A Personal Experience in Lucid Dream Healing - E.W. Kellogg III
CODE BLUE: A New Beginning - Mark Block
Dream Walker - Felicia Payne
From Lucid Dreaming to Pure Consciousness: A Conceptual Framework for the OBE, UFO Abduction and NDE Experiences - Jayne Gackenbach
Mutual Lucid Dreaming - Linda L. Magallón
Oneiric Health and Oneiric Lucidity - Christian M. Bouchet
Zack Cemovsky and Harry T. Hunt
Limitations in the Utility of Lucid Dreaming and Dream Control as Techniques for Treating Nightmares - Kathryn Belicki
Lucidity Association Chair, Harry Hunt, Interviewed By Guest Editor Kathryn Belicki
Some Further Thoughts on Lucid Dreaming and Ethical Reflection - Kelly Bulkley
More Commentary on Sparrow’s Cautions Letter - Joseph R. Dane
Errors in Saint-Denys Historical Article - Carolus M. den Blanken
Research Award Recipient Announced
Contents of the Lucidity Association 1989 Lucid Dreaming Symposium
1989 ASD Program on Lucid Dreaming
Lucidity Association 1990 Meeting
Lucidity Institute Formed
Lucid Dreaming Bibliographic Updates
Cumulative Index for Lucidity Letter for Volumes 1-7. 1981-1988
Lucidity Letter, June, 1989, Vol. 8, No. 1
Letter from the Senior Editor
It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the guest editor, my friend and colleague Kathryn Belicki. From a wide variety of potential articles which I sent her she compiled a coherent and fascinatingissue. I especially bring your attention to the Father X case which she compiled from more than 50 pages of letters and dreams. She commented that it was a labor of love as you will see when you read this monks experiences. Father X prefers to remain anonymous as does the author of the UFO abduction case, Felicia Payne. Any correspondence to either author can be directed to me at the new Lucidity Association offices in Canada. Our mailing address is: 8703 109th St. Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2L5. Canada.
Another spectacular case in this issue, to which the cover photographs attest, is the experience of Iowian college student, Mark Block, of consciousness in coma. Two other cases are also included in the case studies beginning this issue. We encourage the reader to submit their experiences with lucid dreams and/or related states of consciousness for possible publication in Lucidity Letter. Not only does this make for fascinating reading material but it also provides case material for theoreticians and scientists trying to understand these phenomena. The telling of these experiences provides an invaluable service.
I am pleased to bring to your attention at the back of this issue a cumulative index of Lucidity Letter from 1981 through 1988. This should be of interest to both scholars and those interested in purchasing past issues.
As in the last two years, the December 1989 issue of Lucidity Letter will contain the proceedings of the Lucid Dreaming Symposium. Details of this truly international symposium to be held in London, which will consist of talks by American Stephen LaBerge, Englishwoman Susan Blackmore, West German Paul Tholey and Danish Tarab Tulku, are in the News and Notes section. The December issue will be co-edited by Kathy and myself.
Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Letter from the Guest Editor
Editing this issue has certainly been a rewarding experience because of the rich set of provocative articles that were submitted. Quite fortuitously (synchronously?), all the articles and letters either directly or indirectly address the value of and/or potential problems inherent in the development of lucidity. The authors present a variety of perspectives which enrich the ongoing debate(s) in this area. What emerges from many of the articles is a greater appreciation of individual differences: the experience that is growth inducing to one person may be destructive, or merely not useful, to another.
In the first section of the issue are several case studies which provide thought provoking examples of the issues that are discussed both in the subsequent section of articles, letters to the editor and in the interview. Examples of the physical healing potential of consciousness in sleep/coma are provided in articles by Kellogg and Block. Kellog describes his use of a lucid dream to stimulate the swift healing of an infection, while Block’s discusses how a state of pure consciousness, experienced initially in a coma state, promoted recovery front extreme injuries following a car accident. Savolainen also discusses the physical (and psychological) healing benefits she obtains from a clearer state of consciousness achieved both in the dreaming/sleeping and waking states. However, she describes this experience as one of witnessing consciousness which she emphatically differentiates from lucid dreaming. In fact, in her experience she feels that lucid dreaming resulted in a deterioration of her health.
Payne and Father X dwell more on the psychological impact of lucidity. In Payne’s article, she describes the psychological riches her husband has found in a variety of experiences including an apparent UFO abduction which he attributed while it occurred to a dream. On the other hand, Father X’s material is somewhat different in nature. In a series of letters written over several years he describes some of his lucid dreams and OBE’s. Several of these experiences are very unpleasant and disturbing, and could well be shattering to a vulnerable, less stable individual. On the other hand, one senses that Father X has profited from these experiences albeit in a less obvious way than that described in the other articles. He describes them as intellectually stimulating, and they clearly have prompted and deepened his thinking about the nature of being and reality.
The second section of the issue opens with a theoretical paper by senior editor, Jayne Gackenbach, in which she discusses several of the case studies from the previous section in the context of lucid dreaming and it relationship to meditation and especially to the state of pure consciousness. This is followed by several papers which address the strengths, values, limitations and potential dangers of developing Lucidity.
In terms of the positive aspects of lucidity, Linda Magallón describes the special opportunity that lucid dreaming provides for carrying out experiments with paranormal phenomena such as mutual dreaming. Christian Bouchet, in a transcription of his 1987 presentation to the European Symposium on Lucid Dream Research, argues that lucid dreams also provide a unique opportunity to directly observe psychological wellbeing, although he notes that psychological health in dreams is not directly related to waking mental health. (I particularly appreciate his caveat here given my research with nightmares which indicates that individuals can have many nightmares and yet be well adjusted in their waking life.) Nonetheless we spend a great deal of time in dreams and he suggests that lucid dreaming allows us to both planfully observe and develop our wellbeing in this state, with the ultimate hope of positively influencing our waking psychological and physical health. In his appendix he cites at length some fascinating examples from St. Denys’ book, illustrating the various ways that physiological (and other) problems can be addressed in dreams. Finally, Zack Cernovsky and Harry Hunt suggest an application of lucid dreaming for ameliorating the nightmares of refugees while I note some limitations in employing lucidity as a strategy for treating nightmares.
In his interview Lucidity Association chair, Harry Hunt, suggests that unpleasant experiences will ultimately be inevitable for anyone who seriously pursues the development of lucidity. He points out that this phenomena has already been documented in older fields of research into altered states of consciousness, specifically studies of advanced meditation and of psychedelic drug use. Furthermore this research suggests ways of coping with these experiences. Rather than arguing about whether lucidity is “good” or “bad”, Hunt suggests that we should devote our energies to examining how individuals can profitably work through these troubling experiences, and that a good place to begin is with the accumulated wisdom of older literatures,
On the more cautionary side in the letter to the editor section, Kelly Bulkley in a follow-up to his article in the June 1988 issue, reminds us of the need to consider ethical issues in the promotion of lucid dreaming. In a letter, Joseph Dane warns us about the unpleasant experiences that can occur in association with lucid dreaming, and the impact these can have on vulnerable individuals.
Kathryn Belicki, Ph.D.
E.W. Kellogg III
The Aletheia Foundation
First, let me describe my own qualifications and orientation in dreamwork. I normally recall 3 to 5 dreams per night, and have over the past decade or so written down and then fairly comprehensively indexed over 5,000 of my dreams. Of these dreams I have had several hundred that I characterize as fully lucid, meaning that within the dream I had at least the same degree of consciousness and free will (the ability to make conscious decisions) as in my physical reality waking state. During these experiences I have applied many of the standard tests for “realness” that one can apply to the physical world (from pinching myself, saying my name out loud, checking my dream body sensations, self-remembering, checking for consensus with other dream persons. etc.) and in each case dream reality has passed the tests. Of course, dream reality compared to physical reality has many profoundly different attributes, and I do not in any way wish to make light of those differences. But from a phenomenological point of view, which bases itself in experience rather than in theories about experience. I have found no basis other than prejudice for assigning any less “realness” to the lifeworld of my lucid dream state than to that of my awake physical state.
In general, I enjoy excellent health based on a number of common sense and mind-body practices. As a result, I’ve had very little opportunity to try the effect of healing in a lucid dream on myself. However, on Monday April 9. 1984 I over-enthusiastically ate a Japanese style fish shish-kebab, and punctured by right tonsil with a wooden skewer. By Thursday my tonsil had grown quite horribly infected and swollen, looking about 3 times normal size, bright red, and with yellow lines of pus decorating the exterior. Aside from upping my dosage of Vitamin C, and a few cursory attempts at visualization, I had done nothing to treat it. On Thursday night my tonsil felt very painful, and I used a sensory awareness relaxation technique to take my mind off the pain to get to sleep. I had used this technique before (which involves a pattern of body sensing) to induce OBE’s, and had the idea of attempting healing in the OB state, operating on the “as above so below” principle. I then had the following lucid dream (not an OBE, which I experience as something quite different):
“...walking through a house I wake to the Lucid Dream State, decide to try healing my throat. I look in a mirror and my throat looks healthy, but the tonsils look more like the middle section (uvula) then like tonsils. So in my dream body my throat looks healthy, but different. I program for healing to occur (using affirmations), and my throat does feel much better on awakening.”
Subjectively, I would estimate that less than an hour had passed between sleeping and waking, and the pain had almost entirely disappeared. The next morning my right tonsil looked and felt almost normal, only slightly red and swollen. At least 95% of the infection had disappeared in less than 12 hours. From the dramatic reduction in pain felt right after the healing experience, I suspect that much of this healing took place during the lucid dream itself, although of course the dream could have triggered a large release of endorphins.
The potential limits of lucid dream healing may correlate somewhat to those seen in the placebo effect or in deep hypnosis. However, I would like to point out that the physiological change-of-state documented in multiple personality cases may prove applicable to what one might expect to see in dream healing phenomena. All of us seem to experience “multiple personalities” in our dreams. Perhaps clinically defined “multiple personalities” have simply transplanted a dream state phenomenon over to the waking state as well. Although sharing the same body, different personalities often have different allergies, accelerated healing rates, and eyeglass prescriptions. Dr. Bennett Braun reported on the case of one woman who has diabetes in one personality but not in another (see the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 26 (2). October, 1983 for a whole issue devoted to this subject).
These dramatic changes can take place within minutes, and point to the dramatic and accelerated healing effects potentially available to all of us, through mental changes-of-state leading to physiological changes-of-state.
One final note: Lucid dream healing involves mental certainty of a change-of-state not usually available in other self-healing modes such as visualization therapies. I did not imagine that I had healed my tonsil, I experienced a healthy tonsil. Unlike multiple personality patients, most of us cannot change our mental state to bring about a body change-of-state without a considerable amount of doubt intervening and weakening the process. In my lucid dream experience such doubt did not appear, and this could have made all the difference to the effectiveness of the healing obtained.
Ft. Dodge, Iowa
My story begins on the warm, star-lit night of August 3, 1986--a night destined to stand alone from all the others that preceded it as suddenly it became isolated in time. The night was calm and tranquil, yet it held within it the power to change my life forever.
Prior to this time, during my college years, I had begun a period of my life in which I progressively abandoned everything that had previously served to structure my life and instill it with direction and purpose. I found myself wandering aimlessly through those years as I desperately sought to regain the direction and contentment I had once known. I became more dissatisfied with my life as I drifted from one interest to another, draining the excitement and enthusiasm from each before moving on to the next. I exhausted my options one by one as I closed door after door behind me, each taking me one phase farther away from my true self. I felt lost, no longer knowing who I was or where to turn, as I prayed for an answer that would turn my life around and once again structure it with the proper meaning I was then missing.
On the night of August 3rd, I had just arrived home after withdrawing from the summer-school term at the University of Northern Iowa and was without the use of a car. My father lent me his for the evening: A two door Toyota sports car which was smaller and lighter than what I was accustomed to driving. My long-time friend John and I who was just married the previous month, had spent the evening together cooking hamburgers on the grill and watching movies on television. Having reached some decisions about how I planned to turn my life around, we discussed what was to happen over the course of the next few days as I prepared to join the service. I was no longer in school and had completed all preliminary requirements after I had enlisted and had only to have a physical examination the next day, at which time I would be flown away to begin my training. As the evening passed, I began to express some reluctance and uncertainty about my decision to leave school. We decided to continue our conversation while we relaxed in my car and drove in the country.
Shortly before 2:00 a.m. we turned down a large hill behind my house leading us out into the countryside on the River Road, so called because of the way in which it paralleled the Des Moines River which passed through Fort Dodge, where I was raised. It was a road that I knew well (perhaps too well) from the countless miles that I had spent on it training for my hobby and talent which was running.
As we drove on, still less than one mile from my home, I commented on how peaceful and calm it was overlooking the river below with the stars shining in the sky above and the airport lights glistening in the distance as they broke through the shroud of darkness which blanketed the horizon. The night seemed unusually dark and still as the darkness enveloped the road, encompassing everything within it and smothering all movement and sound. As we continued our descent down the hill into the darkness, which would serve as an ominous reminder of that night, my friend turned to me and acknowledged a strange feeling that came over him and in turn reached across and locked his seatbelt into its fastened position. I felt that same feeling as shivers tingled up my
1Copywrite 1989 Mark Block, 445 Loomis Ave.. Ft. Dodge. Iowa 50501. Photos on the back cover of this issue of Lucidity Letter are by Fred Larson and show the automobile Block was driving as well as rescuers and Block on a stretcher at the scene of the accident. The two cover photos are by his mother, Sharon Block, and show him at different stages of his recovery.
back, chilling my body while I reached across and pulled my seatbelt toward its fastened position, but then hesitated and released it back to its resting position.
As we continued on, still less than one mile from my house, we approached a curve in the road which had recently been resurfaced after sliding into the river far below during a rainstorm. I braked and slowed as we approached the turn, but suddenly the car was jolted as we crossed a dip in the road which separated the old from the new pavement. The impact caused the car to sway from side to side offsetting our momentum, and the car was forced to the right. It was as though we were sliding on ice as the front wheels of the car hit the shoulder causing us to fishtail back across the road. The car then veered to a cliff on the left, where a guardrail outlined the edge of the road separating it from the drop to the river below. I was able to avoid striking the guardrail, but was sent skidding back again to the right. Everything became a blur as I saw the guardrail and reflectors go flying by. The headlights illuminated so clearly the many reflectors that outlined the road, each like a conductor’s lantern swaying back and forth in the night radiating the most brilliant and distinctive light. The brightness of the car’s lights turned the shroud of darkness into the crisp whiteness of day encompassed in a strange heavenly radiance. The trees sketched within the headlights came to life as they danced grotesquely back and forth ahead of me like puppets on a string. I felt as though I was witnessing the many toys of a toy shop come to life to torment and mesmer me as they mesmerized me with their play. I became dizzy and fearful as I swelled with nausea, as though I was on some type of sickening and demented carnival ride, but this ride would take me where no carnival ride had before. Was this the “point of no return”? Seconds seemed like minutes as my stomach sickened with nausea and dread. Would we ever stop?
The stars in the sky above blurred through the windshield as they spun round-and-round like a swami of fireflies swirling around their nest. Everything seemed to stand still as that small fragment of time became so vivid and suspended. The song playing on the radio faded away as I became lost in the stars as they danced through the windshield intriguing me with their enchanting serenade, as if calling me to come dance with them. No longer did they seem so distant in the sky as they swirled around me seemingly within my grasp. The speedometer, which was violently thrashing back and forth within its confinement struggling to free itself, was then frozen as if captured within a picture. The fluorescence of the dashboard lights became three-dimensional as they flared with radiance but suddenly subsided like a bonfire when doused with gasoline. The landscape was still as if frozen and no longer seemed real.
I could no longer feel my hands against the steering wheel as my body seemed to go numb. I could no longer feel the seat and I felt separate from my body. I felt airy and lightheaded as I rose out of my seat and looked down upon my hands which were frozen with tenor as they clutched at the steering wheel, causing the tendons to protrude with tension. I felt as though I had disappeared as the stars carried me away to their heavenly playground far above and left my body frozen with strain and terror within the car. It seemed so peaceful as I floated away and became lost within the stars.
That was the last I was to remember of that night for quite some time. I didn’t remember the car being thrown from the road into the ditch and against an embankment. I didn’t remember the car nosing into a culvert as it buckled the car. I didn’t remember the car as it flipped sideways and end-over-end several times. I didn’t remember the sound of glass breaking and metal being torn as the car slammed into a tree during mid-roll. I didn’t remember my ear being ripped away as my head collided with the windshield. Nor did I remember the sound of my neck as it snapped under the weight of the car like that of a twig under foot.
The car came to rest on its top, pinned between two trees, with John and I trapped and unconscious beneath its weight. Approximately forty minutes lapsed before John became conscious and oriented. Trapped beneath the twisted wreckage, he panicked to free himself but was unable to open the door which was pinned shut by a tree. Eventually, despite the limited space due to the flattened and smashed roof, he was able to crawl through a shattered window. He was still very disoriented, but managed to reach a nearby farmhouse and get help.
Having difficulty locating the car as it lay hidden within the woods, the authorities began their search for me upon arrival. Soon after they began their search, John became more oriented and remembered the location of the car.
Help appeared beyond use for me as the Webster County Sheriff found the car at 3:15 with me unconscious inside. Upon arrival, the sheriff reached his hand inside the car, but was unable to register my pulse. Apparently absent of vital signs, the proper medical authorities were notified of my fatality and called to the scene The paramedics and Fort Dodge fire department soon arrived, followed by the Webster County Coroner, but were unable to reach me in the car. As they began their struggle to reach me and resuscitate me, the Jaws of Life was used to force open several parts of the car to allow the paramedics and coroner to crawl inside and help me. At that time my vital signs were still absent, but after several resuscitation attempts my pulse was registered. I was left within the car until my condition warranted safe extraction. After my pulse stabilized and my injures were protected and my neck secured, I was removed from the car and taken to a nearby hospital where the staff struggled to keep me alive.
Both John and I were taken to Trinity Regional Hospital in Fort Dodge and our parents were notified. Mine, however, received different news than did Johns. John was being treated and held for numerous body lacerations, a concussion, facial and head lacerations, and several cracked ribs. It was evident, however, that my needs could not be met there. The main interest at that time was to perform life-sustaining measures. The hospital staff then faced a critical decision. Could they risk transporting me to the care I was in need of?
Iowa Methodist Medical Center (IMMC) in Des Moines received notification of my condition and dispatched the Life Flight helicopter enroute to Trinity Regional Hospital where I awaited its arrival. My survival then became a test of time. Would I survive long enough for the arrival of the helicopter? Would I survive the trip to Des Moines? I was still within the “golden hour,” those first minutes that would determine whether I would live.
By the time my parents had arrived at the hospital, I had already begun my journey to IMMC in Des Moines where emergency and trauma room staff were put on standby awaiting my arrival. It was crucial to my survival that I make it to Des Moines before such processes as spinal shock (trauma and shock to my spinal cord due to spinal cord damage) and brain trauma (trauma and shock to my brain due to a closed head injury) began to set in. These processes cause swelling and can cause life-sustaining functions to cease working. The Life Flight crew, qualified as they were, were not prepared and set up to handle such things as this. They would be in need of more qualified equipment than was found on the helicopter.
As my parents continued their long and agonizing travel to Des Moines, still not knowing much of what to expect, I completed my life-determining journey as my condition yet worsened. By the time they arrived in Des Moines, spinal shock and head trauma had set in. My spinal cord and brain began to swell which caused my respiratory system to shut down. At that time, I was put on a life support respirator system which did my breathing for me, and thus maintained my vital signs--my life was being sustained by mechanical and artificial means of respiration.
My condition was such that any surgery to relieve the pressure upon my spinal cord was not possible, but was necessary. I was far from being stable enough to undergo any such surgery. The doctors then had to wait for my condition to improve.
Then breathing with aid of the respirator, other minor injuries sustained in the accident became the major focus. While being thrown within the car, my head collided with the broken windshield which buckled inward when the roof was flattened. I sustained a severe laceration on the right side of my head, beginning at my temple continuing back and down through my ear. This left a great deal of glass embedded in my skull and my ear almost totally severed and avulsed (torn and ripped off). Plastic and reconstructive surgery were later performed on both as well as other various cuts to my forehead. During the impact of my chest with the steering wheel, my lungs sustained slight damage (contusions and crushing). Such things as broken toes, sprained fingers, and various stresses placed on my joints were left alone. Until I could undergo further testing such as x-rays and CAT scans, much of these would go undetected.
Soon following, I underwent the CAT scans and x-rays which revealed that I had sustained a fracture and dislocation of my third and fourth cervical vertebrae (C3-4 FxD), and a closed head injury (CHI) type of brain damage along with various lung and soft tissue damages. Until I grew stable enough to undergo surgery, there was no way to know exactly to what extent my spinal cord had been injured. The doctors did know, however, that I was ‘incomplete’ (meaning the spinal cord was not totally severed) because with my level of injury, which was very high and very compound, had I been ‘complete’ (spinal cord totally severed) I would have been dead instantly. Yet, there was no way of knowing what the extent of the brain damage and paralysis would be.
I was placed in an intensive care unit (ICU) under close supervision and put in cervical traction, I was still dependent upon artificial respiration. Holes were drilled on either side of my head just behind and below both temples. These holes were to accommodate the “Angel Tongs” which were then screwed into both holes. These tongs resembled ice-tong calipers and were attached to the bed by a spring-cable device with twelve pounds of traction weights. They resisted any movement and pulled my head away from my body in order to align and secure my damaged neck. I was placed on a kinetic bed which molded around my body much like a gingerbread man cookie cutout. I laid within this cutout while the kinetic bed rotated from side to side. This bed completed one turn every five minutes and could be stopped for caring needs. The reason for the rotation was to aid circulation and prevent decubitis ulcers (bed sores) on my pressure points. Nasogastric (NG) tubes were inserted into my stomach through my nose from which I would receive liquid nourishment. Endo-tracheal (ET) tubes were inserted into my lungs through my nose and throat so that I could be ventilated and my lungs, which were then filling with fluids and phlegm, could be suctioned out. Intravenous (I.V.) tubes were inserted into my arms to help keep me hydrated and to maintain a fluid balance as well as to allow administration of medication.
As the hours passed and I continued my struggle to hold on, my condition continued to worsen and I went into a deep comatose state. At that time, the neurologists advised my ever confused and agonized parents that if I survived. I would be a quadriplegic and it was quite likely that I would be restricted to bed and be respirator dependent for the rest of my life.
While to the world I was initially in a coma, I can find no words to sufficiently express the beauty and magnificence of what I was to experience during the next weeks. Any attempt to capture or convey the experience in words serve only to fall short. What I was to experience was something beyond this world and cannot adequately be described in worldly terms. I was to encounter the most mysterious yet peaceful occurrence of feelings and sensations which continue to overwhelm me and influence my life with contentment, love, and joy.
Having no remembrance of the night of the accident and the events which were to follow, I awoke within myself seemingly suspended in the midst of a dark void to encounter the most shocking combination of pain and confusion. I felt lost within a nightmare as I struggled to awaken and free myself from the grasp of this horrifying dream. I felt as though my eyelids had been sewn shut as I struggled to open my eyes but could not. I was aware of the radiant glow of the lights external to my body as they passed through my eyelids far above me like that of the sun as it pierces the eyelids of sunbathers on a beach. I looked above from down within myself and saw the holes where my eyes were; they seemed like keyholes in a door as the light radiated through them like a movie projector with its stream of light piercing the darkness of a theater.
Feeling trapped beneath a blanket of ice with the current carrying me helplessly downstream, I panicked to reach the surface but could not oppose the current’s powerful but gentle flow. I feared that surely I would suffocate if I did not reach the surface to breathe. I continued to be pulled away into this nightmare by the steady stream beneath the ice, like an astronaut severed from the life-sustaining ship, floating eternally into the nothingness of space. Filled with terror, I struggled to resist as I waited for someone to awaken me before I had drifted too far away to return. I was filled with horror as I could not awaken from this dream. As I panicked to free myself, I thought of my family. How simple it would be for them to awaken me, but I could not call to them through this nightmare which isolated me from them.
Soon the pain overcame my horror and confusion as it continued to grow more agonizing and unbearable. I sought desperately to awaken and free myself from its excruciating sting but could not. As the pain continued to grow and overcome my confusion and I realized the futility of my struggle to awaken, I sought to escape the pain by seeking shelter deep within my body. No longer did I resist the pull of the current as I ceased my struggle and allowed the current to carry me away deep within my body to safety.
As I sought shelter from the pain and drifted deeper within my body to escape, I felt as though my physical mind and body knew instinctively what to do while they pushed my inner “self” to safety and endured the pain and confusion for me. Like an electrical fusebox, my body released its protective circuit-breaker when overwhelmed by the pain too powerful to endure safely. When my body was confronted with the painful overload caused by my injuries, its protective circuit-breaker prevented further damage to the inner “self,” the core of my “being.” My physical body was then on auto-pilot as my inner self bailed out to safety, avoiding the pain which was too overwhelming to endure. Like a bomber pilot jumping to safety with a parachute just before the maimed airplane came crashing to the ground, I jumped to safety as well. As a person who seeks shelter within the security of a fruit cellar beneath a basement floor during a storm, so did I seek shelter far down within my body. Once there, I closed the door behind me and sat huddled within its safety in darkness and silence waiting for the storm to pass. My empty body around me became a hollow shell from which I hung suspended in weightlessness in the middle, like a large abandoned airplane hanger: hollow and dark,
Then safe within the security of the current, my journey downward within my body became a series of shelters where I rested and sought refuge within its safety. There I waited and gathered strength, until the pain lingering ominously behind which I had crawled deep within my body to escape, caught up with me and penetrated the walls of my shelter forcing me to go deeper within my body seeking the next shelter. There again, I waited and gathered strength until the pain caught up with me forcing me to go deeper yet to elude it. This journey downward was like that of a soldier in a war retreating from the chaos of the front lines to avoid the torrents of bombshells raining down upon him threatening his life, and seeking shelter within one foxhole and then another, hesitating within one before moving on to the next, progressively getting farther from danger and closer to safety. This journey was like a pedestrian running from one doorway to another during a rainstorm, getting closer and closer to the warmth of home.
Then passive, I felt a gentle current overcome me with its flow as it carried me away within its security. No longer did I resist its pull and I wondered to where I was drifting. No longer did I feel the urgency to breathe, and I realized that it was not necessary. No longer did I feel the panic to awaken or struggle or resist the flow. No longer did I experience the pain and uncontrollable nightmares and feelings that came with them. No longer did I sense the movement of my physical body around me or the uncontrollable gagging, and the choking noises I had previously identified as being my own had ceased. The degree to which I had previously struggled to resist, I then desired to go on in search of an answer to my questions of what was happening to me. I looked far above to the surface, and I saw the light which passed through my eyelids slowly fade away. I felt the security of a young child cradled in its mother’s arms as the warmth of the current encompassed me within its safety.
Still safe within the pull of the current as it carried me to safety deep within my body. I attempted to rationalize what was happening to me. I did not know where I was, how I had gotten there, or where I was going, but somehow found great safety and security. I could not explain the unbearable pain I had previously felt and struggled to escape, or the gentle isolation of the blackness which surrounded me. I could not comprehend why it was not necessary for me to breath and why I did not suffocate as earlier I had feared. I soon thought that I was home in bed and deep asleep, but I had no remembrance of this and I could not explain how I could be “awake” and talking and thinking and yet asleep at the same time. Was this a dream? If so, why was I unable to awaken from the grasp of this nightmare? When would I awaken? I found no justifiable answer to my questions and soon came to the worst of all possible explanations. Was I dead? If so, why was I talking to myself and why could I feel pain? I thought of my family and friends and of their sadness. I had left without saying good-bye. I felt sorrow for the many things I had not yet done while alive. Then the pain that I had gone deep inside myself to escape caught up with me and again I was forced to go deeper yet within myself to escape it.
When I reached my last and final shelter, I felt as though I could go no deeper as I locked the door behind me and waited within the security of my refuge. Somehow I “knew” that there I would remain and had reached the end of my journey. This last refuge became a fortress different than those before it. It seemed more calm and tranquil there than that of my previous shelters. The pain which I had desperately sought to elude was never able to penetrate the walls of this refuge as it had been able to before. I left all contacts with my physical body far behind and above me where they would remain. There I left all physical ties behind leaving only my inner “self,” the core of my “being,” then separated from the external world far above and outside the new world of my “self” Before I entered this refuge which was a fortress stronger than those before it, I shed all contacts with my physical body, leaving only my inner “self” to pass through the walls of this fortress, My pain remained tied to my physical body which was unable to pass through the walls of this fortress. The pain remained like a fierce dog leashed to a tree outside my fortress, unable to deliver its bite. I shed my pain before entering this fortress like a workman removing his soiled boots on the doorstep before entering the cleanliness of home. This refuge was a barrier protecting me from the pain which lingered outside its walls. Somehow, I “knew” that there I would be safe and would remain to ride out the storm. My previous feelings of fear, confusion, and pain dissipated into feelings of peace, tranquility, and safety like I had never known before. Moreover, despite the absolute silence of this refuge I was able to “hear” the many feelings and sensations that encompassed me in their comfort. There were no sounds to be heard, yet I could “hear” the many feelings that emanated within my refuge. I became “aware” of the absolute darkness yet was never blinded by it nor did it hinder my vision. There was nothing to see, yet I could “see” like never before. There I remained “alive” and was never lonely as something, someone, somehow instilled me with safety and well-being, I grew content with the feelings of peace and tranquility that surrounded me. “Warmth” radiated within my refuge and there I had no answers to my questions, but yet I had no questions either. While there, I lost touch with all constructs of time and order. I did not grow tired nor hungry. All physical needs and drives were left behind, leaving the mental “self’ separated from the world far above and outside the new world of my “self. I had no rationalization of where I was nor how I got there, but somehow found a great deal of security and safety. What I was experiencing was like a dream but without mental illusion: everything seemed real and conscious but nothing like I had ever experienced. I did not know where I was or what was happening to me, but I no longer cared as all my questions disappeared. I did know, however, that I was safe and there I would ride out the storm.
As I waited there and gathered strength, the storm began to pass and soon I had the feeling it was time to go. Something, someone, somewhere, who had instilled me with a sense of well-being, stood behind me reassuring me of my safety. As I left my dark corner towards the hatch-door securing my refuge, I stopped to gather the courage to open the door. As I did so, I looked far ahead of me toward the frontlines from which I had previously escaped.
The first few steps were very awakening and shocking as I felt the sting of the pain which I had previously eluded. Leaving my refuge was like a school boy’s first fewsteps out of a warm house in the morning during a cold snowstorm, beginning his walk to school. However, like a mother bird pushing the young birds out of the nest to learn to fly while she overlooks with a watchful and protective eye, so too was I pushed out with a gentle hand. The reassurance and security that I had learned to feel within my refuge went with me, and although I did not know what was awaiting me, I knew from this that I could face it.
My journey to consciousness was like that of a coal miner’s journey from deep within the mine, getting closer and closer to the surface. As I climbed closer to consciousness, I was able to sense the fresh air, like that of a refreshing summer breeze on the coal miner’s face when he reached the surface and gathered-in the warm sunshine of the day.
My refuge was gone, but the feelings stayed within me. These feelings of safety allowed me to begin the road to recovery.
I opened my eyes on Wednesday, nearly five days after the accident. At that time it appeared I was going to live, although I still had difficulty maintaining consciousness. At that time, I still required the aid of a respirator and was yet unable to undergo surgery.
As the days passed, I slipped in and out of consciousness more readily, but when awake was extremely disoriented and confused, both from the trauma of the accident and from the brain damage which at that time was quite evident. I spent the next few weeks drifting between my unconscious refuge of tranquility and the waking state of confusion and pain. As I struggled to come to terms with what was awaiting me in my waking state, I found myself seeking the safety I had previously felt while in my refuge from within myself. I was able to withdraw from my waking state as I slipped back into my hidden world of peace. With each transition between waking and my refuge, I progressively started my journey upward from deep within myself. Each transition brought me one step closer to the surface. Although very frightened and confused, I was able to summon the courage and contentment which I had felt while in my refuge, which remained within me. While in my shelter far below, I learned to foster great feelings of warmth and peace, which I was able to bring to the surface with me. Although I was no longer within the safety of my refuge, the feelings of security, peace, and contentment remained with me as I began my journey toward the surface. I was not certain of what awaited me as I approached my waking state, but I knew that I could face it with the feelings of security and well-being that I fostered while in my refuge. As I approached what then seemed inevitable, I felt great contentment that I had never experienced before except in my refuge.
Upon each awakening, the doctors told me over and over that I was in a car accident and was paralyzed. They told me I was a quadriplegic and that I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life--hopefully, an electric wheelchair if I had use of a hand to operate it. I would require assistance in all activities of daily living (ADL). After a few days, I was transferred to a recovery floor for spinal cord damaged and head trauma patients when my condition warranted that I was no longer dependent upon a respirator.
After undergoing further CAT scans and x-rays, the doctors decided to perform a cervical fusion on my neck to give me added stability when being moved and when sitting upright in a wheelchair. When my respiratory system began to function and clear, the doctors received authorization to perform the operation.
My neck consisted of seven cervical vertebrae and in an injury such as mine, the higher the injury the worse the damage and subsequent paralysis. Consequently, the more vertebrae damaged the more severe the extent of spinal cord damage. I sustained a fracture-dislocation of my 3-4 cervical vertebrae, requiring that my 2-5 vertebrae be fused together as one. Several bones were cut from my hip and fused into my neck with wires and pins. The added bones acted as a bridge for new bone to grow across and become permanent. The surgery took seven hours to complete and four of the seven vertebrae were fused. After the surgery was completed, I was transferred back to the intensive care unit for recovery for two days.
At that time, the neurologists advised my parents that I would never have use of my arms or legs; I would be a quadriplegic for the remainder of my life. Furthermore, they said the next two weeks would be crucial in determining if I would get any movement whatsoever.
The safety and contentment of my refuge remained within me in my waking state and allowed me to put the fear, pain, and confusion aside as I focused on the external world around me. I did not know what the future would hold for me, but I did know that I was safe and whatever awaited me I could accept and overcome.
