Lucidity Letter - June 1987 - Vol. 6, No. 1

Lucidity Letter

Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach



Dreaming (&Waking) Lucidity and Healing

A Proposal: Can Lucid Dreaming Effect Immunocompetence? - Andrew Brylowski

Lucid Dreams or Resolution Dreams for Healing? - Strephon Kaplan Williams

Comment on Strephon Kaplan Williams Article - Katrina Romana Machado

Utilization of Awake Dreams for Therapeutic Intervention - Diane Jones

Research Reports and an at Home Research Project

Psychological Content of "Consciousness" During Sleep in a TM Practitioner - Jayne Gackenbach and William Moorecroft

Flying Dreams and Lucidity: An Empirical Study of Their Relationship - Deirdre Barrett

At Home Research Project: Lucid Dreaming Exercises and Questionnaire - Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach


Interview With Physicist, Fred Alan Wolf, on the Physics of Lucid Dreaming

Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations

A Journal of Attempts to Induce and Work with Lucid Dreams: Can You Kill Yourself while Lucid? - Bruce G. Marcot

Dream Light: Categories of Visual Experience during Lucid Dreaming - George Gillespie

Problems at Refining the "Lucid" Label: Shooting at a Moving Target - Elinor Gebremedhin

Awake in the Dark: Imageless Lucid Dreaming - Linda L. Magallon

Dreams of Lucid Dreams - Darrell Dixon

Is an OBE a Dream or Are Dreams Just OBEs? - Janet Mitchell



Book Reviews

Kenneth Kelzer's The Sun and the Shadow: A New Classic on Lucid Dreaming - Charles Tart

Book Previews

The Black Butterfly: An Invitation to Radical Aliveness - Richard Moss

Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development - edited by Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and Daniel P. Brown

Letter to the Editor

David May


News and Notes

Lucid Dreaming Bibliographic Update

Two Lucid Dreaming Meetings Announced


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Letter from the Editor


Articles in this issue of Lucidity Letter cover a wide range of topics from the potential of healing with the lucid dream to another look at the OBE/lucidity distinctions.  Interviews with authorities on higher states of consciousness will be a new feature beginning this issue.

Andrew Brylowski, a recent M.D. from Texas, leads the issue with a proposal for the potential of dream lucidity to impact the immune system. In later issues he will be reporting on his pilot data in this ground breaking area of research. This article is following by a critic of the experience of dream consciousness as a healing instrument by Strephon Kaplan Williams, a psychotherapist from San Francisco. In this piece Williams raises some core ethical concerns which all clinicians and researchers interested in dream lucidity should consider. A response to his concerns is offered by Katrina Romana Machado, a colleague of Stephen LaBerge's. Finally, the section closes with an article by Diane Jones, a nurse-therapist from Nebraska, who uses "waking" dreams with her patients.

Two research reports are offered in the second section of Lucidity Letter. William Moorecroft, a psychologist from Luther College here in Iowa, and I present dream content data on a single Transcendental Meditation (TM) subject. This data serves to further distinguish the states of dream lucidity, aroused dream consciousness, from dream witnessing, quiet dream consciousness. The latter emerges as a function of the practice of TM. Physiological data on these distinctions will be offered in future issues. Following our report is one by Deirdre Barrett, from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, on the relationship between dreams of flying and the experience of dream lucidity. An at home lucid dream research project designed by Stephen LaBerge and myself closes this section. A shortened form of this project appeared in the April issue of OMNI  magazine. We invite you to try the dream experiments and/or fill out the lucid dream questionnaire in the comfort of your own home and return your report of your experiences to the editor of Lucidity Letter at the Department of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0505.  Results of this experiment will appear in both OMNI and Lucidity Letter.

Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., a physicist interested in consciousness, is interviewed in this issue. In his book Star Wave he talks about dream lucidity as potentially representing a parallel universe. This idea and others from both quantum physics and his own dream experiences are pursued in this interview with the editor.

Bruce Marcot, an environmentalist from Oregon, leads the phenomenology section with a report of his experiences with dream lucidity. Of particular interest are his attempts to kill himself while lucid. George Gillespie, a doctoral candidate in Oriental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, follows with a detailed discussion about the nature of "light" in the lucid dream. He argues that it can range from pure sensory experience to experience of the transcendental nature. A science writer from Philadelphia, Elinor Gebremedhin, considers problems with the "lucid" label from her own experiences. In a thoughtful analysis, Linda Magallon, editor of the Dream Network Bulletin, discusses the experience of imageless lucid dreaming. Finally, questions of definition are again raised by Darrell Dixon in "Dreams of Lucid Dreams".

In the last article, Janet Mitchell, from Arizona, considers if out-of-the-body experiences are dreams or is dreams are out-of-the-body experiences.

Four sections are again offered in this issue. Starting with the book reviews section, Charles Tart warmly welcomes "A New Classic on Lucid Dreaming" with Ken Kelzer's The Sun and the Shadow. Tart points to several areas where Kelzer's book breaks new ground in furthering our understanding of these dream experiences. Order information on Kelzer's book is available in the back of this issue of Lucidity Letter.

Two books are previewed in the next section. These are Richard Moss's The Black Butterfly: An Invitation to Radical Aliveness and a book edited and largely written by Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and Daniel P. Brown, Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemporary Perspectives on Development.

The issue closes with a letter to the editor from David May commenting on the OBE-lucidity discussions and a news and notes section. The latter has further bibliographic updates on lucid dreaming and announces two lucid dreaming symposia, one in the United States and one in Germany. Also look in this issue for back issue order information, translations of articles on lucid dreams, and the sale of audiotapes on lucid dreaming.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Lucidity Letter associate editor, Mary Tuttle.  Mary, a computer science major at the University of Northern Iowa, is leaving us to take a job in her speciality. Although she will continue to sit on the steering committee of the Lucidity Association, she will be missed in the production of Lucidity Letter.

 Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.

Editor, Lucidity Letter


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Articles: Dreaming (& Waking) Lucidity and Healing

A Proposal: Can Lucid Dreaming Effect Immunocompetence?


Andrew Brylowski

University of Texas, Houston


In developing a clinical model of mind-body relationships we are at an immediate disadvantage.  Having evolved a cognitive understanding of mind and body as a dichotomous phenomenon, we bypass the variable of experience that the mind and body are a unity.  In recent years psychological, neurological and immunological (collectively known as psychoneuro- immunology (PNI)), boundaries have been dissolving.  Consequently, it seems prudent to dissolve the mind-body dichotomy in order to orient our current models and views of health and well-being towards models and views more congruent with experience.

The ability to create a dichotomous view of the mind-body issue seems to stem from the ability to be a self-reflective and conscious mammal, thereby able to make choices and judgements, to create concepts, use a logical frame of reference, etc., in order to explain our experience.  Yet it is the experience which is the reality, but the experience of being able to create and form concepts and models is the experience which becomes the reality.  The point being that we first have to be conscious self- reflective creatures in order to choose models that affect our experience, (or choose experiences which affect our models).  It follows that a model to investigate self reflective consciousness, and hence our ability to make a model whether dichotomous or otherwise, is necessary.  It is proposed here that the model of sleep laboratory lucid dreaming offers the potential of allowing us to investigate the cognitive-physiological mechanisms of PNI phenomenology.

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is an emerging discipline that dissolves artificial boundaries between psychology, neurology and immunology.  In evolving this discipline, the founders used a wise open minded approach with clever experimental designs to demonstrate the interrelationships of psychophysiologic and immunologic systems.  The current solid foundation in animal and human research establishes a base from which further psychoneuroimmunologic homeostatic mechanisms can be explored (Ader, 1981; Goetzl, 1985; Guillemin, Cohn, & Melnechuk, 1985; Levy,1982).  Relevant to the use of dream lucidity in PNI investigations is the PNI-hypnosis work.


Evidence for Psycho-Immunological Relationships in the Hypnosis Literature


A subjective common denominator in the reports of hypnosis subjects is that they actually saw or experienced something happening as if it were real and not imagined.  This observation in the literature is supported by studies showing that hypnotic (suggested) hallucinations, both auditory and visual, alter the commensurate evoked potentials as if there was actual interference (Hogan, Macdonald, & Olness, 1984; Spiegel, Cutcomb, Ren, & Pribram, 1985).  The parallels to nonlucid or lucid dreaming, experiencing something as if it is real, are striking.

Instances of suggestion altering physiological phenomenon such as allergic responses, congenital skin diseases, warts, post pubertal breast growth, burns, blood flow, bleeding, and tumors, are reviewed and reported elsewhere (Barber, 1984; Fry, & Weakland, 1984; Gravitz, 1985).  Here I am going to briefly review and comment on one set of studies relevant to a research project currently taking place in our laboratory.

Frequently quoted is the work of English physician Stephen Black (Black, 1963; Black, 1963).  In part of his work, he showed inhibition of delayed hypersensitivity to purified protein derivative of tuberculin (PPD) (Black, 1963).  An especially well controlled study used subjects specifically chosen for their deep hypnotic trance susceptibility and shown not to be allergic to PPD within a week prior to the study.  The effect of the hypnotic procedure to inhibit the clinical wheel and flare response in one but not another PPD injection placed on one forearm was tested.  Four of the five subjects showed complete inhibition of the clinical response in one but not the other PPD while the fifth inhibited greater than 90% as measured clinically.  Full thickness skin biopsies of pre-marked areas of forearm showed that, even though the clinically observed reaction was suppressed, no detectable change in histologic degree of cellular infiltration compared to controls was observed, i.e., the immune products were still delivered.  What was evident was that the exudation of fluid and hyperemia had been inhibited.  They concluded that the technique of direct suggestion under hypnosis could give rise to a clinical Mantoux-negative (PPD-negative).  The subjective experience of suggested physiological plasticity could be described as a state of actually experiencing the desired effect as opposed to just imagining it.

However, another explanation was that suggestion alone from a physician in whom the subjects had genuine trust operated in inhibiting the clinical Mantoux while sparing the (histologic) cellular infiltrate.

Relevant to this second explanation is a well-controlled study by two Japanese investigators (Barber, 1984), 13 high school boys with previous experience of painful poison ivy like contact dermatitis were randomized into a hypnotic procedure and a suggestion-alone--control groups.  In the control group, a prominent physician merely suggested that one plant was harmful or not and then touched the subject.  The authors found that, in both control and hypnosis groups, the experimenters could suggest that subjects react to a harmless plant and not to react to the actual poisonous plant.  Biopsies were not done.  The experience of the strong emotions of previous experiences were hypothesized to be able to cause a reaction when a harmless plant was applied, presumably by drawing on the previous unpleasant experience as a mental/emotional process.  The trust in a respected physician not to lie about whether the leaf being applied was harmful or not was also hypothesized to be working at more than a superficial level.  This is further supported by the placebo literature.

One of the premises in PNI is that the immune system can be brought under a level of volitional control.  The biopsy hypnosis article suggests that there may be a level of autonomy or wisdom inherent in the immune system as classical immunologists report, since there was a cellular response to a real molecular antigenic stimulus.  Blacks study may be interpreted to suggest that perhaps only certain aspects of the immune response are under volitional control, i.e., those involved with interaction at a specific environmental focus, the lymphokines perhaps (migratory, activating, cytotoxic, interleukins and other factors).  However, an injection of sterile water with the suggestion of it being a PPD with a true PPD suggesting it was water with a biopsy showing cellular infiltrate with the water and none in the PPD would have been more convincing of a pan- volitional control of immune response.

PNI inferences relevant to natural killer cell cytotoxicity can be made regarding Black's observation that the endothelial cell contraction and extravasation of fluid into the surrounding tissue was inhibited but that the immune response per se was not (at least histologically).  Two factors which might contribute in part to this affect are autonomic nervous system activity by direct vaso-dilatation and/or constriction and, at a molecular level, interferon.  Interferon was found to be a helping factor in decreasing motility of vascular endothelial cells, which play an important role in the extravasation of cancer cells (Brouty-Boye & Zetter, 1980).

One innovative interpretation of this literature, made by Theodore Barber, is that the volitional plasticity of various physiological processes under suggestion is mediated by controlling blood flow, analogous to controlling blood flow to genital organs by fantasizing, this being mediated by the autonomic nervous system (Barber, 1984).  In another anecdotal hypnosis article the authors suggest that the autonomic nervous system is first brought under control, and by extension, (anatomically and figuratively I assume) the immune system (Fry & Weakland, 1984).

Finally, a relevant comment about the clinical sessions in Blacks work is that the hypnotic procedure was used over five days to reinforce the desired effect as well as to reinforce dreams of the experiment working.  I assume the authors mean in a figurative and/or literal sense.  This raises another question relevant to the use of lucid dreaming of whether the hypnotic technique or the REM sleep physiologic processes giving rise to dreaming, independently, co-dependently, neither or both gave rise to the observation.


Current Pilot Study   


We are currently testing the hypothesis that lucid REM sleep and its associated mental and physiological processes are an important variable in human immune responsiveness.  The design focus of this study is twofold; 1) we want to investigate the feasibility of developing a flexible and useful neuroimmunologic protocol adaptable to a variety of psycho-techniques.  The neurological aspect will involve all-night polysomnography, including sleep EEG, EOG, EMG, EKG, respirations, finger pulse, and temperature oscillation.  Simultaneous brain cortical electrical mapping will be done to evaluate any correlations of specific EEG spectral frequency patterns with, not only sleep stage, but immunologic variability.  The immunologic aspect will focus specifically on peripheral blood lymphocytes natural killer cell cytotoxicity (NK) in relation to the sleep stage from which the sample is drown, with the subjects pre-sleep and post-sleep waking samples serving as his own controls.  The natural killer cell is the non-T (thymus derived) non-B (bone marrow derived) cell lineage whose importance in preventing metastatic cancer spread as well as an important agent in microbial protection is well documented (Herberman & Ortaldo, 1981; Lotzova & Herberman, 1986; Pross & Roder, 1982; Trinchieri & Bice, 1984) and a current focus of extensive research (Rosenberg, Lotze, Muul, Chang, Avis, Leitman, Linehan, Robertson, Lee, Rubin, Seipp, Simpson & White, 1987).  The Chromium (Cr) 51 release assay using the K562 tumor cell line will be used.  2) We want to incorporate the physiologically defined psychological activity of lucid dreaming (in which the dreamer is explicitly aware of dreaming while continuing to dream in the physiologic state of REM sleep) into the above neuroimmunologic protocol, therefore by design a PNI study.  This will introduce into the study the element of self-reflective awareness, a uniquely human variable.  The probing of this variable will be relatively easy, since the element of volition conferred by self-reflective awareness allows for communication from the lucid REM sleep dream state to the polysomnoimmunographic technicians.


A Final Word


Natural immunity has been shown to be an important variable in cancer and other disease processes.  The quantative measures of natural immune functions are becoming popular probes for evaluating not only prognostic outcome, but for evaluating the impact of psycho-social techniques on immunocompetence (Kiecolt-Glaser, Glaser, Williger, Stout, Messick, Sheppard, Richer, Romisher, Briner, Bonnel, & Donnerberg, 1985; Kiecolt- Glaser, Glaser, Strain, Stout, Tarr, Holliday, & Speicher, 1986).  It is hoped that insight into the within individual mechanisms of direct psychological impact on natural immunity will facilitate modification of therapeutic processes toward those more integrative of psycho-social techniques that increase immune and biologic competence.




Ader, R. (Ed.) (1981). Psychoneuroimmunology.  New York: Academic Press.

Barber, T.X. (1984). Changing "unchangeable" bodily processes by (hypnotic) suggestions: A new look at hypnosis, cognitions, imagining, and the mind- body problem. Advances, 1, 7-40.

Black, S. (1963). Inhibition of immediate type hypersensitivity response by direct suggestion under hypnosis. British Journal of Medicine, 2, 925-929.

Black, S. (1963). Inhibition of Mantoux reaction by direct suggestion under hypnosis. British Journal of Medicine, 2, 1649-1652.

Brouty-Boye, D. & Zetter, B.R. (1980). Inhibition of cell motility by interferon. Science, 208, 516-518.

Fry, W.F. & Weakland, J.H. (1984). Healing and hypnosis. Advances, 1, 60- 63.

Goetzl, E.J. (Vol Ed.) (1985). Neuromodulation of immunity and hypersensitivity. The Journal of Immunology (Supplement), 135, 739s-862s.

Gravitz, M.A. (1985). An 1846 report of tumor remission associated with hypnosis. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 28, 17-19.

Guillenmin, R., Cohn, M., & Melnechuk, T. (Eds.) (1985). Neural Modulation of Immunity. New York: Raven Press.

Herberman, R.B. & Ortaldo, J.R. (1981). Natural killer cells: Their role in defenses against disease. Science, 214, 24-30.

Hogan, M., MacDonald, J. & Olness, K. (1984). Voluntary control of auditory evoked responses by children with and without hypnosis. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 27, 91-94.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Glaser, R., Williger, D., Stout, J., Messick, G., Sheppard, S. et al. (1985). Psychosocial enhancement of immunocompetence in a Geriatric population. Health Psychology, 4, 25-41.

Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., Glaser, R., Strain, E.C., Stout, J., Tarr, K.L., Holliday, J.E. & Speicher, C.E. (1986). Modulation of cellular immunity in medical students. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 9, 5-21.

Levy (Ed.) (1982). Biological mediators of behavior and disease: Neoplasia. New York: Elsevier Biomedical.

Lotzova, E. & Herberman, R.B. (Ed.) (1986). Immunobiology of natural killer cells. Florida: CRC Press.

Pross, H.F. & Roder, J.C. (1982). The biology of the natural killer cell. Journal of Clinical Immunology.

Rosenberg, S.A., Lotze, M.T., Mull, L.M., Chang, A.E., Avis, F.P., Leitman, S. et al. (1987). A progress report on the treatment of 157 patients with advanced cancer using lymphokine-activated killer cells and interleukin-2 or high dose interleukin-2 alone. The New England Journal of Medicine, 316, 889-897.

Spiegel, D., Cutcomb, S., Ren, C. & Pribram, K. (1985). Hypnotic Hallucination Alters Evoked Potentials. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 249-255.

Trinchieri, G. & Bice, P. (1984). Biology of disease. Human natural killer cells: Biologic and pathologic aspects. Laboratory Investigation, 50, 489- 513.


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Articles: Dreaming (& Waking) Lucidity and Healing

Lucid Dreams or Resolution Dreams for Healing?


Strephon Kaplan Williams

The Jungian-Senoi Institute


Before we can delve into the nature of whether lucid dreaming can be healing or not we have to clarify some issues around lucid dreaming.


What is a Lucid Dream?


I would like to start my summary of the issues with a fundamental question: do you have to be lucid to have a lucid dream?  Do you in fact have to wake up in the dream and know you are dreaming in order to have a dream which has been characterized by lucid dream researchers as a lucid dream?  Some other characterizations of dream lucidity include greater vividness of imagery (Garfield, 1974), auditory phenomena, fewer dreams characters and more cognition (Gackenbach, 1986), and potential facilitation of health (LaBerge, 1986).

In dealing with the question of the relation of dreams to healing we first have to clarify the issues around lucid dreaming per se.  The Jungian-Senoi methodology (Williams, 1980) is a clinical approach rather than a research approach.  As such we are limited in our ability to report scientific findings as in those coming from a sleep laboratory, but we do have thousands of hours of dreamwork using an organized approach to working with dreams and dreaming via our methodology.  From this base we can address certain issues, if not results.

The lucid dreaming research is confusing to a clinician on a number of grounds.  One, the definition of lucid dreaming itself is not yet clear. Is it self-defined as being awake while dreaming?  If so, how do you measure wakefulness?  Or are they dreams of greater intensity and different and greater physiological response?  Or is the lucid dream defined as that dream in which you can consciously make a choice to change the dream's imagery?  Do all three conditions have to be present to call the dream lucid?


The Resolving Dream


I want to suggest from my own experience and others' that there is a kind of dream which differs from ordinary dreaming which is highly intense and within which issues are presented and resolved.  I would call this the "resolving dream."  Jung called it the great dream.  This dream differs essentially from what has been characterized as a lucid dream in that the dreamer experiences an intense reality, great affect, spiritual wisdom of some sort, healing or resolution of the issue, but does not wake up in the dream.

Also, in this dream the dream ego may be quite active in a congruent way with the rest of the dream's action and imagery.  People may have an intense and resolving dream but not themselves be active in the dream. This later dream seems to characterize those with weak egos in waking life. However, a resolving dream in which the dream ego is active and congruent with the rest of the dream is more likely to come to a developed person; a dreamworker, someone who regularly records and works with their dreams. This is a clinical observation, not a laboratory one.

These questions are important because both Gackenbach (1986) and LaBerge (1986) have recently raised the issue of the relation of lucid dreaming to physical and psychological healing which raises some interesting questions.

A Major Issue


Can healing occur if the process is directed by the ego or conscious side of the personality?  In lucid dreaming as reported in the literature I have read, the person not only realizes they are dreaming but exerts some control by changing either, the dream ego's intention and behavior, or changing the non-dream ego imagery and action in the dream, or both.

The lucid dreaming dream ego differs from other dream egos in non-lucid dreams in that the lucid dream ego in order to act must realize that the dream is only a dream, it must be "awake" in the dream.  But what does being “awake” mean, and here we have a possible criticism of lucid dreaming practice and research?


Is the Lucid Dream Ego really Awake?


