The first documented description of lucid dreaming was recorded 1000 BCE from the Upanishads. The Upanishads are the Hindu traditional oral lessons, proverbs, and philosophies. The practice describes how best a person can direct consciousness within dreams and vision phases of sleep (Schredl 163). This concept of Lucid Dreaming spread to the other parts of the world and was given the name Lucid Dreams in 1931by a Dutch psychiatrist called Frederik van Eeden. The concept of lucid dreaming has been used in meditation for over 12,000 years. There are several ways to become a lucid dreamer. The first one is called the ‘reality testing’ and involves a dreamer verifying whether they are dreaming both during wake times and sleep time (Schredl 165). For example in reality, when we read a text, it will say the same thing when re-read. However, in a dream, the text will keep shifting. It is how you differentiate the two. Another technique is the ‘waking back to bed’ which requires setting the alarm to wake up after about 5 hours of going to sleep. Once awake, a person should try to remain awake for some time, before going back to bed. This is supposed to send the sleeper immediately in to REM sleeping phase, during which they are more likely to have lucid dreams.
Studies on Lucid Dreaming
Studies have aimed to examine the concept of lucid dreaming. For example, a survey by Aviram Liat and Nirit Soffer-Dudek aimed to develop a broad measure of several LD characteristics, and explore how they relate with symptomatology. Results of the study showed no relationship between LD and psychopathology but found that LD intensity and positive emotions were associated with some psychopathological symptoms. For example, the authors found that deliberate LD induction techniques related to sleep problems, increase in dissociation, and schizotypy symptoms (Aviram and Nirit 56). The study concluded that lucid dreaming should not be considered as a sign of well-being. The authors stated that LD may be negative or positive and the LD induction may have long-term risks.
Another study by Zink, Nicolas and Reinhard Pietrowsky gives an overview of common dream theories with an emphasis on how they explain lucid dreaming. They grouped the theories either to describe biological or structural processes of dreams or to describe evolutionary and adaptive functions of dreams. Results showed that none of the dream theories presented could fully explain non-lucid or lucid dreaming (Zink and Reinhard 52). The research however considered the concept of ‘proto-consciousness’ as best interpreting lucid dreaming in the first group. The researchers concluded that concerning evolutionary and adaptive functions of dreams, the theories that stress the problem-solving functions of dreams were best suited to explain lucid dreaming.
I was playing at a campsite in a lucid dream. Because I was aware that I was dreaming, I decided to jump in to the fire. I did not get burned, but instead I was playing with the flames. I then decided to put the flames in my mouth, and I remember feeling them taste salty. I decided to push my limits by flying to the sun. I started flying like superman. I got closer and closer to the sun, but I did not see anything, and I could not feel my body too. I, however, noticed a sense of sound, light, and vibration. There was bright light emanating from the sun, and I chose to remain in that state which I cannot describe. This proves that the concept of lucid dreaming is very different from regular experiences.
Aviram, Liat, and Nirit Soffer-Dudek. “Lucid Dreaming: Intensity, But Not Frequency, Is Inversely Related to Psychopathology.” Frontiers in Psychology 9 (2018): 384.
Schredl, Michael. “Lucid Dreaming.” Researching Dreams. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2018. 163-173.
Zink, Nicolas, and Reinhard Pietrowsky. “Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming: An integrative review towards sleep, dreaming, and consciousness.” International Journal of Dream Research 8.1 (2015): 35-53.
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