Lucid Dreaming: What's the point?
Open your mind to the horizons of your imagination. Glide like a liquid bullet through your dreamscape and learn valuable lessons en route.
Or just get up and be pissed off you’re awake.
Lucid dreaming used to be a term bandied about by people who wear hemp clothes and greet guests to their bedsit by lighting a Nepalese joss stick. But just like Titanic made drab couples sign up for cruises and single women get teary eyed at pan piped renditions of Celine Dion, Inception has got people wanting more from their dreams than just their teeth falling out and realising they’ve gone to work without their trousers on.
We spoke to Luigi Sciambarella from The Monroe Institute, an organisation that researches realms of consciousness. They offer weekend courses to people dying to know how to take charge of their dreams and other new-age shiz. We only wanted a few tips and a simple explanation about what lucid dreaming is and how to do it. Sadly it seems like it’s going to take a lot of practice, which if we’re being honest, is not going to happen.
The trick to lucid dreaming is to somehow be asleep while being fully conscious. It sounds like a catch 22 situation, but apparently it’s really important.
“Doing this means that you can enter the dream state with your consciousness fully intact,” says Luigi.
But surely that defeats the entire reason of going to sleep and you’ll wake up tired?
“No, that’s often a misconception. I mean, you run around in your dreams every night anyway, don’t you? You don’t wake up tired – you wake up very mentally refreshed because you retain your consciousness. But because your body is getting physical rest you won’t wake up tired. Your body says, ‘Alright, go off and have some fun’.”
That’s good of it. So, if you’re in this altered state of reality while you’re asleep, actually where are you?
“That’s a good question. One of the biggest questions that’s ever asked really. It’s a very complicated question to answer. But the point is you can go other places, and when you come back you can say, ‘that seemed to have a strong sense of reality, I couldn’t have been making that up surely’.”
Would it be possible to spy on people, or turn up in someone else’s dream and threaten them? Or maybe steal something from their home or throw acid in their face?
“Haha. Some people have reported sharing dreams, the kind of stuff you’d find with Inception, the Matrix, something like that. But it wouldn’t be an invasion. It’s more of a cooperation and you can later validate what you said to each other. That sort of thing has been tried. Not successful all the time, I must admit, but very, very possible.”
Hmmm. I personally would like to have a baby, but I’m worried it might be ugly. As if it’s ugly, I won’t be able to enter it in to any pageants and it won’t pay for itself. If I had a baby in the dream realm as a trial run, would I get to see it grow to toddler size so I could work out it’s ROI for nine months of punishing gestation in my already crap body?
“People experience continuity and different things. That baby might represent something completely different to you rather than the act of being a baby. It could be an idea, and then when you go back to that dream state a couple of weeks later and you follow that idea up, you might see that the baby has developed. You might find the next time that the baby is eight years old and giving you some information or asking you something,” says Luigi. “Or it could be an adult you can have a conversation with.”
Ugh, that’s gross.
The dream world is a fertile place for fantasmagorical inventions and recipes. We’ve all woken up and thought we had a great idea, only to forget it straight away, or try out an ambitious flavour combination and immediately spit it out.
“People do mess around with designs and electronic devices,” says Luigi, before adding, “But there are people who are able to do that in a waking state anyway because of their imagination.”
Oh. Well does it have any uses, other than providing a green light for people to make up bullshit about how jazzy their brain is? “Certainly some of the things you learn in a lucid dream state you can apply to the physical world. People use it for all sorts of things, from improving their public speaking, to practicing their golf swing.”
What if a dead person pops up in your dream? Are you hanging out with a ghost?
“People have very powerful insights when they connect with loved ones that have passed away. If the information wasn’t something you were expecting, you can probably bank on it not being from you.”
Great. Now we’ll probably never sleep again.
This article originally appeared in issue 6 of FUN Magazine, circa-2011