Lucid Dreaming.

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At one point of her bizarre adventure, Alice puts her puts her foot down “This is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes from here.” As a child obsessed with Alice’s world and her adventures, I had often wondered how I could take a trip to Wonderland (or Tim Burton’s Underland- dystopias do not dissuade me) And after many years I came across a wonderful fact- there is indeed a world where you can do anything and everything that you want to do. No restrictions or rules of gravity! People thought, she must be dreaming. Yes, to experience this world, one needs to dream.

But no, I am not talking about the abstract phrase, “Dream on.” Fortunately for all dreamers out there, there exists something called ‘lucid dreaming.’ Let us go back to Alice’s first statement. How does she know that she is in a dream? Normally we understand that fact after we wake up. In our unconsciousness or subconsciousness, the awareness of being conscious is rare.

Very often, people say “I must be dreaming. Pinch me.” But almost 99% of the time, the pinch hurts badly because we are, in fact, very much conscious. Lucid dreaming provides us that 1% chance that we are dreaming, for real. So here’s the definition of lucid dreams- it is a dream where you are aware that you are dreaming. Aristotle observed: “often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”

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It is an established scientific phenomenon but understanding the boring chemical equations was the last concern in my mind after considering the possibilities that lucid dreaming had to offer. Imagine being able to create a world of your own. In most lucid dreams, designing the world is not up to you but just the ability to do whatever you want to do is immense. You can fly up to the cushioned clouds and have a cup of tea with Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (though I have no idea why you would want to do that.)

Alice’s subconscious perceptions had governed the shape and type of her lucid dream. My brother, a person obsessed with science, dreamt that he could control his body density and hence could float or sink based on that. Most people chose to let their imaginations run free. But of course one can use this technique of lucid dreaming for important things too. People confront their anxieties and fears without being afraid of any serious consequences because they know that it’s just a dream.
Though these uses of lucid dreaming don’t interest me much, these are other possibilities- you can have a dream date with any celebrity you have a crush, you can overcome your phobias and past traumas, have a conversation with a beloved friend of relative who is now no more. You can also use lucid dreaming to fulfill your fantasies. For example, you can say “I’m Batman” for once without lying.

But the one aspect of lucid dreaming that interests me the most is the ability to explore one’s subconsciousness. The imaginary world is a product of our brain and hence it may be filled with memories that we had long forgotten we had. This world is normally tangible. Our bodily senses not only work but are often magnified. For example, a 360 degree vision or being present at two places in the same time, is quite possible.

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There are several articles on the Internet which tells us HOW to have lucid dreams. I have no idea how practical these are but still, just in case you are interested, here are a few steps:

1. During the day, pinch yourselves and ask “Am I awake or am I dreaming?” It may seem like a stupid question but if we do it repeatedly during the day, the chances of us doing it in the dream, increases.

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2. Keep a dream journal or a voice recorder on your bedside table. As soon as you wake up, write or record the dream. It is of prime importance that you do this immediately after waking up because most of the time, the dream, no matter how vivid, slips away from our minds within 10 minutes of having it. This process is very important because of two reasons. Firstly, it will help us decipher the ‘dream signs’ or recurring elements in our dreams. This dream signs will further help us the understand the pattern of our dreams. Secondly, it will also tell our brains that we are serious about remembering the dream.

3. Set your alarm clock half an hour before the time when you have to wake up. After waking up, try to remember if you had been dreaming about anything. Since the time before waking up in the morning is the period of REM sleep, most probably you would have been dreaming of something. Then fall asleep again. This fragment of the sleep is most suitable for lucid dreaming.

These are only a few of the steps that you can follow. If you are serious about trying this out, you will find plenty of detailed articles on how to do it on the Internet. Personally, I would rather wait for a lucid dream instead of consciously trying to make it happen. Dreams are one of the only phenomena that science has not been able to explain completely. There’s a shroud of mystery surrounding it. Why break it down to average scientific facts?

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It is said that Lewis Carroll got the idea of Alice in Wonderland in a lucid dream. This is highly possible since Alice’s lucid dream is probably the most famous dream of all times. Lucid dreams let us completely explore our imagination and hence this is extremely valuable in enhancing our creative abilities. People who have lucid dreams are said to be more insightful. The truth of the last statement is not absolute. Anyway, now that you know that dreams are not merely a waste of time, dream on.