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16 June 2005

I had a lucid dream last night. I think. [More:]I thought this was kind of bizarre and possibly meaningless, so I'll ask it here: having what appears to have been a lucid dream (I realized that I was in a dream and tried to fly and go through my ceiling), why didn't I experience the excitement that is apparently so frequently a part of the process? I've read about lucid dreaming, but I haven't been trying to make it occur or anything - so I guess what I'm wondering is, did I dream that I had a lucid dream? It's so far removed from reality that I'm not sure if it was actual consciousness or not. Help!
AHA!! *cracks knuckles* Step into my parlour!
posted by dreamsign 16 June | 23:44
The major difference between having a lucid dream and dreaming that you are having a lucid dream (or simply realizing, in a dream, that you are dreaming) is the component of volition. A dream where you realize you're asleep is still a standard dream if it's like watching a movie you're in. You do things, think, huh, that's interesting, and go on. Even impulses to do things can be this way, if your actions appear to follow a script you aren't writing as you go along. But if you can stop, decide to do something, and actually do it, you've got it. It's a tangible feeling. You aren't likely to confuse it with a normal dream when it happens.
posted by dreamsign 16 June | 23:45
More details! How long was it? Did your attempts to do things intentionally wake you?

I've been working on a method where I can gently steer the dream without anything too jarring. That's my biggest fear -- doing something that obviously bursts the bubble and I wake. My cousin (clinical psychologist) used to teach a lucid dreaming workshop -- he was the associate head of our provincial hypnosis association -- and there are techniques for increasing the frequency of lucid dreams... and taking control. But watch, there's also a slightly-loony club out there that take this stuff WAY too seriously. You'll, ah, know them if you meet them.
posted by dreamsign 16 June | 23:47

A definition of dreamsign is, "a peculiar event or object in a dream that can be used as an indicator that you are dreaming."
posted by dreamsign 16 June | 23:49
Well, it came about in the context of a much more elaborate and bizarre dream that probably doesn't need explanation here, but this segment occured as follows: I was in my house in what was a post-post-apocalypse scenario (I have these dreams a lot, and I say "post" twice because there is vegetation and other things that suggest a return to normal life, but the experience is very scary because I know that I am not safe - the society that exists outside of my home is no longer civilized). After looking across the street and seeing some dudes dressed like members of an Amazon tribe go in some big rock temple door that was wedged in the middle of the tall trees that are usually there, I thought to myself (or so it seemed) that this was not real, and that I had no reason to be scared. I managed, with some effort, to return things back to normal and make it a regular summer afternoon in my house. Then I started trying to fly. This involved a few experiments, and eventually I realized that I had to fly in a horizontal position, which involved projecting some unknown force from both my hands and my feet. I went up to the ceiling and tried floating through it, but I couldn't convince myself that it wasn't impermeable. Then, a bit later, I felt like I was going to wake up, so I spun. After that, the other, larger dream resumed, and I lost lucidity.
posted by invitapriore 16 June | 23:55
Well, let me rephrase that as "lucidity." I didn't wake up. It did absolutely seem different from a regular dream - it's been on my mind all day - but I'm not sure if the feeling of detachment I have from it is just a function of it being a dream or if it was, like you said, scripted.
posted by invitapriore 16 June | 23:57

but don't we (or our subconscious mind or whatever) need dreams to just do whatever they want?
posted by amberglow 16 June | 23:57
Yeah, I think one of the theories is that dreams are the impressions of memories and information being rearranged in your mind while you sleep. I don't really know how lucid dreaming would affect that, but it's enticing nonetheless.
posted by invitapriore 16 June | 23:59
I remember reading the surreality of dreams was an indicator of the brain tidying up, sorting and throwing away short- and long-term memories. The dreams don't mean much but are intense because the images are connected with strong emotions.
posted by AlexReynolds 17 June | 00:00
some people can sort their unconscious well enough in a lucid state or achieve levels in between.
just skimmed but i'm not sure how we're defining lucid dreaming here.
posted by ethylene 17 June | 00:01
really? that's impressive. i wouldn't even try--i always figure that whatever i'm dreaming about (or nightmaring) is for a reason, and it's interesting anyway to try to figure it out and connect it to life stuff.
posted by amberglow 17 June | 00:08
There appear to be serious limitations to the lucid dream state. (I'm an honours psych grad with some study but no lab experience in this, so this is mostly just my own experience and interested learning)