As I began the physical demands of therapy, I often seemed “absent” as I clicked back into my new “awareness” which I then experienced while conscious. My refuge acted as a well of “warmth” which supplied my body with the necessary nutrients for life--a well which continued to grow and overflow within me, draining off to other areas of my body as I directed its flow. Each night, as I began my struggle to repair my damaged body from within myself, I focused upon a different area of my body. I concentrated upon the warmth deep within me and became one with it. Then deep within the warmth at that point of very focusing, I concentrated upon bypassing the damaged circuitry of my spinal cord. As I flowed with the warmth throughout my body, I concentrated upon the circuit. My every extremity drew upon the warmth flowing deep within my body as it was filled with the life of the warmth that supported it. I was filled with a great feeling of “aliveness,” as I continually expressed to those around me the true joy of life that I then felt. Insistent as I was, doctors, nurses, and friends were skeptical to believe the genuineness of my feelings as they labeled me as “confused,” “experiencing denial,” and having “unrealistic optimism for being alive.” As they waited for my spirit to subside and for me to “come to grips” with my problem, my spirit grew all the more stronger as my spirit ordered. They could not understand how I -could feel “alive” and yet be without the use of my body. Feeling “alive” is not a state of body, but of “self’ and this they could not grasp. How tied to the material they were.
I was able to find joy and contentment in my present situation. I did not know how I knew what I did. I simply “knew,” and trusted that feeling within me.
Two weeks after the surgery, which aligned my vertebral column and consequently relieved the pressure on my spinal cord, while conducting my personal care needs, the attending nurse noticed the toe moving on my right foot. Thinking it was a muscle spasm, she ignored it. Another nurse came into the room and then called for the doctor who was astonished when I started moving the toe on command.
On December 12, nearly five months of prayers and hard work later, I walked into my new life as I left Iowa Methodist Medical Center with the use of a cane.
Healing Through Nonlucid Dreams. A Personal Report
This is my way.
What is your way.
The way doesn’t exist.
Lucidity is nowadays often presented as an indispensable goal for all who want to use their dreams for personal transformation. No one seems to point out the possibility of dangers involved at least for some of us. Like Jung said “What sets one free is a prison for another”. We do not all eat the same kinds of foods nor do we read the same kind of books - why should we dream along the same lines? Nearly every one speaks about different techniques to achieve more lucid dreams, but what about those who may need to get rid of theirs?
I am an active dream-worker but am now developing farther and farther away from lucidity, because of the negative effect lucid dreams had on my health. I don’t think that I am the only one: there must be others with similar experiences, perhaps even those who have health problems without knowing that the cause may lie in their lucid dream experiments. Perhaps my experiences are of value to them.
Ten Years of Intensive Dreamwork
I have always had a very vivid and colorful dream life: both clear and chaotic dreams including spontaneous lucid dreams and also very persistent nightmares and anxiety dreams. In spite of being a very sound sleeper, my dream recall has been excellent. I also had a habit of waking up with a headache and feeling much more tired in the morning than when I went to sleep. Or worse, I woke up feeling definitely ill.
Now, after ten years of regular dreamwork, my dream recall is even better and my dreams have gone through a total transformation: I no longer have lucid dreams, nor have I had nightmares or anxiety dreams for some years. Neither do I wake up tired. My morning headaches are gone and for the first time in my life I wake up feeling well. Although I have always been physically frail and am not strong now, I am healthier than I have ever been. I see this as a result of very intensive dreamwork, which has meant getting rid of lucidity or going beyond it.
The major motive for dream work came originally through dreams. I began to have precognitive dreams about my health problems, sometimes in a symbolic form, sometimes in a very realistic diagnostic form. And there were also other types of precognitive dreams, so much so that I felt like J.W. Dunne (1950). “I was suffering, seemingly, from some extraordinary fault in my relation to reality, something so uniquely wrong that it compelled me to perceive, at rare intervals, large blocks of otherwise perfectly normal personal experience displaced from their proper positions in time.” Although in my case this did not happen “at rare intervals”, it happened so often that I felt like being transported into another time.
My dreams included visions about people I was yet to meet, with a time span of often several years. Those dreams were not always very clear, but most of the time there were enough explicit details to connect the dream and the future event, for instance:
In 1982 I had two dreams: In one which I had to phone to Turku (a town in Finland) to a young man whose number was 11115 or 51111, and another about a person called Kristiina who was a librarian in a small occult library in Töölö (an area in Helsinki). I had nothing to do with Turku or Töölö , knew no one there, but in 1988 I got acquainted with a young man in Turku whose “number” was 51111 That is he was born in November 5, which is written in Finnish 5.11. at 11 P.M. And in 1987 I moved to Töölö and later on met a Kristiina who took care of the small library of our astrological society and in Töölö!
These glimpses of future events felt like getting a window into another level - according to my dream source I was now “having dreams from the causal plane”. Many of these dreams handled small insignificant details, maybe even most of them, but some of them were real life-savers and made me trust the wisdom of my dreams.
I did not see these dream predictions as something destined to happen, I saw them as meaningful probabilities; that is, something to work on, to avert or to facilitate through inner work. And if they were to be fated events, at least I could prepare myself to accept them more graciously than otherwise.
Self-suggestions for Healing Dreams
Because of my failing health I paid extra attention to anything helpful or harmful in this respect. I soon noticed that some of my dreams meant ill-health (lucid ones), other dreams had no effect on my health (most of my nonlucid dreams) and there were some dreams which made me feel better (some nonlucid dreams, often of a more reflective kind). Naturally I wanted to have more dreams of the healing kind and for that purpose I began to give myself regular prayer-like suggestions of having beneficial healing dreams coming from my own higher self, dreams that I could use for personal growth and enlightenment
I did not give myself any specific suggestions concerning lucidity, mostly because I had an ambivalent attitudetowards my lucid dreams. In part I felt positively about them because I found them interesting and had read how they were “the next developmental stage”. Yet they made me physically sick, even when I mentally felt fine and found them interesting or funny. I knew that dreams could have physical effects, even dream researchers said that. Still the main reason for the impact on my health may have been psychological perhaps my unconscious mind, seeing the whole situation, wanted to force me away from lucidity, because it would not be beneficial for me in the long run.
At least some of my lucid dreams could be understood this way, for instance the last one I had, on November 30, 1981:
I was at the hallway in my home surrounded by all kinds of building materials. Suddenly I realized that I was dreaming and that I could influence the surroundings. Delighted at first I made some experiments, but then I saw a pair of crutches and some mushrooms and understood that I had a decision to make: did I need those crutches and mushrooms (lucidity?) or not. I put them away and said to myself that I must thoroughly think it over before I do anything. After that I lost the lucidity and woke up with a strong impression that for me lucidity would be a shortcut not leading to permanent growth.
I did not miss my lucid dreams, both because they were replaced by dreams which I found even more interesting and because at that time I had already read about lucidity and found many things strange: like inducing lucidity by saying to yourself that everything is dreaming. I thought that if you were to say to yourself that an orange is a peach for a long time, you might believe it after a while, but the orange would still be an orange. You would have just given it another name in your mind. And “there are some indications that a lucid dreamer’s fallibility is greatest when he is considering questions most closely related to the recognition of the state he is in (Green, 1989).
Or it might be like Strephon Kaplan Williams said in Lucidity Letter (Williams, 1987): “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.”
It seemed to me that knowing that you are dreaming doesn’t necessarily mean that you are more aware in a deeper sense; you are just awake in a way, or think that you are, concentrating on the state of consciousness you are in, not on the meaningful issues in your life. In fact you may be avoiding important concerns by using your waking mind to change just those very issues the dream wants you to be aware of. Thus you may totally miss the message and the possibility for enlightenment your dream was offering.
I also thought that using my waking mind (or ego) in my dreams would be like bringing the elephant into the China store and thus missing all the intuitive and subtle meanings. I wanted to use the delightful wisdom I found in my dreams to heal myself and to make me more aware of the undercurrents in my life and surroundings. Perhaps what I was hoping for was a kind of waking lucidity. For me the dream world was a reality in itself, albeit a different one, I wanted to learn from it and to be guided by it, not to change it. It had its own logic, different but not inferior to the waking level logic, quite to the contrary.
The first effect of my suggestions was that all my lucid dreams vanished, followed by my nightmares and then my anxiety dreams. And I have not had them since. Gradually my nonlucid dreams changed totally, in many unexpected ways. They grew more and more meaningful, tranquil, easy to understand, concise, reflective and less and less visual. The only strong visual effect that did not disappear was color, perhaps because I am a very color-conscious person in my waking life. Little by little my dreams became extremely realistic, even the surroundings became like they were in reality. My dreams began to resemble my waking life thinking: they handled mostly psychological, religious and spiritual subjects which were the same subjects I was interested in on the waking level.
The most surprising change was that my dreams became verbal consisting of thoughts, ideas, puns, words, evaluations, plans, discussions, even arguments, anything happening in the mind. I saw loss of visuality as a way of concentration in which the focus was on thinking and awareness, not on visual impressions or surroundings. Like it happens in waking reality - intensive focusing on thinking makes one oblivious to the outer environment in the visual sense.
My dreaming mind seemed to work like a computer: whatever program I put in (by reading or thinking) was what I dreamt about. I was in many ways like my normal self, even my cognitive and critical faculties were almost the same, except that I was much more intuitive in my dreams. I did not feel exceptionally aware - in fact I did not think anything about my level of awareness; but judging from the waking point of view I was much more intelligent and aware in my dreams than I am when awake. Solutions dreams suggested to many of my waking life problems were sometimes very strange, but they usually worked.
Guidance Through Dreams
In my case achieving total nonlucidity has been a real achievement. It has also meant an enormous amount of changes in my life. The guidance and wisdom I found in my new kinds of nonlucid dreams made me slowly change my whole life, very cautiously at first, then trusting dreams more and more. However, it was a very subtle process. “A dream never says what one ought to do. Nature never suggests. It is like the Delphic Oracle, it never tells you what to do. It is a mystic situation, and you yourself must make head and tail out of it” (Jung, 1984). Of course to “make head and tail” out of my dreams meant continual study and critical thinking. Even my dreams encouraged me to study and read much: I could have dreams like the following one I had when concentrating on an astrological problem: I saw stars in the sky and then a talking cloud came to visit me and explained the problem partly and then said that it could not make itself more clear, because my conceptual framework is not yet extensive enough!
I felt that I had opened a door to the inner side of the universe; it was a kind of seed level where everything that was later to appear in my life, was planned and where I could have an effect on those plans and thus also on my health in a preventive sense. And more and more I began to have a feeling of a strange mixture of my waking and dream reality. Jung said that we probably dream continually, but consciousness makes, while waking, such a noise that we do not hear it. My dream reality seems to speak loud enough to make itself heard on the waking level, at least when necessary and beneficial, For instance if I forget to take heed of some warning dream, it often pops up in my waking mind as long as necessary to make me listen. Or without incubating a dream I may very clearly know the subject I am going to dream next night (no exact details though). For me this meant a kind of waking lucidity, a possibility to contact my dreaming consciousness from the waking level, at least to some extent.
My original suggestion about healing dreams really was effective. I had lots and lots of dreams about healing: diagnostic and prognostic dreams, plus guidance on just about everything concerning health (diet, exercise, living habits, psychological and religious problems, relationships problems and whatever). It has meant an enormous improvement in my health, albeit very slowly. Except in a couple of crisis situations there have been no miraculous healings. Dreams just taught me to heal myself and to prevent future occurrences of similar problems. This all took time and some hard work. My interest in healing also gave me some dreams about other people and even about pets, for instance:
I dreamt about a sick cat and my dream voice said that the cat would be cured if some changes were made in its diet. My cats were well but when I phoned a friend she told me that her cat had fallen ill and the vet did not know what to do. She tried my dream advice and the cat got well. We never knew what the problem was.
Since I started my intensive dream work I have not seen a doctor once. I incubate a healing dream as soon as I notice any need for it. Usually the first signs of approaching ill health are dreams which resemble dreams I had when I still had lucid dreams. The mere fact of asking for a healing dream, seems to have a beneficial effect, and in some cases that is nowadays all I need. Lucid types of dreams disappear and I become healthy. The spook of Jane Roberts, Seth, was right: “these therapeutic dreams can be brought about with practice. The suggestion (being action) has its own electromagnetic effect and already begins to set certain healing processes into action.”
Verbal Dreams and Witnessing Dreams
Now I have mainly two main types of important dreams, both of them nonlucid ones:
1) Verbal dreams or dream thinking: dreams in which I am very active mentally, although not much physically. The main focus is on awareness, or psychological or philosophical analysis of events. Visual images and symbols axe used only as aids and axe never the main focus.
2) Witnessing dreams, in which I am a passive observer: I watch a woman (myself in another form) from afar. These are usually precognitive dreams and some of them I see as a way of meditation in the dream state. As Aurobindo (Bases of Yoga) said, “one way of stilling the mind is to look at the thoughts as not one’s own, to stand back as their witness. After a time the mind divides into two, a part which is mental witness (my dreaming self?) watching undisturbed, quiet and a part which is the object of observation (the woman in my dreams).”
Although I am now totally nonlucid, I still have to work to keep it so, but less and less all the time. Yet many of my reflective dreams seem to follow the same laws and happen under the same conditions as experiences of lucid dreamers. Most of my critical and cognitive faculties are functioning in my dreams, and most of the time my dreaming mind seems to be well aware of my waking life conditions, not to mention my former dreams, which it remembers especially well. And sometimes my dreaming mind interprets! The major difference between my nonvisual dreams and my prior lucid dreams is that my current dreams are very seldom bizarre. In addition, my dreaming mind seems to pay no attention to the fact that I am dreaming. Perhaps my dreaming mind finds that fact irrelevant. I do not remember my waking intentions, but I act on them.
Nonlucidity vs. Lucidity
Now after years of nonlucidity I again incubated a dream about nonlucidity vs. lucidity in my life:
A dream voice said that my dreams are “an acquired habit of learning through dreams” and then I saw a woman with a walking stick and the voice explained that “those to whom dreams are a door to higher knowledge do not have lucid dreams”. And I understood that to mean that for me lucidity would be a walking stick (just like crutches in my dream from 1981).
My dream voice continued: “if you now were to become lucid, you would loose your capacity to heal yourself. The healing energy you need is incompatible with lucidity at least in the usual meaning of the word”. When I asked what about the opposite, would the energy that heals me be beneficial or harmful for lucid dreamers, my dream voice said that, for some it would be beneficial, others would not register it at all. But it would not be harmful to anyone.
I now believe that the state of consciousness of lucid dreamers is totally different from nonlucid ones, not higher, not lower, just different. A parallel universe, perhaps - a safe playground where you can experiment with lucid dreams, if that is what you need and what is good for you. According to my thinking there may be other parallel universes as well, for different types of dreamers. Like Jesus said “There are many mansions in my father’s house...” I totally disagree with those who insist that lucidity is the next step after nonlucidity and a necessary step before so-called witnessing. It can be for some or even for most, but there are other types of dreamers for whom the developmental sequence is just the opposite: from lucidity to nonlucidity and from there to witnessing or to whatever their next stages are.
Lucidity and nonlucidity cannot be put on a single continuum in any simple way. Neither can nonlucid dreams be put into one category as is often done in many research reports. According to my experience there axe nonlucid dreams which resemble more lucid dreams than other types of nonlucid dreams. Interestingly I have found that many research results for instance in Lucidity Letter, apply equally well to many of my nonlucid dreams. All I do is to change the word lucid to nonlucid, and it fits. But still, I do think that lucidity should not be indiscriminately recommended for everyone. It is just a technique, and like any other technique it words for some but for others it may be detrimental and can even mean physical illness like it meant for me. Technique in itself is no guarantee for growth and should not be used without discrimination. There are other ways for other types of dreamers. “You arrive at truth through poetry. I arrive at poetry through truth” (Joubert).1
Aurobindo, Sri (1973). Bases of Yoga.Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
Dunne, J.W. (1950. An Experiment with Time.London: Faber and Faber Limited.
Green, Celia (1989). Oniros, European edition, 1989, nr 2.
Jung, CU. (1984). Dream Analysis. Notes of the Seminar given in 1928-1930). New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Williams, Strephon Kaplan (1987). Lucid dreams or resolution dreams for healing. Lucidity Letter.6,(l), 10-20.
(Editors Note: Following are excerpts from a letter to the Senior Editor in which the author elaborates her experiences based oft a phone conversation they had about the distinctions between lucidity and witnessing, see also the article by Gackenbach in this issue of Lucidity Letter.)
Witnessing is such a difficult phenomenon to describe in words. I am not lucid, instead I “see” myself and my life from a higher view point, but in a very dualistic sense, like I were myself and my higher self (or something like that) at the same time. It is not thinking, it is not seeing either - even in Finnish I do not have words to describe my experience. But I do feel that many of my purely verbal dreams are in fact a kind of translation my mind makes about this state of consciousness - it is like pure knowledge which I in some level translate into words, automatically, not in a conscious way, often just when I am leaving this state of consciousness. Often those states do not feel like dreams, they are just states of awareness which then are transformed into words as an after-effect. I just use the word dream when they happen during sleep as I don’t know what else to call them.
1I would very much appreciate comments and feedback (through correspondence or through Lucidity Letter), both from lucid dreamers and from others, who have had verbal dreams or negative experiences with lucidity. My address is: Anja Savolainen, Mannerheimintie 144 A 25, 00270 Helsinki, Finland.
I also have these states of consciousness nowadays on the waking level (I did not in the beginning) and they are very similar. I feel or know that I am in contact with another level, the same level I think as in dreams (but it is not the ordinary dream level, lucid or nonlucid). Also this experience is often somehow translated into words. The experience in itself is not verbal (although not visual either), but it becomes verbal in my mind. This may be because I am a verbal type even in my waking consciousness. I cannot explain it better than that, not in English anyway. The ideas I get that way are quite different and most of the time clearly distinguishable from my normal thinking and intuition; although I feel that there are all kinds of gradations in the witnessing state of consciousness, some of them purer than others. I cannot control that state, but the kind of prayer-like suggestion I use for incubating dreams, clearly seems to pave a way for these states also.
Just about the time when I began to have these non-lucid experiences for the first time, I had a dream, which I think somehow tried to describe the phenomena:
A woman and a man (I understood this to mean either different sides of myself or perhaps different states of consciousness) developed an ability to be conscious in two worlds at the same time, but the task was somehow to attach a cord between them which would help to make the voice (it was not clear whose) more powerful and easy to hear. At the same time it meant describing the thing in two languages or in translating from one end to the other end.
My discussion with you on the phone activated my unconscious mind and the next night I had a dream:
My dream voice said that the phenomenon I call witnessing is the same kind of phenomenon that usually is meant by the word, although it manifests in a different way, because of the different type of psyche. And there really are two drastically different types of dreamers, those for whom lucidity is growth-provoking (the majority?) and those (like me) for whom it isn’t”. The voice even volunteered some statistics: “about 10% of dreamers would be very wise to avoid lucidity, because either it is harmful for them or in any case it is preventing them from developing spiritually in the way which is most natural for them.”
I do not have many dreams left from the time I was still having lucid dreams. It was a very stressful period in my life which I’d rather forget and so I have thrown a lot of material away. I only saved the most meaningful ones. And it took a long time, before I was certain that lucid experiments somehow made my health suffer. At first I just thought that it was a coincidence or my imagination but I wrote all my dreams down and also kept a kind of diary alongside them and gradually I could not avoid seeing that it was a fact: I really did feel worse when I had had a lucid dream. And I also could wake up in the middle of night after a lucid dream and have definite physical pains. A couple of times I went to bed feeling completely well and then work up ill the next morning - after being lucid that night.
Some of the problems I got that way were minor (like headaches), but there were more serious ones also, many of them problems which I had never had before. Some of them were frightening, they even incapacitated me totally for a short time, but were then healed later on, after I had got rid of my lucid dreams. I can’t be sure of all the reasons; perhaps they were not harmful as dreams or states of consciousness as such, but somehow they closed the door to other states of consciousness; perhaps only because they were contrary to my type, as if I were trying to use tools that were not mine. Maybe the physical symptoms I had were a way my higher self or my body used to force me to change direction in my dream life (from lucidity to nonlucidity which then later on was to develop to witnessing dreams).
Somehow I feel that if your problems are really serious, then you’d better not try to use lucidity to heal yourself, because in lucid dreams you are in control and you must trust your ability to handle the situation. Otherwise if you try to tackle a problem which is totally overwhelming, you may end up feeling worse and having still less confidence in yourself. In a situation like that you must get some support from outside yourself, if not from doctors, then through dreams, but from a source which is (or at least you believe it to be) higher and more powerful than you feel yourself to be. For me that meant my higher self, although I had a very vague conception of what I meant by that. However, I was desperate and felt that I had no way to turn and thus thought that I had nothing to lose in trying.
Below are some examples of dreams that are typical but not about my most serious problem. I cannot use the most serious ones as illustrations, mainly because I feel that without knowledge of my background and life situation at that time those dreams just might sound incredible, I had difficulties in believing in my own. In the dreams below the first group consists of dream types I had when still lucid (in 1980) and they are mostly diagnostic. The other group of dreams are types of dreams I began to have after the end of lucidity (1982- 1983), In the latter group most of the dreams were preceded by a self-suggestion for healing. In these descriptions I have changed the name of the specific illness just to “illness” or “problem”.
1. ... I saw (or felt myself to be) a small point going through my blood vessels and checking their condition - and found everything in order (true, I think)
…I saw an area of my body covered with grass, or had black clothes covering that area or desperately tried to clean this area from something without succeeding (many dreams of this kind). A couple of years later I had longstanding problems on this area.
…I saw my mother attacking me with scissors and wounding me at a specific spot (exactly where I developed problems a couple of years later).
…A dream voice explained that I have none of the hereditary ailments common in my family, because I am psychologically a totally different type. (Proved to be very true later on).
2.... I dreamt that my chair was surrounded by a bright light and woke up feeling like my body were in fire (concentrated on those areas where I had problems). It continued a couple of days until I was well again. I really felt strange but it was a very positive feeling.
…I saw rays coming from my fingers which had all the colors of a rainbow. And a dream voice explained that I have healing power in my hands, I just need to learn to use it. And then a couple of nights later:
…A dream voice explained that the problem I had (the problem predicted in the dream above where my mother hit me with scissors) will be healed if I do the following: I was to sit every day - at a specific hour - put my hands above the spot (but not touch it) and say a prayer and then concentrate on other things. And the voice said that this is important: I must not concentrate on trying to heal myself, a prayer is enough. It is better to concentrate on other things, not on healing, otherwise I may aggravate the problem. The healing is done through God’s power, not mine. So I usually read or watched television. In a couple of days my hands were like fire, but the problem did not disappear, instead it grew worse and became extremely painful. I became absolutely terrified but then had a new dream in which my dream voice said that it is not dangerous, it was much more dangerous before, now it is healing. It took time, then all the pain disappeared and gradually I was healed. In this case I had a couple of (minor) relapses but was then healed much sooner. I have not had a relapse in years.
…I cut away the grass (see the dream above) from my body and put some cream on the spot. Then the dream voice said that I will be totally healed. After this dream I woke and again felt the familiar heat. The same thing happened for several nights and often in the day time as well. And gradually - it took some time though - I was healed.
This phenomenon of heat I have learned to associate with the witnessing state of consciousness, whether in sleep or during the day. I have a feeling of being in contact with another level of consciousness, which in one case manifests as heat (and heals me) and on other occasions manifests as words (which in a way is like healing also, because the information I get this way is usually spiritually and psychologically very growth-provoking and helpful).
In fact I would say that the most important thing in the process has not been the physical healing - although I most certainly do not underestimate it. The most important thing has been the enlightenment and the understanding of the psychological causes and spiritual implications of my health problems. My dreams taught me more than I can ever express. But this is most surely something which many dreamers know from their own, albeit different, experiences.
(Editor’s Note: The first part of this article describes an event experienced by the husband of the author when he was a teenager. Although the author has chosen a 3rd person format to recount the event, she notes that this is not a fictional account. The second part of the article gives contextualizing material about this individual.)
Part I. The Event
The screen door slammed with a bang as Bill rushed into the house. “Mom, are your home?” he shouted. The silent reply calmed him as he realized that his mother had not yet returned home from work. He ran through the house, leaving a trail of sneakers, track sweats and shorts on his way to the shower.
Track practice had been unusually grueling that day. Springdale High was preparing for the annual County Invitational Track Meet, to be held the next day. Bill was hoping to break the school record in the 400 meter relay. He was the anchor man on the relay, the fastest boy that Coach Hanks had seen in many years.
As the hot water soothed his aching muscles, Bill thought of all that he had to do. It was his mother’s birthday, and he had planned a special evening for her. If he had known what was to happen that night, he would have used his running ability and taken his mother far, far away from that place. However, not knowing what mystery lay in store for them, his thoughts raced on.
There was no extra money for a party, a store-bought cake, or dinner out. Nevertheless, Bill had planned all week that he would bake a cake and prepare dinner himself. He felt this was the least he could do for his mother, who had given and sacrificed so much for her children. Since his father’s death five years ago, Caroline Moore had worked tirelessly to see that her five children were well taken care of.
Bill was the youngest, and the only child remaining at home. He had become very responsible and self reliant for a boy of sixteen, qualities that Caroline felt a mixed sense of pride and guilt about.
She worked as a medical assistant in a doctors office. The job did not pay well, especially considering the amount of work that was expected of her. She ran a marathon from the front desk to the exam rooms, assuring young mothers, assisting the elderly, and fielding requests and demands that Dr. Brooks constantly sent her way. Caroline often stayed past six o’clock to finish her bookwork and escort the last patient out the door. Then she cleaned and prepared the exam rooms for the next day.
Bill knew that his mother felt guilty about leaving him alone so much of the time. But, his life was full and he was content in the privacy that he was now privileged to. All of his brothers and sisters were either at college or married. His days were busy with school, sports and homework. Bill had longed for an after school job, but Caroline had insisted that he devote himself to being a student and athlete. He usually spent the weekends doing odd jobs around the neighborhood for some extra spending money. He had saved his money for two months, and had bought his mother a new watch for her birthday.
Usually, Bill started feeling a little lonely if Caroline had not returned home by seven or seven-thirty. Tonight he was pleased that she would be late, as he would have plenty of time to prepare the meal that he had so carefully planned.
He jumped out of the shower and sprinted down the hall to his room. Quickly he threw some clothes on his damp body and combed the tangles from his naturally curly head of auburn hair. He reached in his shirt drawer and rummaged around until he brought out the carefully hidden box that he had placed there days ago. Alongside it lay a greeting card and wrapping paper. Closing the drawer, he turned, ran to the stairs, and raced down two at a time. When he reached the landing, he slid and almost fell on the highly polished wooden parquet.
Carefully and deliberately, he wrapped the gift, signed the card, and placed them in the center of the dining room table.
Turning toward the kitchen, he smiled to himself with a sense of anticipation and determination. He was pleased that his independence had paid off, when an hour later he gently smoothed the canned frosting on the still warm-from-the-oven cake. The hamburgers were browning nicely on the broiler pan, and the table set for two.
Just then he heard his mother’s car pull up the driveway, and as we wiped his brow, he said aloud, “Great timing. Bill ole boy!” Caroline breezed through the kitchen door, hung her keys on the peg board, and was pleased to smell the inviting aromas that greeted her. It had been an extremely long and tiresome day, but just the sight of her youngest son standing there in the kitchen, with that beguiling smile of his, was encouragement enough to lift her heavy mood.
“Happy Birthday, Mother!” Bill yelled as she pulled off her jacket and lay down her purse. “Oh, Bill!” she gasped as her hand flew up to her cheek in a surprised expression. “I had completely forgotten - it has been such a crazy day!” “Well, Mother, you just come right in and have a seat. Tonight you are a pampered woman. Your dinner awaits!”
Caroline was moved to tears when she saw all that her youngest son had done. “He’s such a good boy.” she thought. “I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful child. Especially after all he has been through!” She reached over and hugged him tightly. Perhaps she held on a little too long, because he wiggled away and back up with a look of half-embarrassment and half-love on his face. “Aw, come on, Mother, it’s not such a big deal. I just wanted to make your birthday nice for you. After all, you always say. ‘Nothing’s too good for my family.’ It’s time you got something back.”
After they had dined on hamburgers, potato chips and colas, Bill told Caroline to close her eyes and he brought her the cake and present and placed them in front of her “Ok, Mother, open your eyes, make a wish, and blow out the candles!”
When they had finished with their celebration, they moved to the den where they comfortably spent the rest of the evening engaged in conversation and television viewing.
“By the way, Mother,” Bill began. “the County Invitational is tomorrow. Do you think you can make it? Coach Hanks thinks we have a good chance of taking first with the relay. Besides, I was really hoping that you could see me run before the season is over.” “Bill, I will definitely try to be there. I have already asked Marion if she could come in for the afternoon. I’m really sorry that I have not been able to get away from the office before now, but you know how Dr. Brooks is! He always has three days of work that needs to be done in one.”
After Bill had gone to his room for the night, Caroline sat back on the couch with a sigh. Since DeWayne had died, everything had been so difficult for her. She had never worked outside of her home while the children were small. And then, suddenly, she was left alone with five children, two of whom were in college, two in high school, and little Bill, who was somewhat younger. Yes, it had been hard; in fact, most days it was a downright struggle. But, somehow, they had managed. The older children seemed to be doing well, and Bill, whom she had spent so many hours worrying over, had truly become an exceptional young man. Tears filled her eyes as she thought about the special evening he had so carefully planned for her. She was tired to the bone, but she felt deep contentment and pride as she closed up the house and headed for her room, and the bed that to this day seemed to be so empty, and so painfully lonely.
The cool breeze of the spring night breathed in and out of the open window in Bill’s room. He stirred in his sleep, and rolled over. In a half-sleep, he sat up, and looked around the room. As his mind cleared, he wondered what had awakened him. A feeling of purpose suddenly filled him, and he rose from the bed and walked into the hallway. In the dim night’s light, he paused as if he were trying to remember what had brought him out of his bed in the middle of the night. A calm yet thundering voice filled his mind. “Come with us.” As Bill’s mouth began to form the word, “Why?”, the voice spoke again. “Do not fear. We have not come to harm you, but for each of us to discover one another. Please come now.” Bill looked around, and saw no one. He realized that he was caught in a strange and frightening dream. Once again he tried to speak, but the words would not form upon his lips. A gust of wind raced down the hallway, and Bill had to lean on the banister to prevent himself from falling over. It was as if at that moment another presence had joined him. He looked in the mirror, and saw his reflection, He glanced down at his hands, expecting them to be shaking and sweaty, but they were still and dry. He knew that he had been joined, but he saw no one.
Quickly, he turned toward his bedroom, but stopped short. “Please, come with us now,’ the voice echoed in his head. “I should wake myself up now,” he thought, “but I can’t.” At that moment his feet moved forward and down the stairs. Through the still and dark house he crept. Silently, he picked the keys off the peg board in the kitchen and stepped out onto the cool concrete of the patio. He headed for the garage, and several times he paused to look around, sensing another’s presence.
Once in the garage, he looked around the dark, and then glanced down at his bare feet. “I must be crazy! Here I am in the middle of the night, barefoot and half naked, sneaking away in my mother’s care to an unplanned destination!! Oh well, it’s only a dream...it really doesn’t matter,” He stepped into the car, and as he did, the passenger door flew open, paused, and then closed itself. “Where am I going?” Bill asked. He heard what seemed to be his own mind speak back to him in a voice that was unfamiliar, unexplainable. “You will know as you shall go.” the voice replied. Bill turned the key in the ignition, back the car down the narrow driveway, and proceeded up the deserted street.
After driving about thirty minutes, on country roads that he had often been on with his friends while they were out “cruising”, Bill pulled over to the side of the road, parked the car, and turned off the engine. He sat for a few minutes, wondering what he was going to do next. Waiting for an answer.
Suddenly, a bright light engulfed the interior of the car, illuminating everything as if it were high noon on a blistering summer day. The sweat began to pour down his face and neck, and he thought that if it got any warmer the car would surely melt.
The voice spoke. “We are here. Come with us now. Bring the other one with you as well.” Bill looked around in the car, wondering what it meant by “bring the other one with you”. Shrugging, he reminded himself that it was only a dream, and dreams sometimes had non- sensical things in them.
He reached for the door handle and immediately wretched his hand away. It was boiling hot! He felt as if he had just placed the palm of his hand on the fiery red burner of his mother’s electric range. Once, as a child, he had done that, and his hand was blistered and sore for two weeks.
While he was caught in his pain and memories, the door of the car was suddenly blown open. He stepped out onto the sharp gravel. The light was now right above him, and as he looked up into it, the voice said, “Do not look up. Look only in front of you and walk toward the field.” Bill rubbed his eyes with the palm of his right hand, and began to walk in the direction of what appeared to be a freshly plowed farm field.” He heard both of the car doors slam, and he wondered again why they were both opened. Just then, he slid down a wet and slick embankment about five feet deep. Once at the bottom, he had to crawl on his hands and knees to the top. When he reached the top, he steadied himself on the warm, soft soil.
He walked into the middle of the field, about one hundred and fifty yards from the road where his car now sat in darkness. The light continued to hover over Bill and illuminate his way. He heard a soft humming sound, and noticed that there was fog in the air about twenty feet in front of him. For the first time since his dream had begun, he fought back a lump in his throat, and noticed that his hands were icy and wet.
Stopping to catch his breath, he knelt for a moment, wiped his forehead, and wished for something cold to drink. As he looked up, he noticed that the fog had moved in closer. There was a soft humming sound coming from in front of him, and as he looked closer, he could see something shiny descending from the cloud. It was like a staircase.
Bill stood up, and decided that he had had enough. He was going home…going to wake up from this crazy and frightening dream!
“Do not leave now. You have come so far. Please come and meet us now.” The voice pounded louder and louder inside Bill’s head. He held his hands over his ears so that he could not hear any more, but the voice kept coming from within, and it grew louder and louder as the steps moved closer and closer. Bill felt his body being propelled forward, toward the steps, and then he was moving up them.
