Electric Dreams

An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange

"False" Awakenings and the Language of Lucid Dreaming
by Robert Waggoner

Lucy Gillis

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Gillis, Lucy (2004, June). An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange:
"False" Awakenings and the Language of Lucid Dreaming by Robert Waggoner. Electric Dreams 11(6).

Do our labels and terms limit our lucid dreaming potential? Could we be limiting our lucid dreams because of the language we use to describe and define them? Do we ignore potentially valuable dream experiences because we have learned to label them as "false"? In LDE 30, Robert Waggoner looks at the term "false awakening" and challenges us to examine the language we use when describing this dream phenomena.

"False" Awakenings and the Language of Lucid Dreaming
(c) Robert Waggoner

What is "false" about a false awakening?

What is fallacious, specious, contrary to fact or truth, without grounds - as The American Heritage Dictionary describes the adjective, false - about false awakenings?

Isn't it more accurate to deem these experiences of apparently being aware in one's waking reality, while actually remaining in the dream state, as "apparent awakenings," "assumed awakenings" or perhaps, "alternate awakenings"? Invariably when desiring to wake from a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers have had the interesting experience of seeming to wake, only later to realize that they are not in waking reality but in a new dream scene. Sometimes, these apparent awakenings are quite convincing - one reaches for their dream journal to jot down the lucid dream and sees the notations on the paper on the night stand, when suddenly one realizes something strange - the nightstand is made of metal instead of wood, or the carpet color is not exactly the same, or an odd piece of furniture is now in the room! The perception invokes one's memory and leads to a new realization: "This too is a dream!"

Sometimes, the new awakening from the preceding apparent awakening is also an apparent awakening! One wakes from the lucid dream, realizes that this too is a dream scene, and decides to wake up for real, but the dreamer awakens in a new dream scene, only to realize in a few moments, that this too is a dream. The apparent awakening has begun to multiply.
In my experience, I have misperceived my apparent awakening from a lucid dream seven times in succession. "Waking up" seven times within a few minutes felt like bursting through the layers of a larger self! At that final, apparent awakening, my mind swirled in a whirlpool of memories, perceptions, realizations and ephemera, grasping for an actual actuality. I slipped out of bed on that summer morning, steadied myself, and touched the light blue plaster wall, hoping for nothing more than stability. I touched it again.

True awakenings or false awakenings seem meaningless terms after falling through seven so-called "awakenings." There, I sought the stability of a world, any world was fine, as long as it was stable - or shall I say "seemed" stable. If I had awakened in a world with different furniture, an extra cat, new neighbors, it would have been okay, just as long as it all "seemed" to remain stable.

What I took from my multiple awakenings was the idea that Perception either has or creates many homes, but the perceived "true" world-home seems true only in that it conforms to one's memories.

Memory seems a force that works on Perception - that keeps Perception's wanderings from going too far - that develops a homebase for that which wanders. In a way, memory confers stability. Memory confers a structure. Memory provides a "sense" for that which we deem self.

The problem with using the term, "false awakening," for what appears to be an "assumed awakening," appears to be found in our response to the language.

Why investigate that which is "false"? Why give any credence, any thought, any validity to a "false" experience? Why concern one's self with an event which is fallacious, specious, contrary to fact or truth, without grounds?

Moreover, in the term, "false awakening," one finds an ex post facto conclusion about the experience, which draws one away from the description of the actual experience. In the actual experience, the lucid dreamer assumes he/she has awakened. Thus in terms of descriptive accuracy, the actual experience seems to support that the lucid dreamer had an "assumed awakening." To call it "false" creates negative implications and moves away from accurately describing the event. As many scientists have demonstrated, language seems to affect our perception, reaction to and experience of events. In the relatively new world of lucid dreaming, we should take care to describe events and perceptions accurately in order to make the way smooth for others. Words that imply hard and fast judgments, like "false," seem narrow and errant.

For example, if I was a physicist investigating theories of alternate realities or probable realities and was searching for possible instances of alternate or probable realities, I may investigate "apparent awakenings" or "alternate awakenings." However, due to the connotation inherent in the description, I doubt that I would investigate "false awakenings" - and even if I did, the term "false" would likely predispose other physicists to view the experiences as fundamentally invalid.

And for example, if I was a theoretical psychologist seeking evidence to suggest that the mind creates internalized "worlds," and stumble upon this fairly common lucid dreaming phenomenon, what then? Would I be able to see this phenomenon clearly, or would I be thrown by the negative connotation of false awakenings?

For science to proceed, clear terms are needed that describe an experience accurately. I ask readers of The Lucid Dream Exchange to remove the "false" from apparent, assumed or alternate awakenings in order to assist futures students of lucid dreaming.

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