The lucid dream ego may dream it is awake and saying "this is only a dream," but maybe, in point of fact, dreaming what the dream source wants the dream ego to feel and think.  How can we tell if the lucid dream ego (LDE) is really awake?  By signaling with prearranged eye movements, as reported in the laboratory?  Signaling what?  Certainly a coincidence occurs between the eye movements and physiological states associated with dreaming, and further we receive dream reports when waking subjects up at this time.  This indicates the possibility of a relationship but it does not prove it.  I have yet to see research which has subjects reporting they are dreaming and then waking themselves up at definite time intervals, such as right away, one minute later, two minutes, five minutes, fifteen minutes, etc…  For scientific validation we need to see a number of different behaviors demonstrated, all converging in support of a common thesis.

A clinician might make another criticism of the present research. Researchers, such as LaBerge, while doing brilliant work and putting forth great speculations, do not make adequate distinctions between their "scientific" results and their speculations.  For instance, in LaBerge's recent book (1985) he makes such over-extended statements as "The lucid dreamer seems to be able to exercise at least as much free choice while dreaming as while waking" (p. 115, 1985).  He gives no hard evidence for this statement, but feels free to make it.  This may lead the general public to think that, because his eye movement-lucid dream research is dramatic, that has evidence for other statements he makes in his book. When laboratory scientists leave their home base and venture into the field of clinicians they need to observe scientific limitations like anyone else. Furthermore, one might ask, are they trained to make clinical observations?

LaBerge's most prophet-like statement, which has bearing on our issue of dreams and healing, is the following.  He states that non-lucid dreamers "are sentenced to a virtual prison with walls no less impenetrable for the fact that they are made of delusion" (p. 11, 1985).  This is an example, in my estimation, of a scientist switching roles and becoming religious or prophetic.  Where is his research to back up such statements?  I prefer to call for objectivity on the part of us all.  If you are going to comment on non-lucid dreams or dreamers, you might also do research on them as well in order to back up your statements.  At least clinicians have thousands of hours of working with people to back up their statements.  If the clinician speculates, he or she has hands-on experience for which to do so.  If the scientist speculates, he should have comparable laboratory experience.

Towards the end of his book LaBerge makes a number of philosophical or religious statements, going far afield from the laboratory, and speculating (or is it believing?) that lucid dreaming is the next great development in consciousness.  Again, if it is, let us know, and give us your evidence as you make your new discoveries?


The Non-Lucid Healing Dream


My thesis here is that there is another kind of dream than the lucid dream which may be different from ordinary dreaming, and which may have healing properties greater than ordinary dreaming.  Ordinary dreaming I define as recalled dreams full of dream issues and problems but with little or no resolution to them.

On the other hand, resolving dreams are dreams in which the dream problems are largely resolved and in which the dream ego is active and congruent but not determining or controlling.  Also, the dream ego must not know that it is awake in the dream (i.e., defined as knowing that the dream is only a dream).  The dream ego must feel and interact with the material as though it were real.  The full affect of the dream imagery and action must be experienced.  The reality factor must be a one-to-one correspondence with events.  This maximizes the effectiveness of the dream source's ability to move the dream and waking egos to change.  To see the difference between a resolving dream and a lucid dream experience, let us look at a dream reported by LaBerge.


I am in the middle of a riot in the classroom.  A furious mob is raging about throwing chairs and fighting.  Most of them are Third World types and one of them has a hold on me - he is tough with a pock marked face and repulsive.  I realize that I'm dreaming and stop struggling.  I find love in my heart and look him in the eyes, and, while holding his hands, speak to him in a loving way, trusting my intuition to supply the beautiful words of acceptance that flow out of me.  As I do so, he melts into me; the riot has vanished, the dream fades, and I awaken feeling wonderfully calm and 'together' (p. 10, 1986).


The lucid dreaming way to approach healing or resolving this dream is to 1) realize in the dream that you are dreaming and therefore to get unidentified from the force of the dream's actions and imagery.  ("I realize that I'm dreaming and stop struggling.")  The participating ego goes into the observing ego role.  Then 2) the waking dream ego takes control and intervenes in the dream situation ("I find love in my heart...speak to him in a loving way...").  Now 3) the dream source, or non-ego part responds ("As I do so, he melts into me; the riot has vanished, the dream fades...").  Finally, 4) the dream ego awakens and the waking ego feels "wonderfully calm and 'together'."  Clinically, we would speculate that the ego is inflated by the "success" of the experience.  It has not really resolved the problem of violence but has inflated itself by taking the problem over on its own terms.  To take another view, the waking ego may have a genuine experience of resolution in which when it, the ego choice-making function, responds differently, the dream source responds differently.


What Is a Genuine Experience of Healing?


How can we tell what a genuine experience of healing is?  How can we know if lucid dreaming leads to real healing of the personality or to inflation and one-sidedness?  There are a number of criteria, but no absolutes, which can help to define healing.


1.  The ability to realize different options in the same situation indicates a developed and conscious being rather than a sick or partial one.


In the above lucid dreaming example, if the dream ego could also let go to the dream violence and let it overwhelm the ego and see what happens, then healing or resolving results might also occur.  Or, if the dream ego could somehow fight the adversaries and see what happens.  Resolving situations may come through a great battle, or through non-resistance, or through applying a new and different principle to the situation.


2.  Being able to cope with the full intensity of reality, whether a dream or a waking reality


The dream ego could realize the full intensity of the dream without waking up in the sense of realizing it is dreaming.  This "waking up" makes the situation somewhat less real and therefore less potent or overwhelming to the dream ego.

Clinically, the preferred way is to help people be fully involved in a situation without their disassociating, and yet also staying active and able to make choices no matter how overwhelming the circumstances seem.  Thus, in the Jungian-Senoi approach we teach dream ego activity in dealing with and becoming more congruent with dream activity and contents.  This works.  We do not teach disassociation through training oneself to realize that the dream is only a dream or through changing the dream's contents.

To teach the dream ego to change the dream reality is inflationary and may cause the waking ego to feel that it can change waking reality in the same way.  Our only evidence is based on clients we have worked with.  This is also an issue for laboratory scientists if they, indeed, are now ready to enter into studying the field of healing.


3. The other function central to healing is bringing or allowing resolution.  I have described this thoroughly in the Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual. (Williams, 1980)


The Method of Dream Reentry

Our chief method for bringing resolution and for training dreamers to be more active in their dreams and in their waking lives is dream reentry. This is a variation on a form of Jungian active imagination.  Dream reentry is entering the meditative state with eyes closed, seeing and experiencing the original dream again, and either reexperiencing the dream more fully until it seems to resolve itself or you can go no further with it, or intervening in the dream state by changing the behavior of the dream ego in the dream state and seeing what happens to the non-ego dream action and imagery.  Often, the dream's problem goes to resolution, not by the dream ego creating a resolution, but rather by allowing resolution.  The resolving function here is not a product of the imagination, but a genuine experience from the Self, the integrative center in the psyche, what Gackenbach may be calling "the dream generator."  Is the dream generator also "the wholeness or resolving generator?"

Resolving dreams through allowing can also apply to the lucid dreaming experience.  For instance, one of my students dreamed:


I am swimming in the ocean and losing my strength.  I realize I am going to drown, and instead of changing the imagery as I usually do, I remember that Strephon said, why not let go to the imagery and see what happens.  I did this and instead of drowning, the waves carried me to shore and I walked up the beach.


This student regularly woke up in her dreams and changed scary situations through dream control.  However, the dream scenes became sexual in ways she did not like.  She could change a scene but could not completely control the results.  How many lucid dreamers can?  However, changing her own behavior in the dream may have been healing.  To go along with things rather than seeking to control them is a clinical proposition which may lead to healing and adaptability to life.  In this case, unlike dream experiences of this dreamer, she had a genuine experience of support and resolution when she let go of control rather than attempted it.  It might be beneficial to develop awareness of choice in a dream.  However, using that awareness with choices to change the dream is in question.

We question the helpfulness of lessening the dream's affect, or ability to move the dreamer, by calling the dream a dream and not a waking reality. Further, we question the dream ego changing the dream's imagery, which is still an ego point of view.  The dream source may be seeking to challenge the ego's point of view, not reinforce its point of view or its power over the personality.


A Fundamental Difference


LaBerge indicates that it is important to resolve conflicts during dreaming.  We take a more non-ego dominant position.  The dream ego can resolve conflicts without becoming awake in the dream, and it can allow the options for resolution to come from the dream source and not from the ego. That is the fundamental difference between the Jungian-Senoi approach and the LaBerge lucid dream approach to healing.  Another difference is that we believe that it is clinically beneficial to learn to experience the terror and fear which is sometimes in dreams.  We do not recommend reality disassociation as a way of handling fear.  We help our students get right in there and experience the situations "as is" fully.  This is healing. The LaBerge method is to consciously change the scary imagery rather than experience it as scary.  I don't think you solve problems by denying that you have a problem.  Paradoxically, you experience the problem fully in order to resolve it.

I have been teaching people to resolve nightmares since 1977 using the method of dream reentry (Williams, 1980).  At the institute we are able to have people go back into their dreams and experience the situation as it is without changing the imagery from the conscious side.  We train the dream ego to become more active as in the following dream of my own:


I awoke feeling frightened of what was behind the bathroom door in the dream.  I noted the dream and then did a self-dream reentry.  I was extremely frightened and it was all I could do to get myself to reenter this dream.  I visualized the scene again and determined to enter the bathroom to experience what was behind the door.  I decided not to go in fighting but just to be present and careful.  By the time I was entering the room I was asleep again.  In the dream I continued and stood in the tub observing a small, aura-encased gnome who did not harm me in any way.  Then I woke myself up to write down the dream, realizing its importance immediately.


Note that I in no way consciously changed the situation in the dream.  I did change the behavior of my dream ego.  The imagery which came was not created consciously by me.  What was behind the door was a complete surprise.  I felt relief that I had kept myself in the nightmare.

I end with the following dream, perhaps the most intense and meaningful of the four thousand recorded dreams of my life.  The record reads like a story, but this is exactly as I wrote it down upon awakening.  The intensity, insight, and feeling was tremendous.  The plot of the dream story, as well as its wisdom, was the dream itself.  From my conscious side I invented nothing.

I dreamed that a few of us are in jail while our friends and relatives outside petition for our release.  At first they wait, then they petition, then they beg.  The years go by to no effect for them.  They wait outside and we are not released.

Inside things have been taking a different course.  At first the leader of our group was imprisoned.  Then a few of us who were on his side were imprisoned with him.  Within our small cell we walked and walked, waiting for the day when we could get out.  But nothing happened.  We were not released.  Then as the days upon days mounted, an imperceptible change began to occur in us, just as a change was occurring in those outside.

At first we walked to while away the time until we would be free.  Then each of us walked because it was the thing to do and we did it.  As the subtle change occurred we lost track of our original purpose for walking. We only knew that now we walked for the walk itself.  Gradually another change began happening with us.  We now walked because we were happy.  The first one to become happy was our leader, the original hero of the people. He had been jailed fighting for the freedom of his people.  They lamented his being in jail, because now they had no one to fight for their own freedom.  They even lamented because they were not in jail and he was.

Within the small cell wherein the hero and his three friends walked their eternal rounds the hero felt a change coming over him.  He was no longer unhappy because he was indeed free.  Now he walked to celebrate the freedom he had at least attained after all his years of labor.  Finally, he walked because the walk itself was the freedom he sought.  He was a free man being right where he was and it made him ecstatically happy.

Yes, he could hear the wails and shouts of those outside, and in the early years the sufferings of the friends who had been put in jail with him. Gradually nothing of what was happening out there affected him anymore as he continued to walk.  Perhaps it was then that an inner radiance began to show in him and he became ecstatically happy, unaffected as he was by the moods and activities of those around him.  Within himself he was free.  It was as if this state of being was always this way but he had not known it until he had walked many a year.  Indeed, now that he had radiance, you could see it on his face, there was no such thing as ordinary time.  He was not trying to get out because he was not in anywhere.  He just was, and when he realized this he was free.  He did not realize he was free.  He just was free and he felt it that way as he continued to walk and walk with a radiant smile on his face.

The people inside noticed it.  They were with him.  And gradually they changed, also.  But those outside continued to lament his imprisonment. They did not know what they were doing.  They only knew that he was confined inside and they were outside trying to be free.  And what of those who sneaked away as the years went by, forgetting and rejecting their vigil?  Were they the ones without hope who left the place of conflict in secret despair and sought to merge themselves again into the daily activities of the world.  What of them?  They shall be without name.  For gradually they too disappeared into the activities of the life they had become.  They were the nameless, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.  They were the ones who became, even unknown to themselves, the mother, father, and lovers of earthly life.

And what of the guards who put the leader and his friends in prison and kept them there?  These believed in their prison and their walls and guarded the prisoners fiercely from those inside as well as those without. The purpose for their lives was to guard the prison and never let anyone out, and so they never changed.

Who then was the prisoner and who the imprisoning?

Inside, one person became happy and free, and gradually those who were with him did likewise until they all felt free because they walked and walked. For him, the main focus of our attention, we saw and felt his inner radiance.  He was in himself free.  He was in himself and that had made him free.

This "dream parable" says much about accepting things as they are by being totally in the moment.  This wisdom or life principle does itself seem to go against the practice of lucid dreaming in which the intention is "to change your reality by first calling what you are experiencing, unreal." It is only a dream, but is it?  Are you so sure that your outer life is any more perceptually real, or is the "out there" a matter of subjective perception also?

That lucid dreaming researchers are wanting to move into the area of dreaming and healing I find exciting.  I hope as I have indicated in this article, that they make clear distinctions between the actual evidence from their research and their speculations.  I hope that other areas of dreaming beside lucid dreaming are equally explored so that lucid dreaming can be seen in context.  At its present state the lucid dreaming "movement" has for some almost the aura of a religion.  I have pointed also to excesses on this issue.

In terms of my own approach, the Jungian-Senoi approach, I would say the following; I have taken certain concepts and practices from Jung and Kilton Stewart's version of Senoi dreamwork and unified aspects of these two strains into a methodological approach.  My Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual reflects a fairly complete dreamwork methodology which I see clinically working both in changing the dream state and in changing lives, inner and outer.  I have clinical case studies to back up my work, but no laboratory scientific studies, in applying our more potent methods to dreaming and healing.  I hope, especially, that the method of dream reentry will be scientifically studied.  I have produced dramatic results in dealing with war trauma and other trauma induced nightmares.  In a couple of cases we may even have altered a pre-cancerous condition and been instrumental in curing, along with homeopathy, a case of life-threatening and acute colitis.  This method needs further evaluation and use.  Finally, I leave the reader with this question.  Do you have to know you are dreaming while dreaming to have a really intense and resolving dream?



Gackenbach, Jayne (1986). Speculations on healing with the lucid dream. Lucidity Letter 5(2), 5-8.

Garfield, Patricia (1974). Creative dreaming. New York: Ballantine Books.

LaBerge, Stephen (1985). Lucid dreaming. New York: Ballantine Books.

LaBerge, Stephen (1986). Healing through lucid dreams. Lucidity Letter 5(2), 9-13.

Williams, Strephon Kaplan (1980). Jungian-Senoi dreamwork manual. Berkeley, CA: Journey Press.


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Articles: Dreaming (& Waking) Lucidity and Healing

Comment on Strephon Kaplan William’s Article


Katrina Romana Machado

Boulder Creek, California


Contrary to Strephon Kaplan William's assertion, the definition of a lucid dream is simple and clear: it is a dream in which the dreamer is fully conscious while remaining asleep and dreaming at the same time.  Why belittle this experience by calling it "only a dream?"  The dreamer's consciousness, no longer fettered by the delusion that it is experiencing an external reality, can open itself to a full, free communication with the intensities, challenges and pleasures of the dreaming Self. If Mr. Williams believes that this kind of involvement is not beneficial, I would ask him to produce some evidence - rather than simply waving vaguely at "hours of clinical experience."  If his method does work, which I do not dispute, does that necessarily invalidate every other method?

The claim that in order to receive healing benefit from an experience one must remain deluded about its true nature is perhaps the most disturbing part of Mr. Williams' argument. "The dream ego must not know that it is awake in the dream . . . The dream ego must feel and interact with the material as being quite real."  Where is the proof of this necessity?  Our experience seems to show that if the dreamer is aware of his state, the dream can become a much more useful tool for self-exploration. The dream state can become a laboratory for testing new behaviors safely.

Delusion about the true nature of experience is a kind of mental prison, limiting our effective range of action. Mr. Williams seems to be uncomfortable with this image, calling Dr. LaBerge's use of it to illustrate the condition of the non-lucid dreamer "prophet-like" and "religious".  His complaint is remarkably incongruous when viewed in connection with the religious overtones of Mr. Williams' comments about his own "dream parable". From his dream - which happens in a prison - he draws the "wisdom or life principle" of  "accepting things as they are by being totally in the moment." He seems to assert that the dreamer is able to perceive "things as they are", despite the dreamer's deluded condition! How can one be "totally in the moment" if one has a confused understanding of the conditions of the moment?

The image of the prison of delusion is neither "religious", nor "prophet- like", nor new. It has often been used to describe the shackles of habit and fear that prevent us from realizing our full potential. Mr. Williams asks in his report, "Who then was the prisoner and who the imprisoning?"  I would like to offer the following story as an alternate answer to this question (Shah, 1973):




            Visualize a man who has to rescue people from a certain prison. It has been decided that there is only one promising way of carrying this out.

The rescuer has to get into the prison area without attracting attention. He must remain there relatively free to operate, for a certain period of time. The solution arrived at is that he shall enter as a convict.

He accordingly arranges for himself to be apprehended and sentenced. Like others who have fallen foul of this particular machine in this manner, he is consigned to the prison which is his goal.

When he arrives he knows that he has been divested of any possible device that would help in an escape. All he has is his plan, his wits, his skills and his knowledge. For the rest, he has to make do with improvised equipment, acquired in the prison itself. The major problem is that the inmates are suffering from a prison psychosis. This makes them think that their prison is the whole world. It is also characterized by a selective amnesia of their past. Consequently they have hardly any memory of the existence, outline, and detail of the world outside.

The history of our man's fellow-prisoners is prison history, their lives are prison lives. They think and act accordingly.

Instead of hoarding bread, for instance, as escape provisions, they mold it into dominoes with which they play games. Some of these games they know to be diversions, others they consider to be real.  Rats, which they could train as a means of communication with the outside world, they treat instead as pets. The alcohol in the cleaning-fluid available to them they drink to produce hallucinations, which delight them. They think it would be sadly wasted, a crime, even, if anyone were to use it to drug the guards insensible, making escape possible.

The problem is aggravated because our malefactors have forgotten the various meanings of some of the ordinary words which we have been using. If you ask them for definitions of such words as 'provisions', 'journey', 'escape', even 'pets', this is the kind of list which you would elicit from them: Provisions: prison food. Journey: walking from one cell-block to another. Escape: avoiding punishment by warders. Pets: rats.

'The outside world' would sound to their ears like a bizarre contradiction in terms:

'As this is the world, this place where we live,' they would say, 'how can there be another one outside?'

The man who is working on the rescue plan can operate at first only by analogy. There are few prisoners who will even accept his analogies, for they seem like mad babblings.

The babblings, when he says 'We need provisions for our journey of escape to the outside world,' of course sound like the following admitted nonsense: 'We need provisions - food for use in prison - for our journey - walking from one cell-block to another - of escape - to avoid punishment by warders - to the outside world - to the prison outside..."

Some of the more serious-minded prisoners may say that they want to understand what he means. But they do not know outside-world language any more...

When this man dies, some of them make of his words and acts a prison-cult. They use it to comfort themselves, and to find arguments against the next liberator who manages to come among them.

A minority, however, do from time to time escape."




Shah, Idries. (1973). Caravan of dreams. London: Quartet Books.


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Articles: Dreaming (& Waking) Lucidity and Healing

Utilization of Awake Dreams for Theraputic Intervention


Diane Jones

Omaha, Nebraska


As a nurse-psychotherapist working in outpatient psychiatry office I have been able to view the process of awake dreaming and harness it's therapeutic potential.  I use three biofeedback procedures, temperature training, voluntary muscle training and palm sweat reduction to teach Autogenic Therapy (Schultz & Luthe, 1969).

The majority of my patients have various types of atypical depressions (Kernberg, 1984).  The self-hypnotic aspect of the autogenic phrases combine with the biofeedback skills to allow the patient to experience a new psychophysiological state of "low" arousal.  This different state, the "mezzanine of the mind" connects the patients to their emotional life in a markedly different way.  A fascinating paradox of this newly mastered "deep relaxation" can be the spontaneous intrusion of symbolic hallucinatory phenomena classified by W. Luthe as Ideational Autogenic Discharges. However, the autogenic discharges, or biofeedback side effects, can occur in any organ systems and as a physical discharge.  Another aspect of these side effects is that with frequent regularity there occurs a physical manifestation accompanying the most highly charged visual symbolism.  These physical disturbances can range from mildly annoying to frightening and/or painful.  Luthe had considered all these ideational and physical phenomena or autogenic discharges to indicate an unhappy brain needing to unload (personal communication from Luthe, 1969).

The awake dream can be harnessed by the patient and therapist and can offer a new journey to the inner world of emotional imagery.  The harnessing process is accomplished as follow:


1)  a few weeks home practice of biofeedback and autogenic phrases with supervision.


  1. 2)      patient brings to session two 90 minute tapes.


3)  instructions to assume same posture as has been used in office and at home with biofeedback and autogenic phrases, in recliner, with eyes closed, legs and arms uncrossed, covered by a blanket, microphone in place.


4)  their task is to simply report what they get-     

a.  what they see     

b.  what they think     

c.  report all physical sensations     

d.  report in a continuous fashion     

e.  resist censoring or organizing the material     

f.  to resist moving - to keep it at a minimum


5)  the tape is taken home and transcribed by the patient and brought to the next session where it is read out loud and reviewed.


