Although I've been a lucid dreamer since childhood,
the thrill of being awake within my dreams has never diminished. Throughout the
years of exploration, I've encountered a vast array of "dreamsigns"
(anomalies within the dream) which can be effective lucidity triggers -- when I
manage to catch them. And though I can become lucid without the aid of an
external cueing device, using the NovaDreamer adds a pleasurable anticipation
and challenge to the night's adventures.
The NovaDreamer is one of the lucid dream induction devices developed by Dr.
Stephen LaBerge, founder of the Lucidity Institute. Photoelectric sensors,
positioned above the dreamer's eyes in a comfortable sleep mask, detect Rapid
Eye Movement and alert the device's microprocessor to send a signal by way of
pre-set cues. These cues of light and sound patterns, determined by the dreamer
from a variety of possible combinations, enter the dream to encourage lucidity.
There's a certain comfort and advantage to knowing that the NovaDreamer will
deliver a definite light-related cue. Whether or not it's recognized, of course,
is a different matter. But one of the benefits of utilizing light as a signal is
that training to become aware of the cue in dreams can be done while awake.
Rehearsing is essential because the NovaDreamer is simply a tool, a provocative
nudge from the outside world. It cannot force or guarantee lucidity. Awareness
must be cultivated, intended. Since working with the NovaDreamer, I've found it
helpful to keep a written notation of reality checks inspired by waking life
occassions in which any change of light has caught my attention. Not only has
this discipline increased my chances of catching a cue incoporation while
dreaming, it has enhanced my enjoyment and awareness in waking life as well.
A frosty, Winter morning. The sun breaks through a darkening sky and suddenly
my attention is captivated by a sparkling chandelier lying amongst the folliage
before me. It's as if someone had flipped on the light switch. In the next
instant, it is transformed into a cascade of slender branches, each one
delicately encased in ice. The simple, quiet beauty is so mesmerizing, it takes
my breath away! Am I dreaming? Could this be a cue from the NovaDreamer? A
reality check declares not this time. Even so, I feel the same rush of joy as at
the onset of lucidity in a dream.
Habitual reality checking in waking life pays off in the dream world.
I'm with some friends when the room light begins to flicker. Though I assume
there's a logical reason for it, I explain that I have to do a reality check as
part of my training to catch NovaDreamer cues. As I examine a digital clock, the
numbers begin to transform right before my eyes. My companions look at me like
I'm crazy, but I've become lucid and realize they are dream characters.
Light cues from the NovaDreamer have taken on a variety of forms in my
dreams. Incorporations such as blinking traffic lights, flash cameras, lightning
and fireworks seem a bit more obvious than geometric patterns in brilliant
color, a dozen full moons, neon pink flamingos in sudden flight or the
shimmering tail of a mermaid. With the possibilities being limitless, my
curiousity remains piqued. I know the cues will appear, but will I be alert
enough to recognize them? In one instance, two soft, pulsing lights a short
distance away from where I was standing led me to conclude that someone very
nearby must be dreaming! It never ceases to amaze me how clever the mind can be
when inventing rationalizations for incorporated cues.
A light in the kitchen is blinking off and on. I think someone who knows how
the NovaDreamer cues can appear is playing with the switch, trying to get me to
do a reality check. I watch a red brick wall illumine and darken a couple of
times before realizing it is the cue and I am dreaming!
Sometimes the first few cues in a dream slip by undetected.
While swimming with dolphins, I visualize scooping water with my hands. I
think the streaks of bubbles might entertain them. The imagined movement becomes
very vivid as my visual field is suddenly filled with bands of shimmering
A short while later, though I see a bright flashing within the dreamscape, I
fail to become lucid, as my attention is detoured by a totally new scene. I'm
with some people from the Lucidity Institute. One of them notices I've fallen
asleep and makes a little alarm noise. I "wake" slowly (still within
the frame dream), to the apparent amusement of those nearby...
Again there is a bright flash, but this time I recognize the cue and attain
lucidity. Spinning stablizes my sense of dreambody and soon another scene
emerges. I fly easily through walls and window glass, then swoop low to shadow
the course of a clear, meandering river.
As illustrated above, when the cue does not incorporate in disguise (e.g.:
flashes of light fill the entire visual field as compared to cues which blend
well into the dream scenario), it can disrupt the current scene. Spinning and
other techniques that actively engage the dreambody encourage the continuation
of the dreamstate and help stablize lucidity. Since false awakenings can be
common in these situations, reality checks become all the more important. This
is where the Reality Testing Button on the sleep mask can be especially helpful.
