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October 13, 2012 6:30 PM   Subscribe

A Handy Guide to Lucid Dreaming (With Additional Tips From Richard Feynman) (warnings: Gawker media, misuses "Begs the question")
posted by davidjmcgee (33 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I'm glad they linked sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. They're like two sides of the same coin in my experience. Anybody thinking of encouraging lucid dreaming should be forewarned that sleep paralysis is a very real and annoying thing. Sometimes it's a good thing that your brain and body wake up at the same time.
posted by Jehan at 6:46 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I was younger, I would frequently experience sleep paralysis. It scared me when I was a kid, but as I got older I would realize what was happening, not panic, and concentrate on trying to move anything, like just a finger, to get out of it. The last time I remember it happening was in my 20s; I was dreaming about being at work in the hospital, my job at the time. In the dream, I was in a hallway on one of the floors and felt woozy, then I passed out, unconscious in the dream. I woke up, still in the dream, and experienced what was identical to sleep paralysis (except, in the dream, I wasn't waking from sleep but from passing out). My eyes were open and I saw the carpet of the hallway against my cheek, and a nurse running towards me, but I couldn't move at all. Suddenly, I realized it was a dream (one of the only times that ever happened), and I woke up.
Paralyzed, of course.
posted by Red Loop at 6:49 PM on October 13, 2012

I hate lucid dreaming now but once was avid about it.

A couple tips from reading the kooky slice of the Dewey Decimal, look at your hands as a cue to be aware. Try to do a spin move when the dream is trying to kick you out, so that you then transition to a new dream.

An interesting thing to try, was that a book said that you can't change the background luminosity. Of course, then I had to try that.

Another fun activity is to take turns playing all the speaking parts of the characters in the dream.
posted by saber_taylor at 6:56 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dude, Sorcery 101: never talk about your dreaming practice with outsiders. Conserve your personal power.
posted by Lorin at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Don't forget to carry a top.
posted by saber_taylor at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2012

It's funny — when I was younger, lucid dreaming (which I never have been able to do) struck me as just the height of human awesomeness, the coolest thing I'd ever heard of, and I was profoundly jealous of people who had been able to acquire the knack.

Reading about it now, I just feel, like, "Man, that must make sleeping into an awful lot of work."
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:58 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I always figured lucid dreaming would give you, like, hours of extra martial arts practice.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:22 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

why can't you ever see me? my tiny hands

if I could make you fly? If I flew to where you are? why can't

you see me? Open the door.

Open the door. Be

right there, I've missed you so

I'll be right there. I'll be the door.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:02 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Over the years I've had a lot of "frustration" dreams - I'm trying to do something, or meet up with somebody, or get from point A to point B, and events or situations keep materializing to prevent me from making it happen. Lately, though, that's changed; I'm actually able to accomplish things! ...Everyday, mundane, unexciting things. Progress?

On another note, in the uphill-ski-jump-run thread someone made a comment about having to pull themselves along by their arms when they ran in their dreams, which was a relief to me because I didn't know anyone else had that sort of experience. Also, I can't seem to shout in my dreams (usually trying to scare away bad people or something); it comes out a half-whispered and extremely frustrating "muh". I attribute both to the "sleep paralysis" thing others have mentioned, which - while not making me feel any more empowered - at least gives me a reason for that to happen so consistenty.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:14 PM on October 13, 2012

Don't forget to carry a top.

Totems are only useful if you plan on spending large swaths of time dreaming in other peoples heads.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:29 PM on October 13, 2012

radwolf76: It was more like composition than possession. But it's hard to stay asleep once you start mucking about.
posted by saber_taylor at 8:58 PM on October 13, 2012

When I was younger this was how I entered lucid dreams via sleep paralysis:

1. Habitual, chronic and severe sleep deprivation and insomnia.
2. Marathon 3 hour naps (habitual, chronic and severe insomnia permitting) wherein one enters REM sleep quickly.
3. Introduce some external audial cue such as a phone ringing, doorbell chiming.
4. Register inability to respond to said cue (due to sleep paralysis).
5. Re-enter dream.

