Electric Dreams

ABC's of Dream Benefits
(From "How To Fly")

  Linda Lane Magallón 

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Magallón, Linda Lane (2004 August). ABC's of Dream Benefits (From "How to Fly").
Electric Dreams 11(8).

Ask most folks why they like flying dreams and they'll probably answer, "Because they're fun." They're expansive, energetic, expressive and euphoric. They feel good. Of course, we're talking about the best case scenario, not flights where you're frightened, frustrated, fatigued or flummoxed. Dream flights span the range of emotion and sensation, but even those at the negative end of the scale can be beneficial. While fun may still be topmost on your list of motivating factors, there are plenty of others to ponder. Would any of these ABCs inspire you to have dream flights?

Award for Awakening

Once I incubated a series of flying dreams when I'd been feeling so stiff in the mornings that I practically hobbled out of bed. During the third of my dreams, I dreamt I was dancing in the air. As the dream drew to a close, my radio alarm clicked on. It was tuned to a station that was broadcasting a song with a rollicking beat. Dancing in my dreams became dancing out of bed and around the room. There simply was no physical stiffness left. The emotions and energy of a buoyant nighttime flight can certainly carry well into the day. On the other hand, if flying causes us to wake while we're still asleep, we get another sort of award. It's called lucid dreaming.

Browsing the Body and Brain

Have you ever had an in-the-body experience? I don't mean inhabiting the physical body during the day. I mean traveling through it, deep in the night, as a fairy-like bit of consciousness. For dreams, it doesn't matter what size we are. Our awareness of self can shrink and become a traveler on a fantastic voyage through the body's systems, but the pictures will be produced for normal size comprehension. For instance, the flash of light created by the visual nervous system might be perceived as a storm with lighting in an inky dark landscape. When we're small enough, the lungs may seem to be a huge cave of howling wind. I bet you didn't know that Hades is located in the intestines! The flyer is graced with a gift to keep the underworld under her skin from being too overwhelming. She has the ability to rise above it.

Courage to Confront; Choice to Create

In the schema of American psychologist Abraham Maslow, there are two major motivations that help determine our thoughts, feelings and behavior: basic needs and growth needs. When our basic needs (like air, food, safety, companionship and esteem) are not met, we worry and fret, even agonize and fear. These reactions are converted into the normative nightmare and anxiety dream. The flyer has a tactical advantage regarding threats: flight or fight. We can run away from problems (flight) or come back to confront them (fight). When basic needs are satisfied, the energy that had been forced to fulfill them is liberated for the growth of human potential. Instead of trudging through trouble, we are free to fly. As we fly free from survival imperatives, we expand our artistic horizons. We sculpt creative dreams; we create our own reality.

Decoding Day Residue

Flying dreams have been labeled "bizarre," that is, they don't conform to the constraints imposed by the physical world. It's true that your physical body will walk or run or drive a car down the street. But your inner body-sense surely doesn't. It floats along for the ride. Your physical body may break into a smile over a happy event, but your inner body leaps for joy. Your physical body may sit on an office chair, while a spark of your inner consciousness soars to the South Seas in reverie. Comes time to form a dream about daytime events and the sleeping mind is not limited to a literal depiction of life. Rather than a mundane description of your daily commute to work, it may well depict a slow but steady flight through city streets. Or perhaps the orchestral sounds from your car's loud speakers may invoke uplifting emotions that evoke an ecstatic flight to anywhere but city streets. Thus, when you get ready to decode a flying dream, ignore the blatant "bizarre" imagery. Dig underneath it. Concentrate on sensations, emotions and thoughts. These are the elements that echo an actual waking event. Dream pictures don't have to be photographic records of a recent daytime experience. For flying dreams, the mind reveals the hidden side of self. It paints how you feel.

Emotional Environmentalism

Dreaming together with other people doesn't guarantee a communal high. If it happens spontaneously, it's far more likely that a shared dream will be a nightmare or anxiety experience. It's deliberate co-dreaming that's likely to shift focus towards mutual agreement and harmony. Successful mutual dreamers have this in common: most all know how to fly. Although their dreams may begin as an anxiety event, resolution can occur in-dream and the dream will end on an upbeat note. This is the Environmental Effect: the conversion of negative to positive while the dream is still happening. Instead of shadow land, the dream becomes a land of light. In the long run, the percentage of negative dreams drops rather dramatically. The flyer is, then, a dream environmentalist, recycling the residue of daily waste and polluted programming and retrofitting our minds with attitudes and aptitudes that build us new Edens.

