If you persist in your efforts...
May 25, 2006 1:26 PM   Subscribe

You can achieve dream control. Lucid dreaming has been discussed on MeFi before. LD4all is a site that I highly recommend, as it takes you step-by-step through the learning process; from remembering your dreams through gaining control and even into more esoteric subjects. As a researcher in the field, I'm interested in both the empirical views and those more artistic in nature.
posted by Eideteker (37 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I knew a guy that said he could control his dreams.
So I imagined myself beating the shit out of him.
posted by frogan at 1:34 PM on May 25, 2006

Would have been nice if the author had run spell check on the website, you know, to give it some credibility.
posted by dead_ at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2006

I remember my dreams all the time, and if I realize I'm dreaming, I can usually control them.
posted by delmoi at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2006

Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If only all my precious plans would come true (sh-boom)
If you would let me spend my whole life lovin' you
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Now every time I look at you
Something is on my mind
If you do what I want you to
Baby, we'd be so fine!

Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Sh-boom sh-boom Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Sh-boom sh-boom Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Sh-boom sh-boom Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da, sh-boom!

Sh-boom sh-boom Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Sh-boom sh-boom Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Sh-boom sh-boom Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da, sh-boom!
posted by Floydd at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2006

Sorry, English isn't the site owner's primary language (hover over the gold logo medallion and click on "about"). Most of the information is good, but I can't vouch for the forums (I restrict myself to livejournal's lucid dreaming community).
posted by Eideteker at 1:50 PM on May 25, 2006

Given your username and interests, Eidetiker, I wonder if you've ever read Will Self's My Idea Of Fun?
posted by jack_mo at 1:53 PM on May 25, 2006

I take drugs so I can just cut to the chase.
posted by bardic at 1:57 PM on May 25, 2006

The tough part is not to wake up when you realize you're dreaming.
posted by sour cream at 2:13 PM on May 25, 2006

I used to do this quite a bit when younger. The fascinating part is how real it seems while it's occuring. You can even verify smells, sounds, and sensations that are indistinguishable from reality. Yet after a certain time passes, you are unable to convince yourself how real it was.

In any case, after my experimenting with such, I'll forever live with the lurking suspicion that I'm dreaming at the very moment.
posted by iamck at 2:28 PM on May 25, 2006

(Of course, if you can read the above, you're not "dreaming," as this is an impossible feat to perform, try it!)
posted by iamck at 2:29 PM on May 25, 2006

I take drugs so I can just cut to the chase.

Heroin/Opium is great for this, or so I hear.
posted by IronLizard at 2:31 PM on May 25, 2006

I remember my dreams alot. But I can't come up with any concrete reason they should be studied, aside from plain old curiousity.
posted by Radio7 at 2:34 PM on May 25, 2006

Over the past year I've been getting regular episodes of sleep paralysis, and they freaked me out until I realized my symptoms are fairly typical for this sort of thing -- the feeling of a malicious presence in the room, the almost musical "fluttering" sound. And it's never pleasant to realize you're stuck in a dream, can't move and have to just wait it out.

During those episodes, my dreams are static -- often they're set in the same room I'm sleeping in and I can see myself sleeping -- but I still consider them lucid dreams because I am very aware I'm dreaming.

Less common are actual lucid dreams, or at least I don't remember having as many fully-formed lucid dreams. I'm not so sure I believe people can achieve total dream control as some claim, and I'm immediately suspicious of these pseudo-science sites where the authors try to sound serious next to graphics of doube tetrahedrons and such.

I'd be interested to hear about anyone else's experiences with this, in particular if "state check" cues have worked for anyone, and if so, what sounds have worked and how you've conditioned yourself to recognize them in-dream. Thanks for the post, Eideteker.
posted by Alexandros at 2:35 PM on May 25, 2006

I had a true lucid dream recently, complete with reality checks and deliberate tweaking of the environment. (Zero gravity yay!) The most interesting part was waking up; there was literally a slow audio crossfade from the dream to reality.

Haven't been able to repeat the effect since; I suspect it may have been a side effect of a seasickness pill I'd taken the day before. Which is too bad; it was a lot of fun.
posted by ook at 2:53 PM on May 25, 2006

I had a dream that I could find the scrollbar on that site, and I moved it, and it worked well.

