Adventures in Lucid Dreaming: How Dream Control Works
Controlling a lucid dream is better than programming the holodeck on Star Trek, right? You cast the actors, create the set design, and direct the action. Well, not exactly. My experience has been that a lucid dream is more like a co-creation with the subconscious. You can influence what happens around you, but the only thing you really control is yourself.
Attempting Dream Control
I've had occasional lucid dreams for most of my life, although I can have them more regularly if I put some effort into it. In the beginning, I was too distracted to do very much with them. It's so mind-blowing how real everything is. I'd walk around poking everything and going, "No way!" Then I'd fly for a bit and usually wake up. It wasn't until five or six years ago that my lucid dreams became long enough to play around and see what worked.
The first time I tried to control a dream, I had my heart set on materializing Brad Pitt. (Let's forget what I had planned for him or whether that was a productive use of my sleep time.) Suddenly an Amish farmer appeared, complete with horse and buggy. It was Brad. Sadly, he was far too busy being Amish to have much interest in me, and I was more than a little put off by the scraggly beard and gardening hat. "Very funny, subconscious," I said. But I got the message: You're not in control here.
Another time, I decided I wanted to interact with a big cat, maybe a lion. This is on my real-life bucket list, but since they have very large paws with knives on the end, it seemed more sensible to try it in a dream. The cats appeared the moment I started thinking about them. They were more like lynx/wolf hybrids, but at least they weren't Amish farmers. The sight of their knife-paws, however, made me question whether this was a good idea, even in a dream. Getting your arm torn off never feels good, no matter where it happens. To feel safer, I tried to control the closest lynx, intently willing him to sit. He looked at me like I was a complete idiot. His expression said, "Really? You think you can use mind control to make me sit?" He did not sit. Eventually he bit me, but it was all in fun (or so he said).
I tried to create money in a lucid dream once. Yes, I realize this is ridiculous and pointless, but at the time it seemed like a powerful thing to do. Perhaps I thought my dream characters would be more cooperative if I slipped them some hundies. I was clearly not in my right mind, especially later in the dream when I materialized a new outfit. (Note: It is essential to be well dressed in any altered state of consciousness).
Anyway, I was delighted to discover I could create dollar bills out of thin air, but they immediately lost their substance and disappeared. I grasped the last one in my fist. Ah ha! Mine! I was very proud of my $1.00 profit, clutching it as I flew about the dream . It wasn't until I woke up that it was clear I'd just learned something about the nature of money and my relationship to it.
Influencing Dreams Instead
I've had a lot of experiences like these, but right now, I suspect you're thinking, "Listen here, Rebelmeow, we didn't click on this article to learn how NOT to control a lucid dream!
I suppose not. Well, first of all, everyone is different. Just because my subconscious has an ornery streak, doesn't mean yours does too. Some of you may even share in the comments that you have no trouble controlling your lucid dreams. I warn you, this may make me jealous and lead to four letter words and name calling. ;-)
Here's what I've learned about how to influence lucid dreams.
If you expect something to happen, it generally will, and this goes for regular dreams as well. Think that dark mansion on this hill is haunted? It is. Think that guy in the car looks like an asshole? He will steal your parking space. Expectations are very powerful in dreams, and I suspect they have more power in real life than we'd like to believe.
When I expected Brad Pitt, I got him, but in a surprising way. The dream ego does not rule this realm, the subconscious does. It has its own agenda, and it will not drop that to take orders from you. It's better to consider this a partnership for mutual benefit. This may sound weird, because ultimately, all of this is you. But the dream ego is small compared to the subconscious intelligence that can create entire worlds inside of you out of nothing. Do you know how to do that? I don't. So I try not to fight with the part of me that does.
My most successful lucid dreams have come from closing my eyes in the dream and imagining what I'd like to experience. I expect it to exist when I open my eyes, and it does. I try to go with whatever alterations and surprises appear and usually learn something from them. It's best to use this method with some caution, however, because closed eyes can lead to waking up if you're not focused in the dream world. I tried to meditate in a dream once and found myself in utter darkness. It was scary. Where the hell am I? Oh... in bed with my eyes closed.
I'd love to start a community of dreamers and psychonauts on Steemit. I'm not that interested in doing dream analysis, since it's time-consuming to do well, but I'd love to share experiences. Anyone have a good tag for this in mind? Also, if you have any questions about dreams or a dream topic you'd like to read about, let me know in the comments.
Just yesterday night, I had a lucid dream and I wanted to change a lot of things. I was saying out loud, "I demand to be in the woods! I demand this, I demand that!." and it started making my lucid dream glitch out, switching from different biomes to people to nothing at all. The glitching kind of looked like a TV standby:
Your post may have saved me from having lame lucid dreams now. I think I should just let it all be rather than TRYING to change it. Nice post! You gained another follower :]
That's freaky and kind of cool the way your dream was glitching out. Did you actually get to a point where you were still asleep but there was nothing there? I've never been able to do that without waking up.
After writing my article, I had a few people tell me that they were able to control their dreams, no problem. One guy said that he created a whole world that he returns to every night, with a dream wife and family. So I guess it's possible and maybe worth working towards, but I still do better when I work with my subconscious instead of ordering it around.
Very interesting. I too am a frequent oneironaut. I wrote this pair of short stories drawing heavily on events and imagery from recurring dreams I've had, perhaps you'll enjoy them.
