Have you ever awoken during sleep and realized that you were still dreaming? This is what is called Lucid Dreaming and almost everyone has at least one experience of this level of dreaming during their lifetime. Some people lucid dream frequently and others randomly throughout their life. In this episode, we explore the power of lucid dreaming and what it means to change your life.
This episode was filmed on video, if you want to see the video version you can click here and see us in action. We discuss:
- What is lucid dreaming?
- How can you create lucidity in a dream?
- Techniques to prepare your mind to have a lucid dream
- How lucid dreaming can show you how the mind works and reach higher levels of consciousness
Debi: Welcome to the Debi & Dr. Rob Show. This is Debi and I’m with Dr. Rob.
Rob: Nice to be here.
Debi: We are actually on video. It’s our first edition of our podcast on video, so if you are listening to this podcast on the audio version, we’d love for you to come visit us on YouTube and you can see this episode and more to come on video as well. Let’s talk about today’s topic which is, I know, one of your favorite topics.
Rob: One of my favorite all time topics is lucid dreaming.
Debi: Why do you love lucid dreaming?
Rob: Well, I love dreaming in general. I love talking about dreams but lucid dreaming is a special case of dreams. It’s a special category of dream-work. Now, the basic definition and most of you have probably have had a lucid dream in your life. You might not remember it, or you might have though it was something else, like an out of body experience or something, but it’s essentially when you wake up in the dream, meaning you have this awareness, this consciousness, but you’re still caught up in the dream. You’re still in the dreamscape in a sense.
Debi: A lot of people might have that just when they wake up. Sometimes they’ll have that experience and, of course, everyone knows that movie Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio where he says, “I’m having a dream within a dream,” and basically they were using lucid dreaming. Of course it’s not scientific, the dream, it’s a ciphered movie but it gives you this idea that your body is asleep but you are awake inside a dreamscape and you are conscious. Which is a really fascinating concept for [crosstalk].
Rob: Just to be clear, it’s not cipher anymore. Back in the ’70s or ’80s, in the ’80s, people started studying it seriously and they found out this is an actual phenomenon. Everyone has the capacity, the capability to do lucid dreaming if they just learn a few simple techniques.
Debi: We are going to talk about that on the show too. Why would we use them? What’s the benefit of lucid dreaming?
Rob: That’s a good question. In general, if you think about why do we need dreams to begin with, why would nature force us to fall asleep and then have this 3D hallucination that takes us to other places and other situations and essentially nobody knows. There are some good theories. It does appear to have to do with good memory function, good logic, good reasoning, basically the brain needs it to survive, and to thrive and to be able to function properly, just general dreams. Why would lucid dreaming be part of dreams? It seems to be more on the spiritual mystical side.
Debi: I remember I’ve had a few lucid dreams, and I remember the next day feeling euphoric when I have them. It’s like this lightness, this joy as is if I just went too strong and cleansed my mind. I don’t know what it was. I wonder is it just because you are so aware? What’s that euphoric feeling?
Rob: I think it’s just a breakthrough in our consciousness that we realize well, there is this whole other level of reality in our mind, or our mind has all this power and this capability to really explore the world of consciousness, of dreams, in a different way. That realization just fills us with happiness and joy because it is such an incredible thing. Think about it, imagine having this wakeful consciousness but then stepping outside the door and flying up [crosstalk], and it feels like you are awake and you are flying or you’re doing all these incredible things but your body is fast asleep in your bed.
Debi: Sometimes when you were kids, a lot of children talk about dreams of flying or dreams of remembering that they could fly in their dreams, so we had a lot more experiences when we were younger but I remember, just so people can know what is a lucid dream, what does it feel like, I think it was when we first met, you weren’t there, and I woke up and I got out of bed and I walked down the stairs, and I saw my roommate, she was sleeping on the couch for some reason. It was like a balcony you can overlook, and I went to put my hand on the rail, my hand went right through the rail and I realized I was dreaming and I just was walking around and then I went back to sleep.
The next day she had woken up, she didn’t normally sleep there, so I’m like, “Okay, I knew I must have done something and maybe that was more out of body experience, but I felt like I was awake and I was just walking around in the house and I it was just this kind of sensation of, “That’s interesting. I must be dreaming because my hand was going through the rail.”
I was floating and I just remember the next day thinking, “Oh my God, I just feel so happy today and so alive.” It was just this amazing experience and I think it’s what you said, maybe it’s because you have experienced another realm of your own consciousness that you haven’t experienced before.