6)  the process then repeats with taping session followed by review session (Luthe, 1972).


About 50% of all patients will experience spontaneous visual imagery.  The sessions are weekly but may be more often if the pain or anxiety levels become too great.  With only two "dreams" per month therapy often will continue for a two year period. W. Luthe has tried to bring some order to the process by describing the differentiation of the visual phenomena into seven states (Luthe, 1970).


Stages Of Brain-Directed Visual Elaboration During Autogenic Training And Autogenic Abreaction


Stage I.  Static Uniform Colors

Elementary stage characterized by one-tone color filling the entire visual field (mostly dark shades).  Frequently described as "just nothing", a "blank", or "as if my eyes are closed".  Less frequently are lighter shades (e.g., silvery gray, yellow, pink, or light blue).


Stage II.  Dynamic Polymorphic Colors

Elementary stage with more differentiated elaboration of chromatic, structural (e.g., cloud-like, shadows, vague forms), and dynamic features (e.g., various simple movements).


Stage III.  Polychromatic Patterns and Simple Forms

Elementary stage with more differentiated and specific elaborations of forms (e.g., discs, ovals, rings, dots, lines, textile patterns), colors (e.g., purple, brown, blue, green), and dynamic features (e.g., turning, coming close, getting bigger, undulating, "flying" or "falling").


Stage IV.  Objects

Further structural and chromatic differentiation of mostly static objects (e.g., utilitarian, ornamental, symbolic, faces, masks, monsters) which appear on a background of mostly dark shades or colors.  Realistic or unrealistic dynamic features (e.g., "a turning coffee pot", and "a moving candle") may occur.


Stage V.  Transformation of Objects and Progressive Differentiation of Images

Development of differentiated images (e.g., interiors, outdoor) of progressively increasing complexity with gradual transformations, displacements and polychromatic features.  Realistic components may be distinguished.  "Self-participation" rare.


State VI.  Filmstrips

Highly differentiated and complex elaborations of structural, dynamic and chromatic elements.  During advanced phases of this stage the trainee may occasionally change from the role of a "passive observer" into an "active participant" (e.g., "Now I am looking out the window").  Realistic and unrealistic features are distinguished.


Stage VII.  Multichromatic Cinerama

Highest level of elaboration with prolonged periods of "self-participation" (e.g., "I am choking my father", " I am being eaten up by a huge monster", "I am driving along a road").  Realistic and unrealistic developments may alternate.  Luthe, (1970) notes regarding this stage:


The highest level of differentiation of visual elaborations is usually associated with correspondingly high degrees of functional flexibility, providing optimal conditions for differentiated and multithematic processes of brain-directed neutralization.  Spontaneous age regressions and spontaneous age progressions, transsexual transformation, engagement in violent dynamics of aggression or all imaginable activities of a sexual nature occur at this level of differentiation.  Material of experiential nature (e.g., fight with a teacher) and disturbing material of non- experiential origin (e.g., suffering in hell, dying) may participate in highly complex and variable cinerama productions.  Initially, cinerama patterns are of shorter duration, and functional regressions to state VI tend to occur easily.  Later these cinerama elaborations may continue for one or two hours or even longer.


Brain-antagonizing and brain-facilitating forms of resistance may participate in bringing about temporary functional regressions to stage IV, to intermediary or even elementary stages.


As with Ullman's main premise for night dream appreciation, the transfer of the private intrapsychic communication of the night dream into a spoken social communication in a structured protective group (Ullman & Zimmerman, 1985), the "awake dream" shows the same potential.  It is not until the patients observing self, working at home, transcribing the dream tape for the next session's review, that the impact of the actual experiencing of the themes are realized.  Childhood memories, emotions and traumas are all laid out over and over again.  A wide range of critical issues appear on the program.  Life threatening accidents come alive and demand appropriate emotional catharsis.  The major theme that begs to unload deals with the emotional trauma of parental failures to provide a climate for development of inner structures of "self" support, giving a picture of 1) disintegration anxiety (Kohut, 1984), and 2)  "abandonment depression" (Masterson, 1976).  This fact makes the management of awake dreams a very specialized and sensitive task to work through for the patient and therapist and sometimes requires hospitalization.

A copy of a patients awake dream follows.  The bold lettering marks the patients conflict/resistance and serve as exclamation points around the material presented.  The "red threads" and "red arrows" that unlock and point to major "unfinished business" are the resistances-announcing physical sensations that accompany the symbolic metaphorical productions.  An example of the extreme importance of these physical discharges for therapeutic intervention follows:


Leg itches.  My right eye hurts a little.  I see a roller coaster with rails on the sides and the rails are bent backward and I'm walking along the rails.  OH my right eye itches. it really itches.  (You're walking along the of the roller coaster where are you?)  Just going up and down.  And then I fall and I bounce back up.  It didn't hurt.  I'm just bouncing up and down. Seems to be something dark, a man's body with a monster head.  It seems to be lurking underneath the roller coaster.  He's spreading out his arms.  It doesn't scare me though.  It makes him mad that I'm not scared.  And then It's  like I'm patting him on the head and he has sharp things all over his head and I'm patting him with the palm of my hand and I can just feel the tips hit my palm.  MMMMMM it just feels like he took his fist and hit me in the nose.  Oh I just got a funny sensation at the end of my breast bone. And I get up and I look at him.  Whack; ooooo I hit him in the face.  I hit him again, hit him again, whack, oooo it makes me feel good to hit him.  He just stands there.  I just keep hitting him.  Whack, oh it feels so good to hit him, whack.  Oh!  I just love it.  (That's fine)  I can't tell you how good it makes me feel.  I love to hit him.  Puts up his fist.  I just hit him, whack, then I take my fist and hit him on top of the head, just punch him right down into the ground, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack.  Nothing sticks out of the ground but his head.  Oh that felt good.


Sounds like a steam shovel.  Steam---shovel comes and puts dirt all over the head.  I wan.  I'm absolutely delighted with myself.  I love it. Ooooooo I feel like I want to cry and I feel just for an instant that I was spinning around.  It stopped.


The patient's mastery of her victimization by becoming the aggressor gave rise to tears and dizziness.  Could it be that by letting go of her rage at this point it left her temporarily without her favorite way of "connecting and belonging?"  Could it be she then began to experience the overwhelming nothingness and void with dizziness that precedes new growth around developmental arrests?  The "butterflies" she reports are her gut fear response.  Her major use of that emotion and her suffer/punish cycle were the "gifts" from the awake dream.  The patient brings both the problem and solution to the session.

Otto Fenichel (1945), summarizing Freud, Ferenizi and Hahn, makes a very accurate plea for the need to invite the "dreamer", patient, both his experiencing self and observing self and the therapist to work toward "gradual summation of such discharges and derivatives."



Fenichel, O. (1945). The psychoanalytic theory of neurosis. New York: Norton.

Luthe, W. (1969). Autogenic methods: Vol II, Medical Applications. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Luthe, W. (1970). Dynamics of autogenic neutralization: Vol. V.  New York: Grune & Stratton.

Luthe, W. (1972) Treatment with autogenic neutralization: Vol. VI. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Kernberg, O. (1984). Severe personality disorders: Structured diagnosis, Chap. I. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Kohut, H. (1984). How does analysis cure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Masterson, J. (1976). Psychotherapy of the borderline adult.  New York: Brunner & Mazel.

Schultz, J.H., & Luthe, W. (1969). Autogenic methods: Vol. I. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Ullman, M., & Zimmerman, N. (1985). Working with dreams. Los Angeles: Tarcher.


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non-lucid dreams, lucid dreams were more like non-lucid dreams than different.  However, she also noted that although the differences were few they were not due to chance variations but were consistent across a variety of studies.

Specifically, consistent differences from the self-evaluations research on content involve auditory and kinesthetic dream sensations and dream control as particularly characteristic of the lucid dream.  Consistent with these self-observations are the findings from independent judges of dream lucidity as having more auditory and cognitive activities.  Not evaluated in the self-observation studies, Gackenbach pointed out, was the role of characters.  In the judge’s evaluations across samples, sex, and dream collection method, lucid dreams had fewer characters.  Although other dreamer type differences emerged in the various studies, the most compelling differences are clearly in the auditory/cognitive domain.

Related to the lucid dream experience is a continuation of consciousness from the waking state into the sleep state claimed to be a key aspect of the experience of "Transcendental Consciousness", which is developed by the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM; Banquet & Sailhan, 1974).  This study investigated the psychological content of this dream experiences of a single advanced practitioner of TM who reported maintaining experience of "Transcendental Consciousness" throughout the 24 hour cycle.

The state produced by TM practice is characterized by low levels of autonomic arousal and TM practitioners are discouraged from attending to their dreams.  Since the possibly related state of "lucid dreaming" (i.e., both states claim "consciousness" during dreaming) is associated with increased autonomic arousal (LaBerge, Levitan & Dement, 1986) and, as noted, meaningfully differs from non-lucid dreams, we addressed the question of whether experiences of "Transcendental Consciousness" would show dream content distinct from lucid or non-lucid dreaming.




This TM subject (TMS) was a 28 year old male who had been meditating for 5.8 years and received one of the highest scores thus far recorded on an inventory designed to assess self reports of the attainment of higher states of consciousness (Stage of Consciousness Inventory (SCI); Alexander, Davis, Dillbeck, Dixon, Oetzel & Muehlman, in press). Further, he received low scores on the SCI scales which assess psychopathology and tendency to endorse misleading, grandiose sounding statements. During TM practice he displayed exceptionally high amplitude alpha spindles across all EEG channels and periods of respiratory suspension (Kesterson, 1985).  The TM subject (TMS) and three others, two who reported frequent lucid dreams and one who had never had a lucid dream, were studied in a sleep laboratory for 2 to 7 nights. Standard polysomnograms (EEG, EOG, and EMG as well as pulse and respiration) were recorded.  Prior to coming to the sleep laboratory all subjects kept dream diaries at home for a two week period.  Midway through this period they were instructed to attempt the eye movement signaling task at home.  Both lucid dreamers and the TM subject were able to do this task at home while the non-lucid subject could not.

During the sleep laboratory experience, which was a two night experience for all subjects except the TMS, who slept for 7 nights in the lab, dreams were collected after each REM episode.  As in Gackenbach's work diary and laboratory dreams were then content analyzed using the Hall and Van de Castle (1966) system and a few additional scales (i.e., bizarreness, palpable sensations, balance and control).  The TMS had 35 diary and laboratory collected "lucid" dreams to be analyzed (Group 1) while the two lucid dreamers had 12 diary collected lucid dreams (Group 2) and 21 diary and laboratory collected non-lucid dreams for analyses (Group 3).  The non-lucid dreamer had 24 diary and laboratory collected non-lucid dreams (Group 4).


Results and Conclusion


One-way analyses of covariance were computed on 140 content scales from Hall and Van de Castle with number of words in the dream transcript as the covariate.  The four groups of dreams compared were as noted above.  All significant findings (means and F-Ratios) are portrayed in Tables 1 to 4.

As with Gackenbach, the content analysis of lucid vs. non-lucid dreams for these four groups of dreams (2 lucid groups and 2 non-lucid groups) were more alike than different.  That is, only 27% of the analyses showed significant differences.  However, this figure (38 significant differences) is considerably higher than what one would expect by chance alone. Consequently, although there are few differences they can not be accounted for by chance factors alone.

As to the nature of the differences, in 27 of the 38 significant findings the TMS had the lowest incidence.  He had the highest incidence in only 4 scales (i.e., male characters; "old" modifiers; references to dream control; and sense of intellectual, emotional and body balance).

Consistent with the electrophysiological findings with this same TM subject (Gackenbach, Moorecroft, Alexander & LaBerge, 1987), he demonstrated both lower physiological arousal, even though he was able to signal with prearranged eye movements and lower psychological "arousal". That is, there were fewer thought elements in his sleep mentation experiences.




Alexander, C.N., Davies, J., Dillbeck, M., Dixon, C., Oetzel, R. & Muehlman, J.M. (in press). Higher stages of consciousness beyond formal operations: The Vedic psychology of human development. In C.N. Alexander, E. Langer and R. Oetzel (Eds.), Higher Stages of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.

Banquet, Jean-Paul & Sailhan, M. (1974, April). Quantified EEG spectral analysis of sleep and Transcendental Meditation. Paper presented at the second European Congress on Sleep Research, Rome, Italy.

Gackenbach, J.I. (in press). Psychological content of lucid vs. nonlucid dreams. In J.I. Gackenbach & Stephen LaBerge (Eds.), Lucid dreams: New research on consciousness during sleep. New York: Plenum.

Gackenbach, J.I., Moorecroft, W., Alexander, C. & Laberge, S. (1987). "Consciousness" during sleep in a TM practitioner: Heart rate, respiration and eye movement.  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams, Arlington, VA.

Hall, C. & Van de Castle, R. (1966). The content analysis of dreams. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Kesterson, John (1985). Respiratory changes during the Transcendental Meditation technique. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 1144, 334-338.

LaBerge, S., Levitan, L. & Dement, W. (1986). Lucid dreaming: Physiological correlates of consciousness during REM sleep. The Journal of Mind and Behavior: Special Issue: Cognition and Dream Research. 7(2&3), 251-258 


Research supported by grants to the authors from their respective institutions.

Lucidity Letter 6(1), 1987


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Research Reports and an at Home Research Project

Flying Dreams and Lucidity: An Empirical Study of Their Relationship


Deirdre Barrett

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.


A common observation in the lucidity literature is an association between lucid dreams and flying dreams.  In Van Eeden's paper in which he introduced the term "lucid dream", he wrote, "Flying or floating in all forms of dreams...is generally an indication that lucid dreams are coming" (p. 449; Van Eeden, 1913).  Patricia Garfield also noticed that flying dreams tended to occur in close proximity to lucid dreams and suggested that one can make use of this relationship to cultivate lucidity:  "Induce dreams of flying and you are on your way to lucid dreams" (p. 133; Garfield, 1974).

Celia Green reported that all her lucid dreamers refer to flying dreams, several of them describing that the flying prompted lucidity, while one intentionally used the occurrence of lucidity to initiate flight (Green, 1968).  Other lucid dream accounts seem to have a high rate of flying (Sparrow, 1976; LaBerge, 1985).

The purpose of the present study was to determine in a general college population of dreamers: 1) what was the rate of lucid and flying dreams, 2) whether they occurred in some relationship to each other, 3) if they were related, whether the two elements occurred to the same dreamers on the same nights, and/or within the same dreams, and 4) when they occurred in the same dream, which element preceded the other.

A large number of dreams (n = 1180) compiled from 3 previous experiments were examined.  These experiments had involved asking fifty-six volunteer undergraduates to keep dream diaries for periods of time ranging from two to six weeks.  Two readers rated the dreams as to whether they contained content of flying or floating, whether they were lucid, and whether they fell into two lucidity related categories--"prelucid" dreams and false awakenings.

There were 11 dreams of flying and floating from 9 subjects.  There were 7 lucid dreams, 16 prelucid dreams and 8 false awakenings from 10 subjects. Six of these ten subjects with lucidity-related dreams were among those also dreaming of flying or floating.  This was a statistically greater than chance overlap between the subjects to whom these categories of dreams occurred.  For the subjects who had both categories of dreams, there was also a greater than chance overlap of the nights on which they occurred. On a given night, they were even likelier to occur within the same dream. In the dreams in which both flying and lucidity occurred, the lucid state preceded the flight.

These results support most of the suggestions about relationships between lucidity and flying dreams except one: there was no support in the present study for the idea that the act of flying will commonly trigger lucidity. This empirical relationship between flying and lucid dreams will be discussed in terms of several possible explanations: 1) that lucid dreamers may have a higher rate of all unusual, supernormal events in their dream content, 2) that flying and lucidity share some psychological theme, such as freedom, in common, 3) suggestions such as Ellis' (1913) that sensations of flying are initiated by greater awareness than in ordinary dreams leading to noting lack of pressure of the soles of the feet and high activation in balance and movement centers;  this greater awareness might share something in common physiologically with that manifested in the lucid dream.



Ellis, H. (1911). The world of dreams. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Garfield, P. (1974). Creative dreaming. New York: Ballentine Books.

Green, C. (1968). Lucid dreams. Oxford: Institute for Psychophysical Research.

LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid dreaming. Los Angeles: Jeremy Tarcher.

Sparrow, G.S. (1976). Lucid dreaming: The dawning of the clear light. Virginia Beach A.R.E. Press.

Van Eeden, F. (1913). A study of dreams. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 26, 431-461.


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lucid dream experience.

To aid the progress of science--and to direct your own nightly dreamtime show--please attempt exercises one, two, and three, as outlined below.  We suggest that you do the tasks as often as possible over a two week period before filling out the accompanying questionnaire.  Some people may need to practice the technique for weeks before getting results, while others may succeed on the first night.  Please fill out the questionnaire whether you manage to have a lucid dream or not.



A number of techniques facilitate lucid dreams.  One of the simplest is asking yourself many times during the day whether or not you are dreaming. Each time you ask the question, you should look for evidence proving you are not dreaming.  The most reliable test is reading: read something, look away for a moment, and then read it again.  If it reads the same twice, it is very unlikely that you are dreaming.  After you have proven to yourself that you are not presently dreaming, visualize yourself in a lucid dream doing whatever it is you'd like.  Also tell yourself that you want to recognize a real dream the next time it occurs.  The way people usually recognize a dream is through unusual or bizarre occurrences.  For instance, if you find yourself flying without visible means of support, you should realize that this only happens in dreams, and that therefore, you must now be dreaming.

If you awaken from a dream in the middle of the night, it is very helpful to return there immediately, in your imagination.  Now envision yourself recognizing the dream as such.  Tell yourself, "The next time I am dreaming, I want to remember to recognize that I am dreaming."  If your intention is strong and clear enough, you may find yourself in a lucid dream when you return to sleep.




Many lucid dreamers report dreams in which they fly without aids, much like superman.  Some lucid dreamers say that flying is a thrilling means of travel, others that it has helped them return from one of their more harrowing dream experiences--the endless fall.

During the two week period of your participation in this experiment, please try to focus on dream flight.  If you're falling, turn that fall into flight--remember, there's no gravity in dreams.  If you're simply going from here to there, do it with flight.  This simple activity will cue you into the fact that you are, after all, in a dream.

How to make dream flight happen at all?  We suggest that before you retire for bed, you simply repeat these words: "Tonight, I fly!"  Then, while still awake, imagine that journey through air.

When you actually see yourself flying, say "this is a dream."  Make sure you start modestly, by simply floating above the surface of your dream ground.  You can do this while either standing or lying down.  As you gain confidence in both the notion that you are dreaming, and in your ability to control that experience, you might experiment with flying a bit more.  Run in big leaps and then stay aloft for a few seconds, so that you resemble an astronaut waking on the moon.  Try sustained floating, and then, flying at low altitudes.  As your confidence increases, so will your flying skills. Work on increasing your height, and maneuverability, and speed.  As with speed sports, you should perfect height and maneuverability before speed. Of course, you wouldn't really hurt yourself--it's only a dream.  But you could get scared.

After you have become proficient in dream flying, remember to ask yourself these questions: How high can I fly?  Can I view the earth from outer space?  Can I travel so fast that I lose awareness of my surroundings and experience the sensation of pure speed?

Throughout your efforts in dream flight, please remember that you're in a dream.  With this in mind, your fears will be held at bay and your control over the dream will be greatly enhanced.




Even if you're a frequent lucid dreamer, you might not be able to stop yourself from waking up in the middle of the dream.  And even if your dreams do reach a climax or satisfying end, you might not be able to focus them exactly as you please.

During our years of research, however, we have found that spinning your dream body can sustain the period of sleep and give you greater dream control.  In fact, many subjects at Stanford University have used the spinning technique to produce a transition to virtually any desired dream scene.  The task outlined below will help you use spinning as a means of staying asleep and, more exciting, as a means of traveling to whatever dream world you desire.

As with dream flying, the dream spinning task starts before you go to bed. Before retiring, decide on a person, time, and place you would like to visit in your lucid dream.  The target person and place can be either real or imaginary, past, present or future.  For instance: Sigmund Freud, Vienna, 1900; Stephen LaBerge, Stanford, California, the present; or President of Solar System, Galaxy Base, 2900.  Write down and memorize your target phrased, then vividly visualize yourself visiting your target and firmly resolve to do so in a dream that night.

When following this procedure, it is possible to inadvertently find yourself in a non-lucid dream visiting your target.  To avoid this outcome, you should first try to become lucid by following some of the techniques outlined in exercise one.  Then proceed to your goal.

To do so, repeat your target phrase and spin your whole dream body in a standing position with your arms outstretched.  It doesn't matter whether you pirouette or spin like a top, as long as you vividly feel your dream body in motion.

The same spinning technique will help when, in the middle of a lucid dream, you feel the dream imagery beginning to fade.  To avoid waking up, spin as you repeat your target phrase again and again.  Hopefully, you'll arrive right back with your target person, time and place.

When spinning, please try to remember whether you are moving in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.




Dream Profile

This part of the questionnaire relates to your general dream tendencies, and does not necessarily reflect your experience with this experiment.  You can complete this part of the questionnaire even if you have not completed the prescribed exercises.


Non-lucid Dream Questions


1. During the past year, you remember having ordinary, non-lucid dreams (which you assumed were real when asleep but recognized as dreams upon waking):


a) at least once a week  b) at least once a month  c) at least once every six months  d) at least once  e) never.


2. During the past year, you experienced nightmares upsetting enough to wake you:


a) at least once a week  b) at least once a month  c) at least once every six months  d) at least once  e) never.