When he reached the top, he was aware of a light that was much brighter than the one that he had seen before. He placed his hands above his eyes to shield them from the brightness. As he turned to look around him, he saw the door closing. “NO! WAIT! I’ve got to get out of here!” he yelled. “Do not worry. We will let you go soon.” Bill looked around and saw that he stood in a circular chamber with six door like openings. Everything was a cool metal gray color. One of the doors opened, and a strange looking creature approached him.
The creature was about three and half feet tall, and resembled a human form. It’s head was three times the size of a normal human’s head, with no hair. It’s ears were large holes that projected into the sides of it’s head, right above the temple line. The arms of the creature were extraordinarily long, with five spiny fingers on each hand.
As the creature approached Bill, it reached out its long arms toward him. Bill stepped back. “Do not be afraid of us, we mean you no harm.” Bill noticed that the being did not have a mouth, but seemed to speak through the largest, most piercingly beautiful eyes he had -ever seen. As he gazed into those huge round eyes, he saw emotions, and words of wisdom.
Bill no longer needed vocal words. They began to communicate at an alarmingly fast rate by simply looking into each other’s eyes. The fear left Bill’s body, and he began to question the creature. “How is it that you can talk to me in perfect English?” Bill asked. “We have understood the powers of the mind for many generations now. It is easy for us to enter one’s mind, organize the thought patterns and languages, sort through and analyze ones logic and emotions, and communicate in a decipherable manner.”
A door opened into the atrium where they stood, and two more creatures entered. “Come with me now, I have told you about us. There are things we want to know about you.” Two doors opened, and one of the creatures headed for the door at the left. Bill felt a sudden pulling and jolt within himself. “Do not worry about the other one,” the creature said. “You will be re-united soon. Bill looked around, and wondered what he could mean. There was only him.
They proceeded through the door on the right and continued down a long hallway. Soon they came to another door way. Without touching a button or doorknob, the door slid open, from bottom to top. As Bill wondered how the door worked, the creature explained that all their systems worked through the energy emitted through body heat.
Upon entering the room ahead of them, Bill noticed that it was full of instrument panels, lights, and millions of buttons. In the center of the room stood a long table that resembled a surgical table. Bill was instructed to get on the table and lay down. As he walked over to the table, Bill could see several more of the creatures sitting in small compartments with many panels and buttons before them.
As Bill bay down on the table, two more creatures joined the first and stood over him. They began to chatter in a language that was undecipherable to Bill. Above the table were several lit panels, and from one of these panels dropped twelve black wires with shiny points on them. They took the wires and placed them on Bill’s body. Two were placed above his eyes. Another was placed behind each ear, and more were attached on his chest, arms and legs. A large screen moved down from the ceiling and stopped when it was about five feet above his head. The room became dim, and it felt to Bill as if he began to revolve slowly in a circle. He closed his eyes, because the movement was beginning to make him dizzy. One of the creatures told him to open his eyes, and as he did, he saw picture come on to the screen. Picture of a fetus in the womb, moving through the birth canal, being born. A baby, a toddler, a small child, Bill realized that they were tapping his memory as he recognized the small child to be himself. For awhile, he thought he was dying, because he had heard that when you die, your whole life passes before your eyes. Then he thought, “This is just a dream, Bill. It will soon be morning and I will wake up and it will be all over.”
After the pictures had gone through every moment of his life, every happy, sad, boring and exciting moment, and came up to that very minute, the creatures removed the wires from his body and pushed a cart close to the table.
On the cart were many instruments, shiny and unusual. The only thing that he recognized was a syringe and needle. As he laid his eyes upon it, one of the creatures picked it up and approached Bill. “Oh no you don’t,” he thought. Two of the creatures moved then, one to his head, and one to his feet, and held him down on the table.
The creature with the syringe placed it in Bill’s naval, and poked it into his flesh about three inches. He lunged and poked with the needle until he seemed satisfied that he had placed it in the proper place. After drawing four vials of liquid from his stomach, they all moved away from Bill. He must have passed out for a few minutes, because when he opened his eyes again, they were scraping skin off of his hands, head, the inside of his mouth, and his legs.
When they had finished, the creature that Bill had met first moved closer and Bill could hear him say, “That is all we need to know. You may now join the other and return.”
Bill sat up on the table, and felt weak with dizziness and nausea. One of them approached him with a vial filled with cloudy liquid and appeared to offer it to him. The smell of the liquid was repugnant, and at first he wanted to refuse, but his throat ached with thirst. He drank the smelly and foul tasting liquid. Within seconds he felt fine. His strength had returned, and he was no longer dizzy.
Bill jumped down from the table and moved toward the door. The creature joined him, and the door was opened. They walked down the hall and soon they were back in the atrium. One of the other doors opened into the area, and another creature joined them, Bill felt as though another presence was with the creature, because he suddenly felt reassurance and safety.
The stairway began to descend, and as it touched the ground. Bill walked toward the opening. He turned around to gaze one last time upon the strange captors who had roused him from his sleep and had brought him to this strange place. There was no one there.
Once again on the soft, warm soil, Bill began to run toward the direction of his car. When he got there, both doors again opened for him. Without taking time to run around the car to the driver’s side, Bill dove in the passenger’s side and slid across the seat to the steering wheel. The doors closed. Bill started the car and drove home faster than he had ever gone before.
The birds were chirping and the breeze had stopped blowing in his window when Bill’s alarm buzzed at seven o’clock. He rolled over in his bed and hit the snooze button. Sinking back into a deep sleep, he thought it was much too early to get up. After five minutes, the alarm sounded again, and Bill reluctantly sat up and turned it off. “Wow,” he thought, “what a night. I hardly feel like I slept at all.” He stretched, and as he did, his muscles felt sore and achy. He remembered his dream, and smiled to himself. “Glad that one’s over with. I’ve got to stop watching so much junk on TV!” he thought as he rolled his legs over the edge of the bed.
He looked down at his feet and saw that they were caked with dirt. He shivered, grabbed a fresh set of clothes and moved toward the bathroom.
As he jumped into the shower, the water hit his tired and achy body and felt good. He cupped his hands and scooped up some water to wash his face. Suddenly, he pulled away as if he had been stung. His left hand hurt. He looked down at it and saw that it was blistered and red. Once again, he remembered his dream. He passed off the thoughts that were now beginning to frighten him and rationalized that he had probably hurt his hand in track practice and had not noticed it until now.
As the water began to wake him up, his mind moved on to other things, especially the big day ahead of him. “Today is the big track meet, and if I’m going to break any records. I have to start concentrating on it instead of a stupid dream,” he thought.
He quickly dressed for school and bounced down the steps two at a time. Quickly he came to a halt when he saw his mother at the table, still in her nightgown, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee.
“Hey, Mother, what are you still doing here? You’re always gone by now!”
Caroline shifted uncomfortably in her chair, looked up at her son with tired eyes and said, “Oh, Bill. I was pretty tired this morning. I didn’t sleep well, Marion called to see what time I wanted her to go in for me and I asked her if she wanted to work the whole day.”
‘That’s great! Now I know that you’ll be there for sure to see me run.”
“Of course I’ll be there, Bill. I just need a little rest.”
Bill pulled his toast from the toaster, grabbed the butter dish and orange juice, and headed for the table.
“Is that all you’re having for breakfast, Bill? That’s hardly enough for a boy who’s planning to break a school record.” Caroline smiled gently as she looked over the top of her newspaper.
“I don’t have time for anything else. I’m running really late this morning. First, I overslept, then I had to take another shower. I sure hope the rest of the day goes better than it has so far!”
“Why did you shower again this morning? I thought you always showered after track practice.”
“Well, it’s really pretty weird, Mother. I think I did some sleep walking last night. When I got up this morning, my feet were dirty, and I was sore all over. I sure had some strange dreams, I can tell you that for sure!”
Again, Caroline glanced at Bill over the top of the newspaper. Gently, she folded and placed the paper on the table. As she shifted in her chair, her hand moved to the tender spot in her abdomen.
Bill’s comments had triggered a question in her mind. “Could it have been that Bill was the unknown presence that I felt in my own dream walk?”
She looked deeply into Bill’s eyes and asked, “What was your strange dream, Bill?”
“I dreamt that I took the car and drove far into the country, and while I was there, I was taken aboard a very strange ship or something. Anyway, I think I had better quit watching so many science-fiction movies.” With that, he grabbed his books and headed for the door.
“Wait a minute, Bill. I’d like to talk to you some more about your dream. It sounds very strange I know, but I also had a very similar dream.”
Bill stopped dead in his tracks and turned to look at his mother. All color had drained from his face as he realized that maybe his dream wasn’t his alone, but that perhaps his mother had been the unknown presence, the “other-one” that the strange creatures had spoken of. He walked numbly back to the table and sat down across the table from her.
“What do you mean, Mother? Are you saying that you also went somewhere last night, and saw a ship and strange people?”
“Yes, Bill. They told me that someone else was with me, but I had no idea it was you. I wondered how the car was driving, because I was in the passenger seat. But I thought it was okay, because it was only a dream.”
For the next few minutes, they discussed their shared experience and determined that it was truly a very strange mystery. When they had finished talking, they both agreed that while it was very strange, it was not anything of great importance, and they need not make a big deal out of it. For that matter, it was actually very insignificant. They never spoke of it again.
It was as if someone had taken their dream walk and filed it away in the cloudy, faded area of memory where all dreams go.
Part 2. Additional Notes
In the next few pages, I will relay information told me by my husband concerning his experiences dealing with OBEs, dream lucidity, sleepwalking, UFO encounters, ESP, and possible inherited factors concerning some of the above.
My husband tells me that he first experienced OBEs as a child. It did not only occur while in a relaxed and prone position, but also occurred at will when in a classroom, while watching television, or at any other time that he so desired it to occur. He describes his feelings as being tranquil, non-threatening, and at complete peace with himself. When calling upon himself to perform the OBE, he would simply concentrate on rising up and out of himself. Once he had accomplished this, he would rise above himself, look down upon his body, (which was still in a sifting or lying position in a state of wakefulness, with eyes open, and normal breathing) look around at the environment, wander about the room a bit, then return to his body. He explains the form of self as being somewhat physical in nature in the sense that he had the physical properties of the body, but it was transparent in nature. He did not try to leave the room, nor did he try to go through walls, windows, or doorways. He reports having a complete sense of freedom. Had he desired going through walls, windows or doorways, he felt confident that it was within his power to do so. Freedom of movement was not restricted by gravity. He could move in any direction, at any speed.
He continued to perform these activities until his early twenties, at which time he became concerned that he was being tempted each time to wander further away front his body, and felt the desire to remain away from his body for longer periods of time. He was concerned that at some point he would not be able to return to his body and would be caught in that state forever. To this very day, he feels capable of willing an OBE if he so chooses, but for the previously stated reasons, he does not.
The next subject that we discussed concerns his consciousness in sleep, or “dream lucidity”. On a regular basis, my husband reports that upon retiring for the night, he will quickly fall into a sound sleep around 11:00 pm. He awakens at approximately 12:30 am, ready to get up. Realizing that it is too early to get up, he begins a process of recall that I will attempt to convey. He begins relaxing, closing his eyes, and consciously pulls data from his memory. The data that he brings forth may be of any subject or memory that he chooses. It is a self-controlled process. For instance, if he is working on a blue print at the office (he is in the general contracting business) he can bring the complete blue print before his eyes, and study that which needs to be changed or re-designed. When he returns to the office the next day, he is able to make his changes by simply taking pencil in hand and writing down what changes he previously completed during the night. For pleasure, he might choose to recall certain experiences or events from childhood. He claims total and accurate recall dating back to the age of six weeks. His father passed away when he was nine years old, and consequently, he feels cheated because of the amount of time he was unable to spend with his father, Therefore, he can recall memories that he and his father shared with perfect recollection and complete context. He explains his method of recall like unto that of a movie projector that is being single-framed. Life to him is but a series of photos, in perfect order within the brain, just awaiting his command to come forth into his consciousness. He is able to run the memories (frames) as quickly or as slowly as he desires, to the place or time frame that he is searching for. He then views it at the speed he chooses. By using this method, he can recall an entire day, a single moment, or a series of events that tie together. Oftentimes, he will” return to college” and re-take an exam or an entire course. While in school, he found his method of studying so successful, he held a 4.0 GPA. In coaching others in this method of recall, he has not been very successful, as others either do not comprehend or are unsuccessful in their attempts.
There are times that he will use lucid dreaming as a source of studying behavior patterns in other people. He can often decipher or discern another person’s thinking process or behavior patterns to assess what that person is going to do, or how that person will react to various stimuli.
I would like to point out here that he is emphatic about the self-control aspect of this type of recall. He maintains that at all times he is in total control of the process, and reports a feeling of complete, but relaxed consciousness.
We have spoken many times about his sleepwalking. I have witnessed this event many times during our fifteen years of marriage. He has been known to actually drive a car and be gone for periods of time that range from fifteen minutes to over an hour.
On one particular occasion, he woke me from a sound sleep and asked me to follow hint. I walked behind him out onto our back porch, where he proceeded to take me by the shoulders, point my head in the direction of the windows, and began to point outside, in to the darkness. He kept repeating, “Look at that! Would you just look at that!!” I asked him “What do you see?” He repeated, “Look at that! Don’t you see? Just look at it!” This continued for about thirty minutes, at the end of which time, he led me back to our bedroom. He then lay down and proceeded to fall into a deep sleep. When I questioned him about the incident the next day, he had no idea what I was talking about.
It is very common to see him up and about during the night. Either he is checking out things that go bump in the night, or checking the interior walls for construction details. When I question him about his inspection of the walls, he tells me that he is looking for a doorway or window. What he believes he is actually doing is an active animation of blueprint detail. In other words, he believes that he is walking through one of his buildings that is yet to be built.
The most disturbing incident to my husband is what I believe you termed as “dream sharing”. As a child, he had a recurring dream about being in space, simply floating along. There was a great feeling of apprehension and tightness that he can only explain as claustrophobia. (He claims not ever being claustrophobic except in this dream.) As he is suspended in mid-air, suddenly there are many heavy balls that begin rolling over his body, pressing down, pinning him motionless and unable to escape. He never shared this account with anyone, except his mother, until a few months ago. One of our sons, eight years of age, was reporting to his father that he had been experiencing a series of repetitive and frightening dreams. He explained the dream that he had been having, and much to my husband’s surprise, it was an exact version of the dream he had spent many a night frightened as a child over.
I think perhaps the reason for the great concern is that this particular son shares many other traits with his father. For instance, the child is also a sleepwalker. I often find him wandering about the house during the night, checking out odd sounds and making sure that all the doors are locked. His teachers report that he is well beyond his years in wisdom and understanding. He has been labeled as a “little old man in a child’s body” since he was a toddler. One thing that my husband finds both humorous and interesting, is that oftentimes, when playing, our son will proceed to run about very quickly on all fours with his back arched high. This is not crawling in the typical fashion, but I would guess a form of such. My husband reports that as a child, he did the very same thing. We have not seen any one else ever do this before.
While I’m speaking about dream sharing, I would like to interject here a few comments as a follow up to “Dream Walker.” When I asked my husband about their conversation he had with his mother, he reported that they neither one became very agitated or excited about the matter. It was as if they should take note that something had occurred, but there was no big deal about it. They both acknowledged the exact experiences, discussed it only a short time, then ceased to discuss it any further. I very much wish that I had the opportunity to discuss with my mother-in-law these events, and many other things as well. I cannot. She has since passed away.
My husband says that he has seen UFOs many times since, but has no conscious recollection of experiencing any unusual encounters, time lapses, or unexplained events. From my perspective, I would like to make note of my comments made earlier concerning his driving of an automobile during sleepwalking. Why didn’t I follow him? When I think of the danger he was in, it makes me shudder to think that I let him just drive off in the car by himself, asleep! At the time, it seemed that the right thing to do was to return to my bed, because he would be fine.
Finally, I would like to tell you of the experiences my husband has had concerning ESP. Many things that he has seen remain known only to him. His accuracy concerning the visions that I know of is very high. He has described the possession of this talent as being extremely painful and oppressive. Often he refuses to acknowledge the power because he can not bear to see what those he loves are going to suffer. It has also been painful in the respect that he has warned others about their behavior, or the consequence of an action, and they refuse to listen. He often jokes that he could be a wealthy man if only he would listen concerning fads, styles, and new inventions.
There have been positive and good revelations, but the pain of the bad or unfortunate visions has outweighed the good because of the tremendous amount of pain that personally accompanies such knowledge.
One such example of a good revelation comes to mind when I recall that two years ago I was diagnosed as having a tumor on one of my ovaries that looked suspiciously cancerous. While awaiting surgery and the pathology reports, we were quite anxious, to say the least. We have three young children, and it was a very difficult time for us, as we contemplated the implications of a malignancy. On the eve of my hospital admission, we were sitting on our patio, quietly watching the stars, avoiding any uncomfortable conversation. He broke the silence by sobbing and telling me that there was something that he was not supposed to tell me, but he could not hold back. On the previous night, as I lay quietly sleeping, he was in deep prayer concerning my health. Suddenly a being appeared at the foot of the bed, in front of me. The being told him that he was my guardian angel. He told my husband not to fear, that I was going to be fine. The doctors would perform the surgery, and would find no cancer. I would soon recover my health and vigor, and would live a long life. My husband told me that the angel seemed very strong and powerful, yet gentle and loving. I can relate to that very much, as I have always sensed my guardian angel at work, protecting me and rescuing me many times from near death.
When the surgery was performed, we were told that the tests for malignancy were negative. I had a miraculous recovery, and two weeks later I was back in Iowa serving as Matron of Honor at my sister’s wedding.
These are only a few examples of a variety of phenomena experienced by one person. There are many related incidents that could conceivably fill an entire manuscript. Each incident covered here has been told in brief detail.
The massive quantity of related experiences being reported by thousands of sane, intelligent human beings bears a significant message not to be ignored. The knowledge that we have concerning the powers of the human brain is a dim spark in the reality of contained intelligence. It should therefore be deemed appropriate and essential that the study of these experiences be pursued.
(Editor’s Note. The following are excerpts from a series of letters written primarily to Charles Tart with a few to Stephen LaBerge by “Father X” from 1982 to 1988. In them, he describes his lucid dreams and OBEs which commenced in 1974 and have occurred in some periods as frequently as 3 to 4 times per week. These experiences were not deliberately sought but occurred spontaneously. In fact, initially Father X assumed he had a neurological problem which was causing these and underwent extensive testing. When he discovered that he was not alone in these experiences, he began his fascinating correspondence to Tart and L.aBerge always sending copies to Jayne Gackenbach. In these letters he details his experiences, struggles with their possible meaning or significance, and speculates about their origin. With Father X’s permission I (guest editor Kathryn Belicki) have organized the following excerpts around several themes which emerge from his letters,)
On the Need for More Investigation into These Phenomena, and, More
Generally, for Greater Understanding about Them
by Both Professionals and the Public
(January 1982). I delayed writing to you because I am a Catholic monk, and I feared that if my experiences were made public I might possibly wind up becoming an embarrassment to my monastic community, and this would grieve me deeply. However, on the other hand, I felt a strong obligation to reveal my experiences to some professional psychologist who is investigating this field, in the hope that my experiences might make some contribution to understanding this phenomenon.
I better say right at the beginning that my lucid dream experiences are tied up with another, even stranger phenomenon, which I can only describe as “out-of-body” experiences. I realize that the mere mention of this phenomenon raises smiles and sneers on the faces of a great many people, and believe me, there was no greater skeptic than myself until I began to have my own out-of-body experiences.
…I did not reveal my experiences to anyone, for fear they would give me the same answer I was giving myself: that I was having hallucinations; instead, I began prowling through the psychology section of our library to try to find some scientific or non-scientific explanation for these weird experiences. Finally, I came across a book entitled Altered State of Consciousness, edited by Charles Tart of the University of California at Davis.
…I can’t tell how reassuring it was to know that instead of hallucinating myself into a nervous breakdown, I could possibly be having legitimate psychological experience, albeit highly unusual. As I began to have more and more of these experiences, my fear of them decreased sharply, because just as in the paralysis attacks, neither my physical nor my mental health seemed to suffer from them; consequently, my intellectual curiosity was aroused and I began a concerted effort to glean as much information from these experiences as possible.
(October 1982). I wonder if he realized how hard it was for me to write that letter; I agonized over it for months before I mailed it. It was not easy for a person who always thought of himself as being a fairly normal, well-adjusted adult, to have to confess that he was having experiences that defied rational explanation. But I became firmly convinced that my experiences were significant, but it would take a trained scientist to interpret them, and this was the motivating factor that caused me to write the letter, and any embarrassment I might encounter is surely a small price to pay.
(March 1983). The trouble with having frequent out-of-body experiences is that they force you to walk a very lonely road: you would like to talk to someone about them but where can you find someone who won’t think that you are a prime candidate for a mental institution? Orthodox medicine would be of little help: some of the doctors I know think it is rather strange for modem men to be living as celibate monks, so it would not be too difficult to imagine their reactions if I revealed my experiences to them--lack of normal sex life has obviously unhinged my mind. Many of my brother monks are loving, generous men but they would not know how to incorporate this sort of thing into their world view; it would be completely foreign to their training, unless it had spiritual overtones, which my experiences do not seem to have, at least not of a positive kind.
…I have often tried to put myself in the position of a third person listening to someone telling me of his out-of-body experiences, without ever having experienced them myself; and as open-minded as I would hope to be, I would probably conclude that this person was a good candidate for extensive psychotherapy. It is really terrible the way we have all been programmed by our culture into believing that any psychological experience that deviates from the accepted norm must be labeled as an illness. I often wonder how many of us realize that the root meaning of that often ill-used word “hallucination” is “wandering in the mind’; and what greater experiences can a person have than to explore the depths of his own mind.
(March, 1988). But my major disappointment about my visits to this sleep laboratory was that nobody there seemed to know anything about lucid dreaming or the research that was being done on it. One of my motivations for going there was the hope I might find someone knowledgeable in the field who I could talk to about my experiences. Therefore it was a real disappointment that no one knew what I was talking about when I used the term “lucid dream”. I’m sure the psychiatrist thought I was talking about some vivid, unconscious dream; and when I started talking about out-of-body experiences and a possible demonic aspect to some of my experiences -- well, I suspect that any possibility of my being taken as a rational person probably went out the window right there.
On the Relationship Between Lucid Dreaming
and Out of Body Experiences
(January, 1982). After undergoing hundreds of these experiences, covering a period of seven years, I have come to the conclusion that lucid dreams (or any type of dream) and out-of-body experiences are one and the same, which means, I suppose, that when we dream, we are actually undergoing an out-of-body experience; we have released some sort of “dream-body”.
This is, of course, all speculation on my part, based solely on my own subjective experiences and not on any hard psychological facts. But let me give you some background history on myself, because I believe that these experiences did not just come upon me “out of the blue”, but were the end-product of a strange paralysis which afflicted me for years.
It was back in the early 60’s when I began to have sudden attacks of paralysis during the evening as I lay in bed. It was right at that point when consciousness has let go and sleep is about to take over. The attacks seemed to last some ten or fifteen seconds, and although I was aware of my surroundings, I could not move a muscle from head to toe. The attacks kept coming, and along with them came a great deal of noise-sounds similar to an engine cranking up, other times they were like the screeching of railroad wheels, and if this was not enough, next my body was trembling from head to foot with severe vibrations, and finally (sometimes, not always) there were voices, they seemed to be making small talk far off in the distance.
...That is how it went from year to year until a night in late 1974 when something happened that gave me the scare of my life. I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come on when I felt the paralysis beginning to take hold of me; sometimes I can fight the paralysis off if I catch it in time, but this time it swept over me too fast, so I just settled back to let it run its course; when the vibrations began, they were stronger than I have ever felt them, and all of a sudden I felt myself being lifted off my bed and flung through the ceiling; the next thing I knew,I was floating in the air about 500 feet above the ground; but I was not outside my monastery; it looked like I was flying over a typical outlying suburb of any American city. After flying around for a few minutes I finally “landed”. It was around dusk, and I started walking up a street which had houses on either side of it. I reached a house where there was a young girl sitting on a porch; I noticed she had a bruise on her leg; as I had no idea of what to say I just blurted out the first thing that came to my mind: “is there a church around here” I asked, “Yes”, she replied, “there is one on the campus of National University”, “Is it a Catholic church”, I asked. “Yes”, she replied. She gave me directions, and as I resumed walking I could see the headlights of cars coming down the street, but before I reached the corner, I found myself back in bed. Little did I know then that this was to be the first of hundreds of similar experiences which I refer to as “out-of body” experiences for want of a better term.
…The lucid dreams began the week following my first out-of-body experience; I was having a normal dream (by this I mean a dream in which I have no awareness that I am dreaming unless I wake up and reflect upon it) when all of a sudden something triggered completed consciousness in me; I was now fully aware that my body was lying in bed and here I was in this “dream-world”. Recalling my out-of-body experience from the previous week, I jumped up in the air to see if I could float around, and sure enough, there I was, floating around like an astronaut in his weightless environment.
(October 1982). The reason that I made the supposition that out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams were one and same was because the only difference I could see between them was the way I entered them, and that the world I was entering appeared to be the same for both phenomenon. My out-of-body experiences always began with a period of paralysis and vibrations throughout my whole body; next, I would feel myself leaving my body, and off I would go. The lucid dreams always began with a normal dream (possibly a better term would be “non-lucid dream”) which turned into a lucid dream. In some mysterious way my subconscious mind (which I assume is controlling my non-lucid dream) relinquished control of my thoughts and actions back to my day-conscious mind. But what about the dream-world environment that I am still in? Who or what is controlling that? Surety it could not still be my subconscious mind, unless it relinquished only a portion of control and still manifested control over the environment; but could this be so? Well, as I said, I am only a novice when it comes to understanding the psychology of the mind.
(January 1986). I believe you (LaBerge) are absolutely right when you suggest that out-of-body experiences should be more accurately described as (WILDs) “Wake-initiated” lucid dreams because the people having these experiences are not traveling in physical space but in mental space, and consequently, have not left their bodies. I am sure that your idea will meet with a lot of resistance since most of us are so conditioned into thinking in terms of three-dimensional physical space, that the concept of mental space would be difficult to conceive.
I have always been uncomfortable with describing some of my experiences as “out-of-body” experiences for the following reasons: 1) Even when these experiences were extremely lucid and I had the vivid bodily sensation of moving around with the utmost ease, I always had this vague physical sense that I was still lying in my bed. 2) Then there was always the question of why I had never observed my body lying in my bed as Monroe and other have reported; even in those experiences where I found myself in a room similar to my own with a bed in it, the bed was always empty: on a few occasions the blankets were pulled back and there was an impression on the bed that a body had been lying there, but never any body. 3) Finally, and this is the most important one, there was always those even stranger experiences when I had returned from an experience (either an out-of-body experience or a lucid dream, it didn’t matter which) and if I could feel the paralysis and vibrations still active in my body, all I had to so was just lie there and about sixty percent of the time I would reenter the experience I had just left or enter a completely new one, but it was totally without the sensation of leaving my body-it was instantaneous, one second I would be lying on my bed and the next second I would be back in this strange dream-world. I couldn’t call these experiences “lucid dreams” as they were not preceded by a normal, dream, nor could I label them “out-of-body” experiences because I did not have the sensation of leaving my body so what could I call them? It would seem that they would fall perfectly within your category of “Wake-initiated” lucid dreams.
So, even though I would place my out-of-body experiences within your category of “WILDs”, I am not sure that Monroe’s experiences could also be placed in that category, specifically because of his having observed his body lying in his bed, which would seem to indicate something other than a lucid dream; but I am getting out of my depth here so I will leave that question to you and other researchers.
On the Relationship Between Lucidity and Dream Control
(October, 1982). Although it is true that in these experiences the environment does occasionally change, it is not due to any conscious effort on my part, at least not to any that I am aware of. In A New Model of the Universe by the Russian scientist, P.O. Ouspensky; his chapter on dreams makes for fascinating reading, especially where he describes his attempts at changing the environment of his dreams while in what he calls a “half-dream state”; he apparently was successful more times than not. I have made similar attempts in some of my experiences, but I have never been successful; consequently, I am led to conclude that the environment my experiences take me into is under the control of a source other than my own mind -- conscious or subconscious,
During most of his experiences, Monroe seems to have full control over his “Second Body”, as he calls it, but this is not always the case with me. There have been many times when I could move around as freely as I do in our world, but there have been other times when I felt like I was walking through a sea of glue, with any movement painstakingly difficult. And there are varying degrees between these two extremes. Sight also can be a problem: again, sometimes I can see as well as I do in our world, but other times it is as if I am looking through a dirty windshield.
(September, 1984). I can corroborate some of Dr. Tholey’s findings from my own experiences, but some of his other findings are contrary to mine. For example, I can support totally his supposition that the dream world seems to possess, at times, (more often than not in my case) an “inertia” or “lawfulness” all its own rather than being the dreamer’s subjective creation: in fact, I offered this suggestion in my original letter to Dr. LaBerge -- that part of this world I entered seemed to be connected to my past history, but most of it was totally foreign to my experiences. Also, on any number of occasions I have tried to change the scene that I was confronted with but was totally unsuccessful, scenes do change and people do decrease in size but it is completely outside of my control.
There is something to his theory that fixing one’s gaze on some stationary object white in the lucid dream experience helps to dissolve the experience; on any number of occasions in my experiences while I was attempting to read some sign or paper, or concentrating heavily on the scene so as to impress it on my memory so I could write about it later, the scene began to fade and I found myself back in my bed, hi a recent experience I tried his suggested technique of restablizing the dream by glancing about, but it did not help at all, in fact I am convinced that it only helped to dissolve the dream. It is my felling that if one could only just “flow” with the experience and not try to concentrate too heavily on it, the experience would probably last longer. But these experiences are so extraordinary, how can you not concentrate on them in an effort to understand them? It is something like walking on thin ice; if you can keep your mind off how thin the ice is. it may not break, but how can you not think about it?
On Unpleasant Experiences in Lucid Dreaming,
OBE’s and Related Experiences
(October, 1982). One of the most stunning similarities between Monroe’s experiences and mine is that we have both experienced “the man on our back.” It has happened to me several times, and all were equally frightening. They usually happen to me when I am literally pulled out of my body and propelled through the sky above the clouds at a terrific rate of speed; if it is daytime, I can see the ground through the breaks in the clouds; if it is evening, I can see lights below. It is when I start to slow down and descend that I begin to feel a heaviness on my back. When I reach the ground, I usually regain control over my body and am able to shake him off. The first time it was a young white male who said his name was Alan; another time it was, again, a young white male who asked me for an aspirin. The latest one was the most unusual because I was not taken outside and driven through the sky, but was kept inside and propelled through a series of strange rooms until I was finally deposited in a room with three young women, and a short, fat, smiling, middle-age man with glasses jumped off my back. In all these experiences the conversation was hard to pick up and the experience was very short.
...Another aspect of this world is that there doesn’t seem to be too many people smiling and laughing; and when you study some of their faces, there seems to be a hard cast to them, and sometimes there is a strange light in their eyes which is, to say the least, very unsettling.
…Monroe, at times, also seems to have had the same difficulty that I had in attempting to read any printed matter -- it is either out of focus or unintelligible. He also has met with the same wariness and caution that I have met, while endeavoring to obtain information about dates and localities from the residents of this world. If I persist in my questioning they get angry and sometimes downright hostile.
...An atmosphere of menace can come about in different ways; sometimes just by the very fact of a non-lucid dream becoming lucid. Let me, cite a recent experience which is a good example of this type: About a month ago I was having a non-lucid dream where I found myself in some sort of restaurant having dinner with two acquaintances. After finishing our dinner we got up to leave; it was then I noticed my jacket, which had been hanging on the back of my chair, was missing. I became very upset, and we began looking for it. The other restaurant patrons, about seven or eight, also helped; even the cook came out of the kitchen to lend a hand. Then, all of a sudden, in some mysterious way, complete lucidity came over me; I now had my complete day-conscious mind about me. I knew everything about myself, my past, my present -- that my body was in my bed asleep and I was in a dream. I spoke in a loud voice, “My God! I’m in a dream again!” (No matter how many times this has happened to me, it still astonishes me). My acquaintances and the other patrons of the restaurant looked at me with what I can only describe as a malevolent look in their eyes, and a few of them said in a menacing voice, “Yes, you are in a dream aren’t you!” Then the cook walked towards me with what looked like a saw in his hand and said, “Now we will show you what it is like to be in a dream.” He then proceeded to try to saw my head off: the next thing I knew I was back in my bed, with my head intact, I’m glad to say.
…Sometimes, however, the fault for creating a hostile atmosphere may rest with me for becoming a little too bold for my own good. A recent example of this type happened not too long ago. The non-lucid dream had already become lucid, and I was wandering around a city that looked deserted; it reminded me of those lonely, haunting city blocks that the early surrealistic painters used to paint. I stopped in front of a long, low building and walked up to the front door, this is usually the point in my experiences where the dual feelings of fear and intense curiosity, which are always with me, become greatly accelerated -- what or who will be behind the door? The door was open so I walked in; in front of me was a hallway leading to the back of the house. I began walking until I reached a room off to the side of the hallway: the door was open, and a man was sitting at a desk with two men standing behind him. The only light in the room came from a lamp on the desk. The first thing that I noticed about the man sitting at the desk was that he was wearing blue glasses, but not of the usual kind: they looked to be cardboard play-glasses, the kind children or circus clowns might wear. I decided to take the initiative, so I walked boldly in and demanded to know what they were doing here. The man at the desk looked up at me, still wearing those silly glasses, and said nothing for about ten seconds, then he got up from the desk and walked toward me saying, in as chilling a voice as I have ever heard, “You ask me what I am doing here!” My boldness quickly disappeared, and I tried to beat a hasty retreat, but before I could reach the door, I was back in my bed.
