What is Lucid Dreaming
by Ryan Craig
Lucid dreaming is dreaming while being aware you are dreaming. Lucid dreaming is usually induced by some sort of cue--something that indicates to the person that what they are experiencing is a dream, and not reality. Cues, however, are not necessary for becoming lucid; sometimes people become lucid without noticing anything strange or typical of dreams--they just spontaneously realize they are dreaming.
Being able to freely control your dreams doesn't directly follow becoming lucid. Lucid dreaming was defined as becoming aware you are dreaming; the actual level of awareness varies, however. When the level of lucidity is high, you are well aware that nothing you experience is real, and you have nothing to fear--you cannot be harmed by any situations that may seem dangerous. With low-level lucidity, although partially aware you are dreaming, you are not aware enough to have a great impact on your dream--you may accept some aspects of your dream that you would not normally accept in the ordinary world (you may not find it at all strange that you dog flies around the living room, etc.) With low-level lucidity, your realization may also fade and you may accept the whole dream as reality.
Even with high-level lucidity, it may not be possible to exert much control over your dreams--at least, at first. Although experience does play a part in how well you can control your dreams, your own belief and confidence is key. If you lack confidence in your dreams, you may fail at controlling them; if you believe in a dream that you cannot do something, it is very likely that you won't be able to.
However, instead of changing the dream, you could merely control your own behaviour. This kind of dream control is most beneficial during nightmares. Rather than attempting to change the dream, you can merely change your own attitude; by realizing it is merely a dream and that you cannot sustain physical damage, you can calm your fear, which is the only real part of the nightmare. Changing your attitude in such a manner usually transforms the nightmare into something more peaceful as well.
Is It Learnable?
An obvious question is, "Can I learn to lucid dream?" The answer is quite simple; yes. Lucid dreaming is like any other skill; some are born with the ability, while most must practice and work at it. Some time ago I got into a discussion with my sister regarding lucid dreaming. I was amazed to discover that she had the ability to lucid dream at will, and always had, as far as she could remember. In fact, she thought it was quite normal; she had no idea that most of us couldn't automatically have them.
How do I start?
The main prerequisite for having lucid dreams is above average dream recall. Although it may at first not seem like it, developing dream recall is fairly easy. For the most part, it takes only practice and motivation. These two necessities to developing dream recall are rather self-explanatory; if you want to get better at a skill you must practice; if you're not motivated, you won't practice. Once you have improved your dream recall to about 1 dream per night you can move on to attempting to induce lucid dreaming. Again, practice and motivation will become key components to your success at lucid dreaming.
How long does it take?
The length of time required to have steady lucid dreams varies, depending on the person. As stated previously, dream recall, practice, and motivation are all key components to successful lucid dreaming. Obviously, one who begins with excellent dream recall will require less time and effort than one who only occasionally remembers his or her dreams. I should note that lucid dreams are not necessarily only attained by vigorous practice and diligence; it is quite possible you have already experienced lucid dreaming, although you may not already know it. In fact, after reading this site on lucid dreaming, you may very well have a lucid dream tonight. However, attaining the ability to lucid dream at will requires effort on your part.
Although sleep may seem like a steady state, it actually consists of several stages that cycle thoughout the night. The types of brain waves (based on amplitudes and frequencies) determine the stages of sleep (brain waves and the stages of sleep will not be thoroughly examined here, as they are beyond the scope of this site.) Lucid dreams occur in the 5th stage of sleep, known as the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage. As the name states, the most profound characteristic of REM sleep is the bursts of rapid eye movement while dreaming.
One complete sleep cycle lasts about 90 to 100 minutes; therefore during an average sleep period a person will experience 4 to 5 complete sleep cycles. The sleep cycle begins with four stages of SWS (Slow-Wave Sleep) (also called NREM or Non-REM). These stages then quickly reverse, and are directly followed by the first REM period, roughly 90 minutes after falling asleep. Thus, the first REM period will last for about 10 minutes, as a new cycle begins about every 100 minutes. As the night proceeds, the length of stages 3 and 4 (also called delta or deep sleep) begins to wane, and the length of REM sleep increases, up to one full hour in length after a number of cycles. Therefore, as the night goes on, you dream for longer periods of time.
Dream signs are quite simply cues that you are dreaming. Dream signs often take the form of things or events that would be considered impossible or highly improbable in the waking world. Some examples of dream signs are breathing under water or flying among the clouds. For those of us who generally have "more realistic" dreams, the cues may take the form of something much more simpler, such as a light switch not working (device failure), suddenly returning to work at an old job, being late (very common), losing the ability to scream, showing up at school naked, etc. Another common dream sign (and one I personally have) is the inability to run--you find your legs won't move easily and you can only lurch forward quite awkwardly.
Strangely enough, if we are not intently looking for dream signs during sleep, we will accept everything--no matter how strange--as we would during the waking hours. If you suddenly found yourself in amazingly strange surroundings like in the above image, it may not occur to you to wonder how this is possible. Or, if you wake up one morning and find your gold fish has taken your car out for a joy ride around town, you probably won't at all find that strange. Rather, you may call the cellular phone in the car and ask your gold fish to bring the car back. Quite obviously, if you were allowed to think analytically in your dreams, the absurdness of this situation would be quite apparent to you; situations like this are dream signs. Quite to the contrary though, we tend to go with the flow in our dreams. Whatever happens, happens; we usually just go along for the ride.
Personal dream signs are dream signs that frequent your own dreams. You may find you often "wake up" without any hair, when the day before it was down to your shoulders; or, you often run out of gas on your way to write a final exam. To determine some of your personal dream signs, you need to actively keep a dream journal. After a number of entries have been entered, you should go through and make a list of the reoccurring dream signs. Your personal dream signs, as well as your ability to spot new dream signs, will aid you in inducing lucid dreams.
Before beginning to attempt lucid dreaming, you should have improved your dream recall; being able to remember at least one dream per night should be sufficient. There are numerous techniques to inducing lucid dreams. After some experience, you will probably come up with your own. On this site I will discuss only one, however, as I have had personal experience with it. This induction technique is known as the Reality Testing Technique, and is great for beginners. Reality testing depends solely on dream signs, and your ability to recognize them.
