Dream Dreamer Part 2
The prominent definitions to be found seem to focus on the ability to control the dream, rather than what the name itself suggests—lucidity. That is, one would expect that experiencing a lucid dream would be to be fully aware within the dream, to feel fully awake and to have a complete sense of self.
As we shall see, the problem is that lucidity would appear to preclude the ability to control the dream. So what are those that have a level of control actually experiencing?
The brain is a great story machine, and that’s no exception when it comes to dreaming—because when we dream the brain strives to subdue our ability to rationalise, bestowing upon us a suspension of disbelief that allows for all manner of weird experiences.
Whether it is giant pink elephants or a suspension of the laws of physics, we bat not one eyelid as we flit from one juxtaposition to the next, accepting all that occurs about us without question.
I am no different, but every now and again I have what I would call a lucid dream.
For me a lucid dream starts with a normal dream, and that’s how it goes right up to the moment I wake up—except that I ‘wake up’ in the dream itself.
By this I do not mean that I wake from a dream to find myself in another dream—a dream within a dream, a-là Inception (though this occurs frequently for me)—but rather I ‘come-to’ in the dream I am having.
For me it means I become aware that I am dreaming—some aspect of the dream is sufficient to overcome the suspension of disbelief and boom I come to my senses. It is quite sudden when it happens and I feel as completely awake as I do now, writing this article.
Every time this has occurred I have always tried to do magic in the dream—to change the surroundings, fly about and…whatever. All to no avail.
And that’s because the dream has become real. So real that my mind will no longer entertain impossibilities. The laws of physics apply—or rather, they apply to me; the dream itself remains as bizarre as it was when it jolted me into wakefulness.
That is not to say that I don’t have dreams that I can control, however.
In fact I have those far more often than lucid dreams.
More importantly, in those dreams I am aware that I am dreaming. Or rather, I have an awareness that I am dreaming. I just do not feel as awake as I do in a lucid dream. The suspension of disbelief is still engaged and I can do whatever—fly, teleport, manifest objects—you name it.
But it is still just a dream.
One curious aspect of all this comes from the techniques that ‘lucid’ dreamers employ. I do not try to invoke lucid dreams myself, but I have read articles by those that do and one or two techniques have inadvertently stuck in my mind—or should I say subconscious—and they have a tendency to pop into my head when I am actually dreaming.
A common technique is to think about something whilst you are awake such that it will likely be present as a thought when you are dreaming—like remember to check whether you are dreaming.
It’s the totem that Inception plays upon—something that you know to be true, or otherwise understand, that does not hold true in a dream.
One thing in particular to think about is the written word—text on a page, newspaper headlines, shop signs etc. That’s because dreams are just approximations—you think the detail is there but it is not. So if you see some text in your dream try and actually read it. And if you can read it, try and read it again. The odds are that it will either be gibberish or will change from one reading to the next.
Although I make no conscious effort to do it I do find that I can’t help myself when dreaming—and these cues often trigger a sense that I am dreaming, but without it being enough to wake me into a lucid state.
That’s when I find I can control the dream—it’s usually flying for me, whereby through will alone I can elevate my body and fly about, often to tremendous heights.
Is that what a lot of lucid dreamers are actually experiencing? Because by definition if they were in a true lucid state they would no more be able to control the dream than reality itself.
But I have to say…it’s jolly good fun.