Occasionally when I am giving lucid dream presentations, someone will raise their hand and ask, “How would you describe the experience of lucid dreaming to someone who has never had a lucid dream before?”
On social media I created a graphic of a Zen garden with this statement to capture the experience:
“Lucid dreaming is like Zen.
A sudden realization,
and everything changes.”
On a simpler level, you could say a lucid dream resembles a surprise birthday party. A group of people gather and wait for the special person to come through the door, and then yell, “Surprise!” Lucid dreaming seems a bit like that ‘special person,’ who feels bewildered for a few seconds, and then realizes, “Oh this is a surprise birthday party!” After that realization, the ‘lucid’ person changes his behavior to have fun at the party.
Lucid dreams emerge from a realization within a regular dream. Normally something happens in a regular dream (e.g., a baby dinosaur walks down the street), which makes you stop and think, “That seems so strange – oh, this must be a dream!” At that moment, you suddenly shift into lucid awareness. You know that you exist within the dream state.
Once you make that shift into ‘lucid awareness’, it can feel like you have become an ‘inner’ explorer — exploring the inner space of dreaming and the unconscious mind. It’s a wonderful and liberating feeling! In a certain sense, you feel free.
Lucid dreaming ultimately shows the lucid dreamer that the ‘dream state’ is not chaos or random. Instead, after dozens or hundreds of lucid dreams, you begin to see rules and principles exist. With more lucid dream experiences, these rules and principles become clearer and clearer, such that virtually every experienced lucid dreamer learns to deal with the dream-space in similar ways. This is why lucid dreamers can gather in forums, share experiences, and find commonalities in their individual lucid dream experience. Their lucid dream explorations hold virtually the same lessons for all lucid dreamers.
Upon becoming lucid, a sense of joy or wholeness often emerges, like you have resolved a perplexing puzzle or achieved a new level of understanding. This sometimes moves to the level of lucid euphoria (but you learn not to get too excited, since this may cause the lucid dream to collapse). Some people wonder if you wake and feel tired – but it is the exact opposite – you wake and feel energized as if you have completed something marvelous.
While the apparent senses of sight, hearing and touch often seem accentuated in the lucid dream, other senses may seem somewhat diminished. In effect, the lucid dream environment often looks, feels and sounds just as you would expect in the waking world (which sometimes makes maintaining your lucid awareness a challenge – since the lucid dream seems so ‘real’).
Since I taught myself how to become consciously aware in my dreams in 1975 while a high school student (five years before the scientific evidence for lucid dreaming emerged), I discovered – or you could say learned by trial and error – many of these basic principles of lucid dreaming, and its hidden structure of reflecting one’s beliefs, expectations, etc., in each moment. Lucid dreaming teaches you to ‘wake’ to your own belief system, and how you (consciously and unconsciously) project it out there, where you then experience the projections.
When my first book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self was published, it was gratifying to see experienced lucid dreamers review the book and praise it for bringing to light these hidden structural elements and how they play a part in the experience of dreaming and lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is like Zen. A sudden realization. And everything changes.
When I saw the convincing reality of the dream exposed, laid bare, unclothed, and then suddenly became lucid, laughter seemed very appropriate. I laughed at my own stupidity, my ability to overlook innumerable clues and still not get it.read more
Have you ever dreamt of a deceased friend or relative? Did you wonder upon waking if you experienced a possible visitation or just a dream symbol? How can you tell?read more
U.K. artist, presenter and lucid dreamer, Caroline McCready speaks with interviewer Robert Waggoner about exploring conceptual boundaries through lucid dreaming.read more
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