Finding Friendship

As the flyer matures, flight away from life into the long night of the hermit's cave transforms into tentative return. The flyer becomes more willing to risk human relationship and finds new courage to attempt communication. When I'm lucid and other dream characters share the same scene, I often ask if anyone would like to come fly with me. The characters may raise their hands or simply come forward to join me. A co-flight can be parallel, hand-in-hand or enmeshed with co-mingled bodies. This flow of interaction carries over to the waking state. As a whole, flying dreamers are more likely than most to share their dreams with other people when they wake up. Flying dreams are a highly prized gift of relationship.

Glimpses of a Gorgeous Globe

Since there's no need to breathe in the hyperspace of dream, there's no limit to how far you can fly. Dream flight can send you streaking through the stars, en route to a distant planet or rounding the moon and sun as if you're propelled by a celestial sling-shot. But there's one spot where stopping and hovering is a glorious joy. That's where you can view the whole of our Great Blue Marble supported only by the infinite dark. Many people write about "oneness" as if it's some abstract concept in the land of mental ambiguity. This dream is an opportunity to actually see it: the beauty of the whole Earth from a vantage point aloft. The flow of the pen may produce promises or release an ancient longing, but the fulfillment of human hope happens in Technicolor, feelie-vision, surround-sensation and the utter reality of suspension in space.

Herald of Health

How healthy are you? Your dreams can hand you the clues. Because dreams have a high relation to sensation and feeling, they can picture such aspects of your being. They might indicate that you are in less-than-perfect health. Conversely, they can display the activities of a robust and vigorous psyche. Flying - how fast, how far, how high - serves as a thermometer of health. Do I fly through fair skies or foul? Do I get airborne at all? The styles, moods, obstacles (or lack of them) can indicate the state of my emotional, mental and physical health. They can signal that well-being is on the way or warn me that I need pay closer attention to my body, my car, my relationships with other animals and people. I incubate flying dreams to get my dreaming self moving away from sickness and other sub-standard modes of being. We both feel better that way.

Intentional Imagination

I'd like to quote British poet W. H. Auden here: "The trouble with dreams, of course, is that other people's are so boring"! Oh, my, can we have boring dreams? Yes, indeed. Once in a dream group, a dreamer related a long tale of trying to become lucid. When she finally achieved her goal, she found herself in a empty room, without any characters, without any props or scenery or a script being automatically produced just for her. Since there wasn't anything interesting going on, she shrugged her mental shoulders and let go of her lucidity. After this, she had no desire to have any more lucid dreams. That shocked me to the core. But I came to realize the fundamental difference between fate and free will. The fated dreamer lets only happenstance direct his drama. The flyer understands she had a choice to be either passive or an active agent in the emergence of her story. In flight, we awaken the Inner Child who is never bored or boring because, in her theater of dreams, she remembers how to play. She knows how to release her emaciated imagination from its stark cage and let it take flight.

Jokes and Jumping Jehosephat

Do you recall the last time you laughed in a dream? Have you *ever* laughed in a dream? Here's another quote to ponder. When psychoanalyst Victor Monke was asked about proactive dreams, he responded that dreams were the results of "conflicting emotional needs at the same time." If a person truly were able to direct the course of a dream away from its "natural" conclusion, said Monke, "he wouldn't be having the dream" in the first place. As our legacy from Freud, we are weighed down by the grave supposition that dreams are repressions of some seriously perverse psychological problems. There is an insipid inference that only troubled dreams warrant our attention. Humor has little foothold in such a fault-finding occupation of the mind. It comes as no surprise to me to find out that Freud never had a flying dream in his life. Did you know that, in dreams, it's possible to jump, laugh, sing and giggle yourself into the air? After all, aren't flying dreams premiere examples of "levity"? Before you groan, you might like to know that flying dreams are great punsters, too. Our dreaming selves can have a very humorous perception of waking life.

