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    Thread: WILD Session 4: Mental Prep Part 2 -- Forming Your Dreams

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      WILD Session 4: Mental Prep Part 2 -- Forming Your Dreams

      This week's session is the other half of the original mental prep session with emphasis now on getting ready to be in the dream. In the first mental prep session, we talked about activities to do during the day like the RRC, but today we are going to look at getting our minds ready for the dream itself, and more importantly ensuring that there is a dream at all waiting for us when we get to it. Keep in mind though, that you still need to keep doing those RRC’s -- anything discussed here, or for the rest of the course, is counting on the self-awareness you’re building with that effort!

      Now to mental prep:

      A funny thing often happens to dreamers when they succeed at a WILD. You may have experienced the phenomenon yourself: You lie down and wait properly, you make it through the “noise,” you’re in good possession of your self-awareness, and may even have managed to leave your memory switched on. Everything went perfectly. But then there you are, sure you are dreaming, but still lying in your bed, or wandering the rooms of your house, with nothing to do, to see, or pretty much to show for all your efforts. Yeah, you’re still lucid, but the dreamworld is pretty damn dull.

      What happened? Simply put, you did your WILD, are lucid, but there is no dream to enter! The required mental materials for a dream -- unconscious input like day residue and dream schemas, etc. -- have not been spooled up, because your normal sleep schedule is not being followed. That would be sort of dull, I think. Not to be left completely behind, your unconscious quickly scrambles with the most recent or ready images it can grab, usually your bedroom, or perhaps standards like your childhood home, school, workplace, or something else very familiar. This phenomenon can happen very easily, especially in classic WBTB WILD, because your dreaming mind was not prepared for a dream. Though you must be in REM because you’re dreaming, if you are in late cycles your dreaming mind might not be fully prepared to offer up another dream just yet.

      This all may sound ridiculous, and I would bet that there are plenty of knowledgeable folks who might thoughtfully disagree, but I think it is a true condition: when you’re doing it in an unnatural fashion like WILD, it is possible to enter a dream state without a dream schema on tap. Your unconscious mind, in effect, wasn’t prepared for your visit! Even if I’m wrong about this, today’s session will still help you increase the quality of your LD, so it might still be worth considering.

      Here is what to do about it in three easy steps:

      1. Set your intention: It may seem counter-intuitive to set intention for a WILD. Since you are never separated from your waking awareness from wake to dream, intention-setting doesn’t seem necessary. But it is. Though setting intention is a handy tool during DILD and MILD for leaving a breadcrumb trail of reminders to consciousness (and your plans for that particular dream), it can serve an equally important purpose in WILD by giving your dreaming mind a rudder during the listless few minutes of a WILD dream state.

      You can set your intention via the mantra you may have chanted during the front half of your WILD, and I’ve had some success with this myself. For instance, you can use a mantra that includes an image of the place you want to be when you arrive in your dream, like, “I will be on a beach.” I’m not a big fan of this, though, because I think it might interfere with both the actual purpose of your mantra, and the more global meaning you might be able to attach to a mantra that you use in every WILD, like chanting “I am dreaming.” We’ll talk more specifically about mantras in their own session later.

      So, if you’re in the habit of changing out mantras every time, or you do not normally use mantras at all, then perhaps building your intention into a mantra is okay. Otherwise, I recommend setting your intention the old fashioned way: by resolving to recognize your dream, by visualizing yourself dreaming, and by imagining yourself playing out your dream,. You can do all this during waking life both well before and right up to the moment of your WILD. All this is nicely laid out in LaBerge’s EWOLD, and I recommend reviewing it.

      2. Harbor Expectation: Much of the fabric of your dreams is woven with expectation, so it is a very good idea to pocket a thread of expectation with you on your WILD trip. Expectation differs from intention in that it tends to be more specific, and more directly responsive to existing stimuli. For instance, you may have had the intention all week of being lucid, and maybe seeking your goals in a dream, and all that happened -- but you’re still stuck in your "bedroom." Now, if you also have a clear expectation of what will happen next after you discover your dream bedroom -- perhaps you know that a special door will appear that opens not on a hallway but onto, say, Saturn’s rings -- then you stand a much better chance of leaving your room and entering a new dream.

      You need not have some specific expectation in mind, either. Sometimes just an openness to change in the dream is enough to tap the vast warehouse of unconscious expectation we all possess. That openness might counter the unwelcome but already fulfilled expectation of your bedroom’s “reality,” and get you out of it without having to think up anything in particular.

      Bottom line with expectation -- don’t just accept the scene you’re in when the WILD dream starts; be ready and willing to encounter changes.

      3. Nurture schemas: First, in case you don’t already know, what is a schema? I’m not sure I can describe this briefly, but I’ll try:

      A schema is your mind’s basic building block for its perception of reality. For instance, let’s say you see a round object. There are a lot of round objects in the world, so how does your mind know how to identify it? It does so by forming a mental model of the object, searching the images of round things you’ve got stored in your memory for an object that fits the context of this round item for a likely match. It turns out this object is floating above you in the sky, and seems to be lit up, but not blindingly bright, and seems to be stationary…by now you’ve probably already found a mental model match that says, “moon.” In its search your mind could have come up with balloon, or basketball, or Frisbee, or UFO, or any number of other models, and likely did so without your consciously knowing, but your mind settled on the best choice -- moon -- and that is what you perceived. That is a schema.