That was awesome.

Seriously, the site is actually well-organized and has quite a bit of good information on it. I've been having lucid dreams since I was a kid, and I find they're the easiest to come by when staying in a strange bed, especially at hotels. I don't have a problem staying asleep when lucid, but it is dang hard to stay lucid for more than a few apparent minutes. I feel like there's this catatonic force trying to lull me back to 'sleep'. My memories of those parts of the dreams... the loss of lucidity as you space back out to passive dreaming... befuddle me all the next day, as I can still recall the post-lucid parts of the dream.

Spinning really does work, but the "super lucidity NOW!" trick sounds great, I'll have to try that one. Getting up in the middle of the night to chat about lucid dreams before heading back to bed sounds like it could be effective too.

Great post.
posted by ulotrichous at 2:53 PM on May 25, 2006

I hereby declare a war on lucid dreaming. I will be this nation's Dream Tzar. I'm taking volunteers for concerned mothers to charter local MALD chapters.

posted by elderling at 3:31 PM on May 25, 2006

sourcream...one bit of advice I heard from someone about the problem of waking up when you realized you're dreaming...try to wake up for two or three times when you realized you're entering lucid dream state. Then you can control it and stay in longer. Worked for me.

I love lucid dreaming...usually triggered by awareness that I can fly...and go many wonderful places...plus, the dreamflying sensation itself is, well, sensational.

Another trick is to practice while awake...asking yourself if you are dreaming, or trying to fly...because in dream state, so many times, you ask yourself if you are dreaming and you say to yourself: of course not. This is real.
posted by kozad at 3:32 PM on May 25, 2006

I had a lucid dream once. Realised I was dreaming, thought 'neato!' and decided to try walking through a wall. Since I was dreaming on a beach I needed a wall, so I thought myself up a wall, and there it was. Then I walked into it. It hurt quite a lot when I didn't go through it.

Not all it's cracked up to be in my experience. Or maybe my mind just hates me.
posted by edd at 3:59 PM on May 25, 2006

Sigh. This will just encourage more people to waste my time by telling me about their "totally weird" dreams. Seriously, nobody cares about your dreams but you. Nobody.

One exception: if you're into a chick, and she tells you she had a dream about you, that's awesome, because that probably means she wants to bang you. Otherwise, shut up. I don't care that you dreamt that the Pottery Barn was full of frogs, so you ran away and were suddenly in the house you grew up in, and your Dad came in but he looked like Mickey Rooney for some reason. Really. Don't care. Shut up.
posted by notmydesk at 4:11 PM on May 25, 2006

I think notmydesk needs a hug.
posted by Alex404 at 4:49 PM on May 25, 2006

Alexandros -- I used to like to read the occasional "paranormal experiences" website, and I was always dismayed at the number of experiences directly attributable to sleep paralysis that of course received all kinds of bizarre explanations. I took to writing in to these sites but no one seemed interested in hearing answers, only emotionally fraught questions. (and for sure, it can be a terrible experience. I am very thankful to have never experienced it but my sig other does on a semi-regular basis)
posted by dreamsign at 5:11 PM on May 25, 2006

jack_mo, that looks like an exciting book. Thanks for the recommendation.

"I take drugs so I can just cut to the chase."
I lucid dream so I don't have to take drugs. To each his own!

"The tough part is not to wake up when you realize you're dreaming."
sour cream, look at the first section under "while." It's called "stay lucid" and might help you. I find it's best to approach lucidity obliquely, and try to exert as little control as possible for maximum effect.

iamck: One research study I've read (Purcell... I'm thinking '87? It's in this book, chapter 6) had subjects wear a bracelet (you can use a rubber band). Every time they looked at the bracelet during the day, they had to perform a reality check. What ends up happening is (you guessed it) they perform the same reality check in dreams. I think with this basic methodology, they were able to get about a 50% success rate at lucid dreaming (among non-LDers!). And I can read (and even change/rearrange) printed materials in dreams. Might have to do with my being left-handed, if you buy into that stuff.

Radio7, I plan to look at the relationship between lucid dreaming and consciousness once I'm able to do my own research. The book I linked in the paragraph above might be a good start if you're curious about the actual ramifications of dream research (particularly with regard to cognition and conation).

