob Trowbridge)

Level 2: Pre-lucid dreams

The next level is the pre-lucid dream in which the dreamer is aware that what he is experiencing is not waking reality. However, rather than considering the possibility that it may be a dream, the dreamer lights upon other explanations; some of the more common being that he has died and is in the next world, he's crazy, he's in another time dimension, he's on another planet, in outer space, he's been drugged or has a fever.

Looking down we discover a small blue plant. When I reach down to touch it I feel the plant before my hand comes into contact with the leaves. This is a magical land filled with marvels, beauty and wishes come true. The plant lights up blueberries on the bushes while the branches and leaves remain normal. I see a young shepherdess carrying grapes from the fields. I wonder where we are. Maybe I am dead and in heaven, I think, unable to understand this experience.

Level 3: Partial lucidity

When the dreamer advances to partial lucidity, he actually wonders whether or not he may be dreaming. Depending upon his conclusions he may lapse back into non-lucidity (taking the dream to be physical plane existence) or move ahead into lucidity, knowing that he is dreaming.

On a window ledge I see the lower half of a blue and yellow plastic Easter egg. Perched inside is a yellow and orange plastic Humpty Dumpty man. He grins at me. I touch him and realize he is alive. I wonder if this is a dream since something made of plastic cannot be alive.

Level 4: Minimal lucidity

Once we reach the level of the lucid dream we can differentiate the degrees of lucidity accordingly. For example, weak or minimal lucidity is easily lost. The dreamer is unaware of the implications of the fact that he is in the dream world. Or the dreamer is unskilled in applying lucidity or in responding to the dream.

I am with friends swimming, diving, splashing and playing together in a warm river in Florida. One friend and I skate on the water with our bare feet. I wonder how it is that the water can support us. I see the area beneath my feet and I see yellow soft mud and feel sucking sensations on the soles of my feet. I realize I am dreaming and it suddenly seems less real. I say to myself I am only dreaming and am disappointed. I wake up unintentionally.

Level 5: Strong lucidity

Well established or strong lucidity is a dream in which lucidity is maintained with minimal effort, the dreamer is aware of the implications and is skilled or practiced in the ways to respond to the dream world.

I am running and moving through the air a few feet off the ground for a short distance and then landing, still running. There is a crowd watching me to whom I explain that I can fly, since this is a dream. I soar high in the sky, touch clouds and return to earth. I experiment with several variations in styles of flying. For example, flying backwards while standing, and directing my flight by choosing the distance of my visual focus. I am having so much fun flying I don't care about the crowds at all. I rhythmically skate backwards through the air, increasing my speed until I am zinging along without a care in the world. This freedom and grace of movement feels nourishing to me. I recall that in my physical life I have felt constricted recently and this flying is providing me with a needed balance. I awaken ecstatic.

Level 6: Maximal lucidity

Maximal lucidity is a dream which involves full utilization of the lucid dream state for optimal health and well being in any important area of life.

A friend of my friend is trying to help the peasant revolutionaries in Chile. I think to myself the man is a fool to involve himself in a dangerous cause. I see that five Chilean soldiers have surrounded our house, carrying machine guns. I tell my friend that she is a fool to put herself in danger when shes pregnant and has a family who need her in order to help this man help the revolutionaries. Suddenly I realize I'm dreaming since I would not ordinarily critcize someone for helping a friend in need. I ponder my self protective stance and realize it is connected to my own fear of death, a fear which has grown stronger through my commitments to my family.

I decide to let this dream continue to unfold to allow me the experience of dying. I'm ecstatic at the opportunity of experiencing my own death without fear. My friend and the others in the house are tortured and killed by the gunmen. The five gunmen surround me and stare at me as I lay sleeping on my blanket (now back on my deck at home where I'm actually sleeping). I am surprised to feel happy to see them, welcoming them like old friends. Silently they pick me up by my arms and legs carrying me to the right side of the deck. I ask myself what I feel and think. I am surprised to find that I am predominantly curious as to how they will kill me. I note that this event is a major life event. I experience myself as localized within this dream body and yet somehow detached. As they torture and kill me I realize that fearless death is based on detachment. I need to cultivate detachment in my life.

I wake up to record this special dream.

Different ways to experience lucidity

Within lucidity itself, not only are there degrees of lucidity but there are a number of different ways that we can experience being lucid. The two most commonly written about are the out-of-body experience (O.B.E.) and false waking states.