...In another experience, a few years ago, a middle-age man with a sinister face came up to me and said, again in a disdainful voice, “Why don’t you people give up that old supper of yours?” His reference to “old supper” I took to mean the Christian eucharist we celebrate at mass. There is another aspect to this particular experience which makes it unusual, and that is the fact that he initiated the contact with me; in the great majority of my experiences. I am usually the one who has to make the first move at conversation.
If I related these experiences to some of my brother monks, they would have no doubt as to what is going on here -- it is obviously the work of the demonic, and there is a good possibility that I have been selected to be a candidate for demonic possession. I hardly think I am worth the trouble, but if some diabolical powers are planning to do some nasty things to me, they are certainly going about it in a very curious way. As I said previously, when I enter this strange world, the people I meet are usually completely indifferent towards me; I have a sense that they know I am there, but, apparently, they could care less. I am usually the one who has to initiate the conversation, and it is only when I start to pump them for information do they get angry and hostile.
…I was deeply touched by Mr. Monroe’s very personal account of the collapse of any religious faith he once had in a purposeful universe, watched over by a wise God, full of compassion and love for his creatures. I know how devastating it can be when the values of a lifetime begin to slip away, and are found to be, if not entirely untrue, at least to be standing on a very shaky foundation. As you may have guessed, I now exist (partly because of my experiences) on a knife-edge between belief and doubt. But so far I have not succumbed to the temptation to view my experiences as opening the door to the ultimate reality; rather, it may only be a way-station to a further, deeper reality which is still closed to us; at least, this is what I hope and pray for.
(March 1983). I was forever searching for a mirror to see what my reflection looked liked; finally in one experience I found one, and to this day it still gives me chills up my back when I think of it. The experience began as a normal dream which turned into a lucid dream; I found myself in what looked like a motel room as it had all the furnishings associated with that type of room; I spotted a dresser with a large mirror on it, and I immediately walked over to it and looked into the minor. The reflection that I saw was me alright; I was wearing my monastic robes, and the face that looked back at me was my face, but it had a sinister, almost evil cast to it and my eyeballs were revolving m their sockets and I could see the whites of my eyes; it was many weeks before I got over this experience, and I am not too eager to search for any more mirrors.
Every now and then in my experiences I get the urge to initiate the action a little more boldly than I should; I suppose it is just a reaction to the frustration that builds up in me for not being able to understand this mysterious world. One time I found myself in a department store that looked like any department store we have in our world; after wandering around it for a minute or so, I walked outside. The scene that confronted me was typical of any large city at noon: all kinds of people hurrying to and fro, heavy traffic in the street with a policeman trying to direct it; I began to feel very angry and just about fed up, so I walked out to the middle of the street and began yelling as loud as I could, “Alright you people, listen up! This is my damn dream, and I want to know what in the hell is going on around here!” Well, if I had dropped a bomb I couldn’t have made a more startling impression -- everything stopped and everyone looked at me, then they all began walking toward me in a very menacing way; frantically I began concentrating on my body in an effort to end the experience, but for a few long seconds nothing happened and I could feel the terror sweeping over me. Finally, just before they reached me, the experienced ended and I was back in my bed. After this experience, anytime I find myself in a crowd I keep very quiet.
(September, 1984). Another puzzle I began encountering in these experiences was that of conflicting dates. In one experience I found myself in some sort of business office; I noticed that there were three calendars on the wall and each one had a different year printed on it -- 1970, 1971 and 1985; and when I asked one of the office workers what year it was. I was told that it was April, 1931; when I pointed out to him the different dates on the wall calendars, I was met with sly, sneering looks and threatening gestures from him and the other office workers. This is another facet of my experiences which keeps popping up -- if I question the accuracy of their statements, these people become angry and hostile.
(January 1986). There was one early experience that I related to him which I never told you about, primarily because I was afraid that you might be turned off by its religious overtones. It preceded all my out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams, and in terms of fear and terror it was the granddaddy of them all, but what makes it so mysterious is the fact that it was neither a lucid dream nor an out-of-body experience. In the monastery we lived in cells or cubicles in a dormitory. One night late in the evening as I was lying in my bed trying to go to sleep, but as usual, being unsuccessful, I suddenly became aware that the normal sounds that one hears in a dormitory at night -- people moving in their beds, snoring, coughing, wood creaking, overhead fan blowing, etc. --all these sounds had ceased, there was absolute, total, dead, silence. My bed was facing a window and I found myself staring at the top of the window; there was nothing there but I just couldn’t move my eyes away from it. Then all of a sudden, a tidal wave of fear swept over me, the likes of which I have never before or since felt. For the life of me I couldn’t understand what was happening; it was so irrational as there didn’t seem to be anything to fear, but there I was, lying in my bed literally paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t move a hair, I just kept staring at the top of the window. Then the air around me started to take on a strange heaviness as if some intangible force was pressing down on me. Suddenly, out of the blue, a thought flashed into my mind: it was a passage from a book I had read a few months before; a biography about one of our Catholic saints, a little French nun, St. Theresa of Lisieux, who died in the early part of this century. At the end of the book when she is on her death-bed, she asked one of the nuns standing by her bed to move the crucifix as close to her as possible because she was feeling the power of evil so intensely: and that is the thought that flashed into my mind and could not be dislodged no matter how hard I tried. How long did this experience last? It is hard to measure these sorts of things but I would guess that it was at least fifteen minutes or longer. Finally, as quickly as the fear came over me, so did it vanish and along with it the heavy air that seemed to surround me. Then I started to hear the normal sounds of the dormitory and I was able to move my eyes away from the top of the window. As you may imagine, I didn’t go to sleep the rest of that night. 1 just lay there trying to come up with some rational explanation as to what had happened, but no rational explanation was forthcoming. About a week later I moved out of the dormitory and into one of the small rooms for snorers which had become vacated, then a few nights later my out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams began.
It has been almost fifteen years since I had that experience and I can still remember it vividly. As I said, I have had a number of subsequent experiences where I was terrified, but they were nothing quite like the fear I experienced that night. I realize that there are few, if any, psychologists around nowadays who believe in the reality of the demonic. As I have stated in a previous letter, even I am somewhat dubious about it, but I am still not totally convinced that it does not have some subtle influence, however small, over my experiences.
Reflections on the Origin or Nature of Lucid Dreams and OBE’s
(October, 1982). I realize that some people see out-of-body experiences as confirming the existence of a soul, but I believe that they are making a mistake; whether a person has an immoral soul (in the theological sense) or not, is solely a matter of religious belief; you either believe it or you don’t, and that is all one can really say about it.
...What could this “unknown source” be? Could it be the “Collective Unconscious” that some people have speculated about, an unconscious which we all share in, or could it be an even stranger phenomenon, some sort of “Parallel Reality” which impinges on our sense-world and occasionally a “crack” opens and some of us are able to peer into this strange world with our conscious minds. Please understand that I am not speaking from a religious point of view; religion to me is a matter of faith, not of science; I am simply trying to make some sense out of these bizarre experiences which I have been undergoing for the past seven years.
...Every day for the past several years I have been facing a question that seems to have only one of two possible answers: one, that my experiences are nothing more than wild hallucinations brought on by a subconscious mind that has somehow slipped its moorings and run amuck, firing off unknown neurons in my brain; therefore, I had better get myself to a psychiatrist, posthaste, to restore my disordered mind back to normality, whatever that may be; or, two, that this world I have entered is real, that it does exist, possibly in some other space-time continuum, and it does have some relationship to our world.
As I stated in the opening of this letter, after pondering this question for several years, I still don’t know which answer is the correct one. As a resident of this hectic century, I have no doubt that I have my share of neurosis, but I cannot believe that my mind, no matter how disordered, could have created this world. Every time I return from an experience. I am absolutely and totally convinced that this world exists. But after the passage of a few days, and I become involved in my day-to-day activities, doubts will start creeping in, especially the enormous one of what the impact would be on our religions and, possibly, our science--surely it would be immense.
Monroe’s idea that this world may be the anti-matter world existing on the other side of a black hole is intriguing, and certainly no crazier than what many reputable scientists have suggested what may exist behind those mysterious holes. One time I had the wild idea of trying to “bring something back with me: from this world to assure myself of positive proof of its existence, It happened about three years ago; I found myself sitting around a conference table with a group of men. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about so I began fiddling with a pencil that was lying on the table; I could feel its shape and hardness very distinctly, and the thought came to me of trying to bring the pencil back with me. It was worth a try, so I gripped the pencil in my hand very tightly and began concentrating on my body: immediately. I could feel myself leaving the conference room and begin to see the vague outlines of my room; I also began to sense myself lying on my bed, but as I looked at the pencil, I could see that it was getting smaller and smaller, so I gripped it as hard as I could, and it seemed to stop shrinking, but I could now see that I wasn’t going anywhere; I seemed to be suspended between two worlds. Reluctantly, I released the pencil, and the conference room scene disappeared, and I was completely back in my body, without, alas, my pencil.
…I was totally fascinated by Robert Monroe’s book primarily because some of his experiences were not unlike my own. It is very reassuring to know that a successful middle-class businessman and family man, whose lifestyle must be the polar opposite of my own--a celibate monk, has had out-of-body experiences similar to mine. I daresay any psychiatrist searching for the cause of our “affliction” would have to look somewhere other than our chosen lifestyle.
(March 1983). I have always been troubled by the thought that I might go to my grave without anyone knowing about my experiences, for I sincerely believe that somewhere among all my out-of-body experiences must lie clues to the mystery of our human consciousness, but it will take a wiser man than I to uncover them. If, however, in the final analysis, my experiences are found to be nothing more than hallucinations (using that term in its most pejorative sense) brought on by a disordered subconscious mind, they still might be of some interest to some Freudian psychologists; although my experiences may not be unique, I rather suspect that they belong in a special psychological category.
...As I said earlier, I don’t know why I am able to enter this other state of consciousness -- if that is what it is -- there is certainly nothing special about me; I am about as average a person as you could find; however, I do have a number of unresolved conflicts stirring within me which could well have put enough pressure on my subconscious mind to kick open the door to this strange world. If the good doctors at Topeka V.A. hospital put me under their microscope the way they did Robert Monroe, I fear a far different picture would emerge than the clean bill of health they gave to Mr. Monroe. I am sure they would zero in on these conflicts as the root cause of my “hallucinations”, and, as I say, they may very well be right; but if the price for resolving my conflicts is the closing of the door to this other world, I’m not sure I would want to pay that price. Please understand me; I don’t get any emotional or sensual satisfaction from traveling in this other world; as a mailer of fact, more times than not, it can be extremely frustrating, but the intellectual challenge that it presents is just too great to let pass by.
(September, 1984). One problem I have in trying to understand these experiences is that so many of them seem to be totally foreign to any events in my past life. For example, in one of my earliest experiences I found myself in what looked like an airline terminal; as I was wandering around, a black soldier in uniform came up to me and pointed to an insignia on his uniform which read “1921 Nicaragua. He said that “it was the best thing that anyone could have” and then he walked away. Now this happened back in 1975 before Nicaragua was in the news and I was at a loss to try to find any experience in my life to relate to it.
In another experience I was passing what looked like a movie theatre and on the marquee I could read part of the advertisement (which is unusual because as I have said many times it is most difficult for me to understand any writing I come in contact with in these experience), the advertisement read: “…based on books by Robert Louis Stevenson.” It must be thirty years since I picked up a book by Stevenson.
...So why am I going through all this? Mainly, I suppose, to convince myself what I have always thought and suggested to you in one of my early letters -- that underlying all my experiences is some subtle demonic force at work; I realize how hard it is for scientists to accept this premise; it is equally hard for me to accept it, but there have been times in some of my experiences in which I felt a presence that literally froze my blood and if I could have seen myself I’m sure that my hair was standing straight up. Therefore, since I am only a simple monk and not a reputable scholar, I would like to make the following wild speculations: Could it be that the individual I met in my out-of-body experience was indeed one of Henry James’ creations and by giving him life on the printed page, James also gave him life in another level of consciousness; or could it be that James simply delved into his own subconscious realm where many spirits abide and plucked one out to give it life on the printed page?
I have also been doing some reading on the life of Emanuel Swedenborg, specifically a book on his work by Wilson Van Dusen, entitled The Presence of Other Worlds. But I must confess that I don’t understand a lot of what Swedenborg is talking about; and the little I do understand, a lot of that I find hard to swallow. But I do believe (and can corroborate from my own experiences) Swedenborg’s main premise: that man’s life involves in interaction with a hierarchy of spirits.
...It is really tragic that science with all its vast resources refuses to acknowledge the existence of any other realm of being outside our own known world. However, if my reading of the scientific journals we get is correct, that attitude may be changing; a few brave physicists are now maintaining that modem physics has reached a dead end, that developments in relativity and especially quantum theory demand a new way of looking at things; they are saying that the classical idea of a world divided into separately existing parts which interact is no longer valid.
...Another possible explanation for my experiences that I have been thinking about might lie in that mysterious concept of the Fourth Dimension. I understand that with the advent of computer graphics, scientists are now able to do some amazing things; and not for a few reputable scientists, the possible existence of a fourth dimension is no longer considered as absurd. Well, in any event, I am no longer obsessed with the need to find an explanation for my experiences. I simply regard them as another facet of my existence.
(March, 1988). If we believe that the mind is nothing more than a process emanating from the electrical and chemical reactions in the brain, then where else would lucidity be triggered except in the brain. Possibly we will have to wait for more sophisticated machines of the future before that question is answered. It might also be helpful if we could develop a new vocabulary for describing these types of experiences, especially for that term, “out-of-body”, which I have never been comfortable with since there is so much metaphysical baggage attached to it. Even though that is how the experience feels it is very unlikely that anything really leaves the body. But on the other hand, I don’t think that I can still accept LaBerge’s idea that it all happens in the mind (brain?). Then what does that leave us with? I suspect that we are in a situation similar to that of the physicists when they began probing deeper into the subatomic world and found that the customary terms like “subject-object”, “cause-effect”, “space-time”, “observer-observed” etc. didn’t seem to carry much meaning in that strange new world. Well, I will let the professional researchers worry about that as it is way beyond my capacity.
And that brings me to another facet of my experiences which I fear will make you as a scientist a bit uncomfortable; but the title of your newsletter, The Open Mind, encourages me that you will give it a fair hearing. I am talking about what I refer to as the demonic; these types of experiences seem to be increasing of late, particularly in the last couple of years. One in particular I would like to draw your attention to, because it shook me up so much I had to talk to someone about it.
…This experience occurred just before the bell rang for the 7:00 am office. I was just lying in my bed wide awake waiting for the bell to ring when I began to feel these strange chills throughout my body. This usually means that the vibrations are not far behind, and after that an out-of-body experience; but the vibrations did not come, just these strange chills getting colder and colder. Then I began to hear some mumbling off to my right, and when I looked over there, I saw this little man, looking like a ventriloquist’s dummy, smiling at me and chatting away in some incoherent language. When I asked him who he was and what was he doing in my room, he just kept smiling at me and mumbling away in that strange language. I got out of bed and grabbed him by his foot, then I bounced him off the ceiling like a rubber ball; when he came down I tried to grab him again but be scooted under my bed and came up on the other side. He then turned his face away from me so that I could only see his profile, and then he spoke these three short sentences which I heard as clear as a bell and had no trouble understanding, “We have Him. Christ is burning. The hummingbird men have Him!” When I tried to grab him again he disappeared and I was back in my bed.
I just lay there in bed, literally terrified by what I had just seen and heard, and trying in some rational way to understand what had happened;…
...As for myself, prior to my experiences, I counted myself among those “modem” religious believers who saw the devil as nothing more than a quaint symbol for our own disordered passions, but now, after all these strange experiences -- well, now I’m not so sure about that anymore. It is really mind-boggling -- the fellow that we thought we had ridiculed into oblivion may actually exist. He is after all the second-most important figure in the New Testament.
A Conceptual Framework for the OBE, UFO Abduction
and NDE Experiences
University of Alberta
In order to gain a theoretical understanding of the lucid dream, out-of-body experience (OBE), unidentified flying object abduction experience (UFO), and near-death experience (NDE) it is necessary, as William James, author of the 1902 classic The Varieties of Religious Experience, emphasized, to place things in their series. That is, identify the similarities and differences between experiences in order to understand their nature. The goal of such an inquiry is to identify a common state from which they derive and/or common mechanisms or structures. In this paper lucid dreaming will be framed with the apparently different but related phenomenon of three of the cases presented earlier in this issue of Lucidity Letter (the OBEs of Father X, the UFO abduction described by Felicia Payne and the NDE of Mark Block). A fourth case from this issue, the witnessing experiences of Anja Savolainen, is also relevant later in this discussion.
The most obvious set of experiences which lucid dreaming should be considered alongside of are all other dreams, from the mundane true-to-daily-life to the highly bizarre, archetypal, life changing sleep experiences. These comparisons are considered at length elsewhere (Gackenbach, 1988; Gackenbach & Bosveld, in press). Essentially lucid dreams, at the lowest level of consciousness in sleep, are dreams with few content differences from the nonlucid variety. However, I (Gackenbach. in press; Gackenbach & Bosveld, in press), as well as others (Alexander, 1987), have argued that entry level lucidity is only the beginning of the development of consciousness in sleep.
Less obvious but still frequently mentioned in association with the lucid dream is the out-of-body-experience (OBE). During an OBE one has the feeling that ones “self” has left the body and is “viewing” it. People who dream lucidly are also more likely to report having had OBE’s (Irwin, 1988). Further, the lucid dream has been frequently presented as a jumping off point for the OBE. Related to the OBE and to lucid dreams, are near-death and unidentified flying object abduction experiences, experients of these two often report OBE’s in association with their experiences and some preliminary work has also shown a relationship to lucidity for NDEers.
Some of these associations are seen in the three cases in this issue as well as in the OBE, NDE and UFO abduction literatures. Beginning with Father X. over many years and many experiences this Catholic monk clearly concludes that his apparent OBE’s are lucid dreams. Then in the UFO abduction of Bill, as told by Felicia Payne, the contextual material given after the case clearly shows that not only has Bill had OBE’s at will since childhood but he also is frequently conscious in sleep. Of course the most obvious link is that throughout his “abduction” experience he himself attributed it to a dream and thus it could be conceptualized as a lucid dream. Finally, the NDE case of college student Mark Block is an example of consciousness in the deepest form of sleep, coma.
The thesis I will be arguing is that although these experiences, OBE’s, UFO abductions and NDE’s, are misattributions of “reality” they are related in some way to lucid dreaming an experience which by definition is an accurate “reality” attribution. Further, I will show that, lucid dreaming is closely related to the practice of meditation and thus to the experience of pure consciousness, contentless awareness, sought by the meditative traditions, It is in tracing this line from three misattributions (OBE’s, NDE’s and UFO abductions) to an accurate attribution (lucid dreaming) and on to the seat of all being, physical or mental (i.e., pure consciousness), that we can grasp the role each experience plays in the development of higher states of consciousness. I will begin this discussion by briefly examining each misattribution and its relation to lucidity. I will then show that lucidity is closely related to meditation and further serves as a bridge to higher states of consciousness such as pure consciousness.
Immediately prior to the current work on lucidity western references to this nocturnal experience were almost exclusively found in the literature discussing the OBE. OBE’s have been known to occur in deep meditative states, while under the influence of psychedelics, commonly associated with near-death experiences, and occasionally while engaged in some other activity. The majority of OBEs, however, arise at or near sleep with the next most frequent precipitator being periods of extreme waking stress. Of those associated with sleep, Hunt and Ogilvie (1988) explain. “it is as if a dreaming sequence starts but, atypically, awareness of one’s actual setting in time and space is not dislodged as in most dreams.” Rather, the dreamer integrates “the imaginal participations of the dream with a detached self-awareness that knows one’s actual context for what it is.”
Another perspective is that of LaBerge (1985) and colleagues (1988) who argue that OBE’s are misinterpreted dreams. They point out that the REM sleep hypothesis has been rejected by most OBE theorists based largely on the failure of the few physiological studies of OBE’s to identify REM sleep phenomenon associated with the OBE. However, in a recent study LaBerge et al. (1988) content analyzed 107 signal-verified lucid dreams (i.e,. presence of consciousness in sleep verified by a prearranged eye movement signal executed by the dreamer from REM sleep). Ten of the reports were identified as OBE’s based on phrases in the report such as “I ... felt that I had left my body” or “I was floating out of body ...“They concluded through subsequent analyses that the activation of body schema was important in these cases, “because of the discrepancy between the remembered state of the physical body and the current experienced state of the body image, the subject constructs a perception of a mobile body leaving an immobile body.”
Rogo (1985) counters LaBerge’s arguments by pointing to the wide variety of physiological characteristics that have been identified with the OBE. Outside judges, he points out, typically cannot classify them as clear cut sleeping or waking. Nonetheless, LaBerge’s data clearly suggests that the REM state hypothesis needs to be more seriously considered in accounting for at least some OBE’s.
To return to the more classic OBE theories, Blackmore (1988) points out that there are two types of theories of the OBE. One’s that postulate the “soul, astral body, spiri, or whatever leaves the body temporarily in an OBE and permanently at death,” and “psychological theories of the OBE that deny that anything leaves the body and posit that the experience is one of the imagination.” Most current theorists favor the latter and note the multiple parallels between lucid dreaming and OBE’s thus postulating a common cognitive mechanism for both (Blackmore, 1988; LaBerge, 1985).
Irwin (1988), however, argues that lucid dreams and OBE’s are neither, “phenomenologically or neurophysiologically equivalent.” None-the-less because of their strong association, they reliably occur in the same people and he too has searched for common mechanisms. Whereas, Blackmore argues that they are both due to the same sort of mental model building, Irwin points to the arousal/stress factor in the initiation of both. These may be collapsible by postulating that at two points the system is forced to create a new mental model of its experience thus resulting in the reorientation of the perception of the locus of “self” as “outside” the physical body. The most frequent condition is when the system is denied sensory inputs as when one is near or during sleep. Without sensory inputs as to the appropriate location of “self’ the system is more able to locate “self” elsewhere. Although in the case of sleep mentation “self” is still most frequently “located” in the dreamed body, dual self, flying selves, etc. are much more common in this state then while awake.
A second point is when the system is on sensory overload, as with extreme physical and emotional stress. Due to the negative consequences of such overloads “self relinquishes its identification with body and “locates” elsewhere. So in the first case the system lacks a referent (sensory input) to locate self whereas in the second case the referent (sensory/emotional input) is overloaded and thus abandoned. For instance my one and only waking OBE illustrates this relationship. After 32 hours of labor with my first child I was, needless to say extremely fatigued, and in enormous pain. A fantasy kept naming through my mind, in between screams of pain, that I wanted to jump off the birthing table and run away from all this. Quite suddenly I found my “self’ viewing from above and behind my body on the birthing table with my husband standing at my side. I remember thinking to myself, “this is more like it” while feeling a great sense of relief but alas I quickly found myself back in my body with my daughter eager to exit!
After the extreme physical and emotional overload of 32 hours of labor I reconstructed my mental model of “reality” by placing my “self’ outside of my body with which I was singularly displeased. Such a model of sensory detachment due to under or overload has also been proposed by Fisher (1971) with regards to mystical experiences and meditative states and will be discussed in more derail later in this paper.
Hunts (1989) subscription of lucidity and OBEs as experiences of “intensified self-reference” (a detached observation maintained with a dreamt or lived participation) -- also applies to several other states. Near-death experiences (NDE), which occur during periods of the severest biological stress, combine intensified self-reference with imagery common to the OBE such as the tunnel through which one travels and the white light of the void. Further the OBE is one of the most common features of the NDE.
One way to view the relationship of the NDE to lucid dreams is nicely illustrated in this lucid/ream following a NDE of retired physicist John Wren-Lewis (1985). Concerned that drinking too much wine would disrupt the mystical consciousness he seemed to have attained following his NDE, Wren-Lewis dreamt:
He seemed to have a special responsibility for instructing me in how to handle this strange post-mortem existence, and when he mentioned wine I suddenly became lucid. I knew this was a dream, in which my ghostly invisibility symbolized my post-NDE state and the dream-characters who could see me were the people who in waking life recognized that I was living in heaven here on earth, dead to “this world.” I also knew I was creating this dream to explore my concern about drink and mystical consciousness, and I became aware of lying in bed in our apartment overlooking Sydney Harbor Bridge with my mouth dry from mild alcoholic dehydration.
Wren-Lewis continues with a key realization in the dream:
With a flash I saw that the real threat to my mystical consciousness lay not in drink itself but in getting caught up into an internal dialogue about drink, and to celebrate this “breakthrough” in dream-terms I walked straight through the wall of the dream-room. As I emerged into the street by the harbor my dream was flooded with mystical consciousness, not as something new, but as a simple recognition of what had actually been there all along, the exact same sense I have when I click back to the [mystical] consciousness in waking life. I flew over the water, borne by a wind I knew to be the breath of God on creation’s first morning, and fainted at the beauty of it all - to wake in bed, my eyes brimming with tears of gratitude.
On more empirical grounds two survey studies have looked directly at the NDE/lucid dream relationship. Kohr (1982) identified three groups of respondents, who differed in whether or not they had had a near-death experience. The experiencing group indicated they had come close to death: had a deep, moving personal experience, and had one or more of the six types of experiences described in the research on NDE’s. A second group indicated that they had come close to death and may or may not have had a moving personal experience. The third group was referred to as the non-experiencing group, composed of persons who had never come close to death, in terms of dream states the experiencing group reported a greater frequency of unusual dream states including lucidity.
Greyson (1982) also looked at this relationship and writes~
I have already asked about the occurrence of lucid dreams in one questionnaire (a shortened version of John Palmer’s Survey of Psychic Experiences) administered to self-selected members of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS). Among the “controls” (i.e., IANDS members who have not had NDEs), 83 out of 155 respondents (54%) reported having had lucid dreams, which is roughly what Palmer found among his sample from the general population. Among near-death experiencers, 13 out of 62 respondents (21%) reported having had lucid dreams prior to their NDE’s, and 33 (53%) reported having had lucid dreams since their NDEs. Thus, a fairly low percentage of near-death experiencers had lucid dreams before their NDEs, while after the NDE, this percentage rises to the level among the IANDS controls and the population Palmer sampled.
Of course, this correlational data should not be viewed as causal. Although Greyson’s data suggests that an NDE experience may increase the frequency of lucidity an alternative explanation would be that NDEers had a tendency to perceive and/or report more of any type of extraordinary experience since their NDE. None-the-less both studies point to the possibility that their may be a common mechanism or state which relates both experiences.
Unidentified Flying Object Abduction Experiences
It may surprise the readers that the UFO abduction experience is another waking experience which can be conceptualized as related to the lucid dream/OBE/near-death range of phenomenon. Of course the problem with this experience is that many who have had them purport that they do not lie in the realm of the mental but rather they are physical and thus real experiences. Let’s put physical considerations aside for the moment and consider the mental aspects of these experiences as several contemporary psychologists have done starting with Carl Jung (1964).
Probably one of the most psychologically based explanations for the UFO abduction experience is offered by Bird (1989). She points to confabulation as “the simplest psychological mechanism fueling UFO accounts.” Confabulations are something we all do in storing and retrieving memories. Bird explains that UFO stories, “may well be confabulations, tapestries stitched together from actual experience, the stories of others who were there, events that have happened since, and perhaps a dash of wishful thinking.” However, those with fantasy prone personalities, she argues, are especially prone to such memory distortions. With the appropriate cue, such as the current fascination with science fiction, horror and space travel, an experience which 100 years ago might have been attributed to then fashionable folklore creatures is today attributed to an alien abduction.
As with the OBE many, but not all, of the abductions occur during or near sleep. Again hallucinations from hypnagogic (presleep), hypnapompic (postsleep) and incomplete arousals during sleep can be brought to bear to explain these experiences. As we fall asleep and wake up and for those momentary intrusions of wakefulness into sleep we are all much more prone to hallucinate and are more suggestible. As described by Payne, Bill himself attributed his entire UFO abduction to a dream while it occurred further more he had a history of extraordinary sleep experiences.
Calls to fantasy prone personalities and sleep related hallucinations no doubt account for some of what occurs in these experiences. However, the often found attitude of those offering purely psychological explanations, i.e. “rational people view the stories with amusement” (Bird, 1989), does a major disservice to both the experience and those having it. These sorts of condensations to extraordinary but not psychotic experiences are a disservice when trying to come to an understanding of them. There is an assumption inherent in this attitude, that consensus reality is the only reality and that it’s source is in matter. Even in contemporary cognitive psychology, complex and sophisticated theoretical reviews of research data exist concluding that our waking experience of consensus reality is really a mental model created by us (Yates, 1987). Further some current models of physical reality from quantum physics argue that consciousness, and not matter, is the stuff of the universe (Hageline, 1984).
Let’s consider another perspective while remaining in the realm of the mental. Grosso (1985) notes “the UFO mythology is a mythology of science, gussied up in ideas of extraterrestrial civilizations, future worlds and higher technologies.” He continues, “compared with ancient and primitive societies, modem scientific culture offers few inlets to the healing powers of the collective unconscious.” This archetypal model came originally from Jung (1964) who saw UFO phenomenon as signs of the end of the era. He writes, “apparently they are changes in the constellation of psychic dominants, of the archetypes, or ‘gods’ as they used to be called, which bring about, or accompany, long-lasting transformations of the collective psyche.”
Relatedly, the most well-known UFO abductee, Whitley Strieber (1988), hits the nail on the head about the potential of these experiences. He explains that he is:
a thinking person who by no means buys the extraterrestrial explanation. However, I don’t feel that a simple psychological explanation is in order, either. Something else is going on, something akin to the transcendental, visionary experience that has always been with humanity. I myself try to make use of this experience the same way that a shaman on the steps of Central Asia two thousand years ago made use of his startling vision of the world of the dead - by telling my story and bringing my dreams back to society. Perhaps we had better try to stop laughing at this state and start trying to describe it, because an awful lot of people believe they are experiencing contact with higher beings and another world. If we don’t stop imposing interpretations and narratives on the experience, we may find ourselves in the grip of the most powerful religion the world has ever known.
Whether his prediction of these experiences as a potential “powerful religion” comes true, his advice to not ignore them should be taken by those interested in the range of conscious experience.
Let’s return to our analysis of the UFO abduction experience in the context of other experiences. Strieber (1988), among others, have pointed to the OBE experience as associated with the UFO abduction. Further, Ring (in press) found in an informal poll of UFO experients that more than half had also had an NDE. Arguing that the UFO abduction (UFOE) and the NDE are both contemporary Shamanic journeys he notes, “at the phenomenological level, NDEs and UFOEs are of course quite dissimilar, but it is in their ‘deep structure,’ as it were, rather than in their surface contextual manifestations that important commonalties can be discerned.” By placing these experiences as shamanic initiations Ring puts them squarely in the “world of imagination.” His understanding, however, of this world is that “persons and places are fully real; they are as real in that domain as our physical world is to our senses,” and as are dreams while we dream them. But why, Ring asks, does one go on a shamanic journey? To educate the Soul is his answer. The soul is imagination (Avens, 1980).
Integration of OBE, NDE and UFO Abductions with Lucidity
These three experiences, OBE, NDE and UFO abduction, are some of the few imaginal realms that are more “real” than dreams but like dreams they carry the same inaccurate attribution. For most of us dreams are the strongest experiences of the mind that appear to occur “outside” of consensus reality. When we dream, while in the dream, it feels real. Even if we know it to be a dream while still in the dream (lucid dream), it still feels real. But in the vast majority of dreams we suffer a peculiar “single-mindedness” (Rechtschaffen, 1978) in that we are sure we are awake. We have no idea that we are dreaming while we dream. So to in the “waking” dreams of OBE’s, NDE’s, and UFO abductions, we are certain that what is occurring is “real” in the same sense of waking consensus reality. In lucid dreams we “wake up” to the dream reality without loosing its felt sense of reality or object permanence. And so too rarely might an experient of the other experiences accurately attribute the true nature of his or her state. But these accurate attributions are the exception not the rule.
This experience from Worsley (1988), the first lucid dreamer to signal front sleep that he knew he was dreaming, illustrates my point. In speaking about lucid dreaming which he directly enters from the waking state by lying for up to 2 hours on his back and not moving Worsley comments:
I am not given to superstition or believing in ‘unnecessary entities’ but perhaps the term “dream” is a little too bland to do justice to the ultra-realism of these experiences. For instance, if one “dreams,” as I have, in rich tactile and auditory imagery of being examined in the dark by robots or operated upon by small beings whose good will and competence may be in doubt, or abused in various ways by life-forms not known to terrestrial biology, it can be very difficult to keep still. I have found that if I do not keep still this peculiar state of consciousness usually evaporates in a moment. That can be very useful as an escape route but it can be annoying to lose it when the success rate is not high and each attempt takes 2 hours or more. I like to regard myself as at least a moderately intrepid investigator, but I have to admit that in spite of being intellectually of the opinion that what was happening was only internally generated imagery, I have flinched during these episodes on more than one occasion I suspect that many “UFO abduction” experiences, as well as out-of-body-experiences are examples of the same kind of thing.
Let me reiterate that the felt reality of these experiences, be they OBE, NDE, or UFO abduction, is profound and should not be understated. Because of it the relatively unsophisticated observer, which is probably most of us, often concludes that such experiences are “real” in the sense of consensual waking reality. Only in the case of the lucid dream does the experience feel real while we experience it even though we are fully aware at the time that it is not “real”. Thus I would argue that lucid dreaming represents a breakthrough for these types of experiences. In the sense of “waking up” called for in the meditative traditions. Further this “waking up” represented by lucidity in sleep is only a transition or beginning point to higher states of consciousness and especially to pure consciousness. This state of consciousness occasionally occurs spontaneously, that is without mental preparation, as in the NDE case of Block. However, more commonly the practice of meditation allows a reliable and integrated access. But why, you might ask, should we want to track ourselves to pure consciousness? As Wallace (1986) explains;
Contemporary physiology over the last three hundred years has come to the basic understanding that life and consciousness evolved from matter and energy. The property of consciousness, in particular, is considered by many to be an epiphenomenon of living systems - that is, a property which occurs as a byproduct of the functioning of a complex nervous system...In the Vedic perspective on physiology, as brought to light by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the understanding and experience are quite the opposite. Consciousness is not an epiphenomenon: rather consciousness is the primary reality from which matter and life emerge.