3. During the past year, you had dreams in which you seemed to wake up, but in reality, remained asleep:


a) at least once a week  b) at least once a month  c) at least every six months  d) at least once  e) never.


4. During the past year, you had dreams that you suspected were dreams, though you remained unsure:


a) at least once a week   b) at least once a month   c) at least every six months   d) at least once   e) never.


5. In the non-lucid dreams referred to in questions 1 through 4, you experienced real people:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


6. In the non-lucid dreams referred to in questions 1 through 4, you experienced imaginary people:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


7. In the non-lucid dreams referred to in questions 1 through 4, you experienced real places:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


8. In the non-lucid dreams referred to in questions 1 through 4, you experienced imaginary places:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


9. In the non-lucid dreams referred to in questions 1 through 4, you could fly without external help:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


10. In the non-lucid dreams referred to in questions 1 through 4, you were able to almost magically control whatever happened in the dream:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


Lucid Dream Questions


11. During the past year, you had lucid dreams (during which you were explicitly conscious of dreaming):


a) at least once a week    b) at least once a month    c) at least once d) never.


12. If you have ever had a lucid dream, please stop now to describe it in detail on a blank sheet of paper.  Make sure the paper is clearly labelled  "My Lucid Dream," and send it in with the questionnaire.


13. In the lucid dreams referred to in questions 11 and 12, you experienced real people:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.

14. In the lucid dreams referred to in questions 11 and 12, you experienced imaginary people:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


15. In the lucid dreams referred to in questions 11 and 12, you experienced real places:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


16. In the lucid dreams referred to in questions 11 and 12, you experienced imaginary places:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


17. In the lucid dreams referred to in questions 11 and 12, you could fly without external help:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


18. In the lucid dreams referred to in questions 11 and 12, you were able to almost magically control whatever happened in the dream:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


Healing Questions


19. Have you ever tried to mentally or physically heal yourself in a lucid dream, curing an illness or overcoming a phobia or fear?


a) yes        b) no


20. If yes, did you succeed?


a) yes        b) no


21. If you succeeded, please attach a separate sheet of paper describing this experience.  Make sure the page is carefully labelled  "Lucid Dream Healing."


Problem Solving Questions


22. Have you ever tried to solve an intellectual problem in a lucid dream? For instance, have you tried to think of an idea for a book or attempted to solve a mathematical equation?


a) yes        b) no


23. If so, what was the problem?  Answer in one line.




24. If you actually succeeded in solving the problem, please send a written account of your experience on a separate sheet of paper.  Make sure it is carefully labelled "Lucid Dream Problem Solving."


Miscellaneous Dream Questions


25. Please circle the two words that most often characterize your feelings when you awaken from a nightmare:


frustrated       helpless       violent       exhausted       pensive


agitated         relieved       happy         apprehensive


26. If someone said you had a problem with nightmares, you would:


a) strongly agree   b) agree   c) feel uncertain   d) disagree   e) strongly disagree


27. If you have lucid dreams every so often, how do you feel about this statement: The day after I have a lucid dream my mood has generally improved.


a) strongly agree   b) agree   c) feel uncertain   d)disagree   e) strongly disagree


28. Just before you fall asleep, you see images:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


Waking Habits Questions


29. While watching a movie, a T.V., or a play, you become so involved that you forget about yourself and your surroundings and experience the story as if it were real, and as if you were taking part in it:


a) often   c) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never.


30. When you're in the middle of a routine task, your thoughts wander until you forget about the task, only to find, a few minutes later, that the task is complete:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never


31. Meditation interests you


a) not at all   b) somewhat   c) very much


32. You have had the feeling of floating outside your physical body:


a) often   b) sometimes   c) rarely   d) never


33. How many times have you taken psychedelic drugs?


34. You have had a mystical experience, a profound sense of communion with all of nature, creation, or God:


a) while awake   b) while near sleep   c) while asleep   d) never.



The Omni Experiment


The answers to questions 35 through 59 should be answered only after you have spent two weeks completing exercises one, two, and three, described earlier.  Each question applies solely to the two weeks during which the experiment took place.


Dream Frequency Questions


35. How many times did you have ordinary, non-lucid dreams?


36. How many times did you have nightmares?


37. How many times did you dream that you'd awakened when you were really still asleep?


38. How many times did you suspect you were dreaming but remain unsure?


39. How many lucid dreams did you have?


40. How many nights did you attempt to have a lucid dream?


41. How many days did you ask yourself whether or not you were dreaming?


42. On the average, how many times per day did you ask yourself whether or not you were dreaming?


43. If you had a lucid dream for the first time during this period, how many nights did you have to try before you succeeded?


44. You were able to fly in your dreams:


a) while lucid   b) while not lucid   c) never.


45. If you did succeed in flying, it took:


a) virtually no effort   b) little effort   c) moderate effort  d) a great deal of effort.



Flying Exercise Questions


46. Check all the maneuvers you attempted while flying during the ordinary, non-lucid dreams.  If you attempted maneuvers not listed, please fill them in on the blank line.


____flew head first

____flew feet first

____flew face down, parallel to the ground

____flew face up, parallel to the ground

____flew standing up, perpendicular to the ground

____flew upside down, perpendicular to the ground

____altered body position during flight

other _________________________________


47. Check all the maneuvers you attempted while flying during the lucid dreams.  If you attempted maneuvers not listed, please fill them in on the blank line.


____flew head first

____flew feet first

____flew face down, parallel to the ground

____flew face up, parallel to the ground

____flew standing up, perpendicular to the ground

____flew upside down, perpendicular to the ground

____altered body position during flight

other _________________________________


48. During your non-lucid dream flights, you were able to move as fast as (circle all the speeds you attained):


an airplane

a runner

a car                            

a walker

a bicycle                       

a stationary, floating balloon


49. During your lucid dream flights, you were able to move as fast as (circle all the speeds you attained):


an airplane                     

a runner

a car                            

a walker

a bicycle                       

a stationary, floating balloon


50. During your non-lucid dreams, you were able to fly (check every height you attained:


a few inches off the ground          

as high as an airplane

a few feet off the ground            

into outer space

as high as a two-story building


51. During your lucid dreams, you were able to fly (check every height you attained):


a few inches off the ground          

as high as an airplane

a few feet off the ground             

into outer space

as high as a two-story building


Dream Spinning Questions


52. When you attempted the dream-spinning task, your target person was: name relationship to you


53. The target location was:


54. This location is:


a) real       b) imaginary


55. The time frame of the visit was:


a) past    b) present    c) future


56. You would describe the attempted visit as:


a) successful      b) uncertain     c) unsuccessful


57. If you successfully used spinning to complete the target visit, you believe that your spin was:


a) clockwise        b) counterclockwise


58. If you used the spinning technique to stabilize your lucid dream, you would describe the effort as:


a) successful     b) of uncertain success     c) unsuccessful


59. Please take out a separate sheet of paper, and provide a detailed report of your experiences during the two weeks of the lucid dream experiment.  Recount any lucid dreams you had; be sure to explicitly mention whether or not you knew you were dreaming.  If you used the spinning technique, did you spin in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction?  Describe your intended target destination, its significance to you, and whether or not you reached it.  Did you fly?  Did you enjoy the experiment?  Mention anything that seems significant to you.  Remember to clearly label this sheet of paper "Experimental Report."




Sex:         male _____           female ____


Age:  ______


Handedness:   right ____    left ____    mixed ____


Marital status:     single ____     married ____     divorced/widowed ____


Highest educational level:       high school ____    vocational school ____ college ____      graduate school ____


Approximate total household income:


less than $10,000         $30,000 - $39,000           $75,000 +

$10,000 - $19,000         $40,000 - $49,000

$20,000 - $29,000         $50,000 - $74,000


Your position or job title (please be specific)____________________________


You have ear problems:


a) frequently ____      b) sometimes ____      c) never ____


Do you have a sleep disorder called narcolepsy?


Yes ____    No ____


How susceptible are you to motion sickness?


Very ____    somewhat ____    not at all ____


How do you rate your physical health?


exceptional ____   very good ____   good ____   fair ____   poor ____


Name _____________________________ (optional)


Address __________________________


Are you interested in participating in further research into lucid dreams?


yes ____     no ____ Be sure to include your name and address if you are.



Subject Release Form


I give permission to Lucidity Letter to anonymously/named (circle one) print my dreams provided with this questionnaire.



Print name and date.


I do NOT give permission to Lucidity Letter to print my dreams provided with this questionnaire.



Print name and date.


Mail this questionnaire to: Lucid Dreaming Questionnaire, C/O Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0505


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Editor:  As a physicist, interested in quantum physics and an author, why are you interested in lucid dreams?


Wolf:  The main reason is because I have lucid dreams.  Because I have lucid dreams, I'm naturally interested in their significance.  It appears to me as a scientist, that a lucid dream is a new kind of human experience. One that needs to be explored as part of legitimate scientific inquiry. It's not a quirk or a weird thing.  It seems to have certain objective qualities which make it something that can be studied.


Editor:  What do you mean it has objective qualities?


Wolf:  Objective qualities are qualities a lucid dream would have that are common with what other people would say they have when dreaming lucidly. However, from my own experience and reading about what other people have said about them, the main quality is the ability to be awake when one knows one is dreaming.  That is a very strange state of affairs to be in because it's a paradox.  One shouldn't be awake and dreaming at the same time.  So I take it that in a lucid dream one is not really asleep in the sense of our common overall accepted term for the word sleep, but rather is "really" in an awakened state.  It's an altered state of awareness.  It's a conscious state that the mind is in.  So if it's a conscious state, the question is what is it conscious of?  What is the object of this consciousness?  What is really being viewed?  That's where a physicist, like myself, gets more interested.  I don't look at a lucid dream, or any dream in general, but a lucid dream in particular, and consider it subjective any more.  When the observer and the observed can separate and say this is the observed and this is the observer, which is an effect one seems to be having when lucid, then I think it's questionable whether it should be considered subjective.


Editor:  Along those lines let me share with you something that happened to me the other night.  I've been having lucid dreams monthly for years, analyzing them in considerable detail.  This experience I'm about to tell you is a phenomena that is happening more and more when I become lucid. When I become the observer, that is, the awareness is there while asleep, I lose what's observed.  I'm having a very difficult time maintaining the "sensory" dream experience, although the consciousness remain.  Whether my approach is the lucid dream is active or passive, I can't maintain the dream.  It's not like I wake up.  What happens is I'll get nebulous content such as grey clouds.   I'm losing content not consciousness.  It seems to be that this may represent a developmental process in lucidity experiences.


Wolf:  As you become more strongly aware of yourself in the dream, the world that your dreaming begins to grey out on you.


Editor:  Yes.  Even if I'm trying to create something or make something happen on the one hand or saying to myself, "Okay, I'm going to be completely passive and  I'm going to just let this dream happen," on the other hand.  The content disappears.


Wolf:  Then what happens.


Editor:  The disappearance is distinct and is followed by a visual representation of it, grey clouding.  After a bit of a let down in the dream, I wake up.  What I'm trying to get at is the experience of the observer.  These current lucid dreams of mine may be something idiosyncratic, but they were preceded by years of very, very heavy observer action and interaction with the dream.  Why don't you tell me about your lucid dream.  It's one of the most remarkable, of the one's I've heard.


Wolf:  This dream occurred when I was living in England.  I had a visiting professorship at the University of Paris and I was an honorary research fellow at the University of London.  I had just begun my inquiry into questions that bordered on metaphysics.  Questions like this sort of thing we're talking about and it happened during an evening I had been out late and had gone to bed and was in a rather agitated state.  I couldn't sleep right away.  I got up because I was thinking about something having to do with physics.  In fact, I would say my mind was totally occupied by equations and relationships and things that had grabbed my interest during the several months of research that I was doing when I was in England.  I went to the dining room table and worked on these equations for a while and then I went back to sleep.

The person I was living with at the time was my partner and lover.  She and I have always had a very special connection, a bond of a certain kind. It's very hard to describe, it's something that when we're in the presence of each other, we have this sort of awareness.  Well, she was sleeping next to me at the time; and this may be the reason the dream was so powerful because of her presence.

I started following through what I call stages of deep sleep, and awakening from them, but every time I awakened, I awakened with the knowledge that I hadn't really awakened.  It was like I'm awake but I'm not awake.


Editor:  False awakenings.


Wolf:  I would wake up, sit up in bed and say, "Well, I'm sitting up and I'm looking around, but I know I haven't done this yet."  It was like that. Then I would lay down again and I would start to go into a spin.  I would definitely feel a spin feeling.


Editor:  Was it initiated by you or did it have the sense that it was happening to you?


Wolf:  I don't exactly know how to describe it.  Let's just say that there was a definite feeling of spinning.  A feeling of stopping the spin and I'd be in a different universe.  I'd look out and I'd see something that would be that way, I'd come back again and I'd spin again.  It's like I would be waking up in different places.


Editor:  How lovely.


Wolf:  So that went on for a period of time until finally it stopped and I found myself in this room.  The first thing I noticed about the room was that it was a fairly big and really wide circular room, and the walls were vertical but in a semicircle like a stove top hat. Additionally, the walls had a different texture.  One of the things I noticed in my lucid dreaming states is that I'm aware of texture: very, very much aware of texture. It's like when I touch something and I know that this is leather and that's wood.


Editor:  It's a tactile awareness, not just a visual one?


Wolf:  Tactile awareness, as with my fingers.  I was touching the wall, and I could feel the weave of it, it had kind of a basket weave feeling to it, or a carpet weave, I'm not sure.  Then I noticed I was rising and floating off the floor from the dream.


Editor:  Were you aware you were dreaming?


Wolf:  Oh, yes.  I was aware all the way.


Editor:  Through all your spinning there was this, "Hey, what's happening? I'm asleep."


Wolf:  Yes, I knew definitely I was dreaming.  I never have any problem knowing I'm in that state.  So, when I felt myself rising off the ground, I got very scared and began to feel myself coming down.  It was at that moment that I realized that my emotional state had something to do with my physical state in the dream.  If I relaxed and took a deep breath, I'd start to float again.  As soon as I felt myself getting worried, I'd start to come down.


Editor:  No kidding.


Wolf:  So, I was literally going up and down.  It was a metaphor of something to do with splitting our physiology and our psychology.  I was beginning to experiment and float off the ground again when I had turned around in the room and noticed that there was another being present in the room with me.  He took me by surprise.

I said, "Oh, excuse me, I'm new here." or something like that.  I felt embarrassed floating off the ground while this guy is walking in the room. He said that he knew.  He said that he's the caretaker and if I'd come down, he'd show me around.  So I somehow came down.  I don't remember how I came down but somehow I managed to come down and the next thing I knew I was walking with him out through the doorway in the room.


Editor:  What was your impression of him physically?


Wolf:  It was very vague.  He seemed to be in a robe and grey haired. That's all I know.  His name was John.  That's about all I can remember about him.  He took me out into this place which looked like a rolling green hilled cemetery.  That was the impression I had of it.  Although there were no graves or gravestones anywhere.  It was a beautiful sunshiny day with a blue sky.  We were walking on a very green carpeted, velvety grass.  It felt really wonderful.  It was a nice, warming experience.  He took me to a group of people that were all seated in a circle on a wall which was approximately 3 feet off of the ground.  They were seated around the wall in a circular group.  I entered the circle and was just standing there when John said something and then seemed to disappeared or leave. The next thing I knew, I was in this group, and I began thinking to myself, "What am I doing here?"  These people were more or less ignoring me.  Some people were talking to each other but most were staring off into space.


Editor:  Throughout all of this you knew you were dreaming?


Wolf:   Always.


Editor:  Did you have any sense of having to balance that awareness with your dream activity?


Wolf:  How do you mean?  I don't know what you mean by balance?


Editor:  I found that if I don't continually remind myself of the true nature of the dream as that of dream that I lose the awareness.  You didn't have any of that.


Wolf:  There was no effort to keep dreaming.


Editor:  No, not to keep dreaming, that's easy.  To keep the knowledge, the awareness of the true nature of the state.


Wolf:  I wasn't thinking about it.  I was just simply going through the experience of what was happening to me.  I was living the experience as much as I was this experience.  I don't know what's going to happen next right now.


Editor:  Throughout, you knew it was a dream.


Wolf:  Yes.  I mean I knew it was a dream, but at the same time I wasn't thinking, "Oh, I know this is a dream.  I know this is a dream.  I know this is a dream."  I wasn't constantly reminding myself this was a dream.


Editor:  But you still had the sense that you knew it?


Wolf:  I don't know what you mean by that.  If you say to me, do I know I'm awake at this moment, I would say, "Of course, I'm awake at this moment."


Editor:  But you're not always saying it.


Wolf:  Am I always telling myself, "Am I awake?  Am I awake?  Am I awake?" No, of course I'm not.


Editor:  Okay, let me explain it with a personal experience.  When I know I'm dreaming, I remind myself I know I'm dreaming and I continue to do so. If at some point I lose that awareness and I don't remind myself: I don't say, I'm awake or I'm dreaming or whatever, then the dream continues.  I wake up later and think, "Ah, gees, I lost it!"  My recollection of the part where I knew I was dreaming will be very distinct from the part where I didn't know I was dreaming.  I know that I got caught up in the activities and I lost the awareness.  Although, there are people who talk about the continuity of the awareness without, like you say, the reminding. What that literally means, say psychophysiologically, I don't know.  That's one of the things that my colleagues at Maharishi International University talk about, the continuity of consciousness.  In any case, please go on.


Wolf:  I honestly hadn't thought that was a problem.  It didn't occur to me, but I do remember carrying on a kind of conversation with myself, "Well, where am I?  What am I doing here."  Then I began to look at people's faces and that's when I began to experience a general awareness of where I was.  When I looked at a person’s face, I could see through the skin and I could see the musculature.  I could see the stress and strain lines. I also could begin to see terrible pain in these people’s faces.  It was then that I suddenly had a flash of where I was.  I was actually in my dream thinking thoughts that weren't being verbalized.  I don't know if you've ever done that before.  You know you're sitting here right now and you'll think a thought and you won't say it to yourself.  You know what you thought, but you won't say it in words.  You don't insert words in your thought.


Editor:  I'd say I'm having impressions.  I'm having feelings.  I'm having visual images.  That is how I would label non-verbalized thought.


Wolf:  It's an intuitive clash of insight which you can later verbalize. But at the moment you know something that later on you'll write down in words.


Editor:  Okay, okay.  Yes, I've had that, it's a knowing.  It's a knowing that doesn't have to be labeled.  It can just be.


Wolf:  Yes, it can be.  I knew who those people were, where I was, and why they looked the way they did.  I went to the "Ah, ha" experience.  At that moment I said to myself, "I know what's going on here.  I know where I'm at."  At that same moment, a woman sitting on the wall opposite me seemed to take notice of me.  She stood up and said, "Oh, you do, huh?  Well, where are you?"  I began to say something but I noticed she was approaching me and that kind of got me worried.  I said, "Not only do I know where I'm at but I can leave this place any moment I want to, and go back to where I've come from."  Like I'm visiting here, I'm not here permanently.


Editor:  I've read about this dream so I know it's considerably longer but what conclusion do you draw from it?


Wolf:  I was aware when I awakened that what I had done was visited a level that has been written about for centuries in the metaphysical and occult literature called an astral level.


Editor:  That's how you perceived it?  Really?


Wolf:  Definitely.  Not only that, but I perceived that the people I was talking with were people who had committed suicide and that was the reason for all the pain in their faces.  I also perceived what they were doing there.  I definitely had the feeling this was a level that was connected close to the earth.  It was definitely an earth plain but not like another dimension.  It was more like a parallel dimension; a parallel world associated with the earth plain.  It's where suicides go when they commit suicide, because a suicide is an unwillingness to complete what you're originally scheduled for.  It's sort of like quitting a job.  When you quit a job, you are no longer attached to it.  It indicates that you have made a decision to back off of a contract or commitment that you made with yourself.  You have to review what it is you did, why you did it and why you are back here again.  You also have to review something else, which may not be as palatable to accept, but something which I believe is very true. Suicides usually don't reincarnate alone.  In other words, when a reincarnation experience takes and the person is going back into bodily form again, it's not just one soul for one body.  There may be something like 10 or 20 or maybe as many as a thousand different entities which form a soul entity for that lifetime.  These different soul forms have to work together to get a certain job done.  It's an integration process.  These suicides have to wait until they're acceptable to the rest of the integration complex in order to be brought back together again; to allow themselves the integration experience.  In other words, the other souls are saying, "Well, I'm not so sure we want to have this guy in here."


Editor:  That's a nice characterization of the waking experience of an attempted suicide as well.


Wolf:  So that's why they're in a waiting pattern.


Editor:  Okay, so this was a suicide state, what do you draw from that? How is physics implicated in all of this?


Wolf:  Well, I don't really know how to answer that as it takes some steps to go from what I perceive to what I can theorize about.


Editor:  One of the things you once mentioned to me when we were talking about lucid dreams was that perhaps a lucid dream represents a parallel universe.


Wolf:  The parallel world theory is a new theory in quantum physics and it's just now beginning to take on practical application because people are using the ideas from parallel world theory to come up with designs for new kinds of automatons used in computer elements.  If the parallel world hypothesis is correct, it would be possible to do certain kinds of computations that are so quick that they will leave the present computers way behind in terms of speed.  There will be certain kinds of predictions that could be made, like weather predictions and things of that sort. They'll be far more practical than we have right now.  So there's a great deal of hope and expectation that we might be able to do things with parallel world computers, quantum automaton, that can't be done in the real world that exists today.  So we're on the verge of something very exciting.

This is all being taken very seriously.  It's not a fluke.  What it says is that there exists more than one universe.  These universes are continually multiplying, or if you will dividing and recombining according to the actions that are taking place.


