Posted by: beagle4 | January 31, 2011

Dream Control

When I fall asleep and finally start dreaming, I have no control over the dream. When I dream it usually feels like I am watching a movie; the plot and setting are already predetermined and I am just living out the dream as a character in the movie. Most of the time I am not even aware that I am dreaming, but every once in a while I figure it out eventually. For these occasions, being aware of the fact that I am dreaming does not mean I can control the dream. The one thing I do gain from knowing that I am dreaming is that I can wake myself up at anytime if necessary.

The term for explaining a dream in which a person is aware that they are dreaming is called a lucid dream (similar to dream yoga practiced by Tibetan Buddhists for thousands of years). Lucidity is not synonymous with dream control. It is possible to be lucid and have little control over dream content, and conversely, to have a great deal of control without being explicitly aware that you are dreaming. Lucid dreamers develop a frame of mind that allows them to recognize when they are dreaming. They then have the  freedom to create and imagine worlds that do not obey the laws of physics. The limits are only those of the dreamer’s imagination. Lucid dreaming is a learnable skill, however it can be difficult at times. It takes practice.

Who wouldn’t want to be able to control their dreams? Stanford University has begun an intensive research into the precise nature of the lucid dream state, and the factors of the brain, body, and mind that are involved in achieving and sustaining it. Stephen LaBerge, has been researching lucid dreams at Stanford for over a decade. He founded the Lucidity Institute to advance research on lucid dreaming.

The Lucidity Institute  has developed commercially available lucid dream induction devices capable of making lucid dreaming universally accessible. These products include the DreamLight, DreamLink, and most recently, the NovaDreamer. All of these products help the dreamer realize that they are dreaming by means of external cues applied during REM sleep, that become incorporated into dreams and remind dreamers that they are dreaming. (This includes tape recordings, conditioned tactile stimuli, and light.) More information about the history and future of lucid dreaming written by Stephen LaBerge is available at this link.

One of the experiments he has conducted, called the NightLight study, was designed to assess how successful people would be at accomplishing certain well-defined tasks in lucid dreams.  The experiment and the results can be found at this link.

On first glance, it appears that lucid dreaming has no real world practicality; this simply is not the case. Lucid dreaming offers considerable potential for a variety of practical applications: aiding personal-development, enhancing self-confidence, overcoming nightmares, improving mental and perhaps physical health, and facilitating creative problem solving. All of this can be achieved while you sleep!

Now just close your eyes and dream…

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Responses

  1. How well do the lucid dreaming products work. I can only remember one dream I have had, and would like to remember more.

    • Here is the answer the company provides: “The Lucidity Institute’s lucid dream induction devices are designed to help people achieve lucidity by giving them cues while they are dreaming and also by providing a reliable means of testing one’s state of consciousness. They do not make people have lucid dreams any more than exercise machines make people develop strong muscles. In both cases the goal, strength or lucid dreams, results from practice. The machines accelerate the process. Several factors enter into success with one of these devices. One is how accurately the cues are coordinated with the user’s REM sleep. The devices’ REM detection systems are adjustable to individual variables. Another success factor is how well the cues enter into the dream without awakening the sleeper. A third factor is how prepared the user is for recognizing cues in dreams and becoming lucid. Finally, the user’s commitment to performing a reality test on each awakening with the device influences success. All four of these factors are, to some extent, controllable by the device user: adjustment of eye movement sensitivity to catch REM sleep, selecting a cue that enters dreams without causing awakenings, mental preparation to recognize cues in dreams, and resolution to do reality tests. Therefore, it is difficult to obtain a truly accurate measurement of the effectiveness of the devices. Nonetheless, research with various versions of the DreamLight (previous lucid dream induction device that is no longer in production) have shown that it definitely helps people have more frequent lucid dreams.” (http://www.lucidity.com/LucidDreamingFAQ2.html#deviceswork)


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