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A Beginner’s Guide to Lucid Dreaming

“Are you dreaming right now?” asks science writer and dream researcher David Jay Brown. We are sitting in the ivy-draped courtyard of Laili, next to a babbling fountain and a rowdy dinner party of 10. “No!” I say, sure of the answer to such an absurd question. “But how do you know?” he asks. “I just know.” “Well, have you tested it?” He picks up a fork and taps the wall. In a dream, maybe the tines would bend, he says. In a dream, the words on the menu would scramble the minute you looked away and looked back again. And if you plugged your nose and breathed out, you’d feel the air leaving your nostrils, even though they were plugged. “Nope, not dreaming,” I say, through a pinched nose. But there’s an epiphany scratching around inside his point: even when fork tines bend with no effort and landscapes transform at the mere suggestion of thought, we accept what we’re experiencing in a dream as real. “The most fascinating thing of all, and what most people are so surprised to hear, is that we never appear to go unconscious during sleep,” says Brown. “Sleep laboratory studies demonstrate that the entire night you are thinking, or dreaming, or having some form of mentation. The entire night. You never lose consciousness. What you lose is long-term memory. You lose the ability to memorize what’s happening throughout the night.” So where, exactly, do we go when we dream? If you ask yourself multiple times a day, “Am I dreaming?” and test your answer—don’t forget to jump in the air and see if you hover a little—you can condition your brain to ask the same question while asleep, says Brown. Yeah, you’re going to look weird doing this. But when the sleeping brain asks “Am I dreaming right now?” the answer can be a revelation that transforms an ordinary dream sequence into a lucid dream, where the sleeper is actually aware of being in the dream state, and (with some practice) able to control his or her actions within the dream. Dreamers like Brown pursue this lucid state because they believe it can be a doorway into exploration of the mind’s unlimited possibilities, and maybe even into a state of higher consciousness. Entire article via Santa Cruz Good Times.

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