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    Thread: Trying to return to old dreams -- going with the flow vs. taking control

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      Trying to return to old dreams -- going with the flow vs. taking control

      Hey everybody!

      I've been lucid dreaming since I was a kid, with inconsistent results. Around 6th grade, I spent a while trying to get back to this mystical city of green crystal and black obsidian, which I had seen once in a non-lucid dream. I remember becoming lucid in a warehouse setting, and thinking back to instructions I had read online about summoning things in dreams-- I pictured the city as best I could, then turned around and looked behind me. There was a cardboard cutout of a city standing there-- not quite the same city, even-- and I could walk around it and look at it in all its mundane glory.

      I've always wondered at the significance of this experience. Was this a manifestation of limiting preconceptions? Or simply a misunderstanding of how to work with the dream, born from inexperience?

      I'd be curious to know what you guys think. Do you have any reliable techniques to go someplace specific in a dream? Also, how much do you find you can control a lucid dream versus go with the flow, and work with the contents that the dream presents on its own? I've read a little by James Hillman (much of which I found mystifying) but he has this idea of respecting the dream image on its own terms rather than killing it through interpretation. Makes me wonder, is it better to work with the contents of the dream lucidly rather than try to force the dream to obey your desires?

      (That said-- that green and black city is still my white whale, so any tips would be welcome)
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      Hey there.

      Quote Originally Posted by wrinkledlion View Post
      I've always wondered at the significance of this experience. Was this a manifestation of limiting preconceptions? Or simply a misunderstanding of how to work with the dream, born from inexperience?
      Personally, I think it's possible you might be ascribing too much significance to this experience, which may have felt like a failure. Yes, it could be a manifestation of some kind of preconceived bias, though maybe not a conscious one and I think only you can get a feel of what the score is there. On the other side of this, we tend to more easily reinforce our so-called negative experiences and tendencies versus positive ones and while it's possible that this experience was solely a result of inexperience, it sounds as though you've never forgotten it, which while understandable, could hamper any further attempts, at least if you were dwell in it as some kind of failure anyway. i.e. do not try to be a perfectionist if you can help it.

      No doubt, you are not exactly the same person now as when you first saw this dream location and what goes in your life is probably different too. It's my belief that to some extent we are never a single or fixed and solid person, we're always changing in small ways and what I have found myself is that repeated themes both in dreaming and in conscious life are often portrayed very differently from other times we've encountered those themes, even when we've tried willing them consciously. For me this is particularly true when dealing with creative projects too, even when I try to return to a very specific original idea I had months or years ago, I find that by having left the idea for so long I cannot repeat or echo what it was originally. As we change, it's not unreasonable to think that our inner contents will change too.

      In a sense this can be about going with the flow, though I wouldn't think of this in too rigid terms myself. Lucid experiences don't all necessarily have the same level of control and what we can influence in a dream is sometimes difficult to expect until we actually try. So just because your past and inexperienced attempt was not a success, does not mean that you will necessarily always have this issue if you were to try again more times. However, one thing that might be helpful is to not think of the location as your white whale as you put it. Thinking of it like that can mean that you are expecting an accurate and full return to an unmodified version of what you originally experienced, which is a somewhat high expectation to make of yourself. If you accept that you can return to the location and that there may be differences to how you originally experienced it, you may find that it will not necessarily diminish the value of your original experience. It can be an addition to it, a development of sorts. And more importantly, you may find that you can find or explore your way through into some version closer to the original, even if not exactly the same.

      On another line of thought however, another way to ago about this could be through the memory bit. As I understand, in that lucid dream you had, you attempted to summon the location from the non-lucid dream. And summoning a location I suppose sounds weird to me when worded like this, as I can totally see myself mistaking summoning a location for summoning an abstraction of the location (what you did by accident); strictly speaking, we move into places, places do not move into our awareness, even if we can rationalise this by thinking that our point of view is technically unmoving. So, instead you could try to literally remember the location and its details while lucid in a dream. If you think back about some specific memory right now that you found significant in your life, there's always some ease in getting lost in there. As dreams often change around us, just for us thinking of something, it's not unreasonable to think that you could make use of this for the purpose of getting into your old memory of the location in order for the dream change around you. And maybe it won't get you all the way there, but it might get you one foot in enough that you can sort of go the rest of the way through a different kind of effort.

