I have been discussing the subject of lucid dreaming with a number of friends recently, independently of one another; the subject just comes up somehow. The more I think about lucid dreaming, the less I see the point; my theory of dreaming is that it is the subconscious, or the body, or whatever, communicating to the conscious, or simply the subconscious thinking, or whatever, and it might not be good to tinker with that; I would rather spend the effort on understanding it better. It being dreaming, not lucid dreaming.
Another problem of lucid dreaming that any lucid dreamer would face is how to know when one is dreaming. It seems easy afterwards, to realize you had been dreaming, but in the thick of it it is not always so obvious.
Partly this is because dreams can be so prosaic, and life can be so surreal. So there are various tests, such as jumping (if you are dreaming, you might fly, if you are not dreaming, probably not); or spinning around – if you look away in a dream, and then back, things change. If you do it in real life, they generally don’t.
Only recently, I found myself chatting (I thought) with a friend pretending to be a Nigerian hacker who had hacked her account, but it turned out to be a real Nigerian hacker who had hacked her account for real. Later that day, late at night in fact, I went to the airport to pick someone up only they missed their flight (on my watch!) and I had to arrange a new one for them and managed to do so despite the fact that the ticket counter was closed and such things are not my specialty. This was surreal enough for me; when I returned to my car I waited for an elevator in the garage, and two models were also waiting, speaking Russian, in short hot pants and red fezzes.
All totally normal things, but odder than most of my dreams, at least the ones I recall.
as a child, i had lucid dreams quite often. this was certainly not by choice, and i didn’t even know what they were until years later, after it stopped happening so commonly. these days my lucidity generally goes no farther than being able to wake myself from a bad dream, but again, it’s not usually something i’m trying to instigate.
it’s true that you don’t always know that you’re dreaming, but with lucid dreams, you can act and impact things, where normal dreams to me feel more like a “ride” of sorts. when i was a teen, i tried to stimulate lucid dreams after reading some new-age-y dream book my mom had bought. it never worked. i’ve never had any idea why some of my dreams were lucid and other not.
btw, i’ve been enjoying your writings for a while. i was directed here from the blog ‘how to learn swedish in 1000 difficult lessions’, and it’s quite the pleasure. i would love to escape the states and live in europe, and you’ve possibly even made me a teeny tiny bit less terrified of children.
The odd thing about dreams for me is that I always know I’m dreaming if I think about it; but I don’t think about it unless the dream becomes so unpleasant as to be intolerable. Then I either wake myself up or jump off a building (because I know I can fly if it’s a dream). But why do I wait until the dream is intolerable to think about it; why not when the dream is merely weird, otherworldly and unpleasant? The strangest thing is the places: there are places I dream about frequently but that I only recognise in my dreams.
I’ve long argued the same point about unraveling the meaning vs. lucidity during the dream. I’d much rather posses the ability to translate what my more remote regions have to say about life-as-i-know-it than be able to manipulate my creations.
However, one friend made an interesting point I’d not considered; that it’s much more like a dance vs. complete control. You may think “snake” but what arises from the ground beneath is 60 times larger than you anticipated and begins to discuss your mothers’ grocery list with you… so there are still plenty of interesting things in there. I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind having the ability to ask that snake a few questions. Nothing quite like a good, long, exploratory conversation – day or night/human or reptile.
You reminded me of something. Upon waking, still in the hypnogogic state as the dream lingers, I do have conversations with the dream objects. I find one hasn’t much time before the dream fades, and gets in about one question (for example, “what are you?”), but the answers can be intriguing.