Knowledge versus Kryptonite

The Kryptonite Effect is the nemesis of the flyer. It's everything that keeps her grounded, makes it hard to launch, slows her progress and creates a glass ceiling for her efforts. Understanding these obstacles, and how to overcome them, translates into helpful hints and an attitude that aids in solving problems in related sorts of dreams. For instance, if you come to realize that phenomena like sleep paralysis, myclonic jerks and floating feelings are quite natural and common on the borderlands of sleep, then the surprising sensations of flight will intrigue rather frighten. Cognitive therapy can change a negative mind set for flying. Behavioral therapy helps convert knee-jerk reactions to more positive activities. Programming for flight is practice in incubation, a primary tool for any proactive dreamer. The more you know and put to use, the better your dream adventures. Comprehending Kryptonite means reviewing one's biochemical, psychological, physical and psychic health and selecting the appropriate tools for the job of healing. It's a holistic approach to dreams.

Launching the Lucid Dream

My body's fatigued, my mind is mush, my self-discipline is practically nonexistent and my dreams are few. I don't know if you've ever been at the bottom of the barrel, but I sure have, more times than I care to remember. A highly desirous goal, like becoming awake as I dream, seems totally beyond my reach. Pie in the virtual sky. There's only two ways I know to win the prize. One, take a tremendous leap and hope you land in the treetops rather than atop a footstool. Pull yourself together, take a deep breath, and activate your will with all the power of an Olympic weight lifter and jump. However, the number of times I've leapt tall buildings with a single bound is very low indeed. For the second option, take the slow and easy way, one step at a time. This approach is longer, but along the way, you can have some pretty interesting dreams. My dreaming self begins in low gear; I take a walk around the block. My dreaming self starts to walk; I walk and imagine flying. My dreaming self begins to fly. Only then, do I give myself the directive to go lucid. This route from flying to lucidity, from slug to Super Hero, has been used successfully by many dreamers.

Mundane Milieu To Mary Pop-ins

What's the most tedious dream you have? For me, it's a slight variation on some trivial activity in waking life. It's when my dreaming self is acting like my clone, and a pretty robotic one, at that. Flying is certainly not mundane; it's a promise and fulfillment of fantasy. So, what's a fantastic alternative? How about Alice Through The Looking Glass? Instead of staying in mundane reality, you imagine yourself into a mirror. Or into a story, a movie, even a symbol. My dreaming self likes Pop-ing Into A Picture best, so that's what I'll choose to look at before I sleep: solid visual blocks with which she can build the scenery, props, characters and even story line. Flying into the picture in my imagination translates into flying into realms of adventure when I sleep. Or I might try Pop-ing Into A Picture on the borderlands of sleep. During hypnogogia, I watch the scenes flash like a slide show, then take a mental breath and launch myself into one of them. I can start a flying dream that way. Boring, they are not.

Nullifying the Nightmare

Flight or flight is an automatic response to fear bred from millions of years of evolution. Since dreams can react to instinctual promptings, running away from terror is a very common theme. The flyer has an advantage over surface dwellers. She can leap above grasping hands or sharpened teeth. But fleeing is only a first step in the flyer's defensive repertoire. She can turn and watch the threat from above or return to fight, frighten, negotiate a cease-fire or befriend. Should she stand her ground, learn to face down fear, she still knows, deep in her soul, that she has a back-up plan. She can always get airborne if need be.

Opportunity for Out-of-Body

Flying in dreams is preparation for astral projection. The feelings of floating and soaring are already known. It's simply a case of shifting the scenery. Instead of a fantasy landscape, a change of consciousness provides awareness of one's own bedroom. Being stuck in the thrall of sleep paralysis may be scary at first, but the flyer soon realizes she can escape that heavy, frozen feeling. By relaxing and reaching back in her mind for the memory of gravity-free movement, she can retrieve the sensation of lightness that enables lift. If she exchanges her serious concern for levity, then out-of-body she will float. Lightheartedness is the key.

