by phil on Wednesday Aug 24, 2011 1:29 PM
I'm writing a book about my journey through self-improvement. It chronicles around 70 notable instances, written as imagined letters to my friend Charlotte. Charlotte gave me Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People when I was 14, and that pretty much got me started on a life-long quest for personal betterment. Here's a letter I wrote today.
Date: July 22, 2003
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Subject: Lucid Dreaming
Hi Charlotte, so I'm back to Stanford after all. I'm living off-campus in my own apartment and taking summer courses to make up for the quarters I missed. I think the tipping point for my decision happened around my birthday in April, when I was withdrawing some cash and chatting with an attractive bank teller. She then asks me, "What do you do?" and the best response I could think of at the time was, "Nothing." So after six months of floundering at home and arguing with my parents, I realized that the easiest way to get rid of social pressure is to just finish school.
This summer in Palo Alto has been a trip. There's hardly anybody I know out here, so I'm mostly just watching movies. The most interesting one I saw recently is The Waking Life, which is about lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams are ones where you become aware that you're dreaming, which then enables you to control them. In lucid dreams, you essentially have a Star Trek holodeck at your disposal. All your fantasies materialize right there in super high definition. Everything feels as real as when you're awake. And when you do wake up, your memories of what just happened are so vivid, that you often can't distinguish them from memories in your real life.
It turns out there's a whole subcommunity with tried-and-true techniques for inducing lucid dreams. My favorite technique is the one that involves dream triggers. What you do is write down your dreams every morning, and then afterwards try to find common, recurring motifs. For example, I often see blue birds when I'm dreaming. Then, you commit to asking yourself a question every time you see your dream trigger (whether in real life or while dreaming). The question is simply, "Am I dreaming?" and if you are, excellent, you can start flying or you can morph the landscape or you can have tea with Einstein or whatever you want.
Because of my committment to this technique, my dream world is blurring into my waking world. I'll often find myself biking around Palo Alto and I'll spot a blue bird. I then ask myself if I'm dreaming, and half of the time I realize I am, after which my bike lifts off and I'm flying into the sky and on my way to a psychedelic adventure. The other half of the time, it turns out I'm here on planet Earth, and life goes on as usual. Which is such a strange pattern to have in your life. To be walking around, going about your business, and then regularly find yourself slipping away from it into an imaginarium.
So many people--many of whom work in the Bay Area--are toiling away at building virtual reality machines, trying to reach that Holy Grail where we can just plug into a fantasy world. But little do they know we have an all-natural tool, right our disposal, available to us every night of every day.
Davids said on October 17, 2011 1:37 AM:
So true. They are working on devices that we will attach to our self in some way that will be used to stimulate inner workings allowing us to live out some fantasies. In a way to learn how to lucid dream will do the same but the virtual machine is internal to each. In a different way it does the same thing we just need to write our own script as well. That's so much more powerful than popping in "virtual DVD" and living out someone else's fantasy.
Ok, the lucid dreaming route is more involved and takes more practice and self discipline. On the upside though lucid dreaming can be used for so many other things such as self discovery, self growth, problem solving and lots more.
Sounds like you took to lucid dreaming easily, I had to work at it starting off but once I got going it became easier.
Good luck with your book. Keep us posted with the details of the end result
All the best.