Rob: People who have not experienced a lucid dream, I know what you’re thinking, you’re probably saying, “Well, it’s just your imagination,” or “just a very intense dream,” but it’s not that. Like I said, this is well documented and it’s a psychological phenomenon that anyone can access. Now, having said that, there is a caveat, we do not want to use lucid dreams just for fun games.
Debi: Which a lot of those retreats where people go and do lucid dreams and it’s more just to leave your body and play around.
Rob: It’s to say, “Look at me I’m so wonderful, I can do this lucid dreaming thing.” In reality, it is a gift that’s given to us, human beings, this incredible– I think it’s more like a spiritual imagination that is given to us in order for us to cultivate our spiritual life in a very direct way and so always consider, “How can I use it to become a better person instead, to increase my awareness, my capacity for compassion, for love, for connectedness?”
Debi: Well, I think one of the things that lucid dreaming the benefits could be is that when you wake up in a dream and then you can direct that dream, you are actually building a muscle of your consciousness to be able in your waking life to say, let me bend this reality as well and so we start to see, for me it’s like the dream world and the waking world become the same material and so you’re not thinking, “Oh, that’s the magical part and there’s no rules there but here there are rules and everything solid.”
I think it just comes from a place of, if you come from the ego and you’re attached to the magic, you’re not going to really get the benefit from it but if you come from a place of individuation where you’re seeing these dreams or these experiences as a way to show how your mind works and how consciousness works, I think this is a great, great tool. The people are listening going, “How can I have a lucid dream? How can I do this? How can I learn how to do this?” What would you say?
Rob: There are techniques, we can talk about one in specific that we think is very safe, very natural.
Debi: No electrodes and lights going on your eyes, a lot of people use electronics or drugs to [crosstalk].
Rob: Nothing like that. There is a precedence for this in a whole discipline in Tibet Buddhism it’s called dream yoga. Dream yoga is using lucid dreams for spiritual development in essence. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing asanas in your dream although you could, I guess.
Debi: The downward dog [laughs].
Rob: Yoga is used more as a discipline of the mind. How can we discipline the mind through lucid dreaming? That’s the way we want to approach lucid dreaming, as a disciplining of the mind to cultivate it’s consciousness, it’s levels of awareness. One of the basic techniques is that while you’re awake, in this ordinary waking world, look at you hands and ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?”
Debi: “Am I dreaming? Am I dreaming? Am I dreaming?” You could do this right now at home.
Debi: “Am I dreaming?”
Rob: Don’t do it at work because you might get fired or something.
Debi: You can think it.
Rob: [laughs] Some people also, when they look at their watch, they make it a practice to ask, “Am I dreaming?” What they do is, they look at the watch, they look away and then look back at it. If it’s still the same, you know you’re in this waking state. If it has changed, then you might suspect you’re dreaming.
Debi: I know, because when you’re dreaming, you don’t know you’re dreaming. The reason why we have these techniques is that we start to wake up from them. I remember, before you told me about this technique, I remember having a lucid dream where I was flying through space, very crescent dream. I think you were on your way to around this planet, and I was looking at my hands going up and I’m like, “Oh.” I noticed the little freckles on my fingers and I was like, “Okay, I’m dreaming.” Because I could see my hands. When you told me that this technique I said, “That’s why I did that in that dream, I could see my hands,” so a part of me must have known about that.
I really like that one. One thing that I discovered myself is when I do visualizations, one thing I’ve realized is that, in visualizations, I’m always seeing throughout my own eyes and I’m seeing forward. I’m never looking behind me, so I’m seeing in that one direction. That’s basically how we are like, we don’t turn around all the time. We’re focused maybe on this very limited scope. What I started to do in my visualization is I would be in this place, and then I would be like, “What’s behind me?” and I would turn around and see the 360. I would just practice seeing the whole gamut of the experience.
I remember, when I started to do that every day, I think the seventh day, I woke up in a dream and I spun myself around in the dream and I said, “Oh my god I’m awake.” I was so excited and I was trying to make this tree grow and created a house and I was in this very grey, there was nothing there. It was like a virtual reality almost. It was very bizarre, but I remember thinking, “It was me practicing that.” When I was in the dream, I started turning around and then I realized I was awake. That’s another– my suggestion that I’ve discovered that really helps.
Again, we’re not getting attached to, “I have to have a lucid dream and it’s so great.” When we do, we start to see how powerful our mind is. Then if you can direct your dream, imagine what you can do in a waking world. Imagine waking up in life because most of our lives, we’re sleep-walking basically where our unconscious is doing all, we’re going through the motions with getting ready in the morning and eating, and we just go through our day at work and driving. We’re really in this fog of a dreamlike state and very, very infrequently are we wide awake. Do you think mindfulness would also be–?