Alexandros, I've got a long list of lucid dreaming memories here (obvious self-link). If you want to know more, my e-mail's in my profile (unless more people want me to open up and lecture in the thread here). I take the more spiritual aspects (like Out-of-body stuff) with at most a grain of salt. One of the most exciting moments in achieving my psych degree this year was learning that there was actual scientific research to be done on dreaming, rather than just sketchy (but fun) Freudian analysis crap.
posted by Eideteker at 5:22 PM on May 25, 2006

I looked into this a few years back, because it seemed quite interesting. I did the 'wander around with a piece of paper in your pocket, and check it twice every couple of hours to see if it says the same thing thing' method.

I did this for a couple of weeks - but never had any lucid dreams so I gave up, somewhat suspicious.

About three months later I asked two people in a row what day it was and neither of them knew. From that I figured out I was in a dream and bang - control. It is a rush like no other. It was like it had to percolate in my subconscious for a while before it actually happened, but I can highly recommend the experience.

Since then I've refined my technique a bit via meditation while in a sleeping position in bed (attempting to engender hypnogogic states without letting go of consciousness). It doesn't work every time, but my success rate is getting better.

And what's more - it's a totally free hobby that wastes no time better spent doing other stuff. You could do worse than to give it a go.
posted by Sparx at 5:52 PM on May 25, 2006

Acid is the answer.
posted by nlindstrom at 6:20 PM on May 25, 2006

Sparx: Inducing a lucid dream by maintaining attention as you fall asleep is called WILD (Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming) by LaBerge. It's one of the standard ways. It's also the same method hacks like the Monroe Institute use to induce out-of-body experiences, which of course are just hypnagogic hallucinations.
posted by abcde at 6:30 PM on May 25, 2006

dreamsign - I guess it's not surprising that people are unwilling to believe their experiences have a physiological explanation, but I'm glad you tried to explain it to a few folks. As you know from your significant other, episodes of sleep paralysis can seem so supernatural and terrifying it's hard to believe there really is an explanation.

Of course this is another reason to be grateful for the internets -- if not for searching Google, I might have thought I was really going insane or experiencing something supernatural. But I had an Aha! moment when I found that Wiki page and all the cultural references to sleep paralysis. It's kind of amazing to think people have been having these episodes throughout history, and before hard science the only explanation was that witches and demons were paralyzing them.

Eideteker - I guess you were referring to the one hater in this thread? Don't mind him, man -- post away. I clicked on a few of your entries and found 'em interesting. And like I said, I'm particularly interested in "state check" methods outside of the normal suggestions.
posted by Alexandros at 6:33 PM on May 25, 2006

abcde: neato. I figured it out as an adjunct to EEG neurofeedback training, which I also did for a while. It's essentially the same thing - only with the feedback you're trying not to fall asleep at all - harder than it sounds when you're working with alpha/theta training.
posted by Sparx at 6:38 PM on May 25, 2006

I used to do this in college after reading a book on astral projection and a side note in it was controlling your dreams, I was skeptical, but it worked. I would love to do it again, but it did take a lot of time and effort. The one trick that worked for me was to remember to look at my hands while in a dream, once I was able to simply look at my hands, then I realized I could do other things, and off I went!
posted by BillsR100 at 6:52 PM on May 25, 2006

Looking at your hands is a good trick both for focusing lucidity as well as preventing yourself from waking up.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:59 PM on May 25, 2006

Of course it has to be mentioned at some point that the "looking at your hands" device comes straight out of Castaneda, who no matter what else you think of him must be credited with bringing the concept of lucid dreaming to the masses in a way no one had ever done before. Don't wanna get off on a Castaneda tangent, but just give him his props for that. I and many many other people had their first lucid dreams after reading and incorporating his, er, I mean, Don Juan's, suggestions.

Alexandros, as far as state checks, I have found that nothing beats the reading test. It's worth pointing out here, that "pinch me, I'm dreaming" is a complete fraud - pinching can "work" in dreams just as vividly as sight, sound, smell and other sensations can be mimicked. What is almost impossible for the dream environment to mimic is something as foreign as reading.