The Background of Your Memories
"Expectations are very powerful in dreams, and I suspect they have more power in real life than we'd like to believe."
I find that to be very true!
When I want to invite lucid dreaming, I'll almost always be able to explore it if I take the time before going to sleep to slowly go through the whole body and consciously relax each body part. I start at my toes and take about 10 or 15 minutes. Falling asleep in this deeply relaxed state, while maintaining a thread of awareness, often opens lucid dreaming.
I found as a child that each dream seemed to have an agenda, and if I stepped too far off the tale's path, I'd wake up. I soon learned that kissing the girl I had a crush on, or trying to be superman, just didn't work, and instead, I needed to relax, go with the flow of the dream-tale, and enjoy the lucidity, with very minor choices against the flow.
A long time ago I did a little exploration in astral projection, and discovered that by willing myself up (flying) in the dream, I'd more than likely be astral projecting. Except that I was still "in the dream", seeing the dream. What was harder, was to open my astral eyes, thus banishing the dream, and seeing my surroundings, my sleeping body, etc. I only experimented a few times with this, and decided I didn't have the interest and knowledge to safely explore it more.
Another interesting experiment - relax the whole body, then as you slip into sleep focus on asking a question that is important for you. I've found interesting insights in the dreams that come!
Thank you for sharing your techniques! I'm going to try them over the next few weeks and see what happens. I've never heard of opening the astral eyes in a dream as a way of astral projecting, but I'd like to try that too. The only time I flew up in a dream, I ended up in the place where lost balloons go.
I've been able to step way off the dream's path and still stay asleep, but the results were strangely unsatisfying. I loved the sense of "look what I can do" that came from changing the environment, but it felt very empty. I came to the same conclusion you did, that it's better to stay with the dream story and explore from there. I still have some experiments I'd like to try, but they are more about working together with the subconscious than trying to make it my personal playground.
Let me know how it goes! I was hard for me to be alert enough to open the astral eyes (the dream stops). And I ended up feeling unsettled about flying dreams, thinking that I'm actually astral projecting all over the place during a flying dream, translating any being I meet into my dream as a dream image, and not really seeing and interacting in a clear-minded way with whatever was out there.
An interesting and thought provoking read,most enjoyable. Thank you for sharing.
Great article-- you have a new follower.
Great article. I enjoy your take on things and humor as you explain this interesting subject. There's alot to learn about this.
Very interesting I wish I could remember my dreams more or even take control I attempted a few years back to control what a dream would be about and it seemed to have worked for a while.
I've found that taking a B complex vitamin at bed time helps a lot with dream recall. Also, if you get a dream journal and write down anything you can remember in the morning, even if it's just, "I feel cranky like something annoyed me in my dream," that seems to get the ball rolling for some reason. Dreams get more vivid and easier to remember.
Remembering is definitely hurdle #1, especially if most of your dreams are nightmares and you often find your subconscious blocking them even when you do remember them very fleetingly before you actually open your eyes. I still haven't gotten this part down.
One of my best friends has that problem too. Lots of nightmares and hard to remember anything. I wish I knew how to work with that. Waking intent can have a lot of influence on dreams, but if the subconscious has strong reasons for blocking recall, a sneakier approach may be necessary. I wonder what would happen if you got up in the morning and made up a nightmare to write down. Just took that bad nightmare feeling and wrote a story from it. It all comes from the same place anyway, so maybe that's a way to gently break through the block. Kind of saying, "Fine, if you won't let me remember my dreams, I'll make up my own. Nyah nyah nyah."
I can control my dreams, it's not that i fall a sleep and start.
It needed growth for many years and now i have certain worlds, fantasies that come back and which i explore further as it seems i draw them further.
Those are elaborate dreams with places and towns etc, like fi i can remember in my dream here i went left last dream(but i know from experience the actions taking place are relived, so they are kind of a game, my dreams), let's walk on, as i explore and "draw" more. As i said i'll have to wait to get back in such a dreamworld, might take months or more.
One of the recent best was an all out war with pigmies on giant mastodontlike elephants, battling away against a certain enemy, as it get's complicated i wake up, untill next dream.
But in all they tend to be lighter and shorter, walking around, beautifull woman, cycling, eating etc
And usually i can steer the character if any, but then it stops, mostly as i seem to recognise a situation i already dreamed about.
So i think they don't take that long and the most fun is recognicing situations i already dreamed about, altering the actions. Fossilhuntdreams are also fun, the finds are usually enormous..
Your dreams sound amazing. I would love to have dreams like that but haven't had much luck so far. I'm glad to know it's possible! Did you start out having the kind of problems I was having with the dream not cooperating? Or were you always able to explore and create like that?
It does happen, i also have these catch me dreams(like running in a city and avoiding eyecontact with the zombielike inhabitants, in my case sorth of shades with white burning eyes), that go smoothly, sometimes accelerating and then some action i really miss(not cooperating) and things get intense rapidly, like the whole town starts chasing me and it's at times like this memories from other dreams come up like flying, if i remember while dreaming, i can take to the skies.
Good you mention flying, think i started remembering and controlling actions with this, just like the Dragonball flyers which i took to my dreams at a certain age. It accelerated the process, but i don't look at it too close. Cause i really like to sleep and don't want to miss a good sleep pondering.
Long sleeps also help in my case, when you're relax and snug, usually controlled dreams come when i have already had a good rest.