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    Thread: Present versus future tense phrasing of mantras for MILD

    1. #1
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      Present versus future tense phrasing of mantras for MILD

      Hey everyone, it seems like in most, if not all, of the books I've read, the use of mantras are usually phrased in the future tense. I've read more than once on the forums here now that it is more effective to use mantras that are set in the present even for MILD, which I really like the idea of. It makes sense to think of things in the present tense, especially with WILD and other DILD techniques.

      Primarily I've been practicing MILD technique since I started nearly two months ago. As part of that, I have also worked on prospective memory training daily. Part of the technique includes a step where while attempting to fall back to sleep you focus and repeat to yourself something like, "The next time I'm dreaming, I want to remember to recognize that I am dreaming," which I have assumed is phrased that way (future tense) to take advantage of the development from prospective memory training that works in concert to aid in getting lucid. Because of the way prospective memory works by setting an intention to remember to do something based on the happening of a future event, using future tense mantras/intent setting for a technique like MILD seems to make sense within this context.

      What are your thoughts on using present versus future tense mantras for a technique like MILD?
      Dreams are real while they last. Can we say more of life? - Havelock Ellis

    2. #2
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      My suspicion is that even there it's a bad idea, because when you start dreaming, you'll think "the NEXT time I'm dreaming..." Sort of like those people who are always going to start a new diet tomorrow. Problem is tomorrow never gets here, and neither does the next time. It's always NOW.

      I think a lot of lucid dreaming books were written before these findings surfaced or became well known from NLP (neuro-linguistic programming, a type of therapy that is supposed to be quite effective) about present tense and no negativity. Apparently the brain really doesn't understand either - or I should say the subconscious doesn't. I think that's because it always exists entirely 'in the moment' or 'in the present', so past or future tense is irrelevant to it. And as far as negatives go, from what I understand the subconscious fails to understand it, so if you say 'I will not light up a cigarette when I get nervous' or something, it just discards the not and leaves you with the opposite of what you intended.

      Here's an article that talks about it but doesn't explain how these things are known: The Subconscious Mind Cannot understand Negatives

      But here's a good comment from under it:

      It is pretty common conventional thought in NLP and hypnosis circles that the sub-conscious mind has extreme difficulty with processing a negation to a statement. The reason for this is that in order for the mind to understand what it is NOT supposed to do, it must first comprehend what it means to DO the action, and then actively negate the idea of DO-ing that action. The effort involved in cognitively negating an action is usually attributed to the conscious, cognitive, or thinking mind, and is not usually atributed to the more primal, emotive, immagintive unconscious mind.

      Now, that being said, those same experts on hypnosis and NLP will (almost in the same breath) move on to illustrate a script that actively uses a negation (especially in an area where it is difficult to define a desired action inthe positive, such as "Stop Smoking", "Non-Smoker", "Quit Smoking", "No Longer Crave Cigarettes", etc.)

      There are infact several resources out there where experts actually challenge the notion of whther or not the subconscious mind can process a negation, and cite these as examples. But they do generally agree that being able to phrase statements in the positve tend to be much more effective than phrasing them in the negative and then negating them back to the positive. Partly because it creates a void that the subconscious mind crave to fill it, and partly becasue you can't easily make the mind ignore an action by calling attention to that self same action.

      However, inflection on wording can help to stress and emphasize the overall instruction that you want to prevail, consider the difference between:

      "DON'T drink and drive."
      and:
      "don't... DRINK and DRIVE"
      And a followup comment:

      I question whether your rephrasing of "Don't Smoke" to "Be Smoke Free" isn't more of the same negative connotation. In other words, the subconscious mind, which thinks in images, would be triggered by the mention of "Smoke" at all. To elicit a positive action or behavior, we must focus on what we WANT, vs. what we don't want. Which means rephrasing to eliminate the very mention of what we don't want, e.g. Clean Clear Air only, Keep your Lungs Healthy!
      So, I still don't know if it's been proven and I haven't seen an original source for the information, but it does sound right from what I know about the subconscious, and I see no reason not to do it. Finding a good positive statement definitely won't cause any problems, and using a negative or future tense one very well might. I suppose somebody could self-experiment, but it seems like it would take a long time to get results.

      Don't think about a pink elephant

      Did you?

      I should also add, from what I know about the subconscious from many years studying it intensely through books by people like Jung and many others, it doesn't separate things into opposites the way the conscious mind does. It's apparently only in the conscious mind that we pair things off into oppositions like good/bad, dark/light or hot/cold. This to me implies that it would also be unable to separate negatives/positives, or future and past tense from the eternal present moment.


      Edit (like the 5th) - this is a pretty good article on affirmations (mantras ) that talks about exactly this subject: Affirmations and Self-Talk

      I would change "I have a job" to "I get a job" though, because telling yourself you already have a job when you know you don't is what's called lying, and will ring hollow and false.

      Final point - the well-known axiom says you should always concentrate on what you want, not on what you don't want. I consider this great wisdom.

      I would change it to "When I'm dreaming..."
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-07-2019 at 10:18 PM.

    3. #3
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      Hey Darkmatters, thank you for your reply! I appreciate your thorough response. I read both of the links you provided as well. And having it put that way, it does make sense. I think I'm going to try and shift the way I set my intention in the mornings to present tense because, as you say, there seems to be no negative. Maybe it will make a difference in getting more LDs to occur, though.

      It certainly is fascinating to learn more about the unconscious mind and how to interact with it.
      Darkmatters likes this.
      Dreams are real while they last. Can we say more of life? - Havelock Ellis

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