Electric Dreams

An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange

20 Questions About
Lucid Dreams

Lucy Gillis

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Gillis, Lucy (2003 September). An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange:
20 Questions About Lucid Dreams. Electric Dreams 10(9).

Here is a sneak preview of one of the articles in LDE 28!

20 Questions About Lucid Dreams
Answered By Members of the Dream Community

(c) 2003 Linda Lane Magallón (Editor), Lucy Gillis, Jill Gregory, Teresa Magallón, Ruth Sacksteder and Robert Trowbridge

Note: BT=Bob Trowbridge, JG=Jill Gregory, LG=Lucy Gillis, LM=Linda Magallón, RS=Ruth Sacksteder, TM=Teresa Magallón.

1. What is a lucid dream?
RS: A dream in which the dreamer knows she is dreaming while she is dreaming.
LM: A dream in which you are aware that you're dreaming. Or: Lucid dreaming is being aware that we are dreaming while the dream is happening.

2. How common are lucid dreams?
RS: There are no good statistics amongst a cross-section of the American population. The statistics we have are usually from select college students taking a particular class (like psychology). And certain select people from the dreaming community have been polled.
LG: I could only guess at the answer, and it wouldn't even be an educated guess. In my personal experience, it seems that most people don't have them, however most of those same people claim not to remember dreams in the first place. Among those who do recall dreams, it seems that very few experience lucid dreams, however, I wonder if it is simply because they don't know what a lucid dream is?

3. Is lucid dreaming the same as dream control?
LM: Lucidity is awareness that you dream; dream control is being proactive with your dreams. And the two don't necessarily go together.
RS: In a fully lucid dream, the dreamer has a conscious choice either to alter the scenario or go along with it. Being lucid does not equate with success in controlling dreams. Control and lucidity are two different ranges, or axes (on a graph).
LG: I interpret dream control to be the ability to control or direct your dream environment, characters, events, etc. But you can also be lucid and just watch the dream unfold without participating in it or directing it.

4. Is controlling a lucid dream dangerous? Does it interfere with "normal" sleep?
RS: No. Lucid dreams are a natural phenomena-they can happen spontaneously. The number of times you get lucid is far less frequent than the total number of dreams you have.
BT: No. I know a dreamer who was once conscious all night long. Lucid dreaming shows us that we are a multiplicity, so it's not a case of either lucid dreaming or nonlucid dreaming.
JG: It is not possible in either the waking state or the dreaming state to step outside of the spectrum of both influencing and being influenced simultaneously. Trying not to influence your dreams while dreaming is itself a powerful influence upon both states.
TM: I had a dream of a dragon chasing me in which I was lucid and unable to intentionally wake myself. Eventually I awoke as the dragon was coming towards me. I was scared in the dream and a little frightened upon waking. Although this might be considered to be a "bad" lucid dreaming experience, it never even occurred to me to be afraid of lucid dreaming as a whole. Subsequently, I've had many lucid dreams, both pleasant and unpleasant. The enjoyable lucid dream experiences have more than outweighed the few dreams that were not.
LG: In my personal experience lucid dreaming has never interfered with my sleep. Quite the contrary, I usually wake refreshed and energized after a having a lucid dream. I don't think that lucid dreaming is dangerous for stable, mentally healthy individuals. I would assume that if you have mental problems, like severe depression, emotional turmoil, etc., that it may not be productive to attempt to control your dreams. But on the other side of the coin, it may help you get over some difficulties, like a form of dream therapy. I believe it depends on the individual, but for the average person, no, it isn't dangerous.
LM: I've been clinically diagnosed with depression, and being proactive has been a god-send. For the first 38 years of my life, my "normal" sleep was nightmares of the titanic variety. But even if they had been just anxiety or angst dreams, I'd still want to change to a healthier regime. No, not to repress my problems (like I could), but to attain better balance. So, yes, lucid dreaming did interfere with my "normal" sleep. Thank goodness. It was one of the factors in changing my dream content from 100% nightmares to less than 2%.

5. In what stages of sleep do lucid dreams occur? Are they the same as "normal" dreams?
RS: They usually, but not invariably, occur in REM sleep.
LM: "Normal" dreams have been reported in all stages of sleep. You can also be lucid in every stage.

6. If your brain waves are moving at an alpha rate, and you are snoring, is that considered sleeping?
RS: ???
LG: I'm with R and L on this: ???ZZZ I simply don't know!
LM: My understanding of the snoring mechanism is that it is engaged as a result of being very relaxed, but not necessarily asleep.

