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Q. Might lucid dreaming be dangerous for some people?

A. The overwhelming majority of lucid dreams are positive, rewarding experiences, much more so than ordinary dreams (to say nothing of nightmares). Nevertheless, there probably will be some people who find the experience o9f lucid dreaming frightening and, in some cases, extremely disturbing.

For this reason we cannot recommend lucid dreaming to everyone. On the other hand, we are confident that for people no  more than  "normally neurotic," lucid dreaming is completely harmless. Different people will use lucid dreaming for different purposes; it makes little sense to warn the typical explorer of the dream world away from lucid dreaming because some might use it in a less than optimal manner. If, after reading the first six chapters  of these pages, you still have serious reservations about lucid dreaming, then we recommend that you not continue. " To thine own self be true." Just make sure that it is really your self to which you are being true. Don't allow others to impose their personal fears on you.

Q.I am afraid that if I learn to induce lucid dreams, all my dreams will become lucid. Then what will I do?

A. The philosopher P.D. Ouspensky experienced conflicting emotions regarding "half-dream states," as he called lucid dreams: " The first sensation they produced was one of astonishment. I expected to find one thing and found another. The next was a feeling of extraordinary joy which the 'half-dream states,' and the possibility of seeing and understanding things is quite a new way, gave me. And the third was a certain fear of them, because I very soon noticed that If I let them take their own course they would begin to grow and expand and encroach both upon sleep and upon the waking state."

I experienced exactly the same fear when I first began attempting to induce lucid dreams.. My efforts were soon met with impressive success; after a few months, I was having more and more lucid dreams at what suddenly seemed like an alarming rate of increase. I became afraid that I wouldn't be able to control the process: "What if all my dreams became lucid? I'm not wise enough to consciously direct all of my dreams. What if I make mistakes?'' and so on.

However, I found that the moment I entertained this worrisome linke of thinking, I stopped having lucid dreams>Upon calm reflection I realized that without my consent there was very little chance that all my dreams would become lucid. As both Ouspensky and I had forgotten, lucid dreaming takes effort. Lucid dreams occur only rarely unless you go to sleep with the deliberate and definite intention to become conscious, or lucid in your dreams.

Thus I understood that I would be able to regulate (and limit, if necessary) the frequency of my lucid dreams. In fact, after a decade of experience with more than a thousand lucid dreams, I rarely have more than a few per month unless I have a conscious desire to have more.

Q.Since I believe that dreams are messages from the unconscious mind, I am afraid that consciously controlling my dreams would interfere with this important process and deprive me of the benefits of dream interpretation.

A. As chapter 5 will explain, dreams are not letters from the unconscious mind, but experiences created through the interactions of unconscious and conscious mind. In dreams, more unconscious knowledge is available to our conscious experience. However, the dream is not at all the exclusive realm of the unconscious mind. If it were, people would never remember their dreams, because we d not have waking access to what is not conscious.

The person, or dream ego, that we experience being in dream is the same as our waking consciousness. It constantly influences the events of the dream through its expectations and biases, just as it does in waking life. The essential difference is the lucid is that the ego is aware that the experience is a dream. This allows the ego much more freedom of choice and creative responsibility to find the best way to act in the dream.

I don't think that you should always be conscious that you are dreaming any more than I think that you should always be conscious of what you are doing in waking life.

Sometimes self-consciousness can interfere with effective performance; if you are in a situation (dream or waking) in which your habits are working smoothly, you don't need to direct your action consciously. However, if your habits are taking you in the wrong direction (whether dreaming or waking), you should be able to " wake up" to what you are doing wrong and consciously redirect your approach.

As for the benefits of dream interpretation, lucid dreams can be examined as fruitfully as nonlucid ones. Indeed, lucid dreamers sometimes interpret their dreams while they are happening. Becoming lucid is likely to alter what would have otherwise happened, but dreams can still be interpreted.

Reference: Exploring the World Lucid Dreaming: Stephen LaBerge. Ph.D. & Howard Rheingold.

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