Only problem is that I have them so seldom. My next dream experiment has been on hold for some time as a result. A suggestion: if you want to try to influence the dream without jarring yourself, suggest some content. A couple of l.dreams ago, I found myself in a field. Grain. Lovely, but not very interesting. So I thought to myself, "I just BET that there's a barn over this hill." And surprise surprise, there was. I followed it up with a highway, a car ready to pick up a hitchhiker, and so on. Gentle.

Flying is a real kick, but I've only ever had one "real" flying dream. Otherwise it's much as you describe. More of a helium balloon effect if you get my drift.

Anyway, there's a TON of material on the net about this. The gist of the loonies I referred to is that:
i) they're dedicated to exploring the lucid dream state to the extent that they consider it equal to/superior to waking reality, and sometimes
ii) they seem to hold truck with the notion that dream encounters can be with people outside your own mind. a collective unconscious thing. at the very least, they usually theorize that these dream companions can be just as satisfying as real ones (which IMHO is crazy since it's all in your head)
posted by dreamsign 17 June | 00:19
Yeah, that's bizarre. I guess it's just the next logical step for a lot of people who seem to find the space in between their ears more compelling than anything else.

I'm kind of sad that I didn't become lucid anywhere else in that dream: it could have used it, being essentially a somewhat more disturbing rewrite of the third star wars movie (which I haven't even seen).
posted by invitapriore 17 June | 00:29
As I understand it, it's a combination of stuff- bits and pieces of things that you haven't finished thinking about and messages to yourself about things that you might want to think about further and some nonsensical crap. It does help some people to write their dreams down or to talk about them or to try to think through what would resolve a disturbing dream.

An example-
I am unhappy with my weight. I had a dream that I was climbing through a cave underground. I came to a part that got narrower and narrower and finally I was stuck with my arms over my head. I couldn't move forward and I couldn't move back. I was horrified. I had the dream so on my mind the next night that I couldn't sleep, so I thought, what if this really happened? How would I be rescued? I went through various scenarios and then realized that what would happen is after a couple of days I would have lost enough weight to get unstuck. So, I was reminding myself that by losing weight I would be able to be unstuck from where I am.

BUT- I told a friend about this dream and he said that he found the fact that I described myself as unable to move forward but unable to go back as a lot more significant, and that was a very very good point.

What interests me about your dream is the way you describe it. In your dream, you have returned to a normal life after a great upheaval, but you are not safe. Does that make any sense in terms of your life right now?

That's about all I know about that.
posted by puddinghead 17 June | 00:30
"What interests me about your dream is the way you describe it. In your dream, you have returned to a normal life after a great upheaval, but you are not safe. Does that make any sense in terms of your life right now?"

Phrasing it in that way, yes. It seems like it might be rather abstract in terms of how it applies to my life, but it's an interesting way to look at things.
posted by invitapriore 17 June | 00:33
You know, I just had a look at my old links on the subject, and they're all fine, but really Wiki condenses the important stuff without getting crazy.

Nice interpretation, puddinghead. I often find that others can pick out the important/symbolic bits of your dream more easily than you can.

Beware "dream interpretation guides" though, which are ridiculous. Some book tells you that almost drowning in a dream means a fear of success, when one person who has that dream was an olympic swimmer and another dreamer almost drowned as a child. Meanings differ between dreamers.

Pursue it if it interests you, invitapriore. It's very interesting stuff.