7. Why would I want to have lucid dreams?
BT: They're trippy. They're fun, especially the short sequences.
RS: To overcome nightmares, rehearse for waking life, enhance creativity, have fun, interesting adventures, self and spiritual discovery, to experiment with the dreamscape, to explore, to do dream healings on yourself, to attempt psi, to dream with other people.
JG: It's an excellent way to learn about yourself and the dreamworld. A lucid dream manifests things quicker; it's a safe place to practice.

8. Is lucid dreaming a spiritual state?
LG: No. In it's simplest definition, lucid dreaming is being aware of the dream state while in the dreamstate. It is awareness, not spirituality.
RS: Not any more or any less than any other state. The dream state isn't any more spiritual than the waking. People can have spiritual experiences in dreams or while awake.
BT: Not always. It can be used for anything. I've done activities far from spiritual, like eating almonds and hoping that there would be pieces in my teeth when I woke up. An idiot who has a lucid dream is just an idiot who knows he's dreaming.
JG: It can be for you, depending on how you like to be with your dreams or sources of wisdom.

9. What's the difference between lucid dreaming and shamanic dreaming?
RS: Shamanic dreaming is defined so many ways, I'm not sure what state of consciousness the "dreamer" is in.
LM: Lucid dreaming occurs while you are asleep. With very few exceptions, shamanic "dreaming" is conscious "dreaming," that is, it takes place while you're awake.

10. Can anyone learn lucid dreaming?
BT: I think so. For the non-sighted, dreaming doesn't have to mean visual dreaming.
LG: I believe that anyone can learn to have lucid dreams. I don't know of anything that could prevent it.
RS: Many people who have never had a lucid dream can learn to have one. It seem easier for young people to learn but older people have learned lucid dreaming as well.

11. How can I learn to be a lucid dreamer? What does it take?
RS: You need time, space, energy to make the effort and strong motivation.
JG: Getting to know yourself pretty well as a dreamer and as a person with varying levels of awareness in various situations both waking and dreaming. Identifying specific blocks to your lucidity and updating those arrangements. Read about dreams and especially sample dreams before going to sleep. Welcome all of your dreams!
LG: It takes dedication and a genuine interest in lucid dreaming. However, don't try too hard. Be persistent, but also patient and gentle with yourself.

12. Does improving dream recall help induce lucidity?
RS: Yes, but not invariably.
BT: Not likely.
LM: Not by itself. It's just the first step.
JG: Frequent recall helps a lot.
LG: I believe it can help. It certainly can't hurt!

13. What are the best books on lucid dreaming?
BT: LaBerge.
RS: LaBerge, Magallón, Brooks & Vogelsong.
JG: Ken Kelzer, Scott Sparrow, and Mortan Schatzman, Ed
LM: I'd add Oliver Fox and Jane Roberts.
LG: I'd add Celia Green.
(See references at end of article.)

14. What are the lucid dream induction techniques? How can I have a lucid dream?
RS: Read LaBerge's book. The technique that works the best for me: wake up when you reach your usual night's amount of sleep, less two hours. Stay up one hour. Go back to sleep. Other techniques: MILD, reality testing during the day, reading about lucid dreaming.
BT: My best method is to awaken early, stay up from a few minutes to 2 hours, then go back to sleep.
LM: Read Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, by LaBerge and Rheingold. I recommend early awakenings, also. However, if my current dreams seem light years away from lucidity, I find it best to take things in stages. I don't try to go from zero to sixty in a single night. Instead, I rev up my consciousness by getting my non-lucid dreaming self more active: I incubate flying dreams. A couple nights of non-lucid flying means it's oh, so much easier to go lucid from this new plateau of energy.
LG: The power of suggestion and frequent reality testing works best for me. I keep telling myself that I will have a lucid dream that night.

15. What does reality testing mean and what are the best methods?
LG: Reality testing means checking to see whether you are dreaming or awake. Sometimes you can believe that you are awake when you are in fact dreaming. That's where testing the reality of your situation comes in. In other words, if you can fly, you're dreaming. Personally, reading and re-reading text works best for me. Rarely has text ever remained stable in my dreams when I've attempted to re-read it.
RS: Attempt to read and reread print. Jump up and see if you float, even a little bit. Generally speaking, if one is questioning one is in a dream, one is.
BT: Well, don't jump out a window or off a cliff.
LM: I don't like to use reality testing techniques because I've observed that they encourage the production of false awakenings (where you have to test because you aren't sure you are lucid). I think it's much more effective to incubate full lucid dreams (where you're sure from the get-go).

