Where do we go when we fall asleep? Our inner dream world is as elusive and mysterious as it is transcendental. When we cross the barrier of consciousness and drift into our own dimensions, we are immersed in an experience that is the greatest contradiction – a place where abstract introspection meets concrete thinking. Dreams become a depth of intangible qualities versus tangible characteristics. It is a mystical realm that is still a wonder to us.
Dreams seem to have no rhyme or reason, and how dreams are interpreted are unique to each individual. It ponders the question of why we dream, and the purpose of this dream state.
Dreaming seems to be the invisible communication string between our conscious mind and our unconscious mind. Dreams allow us to develop insight into our deepest selves – our desires and wounds, painful or puzzling emotions, and our creative inner child – creating wholeness. Analyzing our dreams help us gain an enhanced understanding of ourselves.
“Dreams are the bridge that allows movement back and forth between what we think we know and what we really know.”
Jeffery Sumber, Clinical Psychotherapist
Dreams also allow us to process information or events that may be painful or confusing in an environment that is at once emotionally real but physically unreal, notes Sumber, who studied global dream mythology at Harvard University and Jungian dream interpretation at the Jung Institute in Zurich.
So, what do dreams mean when you are able to control the story line?
Lucid dreaming occurs when someone is sleeping and is able to recognize their thoughts and emotions as the dream is occurring. Essentially, the person having the dream is aware that they are dreaming.
When someone is dreaming lucidly, they can control the narrative of the dream to a certain extent, altering and directing the course of their dream without leaving the dream state. Lucid dreaming is the reflection of awareness, known as metacognition. Metacognition involves the awareness and understanding of your own thought processes. It is connoted that metacognitive functions and lucid dreaming share similar neural systems in the brain, signifying that people with elevated abilities to monitor their own thoughts could be more prone to experiencing vivid lucid dreams.
The phenomenon of lucid dreaming was first discovered and described thousands of years ago, however only in the nineteenth century scientists began to investigate it. Research during the 1960’s and 1970’s led to the finding that lucid dreams were associated with REM sleep. REM sleep is a pattern of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements, lack of muscle tone throughout the body, and the inclination to dream.
What is the difference between normal dreaming and lucid dreaming?
During non-lucid dreams, people are not cognizant of the fact that they are dreaming… even when bizarre things happen within the dream, it seems real! Only after people wake do they become aware that it was all just a dream. Having a lucid dream is recognizing that what is happening is in fact not real, and that it is taking place within a dream. This allows the dreamer to have control over the events in the dream to a certain extent, without leaving the dream state.
How do you know if you have had a lucid dream?
Here are a few indications you may have had this experience in the past:
- Your dream was extremely vivid
- You were aware that you were dreaming while asleep
- You were able to change the narrative of the dream and control some of the events
- You experienced heightened emotions in the dream
Lucid dreaming is an ultimate immersive experience that is fairly uncommon on a frequent basis. It presents an elusive fantasy world that blurs the lines between reality and imagination.
- About 50% of all people will have at least one lucid dream during their life
- Approximately 23% of people have one lucid dream per month
- Less than 11% of people report having two or more lucid dreams in one month
- Studies suggest that lucid dreaming tends to be more common in women and may decrease in frequency with age
- Some research has pointed to potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares
- Other studies argue lucid dreams may have a negative impact on mental health because they can disrupt the sleep cycle
Lucid dreaming offers a world where everything may become possible or controllable, and feels real without putting the dreamer at risk. It is a jumble of intense sensory and emotional experiences that allow for free expression without judgement or limitations.
Some ways to experience lucid dreaming include:
- Getting more REM sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene
- Keeping a dream journal
- Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) – telling yourself repeatedly that you will dream and that you will be aware that you are dreaming
- Practice reality testing – performing checks while awake and asleep to determine if one is dreaming
Our dreams offer a gateway to our emotions, creativity, fears, and desires. They allow us to become whole by presenting a world to explore our inner selves through testing the limits of reality.
There is always something to learn about yourself in a dream…
Cherry, K. (2021, May 23). Can you learn to lucid dream? Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-lucid-dream-5077887
Nunez, K. (2019, June 17). Lucid dreams: What they are and how to experience them. Healthline. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-lucid-dreaming
Pacheco, D. (2020, October 30). Lucid dreams: Definition, techniques, and benefits. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/dreams/lucid-dreams
Tartakovsky, M. (2016, May 17). How to analyze your dreams (and why it’s important). Psych Central. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-analyze-your-dreams-and-why-its-important#1