Reality Testing Technique
As the name suggests, the Reality Testing Technique simply involves trying to determine whether you are awake or dreaming, by deciding whether or not the world around you is real. If you determine what you are experiencing is not possible, then chances are you are dreaming. The first thing you need to do is to start actively looking for dream signs during the waking hours. Whenever something strange happens, don't simply dismiss it. Stop and really think about what happened, and decide whether or not it was possible. Obviously the answer must be yes if you are awake, but the idea is that if you get in the habit of these reality checks, you will eventually begin to perform them while dreaming. If you forget to look out for dream signs while dreaming, your personal dream signs may trigger your memory and remind you to perform a reality check.
Device failure is a very common dream sign, and is often overlooked. If you keep an active dream journal, go through and look for incidents when something electronic either didn't work at all or didn't work properly. You will probably find this happens quite a lot; in fact, more often than not when devices are concerned. When something stops working during the waking hours, stop and perform a reality check. Make sure what has happened is in fact possible, and that you are not dreaming.
Even if you have determined the strange occurrence is possible, perform one more unrelated test. Read some text, or glance at your watch. Wait a few seconds and then do it again. If the time or text inexplicably changes, then you are in fact dreaming. This is a very common dream sign; even if the time or text doesn't change, try to focus on changing it for a moment. If everything appears normal, then you're probably not dreaming.
Although performing the reality test every time something strange happens will help, you should do reality tests more frequently then that. A good idea is to assign certain times of the day to do reality tests, such as when you arrive home, or when you enter your bedroom, etc. If you diligently perform a quick reality test every time you come home or enter your room, chances are you will continue the same practice while dreaming. Then if in your dream you suddenly find yourself at home or in your room, you will automatically perform a reality test and (hopefully) determine you are dreaming. The more consistent you are at performing reality checks, the better this method will work for inducing lucid dreams.
One simple method I have personally tried is wearing a digital watch that chimes every hour. The chime reminds me to perform a dream check, and the digital screen on the watch allows me to perform that dream check. This is great for reminding you to perform dream checks during the day, but it depends on the chime as a reminder. Therefore you'll need to sleep with the watch nearby, so you'll be able to hear it as you dream. Unfortunately, this will only work with light sleepers; I have achieved little success with this method thus far, as I don't think I have been able to hear the chime while sleeping. Coupling this method with other methods (such as assigning times during the day, watching for strange occurrences, etc.) will lead to the greatest success.
Once you have become lucid, it is up to you to develop the ability to control your dreams. This will require a great deal of practice and experience on your part. In the beginning you may be able to exert some control on your dreams, such as changing the scene or situation, or controlling your own actions. In all likelihood, you will almost immediately awake the first time you become lucid (as I did.) I have included some tips that will help you maintain control in your dream, and prevent you from prematurely waking up.
At first, it will be difficult to continue dreaming after becoming lucid. The reason for this is upon realizing you are dreaming for the first time you will become really excited. If you still aren't convinced how amazing it is to be able to lucid dream, you won't understand until you have experienced it. It's like creating and living in your own world; the first time you experience it you'll be too excited to continue dreaming and you'll wake up.
To remain dreaming upon becoming lucid, you'll need to remain calm, and focus on the dream itself. As soon as you become lucid, remind yourself to stay calm. Pause for a moment to collect yourself, and take some time to explore the dream world around you. It may be as exotic as the included image, or something more similar to the real world. If you want to begin controlling your dream, don't become too aggressive, because again you'll probably wake yourself up. Calmly try to change aspects of your dream; just think about what you want to change and try to picture it changing. If you cannot succeed at this, try changing something else or just go along with the dream and control your own actions instead.
One method that works really well with both controlling your dreams and preventing waking is dream spinning (I have had success with this technique.) If the world around you suddenly begins to fade, or you see other signs of the dream ending, stop and just start spinning as you would have done as a child. When you stop you'll find the dream clarity has returned, and your surroundings will likely have changed as well. If you focus your intent on a particular situation while spinning, you will likely find yourself there when you stop spinning. You may need to do a reality test after spinning to remind yourself you are still dreaming. You can also try using verbal commands to both change your dream and stay within the dream.
While lucid, be weary of false awakenings--waking up within a dream. This is quite common (and has happened to me.) This can occur at any time during your dream; you'll just suddenly dream yourself waking up in your bed. It is very easy to accept this as waking up in the real world, as it will seem that you have left the dream world. It is always a good idea to perform another reality check upon waking up, just to be sure you aren't still dreaming.
Remember that you are in complete control once you become lucid, but it will take a little while to be able to wield this power properly. Don't allow yourself to become overcome with fear or frustration. If you are in a scary situation, try to change it, but don't become frustrated if you cannot change what you want to change. First try using the dream spinning method and pull yourself out of that situation entirely. If that still doesn't work, go along with the dream and constantly remind yourself that it is only a dream, and that you can control your own actions. You may find that the dream will eventually change if you change your attitude.
Visit Ryan Craig's site at www.dreamviews.com or E-mail him at email@example.com
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Introduction To Dreaming
by Ian Wilson
We all dream. Dreams can be of many different varieties. Their content can lend to beautiful dreamscapes with vivid colors, textures and sound. Dreams can be black and white, super-real and sometimes frightening. Dreams begin when we enter a state known as REM, or "Rapid Eye Movement." These movements from the eye may indicate where you're visually looking in a dream. They might also act as a metronome creating specific beat patterns, which create stages of brainwave activity to maintain certain states of consciousness needed for sleep and dreaming.
In this course, we will be introducing a series of techniques to develop a simple, easy-to-use routine, which will allow you to progressively dream. These techniques will also aid you in dreaming with more clarity, vision, detail, and more regularly.
If you are not a person who does not dream, or barely remember dreaming; then this course is definitely for you. If you do dream, then this course with help sharpen your skills and broaden the direction, you can explore while in a
dream state. My hope is that you find this course useful no matter what stage of dream development you experience.
What you'll need to start this course:
A Dream Journal
This is a free course. My expectation is that you participate of your own free will, with an open mind, and a desire to learn new things. I would like to ask for some feed back as to your progress. I would like to know how you are developing and what suggestions you may have to make this course better for everyone. Dream networking is also an interest of mine, where we have groups rather than just an individual working on dream exploration. You may want to start a small dream group to work with if you have not already. A group is sometimes necessary for the more enjoyable aspects of dreams.
The important thing that you must do (and this is the only real discipline that requires more than mental effort) is: record as clearly as you can, as much as you can, and in great detail every dream you have while sleeping at night during the time you participate in this course. If you do not record your dreams, then you will loose vital clues, information, adventures and research that are vital to your growth. Perhaps you are a doctor, and you dream a cure for cancer, because your mind was able to problem solve on a deeper more profound level? You could loose vital insights and clues if you do not record your dreams. Dreams are a wide open door of intellectual possibilities.