In other words, by going to pure consciousness we go to the source of all being, of all experience whether ordinary or extraordinary. I will now track our way to pure consciousness via the lucid dreaming-meditation link.
Hunt (1989) warns that lucid dreams are not reducible to only a mental waking up unique to the sleep state. First the “conscious” faculties brought forth are only partial. Second although spontaneously occurring lucid dreams in normal populations are quite realistic relative to nonlucid dreams, in more sophisticated experients, such as long term meditators, bizarreness reasserts in unique ways. According to Hunt, “lucid dreaming is not merely (or even primarily) the intellectual awareness that one is dreaming (‘Am I? Oh well, I guess so. Isn’t that quaint?’)”. The “realism” often spoken of as associated with lucidity is not only of the real to true life type but also “real, clear and somehow present” reminiscent, according to Hunt, of the peak experiences described by Maslow (1962).
The facility for self-reflectiveness, of recognizing self in the midst of a dream says Hunt (1989), is strikingly similar to the development of self-reflective consciousness in “mindfulness” or “insight” meditative traditions such as Zen, Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism. Furthermore, according to Alexander (1987) it is developmentally prior to obtaining the witness set sought in Transcendental Meditation. In especially meditation and lucid dreaming, and it can be argued in the OBE, NDE and UFO abductions, once a detached but receptive attitude has been integrated into the waking or dreaming consciousness strong feelings of exhilaration, freedom and release occur, There is, Hunt explains, “an unusually broad sense of context and perspective, a ‘balance’ of normally contradictory attitudes, and the felt sense of one’s own existence (that special ‘I am’ or ‘being’ experience..).”
Without this heightened sense most of us become consumed by everyday living, untouched by the “awe” of life and the stark inevitability of death. This, explains Hunt, is “the full human context to which on rare occasions we spontaneously ‘wake up’”. In the same way we remain unaware that we are dreaming, until the moment we turn lucid. Both moments of awareness “can have quite an impact”, Hunt says. But both are also frequently short-lived.
This association of lucid dreaming to the practice of meditation was first identified by Hunt (1989) and has recently been further developed by Gackenbach and Bosveld (in press). From virtually every level of analysis parallels, and in some cases potential causal agents, can be identified supporting the association of dream lucidity to the practice of meditation and thus on to the experience of pure consciousness. There are also now several studies of meditators and lucid dreamers which reveal important psychological and physiological parallels.
Historically, lucid dreams are specifically spoken of in classic Tibetan Buddhist texts (for a review see Gillespie, 1988a) where lucidity is presented as a form of meditation available during dreaming. For a critical phenomenological discussion of this dream relative to the states desired to be achieved through meditation see especially the papers of Gillespie (1988b;1987a,b; 1986: 1985a,b,c,d,e,f,g) as well as books by Sparrow (1976a), Kelzer (1987), Garfield, (1976) and LaBerge (1985).
Before I consider the specific phenomenological characteristics of dream lucidity relative to waking meditation two points should be noted. First, the “Eye of the Beholder” phenomenon is apparent when analyzing these phenomenon. That is, overall dreamers reliably evaluate their lucid dreams as quite distinct from nonlucid ones whereas independent judges do not (Gackenbach, 1988). Secondly, the characteristics typically follow a developmental relationship with high impact occurring in both novice and sophisticated lucid dreamers and moderate to no impact in the midranges. With bizarreness, Hunt and McLeod (1984) have argued that the nature of bizarreness in the lucid dreams of long term meditators is qualitatively quite distinct from bizarreness apparent in prelucid episodes of nonmeditators. This qualitative distinction is true with some but not all content categories (Gackenbach & Bosveld, in press).
Regarding the visual nature of lucidity, more advanced practitioners as well as those who have had an initial exposure to lucidity report a rich visual quality that seems to standout and sparkle (Green, 1968; Hunt, 1989). As with bizarreness, and consistent with the meditation model being proposed, this visual richness habituates with some exposure to lucidity, thus the lack of a difference in visual quality reported by Gackenbach (1988), yet with long term exposure this same quality may reemerge particularly when associated with dream experiences of a transpersonal nature.
This is illustrated by Gillespie (l987a) who examines the range of experiences of light while lucid in dreams. He points out that light moves from ordinary dream light which has the same visual quality as ordinary dreams through unique experiences of light, like disks or patterns of light such as “versions of lattices, lines, dots and colors constantly changing” to the “fullness of light.” This latter he notes is overwhelming in its brilliance and transpersonal in his felt interpretation. “The fullness of light is accompanied by intense spontaneous feelings of joy and devotion.”
Many of the individual difference variables associated with the practice of meditation have also been found to be true of individuals who frequently dream lucidly while controlling for dream recall frequency. These include field independence (lucidity: Gackenbach, Heilman, Boyt, & LaBerge, 1985; meditation: Pelletier, 1974; Jedrczak, 1984), creativity (lucidity: Gackenbach, Curren, LaBerge, Davidson, & Maxwell, 1983; meditation: Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981); lower anxiety (lucidity: Gackenbach et al., 1983: meditation: Alexander, 1982); absorption (lucidity: Gackenbach, Cranson, & Alexander. 1986; meditation: Alexander, 1978; 1982); and private self-consciousness (lucidity: Gackenbach, et al., 1983; meditation, West, 1982), (The meditation findings axe reviewed in Alexander, Boyer and Alexander, 1987 while the lucid dreaming findings are reviewed in Snyder and Gackenbach, 1988). A strong finding in both the lucidity (for review see Snyder & Gackenbach, 1988) and meditation (Reed, 1978; Faber, Saayman & Touyz, 1978) literatures is that both are associated with enhanced dream recall despite decreases in REM time as the result of meditation (Banquet & Sailhan, 1976; Becker & Herter, 1973; Meirsman, 1989).
Finally, and particularly noteworthy, is that the waking practice of meditation increases the frequency of experiencing lucidity in dreams (Sparrow. 1976b; Reed, 1978; Hunt & McLeod, 1984) even when dream recall differences are controlled (Gackenbach, Cranson, & Alexander, 1986; 1989). Further, reports of consciousness during deep sleep are related to clear experiences of transcending during meditation (reported in Alexander, Boyer & Alexander, 1987) as well as to breath suspension during meditation, the latter is thought to be a key physiological indicate of the experience of “pure” consciousness (Kesterson, 1985).
Physiological parallel’s between lucidity and meditation also exist. Except that the individual is awake, depth of somatic arousal during meditation is equivalent to that of light sleep (Kesterson, 1985) but is not the same as light sleep (West, 1980). However, REM sleep shows increases in oxygen consumption and heart rate over stages 1 and 2 NREM and lucid REM is significantly higher on these dimensions than nonlucid REM (L.aBerge, Levitan, & Dement, 1986; LaBerge. 1985: 1988). This lucid somatic arousal would seem to argue against the lucid dreaming-meditation parallel. LaBerge (personal communication, June, 1987) has pointed out that the continued somatic arousal after the eye movement signal which he has found could be an artifact of demand characteristics. That is, his subjects are typically told to signal when they know they are dreaming and then to do a predesigned task; active engagement in a dream task with consciousness could keep the system somatically aroused.
A study by Gackenbach, Moorecroft, Alexander and LaBerge (1987) sheds some light on this apparent discrepancy. They had a long term meditator who during meditation showed physiological signs of transcending correlating with his self reports. This individual claimed that he was conscious of his true state throughout his sleep cycle. That is, he knew he was sleeping and sometimes dreaming during the entire night. This ability is called witnessing sleep and its stabilization is thought to be a result of the regular practice of meditation (Alexander. Boyer & Orme-Johnson, 1985). In the sleep laboratory this meditator was able to signal with prearranged eye movements that he knew he was dreaming/sleeping during REM, Stage 1 and Stage 2 sleep. Interestingly. and in line with the present hypothesis, he showed physiological arousal around the eye movement signal but contrary to the data of LaBerge et al. (1986) he rapidly returned to quiet somatic levels shortly thereafter. With at least this one subject signaling was somatically arousing but his self-reported continued consciousness in sleep was not. This study tentatively confirms that as lucid dreaming unfolds to witnessing dreaming somatic arousal decreases and the equation of consciousness in sleep to states desired by the practice of meditation becomes firmer.
Further supporting the meditation-lucidity link is a finding with the Hoffman or H-reflex, an electrically evoked monosynaptic spinal reflex which has been viewed as an indicate of the flexibility of central nervous system response. Brylowski (1986) found greater H-reflex suppression associated with lucid REM sleep than with nonlucid REM sleep. H-reflex suppression is thought to be a key indicate of the presence of the REM state of sleep as one is paralyzed from the neck down. This body paralyses does not occur during any other time of the sleep cycle nor while awake. This finding is conceptually in line with studies by Dillbeck, Orme-Johnson, and Wallace (1981) and Haynes, Hebert, Reber & Orme-Johnson (1976). Dilbeck et al. found greater H-reflex recovery indirectly associated with an advanced form of meditation practice while Haynes et al. note positive correlations between H-reflex recovery and clarity of experience of the transcendental state while meditating. Enhanced H-reflex suppression in REM and recovery in waking both indicate a nervous system which is functioning maximally in accord with the needs of the state of the organism.
A physiological individual difference variable further supports the lucidity-meditation link. Based on our work with lucid dreamer type differences in vestibular sensitivity we (Snyder & Gackenbach, in press) hypothesized that REM sleep and especially lucid REM sleep might be best characterized as internalization of attention. Meditation has most often been conceptualized as a technique for internalizing attention.
The EEG work with dream lucidity is unfortunately fairly limited at this point with the bulk having been done by Ogilvie, Hunt and associates (Ogilvie, Hunt, Sawicki & McGowan, 1978; Ogilvie, Hunt, Tyson, Lucescu & Jeakins, 1982; Tyson. Ogilvie & Hunt, 1984; Ogilvie, Vieira & Small, 1988; Hunt & Ogilvie, 1988). In this series of studies they sought to demonstrate the lucidity-meditation connection by examining alpha waves in lucid and nonlucid REM. Reviews of the EEG and meditation literature have fairly consistently pointed to the association of alpha with meditation (West, 1980; Taneli & Krahne, 1987; Wallace, 1986). The Ogilvie and Hunt group found, consistent with the meditation literature, variations in alpha as a function of stage of lucidity. Specifically, they found increased alpha in prelucid REM periods and early in lucidity and have likened this to the access phases of waking meditation. Similarly. West (1980) and Taneli and Krahne (1987) have summarized the EEG and meditation literature for power measures and note changes as a function of stage of meditation. Both reviewers agree that at the beginning and at the end of meditation increases in alpha are observed. Later theta occurs, often intermixed with alpha, and at the “transcending” or “samadhi” phase bursts of beta occur.
West (1980) has pointed out that a more sophisticated examination of EEG changes in meditation should include the investigation of EEG coherence (COH). The relationship of this variable to meditation has been investigated in the Transcendental Meditation research literature (for a review see Orme-Johnson. Wallace, Dillbeck, Alexander & Ball, in press: Wallace, 1986) and offers a unique potential for identifying EEG associations to types of consciousness during sleep as extended alpha or beta bursts would mitigate against sleep.
REM has been identified as interhemispherically coherent in the theta range relative to NREM, thus making it the state in which meditation like experiences (lucidity) would be most likely to occur. Several investigators have shown that lucidity primarily emerges out of REM (see LaBerge, 1988, for a review). (For a theoretical review of the coherence literature in meditation and sleep and its relationship to REM sleep consciousness see Gackenbach, in press).
Armitage, Hoffman and Moffitt (in press) report that high dream recallers show a greater continuity of rhythmic EEG (in a measure conceptually similar to EEG coherence) in transition from sleep to waking. Thus individuals who frequently remember their dreams are accessing information from a coherent state of brain functioning by remaining in some sense in that state. One of the most robust findings in both the individual difference (Snyder & Gackenbach, 1988) and content analysis (Gackenbach, 1988) literature on dream lucidity is the association of high dream recall to lucidity. Lucid dreamers in general are high dream recallers so they should show more COH at the state transition to waking.
But will lucid dreams themselves be higher in COH. In Gackenbach’s (1988) work with self evaluations of the recallability of lucid versus nonlucid dreams the former are continually perceived as significantly easier to remember. Although one might argue that the phasic nature of lucid dreams might be responsible for their increased recallability. Pivik (1978) points out that dreams recalled from phasic versus tonic REM do not differ in recall. Indeed the “tonic” consciousness of the dreams reported by Gackenbach et al. were rated as highly recallable by the subject if phenomenologically quiet (Gackenbach & Morrecroft, 1987).
More directly, in pilot data LaBerge looked at EEG coherence twice. In his dissertation (LaBerge, 1980) he had only central EEG leads and found no COH differences as a function of lucidity. More recently (LaBerge, personal communication, June, 1988) he compared a 5 minute lucid dream during REM to the 15 minutes of REM prior to the onset of dream consciousness in one subject. Looking at interhemispheric EEG coherence measured at the parietal lobes, he found an increase in COH during the lucid phase of REM for the alpha frequency. Although these findings arc highly preliminary they are in the direction expected. That he found increased COH in the parietal lobes is interesting as the central role of visual-spatial functioning, associated with this area of the brain, has been strongly implicated in the work of Gackenbach’s group for both lucid dreamers (Snyder & Gackenbach, 1988) and lucid dreams (Gackenbach, 1988). Further, this was the location of interhemispheric alpha COH reported by O’Connor and Shaw for field independent individuals, a perceptual style characteristic of high dream recallers, lucid dreamers, and meditators.
Clearly on several levels of analyses dream lucidity parallels waking meditation. Although lucidity can and does emerge spontaneously in nonmeditating populations, the average frequency of such experiences is considerably less than that in meditating adults (Gackenbach, Cranson & Alexander, 1986; 1989).
What is Meditation? An Technique to Access Pure Consciousness
If lucid dreaming is a form of meditation and/or the result of meditation, “What is meditation?”. For the past two decades western scientists have been addressing the question of meditation with several models emerging. Most frequently cited is meditation as a stress reducing mechanism but also often pointed to is meditation as a form of psychotherapy or as enhanced self awareness or a finely held hypnagogic state or a form of self hypnosis. More recent models focus on meditation as an attention enhancing procedure. (For a recent review of the meditation literature see Murphy & Donavan, 1988.)
But these models do not answered the “what is meditation” question. They only describe what it does; that is what the potential products of it’s practice are. All of these “takes” on meditation really miss the essential point. Meditation is a procedure, a technology, a method and as such it is not causal; rather it facilities outcomes, such as stress reduction and consciousness during sleep. These outcomes are a natural part of the biological and psychological systems but the application of the “technology” of meditation increases the likelihood of attaining them.
These perspectives on meditation are reductionistic. Such reductionism to the common denominator is the meat of the scientific method but it can also strike a death toll for complex, holistic procedures designed to work with the entire self system. Reductionism when investigating a complex phenomenon such as meditation sucks the blood out of it. As Deikman (1982) recently noted:
Ironically, although the power of meditation to affect physiological and psychological functions has been substantiated in many different laboratories, we have paid little attention to what the originators of meditation have said about its intended purpose and the requirements for its appropriate use....Focusing primarily on the experiences and bodily effects of meditation is like collecting oyster shells and discarding the pearls. Such ‘spiritual materialism’ inevitably interferes with the real potential of meditation.
If meditation is somehow more than its component parts or products, what is it? Virtually all systems of meditation contextualize the procedure in some way as part of a spiritual path - a seeking - for union with the higher self - God - nature. Here I will focus on one of these systems because it is not only comprehensive but is the most empirically supported theoretical position. It comes from the founder of the largest meditation group in the west, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
The Maharishi conceptualizes meditation as a tool for the development of consciousness. In other words meditation, in this case Transcendental Meditation, is a technique which serves to enliven an individuals experience of the common denominator of being, pure consciousness, Pure consciousness, according to Alexander, Chandler, and Boyer (in press), is “described as a silent state of inner wakefulness with no object of thought or perception.” Furthermore, they note that “pure consciousness is conditioned not by cultural or intellectual conditions, but by fundamental psychophysiological conditions which are universally available across cultures.”
Alexander et al. offer several descriptions of pure consciousness. For instance:
After about two years, my experience of the transcendent started to become clearer. At that time, I would settle down, it would be very quiet ... and then I would transcend, and there would just be a sort of complete silence, void of content. The whole awareness would turn in, and there would be no thought, no activity, and no perception, yet it was somehow comforting. It was just there and I could know when I was in it. There wasn’t a great ‘oh I am experiencing this,’ it was very natural and innocent. But I did not yet identify myself with this silent content free inner-space. It was a self-contained entity that I transcended to and experienced.
Alexander et al. reviewed the empirical correlates of the experience of pure consciousness. Physiological correlates of this “subjective” experience during meditation include:
attainment of a deep state of physiologic rest during this experience is indicated by significant reductions, relative to simply relaxing with eyes-closed, in minute ventilation, forearm muscle O2 consumption and CO2 elimination, red blood cell metabolism, plasma lactate, plasma cortisol, and thyroid stimulating hormone; and significant comparative increases in basal skin resistance, plasma prolactin, and serotonergic turnover, On the other hand, simultaneous enhancement of alertness associated with experience of pure consciousness during TM practice is suggested by a more efficient auditory evoked potential response, faster H-reflex recovery, increased blood flow to the brain, and higher levels of plasma arginine vasopressin (associated with enhanced learning and memory) in comparison to control subjects simply sitting and relaxing with eyes-closed.
Two physiological variables are markers of experiencing pure consciousness, breath suspension and enhanced EEG coherence. These two, these scientists explain, “were the immediate correlates of specific subperiods of reported experience of pure consciousness indicated by button press, and were greater than those occurring during the remainder of TM practice.”
As for behavioral effects they note that “exhaustive meta-analyses of over 100 separate studies indicate that repeated experience of pure consciousness during TM produces significantly greater reductions in trait anxiety, depression, hostility and other symptoms of mental stress than simple or stylized forms of relaxation.” Further “regular experience of pure consciousness during TM is associated with development of personal identity as operationalized by improvement on such measures as self-actualization, self-concept, self-esteem and field independence” including ego development. They summarize, “Whereas deep steep is characterized by physiologic rest (e.g., a decrease in several metabolic functions) and ordinary wakefulness by alertness (e.g., faster H-reflex recovery response), pure consciousness is characterized by both co-existing in a simple unified state.”
By way of methodological refinement Alexander et at. point out that “although experience of pure consciousness occurs with far less frequency in the general population, our research (and that of other researchers) indicates that its behavioral correlates are similar even among subjects who have received no exposure to meditation or the concept of pure consciousness,” They conclude, “This enables us to go beyond the prevailing understanding of pure consciousness as an inaccessible, ineffable or “mystical” experience. Rather, we come to realize that the experience of pure consciousness is a natural consequence of unfolding the latent potential of human consciousness to fully know itself, that has profound utility for improving the quality of human life.”
Access to pure consciousness due to the purification of the nervous system in response to the regular practice of meditation is exemplified in the development of a “passive witness,” a silently observing part of the self that witnesses all other states of consciousness (waking, sleeping, and dreaming) without trying to change them. A male long term TM meditator describes witnessing dreamless sleep:
It is a feeling of infinite expansion and bliss and nothing else. Then I become aware that I exist but there is no individual personality then I become aware that I am individual but no details of who, where, what, when etc. Eventually these details fill in and I might come awake.
How do you describe an unmanifest experience? It has only happened a half dozen times in 15 years, but when it occurs, it’s crystal clear. [IT is] like an amplifier turned on, but no sound. The experience fades as boundaries of dreams or waking state gather, gain definition and overshadow.
While witnessing dreaming sleep is described, “I watch it as it is going on separate from me… There are parts, me and the dream, two different realities.”
With the formal operational dreams of adults, differing degrees of self-awareness are evident prior to its full emergence in lucidity. Moffitt et al. (1986), based on the work of Rossi (1972), designed a nine point scale culminating in lucidity. At it’s lowest level on their Self-Reflectiveness Scale the dreamer is not in the dream. This moves to level 3 where the dreamer is completely involved in the dream then at level 5 the dreamer thinks over an idea. At level 7 the dreamer has multiple levels of awareness simultaneously participating and observing. Finally, at level 9 the dreamer consciously reflects on the fact that he is dreaming.
But I have argued (Gackenbach, in press) that lucidity is only the beginning and that consciousness in sleep, when it arises as part of the natural growth cycle, is both psychologically and biologically a developmentally advanced form of dreaming. This is in line with current cognitive perspectives of sleep mentation. Foulkes (1982) argues that the development of mentation in sleep parallels that during waking so that dreams of young children are preoperational whereas those of adults range from concrete to formal operations. Furthermore, cognitive models of sleep mentation stress the continuity of waking type mentation into sleep (Foulkes, 1985). Recent theorists in both developmental (Alexander & Langer, 1989) as well as transpersonal psychology (Wilber, 1987) have postulated stages of development beyond the traditional Piagetian endpoint of formal operations. Alexander, Davies, Dixon, Dillbeck, Oetzel, Muehlman, and Orme-Johnson (1989), in characterizing one such stage maintains that “the Self becomes de-embedded from and hierarchically integrates (“witnesses”) all previous, representational levels of mind (p. 33),” including dreaming. In other words, consciousness in sleep, or the lucid dream, is an early manifestation of post-formal operational functioning in sleep.
A mental technology that moves one past formal operational levels of development is meditation. This effect is evidenced in REM sleep by enhancement of its functioning (Meirsman, 1989) with the phenomenal experience moving one past the self-reflective continuum identified by Moffitt et al. to post-formal operational levels of consciousness as evidenced by awareness of dreaming while dreaming. This psychological and biological enhancement of REM is especially evident with the further de-embedding from lucid dreaming to the sleep consciousness of “witnessing”, a characteristic of post-formal operational functioning identified by Alexander et al, (1989).
Physiological Analysis of the Lucidity-Witnessing Relationship
I shall first consider the relationship of meditation to REM sleep on a physiological Level of analysis. Meirsman (1989) studied six advanced TM meditators (TM-Sidhi, techniques) who reported witnessing sleep on the average of half the night. He argued that the practice of the TM-Sidhi’s results in the “maintenance of ... alertness even during the inertia of deep night sleep” and that further “witnessing’ of one’s own sleep during the night seems to be the subjective experience of a physiologically more efficient (REM) sleep.” Meirsman examined the incidence of an eye movement ratio (high frequency REM’s/low frequency REM’s [HF/LF]) from uninterrupted REM sleep (no prearranged eye movement signals were required). HF/LF had been shown to be, “associated with cerebral maturation (age, intelligence, learning ability) and endocrinological maturation (age, second half of ovulatory cycle, second half of pregnancy).” Meirsman points out that this measure can be “defined as the capacity of the brain to structure ‘order’ from the ‘noisy stream’ of information.” This researcher found that the REM sleep of the meditators who were conscious during it was more order-creating (higher HF/LF ratios) then that of the “unconscious” nonmeditators. He describes this as “a reflection of the higher intensity of the assimilation of information in the brain during REM sleep.” This finding was further supported by the shorter REM sleep time among the meditators in his study when compared to his controls.
Unfortunately meditation practice in this study is confounded with reports of witnessing. According to the teachings of this meditation practice, a result of the practice will be sleep consciousness. Although spontaneous occurrences at this frequency (half the night or more) may occur, they are so rare as to be virtually nonexistent. Whereas Gackenbach, Cranson and Alexander (1987; 1989) have shown that such high rates are not infrequent in groups of TM meditators. Thus it may be nearly impossible to separate sleep consciousness at this rate from the practice of meditation.
I will now fold the Meirsman study back onto the physiological analysis of lucid dreaming reviewed earlier. The most reliable physiological finding in the lucid dreaming literature is the association of high REM density to the lucid state in REM. Likewise, Meirsman reported that the total REM density, regardless of frequency, was also significantly higher for the TM-Sidhi group when compared to controls, LaBerge (personal communication, March, 1989) compared the REM density of twelve lucid dreamers to that of Meirsman’s six meditators. Although the means were the same the variability among the lucid dreamers was quite high whereas it was virtually nonexistent among the meditators. In other words, although both lucidity and witnessing (as a product of meditation) evidence the same increase in REM density the meditators were more stable, on a physiological level of analysis, in their experience.
Further in terms of the work of the Ogilvie and Hunt group who reported alpha in prelucid and early lucid episodes, so too Meirsman reports a large amplitude and lower frequency of alpha activity as associated with a higher HF/LF ratio and thus witnessing sleep. LaBerge (1985) failed to find this alpha presence as did Ogilvie et al. (1988). However, in both cases the failure was associated with the disruption of REM sleep by the eye movement signal. When no signal was demanded or before a signal it seems that alpha is associated with consciousness in sleep of both the lucid and witnessing varieties.
I cannot say if the Meirsman subjects also evidenced more somatic arousal (respiration and heart rate) as has been shown with LaBerge’s lucid dreaming subjects. The single witnessing and signaling subject of Gackenbach et al. provides mixed data. On the one hand he was somatically less aroused but on the other hand his eye movement density was significantly less than two lucid dreamers who did not signal in the lab. Furthermore, when his heart rate, respiration and eye movement density were compared for pre and post eye movement signal differences, we found no significant prepost signal differences for any of the dependent variables from stages 2 or REM. However, for stage 1 eye movement and respiration showed significant pre-post signal differences. Eye movement density went up after the signal while respiration went down which would be indicates of the classic restful alertness claimed to occur as a result of the practice of TM.
Work on physiological associations of these states of consciousness in sleep is just beginning but early data show some physiological similarities and thus delineating the association of lucidity to witnessing consciousness in sleep becomes important. Some understanding of this relationship can be found on a psychological or phenomenological level of analysis.
Psychological Analysis of the Lucidity-Witnessing Relationship
Gackenbach, Cranson and Alexander (1987: 1989) have conducted several studies examining the relationship of dream lucidity to pure consciousness. The latter as expressed in the witness set during dreaming or dreamless sleep. They found, as predicted by the Alexander (1987) model, that although meditators reported experiencing more of all three types of sleep consciousness experiences (i.e., lucid dreaming, witnessing dreaming and witnessing dreamless sleep), across samples, lucid dreams were experienced more frequently than either witnessing dreams or witnessing deep sleep. This finding favoring the higher incidence of lucidity relative to witnessing also held across level of dream recall and support the notion that lucid dreams are easier to access no matter what ones training or personal skills and therefore may represent a developmentally prior state of sleep consciousness leading eventually to the experience of pure consciousness.
As reported by Alexander (1988) in order to examine the differences between these three forms of sleep consciousness this group of researchers did content analyses on these sleep experience reports collected from 66 males who were very advanced in their TM meditation. In fact, they could be characterized as TM monks as they have devoted their lives to their meditation practice. These were selected because it was believed that their training better equipped them as a group to be able to distinguish these subtle states of mind in sleep. Some validation for this assumption was gained when it was determined that only 17% of the 66 subjects lucid dreaming reports could not be used because they were either blank or questionable. This is compared to a loss of about 50% of nonmeditating subjects for the same reasons reported in Gackenbach’s work (for a review see Snyder and Gackenbach, l988).1
Nine content categories were then developed based on a reading of the reports with the first seven scored for presence or absence of the quality in the description: 1) sleep/wake/dream state transition, 2) references to real physical body, 3) dream body flying. 4) dream body running, 5) “lightness” of experience, 6) control of the experience. 7) sense of a feeling of separateness, 8) emotions (extreme positive, positive, negative, no reference) and 9) trigger for consciousness (none mentioned, just knew, oddity, and anxiety).
The 55 lucid dreaming descriptions, 41 witnessing dreaming descriptions, and 47 witnessing deep sleep descriptions were characterized in the main by different components although a continuity between states could also be seen. Most revealing of these categories was the one on feelings of separateness. In lucid dreaming only 7 percent of the cases were those in which people reported feeling separateness. Whereas in the witnessing dream experience, 73 percent of the cases spontaneously reported in their dream description that the dream went on, but they were separate from it. These reports are consistent with Alexander and colleagues conceptual descriptions of witnessing as involving the complete differentiation of pure consciousness from the dream state, in other words the silent witness functions as completely distinct from or outside of the dreaming state.
Another category which is interesting is that of emotion. There were positive emotions associated with all three states, but extremely positive emotions, described most often as “bliss”, was reported more frequently for witnessing dreaming and witnessing deep sleep as were feelings of Lightness.
On the other hand, dream control was much more frequent during lucid dreaming (47%) than witnessing dreams (5%).This is consistent with the claims that dream lucidity typically involves active information processes and manipulation of dream content. The “will” or volitional capacity of the individual ego can act on its thoughts and desires. This is in contrast to the experience of pure consciousness which is said to be one of complete inner fulfillment or contentment. The Self does not act, but silently observes the changes occurring within waking, dreaming, and sleep.
Also over half the time lucid dreaming was triggered by mental events in the dreams that appeared to stimulate or awaken intellectual or discriminative processes typical of the waking state. On the other hand, witnessing dreaming and sleep were virtually never triggered by such mental events. The most unambiguous criterion of witnessing is maintenance of pure consciousness even during deep sleep. Because lucidity involves active thinking and deep sleep is generally, although not always, without mentation, it is not surprising that lucidity (as typically experienced) drops out during deep sleep. However, after long-term practice, TM practitioners gradually begin to report experiences of ‘witnessing”, or maintenance of pure consciousness, even during dreamless sleep.
Although each form of sleep consciousness was largely differentially characterized there were some characteristics which weren’t so individual. For instance, as mentioned all were emotionally positive. Also in both lucid dreaming (11%) and witnessing dreaming (12%) experiences of the dream body flying were reported. Likewise state transitions were mentioned in both lucidity (20%) and witnessing deep sleep (55%)
1 Slightly higher subject losses, however, were found for reports of witnessing dreams (38%) and deep sleep (32%). It should be noted that 12 of the 21 deleted witnessing of deep sleep descriptions were due to blanks. As one subject commented “How do you describe an unmanifest experience?”
but not witnessing dreaming (2%). Finally, although it was rare (7%). feelings of separation were on occasion mentioned in the lucid dreaming reports of this group of elite TM meditators.
The work of Gackenbach, Cranson and Alexander support the notion that these three states of consciousness in sleep are qualitatively as well as quantitatively distinct but none-the-less probably exist along a developmental continuum with lucid dreaming emerging prior to witnessing dreaming or deep sleep. In fact, 19% of these TM monks spontaneously mentioned the developmental relationship between lucidity and witnessing dreaming with comments such as witnessing dreaming. “is a clearer experience of…[lucid dreaming]. The sense of self is more full and transcends the dream completely. It is large Self.”
Alexander (1988) explains that, “the significance of the experience of pure consciousness is that it provides the foundation for the development of stable higher stages of consciousness or ‘enlightenment’. Witnessing of deep sleep indicates that the inner wakefulness of pure consciousness is now beginning to be maintained even during the most extreme conditions of mental inertia -- dreamless sleep. Indeed ... the first stable higher stage of consciousness termed ‘cosmic consciousness’ -- is defined as the maintenance of pure consciousness throughout the 24-hour cycle of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.”
A Potential Stage Model for the Lucidity-Witnessing Relationship
A descriptive level of analysis comes from interviews Gackenbach (Gackenbach, in press: Gackenbach & Bosveld, in press) has conducted with several long term TM meditators. From an especially clear individual five basic stages were delineated in the movement from lucidity to witnessing. These stages are further illuminated by comments from a meditating petroleum engineer and a Sanscript scholar, the later is not a TM meditator. In order to understand these stages one must think of the progression, at least in part, as the dreamer shifts from being an “actor” in the dream to the “observer” of it.
STAGE ONE: Initially in lucid dreaming, the actor is dominant. The only role the observer plays is to recognize, however briefly, that the self is dreaming. Despite this recognition, the feeling is still that the dream is “out there” and that the self is “in here,” As the dreamer becomes more familiar with lucidity, it may occur to him/her that he/she can manipulate the dream. In this form of lucid dreaming one is, this clear meditator believes, “trying to manipulate the dream in some way, so there is a greater degree of wakefulness inside but still one is tied into the figures of the dream. Ifs a matter of accent...it’s more that you’re an object in the dream and less so that you are a witness to that dream.”
STAGE TWO: At some point it may occur to the dreamer that what is “out there” is actually “inside”. At this point two paths seem open to the dreamer: The dreamer may either become actively engaged in the dream events all the while recognizing that it is the self as well as the dream ego that is involved: or, shift his/her attention to the “inside” I, allowing the “outside I”--the dream scene--to fade. The meditator comments, “the predominance is on the observer, the action, the observation I don’t really much care about, in fact I don’t really remember many of those with content…” The petroleum engineer from Canada remarks that during these preliminary stages one flips easily back and forth between witnessing the dream with a quite detachment to being lucid in the dream. In the latter case still aware of the dream but also caught up in its activity. A graduate student in Sanscript, writes, “There is little in lucidity itself that will disrupt the production of dream images and sense effects. But because I know I am dreaming, I can proceed to do things that I would not do in ordinary dreams, and it is these actions or non-actions that disrupt the dreaming process. My interaction with the dream keeps it going normally. If I become passive, by stopping to watch what happens, or just to try to think of something, the activity in the dream environment diminishes or stops altogether.”
STAGE THREE: Lucid dreams in this stage tend to be short. The meditator describes it as a thought that arises which you take note of and then let go of. “The action of the dream,” he says. “is not dominant. It does not grip you so that you are identified with it as opposed to the First step in which the focus was more on the active [participation]. In this case it’s just a state of inner awareness that’s really dominant. Awareness is there very strongly. The dream is a little dust flying about so to speak.” This is, he says, analogous to when “I’m just sitting while awake and doing nothing and thoughts pop us, like an involuntary knee jerk. I’m not caught up in that so [consequently] the dreams do not have much significance...I never tried to hold onto them. The state of awareness is more satisfying. Since you don’t get caught up [in the dream] there isn’t much intensity to them.” The scholar explains that the meditator in sleep. “knows that he is not to interact with or be tempted by anything that may happen phenomenally. He is not to desire or anticipate anything.”