State 1: Out-of-body experiences

Since we don't really know where consciousness is located during dreaming, it's possible that all dreaming is O.B.E. However, as I am using it here I am referring only to those dreams in which we are aware of leaving our bodies and being for at least a brief period of time out of our bodies before returning to them. Much of the parapsychological literature describes these experiences. In my experience I have found that people tend to have mostly out-of-body experiences or mostly typical lucid dreams, sometimes using one experience to launch the other.

I am dreaming and suddenly become lucid. "Oh good," I think. "Now I can experiment with leaving my body like Oliver Fox." I whirl myself with a mighty whoosh up and then out through the top of my head. I float up to the ceiling corner thinking, "Wow, that felt great!" I put my hand through the wall. It seems that my arm, the wall and my hand dissolve into millions of particles. A strange sensation! I am bouncing against the ceiling feeling and looking like a round balloon. I look through the wall and see a beautiful English countryside with wild flowers and a stone fence. I want to pass through the wall but I feel fearful of the sensation. I decide to return to my body on the bed. I float back to my body and merge with it. I wake up feeling happy and proud of my accomplishment.

State 2: The false waking state

The false waking state involves the belief that one has either awakened or has stayed awake. If you subsequently discover that you are, in fact, asleep and dreaming, at that moment you become lucid.

I am resting on our bed at 7:55a.m. waiting for my husband to bring me breakfast. It seems to be taking a long time so I go to the kitchen. I find him vacuuming the living room carpet using only the hose and head and no cannister. I wonder why he's vacuuming at such an early hour. Then I see baby spit-up, food and bananas smeared on the carpet. "No wonder!" I think. "This floor has to be cleaned as soon as possible. He couldn't wait 'til he had finished making breakfast." I decide to help him by using the cannister and a second hose. I direct the suction toward melted chocolate bars on the carpet. All of the chocolate immediately enters the vacuum. How could this happen? It should require a brush, rags and soapy water. Then I realize I must be dreaming. Yes, that would explain the vacuum working without the cannister and our carpet being such a mess. I drop the vacuum, walk into the kitchen, deciding I need a cup of coffee to really wake up.

At that moment my husband awakens me in bed, handing me a plate of applesauce pancakes and a glass of milk. I feel disoriented. It is now 8:06 a.m., 11 minutes later.

State 3: The hypnogogic state

The hypnogogic state is a highly hallucinatory state that occurs when we first fall asleep. These experiences may or may not be remembered. They may or may not be lucid. They are brief, highly condensed, seemingly random visual or auditory experiences. The hypnogogic lucid dream is one in which a hypnogogic image is expanded to unfold into a full dream experience. Awareness is maintained from the hypnogogic state into the dream.

Holding the intent to "go to the mountains" throughout the hypnogogic state, I picture a wavy line against a grey-blue background. This could be the silhouette of mountain tops. When I sense that I'm suspended above a mountain, I stick my foot out into the dream to tap it on the sharp edge of the pinnacle. Then I let go with a feeling of sheer exhilaration. Swooping down I fly, then up, and level off at the horizon. Ahead of me is a bright, setting sun, its rays visible because of the juxtaposition against a huge dark mountain. "How wonderful" I exclaim about the feeling and this Yin/Yang view. (Linda Magallón)

Lucidity reports from Jayne Gackenbach & Stephen LaBerge

Jayne Gackenbach and Stephen LaBerge present their views and research on lucid dreaming. Gackenbach has produced and gathered normative data using experimental methods to answer three important questions about lucidity. LaBerge believes the primary determinant of dream experience is expectation.

Jayne Gackenbach's Report On The Work Of Paul Tholey

Jayne Gackenbach reports on the work of Paul Tholey, a German sports psychologist who has been working with lucid dreams since 1969. Tholey has developed a program of psychotherapy within the lucid dream and has trained an Olympic equestrian from South America using lucidity.

Differences Between Types of Lucid Dreams

Jayne Gackenbach reports on the differences between types of lucid dreams. She describes the situational determinants of lucid dreams and the techniques used to determine lucidity.

Some Implications of Current Research into Lucid Dreaming

Stephen LaBerge discusses the implications of current research into lucid dreaming, including the potential for psychological and psychosomatic integration, and the exploration of higher and deeper levels of consciousness.

Lucid Dreams as Metachoric Experiences

Celia Green defines metachoric experiences as 'experiences in which the subject's environment is completely replaced by a hallucinatory one'. She discusses lucid dreams, out-of-the-body experiences and apparitions, and the philosophical implications of these experiences.