Lucid dreaming


First a question, then a comment.

Q: I didn’t get the references to snakes and cigars. What was Ed getting at?

Comment: Richard Feynman, in his book “'Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” describes how he acquired the skill of lucid dreaming. I have yet to attempt the regimen - has anyone tried it? Did it work? (I have to get that book back from my brother and refresh my memory on the details).

This particular column struck a cord in me, because 5 years ago I became
very interested in lucid dreaming. During the course, I was able to begin
lucid dreaming on a regular basis without buying the various pieces of equipment
that detect REM and such. The writer of the question asked if there was a simple
way to cause a lucid dream to happen, and there is. I forget where I read about
this method, but it worked immediately for me. The way it goes is this:

‘Every five or so minutes during your waking day from the time you wake up,
to the time you go to sleep, pause for a moment. Ask yourself why you know
you’re awake. Prove to yourself that everything around you is reality, and that
there is no possible way you could be dreaming what’s going on around you.’

The idea is, if you make this a regular occurance during your day(s), very soon
you will dream this reality check. When you do, you will become aware. This is exactly
what happened to me. I had a dream that I was in my basement, and that a pipe
had burst, and that the basement was quickly flooding. I remember looking up at
the pipe and watching the water gush out, and then all of a sudden, I said to
myself in the dream, “This doesn’t make sense”. I immediately realized I was dreaming
and I woke up. This is what happens the first few times. You tend to wake up
when you realize you’re dreaming the first few times. Then, if you keep it up for
a bit, you slowly become comfortable with the fact that you’re dreaming, and THAT
is when you can begin to control the dreams.

I hope this is enough information for people interested in experiencing a lucid dream.
It really doesn’t take much effort, and the results are amazing. I can’t say for sure if
this method will work for anyone else, but it worked for me the first day (or night :).

I think we need a control, and a few more subjects willing to document this. It sounds easy enough. I want to try it.

I will then attempt to post my findings of this method in this thread.

Will anyone else try it?

So I always new that Queensryche’s song “Silent Lucidity” was about controlling your dreams, but I never understood what lucidity had to do with it (other than the general meaning of having a clear idea of what’s going on), being unfamiliar with the term “lucid dreams.” I now know that the title was a direct allusion to the term.

And now after reading the column I have the song stuck in my head. At least it’s a pleasant earworm.

I read once that the best way to train yourself to remember more of your dreams is to keep a notebook and pen by your bed. Whenever you wake up from a dream, write down everything you remember. I read that if you do this consistently, eventually you will remember more dreams, and more details from those dreams. I knew someone who said they did this, and that it worked.

I’m too lazy to try it, though.

I’m an amatuer lucid dreamer and very interested in the topic.

However, my days are entirely too hectic and busy and I barely remember to eat lunch at work, let alone be able to remember to question my state of consciousness on a regular basis. But I wish everyone the best of luck with Piku’s technique.

Most of my more recent lucid dreams have been about my father (who died unexpectedly 3 years ago) and my cat, Peaches, who died unexpectedly last fall.

I don’t believe my first dreams about either of them were lucid. But I enjoyed dreaming about them when I awoke, and eventually I was able to “summon” them into my dreams quite commonly, and often together.

The first time I dreamt lucidly about them together I wasn’t aware that I was dreaming about my deceased father. I just knew I was dreaming about Dad, as had happened often enough through my life. But then I remember wanting to show him how cool it was that I could bring Peaches into the dream at my whim, so I knew that I was dreaming.

Dad and I were in a house, but not one I recognized. He was in another room when I willed Peaches into the dream. I called for Dad to come see, and I remember concentrating carefully to transfer my focus from Peaches on the floor, to the door my Dad walked through, and then back to Peaches who I then picked up and showed to my Dad.

Being aware of, and remembering, the amount of concentration it took to manipulate both entities in my dream simultaneously was, I feel, a very cool turning point in my lucid dreaming “skills”.

My lucid dreams are never done on purpose. What I mean is, I don’t go to bed at night willfully decreeing things like, “Tonight, Peaches, Dad, and I will play Texas Hold 'Em on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro!”. I just happen to be able to lucidly take control of some dreams, randomly, on occasion.

Bah…forgot one little bit. I didn’t know Dad was dead in that dream, but I knew Peaches was, which was why it was so signifigant for me to demonstrate how I could make Peaches appear.

