PDA

View Full Version : Can You Really Direct Your "Lucid dreams"?


ralph124c
01-08-2011, 08:51 AM
Years ago, i read that it is possible for you (while asleep) to consciously direct your dreams..and be aware that you are in a dream state. This sounds wonderful to me-you could travel to exotic locations in your dreams, experience things, and have a good time.
I have never been able to do this, however.
My question: have any of you ever been able to direct your dreams?
I remember having a vivid dream, that seemed to go on for weeks-I was travelling around Europe-and having a wonderful time.
You could save a lot of money by being able to do this-have you done it?

mo50
01-08-2011, 09:28 AM
Once in a while that happens to me, where I am able to realize I'm in a dream & do cool stuff like fly or go through walls. I wish I could make it happen more often because it's so much fun. Always a bummer waking up after one of those! :)

Chief Pedant
01-08-2011, 09:40 AM
Speaking from personal experience, yes.
In a lucid dream I am aware that I am dreaming and have, for personal interest, scrapped a particular ending and re-directed it, occasionally trying a variety of story lines. Not every dream is lucid, but in a lucid one, the conscious mind is aware you are sleeping and unconcerned with a story line's inevitability, since you are aware it is just a dream. I don't recall creating an entire story line from scratch and then dreaming it...for me it's more like changing a particular outcome to one I like bettter, or want to try.

One of my more popular experiments when I was younger was to discipline myself to actually strike the ground after a fall from a high place. This resulted in an abrupt end to the dream, but not awakening. A more ordinary example might simply be switching from a bad or stupid outcome to a more pleasing one--say, for example, being in a bind and changing whatever it was that made me unable to get out of the bind. It's a very conscious decision: "That was stupid. Let's try it this way. Back to the dream." Again, all without waking up and all while being aware the dream story is a dream in the middle of the night.

joyfool
01-08-2011, 10:18 AM
I lucid dream almost every night. And it's not like (at least for me) you can fall asleep thinking of dreaming about backpacking through Europe and that's what'll happen. More like the dream starts and you can direct it by knowing your somewhat dreaming. It's a very cool thing to be able to do and a good way to avoid (again, at least for me) the harsher ramifications of nightmares.

ETA: I have no idea how I got this ability or how to encourage it in others. Just one day I woke up (heh) with being able to do it and it's quality has improved greatly over time.

dotchan
01-08-2011, 10:33 AM
Another lucid dreamer chiming in.

It is possible for me to direct the dream, but my subconscious doesn't like its directorial fiat messed with and starts throwing diva fits and it gets exponentially more difficult for me to muck about. All dreams, even nightmares, tend to get worse when I'm trying to change it than when I roll with it and just see what the dream has in store for me.

If I suspect I'm dreaming, I do my Standard Dream Check--I look at my feet and see if I'm floating off the ground, because I'm almost never completely bound by the laws of gravity in Dreamland. Then, I sometimes try to explore a little bit, but these days I'm spending most of my effort just trying to remember the dream rather than dictate where it goes. I wake up feeling more rested this way.

jz78817
01-08-2011, 11:00 AM
I've only once had a dream where I remember realizing it was a dream, and it wasn't that long ago.

the whole dream was improbable (I was back in high school, involved in an activity that I never actually did when I was in HS) but it was internally consistent enough that it just went on as a dream. that is until I interacted with a person in that dream, and the next time I looked it was a different person. That was the "now hold on just a damn minute here" moment, and I remember looking at whatever it was I was holding in my hand, yelling "you don't exist, so go away!" at it, and as I tossed it on the ground it disappeared and then I woke up.

Lasciel
01-08-2011, 11:19 AM
Another lucid dreamer here.

I have very occasionally been able to meditate before sleeping with a particular scenario in mind, and then proceeded to lucid dream that scene.

It is extremely rare for me to actually "create" a dream wholesale, and I was trying every night for nearly two weeks (over a month if you count all the prep work) before I got the first one.

The process I followed (I was in school, FTR) was to start by making my sleep/wake times identical every day for about a month (which is rough, cause I had a weird school schedule, and didn't really want to go to bed at 11 on Fridays and get up on Saturdays at 6 am.)

After about 3 weeks, I started naturally falling asleep around 11 and naturally waking up at 5:45-6:15ish. Then I started meditating for an hour before 11, and then when I woke up, spending another 30 minutes consciously remembering and recording my dreams, and then the next 30 meditating again on what I wanted to dream about.

