Lucid Dreaming Q & A

Where can I learn how to lucid dream?

There is an excellent list of resources at  Stephen LeBerge’s Lucidity Institute. A number of practical tips are located here.

Why should I learn to lucid dream?

People want to learn to lucid dream for many different reasons, depending on who they are and their level of development.  A young child may learn to lucid dream to gain control of their lives when they experience little or no control in their waking lives.  Some people learn to lucid dream for status; it can be a good pick-up line; others to problem solve or to be more productive with more of their time. Some people learn to lucid dream to face their fears; others for the sheer fun and excitement of it; others t0 test the limits of the possible; others to experience life as a dream; others to grow spiritually in one way or another.  Some people believe that the ability to lucid dream implies higher order spiritual development.

Your motives will determine what you make of your lucid dreams.  If you don’t know your motives you will misperceive your lucid dreams. The more that you understand why you want to lucid dream the less likely you are to interpret them in a self-fulfilling, self-validating way.

“This morning i had several lucid dreams… in one of the last dreams there were two gentleman, who introduced themselves, i want to say they were Indian. I have a feeling they weren’t self aspects.. I just remember the feeling of being with them, it was so exhilarating, i was almost in a state of disbelief. They did most of the talking. But i cant remember what was said. What do you think of this? Is it possible that they were guides? Is it possible they could be energies from somewhere else? Do you believe this is possible in the lucid state?

Your dream guests could be guides or energies from somewhere else.  They could be “real.” They could be self-created and you are simply deluding yourself to think that they aren’t. Freud might say they could be day residue.  Others might reduce them random to nerve firings in the hippocampus.  Maybe it’s the devil tempting you to waste your time wondering about your dreams.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?

Integral Deep Listening says a couple of things about this common concern that everyone struggles with sooner or later.  Life itself doesn’t differentiate between subjective and objective, true and false, real and illusory; humans do. Life is only interested in how much we get out of our own way so that life can more fully awaken to itself through us.  When we cultivate core qualities associated with waking up, such as confidence, empathy, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing, we tend to be more awake and more out of our own way.

Why look at dreams if they don’t tell us what is real and true?

Look at your dreams, lucid and otherwise, to learn life’s priorities that are attempting to be born within you.  In order to do this you have to stop making assumptions about what is real and true and instead suspend your judgments, ask questions, listen to the answers, and apply those in your life that make sense to you.  No one character will reflect truth with a capital “T” or reality with a capital “R,” because it provides only one perspective on a life that is so abundant it provides infinite perspectives. Each character you encounter in a dream or lucid dream, just as in waking life, will have its own perspective on what is true and what is real. The more you learn to enquire, to ask questions of all these perspectives  the more you move from the position of a blind scholar grasping one part of the elephant of life. Instead of just grasping its leg and proclaiming reality is like a tree or groping its trunk and knowing that life is like a great naga or snake, you will be able to appreciate multiple diverse perspectives which together create a much closer approximation of what the elephant of life actually is like. This is fundamental to Integral Deep Listening (IDL) – to teach you to ask questions of all you encounter whether awake, asleep or in some mystical experience, whether in a regular dream or in some type of lucid state.

We all have our biases, prejudices, opinions and interpretations, based on where we grew up and the assumptions of the family and community in which we were embedded.  As a result, we all have agendas; we want our dreams, our lucid dreams, our lives to mean certain things. Or we are afraid that our dreams and lives will validate our fears that Earth is the insane asylum of this corner of the galaxy, that Hobbes and Darwin was right and that life really is about survival of the fittest, or that we are living in a house of mirrors, reacting to our own reflections and that there is no escape. We want to have inspiring, uplifting dreams to feel better and  lucid dreams so that we will feel more free, in control and “spiritual.” We want to know that life is meaningful and that we know what that meaning is.  We hate ambiguity and not knowing. On the other hand, we want dream “objects, like roads, keys and the sky to behave themselves, to just sit there and be a road to drive over, a key to turn in a lock or a sky to act as a nice backdrop. We don’t want them to muck up your nice, clear picture of the dream by giving you their opinion.

What you will discover if you simply apply the IDL interviewing process to your own dreams and lucid dreams is that  you cannot trust your own judgment about lucid dreams, dreaming or the nature of life.  That’s scary.  You don’t want that.  You want to believe in yourself and believe that you know who you are and what you should do.  Paradoxically, if you want those things, you have to be willing to give up your closed-minded attachment to the way you see the world.  You need to consult multiple alternative perspectives in order to expand your own.  This is a reason why IDL encourages you to not simply wake up, whether while dreaming or in waking life, but to learn to question everyone and everything, to challenge your experience and to learn to look at life from its perspective. For example, if you have a lucid dream of flying, interview the sky. Ask it, “Sky, what do you think of me flying? What do you think of me being lucid in this dream?” What does the sky say? Wha does it think? What is its point of view? The reason this is important is because it takes your lucidity to an entirely new, broader level. You now are not only lucid, but aware of your lucidity and its function in your life from a much broader perspective. This is an example of how you can use lucidity and IDL to speed your development.