To continue my anecdotal tangent…my Freudian analysis of the difference has always been that I had more closure with Peaches’ death than that of my father’s. I found Peaches’ body (he’d been mauled by stray dogs :frowning: ) and burried him myself in the back yard. My father died at Stanford University Hospital in California, while I was in Atlanta, and I was not able to be with him while he died or see his body prior to his cremation.

I’ve since been increasinly aware of his having passed during my dreams of him.

I’ve done this, though I had never before heard of the term “lucid dreaming.”

Here’s how it went. I am afraid of heights. I hate being up ladders or on rooftops. The sort of thing where I might fall off. I have been plagued for years by nightmares in which I find myself in an implausible and hopeless situation where I’m way up on top of something from which there is no way down. I would just be stuck there being more and more frantic until I woke up. After 9/11 those nightmares became more common.

It occurred to me that If I could just tell myself I was sleeping whenever something like that happened I would be able to control the dream. So next time I had the nightmare I just told myself it was a dream and flew down to the ground. After that I was able to exert a lot of control over my dreams. I could do things like open doors with a wave of my hand. The thing is that since I “beat” my nightmare scenario, I have not had any more of them. I no longer try to control my dreams either. Why bother?

I think the secret for me was that I had repetitive nightmares. All I had to do was tell myself to wait for that particular scenario to know I was dreaming.

I started lucid dreaming when I was about 6.

I had occasional nightmares. It seemed pointless to me to be terrified of something that was all in my head. My solution was to 1) remember that I was dreaming and 2) fly away from the meanies.

I maintain that lucid dreaming is no big deal, although it can lead to a diverting Sunday morning.

There are 3 phenomena here:
a) Dream control.
b) Being aware that you are dreaming and
c) Remembering your dreams.

These are different, though related skills. Awareness that you are dreaming assists in dream control, though after a while it becomes unnecessary: the sleeper merely acquires certain “powers” (flight, etc) while in dream state.

Enhancing dream recall is a matter of keeping a dream journal. Frankly, I’ve never been sufficiently motivated to do this for more than about 3 days.

---- I no longer try to control my dreams either. Why bother?

It’s fun.

Here’s my personal anecdotal input.

When I was in my psychedelic drug/altered state of consciousness days, I learned about lucid dreaming and instantly became fascinated with the idea.

I read LeBarge’s book at the time, (I believe it was simply titled Lucid Dreaming) and I do distinctly remember many of his techniques, the most common ones being those already mentioned in this thread:

-ask yourself periodically throughout your waking day if you are dreaming and seek evidence that you are not. The recommended way to do this is read a sign or some words, turn away, turn back, and confirm the words are the same.

-keep a journal and put in the effort of recalling your dreams in as much detail as possible.

I did the first obsessively, but I don’t think I ever became lucid because of it. But lucid dreaming was on my mind in general and I think that’s the key. I never had a lucid dream before learning about them. They’re still rare for me, I’ve probably had about 20 in my whole life.

I can appreciate Cecil’s perfect-pitch metaphor, because perfect-pitch is almost, but not-quite absolute. As a musician I have known people who clearly have it with nearly 100% accuracy, and others who can get closer to it over time, but never approach anything close to that degree of accuracy. I believe there are those naturally inclined to lucid dream all the time, and those like myself who must work at it just to accomplish it a small percentage of the time.

BTW, I believe the best method is to set your alarm a few hours before you are likely to awake naturally, then go right back to sleep thinking about it. When you first go to sleep at night, it takes a good 90 minutes to reach your first REM cycle and thus to begin dreaming. Throughout the night your cycles of nonREM become shorter. (ever wake up early in the morning and fall asleep again entering immediately into a dream?). So that’s the idea. If you normally wake up at 7am, set your alarm to 5am, give yourself a minute to think about lucid dreaming, then go right back to sleep with the idea still fresh in your mind.

I wish I could do it more often. They are incredibly fun.

Great topic! I dabbled in some lucid dreaming a couple of years ago. I had pretty good success with it and I found it worth the effort. For me, ditching TV was critical in improving the vividness of my dreams. I found that just thinking about lucid dreaming and establishing that I wanted go lucid helped. A good book that explores the Buddhist perspective is “Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying: An exploration of consciousness with the Dalai Lama.” This gave me some ideas of what is possible. Watching a movie like Waking Life can be inspirational as well.

