Dreams, and what happens in them, have always fascinated me…and I know I’m not the only one!
Have you ever had such a lovely dream that you have felt a bit disappointed when you wake up, wishing to go back and finish the plot? And even worse, as soon as you get up from the bed, you most likely forget every trace of that wonderful dream! Some people remember only their nightmares or a few really odd dreams. For me, dreams have always been a big thing, probably because I can clearly remember most of my dreams – both nice and horrible ones – and this has led me to discover more than a few interesting things about our nightly lives. Trust me – the more you think about dreams, the more amazing (and weird) they start to look like!
Prepare for a slam of true dream nerdiness from a person who has spent hours going through books, articles and forums, and has had deep discussions with more than a handful of people about something that we call lucid dreaming.
What are lucid dreams?
I realised I’m a lucid dreamer very early in my life (I think I was like 5 or 6), but it took me quite long to find out that it was actually a thing that other people do too.
For those of you who have not heard of a lucid dreaming, I’ll give you its official Wikipedia definition:
A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to have some control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.
So, in other words, while I’m having a lucid dream, I’m clearly aware of the fact that I’m in a dream. I don’t think that any of it is real. And that gives me a certain amount of control over what’s going on in the dream – I don’t need to react to things in the way that I normally would.
Let’s say, I’m having a nightmare and a horrible monster is running behind me. If I’m not aware that I’m in a dream, I will assume that I’m in a real danger and will run for my life. However, if I’m having a lucid dream, I can just shrug my shoulders, tell myself “it’s not real” and stop running and confront the monster or make it disappear or have a party with it or whatever it is that I wish to do.
It is easy to see that lucid dreaming opens a lot of possibilities. Imagine – your dream world, but under your own conscious control!
I’ve heard of a plenty of stories from other lucid dreamers about the coolest things they have managed to do in their dreams; people have acted out all sorts of ‘fantasies’, learned to fly or float, spent time with their dead relatives, travelled to beautiful places, become invisible or lived as world-class celebrities for one night. I have, for example, during my worst fangirl phase, summoned the rock star Matthew Bellamy to my house to meet me! I have also floated around my hometown like a bird, stolen a car from a stranger and enjoyed driving around like a crazy rally driver! (I don’t even have a driver’s license in real life).
From a scientific point of view, lucid dreams occur during the very short Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, and different brain areas become active during lucid dreaming than during “ordinary dreaming” (if you’re a true dream nerd, check this out). So, it is not just me and a few others being crazy and weird, it’s a THING!
If you haven’t had a chance to have a lucid dream yet, don’t worry. It is not a talent you either have or not – there are actually websites that teach you how to lucid dream. Anyway, rather than our dreams either being or not being lucid, the whole thing is more like a line: some dreams are more lucid than others.
Most times, you are kind of conscious of the fact that you’re in a dream, which means that while knowing that things aren’t true, your whole mind is kind of “blurry” and you will find it difficult to actually insert any control over what is happening.
Sometimes you are very conscious of being in a dream (it’s like waking up and being your own conscious self, but the dream continues) and those are the lucky times when you can actually make things appear (or disappear) and you can change the rules of nature and basically play with your surroundings like you were playing Sims.
But there is one BIG downside to this: most people describe that as soon as they realise they are in a dream, they wake up!
I know, I’ve been there too. For example, I mentioned the dream where I summoned Matthew Bellamy to my house before. That time I was first having an ”ordinary’ dream – some random things were happening, out of my control – when I suddenly came to the realisation like I so often do: “Hey, I’m dreaming.” Immediately, trying to use the chance I focused all my mind power to thinking about Matthew Bellamy (I was a HARDCORE fan at the time, okay!), and after some intense mind-control, it worked! He was standing there, in my staircase, walking towards me, smiling. I had seen hundreds of videos of him, so my brain and imagination had no difficulty in producing a very realistic version of him. I couldn’t have been happier!
But…only some seconds after he appeared there…I got too happy and excited and…I woke up. And I swear the fourteen-year-old fangirl that I was could not have been more devastated to have lost such a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet my biggest idol. 😦
Later, after doing some further (trial-and-error) training on my lucid dreaming skills, I have found that in order to not wake up as soon as the fun is about to start, you should kind of “calm down” when you come to realise you’re in a dream. Don’t make it a big thing, kind of pretend to yourself that you wouldn’t know about it. Then you can start to make magic happen.
Well, that’s a little story about my nightly journeys. It is so interesting to hear what other people ‘do’ in their dreams. How common is lucid dreaming? Do other lucid dreamers have difficulties in controlling their dream world? What are some of the coolest things you have done after you realised you’re in control? Please, please, please, my little nerdy soul wants to know more so feel free to leave a comment! 🙂