Practice for Physical Life

Wouldn't it be great to fly like Superman in the physical world! Well, perhaps someday, someone will find the key to unlock that secret. In the meantime, flying is still good practice. It provides the self-esteem to stand up and face problems in waking life. It models movement for the physical body. Since the sensations of flight in dream derive from sensations felt in daily life, the dream can do an about-face and inspire still more movement, now backed by the confidence and control that comes from practice in a safe arena. Now matter if the goal is to roll a scooter, ride a horse, drive a car or yes, even fly a plane, the dream builds experience for such activities. It is a first-rate, custom made, flight simulator.

Questioning the Status Quo

Go with the flow. A wonderful feeling. A heart-swelling ecstasy. An effortless ride. When you have no place special to go, catching the wind and taking it wherever it may go is the name of the game. But supposing the flow isn't sending you where you wish? Is it sucking you downward, shooting you upward at too fast a pace? Then you may wonder whether the flow is flowing in your best interest. Perhaps it is taking you exactly opposite your optimum path. Flows come from all sorts of sources: illness and heath, peer pressure and support, enthusiasm and warped will power. Only some of these are worth your while. The flyer may catch the latest surge of energy if she wish, but she is no victim of circumstance. She has the awareness to wonder where and why and how and with whom she is going. And the determination to stop and consider other options.

Religious Revolution and Reality Tests

In the annals of religious history, many a dreamer has been swept up by compelling forces and flung skyward to serve almighty purposes. Should the journey be rapturous, the dreamers may well respond with adoration and awe. But their own wills and intentions are sacrificed on the altar of passive surrender. Is this an admirable trait in a spiritual seeker? A spontaneous surprise may offer little choice. But the dreamer has the power to awake from the enthrallment of sleep; to wonder, to compare, to judge. There are many religious paths, none of which are exempt from reality tests. Am I being swept along by gods or ghouls, angels or demons, by aliens or fairy folk, by friend or foe? Must I rely on others to reach enlightenment or do I have some say about the route of my Hero's Journey? When the spirit learns to fly on her own, her inner myth can't help but change. At this, the dawning of the air-age of Aquarius, willful flying contains the seed of religious revolution.

Sports and Skills of the Super Hero

Dream researcher Paul Tholey used lucid dreams to help perfect his skateboarding skills. Then he taught other dreamers to practice the skills of their sports in-dream, too. One dreamer was an Olympic equestrian. In order to improve skiing prowess, Tholey suggested that another dreamer practice, but not within his dream body. The dreamer flew along out-of-body, at the end of his skis. Flying helps the physical athlete, but it also keeps the mind flexible. Players of chess, board games and virtual reality toys are flyers. Flying is a sort of dream air-obics. Many video games require an active mind and quick reflexes as the player speeds from one onrushing scene to the next. Flying is no sport for couch potatoes! Even if physically immobilized or confined to bed, a dreamer with a strong and flexible mind can soar like a Super Hero.

Traveling through Time and Space

If you wished to travel in Wonderland, how would you get there? Fall down a rabbit's hole? The ability to fly might come in very handy just then. There are all sorts of tight spaces that can be traversed with ease if you have the ability to move in a unique direction. Not just forward and back, but down into the depths of the underworld, up from dungeons and despair and through long dark tunnels out into the light. I've always thought that time travel would be most practical if it took place suspended in the air. Less traffic up there. In dream, if I travel in time, I usually teleport or go via space vehicle. Either way is an opportunity to try out variations of the flying theme.

Understanding a Universal Symbol

Since flying dreams have been found down through history and across the world wide, flying has a solid claim to be called a "universal" symbol. But is it an archetype? It seems Carl Jung's primary experience aloft was a vision induced by medication. Floating happened to Jung; he didn't happen to it. He was fascinated by UFOs and little girls who turn into birds, but they were objectified symbols at a safe distance away. The most popularized flying myth is Icarus, the guy who fell out of the sky. Why not Daedalus, the fellow who actually got it right? Hmmm? When I went searching the annals of ancient legend and myth for tales of flight, there wasn't a lot of positive adventures to pick from. So I looked further and found examples in Chinese fairy tales, African-American folk tables, American tall tales, Japanese comic books, British science fiction and, most especially, the children's section of the library. Flying expands your world, in more ways than one.

