• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

    Although Lucid Dreaming may seem like a recent discovery, it has been around as long as humans have. We have some records of these dreams from the past still around today. In fact, some whole cultures revolved around achieving these dreams. In this tutorial I will give you a glimpse into the past of Lucid Dreaming.
    "Dreams have influenced the course of nations, driven dreamers mad, and given birth to grand ideas." Over the span of human culture, many societies used dreams, particularly lucid dreams, to guide their paths. One of the first societies that embraced lucid dreaming were the Aboriginals. The original inhabitants of Australia have been using these unique dreams for over 40,000 years. They used lucid dreaming to "travel through the Dream Time, to find answers to their questions." The Dream Time was a different state of consciousness that was reached to contact spirits of their ancestors and the "Creator of the World". This Dream Time was extremely important to the Aboriginals because when they needed guidance on either their personal problems or communal problems at large, they could talk to their forbears and gain their wisdom.
    Dream Time can be found depicted in their works of art. They typically decorated their
    art "with color dots and stripes as a way to visualize the Dream Time." These "color dots
    and strips" are now known as hypnogogic imagery, and is seen when a person is entering a deep state of lucid dreaming.
    In Africa ancient Shaman tribes "used lucid dreaming as an aid" Primarily, they contacted the spirits of their ancestors to seek answers to their troubles. The therapeutic and healing properties of lucid dreaming were also achieved. Unlike the Aboriginals, in which most members of the community could lucid dream, in Shaman tribes, only the Shaman could do it. He visited the spirit realm and sought advice and education to help his people. The Shaman's remedial use of lucid dreaming made him a vital and powerful member of the tribe.
    The Tibetan Yogis of Asia used to "train themselves consciously, with the ultimate goal to awake from the dream we call reality." They realized how life-like dreams could be when they remained mentally aware of them, and weaved it into their religious practices. According to them, when the physical body dies, their souls live on in the dream state. And when they became aware of this truth, they would escape the cycle of rebirth.
    The last great dream civilization was the Senoi of the Malysain tribe. They believed that the dream world was connected to the spirit world, which made every dream important. Each dream could contain special messages from the spirits that could help them in their lives. The "Senoi were taught since a young age to conquer and transform danger in their dreams" which was done by realizing that they had the power over their own manifestations of their dreaming minds'. "Before the start of World War II they had a blooming dream culture," unfortunately they lost their ancient ways when they encountered communism.
    In 451 AD, a roman physician by the name of Gennadius was troubled by his "lack of faith" in the afterlife. In Robert L. VandeCastle's book, he explains that Gennadius "experienced a dream in which a youth of remarkable appearance and commanding presence told [him] "Follow me."" This 'dream guide' took Gennadius to a city where he heard the most beautiful music he had ever heard. He asked the guide what that lovely sound was and he answered, "It is the hymn of the blessed and holy." It reminded him of heaven. The following evening Gennadius had another dream with the guide in it. The Guide asked Gennadius if he knew him well. He replied that he remembered the guide from last night when they heard the wondrous music. The Guide then proceeded to ask if that occurred during the day or during a dream. Gennadius pointed out that the meeting took place during a dream and that meant he was dreaming now. Finally the guide asked him if he knew where his body was. Gennadius calmly answered "In bed." After this lucid dream, he never doubted the existence of an after life ever again because he thought he had been to form of heaven.
    We know that lucid dreaming has been called many different things to the numerous cultures that have used it. But who coined the contemporary term "Lucid Dreaming"? That would be Dutch scientist, Frederik Van Eden. He first used the term his 1914 published book "A Study of Dreams," in which he experimented with and named nine different types of dreams over a sixteen-year period. He was one of the first people to scientifically explore lucid dreaming and try to explain it. In his own words he expresses his scientific curiosity of lucid dreaming. "The seventh type of dreams, which I call lucid dreams, seems to me the most interesting and worthy of the most careful observation and study" He was so amazed that "In these lucid dreams the reintegration of the psychic functions is so complete that the sleeper remembers day-life and his own conditions, reaches a state of perfect awareness, and is able to direct his attention, and to attempt different acts of free volition."