I'm going to try to crack into the subconscious next. I once had a (normal) dream in which I spoke perfect french (which I do not in waking life, though I've had years and years of schooling in it). Waking mid-dream, I realized that the few sentences left in my head were perfect french. I find that I cannot get that kind of access when dreaming lucid. The waking mind seems to be in control. Next up: I plan on "suggesting" that a library is nearby - a library of my subconsious. Then I'll go for a read. If the french lesson holds, there won't be anything surprising there. If not, though...
posted by dreamsign 17 June | 00:35
I've had so many flying dreams - lucid and regular - that it frustrates the crap out of me I can't fly in real life. Only a few of the flying dreams have ended with me falling and/or waking up just before impact.

It just seems like it should be so easy to fly. Like swimming. Or breathing.
posted by loquacious 17 June | 00:44
It just seems like it should be so easy to fly. Like swimming. Or breathing.

It does feel natural. Strange sensation to feel that way when awake.

But I once fell and trusted in that old "wake before you hit" thing... and didn't... (huge crashing/cracking sound, looking up at sky, limbs twisted above... slowly... fading to black...)

Well, must go. You should continue reading up on this, ivp. It's quite the bug to catch. Time to sleep, perchance to dream...
posted by dreamsign 17 June | 00:49
i never fly but things happen
let's not go OOB tonight
i just got a call from a long time stalker (this very second) and i'm drained like your lizard
posted by ethylene 17 June | 00:54
dreamsign, are you familiar with an interpretation software called "Dreamscape" created by a man named Nicholas Heyneman? Dream interp guides have been bunk on a consistent basis, but this software asks you to indentify a primary aspect and subsequent secondary aspects (all of which could be objects, events, feelings, impressions and actions). When it analyzes the aspects it then asks you a series of questions, some of which are logically related to key words and some of which seem to be entirely unrelated yet are often pertinent to situations in the dreamer's waking life.

I've been playing around with the software for several years and the results range from a 'well, huh. I had not thought of that' to being uncannily accurate. I should add, also, that I've always been vivid dreamer and remember my dreams often and in great detail. I'm not sure the software would work so well on vague impressions.
posted by Frisbee Girl 17 June | 01:04

Sorry to hear that, ethyl. :(

Just jumped back to add two things:
i) DO visit the wiki page. it is very thorough, and
ii) can anyone verify the following experiment? (haven't tried it) It is said that you cannot read the same passage twice in a dream, because for some strange reason, the mind fabricates written materials as it goes while in that state. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Hope things are alright, ethylene. Night all.

on preview: NO, Frisbee Girl, I don't know it. I've been out of this for a little while now, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the suggestion!

I hope the thread continues for a bit. I'd love to come back and hear more from you all. Easily the most interesting topic I can think of. Cheers.
posted by dreamsign 17 June | 01:06
Ethyl, I'd be more than happy to go OOB and throttle some sense and fear of God into the stalker. Bullshit like that really pisses me off. Please be safe, we like having you around here.
posted by Frisbee Girl 17 June | 01:16
it's just background drama
no big, i'm fine

save up the OOB for when i'm not all typed out
or i'll just add it when no one suspects
posted by ethylene 17 June | 01:19
What is OOB? I'm a nurse and to me it's Out Of Bed.
posted by puddinghead 17 June | 02:04
Out of body?
posted by taz 17 June | 02:29
The first association I had was order of battle. Maybe out of bounds?
posted by mlis 17 June | 02:33
taz: bing bing bing
we have a winner
but i am bathed and now must go
Off Of Browser

nice to see you
i wish we had an international clock thingie to know when people are
it's actually pretty early
i'm shocked
(my waking states are not ruled by the light)
posted by ethylene 17 June | 02:39
OOBE = out of body experience

Also a cool Orb track.

Be safe.
posted by loquacious 17 June | 02:42
Flying is a lucid dream thing?
I know nothing relly, about lucid dreaming in that I never read about it (I'll check the wiki) or such. But flying, man I'm the king. Or rather queen. Been doing it since I was a kid. Dead easy. I'm fab at it.

I remember fun ones over the year. Once in my early teens I was a paper airplane, and some big brawny viking types (loud and obnoxious) were throwing me and other paper planes around over the dinner table in this huge banquet room (Valhalla style). This pissed me off, so by the time I, the paper airplane, reached the wall on one end of the room, I turned into a swallow, and turned around. I dive bombed the dinner table and all the loud obnoxious vikings took cover underneath. Ha! Do not make a paper airplane out of me!

