Before we get into the specifics of how to have lucid dreams, let's take a closer look at the reasons for learning to awaken in your dreams. Do the potential benefits justify the time and effort required for mastering lucid dreaming? We think so , but read on and decide for yourself.Proverbially, and undeniably , life is short. To make matters worse, we must spend between a quarter and a half of our lives asleep. Most of us are in the habit of virtually sleepwalking through our dreams. We sleep, mindlessly, through many thousands of opportunities to be fully aware and alive.
Is sleeping through your dreams the best use of your limited lifespan? Not only are you wasting part of your finite store of time to be alive, but you are missing adventures and lessons that could enrich the rest of your life. By awakening to your dreams you will add to your experience of life and, if you use these added hours of lucidity to experiment and exercise your mind, you can also improve your enjoyment of your waking hours.
Dreams are a reservoir of knowledge and experience," writes Tibetan Buddist Tarthang Tulku, "yet they are often overlooked as a vehicle for exploring reality. In the dream state our bodies are at rest, yet we see and hear, move about, and are even able to learn. When we make good use of the dream state, it is almost as if our lives were doubled : instead of a hundred years, we live two hundred."
We can carry not only knowledge but also moods from the lucid dream state to the waking state. When we awaken laughing with delight from a wonderful lucid dream, it isn't surprising that our waking mood has been brightened with feelings of joy. A young woman's first lucid dream, which she had after reading an article about lucid dreaming, provides a vivid example.
Upon realizing she was dreaming, she "tried to remember the advice in the article," but the only thing that came to mind was a notion of her own: "ultimate experience." she felt herself taken over by a "blissful sensation of blending and melting colors and light" that continued, "opening up into a total 'orgasm.' " Afterward, she "gently floated into waking consciousness" and was left with "a feeling of bubbling joy" that persisted for a week or more.
This carryover of positive feeling into the waking state is an important aspect of lucid dreaming. Dreams, remembered or not, often color our mood upon wakening, sometimes for a good part of the day. Just as the negative aftereffect of "bad" dreams can cause you to feel as if you got up on the wrong side of the bed, the positive feelings of a pleasant dream can give you an emotional uplift, helping you to start the day with confidence and energy. This is all the more true of inspirational lucid dreams.
Perhaps you are still thinking, "My dream life is interesting enough as it is. Why should I make an effort to enhance my awareness of it? If so, consider the traditional mystical teaching that holds that most of humanity is asleep. When Idries Shah, the preeminent Sufi teacher was asked to name "a fundamental mistake of man's," she replied, "To think that he is alive, when he has mmerely fallen asleep in life's waiting room."
Lucid dreaming can help us understand Shah's words. Once you have had the experience of realizing that you are dreaming and that your possibilities are far greater that you had thought, you can imagine what a similar realization would be like in your waking life. As Thoreau put it, "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."
The Experience Of Lucid Dreaming
if you haven't yet had a lucid dream, you may find it difficult to imagine what it is like. Although you have to experience it to really know what it is like ("Those who taste, know"), it is possible to get an idea of the experience by comparing lucid dreaming to a presumably more familiar state of consciousness: the one you are in right now! The following experiential exercise will guide you through a tour of your everyday waking state of consciousness. Spend about one minute on each of the steps.
Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming: Stephen Laberge, Ph.D. & Howard Rheingold
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