Electric Dreams

An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange
Lucy Gillis, Editor

"Does the Sailor
Control the Sea?"
Overcoming Resistance
to Lucid Dreaming

Robert Waggoner

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Waggoner, Robert (2006 June). "Does the Sailor Control the Sea?" Overcoming Resistance to Lucid Dreaming. (An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange, Lucy Gillis, Editor.) Electric Dreams 13(6).

Can dream control be a bad thing? If you control your dreams are you somehow interfering with the normal functioning of the dreaming mind?

The idea of lucid dreaming can bring up many misconceptions of what it actually means to "control" your dream, particularly if you haven't experienced a lucid dream before. Robert Waggoner hit upon an excellent analogy when confronted with questions about lucidity and dream control.

"Does the Sailor Control the Sea?"
Overcoming Resistance to Lucid Dreaming
By Robert G. Waggoner
(c) 2005 - All Rights Reserved

At a recent dream conference, psycho-therapists kept stopping me and saying, "Oh, you're the person that I want to talk to about lucid dreams!" It seems that another psychologist had mentioned hearing me speak on lucid dreaming in Copenhagen - a talk where I interweaved my lucid dream experiences with comments by Jung and Freud to suggest that lucid dreaming may be a means to explore and acquaint ourselves with the Self, or director of the dreaming. After my talk, the psychologist re-considered her negative predisposition to lucid dreaming and instead, realized the potential value in lucid dreaming as a means of psychological exploration and integration.

So now, I began to meet the assorted - and yet-to-be convinced - colleagues. Most began by telling me that their academic training had taught them to consider "dreaming" as a message from the deepest part of our selves. To control the dream, as they assured me that lucid dreamers do, destroys or pollutes the pure message from this deep part of our selves. Though they didn't say it, the suggestion remained that only a narcissistic fool would do such a thing.

After a few hallway encounters, I hit upon an analogy that seemed to bring some lucidity into the conversation. I said, "No sailor controls the sea. Only a foolish sailor would say such a thing." Then I continued, "Similarly, no lucid dreamer controls the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, we lucid dreamers direct our perceptual awareness within the larger state of dreaming."

Wow, the power of an analogy!

Suddenly, I saw in their eyes the realization that my lucid dreaming experiences were simply attempts to understand the depths of dreaming, and by extension, my Self. Suddenly, we were on the same "team" - dreamers trying to understand the beauty and magnificence of dreaming. Suddenly, lucid dreaming had potential for increased awareness, instead of narcissistic flight!

Thankfully too, I had a recent lucid dream (see "Re-connecting with a Discarded Aspect of Myself" in the June 2005 LDE) to share with them. In it, I become lucidly aware and ask a young black woman, shadowing behind me, "Who are you?" She responds, "I am a discarded aspect of your self." And then, I felt the truth of that statement and the energy of this woman come into me. As Jung might suggest, this lucid dream shows conscious integration with parts of our self - forgotten, ignored, abused, misunderstood, but now consciously integrated into our awareness.

So if you happen to meet someone who has a negative opinion of lucid dreamers because they "control" the dream, ask them, "Does the Sailor control the Sea?" - and have a more enlightened conversation about lucid dreams. The following prose piece, I wrote for a talk that I gave in Alexandria, VA.

"Does the Sailor Control the Sea?"

No sailor "controls" the sea. Only a foolish sailor would say such a thing.

Similarly, no lucid dreamer "controls" the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, we lucid dreamers direct our perceptual awareness within the larger state of dreaming. In so doing, we come to know the limited realm of our awareness compared to the magnificent depth and creativity of the dreaming. As a portion of our conscious awareness rides upon the surface realm of the subconscious, we sense the support and the magnificent majesty of the unconscious below.

Like a sailor moving towards an island or point on the sea's horizon, we lucid dreamers "direct the focus of our intent" within dreaming to seen and unseen points.

Like a sailor adjusting his sails, the rudder, and balance in response to the vessel's relation to the sea, so do we lucid dreamers make adjustments within our awareness to the dreaming and our functioning in the dreaming. We learn that the sea feels alive and aware.

As lucid dreamers, we respond to the dreaming, learn of the dreaming, and appreciate the beauty and immensity of the dreaming. The dreaming exists far beyond the limited scope of the lucid dreamer, but in that moment of the dream, the lucid dreamer experiences some portions of the dreaming directly and develops a more aware relationship with it.

The sea has many moods, many secrets, and many purposes. We can stand back and fear it. We can tell frightful stories of great sea monsters and the dangers that lie beyond. Or we can venture forth, our courage mingled with our curiosity, and discover what can be discovered.

Only by sailing on the sea will we ever know it, as it is - apart from our ideas, theories and pre-conceptions. Only by sailing on the sea, exposing ourselves to it, questioning it, responding to it, will we ever approach what it is and in so doing, perhaps a glimmer of our true natures; what we are.

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