If you were to ask, “Sky, what aspect of me do you most closely represent or personify?” what would the answer be? Perhaps the sky would say, “I don’t represent an aspect of you! You are an aspect of ME!” If that was sky’s response, what would that do to your concept of lucidity? If you have a lucid dream in which you really are sure that you are encountering a deceased relative or a being from another dimension and not a self-aspect, what will happen if you question it? It may say, “You didn’t create me.  I really am your great-grandmother/the devil/the White Sister Galadriel from the planet Mongo.”  If they say so, why not take their word for it?  That being the case, the character can still personify this or that aspect of yourself, and probably does.  They have some relationship to you, and they have some meaning in your life, other than their apparent literalness.  What is it?  You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

What will I discover when I ask?

There are four possibilities: you may get validation that your dream/lucid dream characters are guides or external energies, gods, devils, angels, beings from another dimension, or deceased entities.  You may get validation that they are aspects of yourself.  You may get validation that they are both or neither. You may get different validations from different characters that you interview.

What do I do in that case?

As a rule of thumb, go with the consensus of those characters you interview that make sense and which provide you with good recommendations which, when followed, improve your life. If they make sense, take their advice and see what happens.  If you do and it turns out badly, complain.  Take them to task.  Ask them why you should listen to them if they are going to lie to you or deceive you. This is also a movement into a broader definition of lucidity – you are developing an aware, awake relationship with multiple ways of looking at your life.

Can I find out what’s real and true by learning to lucid dream?

If you associate the more real and the more true with the external and the objective and the less real and the less true with the internal and the subjective, as most people do, then to get your attention and wake you up, life will produce external and objective experiences for you, even in your dreams.  Things like “real” nightmares or visitations from deceased relatives. How else is it going to get your attention if you otherwise block it out? The result is that you will be convinced that a character in a dream is not part of yourself or that you really did visit Rigel 12 in the constellation Cignus last night.

If that happens, you have probably missed the point.  As stated above, life doesn’t distinguish between external and internal, real and illusory, true and false.  Life is simply doing what it needs to do to get your attention so you will wake up.  But instead of waking up and listening you have jumped to a conclusion.  “Ah! My experience was more real than anything I experience when I am awake! Therefore I must have been lucid and those aliens must have been real!” This is the naive realism of shamanism. Because your experience feels real, it must be real.

Because we are constantly making such interpretations of our experiences, even in our lucid dreams, this is why we need to seek other points of view from other characters that are invested in the experience.  You and I slice and dice our experiences to fit our assumptions, presumptions, and foregone conclusions.  By nature we take the raw data of life and fit it into categories we already understand, whether or not those categories do violence to the actual experience.  (They generally do.)  We habitually  do this whether we are awake, dreaming, lucid dreaming, or meditating, but do not realize it because we are subjectively embedded in our own world view, even when we are lucid dreaming or having a mystical or near death experience. Because we lack objectivity, we assume what we are experiencing is true, just like the blind man grabbing the leg of the elephant and knowing that the reality of an elephant is like a tree. It is not that he is not lucid, but that his lucidity is partial.

Aren’t I always going to interpret my lucid dreams and come up with meanings?  Do I have any choice?

All you can do to compensate for this inevitable, natural, and often very useful human proclivity to interpret your experience and trust your interpretations is to be aware that you are always a blind man groping at the elephant of life, no matter how many lucid dreams or mystical experiences you have. Once you have this understanding, you can attempt to outgrow your prejudices and biases by asking more questions and jumping to fewer conclusions. This doesn’t mean you never have opinions or prejudices or never reach conclusions.  On the contrary, your opinions are stronger, but your willingness to challenge and doubt them is stronger as well. You therefore ask better, more penetrating questions and take a rather jaundiced view toward your opinions, particularly the ones you hold most dear, because you are quite aware that they are partial, and that this is the nature of both lucidity and enlightenment. You can never become lucid or enlightened, only more lucid and more enlightened.  As you grow in your ability to question all aspects of your experience, even to look at it from the perspectives of inanimate objects as you do when you interview your life dramas using IDL, you will find that your ability to do so increases while you are dreaming and lucid dreaming, not just when you are awake.

What do you mean, “Ask questions of characters in dreams, lucid or otherwise?

For example, one student dreamt, while taking a class in Dream Yoga/Integral Deep Listening, of seeing a huge sperm whale swimming off shore.  She asked in the dream, “Whale, are you there for me?”  “He jumped up over a railing out of the ocean to land in front of me on the highway.”  A powerful dream indeed!  So when you ask questions in your dreams, you may not get back verbal answers.  Characters may respond by changing how they relate to you in the dream.

Notice that lucidity is less important here.  What is important is that you ask questions in your dream, whether you are lucid or not.  What this does is wake you up in a broader way, because you become integrated with a larger, broader definition of who you are, whether asleep or dreaming.

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