Really though, I don't recommend it. It's rather a limiting as a lifestyle adaptation and I could never tell if the dream I was re-entering was the same as the one I left.
posted by space_cookie at 9:43 PM on October 13, 2012

As ever with this topic, I must plug Dreamviews. It has a certain lack of appeal for me now as the forums are mostly frustrated teenagers but they have a fairly rigorous and comprehensive overview of commonly used methods.
posted by solarion at 9:48 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I figured out a way to make myself have a lucid dream every night a few years ago, and now and again it can be very interesting to do. I've never have had what I would describe as full consciousness in a dream, but certainly I have had some kind of awareness and general control. Sort of the feeling of being able to turn the steering wheel but not control the speed.

What I do is set my alarm about 2-3 hours before I plan to wake up, and make it so that I have to get out of bed in order to switch it off. After turning it off I'm in that stage where you can fall asleep very rapidly if you return to bed. What I do is to return to bed or a sleeping location- but don't position myself in a standard way that would normally allow myself to fall asleep*. Because of how tired I am from waking up over-early, I'm able to fall asleep in a more strange position, and for whatever reason this almost always leads to me having a lucid dream.

If anybody else wants to try this, or already does so, I'd be really interested in hearing your results.

*For example, I can't normally fall asleep in an arm-chair, or lying directly on my back, or lying backwards or sideways on the bed, or on something a little uncomfortable- something like this.
posted by Algebra at 9:48 PM on October 13, 2012

I've tried (I mean, not super-seriously intensive effort, but I've had an earnest go at) a few of these sorts of techniques to induce lucid dreaming, and it's never once worked at all. I'm a hella deep sleeper and kind of an insomniac (I say, sitting in the dark listening to my partner snore at 5:49am), so maybe I'm just not set up for it.

On the other hand, the last dream I remember was about being a crossdressing trainee covert agent in a depopulated post-apocalyptic future, working for a secret society who worshipped fire or something. I'm not really sure how I could even improve that with conscious control.
posted by emmtee at 9:53 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

When I was just-barely-pubescent, I attempted to learn how to lucid dream so I'd have sex dreams about girls instead of boys. I remember whatever I read said you should eat grapes before bed time.
The only thing I got out of it was a highly praised poem in college, the inability to look at a female member of the junior class when I was in junior high, and a lifelong disinterest in attempting lucid dreaming.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:59 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been able to recognize I was dreaming a handful of times and step into the lucid state for fleeting moments. I always test it by jumping and flying, and then I get way too excited that I'm flying to maintain control of the lucid dream for too long, and I subsequently wake up.

There have been a couple of times I lucid-dreamt without flying, and It's strange how the dream suddenly gets very vivid once I step into the coscously-* consciously- aware state. Boundaries become more crisp, vague things are no longer vague, etc. But even still, I get too excited that I'm actually lucid dreaming to be able to make use of it fully, and I'm always like "AWW DAMMIT" when I suddenly wake up.

*yay, edit window. couscously... hah. wait, am i dreaming now? lemme look at my watch, wait I dont wear a watch, and I can't read this
posted by not_on_display at 10:10 PM on October 13, 2012

Reading about people's lucid dreams is just about as awesome as reading about their drug trips.
posted by bpm140 at 11:20 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I enjoy reading about peoples' drug trips and lucid dreams. So I guess we agree...

(is it, like, bad form to admit that you enjoy reading other peoples' drug trips?)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:45 PM on October 13, 2012

Lucid dreaming is adding an edit window to sleep.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:45 AM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Funny ...some time ago I was talking with a friend of mine, a young italian artist, who is trying to find ways to better express what's "inside" of him by exploiting his singing and stage talents.

He showed me some of his text and ...I didn't understand a single thing! Except I sensed that he was trying to express...something fleeting, here and there capture in a justaposition of words. It was like hermetic poetry.

As we were discussing his text, it occourred to me that in the context of dreams nothing ought to "make sense" and that we may attribute any kind of meaning to a dream without fear of "being wrong" (or right).