      One final thought about your attempt to access the location is that you had tried to access it directly. I'm just thinking here in terms of how dreams typically seem to function, as there's nothing wrong with direct access in principle but thresholds and crossing points seem to be semi-important when dream scenery is making itself. So accessing the location through a threshold such as a doorway, window, mirror, whatever, might have yielded a different result too. Perhaps the cardboard cutout was the threshold, and for example if you had made yourself smaller or the cutout bigger, you might have encountered a different level of detail more like what you had hoped for.
      Last edited by DarkestDarkness; 06-21-2022 at 07:49 PM. Reason: extra
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      Singled out from some of my favourite quotes from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: "Risks of [Planet] flowering: considerable. But rewards of godhood: who can measure? - Usurper Judaa'Maar: Courage: to question."

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      You might want to read Robert Moss' books. Dream Gates is a good one. He talks about techniques for this. He calls it "Dream Re-Entry". You could try spinning in the lucid dream to change the scene to your intention. Also, practicing visualization techniques while lying in bed or intention setting techniques might help. Good luck. I've always wanted to do this, too.

      I try to work with the dream and go with the flow, but don't think it's wrong to try and have a little fun with it. Experiment, and don't worry about it. Yes, in general, working with the dream yields better results than trying to force things. I find that when you want to make something happen in a dream, creativity and thinking outside the box are key. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying with a new angle.

      And interpretation?? I am all for it. Interpret everything! Non lucid, lucid, hypnogogia... just don't do it while you're in the dream! That's the time to explore and enjoy.
      Last edited by Hilary; 06-22-2022 at 02:40 PM.
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      Thanks for the rec Hilary! I just ordered a copy of Dream Gates. I could definitely stand to practice visualization more before bed-- unfortunately I tend to get very unfocused right before bed and my mind wanders to all kinds of waking life concerns. So it's gotten harder to maintain that singlemindedness before falling asleep, compared to when I was a kid. I think my life was just less mentally demanding back then.

      @DarkestDarkness -- Thanks for the response, you've given me a lot to think about. You picked up on my perfectionism pretty quick, which has always been a factor in my lucid dreaming over the years. It's hard for me not to berate myself for my failures, which leads to a lack of persistence, which leads to more berating myself over lack of discipline. It's quite easy to sour the experience.

      Your point about thresholds and doorways is a really good one, I'd like to work with that... if you were trying to manifest something behind a doorway, how would you do it generally? Do you think to yourself verbally, "I'm going to open that door and see a [BLANK] on the other side," or do you engage in some sort of visualization from within the dream? Is it sort of a "knowing," like you just tell yourself that you know your desired dream object is behind the door?
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      Quote Originally Posted by wrinkledlion View Post
      Your point about thresholds and doorways is a really good one, I'd like to work with that... if you were trying to manifest something behind a doorway, how would you do it generally? Do you think to yourself verbally, "I'm going to open that door and see a [BLANK] on the other side," or do you engage in some sort of visualization from within the dream? Is it sort of a "knowing," like you just tell yourself that you know your desired dream object is behind the door?
      I don't think I have much in the way of lucid experiences with summoning things and for me I think it would work much like in non-lucids where I do summon or change things, partly just expecting it to happen to some extent and partly willing it. Whenever I've influenced dreams lucidly however, I tend to relate it to how I/my body works in waking life. This is the same for me in any kind of inner visualisation or imagining.

      If I want to inhale deeply, I do not verbally think it. I just intend/will it. It's the same thing with walking, changing position and a bunch of other things, including imagining and visualisation. It's a kind of thought to be sure, but it's not thought as we tend to think of it and it's difficult to put into words. I think we all have some innate understanding of it though.

      To answer you more specifically under that context, for me it would be a sort of "knowing", yes, though you can mix it with verbal thought or visualised thought too. If you think about it, there's no special reason to exclude any type of thought or feeling as an enabler to another dream action because ultimately all you need to care about is whether it was one result or another, you don't need to care about the process too much other than the fact that you want to try something.