Then (and here's the really bitchy part) I bribed a set of friends to watch me sleep at different times and record when I was REMing, and then I set my alarm to go off at those times and woke up, remembered, recorded, and meditated THEN also. That was a bitch and a half, but it was after one of the roughly 2 am sessions that I got my first "created" dream, so it was worth it to me.

All in all, it took about a week and a half of really dedicated trying before I got a lucid dream which was the one I had been trying for.

In the meantime, I had (and still have) others - the usual ones I get are like the other posters have described - "Well, this dream is going to shit, lets back up, go this way, and now see what happens," or "oh no, I hear the ominous music starting up. I'm not playing the nightmare game tonight - lets go find some racecars instead."



If someone wants to lucid dream, I'd suggest the way I'm going with my husband, but it's a slow process. He didn't even remember his dreams before at all, so right now we're still in the "wake, remember, record" portion. He's gotten so that he remembers about two or three dreams a week right now.

Once we're solid on regular dreams, we'll practice playing around in that "half-asleep" liminal phase (for him it will be before he falls asleep, for some people when they wake up works better) to direct scenarios and get good at half-waking up and thinking about what he's sort-of dreaming without waking fully.

He has had one dream where he realized he was dreaming, but it woke him up. He was bummed about it until I told him that was exactly what I used my lucid dreams to do in the first years that I discovered that I could do it.

It's much harder to navigate that sudden bump in consciousness than it would seem. Even today, sometimes the shock of 'waking up' inside a dream that had been flowing past smoothly will pop me awake.

From people I've talked to, it seems that having an ability to sort of 'coast' on that edge of not-quite-awake is related to the ability to be simultaneously dreaming and conscious of that.

I can't directly help him lucid dream, but I CAN help him get more practice being half-asleep and still thinking. Hopefully as he has more lucid dreams, remembers them more, and gets his brain used to being on and off simultaneously, he'll be able to start changing things and playing around inside his mind!

Aquilla
01-08-2011, 11:24 AM
It happened to me once or twice -- I have no idea how or how to get it to do that again. In every occasion I'd try to fly and it worked (a solid indication that it was a dream.)

They weren't particularly pleasant dreams and I don't remember being able to do much about the environment, but it didn't occur to me. I remember flying very slowly and not being able to figure out how to speed up.

Usually, I realize I am dreaming as my mind tries to make sense of the dream. Something like: I'm floating? No gravity! Wait, how do I navigate? I'll spin in place forever!

I don't think I'm very good at it. It would be pretty cool if I could just wish myself onto a tropical beach somewhere.

wheresmymind
01-08-2011, 12:05 PM
I have lucid dreams 1-2 times a week (that I remember, anyway), and only recently realized that not everyone experiences them regularly, or at all. I can usually guide the dream in a particular direction, but if I tried to change the dream completely (say, go from being on a beach to being in a jungle) I'd probably wake up. It's hard to explain, but the more lucid I become or the more I try to take control of the dream the more easily I snap out of the dream and wake up. It's usually best to just sort of relax and go with the flow.

dracoi
01-08-2011, 12:52 PM
I "learned" lucid dreaming because I used to have terrible nightmares as a kid. I put learned in quotes, because I'm not sure exactly how I did it besides really wanting to.

At first, the best I could do was wake myself up. Eventually, I found that I could interrupt a dream, and consciously think/say "This is not going where I want it to. Let's edit out the horrid alien creatures trying to kill me and skip to the fun part of exploring the alien planet." Suddenly, ALIENS becomes Avatar and I get a much better night's sleep.

I can't say that I have full control over any of the dreams. It's like someone else is telling me a story. They're willing to listen to a few suggestions.... but it's still their story to tell. As others have said, if I try to control it too much, it doesn't work and I just wake up.

I do occasionally control non-nightmares, especially in terms of editing the ending, and there are some recurring dreams that never give me the chance for lucidity. Fortunately, they're more of the annoying variety than the frightening one.

Mijin
01-08-2011, 01:00 PM
If you've never lucid dreamed, there are devices (http://www.lucidity.com/novadreamer.html) that can supposedly help you to get in that state, though I can't personally vouch for them.

It's not very interesting hearing about other people's dream experiences, but for the record I've lucid dreamed for years, yet my experience has not been as rich as some assume lucid dreams are.