STAGE FOUR: In this stage an “inner wakefulness” dominates. “You don’t have dreams or in any case you don’t remember having dream,” says the meditator. You are absorbed not in dreams, but in the witness. This sort of sleep awareness can be so continuous that one may go for months without recalling a dream. This sort of sleep awareness can be so continuous that one loses awareness even of the passage of time. This might be said to be dreamless sleep with awareness or as the scholar notes:
When all waking and dream imagery and all mental content are eliminated, there is dreamless steep. Each night, I, the dreamer, move into dreamless sleep. Here I desire no desire and see no dream. There is only an ocean of objectless consciousness. The inner Self still sees, because the Self is imperishable, but there is nothing distinct from it to see. Likewise there is no second thing from the Self for the Self to smell, taste, speak, hear, think, touch, or discern. The Self is conscious of nothing within or without. This is the home base from which the Self moves out into dream and waking image and thought, the home to which the Self, like a tired bird, returns from waking and dream experience to rest.
At this point it is very difficult to distinguish yet further stages but the clear meditator seems to go further.
STAGE FIVE: Once the dreamer has moved into this transcendental state or pure consciousness, she/he move into the experience. Now the “dream” will characteristically take symbolic forms not generally found in nonlucid or lucid dreams of an earlier stage: They will be much more abstract and have no sensory aspects to them, no mental images, no emotional feelings, no sense of body or space. There is a quality of unboundedness to them. “One experiences oneself to he a part of a tremendous composite of relationships,” the professor explains. These are not social or conceptual or intellectual relationships, only “a web of relationships. I am aware of the relationship between entities without the entities being there.” He says there is “a sense of motion yet there are no relative things to gage motion by, its just expansiveness. There are no objects to measure it. The expansiveness is one of light--like the light of awareness.”
The vocabulary for expressing this kind of experience is limited. When the meditator used the phrase “light of awareness” it was, he says, because “of anything I could refer to in the sensory or mental worlds that word would be it.” But, he explains, it is not like light in a room, it’s “visual but not visual, more like light in an ocean: an intimate experience of the light.” Gillespie (1987) has referred to this as “the fullness of light” and interestingly well known philosopher and metaphysician Eliade (1965) details the role of “the light” in many of todays spiritual traditions. He notes, “considered as a whole, the different experiences and appraisals of the interior Light advanced in India and in Indo Tibetan Buddhism can be integrated into a perfectly consistent system. Experience of the Light signifies primarily a meeting with ultimate reality.”1
The case in this issue of Lucidity Letter of Anja Savolainen points out that the smooth sequence taking one from lucidity to witnessing may not be true for everyone. In her experience she had to let go of lucidity, move through nonlucidity before she developed the witness set in sleep. This points out that although there is a relationship between these states of consciousness in sleep, the exact nature of it may vary considerably from individual to individual.
The development of these capacities of consciousness ties at the root of many meditative traditions. Not surprisingly, some traditions view lucid dreaming as a form of sleeping meditation, a necessary precursor to the development of the witness. Hunt points out that in Tibetan Buddhism once a disciple has “attained a relatively stable dream lucidity, he [or she] may practice confronting fearsome deities or use the opportunity to deepen his [or her] meditative absorption in preparation for ‘lucidity’ during Bardo.” Could the contemporary form of “fearsome deities” be aliens?
Back to the OHE, NDE and UFO Abduction Experiences
In this paper I started with descriptions of three experiences, OBE’s, NDE’s and UFO abductions and argued that these are generally inaccurate, if strong in felt reality, attributions of the state of the organism. Interestingly most, but not all, cases of these three types of experiences occur under circumstances of sensory deprivation (i.e., near or during sleep. or near great physical trauma which is often associated with unconsciousness) or during extreme sensory overload of either a physical or emotional type. These two extremes allow for a reorganization of the mental model of reality.
Although all of these experiences are associated with dream lucidity they lack in the main the “waking up” inherent in lucidity. Not that it is not possible. One could have any of these experiences and attribute the state while it is ongoing to a restructuring of ones mental model of reality. But more commonly the face valid presentation of “reality” is accepted during the experience (i.e. “I am outside of my body” or “I have been abducted by aliens” or “I am dead”). It is the extremely sophisticated observer who while in the throngs of these experiences can further deembed from the experience and conclude that “although I appear in all sensory modalities to be on a space ship I am actually living fully while awake an ‘imagined realm’”. Yet in sleep while we dream, such accurate attributions seem to be easier to arrive at.
After showing that these experiences of mind are related to lucidity to greater or lesser degrees I then undertook to contextualize lucidity in terms of the meditative traditions and especially pure consciousness. With the concept of pure consciousness as the ground of reality, matter and energy emerging from it was also proposed. Thus phenomenon as diverse as the physical reality of UFO experients to the other but real worldliness of the demonic in Father X’s lucid dreams to the transcendence of beings of light when near death can alt emerge from and yet collapse into the void of being.
The emphasis on a psycho-spiritual interpretation of these experiences is not new. The UFO abduction experience Jung (1964) originally saw as signs of the end of an era. Grosso (1985) and Ring (in press) both argue for a close association between the UFO-abduction and the NDE experiences beyond the obvious link vis a vie the OBE both experients report OBE’s associated with their experiences). Whereas Ring views both in the context of the Shamanic journey Grosso emphasizes them as characterizing a
1 It should be pointed out that control in the state of pure consciousness is a moot point. “The body does not exist,” the clear meditator explains, “There is no awareness of the body, no awareness of anything sensory.”
“collective psychospiritual process.” Furthermore, Grosso (1982) points out about the NDE that, “deeper layers of this remarkable experience seem to be phenomenologically similar to the mystical experience.” Likewise, Ring (in press) points out that the after effects of the UFO abduction despite their often reported “grueling nature” are “often striking resemblances to those characteristic of NDEs.” Based on the extensive NDE literature Ring concludes that NDErs “return with apparently enhanced psychic sensitivities, quite a few claim to have acquired healing gifts as a result of their NDE and most of them report an increased concern with the welfare of others and indeed with the welfare of all life on this planet.”
By way of specific illustrations of the mystical, transcendent or pure consciousness potentials of these types of experiences lets turn to the three cases in this issue of Lucidity Letter. The Block case of consciousness in coma was at it’s final “shelter” a classic illustration of pure consciousness. Recently, Mindell (1989) has shown that in many patients with metabolic coma, when revived, they report experiences of ecstasy, prophetic insight and self-knowledge. As for the UFO abductee, Bill Payne points out in the support materials the many experiences of a psychic or transcendent nature he has had including OBE’s. ESP, conversation with a Loving being and consciousness in sleep. Finally, the demonic experiences of Father X certainty point to the realm of the transcendent if apparently, paradoxically so. Relatedly, Ring (in press) points out when comparing the UFO abduction and NDE:
it is clear from the literature of abduction cases that the appearance and behavior of the cosmic shaman in UFOEs tend to be disturbing and indeed frightening to most of those who encounter him. This is in marked contrast, of course, to the loving and benign qualities of the cosmic shaman in NDEs. One more, it seems, we have an antipodal relationship between these two categories of experience at the phenomenological level but one that again obscures an important functional similarity. The point here is this: it doesn’t matter what the cosmic shaman looks like or how he behaves, His function is simply to educate the soul. Whether he does this by acting out the rote of the trickster, the masked demon or the sage is irrelevant. His ways are protean., but his objective is the same through a thousand disguises.
The OBE is important according to Grosso (1985), “because it sheds Light on the shamanic roots of religion. He then goes on to argue that the separation view of OBE’s should not be taken literally because all perceptions of reality are out of body. In other words, we are always working from a mental model the difference is simply where “I” is placed, behind our eyeballs, in our elbow, or on the ceiling of the room. Grosso notes that “going out of the body is just ‘going’ more deeply into the mind.” Like Hunt, Grosso points to the OBE as another model of “creating psychical distance, becoming a spectator, becoming a witness - all these metaphors for spiritual discipline speak of methods of deflecting attention from the tasks of bodily survival. In place of these tasks, we are invited to raise anchor and sail forth into Mind at Large.”
Ecstasy (Active) versus Void (Passive) Perspectives
The active (sensory overload of OBE, NDE, or UFO abduction and ecstasy experiences of some lucid dreams) - passive (sensory deprivation of OBE, NDE. or UFO abduction and the witnessing/void experiences of sleep) distinction made earlier as potential determinants of each of the three types of experiences can also be applied within the lucid dream as well as to mystical states. In terms of lucid dreams Kelzer (1987) points to the devotional intensity available to the religious seeker in lucid dreams. In the “Gift of the Magi”, the “most powerful and astounding lucid dream” he has ever had, Kelzer dreamt a long detailed sequence of being one of the three wise men in search of the baby Jesus. At numerous points in this dream Kelzer had various mystical/religious experiences. For instance, when he reaches the Christ child in the dream he says that:
Suddenly I feel a tremendous rush of emotion within me, welling up from my stomach and chest so strongly that I burst into uncontrollable sobbing. I sob and sob and sob, heaving my chest for a long time as all of the feelings of the journey pour through me: extreme joy, relief, sadness over Herod, courage, determination and many other feelings.
Experiences of spiritual ecstasy as well as movement toward the void are both possible from the lucid dream state. The ecstasy experiences are like those of Kelzer in his “Gift of the Magi” dream and an experience of the void is manifest in the experience of pure consciousness in sleep. Gillespie (1988) has struggled with attempts to reach the state of “dreamless sleep”, consciousness with no content during sleep (pure consciousness), as spoken of in the classic Indian texts, the Upanishads. He notes that:
Dreamless steep, according to the Upanishads, is the state in which the delusion of both waking and dreaming is eliminated. In dreamless sleep the experiencer desires no desire and sees no dream. He knows nothing within or without, for there is no second thing for him to experience. Dreamless sleep is the state of nonduality, the experience of brahman, ultimate reality.
He has attempted to attain this state by systematically removing the content of his dreams white lucid. Of his first attempt he writes:
I closed my [dream] eyes. It became dark. I remained very much aware of sitting on a chair with my feet on the floor and leaning on the table. I wanted to remove these perceptions also. I pushed the table away, then raised my feet off the floor. I was hesitant to push the chair from under me. I willed the chair away. I remained with my legs raised and became unaware of the chair. I was first floating, then spinning, very much aware of my body. Charlotte came along and thought we should leave. So I got out of the chair,
Eventually, he was able to eliminate his awareness of all objects including his dream body. He notes:
I reached the point where nothing was left except my own consciousness in darkness, though I have no memory of maintaining that state. I was satisfied that I had reached the point of dreamless sleep, but I saw the state as literally only that - sleeping with no dreaming. I did not see religious or philosophical meaning inherent in the experience.
This ecstasy/void distinction is also noted by Fisher (1971) for waking experiences. He conceptualized these as waking Ergotropic versus Trophotropic transpersonal states. Hyperaroused ergotropic states such as the peak ecstatic rapture experiences of the mystics falls at the top of a continuum of arousal states. The void of Yoga Samadhi is the peak hypoaroused (low arousal) type of trophotropic states. He points out that at these peaks, “the ‘Self’ of ecstasy and the ‘Self’ of samadhi are one and the same ‘Self.’” Specifically:
In spite of the mutually exclusive relation between the ergotropic and trophotropic systems, however, there is a phenomenon called “rebound to superactivity,” or trophotropic rebound, which occurs in response to intense sympathetic excitation, that is, at ecstasy, the peak of ergotropic arousal, A rebound into samadhi at this point can be conceived of as a physiological protective mechanism: Gellhorn was among the first to notice that the rebound of the trophotropic system is not confined to the autonomic branches, but also causes significant changes in behavior. Thus, repetitive stimulation of the reticular formation in the midbrain increases the arousal level in awake cats, but his phase is followed by one in which the animal yawns, lies down, and finally falls asleep. This rebound phase is associated with the appearance of theta potentials in the hippocampus, just as the corresponding human trophotropic rebound - samadhi - is characterized by theta potentials.
This “rebound” from ecstasy to void is illustrated in this sleep experience of Hewitt’s
In 1985 I began experimenting with meditation in lucid dreams in an effort to discover this depth. These experiments brought profound results. On a half dozen occasions I succeeded in remembering my intention to sit down in the dynamic atmosphere of the lucid dream, and managed to be undistracted by dream imagery long enough to practice deep, rhythmic breathing. In each case awareness seemed to expand into an egg-shaped sphere which encompassed my dream body, with a corresponding dramatic intensification of consciousness. As this happened, colors flowed like pools of neon light in my inner vision, as they sometimes do in meditation and before falling asleep. The state intensified until the dream imagery, through half shut eyes, took on a diaphanous character and finally disappeared I became a point of consciousness contentedly floating in an intense yellow-orange field of light.
Other behavioral scientists have also considered the nature of ecstasy versus the void. For instance, Coleman (1972) spoke of a “three fold typology of meditative techniques”. Based on the work of Claudio Naranjo, Goleman spoke of the first two as representing the two major forms of meditation, concentration and insight, which lead to meditation specific states of consciousness and eventually the “void” or “pure consciousness”. The third technique, “The Expressive Way”, “includes visionary and prophetic experiences, possession states, artistic, shamanistic and psychotherapeutic surrender and openness to impulse and intuition.” This category, includes experiences from the domain of discursive thought and represents, according to Goleman, “a maximal expansion of normal consciousness into altered states, but do not overleap its bounds into the realm of jhana or nirvana, where discursive thought stops.” In contrast to Fisher’s concept of a “rebound” from ecstasy to void, Coleman argues that:
It may be, in fact, that the Expressive Way is inimical to the attainment of meditative specific states, since by acting out every impulse one may reinforce patterns of thought and desire, strengthening these habits of mind so as to enhance their power to hinder transcending the sphere of thought.
A third perspective is that of Hunt (personal communication, January, 1989) who explains that this “rebound” from ecstasy to the void as the “actual processes becoming invisible.” It’s similar, he says, to learning to talk, initially the child is caught up in the sounds of words and how to make them but eventually such concerns habituate and the child’s focus is on the meaning of the words. Likewise, when a child initially learns to ride a bike she is caught up with the feel of the cycle and sensations associated with balancing. Eventually, she “get’s it” and enjoys the thrill of a fast ride down a steep hill. Hunt points out that there are limits to sensate mysticism which sort of habituate out when we “get it” - experience pure consciousness. In other words, we focus on the content of the experience rather than its meaning. Although, as was pointed out earlier in this article, once we pass the point of consciousness the experience “opens up” again but it is of such a profoundly different quality that equating it to experiences with sensory, emotional or intellectual content would be too reductionistic.
I have considered a range of experiences or states of consciousness which point to the very fragility of our hold on “reality” and tried to relate them to pure consciousness as a source point in not only mind but all matter and energy. As Chopra (1989) notes of the converging points of views of physics and mysticism:
The known world of our senses, of atoms and molecules, does not just break off abruptly; it shades imperceptibly into a different reality. At some point, however, one reality flips into another. Time and space acquire a different meaning: the neat divisions between inner and outer reality disappear.
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Linda L. Magallón
San Jose, Calif.
Let’s begin with the following assumption: reciprocal dreams exist. For expansion of this thesis, I invite the reader to peruse the literature on the subject Explanation and verification have been handled elsewhere, notably in the Maimonides dream telepathy studies (Ullman & Krippner, 1973; Van de Castle, 1977) and case studies in the works of Hart (1933), Ullman (1979) and Taub-Bynum (1984). Continued data gathering occurs in the ongoing projects of Van de Castle and Reed (personal communication, 1988) and Magallón and Shor (in press).
Mrs. J.B. Rhine informed Donahoe (1982) “that of the thousands of paranormal dreams on file at the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man in Durham, North Carolina, mutual dream are reported so rarely that there is no separate file for them...” Even rarer are mutual lucid dreams, although reports of at least one lucid dream out of a corresponding group do exist in the writings of Donahoe, Fox (1980) and Magallón (1985).
Lucidity can inspire a willful intent to connect with other people, although being lucid doesn’t insure it. As with nonlucid dreamers, the default mode for most lucid dreamers is to remain within private psychological space rather than to socialize. Because there are variations in degree of lucidity ranging from passive dream witnessing to active manipulation of the dreamscape, types of correspondences can vary considerably.
Take, for example, the following dreamer’s response to a dream telepathy experiment which took place during The Lucidity Project, a mutual dream experiment which I facilitated between 1984 and 1987:
I have on a parachute harness which is connected to a balloon by heavy piano wire. Away I go into the sky. Incredibly weird! The balloon is so far above me it is almost out of sight. I am hanging in the sky seemingly without any support. Very lonely. Surface details are lost to be replaced with others like rivers, takes, and snowy mountains. Strange feelings of dissociation from the surface. Confidence, but still lost in the sky. (John Echo)
The targeted picture was a skydiver.
In order to pick up the picture, John, though lucid, did no more than experience and observe the dream. However, he had actively formed the aim to dream towards the “sender” of the picture prior to sleep.
This intent to reach out towards other people, places and objects can be developed before the dream begins and taken into the dream whether the route be via astral projection, freezing a hypnagogic image and entering into it, or through a sequence which involves a break in consciousness before the lucid dream springs up.
Even if the lucid dream emerges after nonlucid or no dreams, the predream intent can be remembered and starting from that point on an attempt can be made to connect with the targeted object or person. Techniques include flying, movement into another room, spinning to wipe out the current scene and go to another scene, willing a new dream scene to appear, calling for a person, asking others to bring or show the target, or conjuring up a dream character.
However, as Szot (1989) has pointed out, the creative imagining facility of a lucid dreamer does not guarantee that there is any relevance to the actual person or object involved. Verification is sought via the waking state. Correspondences can consist of dream to dream dream to target or dream to waking state persons and events.
Dreamworker Linda Ravenwolf was another member of The Lucidity Project. One goal night during the Project, I had this dream:
I go over to the center of the room and begin spinning, calling out “Linda Ravenwolf!” When I stop, it’s not surprising to me that I’m still in the same room.
The room has meat market counters along two walls, but they’re filled with vegetables. Placed at the end of one counter is a child’s table and chairs where two dark-haired women are seated. I walk towards them, looking fixedly at the woman on the left. She gazes levelly back at me with a slight smile on her face.
I ask. “Linda Ravenwolf’!”
Ravenwolf,” she corrects me. I peer closely at her face and say. “I want to remember: dark brown hair: caramel colored eyes at the corners.” Her straight hair is parted in the middle; the top, on both sides is a bit crinkly. She is wearing a brown shirt with multicolored trim.
I ask, “Are you lucid? Will you remember this dream?” Linda wrinkles her nose to consider and replies. “I just fed him. Probably not deep enough.”
“Deep enough?” I repeat
“Yes, you know,” she responds, gesturing down and up with her right hand to indicate a trough. I think she’s referring to REM sleep curves.
I sent the dream to Linda and she replied by mail, “The meat market counters filled with vegetables--I have almost completely stopped eating meat lately...That night I got up to gorge on some leftover guacamole. I had some trouble getting to sleep. Got too excited over some ideas...
“A dark-haired woman has appeared in several dreams this year. She’s helping me get my beliefs and feelings clear. She looks Latin American, but we don’t speak Spanish in the dreams...
“I often wrinkle my nose when ‘considering,’ and I have a slight smile: even when I’m very happy and amused, I seldom smile big.”
Further, Linda told me that “‘Linda’ really doesn’t go with ‘Ravenwolf’”; Ravenwolf was a pseudonym she used for writing: her birth name is Linda Reneau.
It’s important to note that at the time of the dream, neither of us had met, except through brief written correspondence which did not include any of this information. I had seen a black and white photo of Linda, in which she wore long straight hair and bangs. Though not recorded, I recall wondering in the dream why her dreamself didn’t have bangs.
“My hair is long, and I often use a curling iron to put some wave right on top.” Linda continued. “Just a slight wave, which falls to either side. I wear bangs- did I have bangs in the dream? I don’t like them, but I wear them here because without them my face is too long. I’d like to do away with them, however. (Wonder what beliefs lie under them?)”
This brings up the intriguing notion that a dreamer might be in touch with the targeted person’s idealized version of themselves rather than their waking state appearance. The malleable ability of dreamers to become different people even in lucid dreams complicates the situation even further. Which “who” is the target?
Realization that the dream is a visionary facade requires using other tools to determine in-dream correspondence. Lucidity has the advantage of heightening all the dreamer’s senses. The feeling tones of the dream character may prove a more valid indicator of connection.
More recently, in Shared Dreaming, an ongoing project involving dreamworkers from across the continent, including artist Eric Snyder. I dreamt the following on a target night:
In the midst of flickering hypnagogic, I seem to recognize Eric Snyder. This brings me to lucidity and at the same time I “freeze” his facial image in order to start a dream. Even though his appearance is that of my brother Ken in his twenties, I address him as if he were Enc. He replies a mumble of which I catch only the name, “Jeremy Taylor”. The effort to hold onto the dream is too much and I wake,
Was I really in touch with Eric, I wondered. If so, why superimpose the image of my brother Ken atop his? I held off drawing conclusions until I received the next batch of dreams. Eric had included a dream about four dreamworkers. One was me. Two others are not members of the Project, although Eric knows them. They were Jeremy Taylor and Ken Kelzer.
Donahoe, James J., “Shared Dreams”, Dream Network Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1982): 1,6.
Fox, Oliver, Astral Projection (New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1980), p. 47.
Hart, Hornell, “Reciprocal Dreams”, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 41 (1933): 234-240.
Magallón, Linda, “The Lucidity Project: An Experiment in Group Dreaming”, Dream Network Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 5 (1985): 10-11.
Magallón, Linda, and Shor, Barbara, “Shared Dreaming”, Landscapes of the Night ed. by Stanley Krippner (Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, in press).
Reed, Henry, “Dreaming For Your Neighbor”. The Omni WholeMind Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 11 (1988): 7.
Szot, Francis Louis, “Communal Lucid Dreaming: An Introductory Technique,” Lucidity Letter, Vol. 7, No, 2: 93-96.
Taub-Bynum, E. Bruce, The Family Unconscious, (Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1984).
Ullman, Montague and Stanley Krippner. Dream Telepathy, (New York: MacMillan Publishing Col, 1973).
Ullman, Montague. “Psi Communication Through Dream Sharing”. Proceedings of Communication and Parapsychology Conference, (1979): 202-227.
Van de Castle, Robert, “Our Dreaming Mind,” Handbook of Parapsychology, (1977).
Christian M. Bouchet
Oneiric Lucidity as a Means of Finding an Evaluation Criterion of
Mental “Health”, Highlighting the Notion of Oneiric Health
The study of the relation between mental health and oneiric lucidity is an important part of the research on lucid dreaming. Perhaps because most of the researchers in this area are psychologists, and that the possibility of using a new and efficient tool for psychotherapeutic practices is important to them.
We know the evidence for a relation between lucid dreaming and psychic equilibrium is circumstantial. Some subjects, with strong psychological problems, dream lucidly, regularly and spontaneously, while apparently well balanced subjects do not succeed in their attempts to induce lucidity. The contrary is also true. This leads us to the following remark: lucid dreaming is not in itself an indicator of mental health. Nevertheless, we know that it can contribute to the recovering of one’s psychic equilibrium, by following an appropriate method.
Garfield’s, LaBerge’s and Tholey’s works have demonstrated the usefulness of such methods which suggests that an indicator of mental health can be found with the help of a specific method. I will suggest the following hypothesis: since oneiric lucidity allows us to observe dream phenomena directly, it should be possible to discover from within the dream, in the course of the dream itself, an indicator of mental health. Such an indicator must be able to be found in any lucid dream, whatever its contents. We know indeed that this hypothesis is proved correct regarding unpleasant dreams, which show clearly that the dreamer has a psychic conflict. During a nightmare, for instance, a dreamer might recover lucidity to compel himself to wake up or to confront his dream. These are “extreme” cases and do not represent the common type of lucid dream in which conflicts are rather unusual. The content of the common type of lucid dreams does not allow evaluation at first sight of the dreamer’s degree of psychical equilibrium.
Hereafter I shall analyze the “harmless” lucid dreams. I do not wish to consider mental health in terms of pathology. My aim is more modest. It concerns, above all, “health”. (I would like to insist on the word “health” because curiously we refer to it only when we are sick.) Therefore, I shall not describe the way to use oneiric lucidity to overcome any serious psychical problems. But I shall use some examples to illustrate how to determine the degree of mental health. In other words, I am looking for an evaluation criterion for mental health with the help of oneiric lucidity.
The Origin of the Notion of an Evaluation Criterion
Mental Health in Lucid Dreaming
To explain what I mean, I must first explain how I came to this idea. I shall rely on a lucid dream of Patricia Garfield’s related in Pathway to Ecstasy, entitled “The Great Steering Wheel”:
The day is bright and beautiful. I’m driving my car down a street in San Francisco, where I live. It’s an ordinary city scene on an ordinary sunny, windy day, and I’m thinking ordinary thoughts about some arrangements I must make for a contractor to inspect a house we want to buy (all current events). I whiz along the street, feeling the wind blowing hard.
At that moment, for some unknown reason, I realize that it’s not an ordinary day, place, or feeling: I am in a dream. Still driving, I command: “Up!” and my body lifts from the ground. The car is gone. I now whiz through the air as I lie on my stomach about ten or fifteen feet above the earth. I’m no longer driving but I still grasp the upper part or the steering wheel, which has become huge, a great circle. I hold the top rim, and the lower part rests on my thighs, above the knees. I feel the sun and the wind. I see the pavement clearly as I sail along. Everything is sharp, bright. It’s a glorious sensation. I ask myself, “Are you happy?” and I know that I am. “And you know you’re dreaming?” and I know that I am. I start to wonder what to do with this lovely lucidity as I zip through the air with the sun and wind in my face. However, the scene fades, like a light dimming, and suddenly I’m awake in bed.
This lucid dream is “typical” as it shows several characteristics that are common to most lucid dreams and that have not been well examined.
1. The “I don’t know what to do” in lucid dreaming. The first surprising detail in Garfield’s dream, if we think about it, is the following remark: “I start to wonder what to do with this lovely lucidity”. There are two different ways of understanding this question in the dream: 1) with respect to the dream itself and 2) with respect to the dreamer’s consciousness. Garfield’s dream can be understood in both ways.
In the first case, the dream can be included in the dreamer’s everyday life through interpretation, as underlined by Garfield:
True, in symbolic terms, ‘The Great Steering Wheel” dream was ordinary enough, and understandable. At the time I had this dream, I was (as I am now) living with my beloved husband in a splendid city. My days were full and mostly happy: I felt able to resolve whatever problems confronted me. Furthermore, my career was advancing. I had just finished writing my first book and was busy with plans for its forthcoming publication. As a symbolic expression of satisfaction with the way I was “steering” myself through life, this dream is straightforward indeed.
Garfield’s dream is first of all a reflection of her existence in waking life: emergence of lucidity demonstrates an access to a new dimension of her existence. Nonetheless, the dream must also be understood in relation to the dreamer’s consciousness (which is manifested here in oneiric lucidity). As any typical “situation dream”, it shows a new situation, to the dreamer. Commonly, a dreamer does not ask himself what to do. He is completely taken in by his dream, like a man awake busy with his daily life (for example going to work, answering mail, the telephone. etc.. all kinds of activities that do not make us think of what we are doing, but how we are doing it). On the other hand a lucid dreamer is confused by his freedom, like a poor man would be on suddenly receiving a huge amount of money. This new situation needs adaptation.
This question, asked by Garfield, is often repeated by persons who have obtained oneiric lucidity through a method of induction. They tell themselves: “When I dream, now I know that it is a dream. But what do I do now?”
Thus, Garfield’s question should not surprise us. Reaching lucid dreaming is like penetrating into an unexplored area. At some time, a need for a map of the new territory is felt by the dreamer.
Nevertheless, although these two explanations are correct in their context, they do not lake into account another element: the difference between a natural lucid dreamer and one who becomes a lucid dreamer by learning. Let’s take the example of someone who used to have lucid dreams without knowing it and examine what it teaches us about the freedom of action in his dreams.
I was myself a lucid dreamer without knowing it, until I read Garfield’s first book, Creative Dreaming. When I had lucid dreams, I merely noted the fact. I assumed sometimes that I was in “the astral world” but this was, for me, a vague term, without any precise meaning. like the literature itself concerned with this term, I did not ask myself: “What am I going to do now?” Instead I saw myself acting with great determination. I was, in fact, the conscious witness, but not the actor of my own deeds. This state of things changed after reading Garfield’s book.
Having completed the book, I said to myself: “I know how to do that”. And I laid down to obtain a lucid dream and got one immediately. However something had changed! To be able to appreciate this change, let us view this lucid dream that had been “provoked”.
(The distorted room, lucid dream, 1981). (I am lying on my back on the bed in my room). Images floating in front of my eyes. I fall asleep and from time to time I am half-awake...
I attempt to go out of my body by sliding towards my feet but something holds me back and wants me to come back. I feel I have an elastic body, and I can stretch my feet farther than possible, like rubber, and now I try to go out of my body from my feet. I hold on. But the minute I let myself go, it starts again. Still like rubber I feel myself being brought back. Well. I let this happen because I tell myself that my subconscious knows better than me what I need. I get back into my body and turn suddenly on my side and go out again. This time I touch the ground next to the bed, I know that I am conscious in a dream, more than ever because everything around me is totally deformed. The objects and the window are very curiously distorted. I am caught between the table and the cupboard. The disposition of my room is very strange, like a labyrinth. I know that it is a dream and start by getting my view into harmony because I sense that my arms are distorted. I don’t see my hands in their usual place. The accommodation of my eyes is done as if I was focusing on a projector, then everything falls into place except for the labyrinth which is still there. Then I try to make someone come from the labyrinth, to make an oneirical character appear. (A call from outside wakes me at this moment).
In my dream diary, following this narration, there is a series of remarks, of which two of these explain the change in the “quality” of my oneiric lucidity.
1) My initial intention was to have a lucid dream. Just before lying down, I had finished the book by Patricia Garfield, Creative Dreaming, and desired to have these sort of dreams more regularly. But, once asleep, I spontaneously tried in a state of semi-consciousness to “go out” (of my body). For me, these two things are related. Very often, to induce a lucid dream I strive to go out of my body, which means that I start this dream in a state of semi-lucidity which becomes totally lucid once I have “gone out.”
2) In my view one sentence should be given particular attention: “Well, I let this happen because I tell myself that my subconscious knows better than me what I need. I get back into my body and turn suddenly on my side and go out again.”
Almost instinctively I outsmarted myself. Something inside me refused this experience. I did as if I had given up and almost immediately I turned on my side to “go out”, taking myself by surprise.
This second point is remarkable in this respect: it was if I was two, as if the old spectator wanted to become the actor, and was obliged to fight against the one he wanted to take the place of. This point of view is confirmed by the first remark which specifies that I wanted to apply my usual method of “going out of my body”, in spite of the fact that I was totally conscious that I was in a lucid dream, and not out of my body. Here there is a confusion between the types of action (i.e., between that of the spectator and that of the actor).
Which leads to the following idea: The state of “not knowing what to do” in a lucid dream is not quite normal. It is the result of a substitution of a mode of action (active consciousness) into a mode of being (observing consciousness). This difference (between mode of action vs. mode of being) is not noticed until the change begins. But once the change has taken place, a sort of disarray could overcome the consciousness which does not know how to use itself. This process is in itself the consequence of a retroactivity with waking life, especially when lucid dreaming is the result of learning. No doubt I would not have taken a nap to have a lucid dream (oneiric life) that day, if I had not read Garfield (in my waking life). The more important the retroactivity becomes, the more problems arise to the lucid dreamer, problems which do not concern the dream itself nor waking life but the passage from one to the other. This passage takes place in a conscious state and requires the dreamer to adapt himself to a totally new situation,
2. Bright colors and shades of grey. Another point strikes me in Garfield’s dream as it does with most other dreams described by oneironauts. “Everything is sharp, bright” she says. “It’s a glorious sensation”. Stephen LaBerge, in his Lucid Dreaming, described it in the same way: In general the lucid dream seems to be more perceptually vivid than the non-lucid dream.
LaBerge’s choice of wording “in general” is apt, because in fact we can have lucid dreams of different types: bright colors or very dull colors or even faded, for instance: total absence of images coupled with paralysis. In fact LaBerge gives an example of a dream of this type in Lucid Dreaming. “I slept very well indeed, and after seven and a half hours in bed had my first lucid dream in the lab. A moment before, I had been dreaming--but then I suddenly realized that I must be asleep because I couldn’t see, feel or hear anything. I recalled with delight that I was sleeping in the laboratory...”
As indicated in the passage, the lucid dream is not necessarily colored and the perceptions are not always felt strongly. Therefore the quality of perceptions cannot be taken into consideration as a typical characteristic of lucid dreaming.
On the other hand the question of the relation between the degree of vividness and color of a dream and the problem of “not knowing what to do” or how to act” are not asked in dull lucid dreams but appear more and more as the dreams get brighter and brighter. I will analyze this phenomenon later. For the moment I would like to give a few examples.
(To escape from my body, lucid dream, 1981). I am lying on my bed turned to my right, curled up, but my inner body goes back into a lying position. I strive to release myself from the side to go out of my body and fall into the darkness. I start crawling away from my body and avoid being taken back by it. I cross a place near the door of my room where there are electric wires. I hope to get far away from the room by crossing the next room.
(“Be Good”, lucid dream, 1981). (I am lying on my bed). I try to get out of my body. I feel that I am being held back by a rubber band. I reach the balcony. (It’s night outside). Everything is solid, except for the window, when I want to pass through it. I remind myself that I should look at my body. I throw a passing glance (behind me in my room), clinging to the rails of the balcony, and I see a form under the blanket. A funny sensation.
I continue to move down the balcony towards the Palais de Chaillot. Near the kitchen I can see a brightly lit apartment, and men who appear to be businessmen standing in it. My physical body tries to get me back...(Pieces of semi-lucid dreams follow).
When I find myself in my body and try to get out, a voice inside me tells me not to do this. I ask with an anxious voice: “Why, is it dangerous?” The voice replies: “Be good”.