My own method is to look at my hands first, then look for something to read - but not just anything. It has to be something in clear, non-"artsy" lettering, with stable characters (i.e. not flashing signs, news tickers, etc.) and which is going to be in exactly the same place when I look back (so that nothing will be different, including, say, a tree branch now obscuring part of the word). It has to be longer than a couple words (e.g. a street sign saying "Stop Ahead" is too short) but no more than one brief sentence (e.g. the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence is too long). In most situations in our waking life (for those of us who don't spend them on the back 40 or traipsing through the forest) there will be something fitting these criteria (if there isn't, go with whatever comes closest to fitting, but you should already be on the alert that you're in a situation that lacks text of this sort).

Having found a text to read, I read it literally, letter-for-letter, as though I've just learned to read, making sure it says what I "know" it says. THEN, and this is key, I look back at my hands (it could be looking away and focusing on anything else, but as the saying goes, your hands will always be there) and then back at the text, again reading it letter-for-letter and seeing if it matches exactly with what I just read seconds ago.

I have never had this method fail me. What I have had happen is that I, the dream ego, have failed to administer it rigorously enough (or, to think of it another way, the dream has managed to hoax me into thinking I successfully completed the test), sometimes "noticing" a little something the second time around that I "remember" was there the first time but didn't "notice" at first, in other words, instantly rationalizing an actual change. It's hard for the dream not to change the text somehow, but easy to get you to come up with a reasonable explanation for why it changed.

As I say, every time I've been rigorous in a dream this has worked to prove the dream state. I've had people say "no, I tried it and it didn't work," yet every time I've questioned them further it turned out they did not actually, rigorously do a reading test as described. So, Eideteker, when you say you "can read printed materials in dreams," I'm wondering if you in fact have tried this and had it fail as a test - or if you're just saying you've dreamed about reading. Of course it's easy to read something once in a dream, and I've had dreams of reading magazine articles or whatnot where it was more of a "scene" of me reading than something I experienced on a word-by-word level, but I'm curious as to whether you've tried the above and had it not work. As I say, it's always worked for me, but I'm open to the possibility that for some it may not and they may require some other kind of test.
posted by soyjoy at 7:36 PM on May 25, 2006

I've been able to focus on text in a letter-by-letter, word-by-word manner. It's certainly not easy, but I do so like to be contrary. I've never done it twice with the same text, though I have consciously changed what something written said.
posted by Eideteker at 8:51 PM on May 25, 2006

Right, but the conscious changing would only be once you were already lucid... right? My only point was about reading as a reality check, so I'll stand by the reading test unless and until the world's dream researchers come up with something better.

Thanks for the post.
posted by soyjoy at 10:26 PM on May 25, 2006

Looking at your hands is a good trick both for focusing lucidity as well as preventing yourself from waking up.

You beat me to it. That was Don Juan's trick (the Carlos Castaneda one).

I could never actually see my hands in dreams. In fact seeing them is kinda how I know I'm awake. Usefull to know when you're going to the loo. Lucid dreaming does have some risks.
posted by missbossy at 11:01 PM on May 25, 2006

Using a CPAP machine has cured me of sleep paralysis episodes. If sleep paralysis is a recurring problem, I suggest you get yourself checked for sleep-apnea (unless you like that sort of thing.)
posted by tgyg at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2006

Speaking of drugs and dreaming...Vitamin B-6 is a good dream intensifier, and for some Valerian is good, although it knocks you out more...

thanks for those detailed comments, soyjoy...I'll give it a try
posted by kozad at 10:34 AM on May 26, 2006

Odd. I just posted about this on my blog. Basically I used lucid dreams to talk to Odin and Loki, and to get rid of the ghost of my ex-gf.

Summon Pagan Gods Into Dreams
posted by neek at 7:24 PM on May 26, 2006

For those of you having trouble maintaining the dream state when you realize what's happening, I would suggest non-abrupt changes to your environment. When I play "god", I tend to wake. Instead, I "suggest" things. Find myself in a field with nothing to do? I just bet there's a highway over that hill... Nobody in sight, I just bet a hitchhiker will pick me up soon... I can generally suggest myself into any situation I want to interact with.
posted by dreamsign at 6:59 PM on May 29, 2006

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