Why record dreams down? This helps with dream recall; it tunes you into dreaming on a more regular schedule. It helps you understand how your dreams work, what to expect, and how to progress further based on your recorded experiences. Dream Journals are like your own personal bible, except your writing this one, not reading it. If you can't take the time to record your dreams on paper, then record them on a tape. No matter what, this course will be of no use to you if you do not record your efforts. You will only benefit by writing them all down. If you can't commit to this discipline, then this course is of no use to you.
A tape recorder.
You may find it easier to wake up and verbally record your dreams. This helps if you are on a busy schedule and cannot commit the time in the morning to write the dream down.
You may want to record some of the lengthy affirmations in this course while you enter sleep to help remind you of your desired intent and focus. Take the time to prepare a tape should this help you when we begin to explore dreams on a more conscious level.
Why Do We Dream?
Have you ever wondered why we dream? Many mainstream psychologists believe we are just working out problems and anxieties. They feel that dreams are just some subjective construction of our sub-conscious mind with little or no value to us as a whole. Whether we remember them or not, we dream, animals dream. Almost anything with a complex brain seems to enter a dream state when asleep. As to how far, or how extensive this is, I do not know. I do know this: dreams are a vital part of our consciousness whether we accept that or not. Most importantly, you dream because you want to.
Why Remember Your Dreams?
What good is a dream if you can't remember it? Dreams offer useful insights into ourselves. Dreams connect us into more advanced, creative forms of problem solving, and expressive creativity. With out memory of a dreamed event, all of the usefulness that it may have in the future is lost to the veil of forgetfulness. If you are a precognitive dreamer, this helps you track and study your precognitive patterns of experience. It's your choice as to the value dreams have for you.
Techniques for Dreams and Dream Recall
The first step in dreaming is knowing, understanding and realizing that you dream when you sleep. Confronting "dreamer's amnesia" is the first barrier we have to overcome. In the following stages, we will have applicable techniques for overcoming this barrier and several others that get in the way of a good nights dream.
I have broken down the stages of dreams into four major groups. Each group applies a certain technique that relates to every other aspect of this course from dreaming too more advanced stages of conscious exploration. This is so we have a structure to follow. This structure creates more stability, routine and gives us a clearer understanding of what we are experiencing when we sleep at night.
Four Stages of Dreaming
Stage One is the stage you are in right now. It is you as "Waking State Consciousness." You are the focused part of a much more elaborate system of consciousness. What you are is the part of your self, which deals strictly with "Waking Physical Reality." You are responsible for experiencing life, survival, creating, thinking, problem solving, and learning.
Stage One will be used throughout this course for the initial pre-dream set up, and dream programming to achieve the states we desire. The purpose of stage one is to invite, and encourage our logical left brain to participate fully in the dream experience. This logical part of us is needed and is crucial in creating the lucid state of awareness we need.
Stage One begins at the edge of the bed; to the moment you lie down and close your eyes to physically fall asleep. When the body starts to sleep, you start to enter Stage two.
During the first week, the Introduction to Dreams begins to train you in understanding the importance of this vital stage of pre-dream sleep. Stage Two is where our mind begins to form a variety of sleep inducing patterns which inhibit our consciousness and cause us to collapse into an unconscious sleep.
Stage Two also deals with the majority of the barriers we must face, and the shifts in consciousness, which cause Hypnogogia. Hypnogogia will be extensively covered in this course, as our understanding of how it works will only benefit in our journey through this transformational stage of consciousness.
Pay close attention to the section on Hypnogogic Territories and Barriers. The purpose of this is to bring to your attention how powerful these states can appear. In addition, what to expect from these states. This will help you in disarming the pitfalls and traps, which trick us into an unconscious sleep so that you will remain conscious for the Lucid Dreaming segments of this course.
This is the actual dream. After we exit Stage Two, we enter the dream state. During this introduction, there will be no techniques other than the dream itself. Later, this section will include specific techniques for maintaining a waking state consciousness while in a Lucid Dream environment.
Stage two is the moment when you wake up. It is crucial for dream recall. Everything that happens here can either record or loose vital dream data. Stage four is the most important of all the stages. This is where we apply dream recall techniques and write down the dream in our journals or tape recorders.
The Hypnogogic Territories and Barriers.
Hypnogogic territories and barriers are very important factors, which inhibit our waking conscious growth into the areas of sleeping consciousness. By recognizing and understanding these barriers, one can disarm and remove them making a journey to sleep more productive and effective.
When you begin to fall asleep. Your mind begins to change from a waking state pattern known as Beta, and begins to change in brain wave frequency into Theta, Alpha, and then Delta. What occurs normally is before you realize what is happening, you are unconscious and asleep. The hidden factors to this become apparent anytime we begin to remain self-aware and awake during this consciousness shift.
The first thing we encounter is what I call the "Inversion of Senses." We are perception based and three-dimensionally structured, in our current pattern of consciousness. Dreams reflect our physical senses. While dreaming, we can hear audible sounds, see vivid colors, and feel tactile sensations.
When our physical senses invert from being focused 100% in the waking physical reality. They begin to take on the same normal patterns of perception, but this time they replicate their function in a non-physical dream reality. Staying awake for this inversion means you are going to pass through hypnogogic experiences as well as face a variety of psychological barriers.
This section deals strictly, with what you should expect from this conscious shift. This is to help prepare you for this shift from waking state consciousness to sleeping state consciousness. If you have ever fallen asleep with a song stuck in your head, and as you became more relaxed and more asleep, the song became more clear and loud. Then you have experienced part of what happens when our senses invert.
Hypnogogic Imagery: This imagery begins when your sense of sight begins to invert towards the dream realities, which we are learning to experience consciously. This begins from the blackness of your closed eyes, and the void of empty space in your REM screen. A visual stimulus is one of the first things to appear in your REM screen. This visual stimulus can start as colored pin-sized dots. Yellow is a very common color that these dots appear.
When we progress towards sleep, our mind begins to wander and think in elaborate visual patterns. These images faint at first begin to take on super-clear, vivid realism as we enter a Theta state of consciousness. If you watched TV, or played a long video game, images that relate to this stimuli might immediately form as soon as you close your eyes. You might start seeing clips of the movie you watched, or characters from the video game running around. All this visual stimuli is hypnogogic imagery.