Editor:  Within the universe?


Wolf:  Within the universes.  One might imagine that there's a certain number of them all stacked together, kind of like parallel plates or books that are all super imposed on each other, and each book is a slightly different version of the other one.  But it's more dynamic than that static example.

Let me just describe a typical parallel world sequence.  It's one in which an observer observes a particular state of a system.  We're talking about quantum systems right now.  Quantum systems have distinctive states that are well separated from each other.  They have what's called a discrete spectrum of states.  Whenever an observation of something discrete occurs, then the observing instrument or the memory of the observer of that state is altered or changed to accommodate the data of the discrete observation.

Let's say, for example, that we are looking at a quantum coin, that has heads and tails.  Its an atomic size coin.  This quantum coin exists without a distinctive side showing, we say in quantum physics that it has both sides present simultaneously.  When an observation occurs, one says he sees either heads or tails.  In the parallel world theory, we now say that the observer is also in one of these mixed states.  So that one observer sees tails while one sees heads but it's the same observer.  Now this observer could be one person and the coin being observed might be a neural firing pattern in the brain and the rest of the world won't be splitting at all it's just this neural firing pattern might be splitting and the person would then have a kind of an indecisive moment of whether to take action or not to take action.  Or it could be a dream state which is occurring simultaneous with an awareness of dreaming, such as in a lucid dream. These might be examples of how the brain is working in this parallel world mode.  It may have always worked that way, but we just didn't have the language to describe it before.  This is where I think there is a connection.

One of the latest ideas in quantum physics is in a series of papers from a group of physicists from Israel and from the University of South Carolina. It is the notion that it's possible to build a computer memory element that will record a quantum state of a system, a physical system.  A quantum state could be one of two possibilities and as a result it's memory would record, say heads or tails, assuming its' a quantum coin.  It could also record that state which comes about by adding together the heads and tails state which could be something different than heads or tails alone.  So by doing this it has a record both of what state it observed when it first looked at a system and it has a record of observing it's own self when the two states combine together.  So it has two records.  A record of what it's observing and a record of it's observing of itself.  It's in the self observation that it can tie together the possibility of this state of a physical system that it had observed and the possibility of the existence of this other measurement that could have been made because it would interfere and effect it's memory.


Editor:  It sounds like you're talking about a lucid dream.


Wolf:  That's just like a lucid dream.


Editor:  Yes, where your observer is observing himself and in the observation process impact what's occurring.


Wolf: That's right.  That's exactly right.  This has now become what I think is a very important issue in this new physics viewpoint.  The only theory which seems to make sense of this kind of an effect of a system observing an outside system and observing itself at the same time is parallel world theory, because the kind of measurement it makes of itself is very distinct from the kind of measurement it makes of physical systems outside of itself.  In quantum physics, anytime you observer systems outside of themselves, anytime a measuring instrument observes something outside of itself, it's governed by the uncertainty principle.  But when it undergoes a self observation as well as observing outside of itself the rules of this uncertainty principle don't have the same force so it's possible for a system which is observing itself to observe both what it observed when it observed the physical system and observe the effect of what it would have observed if it had observed the other state of the physical system as well as what it observed.  So it can see the effect of the addition of those two states together.

This is a very funny business, but it's the kind of thing which exists in quantum mechanics all the time.  We're constantly dealing with what is called complimentary variables; the notion that, for example, if you measure say the spin of a particle, it's possible to measure its spin up or spin down with respect to a certain direction in space.  Well, it's also true that you can measure spin up or spin down with respect to a direction perpendicular to the direction in which you measure.  But in quantum mechanics, the mathematics which describes that say the following.  Let's say that x is one direction and z is a direction perpendicular to it, if I measure, say, spin up in a z direction then it's possible to show that that is equal to the super position of the possibility of measuring spin up and spin down in the x direction.  In other words, a spin up in one direction is a combination of opposite spins in another perpendicular direction.

So if you have an observing system, like the system we're talking about, and it measures the spin of a particle to be in the up z direction, in a parallel world it's other version of itself would measure the spin of the particle in the opposite direction, in the down z direction.  Now, suppose that the system takes a measurement of itself and what it just measured and sees the interference between those two states.  In other words, when it measures itself, it measures say a spin in the x direction, which is a combination of the up and down z, then it would say to itself, "Ah, look I've just measured z as up, but I've proven that I've also measured z down. Even though I'm not aware in the z up state that I've measured z down, I know it has to exist.


So, if you compare that to a lucid dream state, here you are dreaming and you're having a lucid dream, you're definitely in a z up state, but you're aware that the z down state exists.  You're aware of the other level, even though it is not entering into the level you're in.


Editor:  That's similar to the idea of the continuation of consciousness, even though there may not be a verbal manifestation of it.  Can we take that a step further?  The parallel universe theory may act as a physical model for the lucid experience.  How then, within the physical model, or perhaps metaphor, does this process of observation or awareness impact what is observed?  That is, the physical reality of what is observed.  Can it?


Wolf:  Yes, it can.  The problem we have right now is that the theory is so undefined that it can do anything.  We don't have enough limits to know what it can't do.  There are a number of possible directions of research that one could take to find metaphorical models for how the observer impacts the dream state, for example.


Editor:  I was thinking more of how the observer might impact the body in the dream.  As in healing the body.


Wolf:  Yes, well again, I don't see any reason why it can't.  There's nothing I see against that.  If one is dreaming of a well body and has measured that state in a lucid dream and one is in a sick body, it seems that there will be an interference between those two states which should have some benefit.  The body won't be either well or sick, but it certainly won't be only sick or as sick either.


Editor:  So the observer is observing an experience in a lucid dream of the body, and saying, "Okay, now I'm going to effect the immunological system. I'm going to decrease the incidence of killer cells."  So the observer is saying that about this imaginary body.  Do you think that, from the perspective of quantum physics and parallel worlds such a "real body" effect is possible?


Wolf:  I can imagine it, but I don't see how right now.  I don't have a model for it at this moment.  As I said, the problem at this point is not so much, can the model explain this: the model, right now is so broad it can explain too much.  What we want to do now is to find its limits. The parallel world model, right now, is still very, very new.  These kinds of observations I'm talking about, where you're  aware of one state in a present moment, and aware of another state in a future moment, with the future moment having an impact on present moment is brand new stuff. It also has to do with this whole idea of parallel worlds, and self observation, and we're just beginning to get our hands on what that can mean and what it's application can be.


Editor: Let’s pursue the idea of the future impacting the present. Then a precognitive dream might simply be a receipt of the future.


Wolf:  The parallel world hypothesis also allows one to deal in an objective way with the effects of future observations on the present. That's another aspect of this game.  There are two basic aspects of it. One is the automaton observing a system and observing itself observing a system, which produces distinctive results.  Then there's the so called two time effects, where the state of a system between two measurements has unique properties which it wouldn't have if the final measurement had been carried out.  In other words, it's like the future affecting what's happening between two measurements.  We're for practical applications of that kind of a thing where certain systems are measured initially and then finally and then something weird happens in between.  If we're clever, we can carry out very funny kinds of measurements in between, which shows the effect of the future propagating back into those measurements.  You have to be clever to do it.


Editor:  To say the least.


Wolf:  But there are ways to do it.  However, you can always argue from the old theory that says, well, it really wasn't the future propagating back into the present, it was the continuation of the present, because the concept of time as linear is such a prevailing argument.


Lucidity Letter 6(1), 1987


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Articles: Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations

Journal of Attempts to Induce and Work with Lucid Dreams: Can You Kill Yourself while Lucid?


Bruce G. Marcot

Portland, Oregon


Following is a narrative of my attempts to create lucid dreams and my experiments with the lucid dream state.  I cite my journal notes I had kept during that time period.

The technique I used to induce a lucid dream was to "find my hand" in a dream (a la the technique described in Carlos Castenada's books).  This entailed concentrating on my hand in a dream and using that as a trigger to remind myself that I am dreaming.  If the image wavered or faded, I would avert my vision for a moment then concentrate on my hand again.  This helped to renew the focus.

Initially, it took a great effort to create the lucid dream state.  At the beginning, before falling asleep I would concentrate on wanting to find my hand in a dream; results were typically as expressed in the following journal entries:


23 January 1976  (Friday)

Dreamed of finding my hand (first time).  Setting was very vague; cannot recall.  Averted my vision twice to stabilize the wavering image of my hands.  Brought up both hands and stared -- hands fused together, lost image.  Dreamed then of Don Juan's double; awoke after that.


28 January 1976  (Wednesday)

Found hand again -- a feeling of apprehension pervaded.  Awoke immediately. Had dreamed of being with my sister Vivian, when suddenly I realized I was dreaming, aware of the dream as "illusion," and consciously directed myself to look at my right hand.  (Note:  I am right-handed.)


2 February 1976  (Monday)

Vaguely recall finding my hand in a dream sometime in the middle of the night.


20 February 1976  (Friday)

Found my (right) hand, twice, briefly.


10 April 1976  (Saturday)

Briefly found my hand.  The dream-conscious state preceded my holding my hand up to eye level; in fact, it was a considerable effort to raise my hand, although I was consciously aware I was dreaming.  I quickly the lapsed into the normal dream state.


I then began a series of within-dream experiments to investigate the mental and physical properties of the lucid dream state.  These investigations involved exercising control over the dream events; conducting intellectual exercises, such as recalling long series of numbers; attempting to purposefully harm myself; and creating an awareness of my physical (sleeping) body.  Specifically, I established four experiments to conduct in the dream-conscious state, as a sort of step-wise increase in power or control:


(1) Find my hands and maintain their image.  The technique worked very well, as over a period of time I was able to exercise great control over entering the lucid dream state and controlling the dream.  The following journal entries depict this effort:


30 January 1976 (Friday)

Dreamed I was in a courtyard of some sort, with a wire fence.  Upon realizing it was a dream, I looked through the fence and saw my motorcycle helmet on the ground.  To consciously test my "personal power" of my control of dreams, I concentrated on "moving" the helmet through the fence to my side, but failed on first attempt.  I was then distracted by some girls who entered the scene on my side of the fence.  Awoke immediately.

Incredible dream of great awareness and control.  Dreamed I was in a house or mansion somewhere and suddenly realized I was dreaming.  It was a sudden cognitive awareness of being simultaneously conscious and dreaming.  I now think back and realize that in this dream I was consciously thinking in words; I cannot recall whether I think in words this way in other, normal dreams.  It seemed quite unique.

After realizing I was dreaming, I found my hands.  I stared at them for a short while, and they blurred/faded slightly, so I averted my vision to a hallway or room I was in, then looked at them again.  I became fascinated with my conscious directive of seeing my hands.  The very lines in my palms were quite distinct, and I found I could stare at them increasingly longer without losing the image.

Then, to consciously test my power, I willed my sister Vivian to appear. She did, but then turned into my girlfriend Rosemary.  I was fully conscious and aware that all the forms I was seeing, all of my sensations were subconscious and a dream.  I was quite delighted with being able to control this "power" of awareness and being able to make things happen outside of myself, retaining an aloof, cognitive alertness.

Then I left Rosemary and went into another room (which resembled the bathroom of the present apartment).  Someone slowly followed me in (either Vivian or Rosemary), but I was staring at both my hands, held a bit below eye level, trying to concentrate on them.  I recall I thought (not spoke) "No, they (meaning whoever followed me in) are not really there.  This is just a dream, a dream.  They're not there, not in a form that I'm consciously familiar with."  I was trying to shut out this external dream- world form, concentrating on my form only.  I found that instead of averting my vision when occasionally necessary to maintain a clear image of my hands, if I moved my hands continually (I tried interlocking my fingers in various fashions...and even counted my fingers), or if I held them at eye level, fingers spread, and turned slowly in circles to see the background scene move in the space between the fingers and hands, I could maintain the image.


7 May 1976  (Friday)

After a lapse of almost a month since my last dream-conscious experience, I dreamed again of finding my (left) hand.


The dream-conscious state came to me as I was walking in my dream.  I suddenly realized I could do what I please in the dream form, and began flying.  I recalled my month-long lapse, and happily found my left hand, before awakening at 1:30 am.


11 February 1976

Since the last conscious dream, I have had just sporadic dreams of finding my (right) hand and entering the dream-conscious state.  Last night, however, was an especially intensive dream.  I raised my right hand to my eyes as I was walking along, and encountered an intensive dream-conscious state, and felt elated at having found it.  I then surfaced to consciousness.

12 February 1976

Dreamed I was flying over treetops, and out on mudflats and along coastlines, feeling hundreds of miles from home, a feeling so much like being on my motorcycle riding cross-country.  Never have I had such power, speed, and maneuverability in these flying dreams (which I have quite often).  I was vaguely conscious of all this, and enjoyed immensely the feeling of freedom from gravity; I was in a subdued dream-conscious state.


(2) The second objective for controlling my dreams was to "stop the world" (a Carlos Castenada term), meaning maintain a conscious awareness of dreaming, while dreaming, and to consciously refute the seemingly substantial "form" of things around me in the dream.  Also, this objective included attempting to meditate in a dream, which I was never able to execute.  Events from the 30 January dream (above) illustrate an attempt to refute the dream image.  Following is another example in which I was unsuccessful in refuting the dream image:


23 March 1976  (Tuesday)

Recall a dream in which I was battling with my motorcycle helmet face shield, which had grown in size 50% and had come alive.  As I held it at arm's length, I noticed my left hand, and instantly this brought on the dream-conscious state.  I was trying to refute the form of the dream (the shield was trying to choke me), by reiterating that it is "just a dream." I awoke soon after.


(3) The third experiment objective was to close my eyes in a dream. I have never recalled doing this before, and with the control I was having I wanted to explore what would happen.


27 February 1976  (Friday)

Found my right hand, and had the experience of being simultaneously awake and asleep.  I remembered the experiment of closing my eyes while dreaming, and carried it out.  I was staring at a landscape, brightly lit, and then closed my eyes in my dream.  The landscape turned to blackness; I was looking at nothing, yet I was still consciously thinking in the dream.  In a short time I lost my conscious power and lapsed into a long, normal dream, and awoke after that.


(4) The final, and most precarious experiment, was to commit suicide in a dream.  I have already had two dreams several years earlier in which I had died.  In one, I fell of a cliff, actually hit bottom, felt bones break, skin tear, my body bounce, rocks cut, etc., and I blacked out thinking "I'm dying, this is it, I'm dying..." The other dream was one of being shot by a shotgun -- with the same feelings and same thoughts.  But to consciously direct my demise in a dream world would yield ... what?  I must find out. The following dream sequences illustrate my experiences with this objective.  The discussion in the 6 March entry is particularly significant, in that I began to become aware of bodily sensations while dreaming.


13 February 1976 (Friday) (Dream continued from above description)

I then left the room and tried to recall what I had earlier thought about if I should ever have a dream such as this one.  Anyhow, in my present dream I left the bathroom and could only recall my idea of suicide (for some reason I forgot about the other experiment objectives).  In the dream, I recalled another dream I had had several months earlier where I was also consciously aware of it being a dream; in that other dream, I was overlooking a spiral staircase descending into dizzying depths and darkness, and felt a surge of vertigo, and thought or said "Oh no, I'm not going down there!"  In the present dream, recalling the setting of that earlier dream, I consciously re-created the scene of looking down the center of the spiral staircase.   I was able to control my setting.  My plan was to jump over and kill myself.  But, upon leaning over the edge, I began to think, "Wait a moment.  I know this is only a dream, and I can't really get hurt, but how do I know for sure that this won't affect me some other way?  After all, it's said that one may suffer a heart attack if the strain of a dream is too great."  (Apparently, in this dream, I forgot my other earlier dreams of dying, that I can indeed survive such a shock.)  I hesitated jumping, and felt unsure or unconfident.  I decided not to try it.

I awoke sometime soon afterwards, but details between aren't clear.


6 March 1976  (Saturday morning - 6:30 to 11:00 am)

Found my hand several times, between which I surfaced to a semi-wakefulness state, twice.  Details are now vague.


This morning, I had awakened from 5:00 - 6:30 am to actually drive toward the beach to view a comet visible in the eastern, dawning sky.  It was quite cold out, so I had worn gloves while driving the VW bus.  I had returned home and went back to sleep by 6:30 am.

One of the ensuing dreams was of driving in the van.  I looked at my right hand, gloved, and brought upon the conscious/unconscious state.  Someone had been in the van with me in this dream, talking incessantly, but as soon as I established my conscious internal thought I began to "tune" them out. I suddenly recalled my experiment objective of dream-suicide, and saw the perfect opportunity.  However, I first "checked" with myself to make certain I was dreaming (more on this later), and then purposely, consciously veered off the road toward some trees.  The van came to an abrupt halt before touching the trees, however, not as part of my conscious directive, but of the subconscious, as if strong brakes had been applied. The scene then faded and blurred.

I found my hand perhaps twice again in different settings, but details are unclear.

In retrospect, first I am curious about why I could not succeed in striking the trees; essentially, why was I not able to consciously direct this action, and why did my subconscious succeed?  This has not been the first case thus far of failing in a dream once a conscious directive had guided my actions.  The life-and-death situation added to this effect, I should think, and makes me wonder what would happen if my goal was indeed realized.  Would I be witness to a final fusion of conscious with subconscious?  Or would I witness a forced repression of subconscious directives?  If it is the former, can I expect conscious, cognitive "understandings" to apply to unconscious reactions?  And if it is the latter, what infringement may this incur upon my present mental stability? I am seeking not dominance of conscious over subconscious, but fusion.  I have no way of telling if I am working in that direction.

Secondly, in retrospect, tying in with this "fusion" idea, I am curious as to how in this dream, as in past dreams, I had "checked" with myself to make sure I was dreaming.  How is this done?  I believe that while external sensory impressions from my true physical body are usually cut off during sleeping, and the only "sensory" impressions come from within the dream, I am nonetheless using some physical or neural awareness to ascertain the state of my sleeping body.  It is as if I had momentarily put a "hold" on my dream-impressions and established a reassurance that my physical form was indeed lying down in bed, safe, asleep, dreaming.  Then I felt safe in carrying out "dangerous" actions in my dream.  So, for an instant, I had tied into my physical body consciously, while being unconscious and enveloped in my dream-impressions.  What I ultimately seek is to refine this condition.  I want to be able to be fully aware of my physical body, even move it, while in a dream-conscious condition.  Again, I can only guess that I am working toward a healthy fusion of conscious with subconscious states, not a dangerous and unhealthy dominance of conscious over subconscious.  What I ultimately seek, then, is a capacity, an awareness of dream impressions and physical impressions to be realized simultaneously.

Over time, I became increasingly aware of perceiving actual bodily sensations while in the lucid dream state, as the following entry illustrates:


22 March 1976  (Monday)

After awakening several times during the night, I had a short dream of seeing my right hand, while someone was persistently talking to me.  Soon afterwards I drifted from the dream state into a semi-wakefulness state, not physically alert, but consciously alert.  In this state, I witnessed a dream image merge with my conscious thoughts.  I'm now not certain what transpired, but it felt as though I consciously willed the dream image to come; in the half-wakeful state either immediately succeeding or during this recalling of the dream image, I became physically aware of myself lying in bed, dreaming, and at the same time seeing the dream image.  The state transpired too quickly to be certain of the chronology of it all.


Also, in the dream of finding my hand, I consciously carried out a further experiment I had devised to test my physical feelings in the dream- conscious state: I simply, consciously breathed in the dream.  But between the time I found my hand and breathed (seconds), my lips and face felt as if they had gone numb.  I forcefully opened my mouth and inhaled sharply, and felt (in the dream) air rush into my lungs.  (Whether I also physically inhaled at the same time while lying in bed asleep, I cannot say.  If I had, then the sensations I "felt" in the dream of inhaling were those actually physically induced.)  Looking back on this dream, I believe that the feeling of numbness of my face may have been actually the feeling of trying to become consciously aware of my physical face while asleep.

At the same time, I was exploring the limits with which I could exercise conscious, cognitive effort in a dream.  To further test the extents, characteristics, and essence of the dream-conscious state, I devised another experiment.  Thus far, I had been able to carry out all four experiments I had devised:  find my hands, refute dream-forms (block out dream stimuli), close my eyes, and attempt my own demise.  Now, to test the extent of conscious recall in a dream, I memorized the value of pi to 16 decimal places.  I wished to try to recall and reiterate that figure in a dream, to test the relationship between long-term memory and the dream state, via concentrated recall effort.


2 April 1976  (Friday)

Dreamed I was walking and found my right hand.  More often now, the dream- conscious state precedes my lifting my hand to my eyes, as it did in this dream.  I recalled my experiment objective of reciting pi in a dream to test the extent of conscious recall, and did so.  I recited it mentally; I did not speak in the dream, but consciously thought the numbers.  However, as I reached the 7th decimal place, and was forced to exert greater effort to recall the numbers, I failed and rounded the numbers off the the 7th place, and stopped there.  An instant later, in the dream, I was aware of what I did, but before having time to try again, I awoke.


Eventually, I abandoned the entire series of experiments, ironically because of the success I was having with the last of the experiments.  That is, in the lucid dream state, I was able to become acutely aware of my body sleeping in bed.  I was asleep, dreaming, but conscious that I was dreaming, and conscious of my actual body in bed, which I could willfully move about.  I abandoned the experiments because I began to become confused as to when I was normally asleep, asleep in this lucid dream state, or awake.  At one point, I was able to lay in bed, asleep in a lucid dream, with my eyes open and with full consciousness of moving my arms, legs, and face.  It was only a step from there to sleep-walking in an aware, lucid dream state.  What would distinguish these various states of mind if I was conscious, aware, and able to move?  The various realities were beginning to eclipse one another.