      You can think "I'm going to open that door and see a [BLANK] on the other side" without actually verbally thinking it, is basically what I'm saying. And if you choose to verbally think it, that's fine too, because thinking of words can bring up other associated words, which I can see as helpful in some contexts.
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      Quote Originally Posted by wrinkledlion View Post
      Your point about thresholds and doorways is a really good one, I'd like to work with that... if you were trying to manifest something behind a doorway, how would you do it generally? Do you think to yourself verbally, "I'm going to open that door and see a [BLANK] on the other side," or do you engage in some sort of visualization from within the dream? Is it sort of a "knowing," like you just tell yourself that you know your desired dream object is behind the door?

      Oh goodness I've tried this. I do it by setting a mental intention. Expectation is the key. I might say aloud in the dream something to the effect of "Behind this door is xyz!". Then I open the door. If it's not what I want, I close the door and try again. I think attempting a visualization is a GREAT idea, although I've never tried it.

      Admittedly, the method I use doesn't always work. Although I remember one success: in this dream I was attempting to create a feast. I used the door trick while deliberately expecting a feast on the other side. 1st attempt I got a dining room with a table set with dishes, but no food! Second attempt I got my feast... but it was a feast of cookies! Sometimes you just gotta take what the dream gives you... anyway, I had no complaints!

      Another thing you can try that works fairly often for me is just asking the dream. It's especially useful when you want to go to a specific place or find people. I ask the dream and it just whisks me off toward a direction. "Take me to the superhero base!" or something like that. The key to this strategy working is that you must be able to hold on to lucidity for longer. The ride can eat up your lucid time.

      Another thing you can try, if you want a specific object, is to check your pockets (to give credit, I learned about this one from Lang). Just keep the expectation in your mind that whatever you need is in your pockets. Then check them!

      You can also try creating a portal using a magic spell. You can even try casting a teleportation spell. I found it helps if you rhyme in your dream!

      Spoiler for Teleportation Spell Example:

      ^ It actually worked!
      Last edited by Hilary; 06-23-2022 at 03:04 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Hilary View Post
      Another thing you can try, if you want a specific object, is to check your pockets (to give credit, I learned about this one from Lang). Just keep the expectation in your mind that whatever you need is in your pockets. Then check them!
      I think I vaguely remember Lang mentioning this somewhere actually. It sounds familiar.

      Now, it's making me think of Doraemon's pouch, which was a sort of Tardis-esque pouch that was an entire universe in itself pretty much. It'd be a pretty interesting concept to apply in a dream and somewhat applicable for wrinkledlion's problem in a way; in the Doraemon anime, Doraemon himself can sort of go into his own pouch and the other protagonist, Nobita, I think does go into the pouch himself a few times too; although ordinarily it's used as a plot device that enables Doraemon to pull out any sort of futuristic gadget for Nobita.

      I think cartoons aimed more at children often have lots of good or interesting ideas that we could apply to lucid dreaming problems, because very aptly in a childlike manner they defy what we would reasonably expect otherwise, which is a bit of an adult brain issue.
      Singled out from some of my favourite quotes from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: "Risks of [Planet] flowering: considerable. But rewards of godhood: who can measure? - Usurper Judaa'Maar: Courage: to question."

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      Quote Originally Posted by DarkestDarkness View Post
      If you think about it, there's no special reason to exclude any type of thought or feeling as an enabler to another dream action because ultimately all you need to care about is whether it was one result or another, you don't need to care about the process too much other than the fact that you want to try something.

      You can think "I'm going to open that door and see a [BLANK] on the other side" without actually verbally thinking it, is basically what I'm saying. And if you choose to verbally think it, that's fine too, because thinking of words can bring up other associated words, which I can see as helpful in some contexts.
      Ah, I'm running into my perfectionism again. When I'm alone in the space of my own mind, I become a real stickler about my technique-- like, am I thinking the exact right thought right now? It's far worse than how it is in the waking world, because there I can easily forgive other people and roll with things when they don't go right. But one of my big challenges in dreaming is that I become fixated on the form of my thoughts themselves, rather than experiencing things openly. It's an impediment during meditation as well. Maybe therapy is in order...

