Currently Browsing: Lucid Dreaming Tips
Apr 3, 2010
In 1977, two psychiatrists suggested that dreams were really just a brain hiccup. (Actually, they used a phrase much more scientific than hiccup – that was just my interpretation.) The research they conducted led them to believe that dreams were a kind of misfiring of neurons during sleep and that dreams had no meaning. Critics strongly disagreed. Who was right?
James Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley of Harvard published their theory, opening it up, of course, for both discussion and critique. The theory was labeled activation-synthesis hypothesis. They explained that the brain was mistakenly sending signals to the body during sleep and that as our voluntary bodily functions were shut down for the night, the brain was puzzled as to how to deal with the two opposing conditions – an order for some activity or movement vs. the non-responsive state induced by sleep. They believed that in order for the brain to deal with the situation, it made up a story to get past the hiccup. Upon waking, that story – most often something that has never actually taken place in our real life – was remembered as a dream.
This alone did not upset other dream theorists and psychiatrists. Instead, what caused others to take issue with this proposed explanation of dreaming was the part of the report that denied dreams have any meaning at all. The world at large had spent so many years believing dreams do, in fact, have some meaning in our lives that it became a point of contention against this new theory.
Eleven years later, Hobson would revise his theory to allow for the fact that dreams do draw from memories and desires but held the original conclusion that dreams were not repetitive or meaningful.
Others used the existence of lucid dreaming to suggest that the theory could not be accurate, stating the two theories could not co-exist. Without reading the publication and supporting material, it’s difficult to draw that conclusion.
I think it’s possible that dreams could be a misfiring of sorts and that while the brain attempts to deal with the misfiring, it draws on our memories to create the story or dream. Really, if you think of a brain as a computer, how could it do anything but? Have you ever come across an object in a dream for which you did not have a word? Or a color you could not describe? I doubt it because your brain can only work with the material stored inside – just like a computer. My computer doesn’t show my Nasa’s launch control panel because it does not have that system available for operation. My dreams, therefore, do not include objects or people who could not be created from my own experiences and memories. That’s my uneducated opinion, anyway.
So, I can relate to the fact that dreams come from my memories.
Closing the gap, though, on whether dreams actually mean something to us is more difficult.
I have my own explanation for that, too, though. If our brain is like a computer and if it draws on memories in order to come up with the images and story lines we see in our dreams, isn’t it probable that our brain grabs the memories that are most fresh and, therefore, the ones that have the most meaning to us at the time we have the dream? Maybe I’m stretching and some might disagree, but if short term memory is stored in one “file” of our brain and long-term memory in another, do dreams only grab from one file? The short-term, recently pondered, recently experienced file?
No matter which you believe, the fact that studies about the meaning of dreams, dream interpretation and the healing powers of lucid dreaming are on-going suggests dreaming certainly has some meaning to someone. Otherwise, why would we spend any time on the subject at all?
Mar 22, 2010
© Melinda Nagy|Dreamstime.com
I used to believe that my dreams could predict the future. I thought they were warnings or clues about what was going to happen to me at some point in my life. This was back when I was much younger, my early teen years, and didn’t quite understand what a dream really was.
When a dream does seem to predict the future, is it possible that it was really a self-fulfilling prophecy and that the dream caused us to take an action which made the dream come true? We dream about taking an exotic trip and it was such a fabulous idea that we take a trip much like our dream one and – what do you know – our dream came true!
I’ve taken a different view as I’ve aged. Maybe it’s from experience. Maybe because none of the ones I had that appeared to be about future events have ever come true.
If my dreams told the future:
- I’d have married an Asian man only a few inches taller than myself (this was a recurring dream in my teens and I’ve never even dated anyone who was Asian)
- My sister would have accidentally jumped off of a highway overhead interchange while jogging…with me (she was okay as she landed on a pile of soft material below but to my knowledge, she’s never jogged – nor will she ever jog – on a highway overpass)
- I would be able to levitate (how I wish this one were true!)
- Red scorpions would invade my home (okay – maybe this one was about the future. While we don’t have red scorpions here, we do have scorpions and I think I found one in the house a month later and had to kill it. Ew.)