Where this imagery becomes more real, and more apparent is when we are almost about to enter the
dream state. During the final phases, this imagery starts to take on depth and dimension forming space and fluid movements. You might see ghost like people walking in front of you. A street might form and in seconds, you find yourself in a dream on that very street.
It is important to know that this visual shift is normal, and these images are necessary for you to move through in order to have a visual lucid dream. Do not be frightened if the shift is sudden and visual. Knowing that you can see images and eventually 3-D settings in clear detail should not frighten you. This is what you want when you fall asleep into a dream.
Hypnogogic Sound: - In a slow, methodical way; our sense of hearing begins to invert towards the dream realities. From the dead silence of our minds, to the stirring of our verbal thoughts to ourselves. This faint audible inversion is a tuning process towards a lucid dream.
Sounds in this state can start as faint murmurs. As we progress towards a deeper state of lucid, relaxed sleep, these sounds take on more energy, more reality and more clarity. You are more likely to react and push away a loud sound than you would a hypnogogic image. We react to sound and part of our early child hood fears is the fear of loud noises.
When you begin to hear a hypnogogic sound. You will most likely force the sound back and wake up. This is common for most people, as we are not used to having such a loud, clear sound resonate in our mind. Dreams are very real in their appearance at a lucid level. Knowing that you can hear sounds as loud as you hear them when you are physically awake prepares you for the shock of that realization when you first experience it.
Music, voices, popping sounds, explosions, banging, car's honking, and much more possible sounds come flowing from our
dream state into our initial hypnogogic experiences in Stage Two. You can use these sounds as a guide to a dream rather than forcing them away. You may also notice that your thinking becomes these sounds. That you can think in any sound you desire.
What ever the sounds are, know that it's a very safe, normal and natural thing to experience if you are entering sleep on a more lucid, conscious level. Proper preparation and experience will help you become more comfortable with this shift as you progress further in this course.
Tactile Sensations: From the physical waking world, to the magical world of dreams; our sense of touch which encompasses our whole body also begins to invert. Hypnogogic tactile experiences have a realism that I find just a little short of what we experience here. They are seldom painful, rather, more electrical in sensation.
Vibrations, numbness, tickling patches are very common indicators of this stage of hypnogogia. As we progress to towards the
dream state, hypnogogic states begin to blend and form the lucid dream reality we are preparing to experience. An example, which happened to me once that woke me up, was this: I was lying in bed, and I started to see a 3-D setting appear. A red rubber ball flew from the window of my REM screen, and I automatically reacted by grabbing the ball with my dream hand.
The ball hit my hand with such force that I was startled back to a full state of wakefulness. I could feel the weight of the ball, the texture and all things one would attribute to a real ball. The shock of this kind of realism sent me back to Stage One. All the effort it took to get me through Stage Two was lost, and I hat to continue my journey by starting all over again. The emphasis on how real these experiences will feel is important to understand.
Vibrational energy can sometimes increase so violently that people have experienced intense surges of harmless, painless electrical vibration. My earlier experiences with these vibrations felt like I was being electrocuted by 10000 volts of harmless electricity. The experience actually felt pleasant and I enjoyed it for the time it lasted before I entered a lucid dream.
Hypnogogic Taste and Smell: Like all our senses, these two senses can invert into the
dream state. This inversion through Hypnogogic Territories is much rarer and less common then the other three senses listed above. Taste and smell are the two least noticed senses of dreams. This does not mean we cannot taste or smell in a dream, it just means we are not as likely to experience this much detail in one given dream.
During the initial stages of hypnogogic, taste and smell is usually linked to a strong hypnogogic image in the form of an object, which you are actively interacting. One example is a hypnogogic cup of hot chocolate I was drinking. At first, it was simple imagery constructed by my creative thoughts. As I progressed towards the dream, the hot chocolate shifted into a fully tactile experience where I could taste/smell/see/touch and feel the heat of the beverage as if I was physically awake and drinking it.
My experiences with this depth of hypnogogia are rare. I have very few recollections of taste and smell while in these initial stages. However, my dreams can be super-real and reflect all the qualities of my waking physical life.
Dreamer's Amnesia: In the 10 years of my experience as a lucid dreamer; this barrier has been one of the most simple to overcome. Many times I have achieved lucidity in a dream, only upon wakening to find that this state of dreamer's amnesia blocked the memory of the event, until something later triggered the memory.
Knowing that when a fully lucid dream can be lost to this barrier, it is no wonder that many people loose vital memory of dreams to forgetfulness. All of this can be eradicated with a mild dedication to dreaming, and dream recall. By just attempting to remember your dreams on a nightly basis will enhance dreaming and dream recall.
Abstract Thoughts: Our analytical mind is probably the most vital tool for lucid dreaming and dreams in general. Yet, it is the most rejected and neglected aspect of dreaming. When we begin to loose our battle to hypnogogic states, nothing makes this more evident than how our thoughts begin to loose their analytical sharpness.
If you begin to notice that you are thinking about totally illogical things as if they made total logic sense to you. This is a good indicator of this barrier. In addition, your thoughts begin to interact with hypnogogic stimuli, such as, you start to engage in conversation with the upcoming dream without realizing you are reacting to the stimuli. You are about to loose total consciousness if you are not careful.
Abstract thoughts just imply that your natural pattern of sleep where your logical mind turns off and you enter sleep is still habitual. This bad habit of shutting down this important tool of logic and reason because we are dreaming is the fundamental reason why we loose control and barely dream at all.
My technique for recognizing these is through experience after experience of realizing that I changed to accommodate Hypnogogia, rather than changing the Hypnogogia to accommodate me. My mind would wander and become unfocused, I would begin to start to dream and not realize that I was dreaming. Every intent and desire I had was soon lost, and the next thing I would know, I was waking up and 8 hours had gone by.
If you change the hypnogogia, as I will teach during this course, to accommodate you. You can use it as a powerful vehicle to travel consciously into the dream state in a safe, efficient and fun manner. If the hypnogogia changes you, you enter the dream unconsciously and become void of everything you desired, unless you re-awaken in the dream, which does happen if you practice dreaming techniques regularly.
Ignorance Barrier: The foremost dream destroying barrier we face. This barrier is cause by a belief that we do not dream. Beliefs like, "We cannot dream consciously," and dreams are not important;" all add to the strong barriers that we impose on our dreamlife activities. Our logical mind can easily accommodates what ever you believe. In addition, it acts as a powerful filter to block out, and deny certain natural functions of dreaming. It also closes your mind to any possibility, which entails much of the more advanced stages of this course.