6 March 1976

It was over the next few months that I succeeded in inducing a dream- conscious state in which I was simultaneously aware of my physical body.  I found this state both fascinating and frightening, as I was beginning to become confused as to various states of mind (sleep, awake, dream- conscious).  I dropped the experimentation shortly thereafter.


I found the lucid dream state difficult to abandon.  For weeks after I chose to drop the experiments I still found my hand in dreams and entered the lucid state, and often found it most difficult to wake myself. Eventually, the dreams faded and I began to have normal dreams on a regular basis.  But to this day, I still have lucid dreams perhaps once a month.


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I have put into sixteen categories visual experiences associated with my lucid dreaming. The basic difference between lucid dreaming and ordinary dreaming is that in lucid dreaming I know I am dreaming, and in ordinary dreaming I do not. Lucid dreaming often has the visual characteristics of ordinary dreaming. On the other hand, lucid dreaming may lead to some experiences of light similar to what is reported in mystical or supposed mystical accounts (Gillespie. 1986). Therefore, the categories actually apply to a continuum from ordinary dreaming through lucid dreaming to phenomena associated with mystical experience.


I have tried to make as few categories as possible. The inclusion of a category is based on a decision that something essentially different happens in that category that does not happen in the other categories. Each category has a pure form, but not every visual phenomenon is a pure form of a category. The categories are set against the norm of ordinary visual dream experience. The

categories are:


1. Ordinary dream light. Often lucid dreams have the same visual quality as ordinary dreams. In ordinary dreams I see people and other creatures, places, and objects, perhaps strange or exaggerated, but basically in forms that copy my waking experience. My surroundings appear to have the normal brightness of everyday life or at times less. My visual experience is coordinated with my movement and other sense experience. If I move my dreamed eyes or head or body, I experience new visual content relevant to my new position.


2. Bright, clear dreams. A prominent characteristic of lucid dreams is that they are often much brighter and clearer than ordinary dreams. This brightness and clarity may precede my realization that I am dreaming. In lucid dreams the colors are often intense and varied, at times even more than in waking life. The extra brightness and clarity are often noted during the dream itself.


3. Areas of bright light. Often there is a particularly bright and colorless light in one part of the visual environment. When this ill-defined bright area appears in the context of a scene, the light may appear to coincide with something in the scene, such as a hole in the sidewalk. I have often seen a general ill-defined area of light not coinciding with anything in the environment and partly obscuring the view. This light has always been to the left and center of my view. My visual reaction, until I trained myself differently, was to believe I was waking up and seeing the light of my room. Sometimes I see a vague area of bright light against darkness, as after I have closed my dreamed eyes. This has always been on the left side of my view. Patricia Garfield (1979) has reported seeing light as coming from underneath a closed door or shining through a window, in lucid dreams.


I have occasionally seen bright light on the periphery of my vision, so far off to the side that I cannot tell whether it has a particular shape or not. I cannot look at it directly. The effect is as though this intense light is sitting in the left corner of my left eye. It remains there no matter what movement I make.


The areas of light appear to play no part in the ongoing dream. They appear to be something else happening in the visual field. They can be taken as part of the dream scene if they happen to look like they fit in.



4. Room light. Room light is light from outside me carried into the dream in the images or outlines of objects in the room. At night, when only the bedroom window has light, the shape of the lit window may become a part of the dream, presenting the general perspective in the dream that is given to my sleeping eyes. If there is complete daylight in the room, some of the mom objects may be seen though to some extent transformed. In none of these experiences have I awakened to find my eyes already open.


In one lucid dream I saw a green towel hanging from a bar on the wall in front of me. But instead of hanging down from the bar, it stuck out from the bar towards me. This utterly confused me. After I woke up, I found that I had seen in detail the towel that was hanging towards me from above the bed. Another lucid dream led to the “out-of-body” sensation. As I projected through space, stomach downward, I watched a large square of light to my left. I remained still as I sped forward. When I awoke directly from that experience, I was lying on my back. I saw that the square of light was the light of my room window. It had the same relation to my eyes that it had had in the dream. Thus I was assured that I had not really projected.


In the two cases just described, I did not realize at the time that what I was seeing actually belonged to my room. But sometimes I have seen doors or windows in a lucid dream and understood at the time (correctly) that they were the actual doors or windows of the bedroom. I did not feel that I had awakened.


5. Imprecise visual envir­onment. There are times when no specific visual environ­ment can be discerned, yet the visual field is not empty. What I see is unclear, blurred, confused, and/or changing. Impre­cise visual envi­ronment seems to be the initia­tion of imaging without resol­ution as to its content. In lucid dreaming, when I interact less with my environment and anticipate less, upon turning my head I tend to see either nothing or this non-resolution of image. In one lucid dream I saw a building. I willed it to change into something, but I had not decided what to change it to. It became imprecise and its elements moved constantly until I looked away.

6. Memory and imagination. This category is not a visual experience in the sense that the other categories are. When awake, I can look about me while voluntarily recalling or imagining what another place looks like. While dreaming lucidly, I can likewise keep my attention on what is presented to me visually, while I picture something in my mind. I was able to bring to mind specifically to some degree cor­rectly the general layout of my grand­mother’s house. This I did in a number of dream contexts. The visual memory or imagined scene does not appear as if before the eyes. It does not replace what I am seeing.


7. Uniform darkness. Though in a sense nothing is before me when my visual field is dark, darkness is a visual experience, for it is seen. When lucid, I often choose to close my dreamed eyes, and view becomes dark. There are degrees and kinds of darkness. There is darkness comparable to what I see with my eyes closed while awake. There is what looks like a dark night sky or a moonlit night sky. There is dull darkness. There can also be shiny darkness, such as of black lacquer.


8. Textures in darkness. Sometimes I notice faint and formless textures in the darkness. These variations in the darkness are usually difficult to identify or describe. There are no images, patterns, or definite shapes. This textual or mottling is perhaps little different from common waking closed-eye darkness when a faint and formless texture of light of entoptic origin may be seen.

9. Patterns in darkness. Though I have often seen darkness in a dream, it was not until I began to examine darkness closely that at times I came across faintly-seen patterns. The time I saw the patterns most distinctly, I was also tossing about in the air. I saw a collection of patterns that remained before me in a fixed position in spite of my tumbling about. My view was divided into possibly eight to twelve irregularly shaped sections. Each contained its own pattern. Each section of pattern seemed to vibrate or twitch within itself, though the section divisions remained stable. I was able to examine the whole display, scanning right to left and back again.


Most of the sections had line or herring bone designs; one had all dots close together; and one had a chess board pattern. The chess board and dot designs I have seen often in hypnapompic experiences, though not the parallel lines. The overall effect is roughly as illustrated by Shepard (1978, plate I:E. and F.), where he labels them “entopic images.” My patterns were all in shades of grey and did not contain the light shown in his illustrations.


10. Hypnagogic-type images. The term “hypnagogic image” properly refers to an image that appears while I am falling asleep. I have seen the same type of image while studying the darkness before me while dreaming. After closing my dreamed eyes I have seen before me faintly a series of briefly appearing, small, still scenes that never hid the brightness, clarity, or size of dream images. For example, these were of a series of row houses, then a little statue of a Buddha in an alcove, then a storefront window. I saw these as though through darkness. The scenes were unrelated to the dream in which I had closed my eyes. I was definitely asleep. After this I noticeably woke up.


11. Minor lights. Minor lights are small appearances of bright light against a dark or blank background. They may be seen as points of light, small lines, a crack of light, or as other forms. They normally lack color. The lights do not form images, though of course points of light can be taken for stars, or a flash of light can be taken for lightning. They show no pattern or regularity. Normally I see these after eliminating the visual dream environment (say by closing my dreamed eyes) and starting to float, fall or fly in the dark or blankness. The minor lights shift in and out of view with my movement.


12. Disks or light. The disk of light is a perfectly round bright light, with a well-defined circumference. It appears in a variety of sizes. Its light is perfectly white and uniform, and not visually overwhelming like the sun. It is not accompanied by rays and does not appear to shine onto anything. The disk is always seen against darkness. If a dream has been in progress, the disk may be seen against what is taken for night sky and be thought of as a moon, if it is the right size. Sparrow (1976) mentions seeing a moon at times in lucid dreams and has reported that once one appeared to move. I cannot say I have seen a disk of light move. Though I may spin about while I see a disk, it maintains a fixed location before my eyes. One such light appeared to be as though about ten inches away from me, about three or four inches to the left of my point of concentration, and appeared to be about four inches in diameter. Naturally, no such distances can be involved.


13. Patterns of light. Sometimes I see only swiftly moving patterns covering my visual field and appearing to surround me. They are versions of lattices, lines, dots, and colors constantly changing. There are no recognizable images. I am usually moving quickly when I see these, as when I have eliminated my normal environment and begin to toss about. These patterns are basically variations of elementary hallucinatory form constants (Siegel & Jarvic, 1975) seen from different perspectives. They contrast with the patterns in darkness (described above) by their brightness, their appearance at other perspectives than face on, and their constant change. Moss (l985a: 1985b) reports many variations of moving patterns such as of tunnels, funnels, lattices, and particularly of what he calls the vortex effect.


14. Contentless light only. Sometimes I see nothing before me except light. It may appear to be the sky and may very from almost dark to very bright. The color is uniform and clear, with no objects or marks, no clouds, sun or rays. When I have eliminated visual dream content or am flying, falling, or tossing about, I may not think of the view as sky, but as being blank. In ordinary dreams I experience contentless light less, because I tend to remain in interaction with what is in view and I do not try to free myself from what I am seeing.

15. Light with sun only. The appearance of a sun in contentless light marks an intensification of the experience of light. The appearance of the sun is uncommon in my ordinary dreams, and like the view of contentless light, usually marks the cessation of interaction with ordinary dream images. I am usually falling or floating when I see the sun and greatly exhilarated. The sun varies in size and intensity, often seeming to be at a distance. I may or may not be aware of a defined circumference. As I fall or float, the sun moves in and out of view. Van Eeden (1969) reports having seen the disk of the sun. A variation, which I consider to be a greater form of the sun, is the appearance of multiple suns. On one occasion I saw six or seven suns, each gold and bright, and full size with rays. The suns were not located in any obvious relationship to each other. They remained in a fixed position before my eyes though I was spinning.


The sun is not just an image, but a concentration of light. Most often I see it without other visual dream content. Sometimes I see the sun when I desire in the dream to see the fullness of light (the last category). Though the sun is much less than the fullness of light, it is also as different from the disk of light as the sun is from the moon.


16. Fullness of light. There is a light that fills the visual field with overwhelming brilliance. It usually has the whiteness and intensity of the light that is next to the sun high in a clear sky, though it is not difficult to look at. Whereas the milder appearances of the sun seem to be “out there,” in the fullness of light a vivid white fire appears to come upon me and surround me. I am normally in darkness when the light first appears, though twice I was in an ongoing visual dream. Often I notice the sun first to be above my head. It then appears to descent to a place high before me, and I am overcome by light. I may or may not continue to be aware of the sun’s circumference. If I see the orb of the sun, it remains in a stable location before my eyes even while I move or dance. While I keep my attention on the fullness of light, my awareness of my dreamed body decreases.


The fullness of light is accompanied by intense spontaneous feelings of joy and devotion. I feel that God is present in the light. There is nothing like these feelings with the lesser sun. There would appear to be a continuum from the mildest appearance of the sun to the greatest fullness of light. But the fullness of light is incomparably brighter than a simple view of the sun. And the exhilaration that may accompany the view of the lesser sun is nothing like the intense feelings of devotion and joy in the Fullness of light.




    Garfield, P. (1979). Pathway to ecstasy:  The way of the dream mandala. New York;  Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

    Gillespie, G. (1986). Ordinary dreams, lucid dreams, and mystical experience, Lucidity Letter, 5 (1), 27-31.

    Moss, K. (1985a). Experimentation with the vortex phenomenon in lucid dreams. Lucidity  Letter, 4(1), 131-132.

    Moss, K. (1985b,). Photographic and cinematographic applications in lucid dream control. Lucidity Letter, 4(2), 98-103.

    Shepard, R.N.         (1978). Externalization of mental images and the act of creation. In B.S. Randhawa and W.E. Coffman (Eds.), Visual learning, thinking, and communication (pp. 133-189). New York: Academic Press.

    Siegel, R.K. & Jarvic, M.E. (1975). Drug-induced hallucinations in animals and man. In R.K. Siegel and L.J. West (Eds.). Hallucinations: Behavior, experience, and theory (pp. 81-161). New York John Wiley & Sons.

    Sparrow, G.S. (1976). Lucid dreaming: Dawning of the clear light. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.


    van Eeden, F. (1969). A study of dreams. In C.T. Tart (Ed.). Altered states of consciousness (pp. 147-160). Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

 Lucidity Letter 6(1), 1987


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Articles: Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations

Problems at Refining the “Lucid” Label: Shooting at a Moving Target


Elinor Gebremedhin

Philadelphia, PA


In 1976, when I began dreaming dreams in which I became "conscious" without waking up,  I recognized that something new was going on, and wanted to know what it was called. A psychologist patiently explained to me that it was impossible that I had become conscious while I was asleep, because one is unconscious while asleep, by definition.  In the spring of 1983, after seven years and many bookstores, I was relieved to finally encounter a less controversial word, "lucid", in Charles Tart's book Altered States of Consciousness. Later the same year I found Scott Sparrow's book on Lucid Dreaming--Dawning Of The Clear Light, which also gave me labels for prelucid and false awakening dreams, as well a number of new perspectives. In the interim, however, I continued to evolve independently, and developed a number of my own ideas.

The fact that the phenomenon was completely unknown to me, and yet my very first fully lucid dream bore marked resemblances to reported dreams of earlier lucid dreamers suggests activation of a coherent organic/mental faculty of some kind.  In this dream there was an immediate recognition of a new state of mind like that of waking consciousness.  This judgement was made while still dreaming, felt and voiced not only by the main character of the plot where my identity resided, but also acknowledged as an achievement by other characters of the plot that embodied critical attitudes. When I made the right responses to an annoying situation, four judges begrudgingly decided I must be doing "all right" because I was still in the dream.  The very first dream also found me reflecting, making decisions, feeling a great deal of curiosity about my own state of mind and how much I could directly affect the dream environment, exploring, experimenting with my own "sensory" perceptions, and testing the substantiality of the images.  It was a surprisingly long dream, I was to find out from subsequent experiences.

Fully Lucid Dream Subtypes


One of the first activities I engaged in after finding the new vocabulary was to try to sort my recorded dreams.  The dreams "lucid" in my mind were the obvious peak experiences which included distinct alteration to a state more like waking than dreaming.  There had emerged two other kinds that also seemed more like waking than dreaming.  One version included an enjoyable sense of mental clarity but not the sense of uplifted emotion. The other bogged down in a lot of laboring mental effort, with a clouded feeling-tone like that of finishing a college term-paper after having missed two nights of sleep. Occasionally there would be dreams where the experience of lucidity was quite definite, but so brief that I could not tell which of these three subcategories best fit the experience.  Lucid dreams perceived as out-of-body experiences (OBE) were very rare; usually when I saw a perarate body image of myself asleep on a bed, I felt there were multiple images of myself in the lucid dreams and my "real" physical body was probably around somewhere but just an unimportant category for the time being.  But none of these dreams seemed like the same type of experience as ordinary dreams, or even like the few extraordinary high dreams I knew. They also had a sense of depth quite unlike the semi- conscious edge-of-sleep "snapshots" (hypnagogic images) that had started to appear in my head several years before the lucid dreams.

Thus, the "lucid" label was a good fit for a number of dreams.  The "false awakening" label was also easy to incorporate into my mental machinery because I had had an extremely vivid dream of this type 20 years earlier while baby-sitting late at night in my teens.  The prelucid label was a horse of a problematical color, however, because here I tangled with some preconceptions of my own. At first the balance and clarity of the lucid mind state seemed to me to have little to do with a decision-making process in which you wondered if you were dreaming, and then mistakenly decided you were not.  Prelucid seemed an inappropriate label especially since I couldn't remember having this type of dream other than the teenage false awakening.

Two other types of relatively rare dreams seemed to me to be much more relevant to the onset of my lucid dreaming, those I labelled "ecstatic" ("high") dreams, and "focussing dreams."  While in process, the high dreams did not feel like preparatory dreams, but may have been, because they largely disappeared when fully lucid dreams arrived. However, with the focussing dreams, (which I have not seen described elsewhere) there was a clear and distinct sense of "practicing" for something even while the dream was in process.

In "high" dreams as I experienced them, some image or element of the dream, the landscape or a bird, suddenly becomes beautiful usually without any alteration in form. The whole dream alters character in the same way and I seem to vibrate (somewhat mindlessly) with the image. This is definitely an altered state, but rarely effects changes in the plot other than to a temporarily halt forward movement. In several cases, I just looked out a window and shifted into this state as I saw the vibrant green scenery or the moving of the leaves. Once I saw sparrows sleeping in the bottom of a lake, rising up one by one and toe-dancing on the water, triggering off this state as they broke the surface of the water. The exquisite element of some lucid dreams is like a more reserved version of what I am trying to describe, but the strong sense of identity of lucidity practically nonexistent here.

The set of dreams I labelled "focussing dreams" had scenes in them which forced mental and visual concentration.  In one focussing dream I was afflicted with tunnel-vision while crossing a street, and had to carefully put one foot in front of the other while focussing on a particular brick in the wall on the other side.  In another, while lighting a cave full of candles, each would flame up more easily than the last as I approached it with a match, so eventually I just had to look at one in order for it to burst into flame. In a third dream of this kind, I dreamed I was looking at a picture in which I saw myself moving down a trail in a beautiful state park; as I disappeared off the left-hand edge of the picture I would reappear on the right. When, after several tries, I widened my field of vision to keep both sides of the picture in focus at the same time, the figures could not disappear, but began to pile up on the path. Suddenly everything joined and I myself, all-of-me, was "in the picture" (with a bad case of eyestrain which persisted into waking!).  A lengthy plot went on from there.


Lucidity In Its Inclusive Form


To these homegrown ideas my reading supplied the more traditional concepts of prelucid and false awakening dreams as being indicative of lucid dreams to come.  This must be true for some people, even though I had not dreamt these types of dreams for years before the onset of lucidity. Then, believing myself to have gotten everything all straightened out, I made a startling discovery.  Although I had by now read the words in several contexts, by several authors, it had not registered that the word lucid was most often being used to include ANY "dream awareness" dream in which the dreamer knows he or she is dreaming, not just those which shift into the waking-style consciousness of full lucidity.  I was so busy pouncing on and amalgamating this sought-after word, I didn't notice at first that it didn't quite fit my preconceptions.  (See Charles Tart's essay on terminology in lucid dream research; Tart, 1984).

Finally, I saw that the most inclusive forms of the prelucid and lucid terms as they are being used in the questionnaire-based research projects I've encountered, are based on simply whether or not a question, a bit of mental data, passes through the mind of the chief character of the plot where the dreamers identity resides.  Is it a dream? If s/he THINKS of the question (or makes a statement) the dream is no longer ordinary: a right answer means its a lucid dream, and a wrong answer means its a prelucid dream. In either case the critical event is whether a certain thinking-recognizing process has occurred.


Full Lucidity Exclusive of Dream Awareness Dreams


In my own case, a smaller subset of these dreams was originally pursued as the target, based on  patterns dependent on my right-brain gestalt detector, which wanted the answers, to two questions: "Am I dreaming, and do I have THAT type of waking style awareness?"  Even smaller definitional subsets were based on the answers to the second question, based on energy/feeling-tone situations rather than yes/no questions.  In keeping with this was the unconscious assumptions that prelucid structures rely on strengthening non-rational skills.

Having started out primarily interested in lucid dreaming in the narrower sense, and then going through the process of retraining myself to think in the wider sense had some interesting results.  A certain set of dreams were made more significant, if for no other reason than other people saw them as so during the course of research projects. I began to pay attention to them more, and then the number of fully lucid dreams as well as other new dream types increased even though I was not particularly focussed in that direction.  This effect is seen in the accompanying table: I participated in one of Scott Sparrow's lucid dream studies in early 1984.


The Problem of Evolution


A particular problem I've found with categorizing my own dreams is that they begin to evolve as soon as any attention is paid to them.  Various discrete types start to join together.  To give an example, when I first started seeing hypnagogic images as I fell asleep, they were easily distinguishable from dreams, because they were all still-life snapshots with a peculiar nonsymbolic feel to them.  As a result I rarely wrote them down or paid attention to them.  After a while they started to include moving pictures, and developed a more symbolic, less random feel to them. Now, sometimes I can "jump in" and take part, join in the movie so to speak, which (speaking subjectively again) sometimes does and sometimes doesn't turn the experience in symbolic dream.

Of course a hypnagogic image that evolves into a dream (called an initial dream on the chart) first emerges during drowsy waking consciousness, and develops character and lucid plot dimensions as the dreamer falls more and more into sleep.  In addition, in the middle of the night while dead asleep I've had a few dreams in which "I" make a remark that some (not all) of the images in the dream are hypnagogic images, not dream images.  While this is illogical in the same way that conscious dreaming might be considered illogical, it does point to a peculiar "flat" nondepth dimension in some of those types of images.  Thus, even though most sources I read agree with my original felt-sense of hypnagogic images as being different than dreams, I see a distinct evolution in progress, joining these images together with "initial" lucid dreams.


