Q. Sometimes in lucid dreams I encounter situations of otherworldliness, accompanied by feelings of the presence of great power or energy. At these times my consciousness expands far beyond anything I have experienced in waking life, so that the experience seems much more real than the reality I know, and I become terrified. I cannot continue these dreams for fear that I will never awaken from them, since the experience is so far out of the realm of waking existence. What would happen if I was unable to awaken myself from these lucid dreams? Would I die or go mad?
A. Despite the seemingly horrific nature of this concern, it amounts to little more than fear of the unknown. There is no evidence that anything you do in a dream could affect your basic physiology in a way that is harmful. And, as intense as a dream may be, it can't last any longer than the natural course of REM periods-at most an hour or so.
Of course, since explorations of the world of the world of dreams have just begun, there are bound to be regions as yet uncharted. But you should not fear to pioneer them. The feeling of intense anxiety that accompanies the sudden onset of strange experiences in dreams is a natural part of the orientation response: It is adaptive in the waking world for a creature in a new situation or territory to look first for danger. However the fear is not necessarily relevant to what is happening. You need not fear physical harm in your dreams.. When you find yourself in the midst of a new experience, let go your fear and see what happens.
Q. They say that if you die in your dream, you really will die. Is this true?
A. If it were true, how would anybody know? There is direct evidence to the contrary: many people have died in their dreams with no ill effects, according to the reports they gave after waking up-alive. Moreover, dreams of death can becomes dreams of rebirth if you let them, as illustrated by one of my own dreams. After a mysterious weakness quickly spread through my whole body, I realized I was about to die of exhaustion and only had time for one final action. Without hesitation, I decided that I wanted my last act to be an expression of perfect acceptance. As I let out my last breath in that spirit, a rainbow flowed out of my heart, and I awoke ecstatic.
Q. If I use my lucidity in a dream to manipulate and dominate the other dream characters, and magically alter the dream environment, won't I be making a habit of behavior that is not likely to benefit me in my waking life?
A. Chapter six discusses an approach to lucid dreams that will help you establish ways of behaving that will be useful to you in waking life. This is to control your own actions and reaction in the dream, and not the other characters and elements of the dream. However, this does not mean that we believe it harmful if you choose to enjoy yourself by playing King or Queen of Dreamland. In fact, if you normally feel out of control of your life, or are an unassertive person, you well may benefit from the empowered feeling engendered by taking control of the dream.
Q. Won't all these efforts and exercises for becoming lucid lead to loss of sleep? And won't I feel more tired after being awake in my dreams? Is it worth sacrificing my alertness in the daytime just to have more lucid dreams?
A. Dreaming lucidly is usually just as restful as dreaming non-lucidly. Since lucid dreams tend to be positive experiences, you may actually feel invigorated after them. How tired you feel after a dream depends on what you did in the dream-If you battled endlessly and non-lucidly with frustrating situations, you probably will feel more tired than if you realized in the dream that it was a dream and that non of your mundane concerns were relevant.
You should work on learning lucid dreaming when you have time and energy to devote to the task. The exercises for increasing dream recall and including lucid dreams probably will require that you spend more time awake during the night than usual, and possibly that you sleep longer hours. If you are too busy to allot more time to sleeping or to sacrifice ay of the little sleep you are getting , it's probably not a good idea for you to work on lucid dreaming right now.
Doing so will add to your current stress, and you probably won't get very good results. Lucid dreaming, at least at first, requires good sleep and mental energy for concentration. Once you learn the techniques, you should be able to get to a point at which you can have lucid dreams any time you wish just by reminding yourself that you can do so.
Q.I am afraid that I may not have what it takes to have lucid dreams. What if, doing all of the exercises you suggest and devoting a lot of time to it, I still can't learn to have lucid dreams? If I put all that time into it, and do't get any results, I will feel like a failure.
A. One of the greatest stumbling blocks in learning almost any skill is trying too hard. This is especially the case with lucid dreaming, which requires that you sleep well and have a balanced state of mind. If you find that you are losing sleep while struggling to have lucid dreams without result, let go of your efforts for a while. Relax, and forget about lucid dreaming for a few days or a few weeks. Sometimes you will find that after you let go, lucid dreams will appear.
Q. Lucid dreams are so exciting and feel so good that real life pales by comparison. Isn't it possible to get addicted to them and not wish to do anything else?
A.I t may be possible for the die-hard escapist whose life is otherwise dull to become obsessed with lucid dreaming. Whether or not this deserves to be called addiction in another question. In any case, some advice for those who find the idea of "sleeping their life away" for the sake of lucid dreaming is to consider applying what they have learned in lucid dreams to their waking lives. If lucid dreams seem so much more exciting, then this should inspire you to make your life more like your dreams-more vivid, intense, pleasurable, and rewarding. In both worlds your behavior strongly influence your experience.
Q. I am currently undergoing psychotherapy. Is it okay for me to try lucid dreaming? Can I assist in my therapy?
A. If you are in psychotherapy and want to experiment with lucid dreaming, talk it over with your therapist. Not every therapist will be well informed about lucid dreaming and its implications for therapy, so make sure your therapist understands what you are talking about and is familiar with the current information. Chapters 8, 10, and 11 of this book offer ideas of how lucid dreaming may be instrumental in psychotherapy. If your therapist doesn't think that lucid dreaming would be a good idea for you at this time, follow his or her advice. If you disagree, you should either trust the judgement of your current therapist on this issue or find another therapist, ideally one who knows how to help you to work with your lucid dreams therapeutically.
Reference: Exploring the World Lucid Dreaming: Stephen LaBerge. Ph.D. & Howard Rheingold.
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