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Lucid dreaming, is a form of mind-training in which we learn to become consciously aware within our dreams while we’re dreaming them.
A lucid dream is a dream in which we are actively aware that we are dreaming as the dream is happening. It’s a dream in which you're sound asleep and dreaming but within the dream you go, “oh, wow, I'm dreaming! I’m in a dream right now!”
If you’ve ever had one of those experiences, that's a lucid dream.
In a fully lucid dream you're not half awake, half asleep, you're not in the hypnagogic state, and you're not having an out of body experience. You are sound asleep, in REM, paralyzed and out for the count but part of the brain has reactivated allowing you to become fully conscious within your unconscious mind.
Once lucid, you become fully aware within a three dimensional construct of your own mind. You can literally walk – or fly – around a projection of your own psychology and have complex, involved conversations with personifications of your own psyche.
At the moment, due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions your main choice is between a live, interactive workshop with me on Zoom or a pre-recorded online course that you can do at your own pace. Both are great but learning along with a group of other dreamers at one of the live workshops is often even better for most people.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other queries about workshops or courses.
There are so many benefits to lucid dreaming but in a nutshell, once you become conscious within your unconscious mind you can (much like through hypnotherapy) make lasting changes to your body and mind while you sleep.
A few of my favorite benefits of lucid dreaming are:
-Psychological healing (phobias, trauma, confidence)
-Spiritual practice while you sleep
-Exploration of the unconscious mind
-Treatment of PSTD and nightmare integration
-Increasing and tapping into creativity
-Preparation for death and dying
-Enhanced learning and access to past memory
-Lucid living and waking up to your full potential
-Having fun (it’s the most fun you can have in your pyjamas!)
This list could go on and on but those are a few of my favorites.
Yes, there are loads of neuroscientific studies on lucid dreaming! Here are 10 of my favourites:
Lucid dreamers actually have bigger brains!
Electrostimulation triggers lucid dreams
A comprehensive overview of neuro-scientific research into lucid dreaming
Lucid Dreaming: a Hybrid of REM and Waking Cognition
Lucid dreamers help scientists locate the seat of meta-consciousness in the brain
Lucid Dreaming: A State of Consciousness with Features of both Waking and Non-Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming as a treatment for recurrent nightmares
Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: a pilot study
Awake within a dream: Lucid dreamers show greater insight in waking life
It would be easy to say that dream yoga was a Tibetan Buddhist form of lucid dreaming, but that would also be lazy and inaccurate. Dream yoga is a collection of transformational lucid dreaming, conscious sleeping and what in the West we refer to as out-of-body experience practices aimed at spiritual growth and mind training. Lucid dreaming may form the foundation of dream yoga, but through the use of advanced tantric energy work, visualizations of Tibetan iconography and the integration of psycho-spiritual archetypes or yidams, dream yoga goes way beyond our Western notion of lucid dreaming.
If we translate the Sanskrit word yoga as meaning ‘union’, we get a clue as to what dream yoga is about: the union of consciousness within the dream state. It is a yoga of the mind that uses advanced lucid dreaming methods to utilize sleep on the path to spiritual awakening.
In some lineages, dream yoga was reserved for those on a three-year retreat and was only taught as part of the famous Six Yogas of Naropa. These days, however, some of the veils of secrecy have been lifted, allowing it to become a practice that allows dedicated practitioners to extend meditative awareness throughout sleep and dreams, and subsequently throughout death and dying as well. Dreams and death are closely linked in Tibetan Buddhism, as we will explore throughout this book.
The Dalai Lama has said, ‘Dream yoga can be practised by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike,’ and that through dream yoga the lucid dreamer can now engage in spiritual practice while they sleep. So, I encourage you not to feel excluded from this esoteric sounding practice just because you’re not a Buddhist. Although some of the advanced dream yoga techniques should only be engaged in under the guidance of a qualified teacher, there are many techniques that can be practised on your own. Ultimately, it is the motivation behind dream yoga that is the most important aspect of all, fuelling the use of lucid dreaming as a path to spiritual development.
One worry that seems to crop up quite sometimes is that that by lucid dreaming we may somehow be interfering with the integrity of the unconscious and that this might even be dangerous. Thankfully, this fear is groundless.
Rather than lucid dreaming polluting the pure message from the deeper part of ourselves, it actually allows that message to be heeded more easily, which I believe is exactly what the unconscious mind wants. The unconscious actually enjoys lucidity, because finally a line of direct communication is being set up between it and the conscious mind and it ‘takes joy in dealing with greater awareness and greater consciousness’.
Finally, it can talk to us face to face. With every dream, the unconscious mind is offering us a hand of friendship. But far too often this is an offering we ignore, either by not remembering our dreams or by failing to acknowledge their value. Once we become lucidly aware within the dream, however, we are extending a hand towards the unconscious mind and finally making friends with it.
In a lucid dreaming you are inside your own mind, not out of your body in the astral planes or anything like that, but safely within a vast three dimensional virtual reality simulation of your own psyche. And yes, you will always wake up, your bladder, alarm clock or the maximum length of a REM dreaming period (60-70 minutes) will make sure of that! Really, the worst that can happen is that you have a nightmare and you wake up. And even nightmares, as I mention in my TED talk, can be “such good news!”
Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep is a holistic approach to wellness for people with stress or trauma affected sleep patterns co-created by Charlie Morley.
Originally developed for British military veterans Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep is a holistic approach to wellness for people with stress or trauma affected sleep patterns.
The practice uses scientifically verified mindfulness-based sleep & dream techniques alongside breath and body work practices proven to reduce stress and increase sleep quality.
Mindfulness of Dream & Sleep is based on an unconditionally compassionate approach to sleep, dreams & nightmares and is made up of 5 foundations detailed below:
-Hypnagogic Mindfulness (yoga Nidra)
Lucid Dreaming Mindfulness of Dream & Sleep takes an integrative approach to maximising the potential of the third of our life that we spend asleep in order to benefit the two thirds that we spend awake.
The first thing you can do is to start recalling and documenting your dreams.
How? Set your intention to remember your dreams before bed. Most people will start remember their dreams within a few nights if they put in some effort to remember them.
So tell yourself, before you go to bed and even as you’re falling asleep: “Tonight I remember my dreams. I have excellent dream recall.”
And the next step? The best thing is to come to a workshop or try one of my online courses.
The easy answer would be: no, most people can't do it frequently enough to become addicted. And if we define addiction as “any behavior that we return to time and time again which brings us temporary pleasure but has long term negative consequences” then no, lucid dreaming cannot be addictive because it has no long-term negative consequences.
But this question actually deserves a deeper explanation. Not only can lucid dreaming be used to actually treat addictive tendencies (in the same way as hypnotherapy can) but it is also a powerful tool for integrating trauma, and addiction is- in many cases -actually about trauma. As the work of pioneering psychiatrist Dr Gabor Mate shows us, most cases of addiction are not so much about the chemically addictive qualities of the thing that we are addicted to, as much as they are about a desire to escape from trauma and emotional pain. The link between trauma and addiction is undeniable. Most addiction is at its root often an attempt to be happy and free from the pain of trauma.
So how does this relate to lucid dreaming? Lucid dreaming is such an empowering "peak experience" that just by having a lucid dream (let alone intentionally using it for healing trauma) we may experience such a sense of integration, self-empowerment and psychological wellbeing that the trauma fueled pull of addictive tendencies might even be reduced upon awakening.