The Problem of Levels of Understanding


It would be interesting to see the results of studies that painstakingly separate fully lucid dreams, hypnagogic images and lucid awareness dreams, and their various possible combinations.  My own conversations on these subjects make me pessimistic about the possibility of obtaining reliable distinctions, unless, of course conveniently measurable physical analogs can be located.  A ten-year-old child can understand when asked whether s/he was dreaming during the dream.  The distinctions between lucidity, waking consciousness, and unconscious dreaming are far more subtle, however, and hard for nonlucid dreamers to comprehend.

When two lucid dreamers communicate on the subject, the spark of understanding flies.  But when a lucid dreamer tries to query a nonlucid dreamer as to whether or not he or she has ever become fully conscious or lucid when dreaming, the answer may still be an erroneous yes because a respondent who has never had the experience may believe a mentally busy dream or especially clear dream fills the bill.  S/he also may realize something different is in the air, but doesn't want to admit that s/he is lacking that particular experience. I suspect that even the most elegantly designed discriminatory studies would come back with questionable results.




Sparrow, G.S. (1976 & 1982). Lucid dreaming dawning of the clear light. Virginia Beach: A.R.E. Press.

Tart, Charles (1984) Terminology in lucid dream research. Lucidity Letter 3(1), 4-5.

Tart, Charles (Ed.) (1969 & 1972). Altered states of consciousness. Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books.


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Articles: Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations

Awake in the Dark: Imageless Lucid Dreaming


Linda L. Magallon

San Jose, California


Most dream research, interpretation methodology and reports of dreaming phenomena presuppose that a dream consists of visual impressions.  Even the term LUCIDITY evokes the vividness and clarity of dream imagery.  Yet, there is ample experiential evidence to warrant a rethinking of this assumption.  Imageless lucidity can and does occur at all levels of dreaming.


Entry via Hypnagogia


As the dreamer drifts into dreaming through lucid hypnagogia, watching the imagery flicker and metamorphose, she or he may encounter a "blank" period just before the dream scene appears.  In this state, there is no sensation but rather the general impression that the dream is "taking a breath" before forming a landscape in the dreamer's mind.


The Initial Awakening State


This is the lucid equivalent of the false awakening state, reported by such notables as Dr. van Eeden and Oliver Fox.  The dreamer may become aware of auditory stimuli unrelated to waking sounds.  If tactile sensation is retained, the dreamer can eventually experience a sense of duality or bilocation as he or she moves into deeper dreaming.  None of this need be accompanied by images.

An excerpt from my own dream journal provides an example of this state, experienced as an imageless dream:


(When the hypnagogic images fade,) I become aware of a continuous conversation, which I assume means I have reached a telepathic level.  I concentrate to determine the quality of this level in order to conjure it up in the waking state.  It seems quite removed from full waking sensations, and is characterized by a low buzzing.  The conversation sounds like a male news reporter announcing for a radio station, so I listen carefully for the call letters, expecting they'll start with a "K". Instead, I hear 'HBO'.

I now become aware of a conversation of my two children, who seem to be lying next to me.  I can even feel my arms around one of them.  Vic is talking about my feet.  I sense that both are younger than they are in waking life, about toddler and elementary age.  I am concurrently aware that in fact they are much older and the only person in bed with me is my husband, Manny.  However, I keep my emotions neutral in order to experience the simultaneous awareness.

Then my lucidity leaves as I begin to hear people talking down the hall: I presume they are Victor and my mother.  It seems my mother comes into the room and starts to tell Manny about a girlfriend who is returning to school.  'She's going back to take American History,' she says.  My response is to wish that she would shut up.  I groggily think how rude it is to talk so loud when someone is trying to sleep, but I don't want to rouse myself completely out of the dream state in order to tell her so.  I finally become lucid once again, realizing the illogic of my mother's presence in the house.

After a pause, a bright scene springs up...


The initial awakening state can be a launching platform for either lucid dreams or out-of-body experiences.  Steve M. reported a series of dreams in which he felt himself to be rising in the air above his bed.  He experienced no images because he kept his dream eyes closed.  It took several such experiences before he gathered the courage to "open his eyes" and look down at the bed beneath him.  Unfortunately, the first attempt resulted in the opening of his physical eyes, too!  Subsequent experiences have remedied the situation.

Monroe (1977) and others have reported encountering entities, being touched or having a feeling of suspense or pressure while in darkness.  One of Celia Green's (1968) OBE subjects described "walking around the bedroom" without seeing anything.


Conversing in the dark


This dream is all audio and contains no visual images.  The dreamer dialogues with persons whom are recognized but unseen throughout the course of the dream.  Rina D.'s dream is an example:


I'm talking to JG, as if on a phone, and at first he seems not to know who I am, speaking of some upsetting things that have been going on in his life.  When I thank him for the First Day Covers he has arranged to have sent to my stamp-collecting husband in the days of important (Space Shuttle) launches, he realizes who's talking to him.  We discuss Challenger and its destruction...


She reported another audio dream the same night:


...(It) was simply a voice saying, "Hello".  I recognized it immediately (as) that of a close friend with whom I had been speaking the day before but had had to cut short his long distance call because of an interruption. When I heard the voice I was quite excited, hoping to lucidly continue the conversation, but I apparently broke the connection and woke up...


Exploring the Imageless Dream


Some lucid dark periods are involuntary.  Night falls, the dreamer loses his or her focus or is spontaneously projected backwards or forwards into dark spaces.

But dream lucidity enables willful entry into darkness.  De Saint-Denys (1982) reported multiple occasions in which he closed his eyes in order to change the course of a lucid dream.  Quick movement such as flying or utilizing Stephen LaBerge's spinning technique can cause temporary loss of scenery.  I've walked through walls and passed through holes in walls in order to get "outside" of my dreamscape.  By far the easiest method for me is one I told to Robert W.:


Paul H. and I are in a fairly murky room.  I realize that I am dreaming and decide to pick up a glass bottle or vase to smash against the room's fireplace mantle in order to see how it will break in the dream state. Then I decide "why make a mess", so I put it aside.  I remember Linda Magallon's wave technique in which she waves away a dream scene, and I decide to try it.  I wave my hand and everything vanished.  Complete, total fog - except for my friend's voice.  This amazed me.  I looked into the nothingness and decided to wake up.


It is possible to retain the dream even when the images fade, however, by concentrating on alternate senses.  These options have all proved successful for me:


Auditory Stimuli - Listening to voices or music Concentrating on my breathing Beginning or continuing a conversation


Tactile Stimuli - Rubbing or opening my eyes Touching my body: hands and face Touching objects: glasses, hair brush, edge of mirror Being touched; hugging Flying; feeling stretched out in the air


I also take advantage of the darkness to change location: moving forward or back; calling out a destination or person's name.  I might try to encourage the reemergence of the scenery by projecting an "imaginary" image and see if it takes or by ordering "please increase the light".

But one of the most satisfying solutions is to simply relax and wait for another scene to spring up.  The dark can be quite warm and friendly.

To the Outer Limits


Beyond the imagery and sensations related to and dependent upon physical orientation is an arena in which no symbols are encountered, visual or otherwise.  Called the "predream state" or the "undifferentiated area", it is that part of the dream universe in which all awareness of the self as body or special entity leaves.  It is also characterized by peace, silence, and absence of visual stimuli.


Returning Through Hypnapompia


At times a dreamer will be in contact with his own mental processes, in which ideas stream together or concepts are moved around like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or experienced in total.  Images, if they do form, take on the appearance of sentences or geometric forms.  A nondreaming sleeper might awaken from this state with a phrase or sentence or answer to a problem fresh in his mind.

To become aware of such processes can involve a shift toward the waking state.  "Clicking" into the hypnapompic allows the opportunity to consciously translate some of the nonvisual impressions into images or verbal thought.

The hypnapompic, like the hypnagogic state, is also an excellent receptor of vocal conversations, music and other aural stimuli and does not require visual imagery.

Imageless dreams seem to be related to the characteristics inherent in the particular dream state of the volition and expectations of the dreamer. Further exploration will help determine the differences.




Green, C. (1968). Lucid dreams. Oxford, England: The Institute of Psychophysical Research.

Green, C. (1968). Out-of-body-experiences. Oxford, England: The Institute of Psychophysical Research.

LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid dreaming. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Monroe, R. (1977). Journeys out of the body. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Roberts, J. (1986). Seth, dreams and projections of consciousness. Walpole, NH: Stillpoint Publishing.

Saint-Denys, H. (1982). Dreams and how to guide them. London: Duckworth.


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Articles: Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations

Dreams of Lucid Dreams


Darrell Dixon

Salt Lake City, Utah


I would like to make a few comments on a type of dream that I don't remember reading about in the Lucidity Letter.  It seems that dreams are usually divided into three categories: NONLUCID, PRELUCID and LUCID.  I have, however, experienced a number of dreams that don't seem to fit into any of these categories.  These dreams I have classified as "dreams of lucid dreams".  In these dreams, I dream that I am having a lucid dream.  I will quote from my notes to help explain:

On 7-JUL-86, I had a lucid dream that had an unsatisfactory ending.  Since then, I had been wanting to replay that lucid dream, and try to give it a better ending.  On 10-JUL-86 I had the following dream, which I would call a true "dream of a lucid dream".


In the dream, I was at someone's house, and I decided to try to have a lucid dream.  I wasn't actually in bed in the dream, but I just put my head down on a table and relaxed, and suddenly found that I was dreaming lucidly.  I remember thinking something like 'Wow, this is so realistic. If I didn't know that I was dreaming, I would think that this was really happening.'

In the lucid part of the dream, I actually replayed the first part of the lucid dream from 7-JUL-86, but not the entire dream.  Part way through this replay, something disturbed me (in the dream), and I awoke back to the nonlucid dream, realizing (in the nonlucid dream), that I had just had a lucid dream.  Soon I actually awoke.


I classified the above dream as a "dream of a lucid dream" because what I thought was reality was in fact another dream.  I thought that I was actually at someone else's house dreaming.  However, the lucid dream part seemed just like a regular lucid dream, but with reality confused.

On 14-DEC-86 I had a dream that at first glance may appear to be just a prelucid dream that almost became lucid.  However, the feelings that I had upon waking led me to another conclusion.  I actually wouldn't classify this dream as a true "dream of a lucid dream", but it may help to describe what I am talking about.


In the dream, I was looking for someone.  I finally located them in a strange place, It was so unusual to find them where I did, I actually questioned, in the dream, whether this might be a dream.  I decided to try to fly, and fell flat on my face, concluding that it must not be a dream.


The whole thing felt different than a prelucid dream or a lucid dream.  I have had dreams that became lucid because I questioned the reality of the dream, but this time it seemed different.  This time it was as if I were dreaming that I was questioning reality, whereas other times it is as if I am consciously questioning reality.  Also, it was not like I was consciously trying to fly, but I was dreaming that I was trying to fly.  If I had been able to fly, this dream probably would have become a true "dream of a lucid dream".  (Maybe this dream should be called a "dream of a prelucid dream".)

I wonder how many dreams that are reported as lucid dreams might better be classified as "dreams of lucid dreams".  I suspect that as a person becomes more interested and involved in lucid dreaming, the number of dreams of this type would increase, since we often dream about the things that interest us or that we are currently involved in.

I would like to ask the following Questions and would like to see other readers respond in the Lucidity Letter: If I am dreaming that I am lucid, am I in fact lucid?  (I may not remember my actual bed and bedroom, but in the lucid part of the dream I do remember the dream bed and dream bedroom from the nonlucid part of the dream.)

If the lucid part of this type of dream should not be classified as a true lucid dream, what distinguishes it from a true lucid dream?

How common is this type of dream?

Has anyone made the transition from a dream of a lucid dream to a true lucid dream?  By this I mean realizing, while in the lucid part of the dream, that the nonlucid dream environment is not the true reality, and then remembering what the true reality actually is.


Lucidity Letter 6(1), 1987


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Articles: Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations

Is and OBE a Dream, or are Dreams just OBE’s?


Janet Mitchell

Cottonwood, Arizona


The purpose of this paper is to personal experiences review some studies and some concerning dreams and out-of body experiences.

One scientific finding on dreams and OBEs comes from Osis at the American Society for Psychical Research.  In the spring of 1978, he, Donna McCormick, and I did a computerized frequency analysis of 304 OBE questionnaires he had accumulated.  Each experient responded to 96 items. In the July 1978 ASPR Newsletter, Osis reported that the "vast majority contend that OBE vision is different from both ESP and dream imagery." Only 4 percent found dream imagery to be similar to OBE vision.  This suggests that although dreams and OBEs may share some characteristics, there is a distinguishable difference for the experient.

Stuart Harary, in a personal communication (1972), differentiated precognitive dreams from OBEs initiated during sleep:


OBEs to future time and space differ from regular precognitive dreams in that I am definitely "out" and moving through a black, dark area that ends at some lighted future scene.  The scene is seen by looking through a "window" that is like a silhouette of myself as I will be in the scene. Upon returning, I awaken and can remember only vaguely that I have been out and cannot remember much about where I have been.  When the future scene becomes the present time and space, I get a sensation of nearly blacking out (nearly!) and then I remember the OBE vividly.  There is a very strong feeling of deja vu and then a sensation that I can only describe as meeting myself "behind" myself as if I were two beings.  I feel as if the me of the present were encountering the OBE of the past who traveled into the future...  Lately, I've been experiencing normal precognitive dreams more often than OBEs.  This may be a function of state of mental consciousness. Precognitive dreams are more easily remembered than OBEs and are readily identifiable as dreams upon awakening (and to some extent while they are occurring, since I often know when I am dreaming because I can feel my entire self in one place on the bed rather than in several places).  When the precognitive dream (later) occurs in reality (whatever that is), deja vu is also experienced but without the feelings of slipping into another state of consciousness that accompanying OBE-deja vu's.  I do not get a feeling anything like "meeting myself behind myself" when living through what was a precognitive dream either.  I remain quite conscious and aware of what is going on around me during precognitive deja vu's.


When I once asked Harary to tell me the difference between realization in an OBE and in a dream, he said it was as clear-cut as being in a room and dreaming about being in that room.

Personal experimenters have repeatedly stated that OBEs are not glorified dreams.  Ingo Swan would probably protest vigorously if one were to give the name "dreams" to his exteriorizations.  He is only one of the increasing number of experients who claim to be able to exteriorize from their bodies with perception, decision-making abilities, and memory while in a waking state.  Alex Tanous, who is an experient being tested at the ASPR, also claims to leave his body consciously and at will.  There have been some results that suggest these claims may have some validity and are worthy of further laboratory study.  Harary also does not need to go to sleep in order to have an OBE.  Modern experients seem to have more control over their experiences than their earlier counterparts.

Robert Monroe in his book, Journeys Out of the Body, has the following to say about flying and falling dreams.  He appears to classify some dreams as OBEs with sufficient consciousness and memory:


I am quite certain that such dreams are but memories of some degree of Second State experience (OBE).  I have often become aware of experiencing the flying dream during sleep, only to discover that I was actually floating out in the Second Body as I brought consciousness to the incident. This involuntary action happens most frequently without any conscious effort.  It may well be that many people do have this experience during sleep, but just don't remember it.  A dream of riding or flying in an airplane has a similar connotation... Falling dreams were also repeatedly examined in my early experiments.  It is a common "feeling" in quick reintegration of the Second Body with the physical.  Evidently, the proximity of the physical causes it to accept relayed sensory signals from the Second, which is "falling" into the physical (pp. 187-188).


Monroe has always been concerned that the psychological and psychiatric community is creating mentally ill people by not taking the time to explore and understand patients' personal experiences.  It is easier to pigeonhole behaviors and give them worn-out labels than to investigate, define, and validate nonphysical experiences and their meaningfulness to the experient.

If a psychiatrist asks you about your dreams, he or she may show a keen sense of interest in what you relate.  If you are asked if you have ever had the feeling of being someplace other than in your body, not much interest will be shown in your experience but it may be used to diagnose your "illness".  Indeed, this is used as a diagnostic question.  In this society, dreams are okay but OBEs are not.  If your listener is fond of you, but skeptical, your OBEs may be classified as "just" dreams.  But personal experimenters, such as Monroe, may suggest the opposite--that dreams are "just" OBEs with poorly developed consciousness.

Dreams may be launching pads for OBEs.  This seems especially true with lucid dreams.  A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming and can actually exert some control over the dream content.  In other words, if you can increase your awareness during dreaming, you may find that you are not dreaming at all but having a totally different type of experience similar to the waking state but without the physical vehicle (body).

Oliver Fox used what he called the dream of knowledge as a technique for leaving his body.  What he describes is similar to what is now called a lucid dream.  He would try to keep his critical faculty awake while he physically went to sleep and then try to discern any discrepancy in a scene so that he might realize he was dreaming.

Objects are often transformed in strange ways in dreams.  For instance, you may dream that you are driving down the road in your car, but suddenly find yourself on horseback.  You may then realize that the transformation of a car into a horse is impossible and that therefore you must be dreaming. Once you have realized this, you can wake up or you can simply watch the dream unfold or you can try to guide your horse to a specific destination and see what is going on there, and then when you awaken, check to see whether what you saw there actually took place or not.  If you can begin to pick up correct information in this way, you may through repeated attempts begin to distinguish between "just dreams" and real information gathered while you sleep; and you may be on the way to voluntary, controlled OBEs.

We may all have OBEs nightly but never realize it--possibly only the awareness is lacking rather than the experience itself.  We are told that we have several dreams every night, but there are many mornings when we remember none.  If our memory and awareness are so feeble in the face of an ordinary accepted human experience, consider how crippled they may be in the face of the fear and nonacceptance to reports of OBEs.

Shiels (1978) reported on an ethnological study concerning beliefs in OBEs in 67 non-Western cultures.  His idea was to test a dream theory proposed by Sir E.B. Tylor in 1929 which suggested that the rise of belief in the soul and OBE were based on dreaming (Tylor, 1871). For instance, if a sleeper saw and spoke with a dead person during sleep, on awakening he or she might suppose that an immortal soul had survived physical death.  To advance to a belief in OBEs from this idea is logical: If there is a soul and one experiences being in another place in a dream, one could easily believe the soul had left the body.  Shiels tested this theory by determining from his data what proportion of dreams were interpreted as OBEs in the different cultures.

He had adequate data on only 44 cultures to perform this type of analysis. In 14 of these societies most (and usually all) dreams were seen as OBEs. In a third of the societies, dreams were not interpreted as OBEs even though OBE beliefs were present.  In some of these cultures it was felt that only shamans could experience OBEs.  In three of these societies OBE beliefs were absent, so dreams could not be interpreted as OBEs.  Of the sample, 31 percent distinguished between the dreams that are OBEs and dreams that are "just" dreams and nothing more.  If all members of each population dream but only some special members or no members at all have OBEs, then dreams cannot be interpreted as OBEs.  Tylor's dream theory therefore appears to be inadequate to explain OBE beliefs in a fairly good sample of non-Western cultures.

How often in dreams do we find ourselves in other places with other people, sometimes those who are deceased?  But when we awaken, we think it was only a dream.  On the other hand, those who realize OBEs awaken and feel that somehow they were actually in a distant place.  So in the unconscious state, there appears to be two different experiences just as we can have two experiences in the waking state: thinking of being in another place and actually going there.  The sensations of physically going to another place can never be mistaken for fantasizing being there, but in the unconscious state it is possible that going somewhere in a mental body (which is taboo) may be considered only a dream.

Defense mechanisms may be put into operation to keep our experiences from conscious realization because with every new freedom there is added responsibility.  Can we assume the responsibility for being able to move about and have effects while in invisible form?  A need for a different order of ethics is apparent here.  The adamant argument which implies that OBEs are dreams indicates that we are not yet ready for the increased responsibility.

Nor do we seem to be ready to accept a new self-image that declares our spiritual beingness.  We have been too cleverly and consistently taught that we are bodies by materialistic philosophies and behavioristic psychologies. Although physical scientists can withstand uprooting of established theories, unstable social scientists cling to their theories, whether proven or not.

But, there is a far more important personal idea that prevents us from realizing our experiences in the mental body and that is fear of death. Robert Monroe has been trying to train people to leave their bodies for years, and he states that the fear of not being able to return to their bodies is the major stumbling block.  In some cultures, people are careful not to awaken a person too rapidly for fear that the soul will not have sufficient time to return and take control of the body.  Therefore, they are actually afraid of killing other persons by awakening them too suddenly.  Have deaths occurred in this manner?  I know of none.  But we do know how very unpleasant it is to be jarred from sleep by a loud noise or violent movement.

Contrary to this stated fear of death, Osis (1977) has determined that fear is not typically the dominant emotion as one dies.  There are reports of near-death experiences where the person wished to leave the body permanently but felt forced by subtle forms or audible commands to return and continue life in the body.

It is so much easier for us to think that some inexplicable experience was a dream than to think it was an OBE.  Conformity is comfortable--in present-day society, one is not intellectually rejected for reporting a dream.  A dream can be forgotten and it need never trouble our thinking processes again.  If we were to accept the reality of an OBE, we would have to withstand the pressure of disagreeing with societies concept of reality for the rest of our days.  In practically every spontaneous case of OBE that has been acknowledged, the experient stresses the profound effect of the experience on the rest of his or her life--effects concerning the way in which one views oneself, the world, life, and death.  In this anxiety- ridden world, can we accept this additional pressure?  Or, is it in fact the only way to our freedom?  Can we begin to view the body as our anchor to the physical world, or must we continue to be imprisoned by it?

A good way to start to free ourselves is to begin to feel and know our experiences for what they are, in the face of every contradictory argument. There will always be those to discourage these pursuits.  Conformity is important in a densely populated, technological nation, but personal nonconformity that allows one to enjoy his or her own unique experiences and learn from them is also essential.  You are the only one who has your exact experience.  Take the initiative to realize and begin to understand your own experiences for their own personal value, while maintaining a cautious attitude toward self-delusion.  Do not let others limit you, and by all means do not limit yourself in the realm of experience.  We are here to live and to live abundantly.

