Sometimes in the practice of deep relaxation, meditation or sensory deprivation, our being enters into a state akin to sleep, yet we maintain a personal waking awareness. This is like a journey into a deep interior world of mind and body where our senses no longer function in their waking manner, where the brain works in a different way, and where awareness is introverted in a degree we do not usually experience. It can be a frightening world, simply because we are not accustomed to it. In a similar way a measure of waking awareness can arise while dreaming. This is called lucid dreaming. During it we can change or wilfully direct what is happening in the dream in a way not usual to the dream state.
Example: 4I had backed my car into a big yard, a commercial area. My wife, two of my sons and I got out of the car. As we stood in the yard talking I realised there was a motorbike where my car should be. I said to everyone, “There was a car here a moment ago, now it’s a motorbike. Do you know what that means? It means we are dreaming.” Mark my son was now with us, and my ex-wife. I asked them if they realised they were dreaming. They got very vague and didn’t reply. I asked them again and felt very clearly awake’ (William V). William’s is a fairly typical lucid dream, but there are features which it does not illustrate. During the days or weeks prior to a lucid dream, many people experience an increase in (lying dreams.
The next example shows another common feature.
Example: In many of my dreams I become aware that I am dreaming. Also, if anything unpleasant threatens me in the dream I get away from it by waking myself (Alan). Lucidity often has this feature of enabling the dreamer to avoid unpleasant elements of the dream.
The decision to avoid any unpleasant internal emotions is a common feature of a person’s conscious life, so this aspect of lucidity is simply a way of taking such a decision into the dream. Some writers even suggest it as a way of dealing with frightening dreams. Avoidance does not solve the problem, it simply pushes the emotion deeper into the unconscious where it can do damage more surreptitiously. Recent findings regarding suppressed gnef and stress, which connects them with a higher incidence of cancer, suggests that suppression is not a healthy way of dealing with feelings.
Another approach to lucidity is that it can be a son of playground where one can walk through walls, jump from high buildings and fly, change the sofa into an attractive lover, and so on. True, the realisation that our dream life is a different world and that it does have completely different principles at work than our waking world is imponant. Often people introven into their dream life the morals and fears which are only relevant to being awake in physical life.
To avoid a charging bull is cenainly imponant in waking life. In our dream life, though, to meet its charge is to integrate the enormous energy which the bull represents, an energy which is our own but which we may have been avoiding or running away’ from previously. Realising such simple differences revolutionises the way we relate to our own internal events and possibilities.
To treat lucid dreams as if they offered no other attainable expenence than to manipulate the dream environment, or avoid an encounter, is to miss an amazing feature of human potential.
Example: ‘In my dream I was watching a fern grow. It was small but opened out very rapidly. As I watched I became aware that the fern was simply an image representing a process occurring within myself which I grew increasingly aware of as I watched. Then I was fully awake in my dream and realised that my dream, perhaps any dream, was an expression of actual and real events occurring in my body and mind. I felt enormous excitement, as if I were witnessing something of great importance’ (Francis P). It is now acceptable, through the work of Freud, Jung and many others, to consider that within images of the dream lie valuable information about what is occurring within the dreamer, perhaps unconsciously. Strangely, though, it is almost never considered that one can have direct perception into this level of internal ‘events’ without the dream. What Francis describes is an experience of being on the cusp of symbols and direct perception. Considering the enormous advantage of such direct information gathering, it is surprising it is seldom mentioned except in the writings of Corriere and Han, The Dream Makers.
Example: After defining why I had not woken in sleep recently, i.e. loss of belief, I had the following experience. I awoke in my sleep and began to see, without any symbols, that my attitudes and sleep movements expressed a feeling of restrained antagonism or irritation to my wife. I could also observe the feelings were arising from my discipline of sexuality. Realising I did not want those feelings I altered them and woke enough to turn towards her’ (Francis P). After the first of his direct perception dreams, Francis attempted to use this function again, resulting in the above, and other, such dreams. Just as classic dream interpretation says that the dream symbols represent psychobiological logical processes which might be uncovered by dream processing, what we see in Francis’ lucidity is a direct route to self insight, and through it a rapid personal growth to improved life experience. Such dreams provide not only psychological insight, but very frequently a direct perception of processes occurring in the body, as the following example illustrates.
Example: ‘Although deeply asleep I was wide awake without any shape or form. I had direct experience, without any pictures, of the action of the energies in my body. I had no awareness of body shape, only of the flow of activities in the organs. I checked over what I could observe, and noticed a tension in my neck was interfering with the flow and exchange of energies between the head and trunk. It was also obvious from what I could see that the tension was due to an attitude I had to authority, and if the tension remained it could lead to physical ill health’ (Tony C).
An effective way to develop lucidity is frequently to consider the events of waking life as if they were a dream. Try to see events as one might see dream symbols. What do they mean in terms of one’s motivations, fears, personal growth? What do they suggest about oneself? For instance a person who works in a photographic darkroom developing films and prints might see they were trying to bnng to consciousness the latent—unconscious—side of themselves.
A banker might feel they were working at how best to deal with their sexual and personal resources. In this way one might actually apply what is said in this dream dictionary to one’s outer circumstances.
The second instruction is, on waking, at a convenient moment, imagine oneself standing within one’s recent dream. As you get a sense of this dream environment, realise that you are taking waking awareness into the dream. From the standpoint of being fully aware of the dream action and events, what will you now do in and with the dream? Re-dream it with consciousness.
For example the things you run from in your normal dreaming you could now face. See dream processing for fun her suggestions.