Even though I know I'm dreaming, my degree of control is not complete. And if I ever try to make significant changes e.g. change a desert to a forest, I simply wake up.
Finally, novel dream content basically comes to an end once my conscious mind takes over.

Filbert
01-08-2011, 01:01 PM
I have a similar experience to dracoi, so far as I heard about lucid dreaming as a kid, then somehow learnt how to do it, as a way to stop nightmares.


I think I used to have more control over it than I do now, as I came up with some weird theory in my teens that my insomnia and controlling dreams were linked, and consciously tried to stop doing it so much. I can still stop dreams when they get nasty (which almost never happens anymore, even when I go to sleep really stressed out. Weird yes, nasty no), but apart from that can often only make vague 'suggestions', or stop the whole thing. Which sometimes wakes me up, though not always. I remember a few dreams a week on average.

Generally the stuff my subconscious comes up with when left to its own devices is so entertainingly weird that I just let it get on with it, so far as I'm aware.

Maastricht
01-08-2011, 01:16 PM
There's a book for everything. (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lucid+dreaming&x=0&y=0)

Gagundathar
01-08-2011, 01:25 PM
Yet another lucid dreamer checking in.
I have these about 3 times a week. Sometimes they run in series, as in I show back up at about the same place that I woke from on the previous day. Those are rather interesting as I have become accustomed to a dream landscape that remains somewhat invariant and has a mappable topology. That is to say, if I fly (and yes, I always fly) north from the large waterfall, I will almost always come to the mountains and the cave system. Most of my adventures center on a huge ship that I am the captain of (of course, I am the captain of it... heck it IS my dream, right).

Cheap entertainment. And I suppose I am learning more about myself as I go through my adventures. Perhaps I should chronicle them sometime.

SciFiSam
01-09-2011, 12:42 AM
I'm another one who lucid dreams most of the time. It has to kinda make 'sense' in the context of whatever dream I'm in. Like, for example, last night my dream was set in Florida so I decided to go for a swim.

However, I have narcolepsy. Soon I'll be having proper treatment for it and I wonder if it'll stop the dreams, but frankly I'd rather have normal sleep.

Cat Whisperer
01-09-2011, 01:18 AM
I can lucid dream sometimes, and like others have said, it mostly takes the form of realizing that this is just a dream, and I'm not actually falling, or stuck in a tight place (I vaguely recall somewhat recently dreaming I was stuck in a tight place, and saying to myself, "This is a dream, so just go through the wall" or some such thing), or whatever.

A question for the rest of you lucid dreamers - are your dreams fantastically creative and interesting? My dreams are truly wonderful - I've experienced so many incredible things in my sleep. And yes, I've hit the ground a number of times - one time I bounced, one time I just lay there. :)

Jaledin
01-09-2011, 01:19 AM
How fascinating. Since I started taking citalopram my dreams have been extremely vivid, but I've not had any desire to control them. I think last night I found a set of Latin keys to the complete works of Horace (the thinnest volume), Virgil, and Homer, the latter in biface Latin and whatever the hell dialect Homer spoke, and I can recall the shopkeep's face instantly. Weird, since I haven't taken hallucinogens for a long, long, time.

I think I shall dive into this world and try to see what happens. Probably nothing good, but who cares, since it's all a dream?! (Of course it is a dream, but no harm in experimenting whilst sleeping).

Jaledin
01-09-2011, 01:25 AM
A question for the rest of you lucid dreamers - are your dreams fantastically creative and interesting? My dreams are truly wonderful - I've experienced so many incredible things in my sleep. And yes, I've hit the ground a number of times - one time I bounced, one time I just lay there. :)

Yes, even pre-medication I've envisioned clearly writing in real time great novels, and the dreams themselves were worthy of inscribing in whatever scrap of paper I had handy and whatever pen happened to be in my pocket.

And I'm a poor sleeper in general, which makes my victory the more evident to my conscious mind. I never encountered the benefits of deep sleep until I stopped using alcohol, and these benefits made me decide to quit disturbing my sleep except by using doxylamine succuinate.

hogarth
01-09-2011, 01:43 AM
I had some lucid dreams after watching the movie "Waking Life" which discusses the phenomenon. One of the clues they mentioned (if I recall correctly) is that reading or telling time works strangely in dreams, so when I had a dream that I was playing Scrabble, I realised I was dreaming.

It's kind of cool, but I lost the knack pretty quickly.