First, you might like to consider a method for analyzing your dreams. Van Eeden (1913) began to study his dreams in 1896.  In 1913 his first report, " A Study of Dreams," was published in London.  He classified different types of dreams and was particularly interested in lucid dreams. He experiences and recorded more than 350 lucid dreams as a part of his study.

He concluded he had a "dream-body" and that he could "remember as clearly the action of the dream-body as the restfulness of the physical body."  He did not classify dreams as OBEs, but he did speak about a continuum of dreaming from floating and flying to lucid dreams.  He mentions an astral body when speaking of his dream-body and then emphasizes the distinct sensation of having a body in certain dreams.  Van Eeden considered this short, easy-to-read article as only a preliminary sketch of a greater work, which apparently he was never able to complete.

How can you differentiate ordinary dreams, lucid dreams, and OBEs? Attention to your experience is crucial, but intention may be even more meaningful.  Therefore, tonight as you go to sleep you may use the powerful forces of suggestion to increase your awareness.  To become aware of more than common, chaotic dream content, you may try affirming, "I will be conscious that I am dreaming in my dreams tonight."  If you have difficulty remembering your dreams at all, you may start your mental exercises by affirming, I will remember my dreams tonight."  Dream structure will shift to accommodate your own personal assumptions, expectations, and intention. Changing these personal views is the key to working consciously with the dream state.  Expectancy cannot be underestimated in influencing our experience, so to expect to have a lucid dream is fine but to expect the actual shape it may take could prove limiting.  It is better to expect things such as that it will be pleasant and important for your growth.

As a technique, try something personally motivating.  For instance, going to bed thirsty may cause you to dream you are in a desert with no water or it may cause you to move out of your body in order to satisfy your thirst, as Sylvan Muldoon (Muldoon & Carrington, 1968).

You may also use intention to obtain freedom and peace on an inner level. Once you have brought lucidity to your dreams, you may try the following experiment.  If you are having a nightmare, confront the frightening entity in an effort to learn its purpose.  If you get no satisfaction, but continued threats, remove the presence from your dream.  You can visualize doing this with anything from a pencil eraser to a hydrogen bomb.  Some will prefer to surround the entity with love and light.  You could also just announce in the dream, "You are only a figment of my imagination."  If you are in any sort of confining enclosure in the dream, dissolve it. Above all, remember that you are the producer-director of your dreams.  By maintaining peace and freedom in your dreams, you may experience a new peacefulness in your waking state, as well.  Decreasing inner anxiety will release waking energy and probably help to relieve feelings of depression.

Now that you are enjoying lucid dreams in which you are able to exercise some control over your experience rather than the symbolic, chaotic dreaming that is little understood, suppose you desire to have an OBE.  Try saying to yourself something like, "Tonight while I am asleep I am going to consciously leave my body and remember all the details of the experience when I awaken."  You may want to travel to a physical location to derive information that can later be verified.  Perhaps you will ask a friend to place some object (unknown to you) in full view in a specified room in their home; you can try to identify this target object and thus can verify your experience later with an understanding friend.  What may happen is that you find yourself in a nonphysical environment.  Do not be alarmed. Learn what you can and continue to try to shape your experience to your personal desire.  If your quest is to come to know your spiritual beingness, some external verification of your experience will undoubtedly be necessary.

Gaining awareness and control of your dream experiences is certainly a valid way of changing your self-image and, in turn, your personal experiences.  Dreams are not OBEs and OBEs are not dreams, but it is up to each of us to learn for ourselves how to discriminate these two altered states of consciousness.  You have the assurance that others have tried and succeeded.  You need motivation and courage to discern these realms of experience for yourself.  It seems you already have the motivation if you are reading this article, and courage is simply the ability to confront what one can imagine.



Muldoon, S. & Carrington, H. (1968). The projection of the astral body. New York: Weiser.

Osis, K. & Haraldsson, E. (1977). At the hour of death. New York: Avon Books.

Shiels, D. (1978). A cross-cultural study of beliefs in out-of-the-body experiences. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 679-741.

Tylor, E.B. (1871). Primitive culture. London: J. Murray.

Van Eeden, F. (1913). A study of dreams. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 26, 431-461.


Reprinted with Permission from “Out-of-Body Experiences”.


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Book Review

Kenneth Kelzer’s “Sun and Shadow”: A New Classic on Lucid Dreaming


Reviewed by Charles Tart


Many publishers send me galley proofs of books they are about to release in the hope that I will read them and say something about the book that they can use in promotion.  This is one of the areas of regret in my life, because so many of these books look like they will be of great interest to me and I want to read the galleys: but I seldom have time.  There is still a set of proofs on my desk of a forthcoming book by Robin Robertson, for example, that I know I will be fascinated by, yet I haven't been able to look at them at all.  I miss too much.

Recently I received the proofs of The Sun and the Shadow, and regretfully thought once again, "This looks really fascinating, but I don't know when I can find time to read it in the next two months."  I thought I should at least read a page or two at breakfast, though, before sending a letter of regret to the publisher.  The first two pages led to more, and I ended up taking the galleys to work with me and reading them at every opportunity. This book will clearly be one of the classics of the lucid dream literature - I'm glad I looked at it!

Kenneth Kelzer is a psychotherapist who decided to induce and explore lucid dreams as part of a personal and spiritual growth program in 1980.  The book is an account of the dreams that followed and his struggle to integrate their insights into his everyday life.  The lessons he learned will be helpful to all of us, even if we don't have lucid dreams.

Because Kelzer writes very clearly, I will mainly quote selected passages, not only to give you the flavor of the book but because they are useful to our growth even in isolation.


Commenting on one of his early and powerful lucid dreams, Kelzer notes that:


There is a kind of magic in many lucid dreams.  This one had the potential to become a nightmare, but in the moment that I became lucid I experienced total inner transformation.  All my fear vanished in an instant, and inside of myself I felt full of courage.  Complete clarity of vision in this dream, yielded instant transformation.  This became one of the important principles that I learned from this particular lucid dream.  To see fully to have courage.  To see fully is to have no fear.  But, as is so evident when we examine our world, we human beings seldom see anything fully in our normal state of consciousness.  More often than not, as the apostle Paul wrote: "We see now through a glass, darkly, but then we shall see face to face.”


Why Do We Have Lucid Dreams?


One of the purposes of lucid dreaming, I am now convinced, is to give people the experience, however fleeting or temporary, of spiritual and psychological mastery.  These tastes of mastery and moments of transformation spur us on to continue the inward journey.


As a psychotherapist, Kelzer is very sensitive to underlying psychological dynamics in both lucid dreaming and ordinary life.  Commenting on a lucid dream in which he met a primitive man riding on a huge beast like an African wildebeest, he notes that:


Eventually, after some reflection, I realized that this lucid dream taught me a lot about fear.  Fear is perhaps the most primitive human emotion of all, and we all have a great deal of it inside ourselves.  We all need to learn how to confront the objects and sources of our fear in order to thrive and prosper in this world.  I realized, too, that the dream was bearing a personal message, telling me that I still have a lot of powerful fears inside myself, which at times threaten to overwhelm my conscious mind.  I did not associate the wildebeest to any particular fear, but more to fear in general.  The dream reminded me of Franklin D. Roosevelt's statement, ' The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'  Now I am wondering if this lucid dream was suggesting that I might surrender one step further and give up the fear of fear.  To be unafraid of fear itself implies a willingness to face all of my fears, whatever they are, regardless of what plateaus I may already have reached in my personal growth.


I personally find this quite interesting as there was a point in my own growth where I realized that fear of being afraid was indeed a bigger fear of mine than any fear of anything in particular.


The Shadow Side of His Nature.


Kelzer has to struggle with the shadow side of his nature in his quest, a side that seemed to strengthen as his sun side, his spiritual side grew. In such struggles it is all too easy to identify with the good and totally reject the bad, a strategy which is quite costly in terms of psychological growth.


Spiritual work, when it is true and genuine, is expansive of awareness and not displaceive of awareness.  It leads us to see and appreciate the whole of our humanity, and does not lead us to reflect upon our higher natures only.  While we need to dwell upon our higher nature in order to grow in a positive direction, we must not do it by rejecting our dark and primitive side.  A whole person, then, is someone who has walked with God and wrestled with the devil.


Should Lucid Dreams Be Analyzed?


Why do we have lucid dreams?  Shouldn't they be analyzed like other dreams for hidden messages?  As a psychotherapist Kelzer was expert at such analyses and knew their value, yet:


I had no desire to analyze this lucid dream or do therapeutic work with it in any way.  It had a sense of completion that is common to many lucid dreams, almost as if the dream were a work of art in itself.  This sense of completeness and wholeness is one of the features that clearly distinguishes many lucid dreams from ordinary dreams.  Most schools of psychotherapy generally follow or build upon Freud's basic idea that the dream expresses the content of the unconscious mind and usually presents the dreamer with some kind of problem to be solved.

Many lucid dreams, however, are simply nonproblematic; they seem to emerge from a different category or realm of the mind.  As such, they serve many important purposes other than assisting the dreamer toward the confrontation of personality problems, although such confrontations can certainly be one of their function…speaking as a psychotherapist, I do not see any inherent contradictions between the works of Freud, Jung, Perls and other psychotherapists and the ramifications of lucid dreaming.

I do believe, however, that one of the biggest challenges that psychotherapists may have in approaching the lucid dream will be to step aside from their traditional problem-oriented point of view in order to appreciate that the lucid dream is more likely to serve the dreamer on another level.  A lucid dream is more likely to be instructional about the nature of consciousness per se than to reveal the dreamer's particular disturbances of consciousness.  It is more likely to depict something about the general evolution of consciousness than reveal something about the individual dreamer's particular 'arrestment of development.'  As its first function, the lucid dream is more likely to reveal the dreamer's inner joy and creativity, while addressing his or her emotional problems as a secondary function.  In short, the lucid dream is more likely to be the bearer of good news than the bearer of bad news.


Simply to appreciate and enjoy the lucid dream and to bask in its light, its vivid images and colors may well be the primary creative response that we can make to most lucid dreams.  Not that lucid dreams do not offer us messages or insight.  They often do, though these messages are often of a much higher or much more subtle nature than the meanings of ordinary dreams.  The lucid dream is a subtle teacher.  As my experiment progressed I began to grasp this concept in many ways.


Dream Control?


As a well-socialized male, Kelzer brought very masculine attitudes of control to his study of his lucid dreams, but the dreams had something to teach him about this.


My own self-analysis was that for the present my approach to lucid dreaming still contained too much of my willing it to happen and not yet enough of my allowing it to happen.  The 'masculine' attitudes of willpower, order, goal setting, intentionality and control are very strong in my personality and always have been since childhood.  Correspondingly, the 'feminine' attitudes of trust, patience, relaxation about goals and allowing it all to happen have been my less-developed traits.  These feminine mental qualities, I realized, would need to be increased within myself if the fullest psychic cross-fertilization was to take place.


Lucid Dreams as Peak Experience


We all experience occasional (perhaps too occasional) "peak experiences," moments of joy and clarity when we transcend our ordinary false personality and experience the higher aspects of our Self.  Some of Kelzer's lucid dreams were peak experiences.  Because they are rare and fade, though, what good are they?


These peak experiences, however, even if they are fleeting and fragile, are no small contribution to the spiritual evolution of the person who receives them.  Without them life could easily become drab and dull.  In reflecting on my experiment, I have come to see that the ultimate purpose of the peak experience is to provide us with a taste of ecstasy now, because a taste is better than nothing at all and because a taste is all the most of us can bear now.  In addition, we need to understand that if we were to receive the full impact of ecstasy without adequate preparation, most of us would probably die, because we are simply not yet strong enough internally to bear the fullness of Light.

Spectrum of Consciousness


For those of us with no or few experiences of lucid dreaming, it is easy to think about them as a curiosity, a funny variation on ordinary dreaming, but yet:


It seems mandatory to me now to rethink and expand upon our present paradigm for dream studies in which we customarily distinguish ordinary dreams from pre-lucid dreams and lucid dreams.  I firmly believe that these three categories of distinction are incomplete and insufficient, since in this dream I experienced a lucidity that was so vastly different and beyond the range of anything I had previously encountered.  At this point I prefer to apply the concept of the spectrum of consciousness to the lucid dream and assert that within the lucid state a person may have access to a spectrum or range of psychic energy that is so vast, so broad and so unique as to defy classification and to transcend what we ordinarily speak of as "consciousness" from the perspective of the waking state.


The Whole of Reality, Not Just the Good


I am particularly impressed with Kelzer's clear intent to deal with the whole of reality, not just the parts of it that we label "good."  Pursuing the good is fine, but very tricky.  We easily distort our perception in the pursuit of security and pleasure and thus sow the seeds of useless suffering.

Following an especially powerful lucid dream that he titled "The Arrival of the Serpent Power," Kelzer noted that:


The Arrival of the Serpent Power and the life context out of which it came has often led me to reflect upon one of Carl Jung's statements: 'I would much rather be a whole person than a good person.'  His message was a criticism of the commonly misunderstood and truncated version of moral goodness that is so often held up for emulation in civilized society. Goodness has often been equated with qualities such as niceness, patience, kindness and tolerance, with the expectation that these qualities should be displayed at all times and in all circumstances.  Such 'goodness' unfortunately often makes people into victims because it may unconsciously invite more aggressive individuals to abuse, attack or exploit.  In this setting, I was relearning once again that a whole person is someone who feels his own anger and aggression on those appropriate occasions when someone else is exploiting him and can speak out or take effective action to prevent the attack from proceeding any further.  In essence, it is not always appropriate nor spiritual to turn the other cheek.  For me, Jung's basic idea is so vital because it implies that there is a dark side to love which actually turns out to be a positive human force in the long run.  It throws out absolute behavioral guidelines for people to follow and encourages us to commit to the wholeness of the psyche as our overall guiding principle.


Specialness, of Me! As Superior to the Common Hoards


There is a danger in any spiritual path, the danger of identifying with a specialness, of Me! as superior to the common hoards.  Kelzer notes that:


Ego inflation was the major two-edged sword that came out of my experiment with lucid dreaming.  It was capable of cutting both ways: positively or negatively, creatively or destructively…To inflate or not to inflate, that is not the question.  How to respond to one's inflation, if it occurs, is the question.  For as Rilke wrote to the young poet, we must give birth to our images, and we must give birth no matter what happens as a by-product in our psychological development.  To be human is to love, create and give birth in the real and to wrestle courageously, if need be, with any negative by-products that may emerge from one's choice to be fully alive.


I think you can see why I find this book excellent and fascinating.


Reprinted with permission from The Open Mind, 4(4), pp. 7-10.


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Book Previews

Richard Moss’ The Black Butterfly: An Invitation to Radical Aliveness

healing, and in particular, the transformational growth workshops that Dr. Moss has been facilitating throughout the United States sine 1976.

The Black Butterfly is a challenging invitation to reexamine the very way we look at our lives.  Health, disease, sexual intimacy, child-rearing, war, everything when seen from the perspective of higher energies or consciousness can be approached in a new or "radical" way.  (Radical in this use of the word means "root," to go back to the very root assumptions that govern our life.)  It is Dr. Moss's contention that when we open ourselves to these higher levels of awareness we can realize tremendous personal growth and expansion.

The Black Butterfly affords us real life examples of people transformed in this new way of being.  For example, it chronicles an extraordinary "healing" that occurred at a conference given by Dr. Moss.  It is the story of "Laura," a woman with terminal cancer, and a 38-year history of diabetes.  Tapping into the greater potentials of energy that Dr. Moss stresses are available to groups, Laura underwent a total and complete healing of all her symptoms so astounding that it left even Richard himself incredulous at first.  Still as he states:


Radical aliveness...is a state that transcends any concept of ourselves. Laura spontaneously awakened to what might be called her fundamental nature, a condition in which her cancer and diabetes were not the final reality.  For most of her life she had identified herself as diseased, and in recent years as a person dying of cancer.  Suddenly she saw that this perception was a fiction...For a little while she experienced herself as pure Consciousness, and that realization transformed her.


This book has the power to change people's lives.  It will amply reward the serious reader with a fuller understanding of the make-up and fabric of consciousness, the possibility and process of change, and how one might greatly expand his own humanity or aliveness.


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Book Previews

Ken Wilber, Jack Engler and Daniel P. Brown (Editors) Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development


of growth as defined by Western science with the higher possibilities for human consciousness as seen by the meditative disciplines of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other spiritual traditions.  In nine seminal essays, the authors and three contributors look at questions such as these: How does the full-spectrum model of development compare with recent findings in psychoanalytic ego psychology? What psychiatric complications can arise with the practice of meditation, and how should they be treated?  Is the authors' model consistent with the contemplative stages reflected in the writings of some of the world's recognized saints?  And do these stages have universal validity, or are they merely the subjective belief systems of particular cultures?

These and other discussions make Transformation of Consciousness a powerful book that could alter the future of consciousness research as well as clinical practice.  It will appeal not only to psychologists, psychiatrists, and theologians, but also to lay readers interested in the fascinating interface between psychology and spirituality.

Ken Wilber, General Editor of New Science Library, is regarded as the founder of "spectrum psychology."  He is the author of ten books and some hundred articles on psychology, psychiatry, sociology, philosophy, and religion.  Jack Engler is clinical director of the Schiff Psychiatric Day Treatment Center of Cambridge Hospital as well as a supervising psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.  Daniel P. Brown is the director of psychology training and clinical services and director of behavioral medicine at Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Transformations of Consciousness Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development Ken Wilber, Jack Engler & Daniel P. Brown ISBN 0-394-55537-6 (cloth) ISBN 0-394-74202-8 (paper) New Science Library Distributed by Random House. Price: $29.95 cloth; $14.95 paper.


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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I have recently read the December, 1985 issue of Lucidity Letter and was particularly fascinated and puzzled by the subjectivity/objectivity debate that occupied much of its contents.  Since I realized in college that there is no consensus whatever concerning even the most basic quantum phenomena, I have pretty much concluded that larger segments of "reality" were up for grabs.  I have no particular stake in either side of the issue.

My reason for writing is both general and specific.  I am specifically concerned by the assertions put forth by Robert Monroe ("WANTED: New Mapmakers of the Mind"), probably considered the guru of the OBE position. On page 48, he claims to have been in communication with "20,000+ individuals" who have experienced OBE's.  A moment's reflection would indicate that he would have to be a master of time-distortion techniques as well.  My specific complaint, though, is his claim that "those who have actively participated in these efforts  [his organization's ongoing studies] have inescapably and conclusively accepted the reality of the out- of-the-body experience."

I attended the entire Monroe course led by a certified disciple several years ago.  It consisted of a series of audio tapes made by Monroe himself (in a very creaky wooden chair!); these tapes contained a series of hypnotic suggestions, some desultory visualization exercises and then suggestions that the physical body could be left behind by a variety of means.  Finally suggestions are given to protect the "travelers" from evil or lower-order entities and to beseech the protection of entities of higher intelligence.  The hypnotically suggestible, after absorbing the miraculous fascinations of the Monroe book and then specific suggestions in the presence of a "certified expert", might indeed have hallucinated that they had left their bodies behind.  As a clinical psychologist who has frequently used hypnotherapy, I would find it difficult to devise a program which would be more effective in inducing hallucinations and that would convince the hypnotically suggestible that they had left their physical bodies.  To me, this is a far more parsimonious explanation than that of Monroe.

I have spoken with a number of people who have completed the Monroe course and none of them has experienced any hint of an OBE, obviously rendering false Monroe's statement that those who have completed the course have "inescapably and conclusively accepted the reality of the out-of-body experience." None of the above implies that Monroe's own experience is not valid, though the casual manner in which he presents his "data" does make one wonder about his facile presentation of other more spectacular phenomena.

On to my general concerns: It appears that there are no insuperable obstacles to placing OBE research on the same footing as that of lucid dreaming.  Monroe, for example, claims he is able to function in the Level I waking reality, (although he failed miserably in a controlled test situation).  If OBE consciousness in general is in fact more suited for functioning in non-terrestrial environments, then experimental designs such of that of Salley, presented in the June, 1986 Lucidity Letter, could be easily implemented and should settle the question conclusively and perhaps open an exciting line of research.  My disillusionment with a particular individual, the package he is marketing to the public and the sweeping claims he has set forth notwithstanding, a program of research attempting to seriously establish the authenticity of the OBE state would be very exciting and could perhaps parallel and certainly stimulate lucid dreaming research.  At this point in time, however, nit picking about metaphysical differences with exponents of an unverified parapsychological position dilutes the impact of the soundly empirically-based and replicable contributions of LaBerge and others.  The point is that until OBE's have been established as genuine measurable phenomena, as have lucid dreams, entering into debates with parapsychologists whose anecdotal claims have been repeatedly unsubstantiated and whose position has not one shred of evidence to support it, and further to feel that the scientific position presented is in need of defense, seems to me to be, scientifically, a giant step backwards.  The entire idea of such symposia seems quite inappropriate or at best premature, and can do nothing but weaken the major breakthrough in consciousness research achieved by the lucid dream investigators.  The burden of proof, and the right to participate in a debate with lucid dream researchers, rests squarely on the shoulders of those who hold to the OBE position.

LaBerge, Hearne, and others have made a truly revolutionary leap in consciousness research.  It is unfortunate that they feel it productive to waste time with the higher-level metaphysics of phenomena that have in no way been substantiated, rather than simply proceeding with further replicable experimentation.


David R. May, Ph.D.


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