(Opening towards the unknown, lucid dream, 1981). My room (seen from my bed) is open to mysteries more than in the ordinary world. (On the left, the window side, things are as usual, but to the right, towards the door, plunged in total obscurity there is an opening towards the unknown which I feel, is intensely deep). To go out of my body I don’t force myself but just repeat that I can do it.
All these dreams have one thing in common: they are “initial” dreams. They start in the room, in the bed. In these cases it is quite frequent that the dream starts by a total paralysis which gives a feeling of “going out of body experience”. Here we are dealing with falling asleep consciously, either in the beginning of the night or just after waking up in the night. In this type of dream, it is either night or dark, and the colors are not particularly outstanding. They appear only once the dreamer has left his room. As long as he stays near his bed, everything is greyish. As soon as he goes out of his house the colors appear. The following is a dream which shows this type of transition from a world without colors to a world full of colors.
(Side-track, lucid dream, 1982). I ask to go out of my body. I leave my bed and go through the window of my room which has disappeared just as I passed through it. This takes place during the night in my room, but it is different outside, it is bright daylight. It is a beautiful day. I am flying over the avenue, and the buildings take on a magnificent aspect that I did not know before. In fact I do not really recognize what is in front of my eyes, the neighborhood has changed. I want to fly down a road (or a boulevard), but am carried away by my own momentum I take another direction towards another boulevard. My flying speed is such that I cannot avoid a building which is in my way. I rush into a garage, without wanting to, the opening of which looks like an obscure big rectangle. I continue my flight up in the building and from time to time I see lights flickering through the windows which make me feel that I am in a courtyard. Then everything becomes black. Finally I see a staircase...
In this dream, like in many others, the passage from the room to the outside is the passage from obscurity towards light: “This takes place during the night in my room, but it is different outside, it is bright daylight. It is a beautiful day.” On the contrary the way from outside to inside is the one from the lightness to the darkness: “I rush into a garage, without wanting to, the opening of which looks like a big dark rectangle...Everything becomes black.” Is this characteristic of “initial dreams” unique to me? What makes me think that these are not the secondary characteristics that I share with other lucid dreamers who have these “initial dreams”.
One of these secondary characteristics is the feeling that my oneiric body is stuck to my physical body as if with a big rubber band. This tension remains strong in a certain area (my room and a pan of the apartment) and is sometimes associated with complete or partial blindness. The tension which pulls me back stops when I have crossed the limit of the area, and then I get my (oneiric) sight back. (Or more precisely it’s only at this moment that I realize that I see although I was already seeing, but not consciously. This phenomenon is difficult to explain, slightly similar to the sudden awakening which follows the becoming aware of the hypnagogic imagery which nevertheless lasted for quite some time). It’s also beyond this area that colors begin to appear.
This point seems to me particularly important because it emphasizes an opposition between a dull oneiric world, where one feels impeded, and a colorful oneiric world, where one feels free to move (especially to fly), such that one does not know what to do with one’s freedom. The difference between impediment and freedom is the same as between grey and color. This freedom manifests itself by holding (or not holding) some oneiric elements which give way to the freedom of moving. There is no freedom in emptiness, but it increases with the amount of information in a given situation.
For example in an “initial dream” where I was going out of my body, I found myself in darkness. I was more or less feeling without seeing it, the room around me, and I crossed the door to be in the corridor. But I had the feeling that I was moving into thick syrup, as if I was an insect caught in glue and desperately fighting to escape, and I was thinking that if this was the condition after death, to die would not be something very pleasant. This dream illustrates the secondary characteristics already mentioned but to an extreme stage: complete darkness, and almost total impediment.
The difference between this lucid dream and Garfield’s, is obvious here: I did not have the opportunity to wonder “what to do”. What was most urgent was to get out of there!
Here the question “what to do” is not to be asked, in spite of the presence of lucidity, because there is an urgent problem to solve. In other words the question of “what to do” indicates freedom of action, and, most of the time, takes place in a colorful world.
3. The problem of the “prior condition”. But things are not always so simple thus it is necessary to make some distinctions. In some lucid dreams we know there is something to be done. In other lucid dreams we have all the liberty to do what we want. But in some of them we have to do something but we don’t realize it due to the retroactivity previously mentioned (which introduces into consciousness irrelevant choices). In my opinion this is the case of lucid dreams followed by false awakenings. Especially when the false awakening is of the type in which the individual dreams they have awakened and proceed to think about the just finished lucid dream.
A possible objection to my above argument is that my conception of liberty is in fact a property of the situation and not the state of consciousness, which is such that the dreamer can take whichever decision he wants. Thus it could be argued that even in the “grey stage”, the lucid dreamer being lucid can make a decision--which implies freedom. But in fact quantity of available information seriously limits the decision(s) the dreamer can make (and therefore the freedom of the dreamer).
For a long time, during some “out-of-body” dreams, I could not leave my room. (Afterwards I read that Robert Monroe had gone through the same difficulty; he imputed it to a psychological problem). Being a lucid dreamer, why could my decisions not change? I tried many things: to smash a window, to go through the wall. Sometimes it worked, but I frequently had the same problem when the lucid dream was an “initial dream” (and was experienced as an “out-of-body experience”).
Why was I going through this difficulty? No doubt something could be done to get over it. But I did not have the information which would have helped me to take the right decision as I realized soon afterwards,
To be clearer, I will make a comparison. Before being able to go down a skiing-track, first we have to take the lift to go up. A lucid dreamer can be in a situation where, to get a result, he has, first, to go through an intermediate stage. For example, to get out of my room in a dream, I needed a prior condition. But I had no problem to do other things which did not require a prior condition: for instance, to move into my room or to get into another dream.
Let’s go back to our skiing. A skier in his chalet decides to go down a skiing-track. Let’s imagine that he is a beginner and that his chalet is down the skiing track but higher than the city. If, by ignorance, he does not fulfill a prior condition, which is to take the lift he will never succeed even if he has made a firm decision. On the other hand he can always do something else which does not require such a prior condition: for example to talk around the city. But if the door of his house is blocked by snow, then the prior condition will be the same as that of the ski or the outing in the city. If he is not aware of the problem, he is stuck for both activities.
In the same way, in lucid dreaming, we can consider that there are either more and more specific prior conditions, or more and more general prior conditions.
This idea of a prior condition became obvious for me during an out-of-the-body dream. In this dream the prior condition was the quality of the oneiric surroundings and was discovered by chance, I was floating outside in front of a building like a flying kite. I was called back by my body, or my room, struck by the idea that I lacked certain energy to make my “journey” last. At the same time I was getting in my oneiric mind the Castaneda’s notion of “power”. Garfield talks about the energy which is circulating inside her oneiric body during lucid dreaming. This energy is most probably a necessary condition, a “prior” condition which must be fulfilled to go out of a room in a dream.
So the question became: when a lucid dream does not progress satisfactorily (apart from an impossibility which would be peculiar to lucid dreaming) how does one know what is wrong and which condition must be fulfilled first to improve future dreams?
This prior condition seemed to be of internal character, but not discernable in waking life, just as we cannot distinguish a lucid dreamer from a non-lucid dreamer on an electroencephalographic printout (except of course in the case of voluntary ocular signals). But this question was transformed in its turn because the existence of these unresolved prior conditions seemed to indicate what could be called “psychic and energetic blockages” due to lack of information. In combining the three factors, l.) freedom of action, 2.) colors, and 3.) prior conditions, it appeared that we have arrived at criteria for evaluating mental health.
Determination of the Level of Oneiric Mental Health Health
We now have to specify how oneiric lucidity can help us to appraise the various elements which have been identified above as criteria for mental health: 1) liberty of action, 2) quality of the surrounding light and colors, 3) previously obstructed situations. Is it enough to record the presence of these elements and, should the occasion arise, test their “resistance”? To do so, we must have a standard, a norm for mental health. We must know what is mental health.
1. Direct and indirect appreciation of mental and physiological health. It would probably be more exact to say that we do not know what is mental health, even if we have an intuitive idea of it for ourselves, We have no criteria to define mental health satisfactorily. Its definition is often shown by negation in the shape of the description of one’s behavior. That is, in waking life, some kinds of behavior show that mental health is impaired but there is not behavior that definitively indicates good mental health. In general, we know when we are not well, but we are never sure that everything goes right!
It is not the same for physiological health that is defined as a good physiological state when the human body works regularly and harmoniously for a long period. In this case, the organs may be observed medically by technical means. The observation is thus objective.
During waking life, then, we have an objective appreciation of physiological health, and a subjective appreciation of mental health through the observations of behavior,
Now the state of lucid dreaming, the schema is reversed. We have a “subjective” appreciation of physiological health and an “objective” appreciation of mental health. This assertion has a meaning if we call “objective” what is directly observable, and “subjective” what needs an interpretation.
Several instances in literature on lucid dreaming show that the appreciation of physiological health is not “direct”. We must remember that in dreams physiological illness is more often not seen as it is, but represented or acted out. In spite of this, taking some dream action with regard to the representation can allow a change in the physiological problem itself, which is rather surprising. It is rather like in waking life: directly modifying neurotic behavior allows one to act on the underlying neurosis. In both cases, we act on the sign of the thing to reach the thing itself.
On the contrary, in oneirical psychic life, it is not necessary to act on the signs of a lucid dream for the elements of a lucid dream are those of mental health. The freedom of acting during a dream is an obvious criterion of mental health. But as it is not easily appraised, it would be easier to seek a corollary in lucid dreaming: the absence or the presence of colors. One can even, afterwards, go further and make a parallel between the degrees of colors and those of mental health.
2. Waking Mental Health and Oneiric Mental Health. We must notice another point: even if the appreciation of freedom and colors gives an evaluation of mental health in dreams, we can’t use this fact in waking life. This criterion is effectively concerned with mental health during a dream that is to say dreaming mental life (oneiric mental life).
It would appear to be impossible to contest the fact that dreaming mental health and waking mental health are connected. But are the criteria of evaluation the same? The comparison can be done at another level: If we try to compare mental health and physiological health without taking into account their connections, can we put them in parallel? Do mental organs and organism exist? And if yes, are they observable? By what means?
We can already answer the first question: these mental “organs” exist, or more exactly we have their trace in the shape of symbols, rather like the physicist who observes the trace (or finds the equation) of an elementary particle without ever watching the particle itself. As for the interconnections that would constitute a mental structure (organism), the events represent their impulse.
The system of comparison between physiological health and mental health of waking life applies in turn to the connections between mental waking life and mental dreaming life. It is indeed striking, if one works on waking dreaming, to find out the differences of process between the two types of mental life. We are thus compelled to consider them as belonging to separate fields. However, analogical structures remain.
Notice the following phenomenon: in some cases it seems possible to solve problems of physiological health by acting on mental life. The opposite is more delicate, to change mental life itself, as it needs a wider view. It implies the necessity to remain outside mental life. This kind of wider view is what the lucid dreamer takes when he is able to realize that his dream is a lucid one, From that point of view, it seems logical that a psychological change gained through lucid dreaming may have effects on waking mental life, as mental transformations in waking life may have effects on the body.
It seems that the main process is the transformation of dream contents by a kind of turning over: Images become symbols and sequences become events.
3. The Observer’s Position. To make this turning over work, keeping a distance is necessary. Marquis Hervey de Saint Denys’s Les Rêveset les Moyens les diriger gives us the example of the same problem viewed in dreams from two different aspects. In one case, the problem is incorporated by the dreamer while, in the other case, it is kept at a distance (refer to the narration of these two dreams in the appendix). In “the dream of the gargoyle”, Hervey de Saint-Denys is facing a devil which has a wound in its shoulder, while in “the dream of the shoulder” his shoulder is painful and he is suffering during the dream from different kinds of shocks. If we adopt the position in which each element of the dream is the dreamer itself we will have to admit that the devil is part of Hervey de Saint-Denys. In this case the image of the devil, and consequently of its wounded shoulder, is kept at a distance: it turns into a symbol, without of course losing its image quality. On the contrary in the second dream this image (which becomes a synaesthetic sensation) is experienced and therefore incorporated. In both dreams there is a fairly high degree of displacement but their outcome is very different.
The appraisal of mental health during lucid dreaming looks like the test of lucidity during a pre-lucid dream (that is to say a dream where one does not succeed in stating if it is a dream or not). To be able to decide if a dream is lucid, the dreamer goes through a set of tests like switching on lights, jumping from a chair, etc. In the present case, we are no longer testing lucidity. For us, its principle is acquired. We have only to set into motion the elements mentioned above. A systematic study is yet to be done and one can only suggest ideas of what can be done:
1. Setting a value on surrounding light and colors, evaluating their change with regard to the distance from the starting point, being able or not to make them more or less bright.
2. Appraising the freedom of action and its evolution from the starting point.
3. Seeking the previous condition that allows one to get out from a situation, which may demand several lucid dreams. For instance, from what distance or starting point does, a lamp, that does not want to light up, end up by lighting up?
This data must be modified by taking into account the observer’s position. Will it be judicious for example to incorporate a symbol or, by contrast keep a distance from an image? The methodical study of the psychical changes obtained by lucid dreamers as they attempt the above (and other related exercises) will teach us a lot about the process of changing psychic life.
Will we succeed in understanding the nature of the process itself? To be lucid in dreaming does not at all mean that we understand how a dream is made. On the contrary, the dreamer is rather astonished by what he lives in his dream and by what he is able to do in it. Maybe the methodical changes obtained by lucid dreamers will help us to understand partly the nature of this process of transformation.
In this appendix, are given two dreams of Hervey de Saint-Denys that illustrate two possible points of view for a same oneiric phenomenon. In “the dream of the Gargoyle” the Marquis is confronted with an oneiric image which shows a wounded shoulder -- this image is thus kept aloof -- , while in “the dream of the shoulder”, he has a direct perception of this path. The difference of point of view does not require a relation between these two dreams; however it is difficult not to briefly examine the given correlation.
One of the most dramatic lucid dreams of Hervey de Saint-Denys - and also one of the most famous could be titled “The Dream of the Gargoyle”. In this recurring nightmare, the marquis is “pursued by horrible monsters” worthy of Lovecraft. He gets rid of them as he returns to oneiric lucidity. This dream is fascinating for more than one reason, especially because it is a typical use of lucidity working on an aggressive dream, and because it illustrates the use of lucidity that two opposite schools make to fight against nightmares. I would like to quote this dream extensively because, like most famous texts, it is unfortunately ill-known through having been so often quoted. But as we will see, it shows surprising characteristics which could interest the researcher more than the historian.
The Dream of the Gargoyle
(I) I did not realize I was dreaming, and I thought I was being chased by abominable monsters. I was running away from them through a series of rooms, having each time difficulty opening the doors between the rooms, and when I managed to close one, I heard it being opened behind me by these horrible creatures who were trying to catch me, and were making dreadful noises, I felt that they were catching up with me; I woke up with a start, breathless and wet with sweat.
(II) I do not know what the origin and starting point of this dream was; it is probably that some pathological cause was behind it the first time, but after that, and several times over a six week period, it obviously came back because of the strong impression it had made on me, and because of the instinctive fear I had of seeing it come back. If I found myself alone in a room in a dream, the memory of this dreadful scene was immediately awakened; I would glance at the door, and the thought of that which I so feared to see appear had the precise effect of making it appear, the same spectacle and the same terrors came back. I was all the more affected when I awakened by the fact that, as if by a sort of fatality, this awareness of my situation I had during my dreams, was lacking in the case of this particular dream.
(III) One night, however, the fourth time it reappeared, and just when my persecutors were about to begin their chase, all of a sudden a feeling of truth came into my mind, a desire to fight these images gave me enough strength to overcome my instinctive fear. Instead of running away, and by an effort of will obviously very characteristic in this situation, I leaned against the wall and resolved to take a good look at the phantoms I had previously only glimpsed, rather than actually seen. The initial shock was quite violent, I admit, such difficulty the mind has, even if forewarned, to fight off such a fearful image. I looked directly at the first aggressor who looked like one of those prickly grimacing demons one sees sculptured on cathedral, and my desire to understanding won out over emotions, I was able to observe the following: the terrible monster stopped a few steps ahead of me, whistling and leaping, in a way which became ridiculous as soon as it was no longer terrifying. I noticed that there were seven clearly defined claws on one of its hands or paws, whichever they should be called. His eyebrows, a wound he appeared to have on its shoulder, and a number of other details were perfectly clear and made this one, one of the clearest visions I had. Was it a recollection of some gothic bas-relief? In any case my imagination had added movement and color to it. I had paid so much attention to this central figure that the others appeared to have vanished into thin air. The monster itself appeared to slow down, become less clear, appear woolly, and change gradually into a sort of floppy corpse, like those faded costumes you see on stalls which sell disguises at carnival time. There were a few more insignificant images, and I woke up.1
The text has been divided into three parts;
(I) A description of the causes of ordinary dream process: chase-escape-awakening.
(II) Observations of the causes of the dream: pathological causes and fear.
(III) Lucid dreaming and use of lucidity; facing the aggressor.
The most striking fact in this dream is its “classical” character which signifies inner conflict for modem psychologists, whereas Hervey de Saint-Denys only attributes it to circumstances, probably of physiological origin like those in the nightmares discussed by Winsor McCay2: “It is likely that a pathological cause was at the origin initially” (II). By “pathological cause” one should understand “organic disorder”. Hervey do Saint-Denys gives the example of an orientalist who dreamed that he was walking on water each time that his cook put oil in his food without his knowing it.3
1 (1867) Hervey de Saint-Denys. Les rêveset les moyens les diriger. Paris: Tchou. 1964. pp. 245-7. (Editor’s Note: For the material referenced in this note and also in some of the subsequent notes, copies of the original French versions and a first English translation are available to scholars from the senior editor.)
2 Winsor McCay is the author of Little Nemo in Slumberland.
3(1867) Hervey de Saint-Denys. Les rêveset les moyens les diriger. Paris: Tchou. 1964. p. 300. (Against fat! I can finally quote a very curious communication which was
Hervey de Saint-Denys even goes as far as distinguishing between various types of correlations between dreams and physical sensations in formulating the two following hypotheses:
…what connection can one imagine there to be between a rocky shore and a migraine, between morphine and visions of wild beasts, between the introduction of a bit of grease into a stomach and the idea of walking in water? Could it be a coincidence that having established a connection between a morbid sensation one night, and a dream one happens to have that same night, that a reappearance of that same dream would bring back the same sensation? Or are there strange analogies amongst internal sensations, which might account for certain nerve reactions, certain internal movements in our bodies corresponding to impressions which seem so different?
In the first case, the correlation between a given dream and a given physical disorder would be fortuitous and different for each individual.
In the second hypothesis, on the contrary, experience could reveal unchanging and mysterious affinities the knowledge of which would become a real science. 1
The “real science” which would result from the knowledge of these constant and “mysterious affinities” should be worked out in relation with work on hallucinations as this type of correlation appears with acuteness in the “dream of the shoulder” (quoted below).
The following text specifies the way he faces this study:
There are some dreams that are common to all men. Physiologists generally agree to place the causes in the sensations produced by the more or less natural effect of the functions of heart and stomach. This being due to an erroneous appreciation by the mind of these sensations. Typical of such dreams are those in which one feels one is flying, jumping with great ease, going down flights of stairs in a few steps, or, on the contrary, those in which we feel we are held back by an invisible force and cannot accomplish the simplest tasks.
reported to me very recently by one of our most famous orientalists, a scholarly professor and first class philologist. He does not like food prepared with fat. He thinks it is bad for health, and strongly forbids the use of fat in his home. However, his cook did not share the same idea. She was in the main less strict, and thought that from time to time small quantity of the prohibited substance could be subtly introduced into the food without Sir realizing it. Here was her big mistake. It was true that he could not realize it on the same day; but a mysterious message was inevitably given to him during the following night. The next morning the cook was called; she vainly tried to deny the facts to her master. Her master stopped her short with these words: “Rosalie, I dreamt last night that I was walking on the water.”
The smallest quantity of fat had the inevitable result of making the scientist dream that he was forced to go on foot across flooded grounds, marshes or rice fields. He had noticed that he never had this dream without his cook admitting that it had been motivated. She admitted as well that this stubborn dream had never failed to betray her when she was in a situation deserving reprimand.)
1 (1867) Hervey de Saint-Denys. Les rêveset les moyens les diriger. Paris; Tchou.
1964. p. 301.
I feel that experience would not only enable us to prove psycho-organic correlations in each of this type of dream, but also that serious interpretations of many others would provide us with a key to dreams, if we could assemble and study a sufficient number of examples.
We feel at times in life nervous annoyances accompanied by a physical sensation which is much like what we feel when we try to do some precise small bit of work and our fingers cannot manage it, or when we see people clumsily undertaking some delicate job. If we have dreams where we do or see such things, might not the cause very likely be some morbid agitation of our nervous system? I give this example as a specimen amongst numerous others, which it would be worth exploring.1
For Hervey de Saint-Denys “the dream of the gargoyle” fits perfectly into this pattern. In the text which follows the one we quoted and which deals explicitly with the correlation between dreams and physiological problems, it is stated: “The simple fact of a dream or a type of dream being repeated persistently. is the indication of a state of suffering for which it is worth seeking the cause”. This suffering can be physical or “moral”, In (II) Hervey de Saint-Denys states, concerning the “dream of the gargoyle”: “But after that, and several times over a period of six weeks, it was obviously brought back by the simple fact of the impression it had left on me, and by the fear I instinctively had to see it come back”. In spite of the fact that he does not take the organic hypothesis into account concerning the repetition of the dream, he does not suppose that this fear can have an origin other than the impression the dream made on him. But is this necessarily the case?
It would be too easy to criticize Hervey de Saint-Denys’ understanding of his own dream in the light of what we know today about the way the subconscious functions. Such criticism would only be valid if we found in Hervey de Saint-Denys elements which permit a different interpretation. We seem to find such an element in a dream described by this author and which involves interesting correlations with “the dream of the gargoyle”, but when we examine it more closely, we see that if it introduces questions concerning a possible pathological cause, this is not sufficient.
If we apply a gestalt approach which maintains that each element of the dream is the dreamer, we can suggest the hypothesis that the prickly, grimacing monster is Hervey de Saint-Denys. Let us turn back to the passage in question (III): “I looked at the main aggressor ... I noted ... a wound which he appeared to have on the shoulder, and a multitude of other details which make this vision among the most lucid.” The monster has a wound on his shoulder, as indicated in the phrase in italics. Another dream presented by the author speaks specifically, in a clearer manner, of a wound he had on his own shoulder.
The Dream of the Shoulder
A piece of wood having fallen on my shoulder, I had applied some medicine which contained belladonna to calm the pain of the deep bruise. At first I had several short dreams in which I thought I was carrying a heavy gun on my shoulder, Lifting the corner of a heavy painting someone was trying to hand, etc. Towards the morning, I had the following dream:
I was traveling and had arrived wherever I was going. I looked for a place to stay, walking around with a suitcase on my shoulder, and found no one
1 (1867) Hervey de Saint-Denys. Les rêveset les moyens les diriger. Paris: Tchou. 1964. pp. 301-302.
to carry it or to indicate an inn. I spotted a sign indicating a white horse on a nice looking building, but the door was so low that I had to bead down considerably to go in through a long corridor; in this uncomfortable position I hit my shoulder against the wall several times. Once inside the inn, I am greeted by a young maid who explains that there are many guests and that I will have to stay in one of the rooms upstairs. I accept to take whatever they have and putting my suitcase back on my shoulder, I follow the girl along never ending corridors and stairways. We finally come to a room with a high ceiling like a church with walls from which metal bars protrude horizontally one above the other, serving as handles and steps. “Don’t you trust me and want to follow me?” asks the girl as she begins to climb this ladder, “I will follow you to the end of the world”, I answered. Already I had forgotten about my suitcase, the inn, the room I was to rent. I was overcome by a growing exaltation. This was no longer a maid who was showing me my way, it was a type of heroine, I climbed up easily. As we reached the ledge, my guide rested her hand heavily on my shoulder slipped through a narrow window and invited me to follow her, and showed me at a distance, at the other end of the platform we were crossing, a second climb we would have to undertake. This time it was a mountain which seemed to climb to the sky. There were places where one could grasp onto handles, as there had been in the wall we had already climbed. But this time they were covered over by bushes, roots and irregularities in the rock. My guide gave me her hand to kiss before showing me this new path. I was electrified and set out behind her, unconcerned by the vertiginous heights we were attaining, unimpressed by the tremendous precipice below. I only saw my guide’s slim foot as it gracefully moved ahead, brushing my cheek from time to time; we continued to climb and it seemed to me that my mind, my strength and my exaltation continued to grow. Just before we reached our goal, there was a ledge we had to cross: my guide told me to stay put and she placed her foot on my shoulder in order to climb and then gave me her hand…1
We therefore have two dreams of Hervey de Saint-Denys in which the matter is about a shoulder. Each of these dreams involves extremely intense emotional states, “The dream of the gargoyle” reaches an extreme of horror, and “the dream of the shoulder” involves a height of ecstasy, as illustrated at the end:
I bent over so she could lean completely on me; I was shaking with fear that she might fall into the abyss, where I would not have hesitated to follow her. I felt terrible anguish. Finally, I felt her lift her foot and I helped her: I stood up and observed her unspeakable beauty. The ledge had leveled out, ahead of us lay a beautiful garden, full of light and just for us. I put my arm around the one who had brought me there. My lips met hers. I was overcome by such intense joy that I seemed I would lose my reason. I had no regrets, I sincerely thought I had lost my mind. I said to myself “Madness is happiness”. The intensity of this pleasure woke me up.
The emotional intensity of this dream evokes the reverse of “the dream of the gargoyle”. A lucid dream in which one victoriously confronts an adversary is often associated with what I call a “dream of conclusion” which is not necessarily lucid but
1(1867) Hervey de Saint-Denys. Les rêveset les moyens les diriger. Paris: Tchou. 1964. pp. 303-305.
which reflects a victory in another intense dream, and in which various elements of the psyche attain harmony. This harmonization can take place in the dream of aggression; the first lucid dream described by Stephen LaBerge in Lucid Dreaming is a typical example. I relate to LaBerge’s dream here separately from the conclusion he draws concerning it.
1. Setting of the dream. “As I wandered through a high-vaulted corridor deep within a mighty citadel…I was dreaming!...”
2. Meeting the adversary. “Several hundred years below I could see what appeared to be a fountain surrounded by marble statuary … Towering above the fountain stood a huge and intimidating genie, the Guardian of the Spring, as I somehow immediately knew.”
3. Implied encounter and use of the lucidity. “All my instincts cried out “Flee!”. But I remembered that this terrifying sight was only a dream. Emboldened by the thought, I cast aside fear and flew not away, but straight up to the apparition.”
4. Direct encounter. “As is the way of dreams, no sooner was I within reach than we had somehow become of equal size and I was able to look him in the eyes, face to face. Realizing that my fear had created this terrible appearance, I resolved to embrace what I had been eager to reject, and with open arms and heart I took both his hands in mine,”
5. Conclusion. “As the dream slowly faded, the genie’s power seemed to flow into me, and I awoke filled with vibrant energy. I felt like I was ready for anything.
Notice the similarity between the conclusion of Hervey de Saint-Denys’ and LaBerge’s dreams: “I resolved to embrace what I had been eager to reject, and with open arms and heart I took both his hands in mine” corresponds to “I put my arm around the fairy princess who had brought me there. My lips touched hers”; and “As the dream slowly faded, the genie’s power seemed to flow into me, and I awoke filled with vibrant energy. I felt like I was ready of anything” corresponds to “I was overcome by such intense joy that I seemed I would lose my reason, I had no regrets. I sincerely thought I had lost my mind. I said to myself “Madness is happiness”. The intensity of this pleasure woke me up.”
The presence or the absence of this type of conclusion often indicates whether the lucid dream has fulfilled its role in re-establishing psychic balance after the disturbance indicated by the unpleasant dream. It must be noted that in the case of Hervey de Saint-Denys’ dream, we do not know the order in which he had those dreams. If “the dream of the shoulder” precedes “the dream of the gargoyle” the wound on the monster’s shoulder can be clearly understood, but either the conclusion contained in the shoulder dream would be premature, or it does not refer to “the dream of the gargoyle”. If, as in the book, “the dream of the gargoyle” precedes “the dream of the shoulder”, then the monster’s wound can be considered as anticipatory, not in that it predicts the future, but rather in that it indicates an “element” in the psychic life of Hervey de Saint-Denys which can manifest itself either in a dream, or in waking life. The conclusion of the “dream of the shoulder” would then be in its proper place. But, in the absence of other elements confirming this hypothesis, we cannot defend this point of view.
It would certainly be possible to find other elements which would give Hervey de Saint-Denys’ dream a larger interpretation than that of a pathological cause (organic disorder), without evoking the hypothesis or a correlation between the two dreams. But even without pursuing the analysis any further, it is clear that Hervey de Saint-Denys was able to resolve a psychological problem by lucid dreaming without knowing the nature of his problem and in fact without even suspecting its existence.
Zack Cernovsky* and Harry T. Hunt
*St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital,
Refugees from the Soviet controlled area of Central Europe often report repetitive nightmares in which they find themselves in their native country, wish to escape again, attempt to or plan to escape, and experience various dysphoric emotions, mainly fear of not being able to re-escape (Pinter, 1969; Zimmermann, 1958). Cernovsky’s (1986) interviews with 100 Czechoslovakian refugees in Switzerland indicated that (1) about 56% report the above nightmares, and (2) the nightmares cannot be labeled as post-traumatic because they do not closely resemble the manner in which the refugees actually left their native country.
Thus we find dramatic nightmare scenes of attempting to cross the border crawling over mine fields or hiding under a railroad car, etc., whereas most persons interviewed by Cernovsky (1986) escaped in a more peaceful manner. They were able to obtain valid passports with a police permit for travel abroad in the short lived period of relative freedom in 1967-1969, traveled out during that time as “tourists”, and have never returned. How such dreams might occur and their relation to more typical nightmares is what we wish to address here.
Of course from Hartmann’s (1984) research on nightmare sufferers we could suggest that refugees suffering these dreams may well have thin psychological boundaries, but that does not explain their unusual form. The nightmare content may be interpreted, from the Freudian perspective, as motivated by grief and a regressive wish to return to familiar settings of childhood (avoid the stress of adaptation to foreign life patterns and language of the host country). From the Jungian viewpoint, the nightmare has a function of a warning not to yield, in waking thoughts, to an impulsive nostalgic desire to return “home” (The hero’s escape from the devouring mother). Existential interpretations (Boss, 1957) might suggest that even though, in the waking life, the refugee was physically successful in crossing the border to the free section of Europe, much of the inner life has been formed in Czechoslovakia (e.g.. values, mistrust of authority figures, expectations about the behavior of significant others): in the inner life, the refugee is only partly living in the free world and still attempts to complete the transition. Such interpretations seem complementary rather than mutually exclusive, but none of them necessarily entail nightmares of oneself back in one’s homeland and physically trying to escape in ways totally unrelated to the original trauma.
A cognitive psychological analysis of certain general dimensions of dream formation and their special interaction in refugees might account for these nightmares. Cognitive approaches to dreaming vary from Foulkes’ (1985) application of the current cognitive science of language and memory to the more organismic-holistic cognitive tradition (Hunt, 1982). Here we focus on the dimensions of imagery and self reflectiveness.
First, there is the widely researched tendency (Cohen, 1979) of dreams to center on both the recent and distant past--especially as primed by “unfinished business”. It stands to reason that with their forced departures leaving behind so much unresolved, and constant daily reminders of their transitional status, refugees would dream themselves back in their homeland.
This brings us to a second dimension of dream formation--that reflexivity or self-reflectiveness inherent to all human symbolic activity (Hunt, 1982). While it is true that dreams are relatively “single-minded” (Rechtschaffen, 1978) and narrowed to the dreaming. It ranges from brief conceptual reflection on the ongoing dream (whether adequate or confused and contrived in the manner that Freud (1900) termed “secondary revision”) to the dream’s potential to fully recognize and reconstitute itself in the form of lucid dreaming (knowing one is dreaming white the dream continues, often with the potential for dream control) (Hunt, 1986). Along these lines, Moffitt et al (1986) has used Rossi’s scale of stages of self-awareness as an empirical measure of a self-reflectiveness continuum ending in lucidity, and Hunt (see Ogilvie et al, 1982) developed a prelucidity scale (rating emotionality. vividness, presence of sensory detail, any reference to sleep, dreaming. or waking in the dream, conceptual and mnemic clarity, and feelings of strangeness) which statistically distinguished laboratory dreams of subjects trying to develop lucidity from a control group of well-motivated laboratory recallers.
If the dimension of self-reflectiveness (awareness of one’s overall context) develops within refugee dreams of the past, but falls short of lucidity, the result would be this special type of nightmare: The pressure towards the past provides familiar scenes from Czechoslovakia, frequently in the context of interacting with parents or childhood friends. Then a modicum of self-reflectiveness would lead to panic and attempts to cope with this new situation: “I am a refugee who now lives in Switzerland. If I am now in Czechoslovakia, then (1) I might be recognized, arrested, and mistreated, therefore I should hide and attempt to escape again, and (2) escape would be almost impossible because the border is extremely well guarded (parallel series of barbed wire fences, mine fields, dense net of armed patrols with dogs, machine gun towers, etc.) and travel permission or faked documents are practically impossible to obtain.”
For example, a 21 year old Czech refugee, a student, reported he dreamt about being back in his home country, meeting his friends, chatting with them, and then suddenly realizing with much anxiety that this must be dangerous because he now lives (as a refugee) in Switzerland and therefore would not be allowed to leave Czechoslovakia again. With terror, he brooded about possibilities of re-escaping the country and woke up in anxiety. The mixture of past and present produces incongruous or incoherent dream images. Another Czechoslovakian refugee, also now living in Switzerland, dreamt about being again in his hometown and dating his ex-girlfriend, happy, and drinking wine. But then she suddenly confronted him about his being dressed in a Swiss Army uniform: with surprise and much anxiety he realized this was true and that he would therefore soon be arrested. Both of them ran to hide in a pedestrian underpass in a more quiet part of the city.