Rob: Yes, definitely. Mindfulness is being aware in the immediate moment and focusing on what you’re doing in the moment and in real time. Meditation, we know helps. Visualization helps. Good sleep hygiene, which means you don’t–
Debi: Take a shower before you go to bed.
Rob: Don’t drink a lot of stimulants, coffee or sodas, a lot of sugar before you go to sleep. Certain rituals like taking a shower or meditating, relaxing before you go to sleep, all those things, we know increase the likelihood of having a lucid dream.
Debi: We could also mention to our clients is to set the intention that you’re going to have a lucid dream. Before you go to bed, you could do this with dreaming in general. Just say, “I’m going to remember my dreams.” And you’re setting that intention as you drift off. You can also set the intention, “I’m going to have a lucid dream.” The mind is so powerful, you could even say, “I’m going to wake up at seven o’clock,” and you will wake up at 7:00 AM that morning. Your mind will take orders from you.
Rob: The basic theory is this, like you said, when we are in a dream, we don’t know we’re dreaming most of the time. When strange things happen, we want to get into the habit of questioning that, “Am I dreaming?” You’re walking down main street in your town and all of a sudden you see a giraffe walking by, you can ask yourself-
Debi: Am I dreaming?
Rob: “Is this a dream?” or something. “This is strange. This is something unusual.” Those techniques, within the dream, will help you then wake up. Not wake up physically in the bed but wake up within the dream and become lucid.
Debi: Saying, “Am I dreaming?” throughout the day, looking at your watch throughout the day, “Am I dreaming?” look away, look at the time, and then being more mindful. Before you go to sleep at night, don’t have any stimulants, don’t eat lots of sugar, ice cream, take a shower, do some meditation, visualize before you go to sleep, set an intention to remember your dreams or to have a lucid dream. Those are all the recipe for having those wonderful mystical experiences. Be sure to write your dreams down, that’s one thing that’s really important. Even if you don’t know what the dream means.
Young said that if you write them down, and just read them, your psyche is going to transform because there’s a deeper part of yourself that knows what it means. From your dream life, you’re bringing it into the physical world and your higher consciousness. That’s what the dream is supposed to– It’s like taking stuff that you don’t know unconsciously to bring it forward. If you bring it forward on paper and pen, it’s a ritual for you to put it into the physical world and use it.
Rob: That’s a whole other aspect of dream working and lucid dreaming that now people are starting to use it for therapeutic purposes. Let’s say somebody has a phobia in real life or in waking life, you can use a lucid dream to confront that fear and practice. Let’s say, you’re afraid of heights, in the lucid dream, being consciously aware that you are within the dream, you’re not as fearful because you know that, “I can always wake up,” or “I can fly if I fall off the high building,” or something, then you can practice overcoming that fear in a gradual and a safe environment that’s created in your mind.
All those possibilities are just the tip of the iceberg. This whole area of how can we use lucid dreaming to improve ourselves, to become more conscious, more spiritual, more aware is just stunning. We want to do, in the future, maybe some workshops, maybe some–
Debi: We’re having a dream archetypal retreat next year in Athens, Greece, where we’re going to take a trip to the ruins, we’ll see the Parthenon, we’re going to look at all the amazing– Why are you smiling?
Rob: Oh, god no [crosstalk]
Debi: We’re going to see the ruins and talk about the archetypes and all the gods, the Greek gods, and see the archetypes within them and then perhaps a lot of dream experiences and meditative experiences. If you’re interested in joining us in Athens, in October of 2019, we’re going to be doing that as well. We also deal with dreams in any of our events, our live events here in the US and Europe.
I think dreams, to me, are [unintelligible 00:18:24] say they’re the royal road to the unconscious. I think dreams to me are the direct experience of your spiritual life. I have had ideas of what being spiritual is and what I believe is unknown and unseen and faith in the divine. Working with dreams, especially with lucid dreams, you really get to see what your consciousness is made of. It’s a beautiful practice. The more you can do it, the more you’re going to be enlightened and be aware of everything around you and your power that you have to really direct your life. Again, if you can direct the dream, you can direct your life.
That’s it for today. This is such a great topic. I’m glad you decided that you would bring it up. [laughs] Remember to tune in to the rest of our shows on iTunes and on Google Play and Spotify now. We just can’t wait to see you on the next episode. This is Debi and Rob, signing out.
Rob: See you soon.