Visiting Virtual Reality

Ever seen VR images on TV? Virtual reality is a series of connected images, a simulation of life on the move. In a VR helmet, you can visit locations (such as a mimic of Mars) with all the visual reality of a physical trip, but without the danger and expense of going IRL (in real life). Or you can inhabit realms of fancy. In VR your point of view "flies" from one angle, altitude and attitude to another. Whether fantastic or realistic, flying provides unique perspectives no earth-bound individual can have. Just like dreams can do. Dreams are our own personal virtual theaters of the mind. In VR you can fly through walls. In dreams you can fly through earth, air, fire and water. Shrink to the size of a molecule, grow to the size of a galaxy. Have experiences you've never "dreamed" of having, here in waking life. Flying is a fairly comfortable introduction to even more extraordinary dreams.

Wallop of Wonder

The first experience of any "big" dream can shake you to the core. It's a sensory, mental, emotional explosion of feeling that impresses you forever. It remains with you in the present to serve as an inspiration for the future. And as a standard against which you judge all new occurrences. Unfortunately, succeeding experiences may never come close to equaling the first. Perhaps that's why some folks treat a flying dream as something sacred, something they never dare repeat. It would diminish the awe and amazement of the original impact, they presume. Now, that's just sad. It's true - no flight will be exactly like another. It could be better! For me, one of the greatest joys of flying is the view of the passing landscape. A dream scene can outrank any VR or physical version with its vivid color, sparkling essence and overall sense of realness that is unlike any other. I've lost count of the times I've called out spontaneously, "Oh, how beautiful! Oh, how wonderful!" while I watched a scene unfold in all its heart-filling glory as I flew over, around and through it. Words of astonishment rise like an underground torrent and gush right out of me. You may have heard of repeating nightmares, but what about repeating big dreams? That's what flying dreams are for me.

X-trasensory X-perience

What's the most common psychic dream? These days, it's likely to be the preview of an air disaster. Airplane and space shuttles top the list that includes prophetic dreams of Apollo, Challenger and the New York World Trade Center. The theme of flight permeates of our culture down to the depths of our dreams. Sometimes such dreams have great practical benefit: some folks have been warned away from taking airplane flights that later ended in tragedy. But there are also plenty of positive examples of flying psi: clairvoyant, empathic, telepathic and mutual as well as precognitive. If you want to visit another person in-dream, then at least one of you has to travel. Mutual dreamers often use the premiere method of locomotion, the out-of-body experience. When you move into extraordinary dream space, where the unknown is the rule rather than the exception, being able to fly will get you out of potential trouble spots and shift your paradigm. It can change the way you view psi phenomena over all. Instead of a prisoner of prophetic fate, you rescue your own destiny and place it back in your hands.

You and Your Dreaming Self

What do you actually do in your dreams. Or, I should say, what does your dreaming self do? Because, if you are a flyer sans vehicle, you know darn well that you, as physical self, aren't doing the flying. The "you" of waking reality isn't the "you" of dream space. Never in waking life have I become invisible, shrunk to a pinpoint of light or metamorphosed into a bird. My dreaming self has that sort of fun, although vicariously, I come along for the ride. It's as if we lead parallel lives, each with their own unique properties. They might be separate lives, if we pay no attention to one another. When we learn to become aware of each other, though, we can develop a reciprocal relationship. I suggest new ideas; she may or may not carry them out. Instead of always asking her to serve my needs, I ask, "What would you like to do?" I provide new building blocks of vivid memories for her to shape the dream; she provides me with a life of magic. Who gets the best of the trade? We do!

Zero In, Zone Out

If I had to pick just one benefit of dream flying, it would be this: I am more. As a flyer, my concepts of both waking and dreaming reality have been radically altered. I live in a wider, richer universe than even before. It's multi-leveled meaning, not surface symbol. I feel myself to be bigger; that is, there's more substantial me to fill me up. Fulfillment or enlightenment aren't mental concepts to write about, with which to play literary mind games. They are first hand experiences of beingness. Sometimes I wonder if folks who write about extraordinary spiritual, mental, psychic or emotional highs have ever actually been there. Imagining them is not the same has having them. I wonder what would happen if we could separate speculation about reality from reality itself.

But that's just speculation. Guessing, theorizing, writing, talking. And talking. And talking. And talking... They're flimsy substitutes for the real thing. So time to stop simulating sleep and start sleeping. Pleasant flights!