16. How well do lucid dream induction devices work?
LM: I don't know myself. Every time I drifted into sleep, I'd automatically grab the visor and pull it off!
RS: They work best when people are doing other things as well to enhance lucidity such as reality testing during the day, LaBerge's MILD techniques, waking early.
BT: Well, it worked once for one dreamer and never worked for another. n=2. That's 50%. :-) Ask if they have a money-back guarantee.
LG: Like RS, I think they work well when you are trying other techniques to induce lucidity as well. I wouldn't want to become dependent on any device to induce my lucidity. I prefer to do it myself, and not rely totally on outside means. But a little boost once in a while doesn't hurt.

17. How can I use lucid dreaming for nightmares?
BT: If you're lucid, invite the nightmare character into your dream and beat the @#$%! out of him. :-)
LG: Some people advise confronting and combating nightmarish characters, while others suggest making peace or embracing nightmarish characters. I believe that whether a combative or passive approach works best depends upon the type of nightmare and the type of person experiencing the nightmare.
RS: The more I developed lucid dreaming, the less nightmares I had. Regarding scary figures, once you become lucid, fear often disappears. Otherwise, some people combat. Others make friends or merge and find the scary figures altered. Perhaps the best way to make scary figures go away is to ignore them and interest yourself in other aspects of the dream.
LM: I've used lucid dreams to experiment with the intensity of fear. Sometimes when I've encountered a scary figure, I've stood my ground to see how much fear I could take before losing the dream. Same with frightening events like earthquakes or slipping down a hill.

18. How can I keep from waking up right after I become lucid?
BT: Spinning worked once.
LM: Look at your hands. Hold on to something.
RS: Keep active in the dream and try not to get too excited. That can wake you up.
LG: Remain relatively calm and touch things, or fly, or otherwise engage directly in the dream environment. Sometimes singing helps too.

19. Is it possible to forget you've had a lucid dream?
BT: Umm, I forget.
RS: Yes.
LG: On one occasion, I recalled many hours after waking that I had been lucid the night before, so I guess it's quite possible that you could forget you had a lucid dream.

20. What do people do in lucid dreams?
LG: I think you are limited only by your imagination.
BT: Sex, fly, appear and disappear, play with the dreamscape, get in touch with guide figures, walk through walls.
RS: Many people enjoy doing things that they can't do in waking life like flying or walking through walls. Some people try experiments they or others have devised. Some people like to explore the dreamscape. There are probably as many different lucid dream activities as there are lucid dreamers.
LM: Geez, how many hours do you have?

Questions Where We Passed, Took the Fifth, Etc.
  • How do I control my lucid dreams?
    LM: (This was asked by someone who assumed that lucid dreams were completely controllable. The consensus is: they aren't.)
  • To what extent can I control my dream?
    LM: (Truth is, nobody knows.)
  • To what extent can I control my dream?
    LM: (Truth is, nobody knows.)
  • Where can I find training on lucid dreaming?
    LM: (Nobody knows of any training course.)
  • Why (physiologically) do we have lucid dreams? How does the brain produce lucid dreaming?
    LM: (Good references: LaBerge and Gachenbach & Bosveld.)
  • How do I use the lucid dream states with clients in the psychotherapeutic setting?
    LM: (There are a whole bucket-load of reasons why I think this is a bad idea. Nobody disagreed with me.)
  • Are lucid dreams interpreted differently than non-lucid dreams?
    LM: (See the articles by Robert Waggoner and me in LDE No. 23.)
  • Brooks, Janice E. & Jay A. Vogelsong. The Conscious Exploration of Dreaming. Bloomington, IN: 1st Books Library (www.1stBooks.com), 2000.
  • Fox, Oliver (Hugh Calloway). Astral Projection. Secaucus, NJ: The Citadel Press, 1980.
  • Gachenbach, Jayne, & Jane Bosveld. Control Your Dreams. NY: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Green, Celia. E. Lucid Dreams. Oxford: Institute of Psychophysical Research, 1968.
  • Kelzer, Kenneth. The Sun & The Shadow: My Experiment With Lucid Dreaming. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 1987.
  • LaBerge, Stephen. Lucid Dreaming. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1985.
  • LaBerge, Stephen & Howard Rheingold. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. NY: Ballantine Books, 1990.
  • Magallón, Linda Lane. Mutual Dreaming. NY: Pocket Books 1997.
  • Roberts, Jane. Seth, Dreams and Projections of Consciousness. Walpole, NH: Stillpoint Pub., 1986.
  • Schatzman, Mortan (Ed.) Hervey de Saint-Denys: Dreams and How To Guide Them. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co., Ltd., 1982.
  • Sparrow, Scott. Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 1976, 1982.

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