This excerpt is from a chapter in _A
Brief History of Dream Sharing: Theory, Techniques and Cyberspace_.
1999, DreamGate Publishing.
Available on CD. Send request for info to Richard Wilkerson at email@example.com
"I have been dreaming for some time and suddenly I
realize that I am dreaming. As soon as I become lucid, I feel a flow of tingling
energy rising up into my head and settling in my forehead. The dream images
shift suddenly and now I see an amazingly beautiful evergreen tree in from of
If the writings of the Ancient Eastern mystics are
to be considered, the first mention of lucid like dream control comes from about
1000 BCE in the Upanishads "...having subdued by sleep all that belongs to
the body, he not asleep himself , looks down upon the sleeping senses. Having
taken to himself light, he goes again to his place - the golden person, the
lonely swan." (Shafton, pg 431).
The doctrines moved from India into Tibet and as Gillespie (1988) has
published, became part of the complex systems of enlightenment in Buddhism.
Though generally unknown in the West, they were know to esotericists from
Evans-Wentz's 1935 book Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines.
Both the Greeks and the Romans spoke about lucid dreaming, but the credit for
the first full description is usually given to St. Augustine who in 415 AD
recounted two dreams of a former Roman physician Gennadius. In the first dream
appeared a guide and the next night the guide returns and when Gennadius
recognized him, the guide said they had met in the previous night's dream. The
guide goes on to instruct him that he is dreaming, though his body is lying
asleep, and that this is what it is like after death.
Hervey de Saint-Denys investigated and wrote in France about lucid dreaming
in _"Dreams and how to Guide them_" which Freud knew of but didn't
read. Freud should have read him as it would have perhaps gave him pause in
saying it just wasn't possible.
Actually, it was Frederick Van Eeden that brought the issue up to the
mainstream Western public in 1913 at a meeting for the Proceedings for the
Society of Psychical Research, but the audience was small and reacted much in
the same way they had to dreams in general - "So what?"
Other writers and individual pioneers like Hervey de Saint-Denys and Mary
Arnold-Foster tried to bring public attention to lucid dreaming, but without
But by the 1960's Western Culture had reached a degree of self awareness that
allowed us to see that excessive material gain didn't necessarily increase the
meaning in one's life. Alternative realities were explored, some with success
and some with disaster. Charles Tart was at the center of this exploration and
published Altered States which among other articles, included one on how the
Senoi tribe controlled their dreams and a reprint of Van Eeden's article "A
Study of Dreams".
A few other writers also were able to reach people, including Patricia
Garfield and her chapter on lucid dreams in Creative Dreaming, Celia Green's
1968 Lucid Dreams and Sparrow's 1976 Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light.
Another influential stream were the popular Castaneda books, particularly the
1972 Journey to Ixtlan where Castaneda is supposedly taught the secret of lucid
dreaming by the guide Don Juan. The now famous technique is to become conscious
of one's hands while sleeping and thereby become lucid. What was actually
suggested was to pick *any* pre-sleep selected object. It's just that the hands
were something that would always be available.
But it wasn't until two independent researcher groups were able to actually
signal from the lucid dream state in laboratories that the first objective
evidence was available. The first was a subject named Alan Worlsely who signaled
to Keith Hearne in the English sleep laboratories of Hull University. But Hearne
held off on publishing his work and it was unknown to the parallel work being
done in California at Sanford by Stephen LaBerge. Both had drawn on the current
REM dream research that found that while most of the body is pretty much cut off
from movement during dreaming, the eyes are actually quite active (thus REM or
Rapid Eye Movement). Why not signal from the dream state with a pre-chosen
series of eye movements that would be obvious and statistically significant? The
only question was whether or not the lucid dream eye movements would correspond
or connect with the psychical eye.