Cat Whisperer
01-09-2011, 01:49 AM
I think the reading is a clue, too - I'm a voracious reader in real life, and can read upside down almost as well as right-side up, but in dreams, it's all I can do to read one word intelligibly. I think once I start wondering why I can't read anything, the jig is up.

Jaledin
01-09-2011, 01:54 AM
If I recall correctly, "The Small Back Room" by Powell and Pressburger was all about reading, time, shapes, and symbols. It was also almost certainly the quintessential movie about a dream, and certainly the least corny, if nothing more.

automagic
01-09-2011, 02:50 AM
I can direct my lucid dreams but only after it has started. It is very entertaining to know you are dreaming and being able to do anything that comes to your mind. Usually though my mind is very cloudy and I do not do everything I would do if I was more lucid.

Whats more interesting than lucid dreams in lucid sleep paralysis. I would be lying in bed with my eyes open and being able to control my eyes but nothing else. When this first started to happen to me I would be floating, or possibly some type of being would be in the room with me and it would scare the daylights out of me. After a while I was able to control what was happening. I could make things appear in my bedroom or make myself fly around my room. The best part is that someone could really be in the room walking around doing stuff and I would be able to see them and be flying around them. Later I would just wake up in my bed look at the person that was in my room and just have a private laugh. Unfortunately this only lasts a few minutes.

One of the more interesting lucid sleep paralysis states that I have had is being in the state of sleep paralysis but not realizing it. I would get up walk to the bathroom and then suddenly wake up in my bed again. That blew my mind.

Frylock
01-09-2011, 10:07 AM
Invariably if I realize I'm dreaming, I immediately wake up. So it looks like no lucid dreaming for me.

Actually, I don't regret that. It seems to me that by going into a lucid dream state, where I become the controller of the dream, the dream becomes limited just to what I myself can consciously imagine. But what can be so cool about dreams sometimes is what happens when it throws things at you you'd never consciously imagine.

dracoi
01-09-2011, 01:04 PM
A question for the rest of you lucid dreamers - are your dreams fantastically creative and interesting? My dreams are truly wonderful - I've experienced so many incredible things in my sleep. And yes, I've hit the ground a number of times - one time I bounced, one time I just lay there. :)

Some of my dreams are very cool. Frequently, I wake up and think I might make a dream into a short story... but as I write down the plot points, I always realize that it never made sense to begin with.

Many of my dreams are from the POV of a disembodied camera that floats around like maybe it's mounted on a small helicopter. I can zoom in, circle around, etc. Pretty handy. In those dreams, I'm not even present as a character, except sometimes I suddenly realize that I am one of the characters.

Some of them are pretty boring and tedious, though. One of my very common recurring dreams is to spend all night working in my head. Then I wake up and get to do another 8 hours for real. Talk about exhausting!

I die all the time in my dreams, mostly by slowly bleeding to death. I have hit the ground.

Ludy
01-09-2011, 01:16 PM
Add one more to the kid with bad dreams camp. My parents ended up getting me this book.
http://www.google.ca/m/search?site=images&source=mog&hl=en&gl=ca&client=safari&q=how%20to%20get%20rid%20of%20bad%20dreams#i=5

If I was having a bad dream I learned how to redirect the way things were going. I never change a dream if things are going well, but as soon as bad things start happening I take over. Often I will "rewind" the dream to get the ending I want.

Cat Whisperer
01-09-2011, 01:44 PM
<snip>
I die all the time in my dreams, mostly by slowly bleeding to death. I have hit the ground.
I died in a dream by getting run through by a sword once. THAT was an interesting experience. :)

Taenia spp.
01-10-2011, 01:24 AM
I'm also a lucid dreamer, and I do so almost every night. First, at least for me, lucid 'dreaming' is a little bit of a misnomer. I can't control my dreams throughout the entire night, but I experience what I personally call 'directed dreaming'. I take a long time to actually fall asleep, almost never less than half an hour, usually around an hour, and on insomniac nights up to two or two and half hours. During these times, I'm not fully asleep, but I start thinking about a particular topic/fantasy, and my mind starts expanding on this idea until it's a ridiculous and fantastical story around a central theme.

I've actually been having the same sort of lucid dream for the past 6 or 7 years; one in which involves me nearing omnipotence, and rising to power in politically weak countries via military force. You'd be the last to tell me that these fantasies are weird.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.