Over coming ignorance is something we all progress towards in our daily lives. Experience, learning and understanding how something works, and how you can work with that knowledge soon removes this barrier. Just knowing you dream is a major step in over-coming this barrier. Experiencing for yourself what I explain in this course will also help replace ignorance, with a tangible, viable memory and experience.
Belief Barrier: A close relative to the ignorance barrier. The belief barrier is a series of misconceived ideologies about dreams. Belief lacks evidence and personal experience and tends to be adopted by people who share similar beliefs. A belief can be the notion that only certain people dream. Alternatively, a belief that if you die in your dream, you die in your sleep. Beliefs also are accommodated by our logical mind, which will support and create as best it can, what we believe.
Personal experience and personal realization through dreaming will soon turn beliefs into a powerful system of truth through knowledge and experience in regards to dreaming. You now have first hand experience where you explored some, if not all of your conscious potential in these sleep related states.
Fear Barrier: Fear is the one great barrier many people face. Fears can be anything from reaction to over-stimulation from hypnogogia without preparation or knowledge of these states. Fear triggers a fight or flight survival drive needed for physical survival, but not for dream experience. Fear gets in the way of our dreams, and has to be resolved, transformed or eliminated when we go to sleep at night. An encouraging thing I say to someone who is timid with the power of dreaming is this:
Have you ever been physically hurt by a dream? Other than scaring you, has a dream ever really hurt you? How many times have you fallen asleep and dreamed something frightening? You always wake up no matter what. Dreams cannot hurt or kill you. Death while asleep is because of other physical health related issues and medical problems, not from dreaming.
The fear of death is another factor, which can stop people from dreaming. I laugh every time someone who has no experience with dreaming claims the old myth that if you die in your dreams; you die in your sleep. Let me tell you this, I have been shot, stabbed, poisoned, rendered by animals, mutilated by vehicle crashes, sliced by swords, eaten by dinosaurs, hit in the chest from artillery fire and the list goes on. I have died so many times in dreams that I have lost count. 26 years later, I still live a normal life, and dream regularly at night. Moreover, I stopped dying at the age of 16 when I learned to lucid dream. That was the last of my nightmares as well.
The worst thing that a lucid dreamer experiences, once he is trained and proficient at dreaming is, waking up from a great dream. We are now able to becoming more conscious of areas we already exist in unconsciously by being conscious. By removing dream amnesia, we replace it with the full memory of our dream-life.
If you can control the dream, why not just change it? Courage is a powerful tool in facing fear. Think of how it felt the first time you stood at the edge of a high diving board, and your friends urged you on to take the plunge. Your survival imprint screamed, "No!" but you knowingly observed the experience. It appears harmless and fun, people survive the dive... so did you take the plunge? If so, what encouraged you to take the plunge? Why take such a exhilarating risk? Because it's fun! We are here to face fears and replace them with knowledge on how to react to certain situations effectively. Being frightened because fear controls you will only stop you from the more enjoyable aspects of dreaming such as the beauty, the richness, the love, the joy, the freedom and the sharing which dreams can provide for us. Fear can also control your physical life, and impose limits on the wonders that life itself offers.
Nightmares are the main reason why people block out dreams. Early child hood experience with nightmares can end a lifetime of dream recall. Nightmares end the moment you take control of your fears. When you are the master of your dreams, nothing stands to challenge you. Perhaps this newfound freedom can unlock many of the chains that fear binds us. Dreams should be fun, not frightening.
Sanity Barrier: Next to dying, this is the second greatest fear many of us face. The fear of loosing our sanity. Sleeping, dreaming and enjoying the freedom to express in these natural mediums is not cause for any forms of insanity. Mental Disorders are from other factors such as known diseases like: Schizophrenia. We question our sanity when challenged by experiences we cannot explain or define. Anytime something enters our awareness which we as a person cannot properly accept or process triggers this barrier.
An example is a person who catches something out of the corner of their eye. Their first response is to look for the cause of the motion. If that is not then seen, it is common to look for it, or ask the closes person to us if they had seen it. If they say no, we commonly drop the perception all together. Maybe we did see something, perhaps a cat running under a shrub. The fact is; we tend to ignore and filter things outside our perception if we cannot recognize it as being something routine or familiar.
When we start to sleep at night. We are not properly trained by our schools/religion/society to enter sleep consciously on a regular basis. Not that lucid dreaming is a unnatural talent, just a socially deficient skill due a history of fears, superstition and a repressed consciousness. Lucid dream enters a grey area where people start to question another person's sanity because they lack the experience of lucid dreaming on regular basis. This preconceived judgment and ignorance can prevent that person from ever exploring this natural resource of consciousness.
Hypnogogia forces us to face a lot of corner of the eye perceptions. Our thought process and mental makeup transforms! Very real and powerful experiences cascade from who we are as a system of consciousness. The sudden flashes of color, the exploding sounds, the vibrations all cause people to react differently, and most process it through this fear barrier by forcing it away and blocking it out because the experiences are so strong. This is normal, and we all do it until we get comfortable. Rushing too fast can cause fear if a person is not prepared for the reality of dreaming.
I have spared no hidden truths when I say that you will experience vivid tactile/auditory/visual changes when you lucid dream. At first, you might push it away, and it might intimidate you. On the other hand, you might do the best thing, which is embrace the experience, and learn to create with it. What ever it is, these issues must be addressed. Dreaming does not cause insanity. Medical conditions that occur for medical reasons in people who have a form of mental illness, comes from many clinical reasons, not from dreaming. Don't worry, if you have dreamt in the past, or lucid dreamt in the past and it caused you to question your grip on reality. Relax and know that you are much more than these irrational fears.
Frustration Barrier: This barrier is for people who want something so bad, they block the experience. Many people who are taking this course have heard or read something somewhere about dreams and lucid dreaming, but have little or no experience with it. If you are one of these people then you know how it feels when you are working hard at every technique, read every book, and tried every tape relating to these areas not to experience a single damn thing. You are not alone.
In this course, the approach is passive, not aggressive. There is a real graceful art to dreaming which is much like wind passing through a wind-chime. You have to learn to balance, and let go of too much control. Key words such as allowing, desiring, and asking to experience will help in easing off too much intensity.
This can take time for some people, and practice. Frustration and anger because of a lack of experience in these areas, and a lack of results can make it more challenging later on because now you have to face and remove the frustration and anger before you can enter a state of passive lucid dreaming. You have to allow, not try. Knowing the difference between trying something, and allowing yourself to experience something, is very different. In addition, language makes it difficult to convey these differences. Know that there is a difference between trying to hard, and allowing it to be. Try, but don't try too hard.