LaBerge describes the first night he was sleeping in the lab and was able to
signal after some initial problems:
"I slept very well, indeed, and after seven and a half hours in bed had
my first lucid dream in the lab. A moment before, I had been dreaming- but then
I suddenly realized that I must be asleep because I couldn't see, feel, or hear
anything. I recalled with delight that I was sleeping in the laboratory. The
image of what seemed to be the instruction booklet for a vacuum cleaner or some
such appliance floated by. it struck me as mere flotsam on the stream of
consciousness, but as I focused on it and tried to read the writing, the image
gradually stabilized and I had the sensation of opening my dream eyes. Then my
hands appeared, with the rest of my dream body, and I was looking at the booklet
in bed. My dream room was a reasonably good copy of the room in which I was
actually asleep. Since I now had a dream body I decided to do the eye movements
that we had agreed upon as a signal. I moved my finger in a vertical line in
front of me, following it with my eyes. But I had become very excited over being
able to do this at last, and the thought disrupted my dream so that it faded a
few seconds later." (1985, pg 70)
Two large eye movements were found on the polygraph and the results were sent
to the Association for the Psychophysiological Study of Sleep. But then the
research began to come up against skepticism by reviewers in the journal where
LaBerge and his mentor Lynn Nagel tried to publish. A reviewer for the <i>Science</i>
Journal kept saying that it was impossible and therefore invalid, not on
technical grounds, but philosophical ones! But they continued research, doubling
efforts and finally by around 1981 the sleep research community could no longer
deny the evidence.
Now lucid dreaming is a large sub-branch of dreaming in general. The lucid
dreaming papers and symposiums are quite popular at the annual ASD (Association
for the Study of Dreams) conventions and besides the Lucidity Institute in Palo
Alto, there are multitudes of smaller groups run by interested and informed
individuals. The Internet has spawned not only several web sites devoted to
lucid dreaming, but two newsgroups, alt.dreams.lucid and alt.dreams.castaneda
which continually discuss lucid dreaming.
The benefits of learning and practicing lucid dreaming are still being
debated, but some positive trends are becoming clear. Generally, they follow the
benefits of becoming mindful & conscious in general:
Nightmare Control. Bringing consciousness to dreams allows the dreamer to
feel more empowered. This can be especially helpful to those who suffer from
Increase Life Expectancy. Usually we see this increase as living longer. But
what if you could be conscious an extra 10% of your sleeping time and feel more
refreshed than ever?
Amazing Adventure for Free. How often in waking life do we get the chance to
fly, to breath under water, to walk through walls and cuddle up next to movie
Rehearsal. Just as practice visualization helps before an event, so to can
rehearsal in a dream.
Health. Lucid dreamers tend to resist disease more and have shorter periods
of illness when they are sick.
Advance Enlightenment. Many lucid researchers have now connected lucid
dreaming with states of consciousness promoted by Tibetan Buddhism.
Lucid dreaming, which once shared the shelf with esoteric and occult beliefs,
has now been brought out onto the table of verifiable knowledge and teachable
skills. We now have the platter before us, and a nightly feast awaits.
Return to the Lucid Dreaming Index for Lucid Dream Techniques, History, and
uses in psychology.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CITATIONS
Bogzaran, Fariba (1987). The creative process: Paintings inspired from the
lucid dream. _Lucidity Letter_. 6(2).
Barrett, Deirdre (1992). Just how lucid are lucid dreams? _Dreaming_, 2(4).
Castaneda, Carlos (1993). _The Art of Dreaming_. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Delaney, Gayle ( 1979/1989). _Living you Dreams._ San Francisco, CA: Harper
Evans-Wentz, W. Y. (1958). _Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines._ New York, NY:
Oxford University Press.
Faraday, Ann (1974). _The Dream Game_. New York, NY: Harper and Row.
Gackenbach, Jayne and Hunt, Harry T. (1992). Lucid dreaming as a
transpersonal (meditational) state: A potential distinction from dream-work
methods. _ Journal of Mental Imagery_, 16(1&2), Spring/Summer, 97-117.
Gackenbach, Jayne & Bosveld, Jane (1989). _Control Your Dreams_. New
York, NY: Harper & Row.
Gackenbach, J. & LaBerge, S. (1988). _Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brain:
Perspectives on Lucid Dreaming_. New York: Plenum Press.