Electronic machines are notorious for misbehaving in dreams, but the NovaDreamer
takes full advantage of this quirky tendency. Although the following example
does not include a false awakening, it demonstrates this exceptional feature.
Lying in a bed on the beach, I'm wearing the NovaDreamer and trying to get to
sleep in order to do a dream experiment. Loud music is coming from an apartment
next to a cafe situated on the cliff above. I climb up and enter the cafe
through a window, scrambling across a table at which some people are dining. The
partiers next door are
oblivious to my shouting at them to turn down their music, so I return to bed.
Thinking I'm awake, I press the reality testing button. When there is no
corresponding flash, I realize I'm dreaming!
If the cue leads to true awakening, this can be a perfect opportunity to
attempt a wake initiated lucid dream.
The ceramics studio appears to have been drastically rearranged and expanded
to include other arts and crafts programs. A bright light flashes repeatedly
from a nearby area. I assume the new curriculum now includes photography and
that someone is using a flash camera. Then I awaken and realize it was the cue,
so I lie very still and visualize spinning. A new scene emerges in which I am
standing infront of a simple wooden door. Knowing that I'm dreaming, I tell
myself that the ceramic studio is on the other side, turn the door knob and
re-enter the previous dream scene.
Awareness and resolve can increase throughout the night. In the first dream,
one particular evening, the cue appeared as flickering room light. In the second
dream, it was a candle flame that refused to be extinguished. Finally, in the
A man sets a large portfolio on the floor so that it opens like a standing
book. After turning a few pages, he stops to demonstrate a row of flip up
windows. He snaps each one up quickly, revealing bright, red squares beneath.
For some reason, I feel exceptionally tired and decide to recline on the futon
where I've been sitting during the presentation. Casually reflecting on the red
squares, I suddenly realize this could have been a cue from the NovaDreamer!
Immediately, I become lucid and proceed to carry out an experiment I've been
wanting to try.
More like a spectrum of awareness than a fixed state, lucidity can waver
dramatically within dreams. Another advantage the NovaDreamer offers is that it
continues to repeat the cue every few minutes during a REM cycle.
I'm cavorting in the air, thoroughly enjoying the awareness of dreaming, when
I notice a sparkling, rainbow-colored fish flying a short distance away.
Fascinated, I gently capture it in my hands. It flutters and buzzes, creating a
slight vibratory sensation. Its effervescent radiance becomes a pulsing white
light which I recognize as the NovaDreamer, cueing to remind me that I'm still
When I first began using the NovaDreamer, I was very sensitive to the cue and
kept the brightness factor set relatively low. As the years have passed, I've
become more conditioned to the light and achieve better results with a higher
setting. In working with the adjustable cue settings in Mode One, the acronym
"NIRTS" helps me remember the dial number/setting relationships, where
N=number of cues, I=intensity, R=rate, T=type and S=sensitivity. It has taken
some experimentation to find my optimum, personal settings and I will probably
need to continue making slight adjustments as time goes by. The mask, which
didn't take long to get accustomed to, is also convenient for sleeping in past
sunrise (perfect for those nap experiments) or whenever my companion chooses to
read in the middle of the night.
Lucid dreaming is a magnetic mystery to which I am passionately attracted.
Throughout the years, I have found countless opportunities to apply what I've
learned specifically from lucid dreaming to my waking life, particularly in the
areas of creative decision making and alternative thinking. It is this blending
of dream and waking worlds that continues to intrigue and inspire me. By
observing how things manifest in lucid dreams, I can better comprehend how my
impression of waking reality corresponds to my perception, expectations,
intentions and actions. Now, when I am confronted with a challenging situation
(and when I am living lucidly) I can ask, "If this were a dream, what would
I do?" It is personally empowering to realize that getting sucked into the
on-going drama is optional! Of course, this reflective state takes practice, and
more often than not, I am seduced into habitual reaction as opposed to more
mindful response. Still, that awareness, be it in the waking or dream world, is
worth striving for. Working with the NovaDreamer helps keep me focused on this
intention by reminding me of the magic, wonder, humor and lightness that can be
found in both realities.
A patch of brilliant sunlight catches my eye. I reach for it, pulling myself
towards its radiance...
Keelin is a long-time friend and member of the Lucidity Institute. Her
dedicated passion for lucid dreaming inspires her to offer workshops in the
Portland area, where she also facilitates a support/sharing group for equally
enthusiastic oneironauts. Keelin freely admits to an unrestrained passion for
lucid dreaming that borders on the obsessive. If addressed, any time of day or
night, she is quite likely to respond: "I'd rather be lucid dreaming!"