      I'm curious what you mean with that last bit, about associated words?

      Quote Originally Posted by Hilary View Post
      Another thing you can try that works fairly often for me is just asking the dream. It's especially useful when you want to go to a specific place or find people. I ask the dream and it just whisks me off toward a direction. "Take me to the superhero base!" or something like that. The key to this strategy working is that you must be able to hold on to lucidity for longer. The ride can eat up your lucid time.

      Another thing you can try, if you want a specific object, is to check your pockets (to give credit, I learned about this one from Lang). Just keep the expectation in your mind that whatever you need is in your pockets. Then check them!

      You can also try creating a portal using a magic spell. You can even try casting a teleportation spell. I found it helps if you rhyme in your dream!

      Spoiler for Teleportation Spell Example:

      ^ It actually worked!
      These are great ideas! The directness of just talking to the dream is really cool, do you ever ask it other questions?

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      Quote Originally Posted by wrinkledlion View Post
      These are great ideas! The directness of just talking to the dream is really cool, do you ever ask it other questions?
      Yep You can ask whatever you want, and the responses can be quite fascinating. For example... once I asked to experience "unconditional love". That was a cool one.
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      Quote Originally Posted by wrinkledlion View Post
      I'm curious what you mean with that last bit, about associated words?
      When we hear a word, sometimes the next few words we can come up with or that we think of without realising, can be words that are very close. For example you can hear dog and then think cat, vet, pet, and so on, even if you didn't mean to go on this trail of word thoughts. I don't assume that this happens to absolutely everyone and all the time, though I would think that everyone is susceptible to it to some degree.

      In a dream where you want to manifest something, this could potentially be helpful in the construction of a scene, as it means that the scene may come more complete. In a sense, dream imagery itself is sometimes not that far from this logic and all of this has to do with schemas at the end of the day. If you don't know about schemas and would like to read about them, there's a section in La Berge's ETWOLD explaining it in a decent way, but the concept probably comes from psychology in general I would think.

      The potential downside of going with association (of words or imagery) is exactly what can make us lose track of ourselves in a way; if you ever get lost in a thought, it's easy to see how this is almost comparable to losing lucidity in a dream and I imagine people like Hilary to be much better at sort of holding their own awareness during a process like that than myself. I can go with the flow, it's just that I can end up losing the "me" in that flow if I'm not careful and is probably a good part of why lucidity in itself is not too common for me, as on some level I very much enjoy my non-lucid dreams and their "plots".

      If you think of a dream as a whole as being "you" anyway, in essence we can think that part of having lucidity or not is about what parts of you are responding to the rest of the dream, which thoughts are talking to each other or paying attention to each other. And on some level, and I kind of take this one from OccipitalRed, having recall of a dream at all is already a kind of lucidity, as you need to be present in the dream moment to be able to recall it anyway.

      Quote Originally Posted by wrinkledlion View Post
      But one of my big challenges in dreaming is that I become fixated on the form of my thoughts themselves, rather than experiencing things openly. It's an impediment during meditation as well. Maybe therapy is in order...
      I can relate to this on the grounds of meditation and such like. Personally I've never really run into it while dreaming but my personality is somewhat different in some aspects then anyway. The way I managed to let go of this was by telling myself (even during the process of meditating and whatnot) that I do not need such thoughts, I do not need such perfection to make any of this work. Why obsess about what I'm thinking about? That just keeps my focus there and doesn't let me move on. I think part of this has just been life experience too, as I have always typically been very obsessive and I've learned to let go of small obsessions over the years.

      Someone I knew once gave us an interesting piece of advice for meditation and even just letting go of something. I don't use it much because I've learned my own ways of dealing with thoughts, but my partner has used it and likes it. If you get a thought you can't shake off, imagine yourself grabbing that thought, and putting it in a little boat on a fast stream, letting the currents take the thought away for you on the boat; then it's gone, taken away. I suppose it's a way of giving a "physical" conclusion to something that otherwise just hovers around.
      Singled out from some of my favourite quotes from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: "Risks of [Planet] flowering: considerable. But rewards of godhood: who can measure? - Usurper Judaa'Maar: Courage: to question."

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