So I told him that it didn't matter that his writings tasted criptical to me... and that he ought to attribute himself a meaning and refine whatever meaning he found in that text by considering the text itself to be a kind of "lucid dream"... unconstrained by a strict need to "be understandable to others"

Eventually, by dint of trying, by refining that "personal meaning", he went on a roll and produced this video that's pretty much all about Onirical experiences. Here's a link to his website in English.
posted by elpapacito at 6:14 AM on October 14, 2012

I worry what it says about me that as soon as I realize that I'm dreaming, I immediately start to set things on fire & throw cars around.
posted by broken wheelchair at 11:58 AM on October 14, 2012

I worry what it says about me that as soon as I realize that I'm dreaming, I immediately start to set things on fire & throw cars around.

Don't get angry. You wouldn't like it when you're angry.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:58 PM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I once attended a lucid dreaming session at the invitation of a co-worker. It was a Friday night, and I entered a suburban house, to be met by an older blonde woman, dressed in flowing garments. After that, I remember kneeling down with my head on a couch, being told to talk to each half of my brain. The right half was distinctly blue, with glowing butterflies and sparkly bits. The left half was orange, and it stuck out a hand to me as a welcome. I remember waking up and thinking, "wow, this is the schizzle!"

Then I found out they wanted $600 for a whole weekend of this stuff, quite a bit of money back in 1987 on a secretary's salary.

But still. I do have a good imagination and I wrote it all down when I got home, which is why I remember it to this day. My brain likes me, apparently. Even after 40 hours of slaving away at a desk job. So thanks, Lucid Dreaming!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:28 PM on October 14, 2012

You're innocent when you dream.

--Tom Waits
posted by ecourbanist at 2:33 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always seem to dream about downhill mountain biking successfully over completely impossible courses that run through heavily forested areas. I live on a desert island at sea level, and have never been on a mountain bike, so this puzzles me. I do seem to be really, really good at it, though.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:16 PM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I usually dream about war, fighting, or monsters. A handful of times I've been able to get into a lucid state. It's always peaceful. I just fly and fly and fly and fly. I like it.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 5:21 PM on October 14, 2012

I have enough of a problem with lucid living.
posted by dakotadusk at 5:35 PM on October 14, 2012

MCMikeNamara, that makes me want to give you a hug.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:25 PM on October 14, 2012

I have a nightmare almost every night, as near as I can tell. It's enough of a constant it doesn't bother me that much, and I think it must be accomplishing something or my brain wouldn't do it so regularly, but when bad things happen to my partner in my dreams that could conceivably happen in real life, I am extremely upset.

Fortunately my dreams are usually so surreal nothing in them could ever happen.

In the last couple of months, though, I've had three very disturbing otherwise ordinary nightmares that refused to quit when I woke up. In the first instance, I woke up from the nightmare in early morning dimness, got out of bed to go to the bathroom and heard faint voices I thought must be coming from the house of my mostly deaf neighbor who just got a new TV, but when I got back in bed and closed my eyes, I realized my dream was still going on and had been going on without me as if it had been a TV show, and that the voices were from my dream.

It lasted another 20 minutes. I couldn't see it with the lights on, or hear it over my radio, but if I closed my eyes and turned the radio down, there it was. It bleached out to black and white and faded toward the end, and had no aftermath, but I couldn't stop it and it scared me.
posted by jamjam at 9:47 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lucid dreaming is the holodeck, with all that implies both good and bad. (i.e. it is where you are a sex viking trapped with Picard Holmes until Q reverses the polarity.)
posted by DU at 5:22 AM on October 15, 2012

Oh boy, the holodeck, that's where I'm a sex viking!
posted by radwolf76 at 2:11 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've had quite a number of semi-lucid dreams, where I'm kinda sorta aware that I'm dreaming. Often these involve situations where I'm floating or flying, and I have to catch "thermals" in order to stay afloat.

I have, however, had one fully lucid dream, and it happened using the reality checking method (checking light switch).

It was one of the most incredible experiences ever. I was FULLY aware that I was dreaming. I was FULLY aware of who I was, and that my real self was asleep in bed downstairs (in my dream I was in my housemate's room above my own room). It really felt like I was in a holodeck, and I took advantage of it by making these balls float in front of me. It wasn't easy though - I didn't have full control over the trajectory of the balls... and then I got so excited that I woke up.
posted by spacediver at 3:53 PM on October 15, 2012

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