Sunday, 23 October 2011

Myths On Lucid Dreaming

MYTH #1. If you don't lucid dream, you're wasting 8 hours a night.
Oh please - this is just marketing hype!
Sleep is essential to your survival. You could never call it time wasted.
What's more, the crux of the claim is that you would otherwise be lucid dreaming for 8 hours every night which is, of course, poppycock.
You sleep in phases, of which only around 100 minutes in total consist of REM sleep. So even the most proficient lucid dreamer could only go lucid for 100 minutes per night - and even that is stretching the idea.
If you read this statement on a website then they have no idea what they are talking about. They are most likely internet marketers trying to cash in on lucid dreaming - run!

MYTH #2. Only advanced meditators can have lucid dreams.
While meditation does prime your brain for lucidity, you don't need to be a Buddhist monk to attain this state.
I began meditation when I really got into lucid dreaming, because the two go hand-in-hand. Meditating simply means focusing your attention on your own train of consciousness (without your internal dialogue running).
This serves to heighten your self-awareness while awake, and has a knock-on effect while you're dreaming too. It becomes much easier to have that "Aha!" moment when you're dreaming - and become lucid.
Of course, many children can lucid dream naturally and they are unlikely to be meditators. But they do daydream more and visualize dreams as they go to sleep, which is how they master the art. So it's a very valuable skill to have - to simply meditate and visualize as you go to sleep.

MYTH #3. Lucid dreaming is a New Age fad - not science.
A friend actually said to me once, "Lucid dreaming? Do you really believe in all that?" This goes to show just how silly myths about lucid dreaming still lurk in the general population (and prevent people from trying it themselves).
The ability to 'wake up' in your dreams is not a New Age theory - indeed, it has been subject to scientific testing in the lab and proven to be real.
In the 1980s, Dr Stephen LaBerge published his experiments of communication between a lucid dreamer with the outside world, through pre-determined eye movements performed within the dream.
Later, in 2009, German scientists at the Neurological Laboratory in Frankfurt measured the brainwave frequencies of lucid dreamers. Quite amazingly, their dreaming brains proved to be highly active in the GAMMA range - and that is more active than your brain is right now!

MYTH #4. There is a big secret to lucid dreaming that I'll never know.
I believe everyone has the ability to lucid dream. (You already dream. And you are already conscious. It's just a case of combining the two mental states - and it really isn't that hard when you know how.)
Don't believe the myth about lucid dreaming that it belongs to an elite club of people with special mental skills who are dedicated to years of training. It simply isn't true. Lucid dreamers come from all walks of life, among a range of age groups, and they have a wide range of IQs.
There is no "secret" to lucid dreaming - but rather, a collection of techniques that will enhance your ability to become conscious within dreams. You may have your first lucid dream tonight, but you will probably not become an expert overnight. Think of it as a process, like learning to play piano. (Except lucid dreaming is a lot easier than learning to play the piano expertly!)

MYTH #5. If you die in a lucid dream, you wake up.
This myth was probably born from the idea that if you die in a dream, you die in real life. It's another one from Hollywood, I'm afraid. And neither are true.
I have died in regular dreams and in lucid dreams and, well, I have never died in real life! Equally, when I die in a lucid dream it doesn't result in waking up. Instead I just emerge in a new dream scene, either as a new character, or myself in a different time (maybe like a flashback) or however else my subconscious wants me to perceive this plot twist.
It's possible you could wake up from a dream about dying, particularly if you go splat over the edge of a cliff and the shock wakes you up! But this is by no means a default reaction in the brain.
Incidentally, if you want to wake up from a lucid dream (although I can't think why you would) the best way is to shout "Wake up!" while opening and closing your eyes. I used to do this to escape from nightmares, although I later learned to convert this state to lucidity and continue the dream along a more pleasant route.

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