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Have you ever begun dreaming and then discovered you were dreaming? Have you ever regained command of your dream narrative? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you would have had a lucid dream.
Lucid dreaming has gained popularity as a result of films such as Inception. This film depicts remarkable dream craftsmen who have the ability to shape their own dreams as well as the dreams of others.
While such feats of dream manipulation might not appear to be conceivable in our everyday lives, they are not entirely impossible. Indeed, some people are capable of what is known as lucid dreaming, and others are even capable of controlling certain aspects of their nocturnal dreams.
According to some research, over half of the population have experienced a lucid dream at some point in their lives, and approximately 11% have one or two lucid dreams per month.
Edgar Allan Poe said in his widely recognized poem A Dream Within A Dream, “All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.”
Whether or not he is correct is a question for the philosophers to discuss, but lucid dreaming appears to investigate the line between dreams and reality.
This article will examine what constitutes lucid dreaming, if these experiences have practical implications, and how a person can become a lucid dreamer.
Typically, when we dream, we are unaware that it is a dream. As a character in the film Inception so eloquently puts it, “Dreams, right? They feel real while we’re in them. It is not until we awaken that we know anything was truly weird.”
However, some people are capable of entering a dream while being completely aware that they are dreaming.
“A lucid dream is defined as one in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming,” experts add.
The first recorded instance of lucid dreaming appears to be in Aristotle’s treatise On Dreams. He discusses an experience of self-awareness while in a dream state.
“If the sleeper perceives that he is asleep and is conscious of the sleeping state in which perception comes before his mind, the perception continues to present itself, but something within him speaks to the effect that ‘the image of Koriskos presents itself, but the real Koriskos is not present,'” he wrote.
Although it is unknown how many people experience lucid dreaming, various researchers have attempted to gather data on its prevalence – and it appears that this phenomenon is extremely frequent.
For example, Brazilian researchers examined 3,427 participants with a median age of 25. According to the survey’s findings, 77% of respondents had experienced lucid dreaming at least once.
As is the case with most dreams, lucid dreaming occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It occurs spontaneously for some, but others must train themselves to begin dreaming lucidly (or to become better at it).
As one lucid dreamer put it to Medical News Today:
“My lucid dreaming occurs as I awaken, or occasionally as I return to sleep after a brief awakening. Nowadays, I can pretty much do it on the spur of the moment, as long as I’m in that half-asleep, half-awake state.”
Additionally, the degree to which an individual may control their dream differs. Certain individuals might simply awaken promptly upon recognizing they have been dreaming. However, other people might have the ability to control their own activities within the dream, or portions of the dream.
MNT was told by the lucid dreamer that she was able to control the dream narrative in order to produce a nice experience for herself.
“Generally,” she added, “I have influence over the narrative in the dream, so if I’m unhappy with the way things are going in the dream, I can alter it.”
Lucid dreaming is an enticing and fascinating notion; the prospect of exploring our own inner worlds while being fully conscious that we are dreaming is intriguing and almost mystical.
Apart from that, lucid dreaming can aid individuals in overcoming nightmares and anxieties.
However, can lucid dreaming be used in everyday life?
Dr. Denholm Aspy is a researcher specializing in lucid dreaming at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
He mentioned to MNT that this experience may be therapeutic in nature. Its primary application, according to Dr. Aspy, is to treat nightmares – particularly recurrent nightmares, which can impair a person’s quality of life.
The method of learning to lucid dream in order to prevent nightmares from developing or recurring is referred to as “lucid dreaming treatment,” he explained.
“If you can assist someone who is having nightmares in becoming lucid throughout the nightmare,” he explained, “this enables them to take control over themselves or the nightmare itself.”
“Suppose you’re being attacked in a nightmare by someone. You could attempt to communicate with the attacker. You could inquire as to why they are appearing in your dreams or ‘What do you require to resolve this conflict with me?’
“Some people,” he said, “acquire superpowers or extraordinary skills in order to defend themselves from an attacker. And then there’s the option of attempting to flee, such as flying away or even using tactics to deliberately awaken from the nightmare.”
Additionally, lucid dreaming has the ability to assist individuals who suffer from phobias such as fear of flying or spiders.
“If a person has a specific phobia, their lucid dream setting presents an intriguing opportunity to engage in exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing oneself to the object of one’s fear in order to gradually overcome it,” Dr. Aspy explained.
This is conceivable, he continued, since dream settings can deliver a sufficiently realistic experience without seeming dangerous. Because the individual is aware that they are not in the real world while lucid dreaming, they can freely explore their concerns without feeling threatened.
Simultaneously, lucid dreaming is appealing as an innovative form of entertainment — similar to virtual reality’s immersive experience.
A skilled lucid dreamer may be able to “go on an adventure” and interact with people and objects in ways they could not in real life.
The lucid dreamer who spoke with MNT described the experience as similar to storytelling, which makes her feel better when she awakens:
“Lucid dreaming is a form of creative activity for me because it allows me to investigate what my dreams are saying to me against what my waking mind desires. It serves no purpose other than to be entertaining, and it typically makes me pleased . I usually wake up feeling quite content.”
“I practice lucid dreaming for fun,” she continued. “I enjoy it, and as a storyteller, it’s akin to writing a tale or playing a video game.” You become absorbed in a narrative that somehow involves you.”