- I would have dated a co-worker I find completely unappealing (never gonna happen)
See, I don’t think these dreams are telling me about my future. I think they’re telling me something about the present – problems at work, stress I was under, big decisions I had to make – but not things that were set-in-stone, damned-if-you-do future events.
Instead, I think dreams can guide our future if we use the clues they provide us.
When I’m particularly stressed about something, my dreams go into overtime. I didn’t understand that what I was seeing was my brain trying to work through whatever was bothering me. Dreams about bridges, for example, can be dreams about an upcoming decision you have to make or a fork on the road of life that you’re considering. Do you know how many transitions I’ve had in my life? Moving out of my parents’ home, choosing a college, breaking up with a boyfriend, getting married, getting divorced, changing jobs, having kids, moving….almost all of them came with a dream of some sort. A message that I was struggling with a choice or had some set of actions I was putting off. My brain would come along and give me a nice, swift, kick to the head as a reminder that these things needed to be dealt with.
Sometimes, the fact that we’re struggling with something isn’t so obvious. It’s buried deep because we may not want to face it or we don’t consciously know how to deal with it. Our head knows what’s going way down deep, though, so we get clues in our dreams about those problems. If you pay attention to them, they can help guide your future, too.
Whether or not you believe that we do or do not use only a small percentage of our brain’s ability, I do think it’s worth paying attention to what power we know we have that we often overlook – like our dreams. I don’t think they predict the future, necessarily, but I think they have something very important to tell us, nonetheless.
Mar 17, 2010
Imagine what each morning would feel like if every night you knew how to dream what you wanted to dream about. One night you’re dreaming about a fabulous trip to an exotic location and the next night you dream about finally starting that exercise program you’ve been putting off. Could you wake up each morning tingling with excitement about the possibilities each new day presents?
I think it’s entirely possible. There are dreams I’ve had that have kept me enchanted all day. The feelings the dream left me with were so vivid and life like that I found myself returning to them in my mind throughout the day.
To have the kind of influence over your subconscious that would allow you that kind of power requires an incredible amount of practice for some while others may have been born with a natural gift. Since our minds are trainable (even if in school we had teachers who thought perhaps our particular mind was not…), using the right techniques to control your dreams can make a difference.
A dream is really nothing more than a visual of what our brain in an active state while we are sleeping. As our brain processes information and challenges we are facing in real life, we are fortunate enough to get to watch at times. To dream what you want to dream about, get your mind thinking about your plan before you fall asleep.
Detail Detail Detail
Ever fallen asleep stressed about your job or the bills and had a terrible dream that you were being chased? Prep your brain for a better experience by thinking about what you want to dream about before you fall asleep. Just don’t think about, though, cover yourself in the detail of the experience. You have to find a way to let go of the stress that may hold you back. Want the tropical island? Soak in a warm bath with scented oil and flower petals before you go to bed. Play soothing music with water sounds in the background. Look at pictures of islands before going to sleep. Pick a specific island and map out how you would spend one solid day in such paradise.
There are multiple benefits to this process whether you believe you can learn how to dream what you want or not. Falling asleep less stressed will make you more rested when you wake up. Filling your head with possible dreams and goals gives you inspiration for doing the things you have to do each day that aren’t quite as enjoyable as a tropical adventure (like WORK!). A little positive attitude goes a very, long way.
Mar 11, 2010
Control your dreams at night easily with a few practice techniques that expand your ability to both recall and influence your dreams.
Being able to make things happen in your dreams gives you some amazing benefits. Not only can you use your dreams to do things you might not get a chance to do in real life, but your dreams are visions of your brain’s thought processes. Getting clues to what keeps your brain occupied at night can help you find out amazing things about yourself – self-esteem issues, fears, and phobias. Once you know what those things are and can tackle them in your dreams, your experiences can help you tackle those same things in real life.
In order to control your dreams, you need to have really good dream recall. The average adult dreams 4-6 times a night during their REM sleep. The Labratory of Neurophysiology, Dept of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School published a study in 1997 in which a number of students kept dream journals in an effort to measure the rate to which people remember their dreams. Comparing the number of remembered dreams to the average number estimated to actually occur, it appears people remember their dreams somewhere around 40% of the time. That would equate to recalling 11-17 dreams a week!
Your chances of being able to influence your dreams will be better if your dream recall is at least average, if not better. (For tips on improving dream recall see: How to Remember Your Dreams.)
