Adventures in Lucid Dreaming
by Ro Kessinger
Several years ago, I happened upon the topic of lucid dreaming. I was immediately fascinated by the idea and wanted to experience it. Unfortunately, I am not one of the lucky people for whom getting lucid comes easily, but I learned how, and it was well worth the effort. Being conscious in dreams is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced.
I believe there has been increasing awareness of the phenomenon of lucid dreaming over the last few years, but I will describe it for those who have yet to come across it. A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is conscious of the fact that it is a dream. It is associated with increased control of the dream. There are several techniques for achieving lucidity, which are well-described in the reference below.
In the beginning, I had very utilitarian goals for my dreams. I thought I could use the time to get some mental work done without interruption. I am a terrible public speaker, so I planned to practice on dream audiences without embarrassment. I thought I could study, memorize things, maybe practice some physical skills. I had read studies showing that visualization, including in dreams, can improve performance.
It didn’t work out like that. When you become aware that you are dreaming, there is an intense rush of adrenaline, and everything around you seems to explode with intensity and brightness and the excitement of unlimited possibility. Waking-life goals become mundane and unimportant. There is a personal universe inside everybody that is as big as the universe we live in together. Becoming aware of this is comparable to the feeling of looking at the stars on a clear night and feeling the immensity of time and space, but with the incredible knowledge that what you are experiencing is all within you. I know it sounds as if it would be very lonely, but it’s not. There are other consciousnesses sharing your mind, ones that you are not aware of unless you make the journey to inner space.
As I began to pay attention to my dreams, their realism increased. I started out with the typical fuzzy, morphing, tunnel-vision type dreams that most of us are used to. Over time, my dreams became as detailed and stable as waking reality, but without the limitations. When I flew, it wasn’t just a vague sensation of flying, but the feeling of air blowing over me and the sight of expansive vistas below me. When I dove into the ocean, I felt the wetness and bubbles and saw underwater life swimming with me. Even something as unimaginable as travelling into space and to other planets is a realistic scenario in dreams.
As amazing as the reality of the environment can be in lucid dreams, there is something beyond this that is so mind-blowing, it is difficult to describe to somebody who has not experienced it. This is the strange, intense interaction that is possible with other people who occur in your dreams. These people are known as dream characters (DCs). Just as the realism of my surroundings increased as I practiced dreaming, so did the complexity of the personalities of my DCs. They appear as completely separate individuals, with their own memories, ideas, and motivations.
Some of them do not realize that they are merely DCs, and when I tell them, they react the way anybody would if you made the outrageous claim that their life was merely a figment of your imagination: they deny it or act as if you’re crazy or they become sad. However, there is another type of DC, ones who have a higher level of consciousness. These are the most interesting ones. They know what is going on. They do not argue with me or despair or dismiss me when I say that I am dreaming and that they are merely a part of my dream. This fact appears to be irrelevant to them, as they seem to feel that they are as complete and separate and whole a personality as I feel myself to be, and they appear that way to me, too. They do not fear disappearing when I wake up. I began to think of these DCs as “aware.” When I talk to “aware DCs,” it is no different than talking to another person in real life. They usually have something interesting to share with me, if I ask the right questions. They can be companions, friends, and lovers. They can be a one-night stand or an ongoing relationship. As strange as this sounds, and as crazy as you might think I am at this point, this is not an uncommon phenomenon among lucid dreamers.
I must admit, every lucid dream is not a mind-expanding exploration of your own personal alternate universe. There are the well-known “three Fs” that many lucid dreamers pursue: food, flying, and let’s call it “fun” with DCs. These pleasures are well worth the effort it takes to learn how to become lucid.
As you might imagine, repeating this wondrous experience can become an obsession, but I believe it is a healthy addiction. We all dream every night. Why not make the most of it?
To learn how to dream lucidly, a great book on the subject is Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge.
Ro Kessinger lives and dreams in the northwoods
of Wisconsin, USA. To contact her, email: email@example.com.