- Mental Health
Busting Some Lucid Dreaming Myths
Let's get down to business
I know we've all heard some pretty scary rumors about lucid dreaming; The old hag sitting on your chest, if you die in a dream you die in reality, something could possess you while you sleep etc. Not only rumors but people adamantly screaming: Run away! Demons! Do I dare even mention horror movies associated with being aware in dreams (probably not)? Let's try our best to disassociate fact from fiction, shall we?
- So let's get straight to the elephant in the room: Sleep Paralysis. What it is not: The devil holding you down or an old "hag" trying to possess you (lol). Have you ever come awake in bed and were unable to move a muscle? The thought of being trapped inside of your own body terrifies you, the inescapable feeling of being a catatonic vegetable absolutely freaks you out! Then in a few seconds (or should I say hours because when we're afraid it seems as if time stretches forever doesn't it?) it's over. So... What is sleep paralysis? According to researchers, sleep paralysis is when your body shuts down at night for sleep. Why does your body need to shut down? Well dreams are pretty real while they're happening aren't they? To stop you from jumping out of a window and enacting what is happening in your dream, your body shuts itself down for your protection. Isn't that neat? If you awaken many times throughout the night you may become a victim of sleep paralysis, as your body needs to catch up with your mind (according to my own personal trials). If your body doesn't wake up on time: relax, don't be afraid! A simple solution is to change your breathing rhythm, take a deep breath and relax. You'll escape the ills of paralysis in no time!
"I have a friend that doesn’t want to lucid dream because he thinks he will no longer know what’s real."
2. Losing touch with reality. This is a myth I find weirdly attractive. It is kind of like when people ask ,"how do I wake up from a lucid dream?". Why would you want to wake up?! LOL. How about an alarm clock? Okay, just teasing. One simple and effective way to wake up is to... BLINK! Nine times out of ten blinking in a lucid dream will wake you up, pretty inconvenient if you ask me. If you're a beginner and are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the dream, a very easy way to break out of the dream is to just... do.... absolutely...... nothing! I've learned this from many incomplete lucid dreams. Sadly I would stand and just admire the dreams and their resplendent allure, then without warning everything would go black. I've digressed, I know, bear with me! From what I can surmise, what happens is your brain will pull you out of the dream because you aren't responding to the dream and aren't being stimulated by the dream, so you will wake up. This makes sense because one of the ways to prolong a dream is to touch things, move around in the dream, and eat things. Stimuli keeps the dream going and the mind involved. Now back to the main course. Will you lose tack of reality? Well have you lost track of reality now? No I bet you haven't and you still dream every night don't you? Not a great answer eh? Okay, you won't lose track of reality, although some lucid dreams can seem like an exact copy of reality it's all about the feel of dreams. Whenever you wake up, you can just feel the difference. Don't get me wrong, you will undoubtedly have false awakenings where you could have sworn you were awake but even those lack the substance and gravity of waking life. Also, in dreams, something is always wrong or amiss. Another thing about lucid dreaming is that one subtle thought can and will change the whole dream scenario, can that happen while you are awake? If it can, teach me your sorcery! Don't be afraid of confusing dreams with reality, simple observation will tell you whether or not you're dreaming. Fun fact; Tibetan Dream Yogis believe that life in itself is a dream and treat everyday as such. They do this so that when they are in fact dreaming, awareness comes naturally. They practice what is known in the west as: All Day Awareness; being aware of things you would usually ignore in both dreams and reality. Small details like: the texture of the button on your favorite shirt. It is also know as mindfulness. It is a great lucid dreaming induction tool!
If you died in your dream how would you let someone else know it was because of a dream?
I've "died" many times in dreams. This is a silly rumor which I don't want to waste too much time on. All you have to do to bust this myth is kill yourself in a dream, you'll simply wake up. Every time. Or you may fall through the dream and into a completely new dream! Some suggest that dreams can cause stress which can lead to death. The results are unsubstantiated. This doesn't particularly pertain to lucid dreaming though, just regular dreams.
So in closing..
You're going to have to experience lucid dreaming for yourself and make up your own mind. Don't be afraid and if you find fear won't leave you be then mix in some courage and embrace your fears. Be objective and aware, observe and understand. Nothing can hurt you in your dreams. I will say this, we are asleep for about 1/3 of our lives, why not enjoy it? Fly, teleport, talk to your subconscious or whatever you can imagine. I don't know about you but I'm an adventurer, I need to know things, I need to explore and uncover truths. We cannot discover and explore things vicariously can we? Maybe we can but what fun is that? Someone once said: Dreams are life's coming attractions. I would say in lucid dreaming we create the script, act out the part and watch the movie simultaneously. Myths smyths! We are our dreams. Dream on dreamers.