The next objective is to be able to tell when you are dreaming while you are in the dream. This is called “lucid dreaming”. If you don’t KNOW you’re dreaming, how will you be able to have any impact on your dream? (For tips on lucid dreaming see: Lucid Dreaming Guide.)
Assuming you already have some dream awareness, the final step is to actually make things happen in your dreams. There are a number of techniques you can use:
Removing Yourself from Danger in Nightmares
Letting dreams play themselves out is really what gives you the clues to your inner self, however, sometimes dreams can get pretty scary. Yes – that’s what we’d call a nightmare….one, very, scary dream. Dreams are fun. Nightmares are simply terrorizing. I’m not sure I always want to know exactly what my head is thinking about when presenting a nightmare and so I’d rather escape. Once you can exhert a little influence in your dreams, you can remove yourself from dangerous situations. Hover or fly out of danger, rescue your family, put a wall up to block any beasty animals or wild creatures that may be chasing you.
Stop the Chase
There are times in your dreams when you’re chasing someone. Maybe you see a long lost loved one in the distance and it seems you can’t get close to them to talk to them. You can stop them from running or get yourself closer to them so you can actually stop the chase and get to the meat of the dream.
Talk to Famous Personalities in Your Dreams
Sure, it would be really cool to talk to the entire cast of your favorite movie, but some might prefer a chat with Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus. Before going to bed at night, read up on the person you want to chat with to try to induce them showing up. When you enter a lucid dream state, try calling out to the person you want to talk to or imagine a piece of technology you could use in your dream to reach them.
Expand Your Creativity
Have you ever had such a great dream that you knew if you could have captured it on film it would have been a blockbuster? When you are aware within a dream, you capture more detail for longer periods of time than if you simply woke from the dream and tried to grasp at it like an evaporating mist. Soon, you’ll be able to write down incredible journeys you’ve taken in your dreams with much more detail than you could before. Aspiring writers can unlock unique story concepts. Artists can envision new projects. Even scientists can develop new experiments and theories.
© paul (dex) busy @ work
There are a number of tools you can use to enhance the ability to control your dreams at night. Use sound and images to inspire your dreams. Immerse your awake self in what you want to do in your dreams to prepare your mind for such an adventure. If you want to journey to the moon in your dream, watch a video about walking on the moon right before going to bed, study NASA’s website, read books about the people you want to meet, look at pictures, use visual aids, listen to binaural beats to create a lucid dream state.
Mar 11, 2010
© Richard0 - Catching up!
Want to dream in high def with beautiful detail? You already do – you just don’t know how to SEE it. Learn how to make your dreams more vivid and intriguing and how to really be aware of the colors, detail, and actions you experience while you’re dreaming.
If your dreams seem blah and humdrum, it’s most likely because your attention to detail is not an overly strong trait in your waking life. Train your waking eye to see more detail and your “sleeping eye” will follow.
Some people just have a knack for an artist’s eye. They notice the curve of the inner petal on a blooming red, rose. They see the different shades of yellow cast by a sun’s ray on a white beach. They notice if lightning is a sheet across the sky or a bolt firmly shooting towards the earth.
If not, then work on improving your attention to detail. Set aside some time each day to just stare at an object – any object. It could be the face of your child in a picture, a pebble you find along your daily walk, or a leaf from a tree outside your house.
Inspect the object from every angle. Turn it upside down and around and over again. After the first few minutes, write down some things you notice about the object. What stands out at you? Color, shape, texture. Then look at the object again and find ten more things you can list about the object. Repeat the exercise again until you have at least 30 different descriptions about the characteristics of that object.
After you’ve practiced this a few times with objects around the house, take the experience outside with you. When you go for a walk, stop and look at flowers along your route or cracks in the sidewalk – even the door to your own home. What do you see?
When driving, take the time at stoplights or while stuck in traffic to perform the same exercises. You might not be able to write down your notes but by now you should know what you need to do well enough to simply list descriptions and things that you see in your head.
Another great technique is to study those I Spy books for kids. Have you seen those? They’re a jumble of objects and you need to find a list of objects within the jumble. The books train your eyes to see things with new clarity.
Over time, what you see when awake will improve and it will follow you to your dreams. This is how to make your dreams more vivid.