A Dream, Within a Dream: In The Depths of Your Subconscious Mind & Lucid Dreaming
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
What if you slept And what if In your sleep You dreamed And what if In your dream You went to heaven And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower And what if When you awoke You had that flower in your hand Ah, what then?
To answer the XIXth century poet's Samuels question - if I wake up and have a heavenly flower in my hand, I instantly think: how did it get there.
-Was I in heaven?
-Not that I remember.
-Did someone give it to me?
-Um...no -I simply don't know, which means this can't be real. At least not in a physical world. I must be dreaming.
And then I must choose - do I follow where the heavenly flower takes me - or do I wake myself up?
Some see dreaming as an uncontrollable, unrelatable event that human beings have no influence on. Some believe that they're prophecies. The majority agrees that it is a reflection of our subconscious mind, so telling your secret crush that dreamed about him - might not be the best idea.
However, there is a group of people who take the notion of dreaming one step further and align it in the same category as our physical reality. For what as we know, the reality is subjective.
Lucid dreaming has been recognised as early as Ancient Greek philosophies. In his treatise On Dreams, Aristotle described it as an instance of self-awareness during a dream state:
"[If] the sleeper perceives that he is asleep, and is conscious of the sleeping state during which the perception comes before his mind, it presents itself still, but something within him speaks to this effect: 'The image of Koriskos presents itself, but the real Koriskos is not present,'" he wrote.
The modern version explains that lucid dreaming happens in the stage of REM (rapid eye movement), where the brain is extremely active and the heart rate and eye movements increase. The active mind is able to distinguish the fine line between the content of the dream and the narrator (you), which gives a unique perspective of self-awareness in your own subconscious. You become aware that you're dreaming.
It is quite fascinating and not that surprising that years ago, lucid dreamers were considered as prophets. Even now, it is curious to think why only 53% of people naturally experience it once in their lifetime, while a mere 23% manage to have lucid dreams once a month.
Here are some reasons why you might want to do it
Science has proven that lucid dreaming can help practice and improve real-life skills.
If your lifelong dream is to learn to play the guitar, but there's simply not enough time - this is a good one. Imagine going to sleep excited, knowing that soon enough you will get to practise those 7 Nation Army chords! This possibility is can be a real game-changer, to say the least, however, it sounds too good to be true - doesn't it? Apparently, it is not only possible but has been done. The latest science research s. The research published in the Journal of Sports Sciences demonstrates that the neural mechanisms that creative physical movement are almost identical between waking, imagining and lucid dreaming states of consciousness, which confirms that practising motor skills while lucid dreaming can lead to real-life improvements in skill performance that can be equivalent to practice in waking life
Controlling your dreams means that you can also control your nightmares.
Let's say you're having a nightmare where some Sicilian mafia is after you because you stole their lemons and want to import them to Alaska (dreams rarely make any primary sense). You try to run as fast as you can, but barely making any progress, while the vicious bullets strike you one after another - and it actually hurts. Now, let's say you suddenly come to a realisation that you're allergic to lemons and you have never been to Alaska - this is all just a dream. You stop running, turn around to the bunch of angry spitting sweaty men and say "Ti sta bene, signori!" - and the next thing you know, you're cooking Italian pizza and enjoying their local wine.
You can experience the impossible.
While lucid dreaming can be used as a self-developing technique, it can also be hell a lot of fun! My dream has always been to fly. Not to fly on a plane, not even with a parachute - fly with my own wings, like a bird, or Maleficent. While the nano-technologies and Nero-plasticity look promising, I have come to accept that my dream is quite impossible. But it has never occurred to me that my dream can be fulfilled while I'm dreaming. Now I can not only fly to explore Grand Canion or Amazon jungle but also to the outer space. People might argue that you can easily do it using visualization or other meditation techniques. That is true, but lucid dreaming experience feels much more real - it feels that it's not only in your mind, but your actual body is flying. When I wake up, I feel I can bounce myself from the ground up to the air. And fly.
Engaging in conversations with your own subconsciousness can be life-changing.
It's not a secret that no one from the outside is participating in your own dreams - it's all your own part of the mind. So, why not instead of analysing your dreams by inhabiting each dream character and trying to make sense out of it - next time go and ask them the direct questions about what's really important or bothering you, at that time? All the answers are within you. All you have to do is ask.
How to lucid dream
So, how to enter this magical place of possibilities? While some articles suggest getting enough sleep, meditating and setting intentions, here are some other suggestions:
The main idea is to prolong REM state of the sleep cycle, where the brain is most receptive. While normally we spend 90-120 minutes per night in REM stage, there are ways of how to prolong it.
My first lucid dream happened when I had my third sleep paralysis. According to NHS, sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak that occurs when you're waking up or falling asleep. In my experience, it was an old woman's shadow sitting on my chest, not letting me breathe. It was quite scary, to say the least, however, once I tough myself how to control the instant panic, I was able to get rid of the shadow and explore what else this interesting place of total control of the subconscious reality has to offer.
You can also increase the stage of REM by keep hitting that snooze button and practising the Wake-Back-to-Bed technique (WBTB). This brief awakening is thought to increase cortical activation in the key brain areas implicated in lucid dreaming when one slips back into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Shifting false awakening into lucid dreaming is also an entrance to the world of your subconsciousness. It is those times when you wake up and hold a heavenly flower in your hand. And you know that it can't be in the physical world. Do you wake up - or do you follow where the flower takes you?