If you have a recurring theme, person or place in many of your dreams, try to use that as a trigger. Tell yourself that when you see the trigger in your dream, you will know you are dreaming. It can be difficult to breakthrough and not wake up. At first I woke up a lot and couldn’t get back into the dream. But after a while I was able to maintain the stasis necessary.

However, I’ve fallen out of practice and haven’t had a lucid dream in a long time. I think that the longer you stick with it, the easier it will become. But the effort must be maintained. I think I’m going to give it another try.

My guess is that snakes and cigars and such are often interpreted as phallic symbols when they are reported in dreams. Sometimes they are just snakes and cigars is what was Ed was suggesting.

When I was eight years old my mother gave me a diary.

  • stupid dark green, fuzzy cover with a gold clasp lock and a tiny key. I’m a guy, what the hell do I want with a girly diary - but I digress -
    I wrote in it daily for a few months. One time I had a dream that I just happened to write down in my diary (didn’t think I was engaging in somnolescent thespian retentiveness).

This was 30 years ago and my memory of that dream is as crisp as the day I dreamt it.

As far as lucid dreaming: experienced it a few times, but never yet on purpose (itching to try some of these techniques). Usually it’s the flying dream. I find that when I become aware it’s a dream it’s harder to get off the ground.

And I never have the directions to Caterine Zeta-Jones’ house.

Of course, if the goal is to help uncover, clarify and resolve some inner emotional problems in your life, the best bet is the Desi Arnaz approach:
“Luuuuuuu-cid, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Long time lucid dreamer, first time I heard of the term.

I’m thinking I discovered I could control my dreams back in college or HS, or maybe earlier. I no longer remember when. I also think I finally found a way in which I’m unique.

I didn’t start lucid dreaming on purpose, or because of fear, or lack of closure. I started controlling my dreams when one particular dream bored me. I remember thinking, “I can do better than this. I’m going to change this.” First I made it scary, then I “rewound it” to the same point at which I realized it was boring, and made it funny." Since I’ve had kids, though, I don’t do it very often. I’m so tired all the time, I just sleep.

I used to lucid dream a lot. I used the exact technique that the OP describes - getting in the habit of asking myself if I was awake. I read about it in Discover Magazine way back in the 80’s. It took some practice, but it worked. My experience was that after lucid dreaming a lot, I found I was not really resting as well as I could have been. I still felt physically rested, but I still woke up with the feeling I had been working on a project all night long.

So I gave it up. I still grab control of dreams if they try to become nightmares, but the rest of the time I’m content to just let things happen.

It turned out the reason I had such a great memory of my dreams was due to a sleep disorder I was experiencing which cause me to wake up every few minutes. Since I started sleeping with a C-PAP, I’ve stopped remembering most of my dreams. I would recommend that you who remember all your dreams go in for a sleep study to see if you suffer from the same thing.

As Moderator, I’ve merged a coupla threads that all had the same title and were about the same topic.

[I think the most important things to remembering your dreams are:

  1. Not being sleep deprived
  2. Thinking of your dreams immediately upon waking

When I think about my dreams soon after I wake, I can usually recall them pretty clearly. Concerining lucid dreaming, I’ve had the experience of being involved in a dream, then wathcing my dream like I would watch TV, then controlling the dream like it is a story I’m making up. I think this is because I’m a writer and make up stories while I’m awake. In addition, I rarely have nightmares anymore because I frequently realize that I am dreaming. You know when you’re fleeing and it seems you’re moving so slowly? Well, I just teleport myself. :slight_smile:

I have not had much success in getting myself to have particular dreams however, not even on a particular subject. I would like to be able to do this. Also, has anyone succeeded in having a prolonged “encounter” without waking up? Some of my best sexual feelings have happened in my dreams but I always wake up instantly.

I’m glad you mentioned this. I was looking for the other “Lucid Dreaming” thread and when I couldn’t find it, I thought I musta dreamt its existence - and it was so real!

I have a question about lucid dreaming which may not seem serious on the surface, but which I can assure you is of vital interest—at least to me. All of the discussion so far in Cecil’s column and in this thread has pretty much revolved around the concept of lucid dreaming for the purposes of personal growth and the abolition of minor mental demons. But why has there been no discussion of using these techniques simply for the purpose of having a desirable dream? Personally, all I really want is just to have a three way with Sandra Bullock and Ashley Judd. Is this doable? If so, do I apply the same techniques to achieve this as I would for the applications already discussed?