There are two types of dreams: lucid and non-lucid. In a non-lucid dream, you're dreaming, you see what's going on, but you're not really fully aware that you're dreaming. In a lucid dream, you're fully aware that you're dreaming and that you are in fact "awake" within the dream state. You're consciously aware that you're dreaming, and there's a hyper sense of clarity. Everything looks and feels "real."
In a non-lucid dream, there can be a lot of odd things appearing before your dream reality mind—gelatinous iridescent walls, long-dead relatives alive and riding a purple ostrich—but you're never really fully aware of the fact that you're dreaming. There's a degree of fuzziness in the non-lucid state; and the mind can justify Uncle Carl on an ostrich as no big deal because, you know, he liked ostriches, especially purple ones. It makes perfect sense.
Whereas in a lucid dream, you are there, there is no doubt. You are wide awake within the dream, and everything appears as it is, just like in waking reality. You are aware you're dreaming and that you're dreaming up Uncle Carl and the ostrich and the whole dream reality shooting match.
Lucid dreams are often exciting and can be somewhat frightening. (In fact, something like 80% of all dreams contain some level of anxiety, which seems to mirror the anxiety and neurosis of our species in society in general.) Lucidity is kind of like suddenly finding yourself in an intense hallucination, and the excitement or fear of the suddenness of the experience is the biggest thing that "pops" the lucid dream, often very quickly, within just a few seconds.
So one thing you can do when you feel the lucid dream is starting to fade is to quickly engage with the dream. Touch things in the dream, read things, ask someone in the dream something, move forward—just do something. In this way you can get a little extra lucidity time, like extra life time in a video game.
Lucidity Metaphor in Tibetan Buddhism
Being awake in your dreams is a primary Enlightenment metaphor from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, and it goes something like this: We are thoroughly convinced that we are awake in our normal waking reality state but we are actually just having a non-lucid dream. We are not awake. Enlightenment is simply the complete unfolding of our inherent Buddha nature, in our waking state; it is lucidity in the waking state.
Through the practice of Dream Yoga, we can begin to develop Enlightened waking state lucidity, whereby we experience our waking state not to be like a dream, but actually as a dream. And we can manipulate the way we experience our reality in a whole new way, the same way we can manipulate and experience our lucid dreams with a little practice.
There was a man who met the Buddha shortly after he was Enlightened. He was trying to get a handle on who the Buddha was, for he had a certain presence to him that was quite powerful. He asked the Buddha if he was a god, a saint, or a human, and the Buddha replied none of the above. I am awake, he said. Awake in reality.
Kilton Stewart received his Ph.D. in anthropology in the 1930s and then spent most of his early life traveling around the world, exploring whatever interested him, living a free and bohemian lifestyle. Reading stories about his life, he sounds a little bit like Indiana Jones meets Howard Hughes.
He came upon the Senoi tribe in the remote jungles of Malaysia, and he wrote about their dream practices in his book, "Pygmies and Dream Giants." One thing he noted was that the Senoi start their day with a dream recounting, as a group. Talking about your dreams, sharing stories of lucidity, is one good way to help induce and trigger a lucid dream, often the very same night.
So let's dreamshare. I've posted a recent lucid dream in the comments box below. Let's hear yours...
Going to The Show
I'm excited to announce that all three of my collage submissions into ArtSpring's SURFACING: EXPLORATIONS IN TWO DIMENSIONS exhibition here on Salt Spring Island have been accepted for inclusion in the show, which opens Friday October 28. More later...