Thursday, October 29, 2015

Six Gates to Lucid Dreaming

This is the first of a series titled "Common Sense about Lucid Dreaming"

A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming. This awareness can give you the power to use the dreamscape as an adventure theme park, a place of training or higher education, or a field in which you can vanquish nightmare terrors and recognize and integrate different aspects of yourself.
     How do you become a lucid dreamer? Let me count the ways.

1. Waking up spontaneously to the fact that you are dreaming

This may happen because you notice an anomaly inside the dream. In ordinary reality, you don’t stand up naked in front of a crowd, you are not still in elementary school and you do not keep dragons in your basement. You look in a mirror and see a different face.
     When dream elements of this kind make you aware that you are dreaming, the trick is to stay with the dream instead of letting yourself be startled out of it. This requires practice and a fine melding of excitement and familiarity. Your excitement over what is going on will make you want to stay with the dream. Increasing familiarity with the phenomenon will help you maintain the poise and balance to go on with it.
     It is interesting that it is often scary experiences in early life, especially adolescence, that first bring spontaneous dream lucidity. For example, the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, in which you begin to stir from sleep and find that you cannot operate major muscle groups, can be the prelude to lucid dreaming – when you are able to relax into the situation and let something else develop.

2. Recognize your dream signs

You want to follow the practice of journaling all your dream experiences. This is going to be your personal encyclopedia of symbols and will give your first-hand data on the reality of precognition, parallel universes and so much more. In relation to developing your abilities as a lucid dreamer, your journal is the place where you can study your dream signs – the elements in your dreams that could make you aware that you are dreaming.
     For example, the dead are alive in your dreams. Or a dream element is repeated, exactly, in the way the black cat runs across the room the same way twice in the movie The Matrix. There is a sudden transit from one scene to another and you don’t know how you got to the new place. You are making love with a movie star. You find that when you try to read a text, it blurs.
     You can then select one or more dream signs and tell yourself that when you observe the same element, you will become aware that you are dreaming. You can borrow suggestions from frequent flyers. A very popular one is Carlos Castaneda’s suggestion (in Journey to Ixtlan) that whenever you see your hands, you should ask, “Am I dreaming”? I do that when I look at my watch. Inside a dream, the watch sometimes operates very differently from its regular functioning.

3. Set an intention for lucid dreaming

Before going to bed, you set an intention to be aware you are dreaming and repeat that intention until it is firmly implanted in your mind. Give the intention some juice. “I am going to have fun in my dreams and I will be aware that I am dreaming” is perfectly acceptable. So is “Tonight I will go on a road of healing and I will know I am dreaming.”

4. Start in the Twilight Zone

The twilight zone between sleep and waking is a great launch pad for adventures in lucid dreaming. Sleep researchers distinguish the hypnagogic state, when you are on your way to sleep, from the hypnopompic state, when you are leaving sleep. In both states, if you are able to relax and entertain the images that form on your mental screen, you may find you are being offered a rich menu of portals and scenarios for dreaming. Choose to go with one of those images or developing stories, and you may start out lucid and stay that way.
    However, when the adventure begins in the first period of the night, you may fall asleep and lose dream awareness (and often memory of the dream) because your body craves rest. In most people’s daily cycle, the first hours in bed are a time for “industrial sleep” to restore and replenish the body. Dream recall and lucid awareness may be less important in this period, in relation to daily maintenance, than the need for nourishing sleep and downtime.
    The best times to experiment in the twilight zone are when you wake in the middle of the night, and when you wake from your final sleep cycle to start the day. I love what becomes available in the middle of the night (especially between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.) when I can simply lie back in a drifty state and let images come. After your final sleep cycle, you may find you remember dreams that have juice and energy and vivid detail. If you can arrange your life so you don’t have to jump out of bed right away, you can stay with one of these dreams and let it unfold into a fully lucid dream excursion.

5. Reenter a dream

Dream reentry is the royal road to lucid dreaming. This is one of the core techniques of Active Dreaming. The central idea is this: a dream scene is a place you have been, wherever in the worlds that may be. Because you have been there, you can go there again.
     Why would you want to do this?
      Maybe you were having a great adventure or romance, but were interrupted by the alarm clock and would like to go on with it. Maybe you were fleeing from a nightmare bogey and you realize it is time to face up to that challenge and resolve it on its own ground – which, by the way, is the smartest way to end a series of scary dreams. Maybe you want to talk to someone who appeared in the dream.
     Maybe you simply want to develop entry points for lucid dreaming, personal dream gates through which you can access realms of adventure, guidance and healing.
      How do you practice dream reentry? You need three things: a strong image, a clear intention, and the ability to fuel and focus the lucid dream journey that is going to unfold. You hold the dream that is calling you in your mind and let it become vivid and alive. It might be the dream from which you just awakened or a dream from years ago, maybe a dream that frightened you in childhood and was never resolved. Next, you set your intention. I am going to see what’s behind that door. I am going to confront my pursuer. I am going to dance with the bear. I am going to meet my dream lover again on that tropical island and I don’t have to pay for the plane ticket.
     If you have a tendency to drift off to sleep, you may add the intention: I will remain alert and aware that I am dreaming.
 If you find that you need extra fuel to accomplish liftoff, and/or that your focus is easily distracted, try using shamanic drumming as you embark on the journey. In my workshops, we use shamanic drumming very frequently to power conscious dream journeys. I have recorded a CD of shamanic drumming specifically for conscious dream travelers, Wings for the Journey.

6. Look at the world around you as a waking dream

As is well understood by teachers of dream yoga, lucid living is fundamental to growing the practice of lucid dreaming. Practice mindfulness in everyday circumstances. Ask yourself from time to time, What am I doing now? What is playing on my inner soundtrack? Take some quiet, unscheduled time, inside or out and about, and receive impressions – both the contents of your mind and the incidents of external reality – without judgment.
     Look for signs and symbols in the world around you. I suggest many games in this cause in my book Sidewalk Oracles. You’ll become aware that the world is speaking to you in many voices, and you’ll start to glimpse the patterns of a deeper order of reality, behind the veils of ordinary perception.
     You’ll find you can carry this heightened awareness into the dream state, and that your deeper dreams will expand your consciousness, in turn, on the roads of everyday life.

Photo by RM


Anonymous said...

And if you dare to explore further, participating in one of Robert Moss's workshop dream circles you will be introduced to the 7th Gate--dreaming intentionally with a group of other dreamers, re-entering each other's dreams as well as our own, coming back from the experience with life-changing knowledge...lucid dreaming opened me up to the richness of life.

Nattmenneske said...

I like that you call it the "twilight zone". Daydreaming in that half-awake-falling-asleep state has been one of my most effective ways to get a lucid dream.

Massimo Civita said...

Hello, very nice website, I have written articles about lucid dreams in particular from their origins in Plato's Hyperuranium, which develops through the Sephirot (tree of life), are quite complex articles, and I understand that someone may find it difficult to read them, but if you are interested i give you the link:

Steve Berke said...

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