      In a very real sense, all of your perceived reality is simply an assemblage of schemas -- you define everything you perceive or think by attaching schemas to them, and these schemas are simple mental models, building blocks, of your known reality (i.e., the moon image is a mental model for a round object that fit the surrounding context). They’re sort of like mini-metaphors, or bits of explanations, for what you are seeing. Without schemas, nothing would make much sense. Imagine what an infant, who has not yet assembled its library of schemas, thinks when it sees that round object in the sky; not a moon!

      How can we use schemas to form dreams in WILD's? Here are a few ways:

      First is during the dive itself, when your “vision” is hit with Hypnagogic Imagery. You can take the simple, usually formless and meaningless images (or sounds, or even vibrations) that comprise HI and attach schemas to them.

      For instance, let’s say little triangles of yellow light are flashing about in front of you. Instead of seeing just the light, imagine that the triangles are actual objects seeking definition. In a moment, your mind should begin searching its database of “triangular objects” to try to match up a real image to the flashing triangles. Very quickly, probably within seconds of deciding that the triangles look like “something,” you will notice them resembling “something real,” perhaps a mountain, or a mountain range, if there are lots of triangles. Then expectation kicks in and before you know it you’re sipping hot cocoa on the deck of a Swiss Chalet (also a triangle, BTW)! A caveat about using HI, though: when you allow your unconscious to do a lot of work for you -- as in defining the reality of those triangles -- you run the risk of permitting it to take over completely, and thus sacrifice lucidity. So remember to remember when converting HI to dream schemas, always being careful to hold fast to the facts that you are you, and that you are actually awake.

      Another way to use schema is as a sort of reality glue for the expectations you’re supposed to be harboring from step #2: After you are in the dream, and perhaps see that unusual door in your room, open the door. The scene it opens on might be blank, or chaotic. This is because, though you expected Saturn’s rings, your mind may not have had a chance yet to form the rings themselves. So look around at the blankness or chaos until you see something that looks even a bit like Saturn, or one of its rings. And -- here’s the expectation bit -- you will see something very quickly. It may only be a wisp of curvy smoke or a strange ball with a stripe, but something will appear. When it does, simply let your mind search until it finds the mental model that matches not the (still blank or chaotic) environment but your expectations. Sure enough, in just a few seconds, Saturn will be looming before you! This method sounds simple, but in practice it can be “difficult” because it depends on solid expectation, confident awareness, and a genuine openness to change that sometimes is hard to gather in a dream. But when it works it does so quickly, and with often staggering results. Oh, and this method has very little to do with WILD -- you can flip on the expectation/schema switch whenever you get the urge in any LD -- it’s a great way to switch scenes!

      My favorite way to use schemas in WILD is by forming them myself, from scratch. After HI has passed (or diminished), there is a brief period of “nothing” that occurs either because you’re still in NREM or your dreaming mind hasn’t put together a world for you yet. At this point you can do something like that “door” trick above, only without the door and, oddly, without much expectation. Instead, first form or choose to notice a very simple object in front of you -- any kind of blob, line or dot will do -- and focus on that object. Notice that the object is malleable -- it seems ready to change its shape at your command -- and then just play with it and see what emerges. After a couple of shape-shifts, the object might start to resemble something. That’s your mind automatically attaching a schema to it; work with that by focusing a little harder and let the object materialize. Let’s say the blob is elongating slightly and turning red -- you decide it looks like a fire hydrant. Then it is a fire hydrant!

      Now comes the fun part: take a second and imagine where exactly a fire hydrant belongs and whoosh, you are suddenly standing on a city street, your dreaming mind having (gratefully, I think) attached a world of schemas to accompany the reality of the hydrant. This method is my favorite mostly because it satisfies my artistic interests, but also because it can offer up real surprises without much risk of lost lucidity.

      With these three dream-forming steps in play, you will likely not find yourself wandering your empty bedroom during your WILD, at least not for long. You should be able to jump right into the kind of LD that all this work learning to WILD ought to afford you. Also, the act of doing these three things will very likely set within you a mindset of understanding that, should you still emerge into the dream state in your room, you will not be stuck in it -- you will know that you can leave it whenever you want, that you simply need to give your dreaming mind a chance to catch up.

      Homework: practice nurturing schemas: During waking-life, every time a shape catches your eye (it happens more often than you might think), take a few seconds and focus on it. During that focus time – likely just a few seconds – try to feel your mind search its library of schemas for a likely association, and then think about the objects place in the rest of the scene around you. This is kind of a fun exercise in itself, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you do it already, but what it should also do is give you a feel for the “action” behind the schema process, which in turn should develop your ability to move it along during the dream. Also, this homework will hone your expectations and help you give a moment to setting intention as well. Which makes sense, because all three of these steps – setting intention, expectation, and nurturing schema – are truly interlaced.

      Next Week: Mantras and Why They Matter.
      Last edited by Sageous; 06-19-2015 at 11:55 PM.

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