    "He wrote down 352 cases of lucid dreams from his sixteen year case study starting from January 20, 1898 to December 26, 1912. He spent the rest of his life investigating his dreams and attempting to "prolong and to intensify [his] lucidity".

    The sixties was a time of spiritual revelations and freedom. Music bands such as the Doors, Moody Blues, and Jefferson Airplane all sang about altered states of consciousness and enlightened thought. Lucid dreaming embodied the attitude of the sixties, so it was only natural that young people would become interested in it. Father Coonan, a self-taught expert in the field of lucid dreaming, recalls that the music "made you interested in dreams and God. So to "break through to the other side." Furthermore, Fr. Coonan expresses that he thought his "interest in the field grew our of that whole 60's mentality." The sixties also brought rise to the greatest modern researcher in the field of lucid dreaming: Stephen LaBerge.
    Stephen LaBerge's life has seemingly been geared towards lucid dreaming. He experienced his first lucid dream when he was just six years old. He found himself underwater and thought "Uh-oh. How can I breathe?" Laberge realized that it was dream water and for the next year began to explore the ocean depth for sunken treasure and pirate-filled adventures. From age six to twenty-three, he remembered no lucid dreams. In addition, he became introverted and built bombs in his basement with chemistry sets. He graduated from the University of Arizona, with, in his own words, "an utterly non-spiritual view of the world"(and a degree in mathematics. In the sixties he had the intention of getting his doctorate in chemical physics, but felt compelled to study Tibetan Buddhism, Zen meditation, tai chi, and psychology instead. Stephen experienced another lucid dream later on in the decade and it was then he knew he wanted to study dreams. He went to go work for a research lab at Stanford.
    One of the first experiments that he performed was to see if he could distinguish when a lucid dream has taken place. He hooked himself up to a polysomnograph machine used to measure eye movement. As he was just entering the REM stage, his assistant woke him up to tell him that he's entering REM and to remember to dream. Dr. Laberge got so upset with his assistant that he told him that the next night he is going to try it again and he'd better keep quiet. So the next night, equipped with his own pillow this time, he hooked himself up and had a lucid dream where he made books fly around. Dr. Laberge expresses that "Not all lucid dreams are useful, but they all have a sense of wonder about them. If you must sleep through a third of your life, why should you sleep through your dreams too?" He discovered that a person's brain emits unique waves during a lucid dream that confirm conscious thought. In 1980, he submitted a research paper to reviews for public education. They rejected the paper because they found it hard to believe. He performed more experiments and then the next summer he collected all his research and presented it again. This time to the Psychophysiological study of Sleep, and they concluded he had a firm case and that lucid dreaming did, in fact, exist.
    According to Anne FadimanLife's interview with Stephen LaBerge, LaBerge said that "I generally use my lucid dreams to try experiences I'd be deathly afraid of in real life, but know I can get away with if I'm asleep."( 3 ) One such example was when he climbing the Himalayas with a tee-shirt on when "suddenly I understood- I was dreaming. So I raised my arms, jumped in the air and flew away."
    Even though "about only one in ten people have lucid dreams regularly," Dr. LaBerge "believes it is a skill" that can be taught to anyone. And to do this he developed the MILD technique of lucid dreaming. This method involves waking up from a dream and telling yourself that you are dreaming as you go back into one. He also invented the "Dream Light." The device is a sleeping mask that can detect REM. When it senses that a person is in that stage it flashes red to induce a lucid dream. The dreamer picks up on the flash and knows they are in a dream. Stephen LaBerge is dedicated to lucid dreaming and the people who venture to learn it.
    The future looks bright for Lucid Dreaming. As more and more information becomes available to the general public, interest in this deeply spiritual, indefinably rewarding practice will increase. No matter what happens, Lucid Dreaming will be around forever.


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