Dreams have intrigued mankind since the beginning of time. Ever since the era of the cavemen, this alternative reality, so to speak, has baffled us. We have devoted countless years of study and experimentation to it and yet we still havent been able to fully grasp the phenomenon. Some argue that our dreams hold some hidden meaning, a glimpse into the darkest corners of our minds. Others speculate that they are merely collections of information that are spewed back out at random intervals when we are asleep. The fact that we have very little control over our dreams seems to support the latter. Then perhaps the best way to understand our dreams is to learn how to control them. Maybe if we can harness the energy of dreams, we can study them. This is called conscious dreaming. In a nutshell, it involves being aware of our dreams as they are happening and having the power to actively gain control of them.
Studies conducted on the subject have been suprisingly successful. I chose this topic because dreams have always been a particular interest of mine and the possibility of being able to control and manipulate them spurred my curiosity even further. After extensively researching the topic, I decided to put the theories to the test. What I discovered was an incredible realization of a field of study that for the most part, goes unnoticed. I hope to explore the procedures and methods by which we are able to achieve conscious dreaming and how it may help us to understand more about ourselves. The Science of Conscious Dreaming In order to become proficient in conscious dreaming, a serious of seemingly complex yet very simple mental exercised are required. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen our ability to focus and in turn, increase our state of consciousness.
Regularity is of prime importance in order to be able to voluntarily penetrate our dream world, or endoreality. That is why exercises must be performed anywhere from 1 to 2 hours each night before going to sleep for roughly 30 minutes. Going at will into our endoreality is a very rewarding and bewildering experience. Imagine being in a reality where anything you imagine becomes so, a reality where there are no consequences, no law, no boundaries. This is conscious dreaming. When one can achieve this, the world in which we are awake or exoreality becomes less “real”, less stressful, and less boring. It allows us to see things such as death, life, pain, and pleasure in a new light. These are the exercises (in a simplified version) that I read about and followed to try and induce this state of altered consciousness.
1. Before going to sleep, sit or lie in your bed for at least 30 minutes. 2. In total darkness, focus your attention on darkness and try to visualize simple images, like a triangle, a square, a leaf, or anything you like. 3. While focussing your attention on informational objects, try to forget the boundaries of your body. 4. Try not to move at all and breathe deeply and regularly, like someone who is sleeping. 5. When 30 minutes or more have elapsed, just go to sleep – but you still have to wake up in the early morning. (just like students with 8:00AM Psychology Classes) Wake up early in the morning, between 4 or 5, and just repeat the whole exercise. 6. When you next wake up write, as fast as possible, everything you can remember of your dreams. Slowly, you will discover that you remember more and more dreams in increasing detail. 7. During the day, focus your attention on the outlines and shapes of complex objects.
This teaches you to becomes aware of objects in reality. The purpose of this exercise is to teach us how to specifically activate some of our memory zones in order to achieve controlled hallucinations. This is a very difficult exercise but it will train your consciousness to control itself. The focussing of ones attention is extremely important in the discovery of memory and consciousness. It should be accompanied by breathing regulation: slow and regular. Apparently controlled breathing triggers hallucinations, as experienced by meditating monks. In the beginning, if you focus your attention on, say, a triangle, you will observe the appearance of a faint triangular shape in the darkness and you will discover that this triangle will have a strong tendency to move, rotate, or simply disappear to be replaced by another faint image.
To see a memorised image as clearly as a real image means that you activate the metabolism of a memory zone where this image is stored. Selective metabolic activation of memory zones gives us a lot of power in out dreams. After a week or two of such mental training, the mind becomes accustomed to a higher level of consciousness. This is the time that we begin to have our first conscious dreams. What To Do In a Conscious Dream This may not be obvious at first and although there is no set of guidelines for exploring ones dreams, a few simple steps should be followed to verify that they are in control and to make the most of this experience. In a conscious dream, one should try and observe their surroundings. They should observe the shapes and colors around them, comparing them to those of the waking world.
If there are people in the dream, interact with them and ask why they are there. The people we see in our dreams may reveal how we feel about them in real life. Psychologists stress the importance of relaxing in a dream. They say that becoming excited in a dream usually tends to wake people from them due to an increase in the release of certain chemicals in the brain. By remaining calm and simply exploring the boundaries of our mind and imagination, we can get the most of a dream. Curious as to whether or not this method of taking control of dreams would work, I began doing these exercises, starting November 3rd. I continued doing them every night before I went to sleep until November 17th, the night I had what I believed to be my first controlled state of conscious dreaming.
I kept a small notepad next to my bed in my dorm room just in case I had something interesting to write down. Here is exactly what I wrote, right down to the misspellings: —Woke up now writing the dream I had. It was pretty amazing, for a shor [short] time I was running in directions I wanted.I punched a man in his face cuz [because] he didnt answer me when I talked to him, lots of fuzzy things but I remembered doin [doing] things I wanted. This is the first time it happened since I did the exercises before bed. I tried to eat something and couldnt taste it though. Still very tired so im going back to sleep, have early classes tomorrow. I hope I go back into my dream I dont know what woke me upMaybe I will do it again. I hope so. — This is what I wrote the night I woke up from my first conscious dream.
I scribbled this down on the piece of paper, but didnt remember writing any of it the next morning. I recalled getting up to write it, but didnt remember what I had actually written. I do, however, remember the dream that I had. It was a very short dream and it was somewhat blurred, but I do remember having control over my actions and being aware of the fact that I was in my own dream. The fact that I kept thinking to myself that this was a dream is evidence enough that I did indeed have a conscious dream. Reality, for all of us is what we consciously perceive. Many psychologists and scientists have concluded that evolution has put a mechanism which erases the consciousness of our dreams in our central nervous system. They say that if the mechanism did not exist, all of us would have chosen to live in our respective dreams and our species would eventually die off.
Just look around at how we are drawn to such altered realities such as virtual reality in computers and games. ties. Imagine what would happen if all people could go, at will, into the ultimate virtual reality of their own mind. Can you fathom a world where its inhabitants choose not to interact in the real world but in the synthesized realities of their minds? And who could blame anyone if they chose to do this? Why get up and face the stresses of everyday life when you can exist peacefully in a state of altered consciousness where anything that is willed becomes true? Im sure it wouldnt be long before we would eventually wither and die as people shied away from their physical presence and leaned more toward their dream states. This may sound like science fiction, but perhaps one day we will evolve to be able to dream consciously without effort.
Moreau de Tours, Joseph. “Du Haschich et de l’Alination Mentale”. 1845 http://www.psychwww.com http://www.kudzu.com/bobhome/dreaming/ Jennings, Robert The Science of Dreaming . Journal of Canadian Psychology, 1989. Pg 32 Redshaw, Joanne Understanding Dreaming Journal of Cognitive Behaviors, 1992. pg 19