I've flown so much in my dreams that I often in my life have gotten annoyed when I get out of bed and have to walk to the shower. Wot a pain.

I have 90% perfect control over my flying. When I was younger (around 10) it could mess up and often did again while I was teenager, but since adulthood I can fly bird-style, jetplane style, floating style, on command whenever I fancy it. Up until roughly six months ago, when I was flying as if I was a helium filled balloon with no steering control whatsover, this bothered me a lot. It was kind of scary. A few days later I took a pregnancy test - positive. Later in my dreams, my dream pals, friendly 'souls' hard to describe, held my arms to keep me from levitating away on adventures and told me to not fly. "You can't fly now, not with the baby." they said, as if flying would make me leave the body of the baby behind somehow. Haven't flown since, my dreams are dead boring thse days. :(
posted by dabitch 17 June | 06:40
lucid dreaming is not a definitive state - same way "consciousness" is kinda of a name for a whole spectrum.

I have those kinds of semi-lucid dreams all the time, the ones where I think, oh, I'm dreaming, huh, well I guess I can have a cigarette then... (or whatever). If I think too much about it, I usually wake up, so I have kind of adapted to passing lightly over it to keep the dream going. But I have had a few where I've had more attention focused to it and stayed in the dream.

Flying can happen lucid or non lucid, for sure. I find a good way to start flying is running fast and taking off, I guess kinda like a plane - that way I usually end up fast and high above everything. I think I also took advantage of douglas adams' suggestion to fall and miss the ground in some of my dreams in HS - that results in a more swoopy, bird/ falling leaf style of flying. haven't done that in a while though - might have to think about it tonight :).
posted by mdn 17 June | 09:01
The only thing we know about sleep, for sure, is that voluntary sleep keeps you from falling asleep involuntarily. Everything else is speculation.
posted by Hugh Janus 17 June | 09:48
One of my first flying episodes when I was dreaming as a kid had me trying to get away from cowboys and indians, and managing to do so by walking up an invisable staircase until presto, I'm high in the air flying above everyone. I can still use the non-existing stairs to get lift-off on bad nights, give 'em a go. Just walk up the stairs. They don't exist, nobody can see them but if you a make a stairway to heaven in your head and walk up, well bob's yer uncle.

Ugh, I just said stairway to heavan. I hope I didn't get the idea from there.
posted by dabitch 17 June | 14:00
An OBE is what I thought when I read invitapriore's post.

I've also had lots of flying dreams, and damn, it's frustrating to wake up and realize I can't really do it.
posted by deborah 17 June | 14:01
mdn -- some consider lucid dreaming to simply be dreaming while "realizing" that it's a dream. The problem is (as the wiki notes) that this could just be part of the subconscious script of the dream. The usual definition involves both realization and control (at least over yourself), along with a feeling of "immediacy". When you've got control and are no longer just watching what happens, you know it.

The thing that scares the bejeebers out of me is the "waking transition" methods for lucid dreams. It's an intentional progression through the hynagogic state, which involves paralysis -- and panic, if you're not careful. My girlfriend has experienced (unintentional) hynagogic hallucinations, but I never have -- and I never want to. Hynopompic (semi-waking as opposed to half-fallen asleep) at least would be less likely to lead to panic.

OBE's are interesting. I remember the latest research on that as of, again, almost ten years ago, and don't know if they got anywhere with it. (they were placing hard-to-guess symbols atop cabinets and the like in operating rooms, one place where OBE's apparently happen more frequently, or more likely with less rarity. There is no way to see the symbol apart from the "floating" vantage point... though proper paranormal researchers would be controlling for mind reading, future vision, etc... but as I said, this research isn't fresh in my mind nor is it all that recent anymore).

And flying isn't necessarily a lucid dream thing at all. You just get to decide to do it when it is. :)
posted by dreamsign 18 June | 00:38
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