Stage Two is where hypnogogic experiences are first dealt with. That is why Stage Two is such a vital part to understand.
Stress/Anxiety/Fear Reduction Techniques
This course also offers simple easy-to-use techniques for helping you deal with stress, anxiety and fear to help loosen the load of excess baggage most of us are burdened with, and carry around. There is an art to living, and an art to dreaming. Both areas can be used effectively in stress reduction, and character building. If you are burdened by stress/anxiety/fear, it is important to recognize the symptoms of these kind of toxic patterns in our lives. Stress can be caused by a variety of things such as work-overload, finances, family, friends, crisis moments, and all of this just adds to a stress battery we all have. It is important to drain the load on this battery and we can do that both with dreams, and while awake. Anxiety and fear can also be factors of stress so we must learn to eliminate these as well in our life. Fear is one area I like to focus heavily on since it seems to be the number one inhibitor in the expansion of consciousness. Understanding that fear is a barrier, and a controlling one at that, allows us to knowingly disarm certain fears.
Walking Meditation with Eyes Open
This meditation is designed to take something negative that exists as a stored emotion or thought, and replace it with something simple, beautiful, and positive. It is designed to clear out the heavier negatively stored emotions by using a simple transformational process.
If you live near a park, a flower garden, a hiking trail or a lake, this is a good opportunity to just get out and do a walking meditation with the intent to create balance and harmony with yourself. There is a part of us, which exists in a state of pure peace and tranquility. This part of us, is not affected in the same manner by the stress, anxiety and fears we have.
If you can walk, then do so. Go out and absorb how perfect nature is. Breath deep breaths of air and let in the peace and tranquility, breath out letting go all the stress, anxiety and fears. Do not define them, just generalize and let them go. Walk slowly, eyes open and replace the stress, anxiety and fear with the natural scenery you have before you. As you breathe, focus on this eternal peace, and let it flow through you.
Let go of all your worries, anxieties, anything that bothers you with each breath. This technique is relatively simple and effective if you really want to harmonize with beauty and peace. Even thinking about peace, induces a new field in your physical system and causes you to relax. Breathing is vital in moving oxygen through the body. A slow, passive breathe while thinking about peace, tranquility and love creates these kinds of emotional energies which are the best for replacing undesired emotions and thoughts.
Sitting Meditation With Eyes Closed
If you do not have a nice place to walk, then we can do the same meditation but with eyes closed. Sit in a quite comfortable chair, or lay down on a couch or bed. Make sure that you are free from any disturbances. Turn off any TV, stereo, telephone, etc. Let people know you are taking a 20-minute breather from your regular routing and let them join in or respect your quite time.
Start by closing your eyes and take a deep breath. Be intent on being focused. Let the breath go slowly. Feel your body calm down and relax. Visualize a nice beautiful park, lake or scene. This doesn't have to be clear; no images need to arise. Just imagine how nice it would be to feel the air, the smell of flowers, the shape of trees, the color of the blue sky. Each time you breath in, draw in peace, love and tranquility. Breathe out letting go any stress or anxiety. Replace it with calm, peaceful images and ideas.
If you are too agitated or hot headed, imagine a nice cool rain falling on you, each drop taking a piece of that anger, or irritation and cooling you off. Make everything nice, fluid and peaceful. Always replace the energy you release with something that heals you such as peacefully images, and love.
Instant Stress Release
This is a technique for anyone who becomes stressed in a way where you start to react irrationally, lashing out at people/things. It is important to control the emotions that control you. We are heavily influenced by many things, which we cannot deal with all at once. It is our own inability to choose a calm, peaceful approach to problem solving. We blame the out-of-our-control elements that trigger the strong emotional response.
If you are at work, school or play, and something triggers a heavy emotional response. Instead of screaming, acting out in anger, or repeating any old pattern for dealing with that charged emotion. Stop yourself immediately. Calm yourself in your mind. Tell yourself to relax. Take up to 20 deep breaths. Sometimes you have to leave the place causing the stress and go for a walk. Do so if it means you won't punch a wall or worse, a person.
When you see a person getting all fired up, telling them calmly to relax and go for a walk can help them calm down. It's better to solve problems with a calm, rational mind, than making them worse with out-of-control emotions. Breathing is a fundamental stress reliever. The desire to remove stress is a powerful tool to also combat the stress. It takes being responsible for your emotions and stress; there is some work in dealing with stress. If you are willing to do the work, it's becomes quite easy. The benefits are both for you and those around you.
Techniques for Refining Dream Quality
This technique is something you can do in the day. With dreams in mind, look at how detailed everything is. Take some time to dedicate yourself to refining dreams by observing how clear color is, how the wind feels against your skin, how an apple or a chocolate bar tastes. When eating something like Ice Cream, take the time to really record all the tactile sensations, and tell yourself that you are mapping out the qualities that you like in this world, so you can revel in them 10 times over in dreams.
Being dream minded, compare how these things feel in a dream to how they feel in our waking physical reality. Find the things you enjoy, and as you enjoy them, dedicate a mental thought that what you are doing is developing keen, clear, tactile dreaming skills. Be observant to detail and feelings. This technique is a form of cognitive mapping.
When you fall asleep, take a moment to try to remember in as much detail as you can something you did today. My more favorite things to remember are things like ice cream and hot chocolate. Focusing on the way this tastes/feels/smells/looks begins to shift my awareness until the thought becomes more tactile and vivid in my mind. Try to get the temperature, taste and texture down to a 100% match. This technique has worked for me many times over.
This cognitive mapping technique shows us that we can remember and re-create physical objects with clear, controlled attention focusing. This is done with more than our verbal language. We can remember ice cream as if we were eating it again. Smell, taste, texture, size, shape, color etc all can be encoded and recalled using this technique. It takes a little time and practice; this shows in the quality of your dreams.
Seeing Through Your Mind
For this technique, understand that everything you experience is the product of your mind's ability to perceive, understand and effortlessly "re-create" the external physical world you exist in. Know that all the external sensations are a mind-created projection of how you perceive reality to be, based on your ability to perceive.
This mind-based re-creation of reality is what I want you to look at. Know that your mind is what is creating reality for you. Not the other way around. Reality only exists because you are somehow aware that you exist, and that you have an ability to sense a reality. This cognitive function automatically generates a personal objective, your personal objective point in a stream of infinite energy and patterns.
