Lucid Dreaming

My experience with lucid dreaming

If you are a proficient practitioner of Lucid Dreaming already, then congratulations (Isaac says enviously). But please move on to read something else. This is not for you.

If you’re curious, or you don’t even know what Lucid Dreaming is, then you are in the right place. Keep reading. I will tell you what it is, and my personal experience.

Where to begin? What about the terminology? I don’t know about you, but I never liked the sound of Lucid Dreaming. It has a ring of drug abuse to it, of hallucination or, even worse, of weird sect-like stuff.

Far from it, though.

Lucid Dreaming means to be aware of being dreaming while you are dreaming. That’s all. Simple. You are dreaming, and you know it. That “lucid” word is the problem. I would have used something more explicit, like “Dream Awareness” or “Awake in Dreams” or similar, but, hey, the term stuck, so that’s that.

So how rare is it? Why don’t we hear everybody speaking about it all the time?

Well, the truth is that Lucid Dreaming is usually a rare occurrence. And it’s no wonder. Lucid Dreaming is not natural, in the sense that it is a state that the mind is not designed to attain. Our brains go a long way to make us forget we’re dreaming, to the point where we take the most absurd things for granted. Let’s face it, while we are sleeping, we go mad.

But Lucid Dreaming is not as rare as you might think. I bet you’ve been lucid (that terminology again, sorry) before, perhaps even often. Problem is, lucid dreams are, first and foremost, dreams. And since most people forget them as they wake up, you rarely remember being lucid.

It is no coincidence that one of the first steps of every LD technique (yes, there are techniques for achieving Lucid Dreaming—just ask Google) is to train your memory to be able to remember your dreams.

Okay. So what’s the big deal? You might ask.

Let me reply with a few questions (as Galicians in my native Spain famously do): Would you like to experience a simulation so vivid that it engages all your senses? Would you like to be a wizard? Feel the power of transforming reality with your mind? Explore any fantasy? Yes, with [fill in your favorite celebrity here] bending to your every wish?

Well, technology will get us there (where are you, next-generation VR gadgets with gloves and pressure suits and all that?), but it will still take a decade or two. But, at night, we’ve got our own full-rendition hyper-efficient gadget fully capable of all this, and directly connected to our brain (because it is our brain).

That is the promise of Lucid Dreaming.

I know what you’re thinking. Is it really true? Is that something people really can do and I’m missing out?

Uh, only partly.

Let me tell you the truth of my own experience, with the caveat that I’m sure other’s experiences will vary greatly—if you believe what you read on the LD forums.

The experience I’m going to tell you about is real.

And is mine.

You are not allowed to disagree with it—not even if you are an LD practitioner with much to say—because I’m speaking about my own experience, alright? I understand that it might not be typical, but I suspect I’m a pretty average Joe (except in my genius for sci-fi writing, of course!).

I’m going to tell you about a recent, but otherwise very typical instance of me becoming lucid in a dream. You will see that I became lucid without using any technique, although I’m sure they help.

Here we go.

Not long ago, I woke up in the middle of the night (as happens way too often). I got up, took a leak, drank some water, and then, when back in bed, I couldn’t fall asleep. Too much action in the bathroom, I guess. So I read a little bit (on a backlit kindle to avoid waking my wife). After a while, I put the book down and shut my eyes.

I am inside a small room.

The floor, walls and ceilings are made of solid rock, and there is no door, no window—nothing but pristine, solid stone around me, everywhere I look.

And, then, I know I’m dreaming. That’s it, I am lucid.

How? I don’t know. Was it because of the impossibility of the situation? A doorless room? No. We dream much weirder situations all the time without becoming aware. My personal hypothesis is that being so late, my brain already had most of its rest (delta phase), and my sleep was very light, almost gracing the surface of consciousness—ideal for lucidity. I usually become lucid then, a couple of hours before my alarm goes off, when my mind is almost ready for the wake.

So, here I am, prisoner in my own dream, a room with no exit, and mildly excited of the possibilities of doing something crazy now that I’m aware.

First things first, I stare at the palm of my hand.

I know. What a peculiar thing to do, huh? But it is quite the tradition in the LD community. It is one of the many so-called “reality checks”, which makes dreamers certain that they are, indeed, dreaming.

You would think that realising the absurdity of a situation (like being in a room with no exits) should make it obvious when you’re dreaming. Nope. The mind is all ***** up while dreaming. Remember what I said, that lucid dreaming is unnatural and the brain fights it? So true. No matter how weird your surroundings, you take them in like it was another day in the office.

So back to my reality check. I watch my hand, and it looks strange. The lines of my palm are longer than usual, and they move—stretching and distorting.

Yep, I’m dreaming.

To be sure, I perform my favourite reality check: I pinch my nose, and keep breathing.

And breathe I do. I feel the air filling my lungs with every inhalation (strange fact: respiration in dreams is linked to real respiration).

Yep, definitely dreaming.

Okay! So I’m lucid! Let’s have some fun, right?

Er… I look around… Four walls… What to do?

I touch the wall, and I feel the texture on my skin vividly. That’s good practice. Engaging your senses in the dreamworld is supposed to keep you “grounded” (avoiding premature awakening).

I look closely at the wall, and can see every grain of the stone-like material. The detail is amazing. More real than real.

And then, a creeping feeling begins to slowly fill my guts.


Yeah. But wait, I’m supposed to be super-powerful here, this is my dream. I will just bend it to my will, right?

Okay, so let’s start by going somewhere else more interesting. I wish to go to the bridge of the Enterprise and meet Picard. But first I need a door. I shut my eyes, wish for the door to exist and then open them.

The wall is still intact.

I try again. And again, but the wall remains stubbornly doorless.

Okay, let’s try something else. What about walking through the wall like a ghost? It will take me somewhere else!

So I put my hand against the wall, and it is as solid as, well, rock. I push, and, oh! It begins to wobble, slightly elastic. I just need to believe harder, to try harder, but no matter what I do, I just keep bouncing back.

Yeah, so much about magic powers. Truth is, for small things, like wishing for people to do things, it usually works. But here in this room, alone, I just can’t convince my mind that the laws of physics don’t apply in the dreamworld. Go figure.

All I could do then was to wake up, which at least I could do at will.

Which brings me to the central realization of why Lucid Dreaming is (for me) no such a big deal: it is just a dream, like any other, and although the experience is interesting, my brain is just unable to break the rules it has been chained to since birth.

Of course, as a storyteller, one day I asked myself: What if I had somebody to teach me to reach incredible power in dreams? What would the lessons look like? What levels of dreaming there are? What would I do with such power? What if dreams are just doors to other people’s dreams? What if they granted access to some sort of common human consciousness? Wouldn’t it be cool if…?

Yeah, forward a few years… [link]

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