Gackenbach, J & Sheikh, Anees A. (Eds). (1991). Dream Images: A Call to
Mental Arms. Imagery and Human Development Series. Amityville, NY: Baywood
Publishing Company, Inc.
Gackenbach, J., Snyder, T. J., Rokes, LeAnn M., and Sachau, D. (1986). Lucid
dreaming frequency in relation to vestibular sensitivity as measured by caloric
stimulation. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 7(2&3), 277-298.
Garfield, Patricia (1979). _Pathway to Ecstasy_. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart
--------. (1974). Creative Dreaming. New York: NY: Ballantine Books.
Gillespie, George (1988). see Gackenbach 1988, pg 27-63.
Green, C. (1968). _Lucid Dreams_ Oxford: Institute for Psychophysical
Hearne, K. M. T. (1982). Keith Hearne's work on lucid dreaming. _Lucidity
Letter_ 1(3). 15-17.
Krippner, Stanley. (Ed.). (1990). _Dreamtime and Dreamwork: Decoding the
Language of the Night_. Los Angeles: Jeremy P Tarcher, Inc.
Green, Celia E. (1968). _Lucid Dreams_ Oxford: Institute of Psychophysical
Gregory, Jill (1988). _Dream Tips_. Novato, CA: Novato Center for Dreams
LaBerge, Stephen. (1990). Lucid dreaming: Psychophysiological studies of
consciousness during rem sleep. In: Sleep and Cognition. R. Bootzin, J F.
Kihlstrom and D L Schacter (Eds.). Washington DC: American Psychological
--------. (1985). Lucid Dreaming. New York: Ballantine Books.
LaBerge, S., Levitan, L., Dement, W. C. (1986). Lucid dreaming: Physiological
correlates of consciousness during REM Sleep The Journal of Mind and Behavior,
LaBerge, S., Nagel, L., Dement, W., & Zarcone Jr, V. (1981). Lucid
dreaming verified by volitional communication during rem sleep. Perceptual and
Motor Skills, 52, 727-732.
LaBerge, S. & Rheingold, H. EXPLORING THE WORLD OF LUCID DREAMING (New
York: Ballantine, 1990).
Moffitt, A., Kramer, M., Hoffmann, R. (Eds.). (1993). The Function of
Dreaming. NY: State University of New York Press.
Reeh, Henry (1978). Improved dream recall associated with meditation.
_Journal of Clinical Psychology_, 34, 150-156.
--------. (1977). Meditation and lucid dreaming: A statistical relationship.
_Sundance Commmunity Dream Journal._ 2, 237-238.
Saint-Denys, Hervey de. (1982/1867). _Dreams and How to Guide Them_. (N. Fry,
Trans). London: Duckworth.
Shafton, Anthony (1995). Dream Reader: Contemporary Approaches to the
Understanding of Dreams. Albany, NY: Suny Press. See esp Chapter 14 Lucidity, pg
Sparrow, G. S. (1976). _Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light_. Virginia
Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press
--------. (1976). Effects of meditation on dreams. _Sundance Community Dream
Journal._ 1(1), 48-49.
Tart, Charles T. (1987). The world simulation process in waking and dreaming:
A systems analysis of structure. _Journal of Mental Imagery_, 11(2), 145-158.
-------. (Ed.). (1972)._ Altered States of Consciousness_. New York: John
Wiley & Sons.
--------. (1965). Toward the experimental control of dreaming: A review of
the literature. _Psychological Bulletin_, 64(2), 81-91.
Tholey, P. (1983). Techniques for inducing and manipulating lucid dreams. _
Perceptual and Motor Skills_, 57: 70-90.
Ullman, M.& Limmer, C. (1989) _The Variety of Dream Experience_ . New
York: The Continuum Publishing Co.
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1996). Lucid Dreaming and Lucid Control. San
Francisco, CA : DreamGate Publications.
Worsley, Alan (1982). Alan Worsely's work on lucid dreaming. _Lucidity
Letter_ 1(4) 21-22.