The end result, what we hope to be, in as accurate detail, the re-created interpretation of endless waves of light particles, energy wave forms and other complex fields of energy which we are translating into our conception of reality. This can be a profound realization to a some of people, but this is a safe, effective way to show you just how powerful your mind really is. Sit down, relax and do something. What ever you want but make sure that this time, you are aware that everything you are observing is just the product of your mental faculties. That the colors, the textures, the sounds, the objects are all just mer mental representations that your mind is re-creating from sensory data. Everything you observe is the product of your mind's perceptional abilities and is clearly, concisely flowing in perfect detail from your mind. The trillions of pieces of information all perfectly broken down, categorized and re-created by your natural thought process. Notice how when you become aware that this sense of reality exists only in your mind, how true that realization can be.
I am not saying that an external reality does not exist. But for us the observer, all we get to see is a personal objective point that we are mentally responsible for creating effortlessly every time we are awake and observing this experience. Everything must go through you before you can recognize it, observe it and learn from it. Knowing that the very reality you exist in, is also a mental reconstruction helps you hone in on very basic, fundamental powers of the mind.
Do you realize just how much information your mind is computing to create this reality in a given second? All the varieties of color, all the sounds, all the shapes, everything you experience is a product of the mind. And if a computer were to generate what your mind does in a second, it would probably cost trillions of dollars to build something that could effortlessly re-produce data, categorize it, understand it, interact with it, not to mention all the thinking and daydreaming we can do at any given moment. Our minds are super-reality generators both here, and in dreams. I don't think people really give the mind much deserved credit.
Think of yourself as a big sensory machine that is just interfacing with a reality system. Your primary goal is gathering data, and outputting a detailed map of that data as it appears to your sensory abilities. What do you see? - A splendid humanized view of this massive universe. It's still your own personal view.
You will see with dreams, how this whole process of experience comes down to your ability think on many different areas of your consciousness. Dreams are an elaborate expression of a multitude of thoughts we have conveying effortlessly in a dreamtime reality. If you are lucid in a dream, look at the dream knowing you are looking at your thoughts creating a pocket-reality for you to play with. The mind does have the ability to create reality; dreams are the first moment where we realize that this is evident. Precognitive dreams and lucid precognitive dreams become more evident that reality is a created experience, if we progress consciously into these layers.
The Lazy-Man's Technique
This is one of my more favorite techniques once we start to progress towards a mind-awake, body-asleep state. If you are a person who can wake up, then fall back asleep comfortably, then this technique may help you. When we first go to sleep at night, our mind is tired and needs some down time. The initial first few hours of sleep tend to be deep and nearly void of dreams. It makes it more difficult to attain the needed mind-awake, body-asleep state if you are to mentally exhausted to do so.
By allowing yourself to sleep for 4-6 hours first, then waking up and taking the time to go to the bathroom, clear your head and focus on your intent. The second sleep tends to produce more dreams, more states of lucidity and more of what we desire to achieve with this course.
Your body, which needs around 8 hours of sleep at night, tends to still be tired; however, the mind tends to be more active. When you feel physically tired enough to go back to sleep (I usually feel this after 30 minutes of being awake), then return to sleep and apply the techniques. Apply the techniques twice, once in the initial sleep, and again if you use this technique. That also helps you to benefit more from the course.
This routine and technique is very effective in generating much of the desired experiences we are discussing.
Dream Recall Techniques
Dream recall is crucial for this course. The process of being aware of dreams both before sleep and after waking is one step of dream recall. The second step is preparing yourself to dream before sleep. Upon waking, knowingly take a few moments to ask yourself what you dreamt. Detail-by-detail, document the recalled memories.
Doing this each night, is a major advantage to your dream recall abilities. Waking up suddenly to loud noises and alarms also inhibits dream-recall by causing a shock-awake effect that can cause dream amnesia. It is best to wake up unassisted when you have the time to do so. With good practice, you can recall dreams no matter how you were woken up.
Ian Wilson's passions are dreams, consciousness and helping people help themselves. He believes that dreams are more than just a doorway to another world; they are a direction that humanity as a whole can embrace towards newer levels of conscious evolution. Visit his website at www.lucidmetro.cjb.net E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dreams and their Psychic Nature
by Dale Graff
In 1952, researchers at the University of Chicago were monitoring eye motions on subjects sleeping in a laboratory setting. They observed frequent periods of rapid eye movement (REM) throughout the night. The subject, when awoke right after these REM cycles, recalled dreams even though they had very little previous dream recall. Further dream cycle studies showed that most people dream at least 6 - 8 times a night. Our initial dreams are usually brief; toward morning they can be 60 - 90 minutes long.
Over a century ago, psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung had studied the dream state and worked with dreams of their clients. Early cultures, such as the Greeks and most aboriginal people, held dreams in high regard. Our society has disregarded and even ridiculed the dream state. REM research formally reopened that window into our mind that had been neglected for many centuries. Over the past several decades, many studies have been made that examine the physiology of sleep and dreaming. Sleep clinics that focus on sleep disorders are becoming part of our medical centers. It has been found that people deprived of their dream cycle experience a variety of physical and psychological difficulties. We need our dreams for health and wellness. Excessive use of certain drugs or alcohol greatly disrupts our REM dream cycle, and can lead to serious sleep disorders.
While the physiology of dreaming is accepted as important from a medical point-of-view, the significance of dream content varies. Some researchers can find only random patterns that have no specific meaning; others observe that dream content can be highly significant. The dream state is very flexible and is influenced by our attitudes toward dreaming. Our subconscious mind is open to creating meaning out of chaos and can give us dreams that have insight for problem solving and relationship issues. Dreams can be the source of new ideas. Many creative people, such as writers, artists, and inventors, rely on dream state material for inspiration and story lines. Thomas Edison used 'cat naps' for insight. Robert Louis Stevenson's novels came from dreams. Einstein had childhood dreams that called attention to relative motion and helped motivate him to pursue relativity and gravitational theories.
Since the dream state is a highly relaxed condition, it would be logical to expect dreams to be a productive place for psychic experiences. Parapsychologists find that some degree of relaxation is necessary for success in their laboratory experiments to minimize interference from our conscious thoughts. Sleep is an altered state that we all easily experience, so why not look for psychic experiences during dreaming?
In fact, many people do report dreams that they later discover to have been psychic. Between 1930 - 1960, Dr. Louisa Rhine evaluated over 10,000 cases of spontaneous parapsychological (psi) or psychic events, and found that over half of them occurred during dreams. Most of these psychic dreams were about future events (precognition) that came true. They ranged from tragic incidents to the mundane or trivial; they were about loved ones or strangers.
Critics usually claim people are not capable of judging if a dream, or any other psychic experience, is actually psychic or due to coincidence and wishful thinking. However, many of Dr. Rhine's cases involved highly unique incidents that were difficult to attribute to chance alone. Laboratory findings that support the existence of psi argue in favor of such experiences as valid psychic events.
In the 1970s, a medical facility in New York City formally tested the psychic side of dreams. Using the new REM instrumentation, people remained in their laboratory over night to study 'dream telepathy.' Whenever a REM cycle was observed, a researcher woke them and had them describe their dream. The objective of the experiment was to have the dreamer 'dream' what a laboratory assistant was observing in a distant room, throughout the night. A variety of 'targets,' art prints, photos and sketches were used. A simple evaluation scheme was developed where judges would compare the dream material to four targets, one of which was the real one. If the judges found a match with the real target, then simple statistics could be used to compare results to chance guessing (one of four). Over the years, over one third of the experiments were 'hits,' thereby providing a significant deviation from chance. This result demonstrated that 'something psi' was going on, and that the dreamer was able to access the intended target, though not every time. The unusual, out-of-context dream element usually was a key aspect of the target picture.
While statistics were used to make a case for psi, close examination of the actual dreams was even more convincing. In many cases, the exact elements of the target showed up in the dream action. Other researchers achieved similar results, while some did not. However, dream investigators since then have found that psychic dreams are much easier to experience in an individual's own home, and not while wired up in a laboratory ? an obvious conclusion. Most people who recall dreams which prove to be psychic, are struck by the dream's vividness, or have strong intuitive feelings at wake-up, that makes them alert to the dream's psychic nature. Many times, their psychic dreams were in direct response to a critical issue or concern, such as the well-being of a distant loved one.
Over the past half century, some progress has been made in having psi, and the psychic side of dreams, taken seriously by dream investigators and therapists ? as well as people who simply want to remember dreams. Many dream workshops and dream programs exist that help people explore the many dimensions of dreams for themselves ? to let them make their own judgment of what is true or not true. With a desire to explore psychic dreaming, and with basic approaches to evaluating the results, there is no reason why anyone, regardless of age or background, can't be psychic in their dream state. Sleep (and dreaming) is a natural process; dream content can be shifted from random patterns to something meaningful by desire alone.
We all can see the psychic side of our dreams if we want to do so. Psychic dreams can be of tremendous help and can make our lives more efficient. They can even be life saving. Why not explore the psychic side of your dreams?
Dale Graff is a physicist and former Director of Project Stargate (the government program that investigated remote viewing phenomena). He has appeared on countless TV shows and is sought as a presenter on PSI topics. His website is at www.dalegraff.com E-mail: email@example.com
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Dreams And Dreaming:
The Unconscious Speaking To Us
By Pamela Ryan
If you are working with your own dreams, you may find this list of questions helpful. They are adapted from two sources: The Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual by Strephon Kaplan-Williams (where you will find a much longer, more extensive list of such questions) and a "Dream Journal Form" (author unknown) given to me by a former student.
How am I, the dream ego, acting in this dream?
(aggressive, assertive, passive, active, etc...)
What are the various feelings/emotions in the dream?
(both "mine" and those of other characters...)
What is the context of the dream?
(What is going on in my life right now?)
In the dream, who are the main characters?
Who (or what) is the adversary?
Who (or what) is being wounded?
Who (or what) is being healed?
Who (or what) is my companion?
Did I dream of actual people, or imaginary people?
Could the characters all be different aspects of myself?
What are the outstanding features or symbols in the dream?
(For example: flood, animals, house, etc.) How might these features relate to me, my emotions, or my personality?
How does the dream as a whole relate to my personality?
What are the main actions in the dream?
What would I like to avoid in the dream?
What does the dream want from me? What actions might it be suggesting that I consider?
Does the dream trigger any memories? Do any of the elements of the dream relate to my past? Why might this part of my past be called to my attention now?
Does the dream trigger any further questions?
Why did I need this dream? What is its positive message for me?
Please feel free to copy and distribute this list. Good luck in working with your dreams!
Here are a few techniques you might try, when working with your dreams.
LOOK FOR PATTERNS and recurring themes in your dreams. If you don't "get it" the first time, your brain often sends you the same dream-message again. Many people experience recurring dreams, or even recurring nightmares. That's just your brain, trying to get your attention and convey an important message to you!
Try VIEWING EACH CHARACTER in the dream AS AN ASPECT OF YOURSELF. For example, if there is a "devil" in the dream, see what happens if you view that character as "the devilish/destructive part of myself". Even if the character is someone you know "in real life" try using this technique. Instead of your mother, maybe the character represents the motherly part of you, or a part part of you that is like your actual mother.
EXPLAIN YOUR DREAM IN THE SIMPLEST, MOST BASIC TERMS POSSIBLE. Pretend that you are explaining it to a Martian, who needs you to define almost every word. So for example, if your dream involved a car, imagine that a Martian doesn't understand what a "car" is. You must explain that a car is a device you use for transportation--to get from one place to another, to move forward. You may be surprised by the meanings that are revealed!
TRY ROLE-PLAYING VARIOUS DREAM CHARACTERS. Some people find it helpful to imagine that they have returned to the dream, and then they engage dream characters in imaginary conversations. So if you dreamed about a mysterious shadowed figure, you might question the figure, asking, "Who are you?"..."Why do you hide yourself from me?"..."Why have you come to me?"...
USE DREAMWORK MANUALS to explore your dreams. Some books are more helpful than others. Look through a book and its suggested exercises before you decide to purchase it. One person might find a particular manual's methods hoakey, while someone else might find them extremely helpful.
CONSULTA DREAM DICTIONARY (BUT BE VERY SKEPTICAL). There are many such dictionaries. Sometimes, the listings can provide you with insights. Other times, the suggestions are pretty silly. Only accept an interpretation if it "clicks" and feels right to you. (I steer toward dictionaries with interpretations based on psychology, rather than on magical meanings.)
SHARE YOUR DREAMS WITH OTHERS, and get their input. Again, do not accept friends' interpretations unless they feel right to you, giving you an "aha!" feeling of recognition.)
Good luck working with your dreams!
Pamela Ryan is the author of numerous articles located at various websites and she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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