Dream reports collected by Cernovsky (1986) in his interviews with Czechoslovakian refugees in Switzerland included spontaneous accounts of experiences of lucidity in the dream. A re-analysis of the data for the present article showed that 8 refugees described their dream (of being again in Czechoslovakia) as semilucid or lucid: 3 clearly stated being aware, while dreaming, that it was only a dream and 5 others were aware that their dream experience could not be reality (mostly because they recalled, still while dreaming, that they were, in reality, in Switzerland). This awareness at least partly helped to resolve dream anxiety. In 3 of the 8 cases the increase in dream lucidity occurred at a sufficiently early stage of the dream to prevent the development of a nightmare. This post hoc analysis is reported to stimulate further research. Only spontaneous reports of the incidence of lucidity were available: the interview schedule in future studies should incorporate detailed questions about the degree of lucidity and its fluctuations within the dream. Methodological problems in investigating the impact of lucidity on repetitive nightmares include semantic ambiguities. Laymen are not trained to clearly verbalize subjective experiences of lucidity in dreams. In Cernovsky’s study, the refugees described intermittent lucidity in various ways, such as gradually or suddenly “realizing, during the dream, that I was in Switzerland and not in Czechoslovakia” or “dreaming, in the dream, that it was only a dream”.
Our cognitive approach makes this special class of non post-traumatic nightmares akin to “examination dreams”. The tendency to redream past trauma would easily elicit dream situations that feature examinations. Yet self-reflectiveness short of lucidity would entail an awareness that no such examination could now occur. The resultant fusion would be the unpleasant sense that one has forgotten the scheduled room, or subject matter, or that the test questions are nonsensical, etc.
Still, such examination dreams are as ultimately innocuous as refugee nightmares are wrenching and personally disorienting. If our cognitive approach is correct, methods for the training of lucid dreaming should be especially effective for this type of refugee nightmare--because that would further articulate the very dimension of dream formation which on a less developed level has created the crisis in the first place. Full lucidity would then leave the sufferer with a non chimerical dream of nostalgia and realistic sadness. One subject, becoming suddenly aware that he was actually dreaming, “regretted it, but at the same time was content that it was so”.
Boss, M. (1957). Analysis of dreams. Rider, London.
Cernovsky, Z. Z. (1987). Refugee’s repetitive nightmares. Journal of Clinical Psychology, in press.
Cohen, D. (1979). Sleep and dreaming: Origins, mature, and functions, Pergamon Press, Oxford.
Foulkes, D. (1985). Dreaming: A cognitive psychological analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Freud, S. (19(X)). The interpretation of dreams, New York, Avon, 1965.
Hartmann, E. (1984). The nightmare: The psychology and biology of terrifying dreams. Basic Books, Onc., New York.
Hunt, H. (1982). Forms of dreaming. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 54, 559-633,
Hunt, H. (1986). Discussant: Empirical and theoretical analysis of the psychological content of lucid dreams. Lucidity Letter, 5, 1, 197-203.
Hunt, H. (1989). The Multiplicity of dreams. Yale University Press: New Haven, CT.
Moffitt, A., & Hoffman, R. (1987). On the single-mindedness of dream psychology. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Sleep and dreams: A sourcebook (pp. 145-186). New York: Garland.
Ogilvie. R., Hunt, H., Tyson. P., Lucesau, M., & Jeakins, D. (1982). Lucid dreaming and alpha activity: A preliminary report. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 55, 795-808.
Pinter, E. (1969). Wohlstandsfluechtlinge. Eine sozialpsychiatrische Studiesan ungarischen Fluechtlingen in der Schweiz. Karger Verlag, Basel and New York.
Rechtschaffen, A. (1978). The single-mindedness of dreams. Sleep, 1, 97-109.
Zimmermann, E. (1958). Eingliederungsprobleme ungarischer intellectueller Fluechtlinge. Schule fuer Sozialarbeit, Zuerich (unpublished thesis).
The authors are grateful for helpful comments by Kate Ruzycki and Kathryn Belicki.
Control as Techniques for Treating Nightmares
In the past several years I have been studying nightmares and in that context have examined the factors that prompt people to seek treatment for these experiences. Given that several articles in this issue of Lucidity Letter address the positive and negative aspects of lucidity and dream control. I thought I would add my reflections on this issue with respect to treating nightmares.
As an aside let me begin by noting that I separate dream lucidity from dream control for the very simple reason that they are quite unrelated (if not negatively related) in my own experience. I exercise a fairly high degree of control in my nightmares almost always in the absence of any lucidity. On the other hand I periodically experience lucid dreams (rather mundane ones I must admit) but in these am usually simply aware that I am dreaming and do not act to control the experience. Recently, concurrent with my editing this issue, I tried in a few lucid dreams to be controlling of the experience; in some the dream quickly turned malevolent, in others the dream scenery promptly faded or became achromatic. This differentiation between control and lucidity is not particularly important to my thoughts as outlined below, but I include it because of the growing documentation (and I have seen it in my clients) that these experiences can lead to what could be described as unpleasant side effects. It seems to me that we need to know more about this and I find myself wondering if this unpleasantness is a side effect of lucidity, control, either or both. From an applied perspective (e.g., of treating nightmares) this would be very useful information.
Turning to nightmares, let me begin by summarizing what we know about why people seek help for these dreams. The first thing to note is that many people who have nightmares are not very distressed by them even though their dreams are as unpleasant as those who are distressed. Certainly during the nightmare everyone is unhappy, but after the dream is over people differ tremendously in the amount of upset they subsequently experience. This gives us an important clue: it may not be that the dream is the problem so much as it is the person’s reaction to the dream.
Before examining what leads to these differing reactions we also need to consider different types of nightmares. We have a lot more to learn in this area but there are a few distinctions that are worth noting. Some nightmares are clearly post traumatic in nature in that they began after a trauma and the content of the nightmare is clearly linked to the traumatic event, in the simple case of these nightmares beginning immediately after the trauma, they are often part of the person’s natural reaction and they tend to go away spontaneously as the reaction is worked through. Alternatively, techniques directed toward changing the nightmare, such as desensitization to the content, often are swiftly successful. In the more complex situation in which the nightmares (and waking symptoms) persist in a chronic fashion and/or begin several months to several years after the event, these symptoms are usually part of a larger picture of poor psychosocial adjustment and massive sleep disturbance. In this case treatment is very difficult no matter what the approach.
A second type of nightmare to note are those which are secondary to a physical condition such as disease, medication, drugs, etc. Given the possibility of these, I always have my clients undergo a thorough medical examination.
The nightmares I spend most of my time studying are those creative dreams which often occur throughout the person’s lifetime from childhood onwards. While the predominant emotion is frequently tenor, it may also be another such as rage, grief or guilt. I have become aware that some of these are hidden post traumatic nightmares. For example in the case of individuals who have been sexually abused as children, they often do not dream explicitly about the sexual abuse and therefore their nightmares can go unrecognized as being post traumatic in origin. Similarly in two cases Denis Belicki and I have treated in which the people spontaneously started having nightmares as an adult without any prior history of nightmares, and without any detectable physical contributors, nor any awareness of precipitating trauma, we subsequently uncovered in therapy a precipitating traumatic event the traumatic nature of which had not been consciously appreciated by the client. It may be important to detect such hidden post traumatic dreams as it has been my increasing experience that the distress attached to these experiences does not resolve until the person gains insight into, and works through, the impact of the precipitating trauma.
Finally we are left with those long standing, creative nightmares which do not appear to originate in major trauma or a physical condition. The key to treatment here lies in the difference between people who are very distressed with these experiences and those who are able to live with them quite well. From my research and clinical experience it would appear that distressed people have one or more of the following characteristics: 1. they take their dreams too seriously, 2. they have difficulty containing the emotion of the dream, or distracting themselves from it, after awakening. 3. they are experiencing a great deal of life stress and/or have problems in their waking psychosocial adjustment. Let us consider each individually.
1. Taking Dreams too Seriously
What do I mean by too seriously? I have several things in mind here. One example is the person whose waking life is in fine order but simply because they have nightmares, concludes there is something terribly wrong with themselves or their lives. The problem is that they are assuming both that dreams are always profoundly meaningful and that the emotional “volume” of the dream is to be fully trusted. My own opinion on these issues is that dreams, like waking thoughts, can deal with quite trivial issues. Secondly, the nature of dream experience -- its single-mindedness with corresponding lack of proportion, its perceived reality, its lack of concern for the constraints of reality, etc. -- means that the emotional volume can be very easily inflated: the quality of the emotion can be trusted but not necessarily its strength.
Similarly the person who assumes that all dreams are deeply meaningful, and correspondingly feel that their waking thought and judgment has very little merit is at considerable risk to be disturbed by nightmares. Such an attitude becomes particularly problematic if they tend to always take their dreams literally and not metaphorically. For example, individuals have described to me cutting off relationships, usually for a short period of time, simply because a person behaved despicably in their dream. While dreams do occasionally provide direct insight into interpersonal dynamics, these individuals need to be taught (or reminded) about the possible metaphoric or symbolic nature of dream content.
People who feel they have prophetic dreams can be deeply disturbed by nightmares. An example is a woman I spoke with briefly on two occasions. The first time I spoke to her she had not driven a car in ten years because she had had a nightmare about driving a car which had seats that turned into grave stones. This dream haunted her because on other occasions she had had dreams which had seemed prophetic. In my conversation with her I pointed out that 1. no one has dreams that are always prophetic (and she agreed that most of her dreams were not). 2. that dreams can be metaphoric so that this could be “death” of another kind, and 3. that everyone has tragedy in their lives and everyone dies, and that to be overly preoccupied with these facts only reduces the quality of life. This initial conversation lasted only 15 to 20 minutes. A year later she contacted me to let me know that she had resumed driving after our conversation. Furthermore a subsequent encounter with a car like the one in her dream had led to an event which she felt was the fulfillment of the original dream. It did involve a “death” but of the metaphoric variety, and in fact was a very happy outcome for her.
With all these individuals, the problem is not the nightmare itself, but their attitudes and reactions to the nightmares. If we were to quickly strive to teach these people how to control or change nightmares, we would not only overlook the real issue but in the long term might even exacerbate the issue. Specifically, while in the short term we might treat these individual’s distress by giving them greater control over the experience, if they turn out to be one of those who in the long term develop unpleasantness as a side effect of lucidity or control, they would be uniquely unequipped to handle that distress as evident in their original distress. It seems to make much more sense to first of all teach people how to comfortably live with unpleasant dream experience before exposing them to techniques which occasionally result in more unpleasantness.
As a final aside, if the individual truly wishes to eliminate the distressing content rather than focus on their reactions, there are techniques which are usually much faster than inducing control or lucidity: sleeping with a light on, daily practice of deep relaxation, systematic desensitization, waking rehearsal of the dream changing the ending to a more positive one, etc.
2. Difficulty Containing the Emotion of the Dream
Creative individuals who are hypnotizable and tend to become imaginally engrossed in fantasy and esthetic stimuli (a tendency called “Absorption” in the literature) are prone to nightmares. Such high absorbers tend to get very emotionally involved in events they attend to: these are the individuals who get totally wrapped up in books and movies, experiencing them as real. It is not surprising that after they awaken from a nightmare, they have difficulty distracting themselves from the experience, and the emotion can extend right into the next day. This is very similar to the issue discussed above: the nightmare is not the problem so much as the reaction to the nightmare. The reaction however, is not caused by attitudes but by an attentional style driven by personality. Again I think a treatment strategy directed toward changing the dream is misguided here. These individuals need to be taught how to control or “box” their emotions and imagination, and how to distract themselves from the memory of their dream.
3. Life Stress and Problems in Psychosocial Adjustment
Nightmares are common in adults and many people with even frequent nightmares are as well adjusted as individuals without nightmares. However, quite often (although by no means always) the subset of individuals who seek help for their nightmares also have other problems in their waking life. These problems may be exacerbating their nightmares, and at the very least will increase their sensitivity and lower their tolerance to unpleasant dream experience. With such individuals I fairly often choose the nightmares as the first thing to tackle as it is something we can usually have quick success with, which is tremendously empowering to them. It occasionally happens that by reducing theft distress with nightmares (either by changing theft reactions to the nightmare or by reducing nightmare frequency) the individual feels so much more capable of changing or coping with their other problems that therapy is no longer necessary. In other cases therapy has to address the entire presentation of problems and sometimes the waiting issues must take precedence over the dream problems.
My general bias in working with individuals presenting with both waking and dreaming problems is that troubled people tend to be very self preoccupied in a nonproductive way, and I am therefore hesitant to use techniques which encourage a deepening of that preoccupation (one obvious exception would be when treating repressed trauma); therefore, generally I avoid most dream work, even interpretation (and I include the induction of lucid dreaming as dream work), with any person who lacks a firm “grounding” in the world.
When dealing with individuals who are troubled by their nightmares I use a wide range of techniques depending on the type of nightmare, the reason(s) for the distress, the personality of the individual and their current circumstances and psychosocial adjustment. However, as is now apparent, development of lucidity and/or dream control is noticeably absent from my therapeutic armamentarium sometimes because it simply does not address the problem and other times because there are more efficient, and perhaps safer, ways of dealing with the distress.
Nonetheless I think the development of lucidity or dream control is valuable in work with nightmares (or dreams more generally) with individuals who wish to pursue self growth and who are able to live with some subjective distress in the process. As mentioned above I regularly use dream control to interact more productively with disturbing dream characters or to work through and change unpleasant dream sequences. Furthermore I have encouraged certain individuals with nightmares to develop similar practices. For example, with some clients, after they have mastered their distress associated with nightmares, we have gone on to do active dream work. Ultimately I view dream work as a set of techniques ideally suited for self exploration and development, but not necessarily useful for establishing equilibrium in distressed individuals.
By Guest Editor Kathryn Belicki
(Harry Hunt is a professor of psychology at Brock University, chair of the Lucidity Association, and member of the board of directors of the Association for the Study of Dreams. The Multiplicity of Dreams, his book recently published by Yale University Press, has been hailed as “original and thought provoking, … makes an important contribution to the field.” Hunt, along with his colleague Robert Ogilvie were among the first sleep researchers to seriously investigate lucid dreaming in the sleep laboratory.)
BELICKI: How did you come to your current research interests? Your dissertation research was concerned with altered states.
HUNT: Yes, in fact I started in my undergraduate thesis with material that I would actually like to go back to if I ever write another book. What I did for that thesis was a life history study of Gurdjieff, trying to interpret both from a pychoanalytic object relations perspective and from a Jungian perspective, integrating the two together. Even then I was interested in altered states of consciousness and transpersonal states. Actually in high school I was interested in these experiences as I first read Jung at that time. This personal background is relevant, I think.
My Dad died when I was nine and it had a very, very great impact. At the time he was dying -- my parents never went to church but I was forcibly sent to Sunday school every Sunday and I hated it. So when he was dying, for the first time in my life I fervently prayed that this not happen and of course it did happen. The impact on me was well...
BELICKI: You had your chance and blew it.
HUNT: Exactly. Atheism was in. So starting in junior high school and early in high school, I read everything I could that took an iconoclastic view of religion. There were two or three of us, starting around ninth grade, who were like the village atheists. What was really fun, especially in discussions in English -- we were a vicious little pack-- we would jump in and make these very dismissive statements about the obvious superstitious bases of all religion. And we did it precisely because it upset some of the girls in the class so very much. We really liked it, we had such a good time.
At that time I was reading some books by Phillip Wiley that were trying to popularize the works of Freud, Jung and Nietzsche. So I read a little bit of Nietzsche and I thought I really should read Jung, he sounds interesting. So I started reading some Jung in high school and it had a huge impact on me. This was the first thing I had ever read that clearly demonstrated and was predicated on the idea that, say what you want about religious belief (i.e., it’s as much social custom as it is anything else), there is a core to this phenomenon that is directly experiential and rests in states of consciousness which can be to some extent triggered or released by various techniques. I found that idea absolutely life changing. I suddenly saw in a completely different way. It wasn’t particularly that I had these kinds of visions or dreams--only to a very minimal extent. It was only later that I got into such experiences through self experimentation with LSD.
These drug experiences were what really showed me that there was a phenomenal reality that demanded some sort of description, both cognitively and in terms of its impact on personality. But it was my early reading of Jung that was truly galvanizing. After that I never thought about spirituality in the same way again. From that point on I was absolutely intrigued with the naturalistic descriptive psychology of these states of mind.
BELICKI: What was your intention in wanting to specifically list and describe these states of mind? Why did that interest you so much?
HUNT: Ah, good question... I don’t know! I think because it went to the fundamentals of human existence in some sense. These were the most powerful states, clearly in Jung’s accounts and in other people’s accounts, that happen to people spontaneously outside of natural catastrophe and war. I think another thing that fed into it was that when I was a kid I had very bad night terrors. I remember a few of these and these were of course negative numinosities. They were infinite, they were vast and total, malevolent and evil, and they were very powerful. They were certainly the most powerful things I had ever known. So when I started reading Jung about there potentially being a positive side to this then I could believe this, it was like if I could have experiences of that magnitude that were so awful, other people could have experiences of that magnitude that were integrating and constructive. It made sense to me -- that these experiences would play an incredible role in people’s feeling that life was worth living. They had a crucial function in that sense: people feeling rooted and in some sense real, rather than in a dream somewhere.
It was getting into Harvard that was in some ways critical to me because if had I gone to a more traditional school with a more traditional psychology department they would not have fostered and reinforced my interest in Jung, let alone Freud. It would have been squelched. Whereas Harvard’s Social Relations Department at that point was very much centered on Freud. So I just jumped in with both feet into psychoanalytic readings, but then there was this Jung stuff off to the side that was so different, and I wanted to integrate them. And they encouraged me! I had such little self confidence and the fact that I could succeed in this atmosphere and be specifically encouraged in my interests was incredibly empowering (although Brandeis was subsequently a hideous nightmare).
BELICKI: How did you get into dreams?
HUNT: Certainly I was interested in Freud’s model of dreams and yet Jung had a competing model of the archetypal or “big” dreams which was very intriguing. I’d had a few dreams in high school which were numinous: I would find myself in this utterly awesome woods that I ‘d never seen before, I used to walk a lot in woods by myself, I loved walking in woods -- I still do. I would go for these lengthy hikes through this rural woods and farmland area that used to be my town. So occasionally I would have these dreams which would start off in an area I knew and then would open up into this fairyland of numinous, colorful, awesome sections of woods and hills and fields that were breathtakingly beautiful. They were so beautiful with such a feeling of the numinous that it was scary as well, and very often I would stand on the edge of these woods and not be able to go into them.
So I had these kinds of dreams and I knew that Jung was right. As well I knew from my ordinary dreams that Freud was addressing something real. So I just think my interest grew up out of that really. The crucial thing that turned me towards dream studies was one of the very few truly decent courses which I took in graduate school which was Richard Jones’ course on dreams. He had us read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, which I hadn’t studied in detail before, and then right on through the clinical literature and into the REM state material. That’s what got me going, but I’ve always approached dreaming from the perspective of my interest in a cognitive psychology of altered or transpersonal states.
BELICKI: Of course your new book, The Multiplicity of Dreams, very much takes a cognitive perspective. In the same way that you were intrigued in the past with classifying and describing altered states, your book is concerned with documenting different types of dreams. It also tries to integrate what Freud had to say and what Jung had to say. How did you put that together -- these two very different approaches?
HUNT: I can remember writing a freshman English essay trying to give both a Jungian and a Freudian perspective on Forster’s Passage to India and the English teacher was doubly offended. He was offended first of all at the psychologizing, which I can understand. I was full of these ideas then. But the other thing he said to me was “You are going to have to make a choice. You are not going to be able to keep both a Freudian perspective and a Jungian perspective in your studies. You are going to have to choose between these very different world views and the sooner you do it the better.” And I really felt that was wrong. In my undergraduate thesis on Gurdjieff, I was trying to say “No, you really can think from one system directly into the other and back again. Its true, the world changes massively as you shift from one to the other but there’s a step by step transition, almost like a series of transformative equations. You can sort of transmute Freud into Jung and vice versa”.
That’s in some ways what I tried to do in the book. The thing I was worried about was that I might end up with a merely eclectic typology where I would be saying that there are all these different types of dreams and each needs its own theory, so don’t worry about it too much. You don’t have to worry about the differences between, for example, Freud and Foulkes because they’re both right in their own sphere.
I’m sure there is some truth in that but its not an interesting position. Its superficial, and what I really wanted in the book was to try to come up with a way to think across the different formation processes for different forms of dreams (in which each major theory specializes) so that one could see what they had in common. I decided that the way to approach that was the way I had been approaching a cognitive psychology of altered states and mystical experience which was with some form of cross-modal translation model. This is the idea that the different forms of expression of the human mind are all different kinds of synaesthesia -- a model that stretches from the neurologist Geschwin back to Aristotle in different ways and forms.
Basically I tried to argue that each of the forms of dreaming is based on a different balancing and weighting among these cross-modal translation processes. This is what all the different theories of dream formation have in common, either implicitly or explicitly. They presuppose some sort of background process in which the structures of one sensory modality are translated into the structures of another, with one of those modalities dominating as a controlling template. So the classical white light experience of mysticism and some lucid and archetypal dreams are a point where the visual-kinesthetic patterns are dominating almost totally. On the other hand, the Foulkes/Freud models of dream formation -- whether you take Foulkes’ view of a predominant narrative template or Freud’s view of punning, joke-like word play -- both have in common the idea of underlying verbal structures that translate into visual imagery as a sort of secondary effect.
So that was the way I tried to integrate the idea of there being multiple forms of dreams with some kind of unitary model of intelligence. The interesting thing about that cross-modal model is that it is extremely general. It applies equally to trying to understand the basic capacities that would underlie language, which is a kind of cross-modal synaesthesia with the verbal-sequential template predominant. The same processes that can make sense of language on a very general level of abstraction -- more general than most cognitive psychologists are interested in engaging -- will also address these altered states of consciousness and varieties of dreaming. This becomes at least indirect evidence for frames of mind in Howard Gardner’s sense.
BELICKI: You have also been thinking about the relationship of nightmares and lucidity, and we have talked about how lucid dreams for some people can sometimes become very unpleasant. I was intrigued by your thinking about how that happens and how it also can be seen in other altered states.
HUNT: One of the things that I tried to bring out in the book was that descriptively there is quite an overlap between lucid dreaming and nightmares, at least a certain kind of nightmare. (I’m excluding from the discussion post traumatic nightmares). For example, of the few overwhelming and fantastic nightmares that I’ve had, they’ve always had that quality that you’re in the dream and its turning bad and then suddenly something goes through your body like a kind of electric force and there’s this physical rush of panic and numinous horror that really defines these kind of nightmares for me.
I think this is very similar to lucid dreaming. Phenomenologically, the lucid dream has also a considerable intensification of experience, heightening of sensory detail, an emotional rush or peak quality -- typically, though by no means always, of bliss and ecstasy. You also get a potential within highly stabilized lucid dreams for archetypal numinous dreaming to develop in a Jungian direction. So you get people like George Gillespie or Scott Sparrow talking about the proclivity within long term lucidity for powerful white light experiences as one kind of fulfillment of the lucid potential.
In fact there’s a cross-over, a kind of a overlap empirically which Aurelia Spadafora and I studied last year among subjects with bizarre nightmares, lucid dreaming and archetypal dreaming. These dreams overlap phenomenologically, and statistically it seems that if you have one you are likely to have the others as well.
I think the way to understand that is via the approaches to transpersonal psychology that have emerged in the last ten or fifteen years in studies of meditation and of stages of the LSD experience. LSD researchers have shown that in early LSD sessions, pretty much dependent on the setting and strength of the person’s sense of themselves, experiences were either very positive or very negative -- the good trip-bad trip distinction. But Grof demonstrated that eventually higher or transpersonal states of consciousness are going to call out pre-existent self dilemmas or self vulnerability (in the sense of people like Kohut or Winnicott) or actually stir it up when it wasn’t there before, precisely because the experiences are so powerful. In other words you are talking about subjective states which almost inevitably are so out of keeping with the everyday reality of what the person has known that their eventual impact is to create either some mixture of self grandiosity and quasi-omnipotence (which means you’re cruising for a big fall) or disorganization, lack of sense of self and increasing withdrawal clinically.
BELICKI: So its as if there is an inevitability of there being negative side effects.
HUNT: I think there’s an inevitability. This is like the mystic’s “dark night of the soul”. You find in eastern meditation they talk about advanced meditators having horrors that are quite unpleasant and sound quasi-psychotic but then getting through it. To the extent you can observe these states in a detached manner and not fight them and not identify with them, they open out into more inclusive, deeper insights.
But obviously a lot of people get caught on this step. Its asking rather a lot of someone to say “That’s ok, just lie down on your carpet and let yourself die. Don’t fight it. Don’t worry about it. That’s just great!” So a lot of people will get caught in what Grof calls the perinatal matrices. I don’t agree with the term, that is that we should explain this in terms of birth trauma or prebirth states. But definitely phenomenologically these kinds of crises occur and I think they’re broadly understandable in terms of the psychoanalytic psychologies developed by the object relations theorists like Winnicott, Khan, and Bion and by Kohut in North America. They have given us a potential typology of the negative side of these experiences. ...How did we get on this?
BELICKI: We were just talking about the dangers inherent in lucidity and you’re saying that some problems are inevitable and some people can work through it while some may not. What is your general sense about developing lucid dreams? Is this something you recommend for people? Is it for some people and not others?
HUNT: I think it is probably for some people and not for others. Winnicott has a very useful notion here. He suggests that there are two kinds of dilemmas in living. The first are dilemmas of relating and doing. You have a sense of who you are but you’ll be damned if you can figure out how to use that, how to make maximal use of yourself in the world. These are the dilemmas that Freud talked about in terms of a relative capacity or incapacity for love and work. This kind of dimension of dilemma runs through everyone’s life. But I think for some people its very salient as an issue, both positively and negatively expressed, and for other people its less salient.
Then there are people who primarily suffer from dilemmas of being or sense of being. These are the people who, on the negative side, very often don’t quite feel real. There may be the sense that everything is dream-like or that nothing matters -- close to nihilistic despair. Jung talked about this a lot. The idea that clients who came to him came primarily in mid-life because they were in a dilemma over the sense of there being any meaning not only in their lives but in life at all. Is there any point to all of this? What is the point? This sort of hungering after meaning in its own right which, if you will, is an existential hunger as well, I think is powerful at some points in some people’s lives, not powerful in others, although its a dimension that runs through everyone’s life just like the first one. This is where I would disagree with people like Maslow and Wilber who want to place the relating dimension in early stages of development and then say that once you get to mid-life you are ready to flower out into the higher stages of development. To me both of these dimensions continue to develop, intertwining in very complex ways, and there is no one developmental line which is higher or lower. But it does seem to me that if your primary accent either throughout your life or at some point in your life is “What is all of this for?”, then you don’t have much choice with respect to engaging these so-called transpersonal levels. The suffering that’s involved along the way, which I think is a very real suffering and akin to what Winnicott and Kohut present clinically, and which can be initiated by these kinds of higher states, is then inescapable.
BELICKI: We started this whole discussion with the relationship of nightmares and lucidity and of course in the literature and at the Association for the Study Dreams conference there has been some talk about the dangers of lucidity -- so I’m wondering if you have any final comments in those areas.
HUNT: I think that the current, gradual accumulation of negative aspects of lucid dreaming makes an awful lot of sense from the idea that transpersonal states, while they potentially serve a very important function in giving the person a sense of felt reality, can also stir up either pre-existing self vulnerabilities or create new ones because of the very power of the experiences. Jayne Gackenbach has been collecting and publishing such negative accounts of lucid dreaming and its effects bit by bit. These are to me so reminiscent of the literature on psychedelic drugs and advanced meditation that in fact it would be a tragedy if the lucid dream movement didn’t make use of these psychedelic and meditational transpersonal perspectives. They may give us the best available clues as to how to understand and deal with such dilemmas. For the people who are on the lucidity/archetypal dimension and their dreams are naturally developing that way, they are going to go through this process anyway how do they handle it? How do they handle it when as Scott Sparrow describes his own dreams after he wrote his very powerful book Dawning of the Clear Light, he found that very negative, malevolent, rather demonic figures started turning up in his dreams. He couldn’t control it anymore, he couldn’t make it stop, and I think that’s precisely what you would expect from Grof’s model and some of the models of meditative stages.
In the example you were talking about of the monk (Father X in this Lucidity Letter issue) who developed lucid dreaming, several of the figures he encountered in those dreams had a slightly sort of mocking quality -- perhaps a Little bit like the medieval pictures by Bosch and Breugel of the temptation of St. Anthony in the desert. The figures who tempt St. Anthony are similarly not satanic, horror figures but are ludicrous and leering. They are there to make fun of him. Certainly one of the ways in which LSD can start to turn fairly negative is precisely with this sense of a kind of mocking laughter or mocking satire on the most sacred areas of one’s own life. Again I think one is speaking of inevitable vulnerabilities in sense of self that get activated or intensified in these states.
I think that’s exactly what we are starting to see now in the lucid dream movement. I would much prefer to see it come through with benefit from the context of previous, related work rather than get into an essentially silly debate over whether lucidity is good or bad. Lucidity is clearly inevitable in some people’s lives, and to other people it is very intriguing and they want it to happen. Whether they engage it deliberately or have it happen spontaneously. the question is how do we understand this as a natural process of cognitive and personal development, and in that context how do we then go about helping people to manage the inevitable negativities of experience that are going to occur?
BELICKI: Before we wrap up I just have to ask where today is that grade nine fellow that was so mocking of all of these experiences. Where do you find yourself now?
HUNT: That’s much harder to say. I certainly don’t mock anyone these days but Islamic fundamentalists who want to kilt authors. It’s interesting because I think that’s very much a side of my own life -- very much something that I’ve always struggled with – I’m sure it has a lot to do with Kohutian notions of self and dilemmas in self esteem. When I get critical of other approaches that I think are destructive to the ways I would like this field to develop, then I’m afraid I’m still capable of lots of mockery.
But my sense of reality was fundamentally changed by that early reading of Jung. As destructive as the effects of organized religion can be, at times, and as much as traditional religious beliefs can become hostage to their secular society over time, it seems to me there is clearly a core which is experiential and spontaneous. I don’t think the regression/primitivity models make sense of its actual phenomenology and potential impact on people’s lives. So I would have to see it as the expression of a nonrepresentational, imagistic or presentational intelligence which is normally subordinated to the practicalities of everyday life coming forward on its own. Then I think the function is clearly, precisely that it releases in its own right what Gendlin talks about as felt meaning. The effect of that is to give people a feeling that they are alive, that they are real, and that ultimately it matters. I suppose that was an intellectual conversion experience, in lieu of a traditional religious one, that really has informed everything I have done since. These states really are natural phenomena of mind.
Some Further Thoughts on Lucid Dreaming and Ethical Reflection
Immediately following the article I wrote in the June 1988 Lucidity Letter. Lucid Dreaming and Ethical Reflection”1, Stephen LaBerge commented on my ideas in “Reply to Bulkley: A thoroughly confused picture of what ethics is all about...utterly antithetical to any sort of valid ethical position”2. From the comments he made in his essay, it seems that LaBerge and I disagree on a few points. But before I begin a detailed consideration of LaBerge’s arguments, I want to stress that debates such as these are an important way of improving our knowledge and understanding about lucid dreaming. Similar disputes emerged at the Lucidity Symposium at this past summer’s annual conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams, and while things got a little cantankerous I believe that everyone benefited from an open airing and discussion of the difficult issues involved in our studies and research. So while I may continue to challenge certain of Dr. LaBerge’s positions, and while he may continue to challenge me, I feel confident that such a debate will make positive and constructive contributions to the enterprise in which we are all engaged, namely the exploration of the experience of lucid dreaming.
Now, I would like to address Dr. LaBerge and his “Reply to Bulkley”, pointing out what I believe to be points of confusion or debate.
1) I am troubled by the fact that Dr. LaBerge’s essay suggests that I have thoroughly denounced the whole of lucid dreaming as ethically worthless. This is most definitely not my position. The essential thrust of my essay was to emphasize the tremendous value lucid (dreaming has in relation to ethical reflection, even though I may have criticized Dr. LaBerge’s ideas in particular rather pointedly. I would really like to know what he thinks about these more positive ideas in my essay.
2) Dr. LaBerge’s claim that ethics simply is not relevant to lucid dreaming marks an important difference in our outlooks, as I do believe that lucid dreaming has great ethical significance. I suspect that the problem here is that he and I are not using the term “ethics” in suite the same way. Dr. LaBerge seems to consider ethics as fixed, socially or religiously sanctioned codes of public behavior: his concern is that such codes might be applied to the private experience of lucid dreaming. This possibility has sinister implications in his view, and I would entirely agree with him on that point.
But this notion of ethics is emphatically not what I am talking about: I very deliberately titled my essay “Lucid Dreaming and Ethical Reflection” not “Ethics and Lucid Dreaming” to stress the fact that I am not concerned with whether lucid dreaming is ethically right or wrong. Again, I agree with Dr. LaBerge that this is a minor, if not a nonsensical issue. My interest is entirely different from this: I am trying to bring out the ways in which a particular form of consciousness or experience--in this case lucid dreaming--can contribute to the process of reflecting on ethical dilemmas. In the same way I might have written on “The Experience of Love and Ethical Reflection” or “Psychedelic Drugs and Ethical Reflection’, looking at how such experiences might influence the ways we look at our ethical relations with society.
1 Bulkley, K., “Lucid Dreaming and Ethical Reflection”, Lucidity Letter (June 1988), vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 13-16.
2 LaBerge, S., “Reply to Bulkley: A thoroughly confused picture of what ethics is all about...utterly antithetical to any sort of valid ethical position”, Lucidity Letter (June 1988). vol. 7. no. 1. pp. 17-18.
In short, Dr. LaBerge seems worried that ethics might be applied to lucid dreaming; in contrast, my purpose is to consider the significant of lucid dreaming for ethical reflection. Having made this distinction as clearly as I can, I hope to have allayed some of his concerns.
3) Dr. LaBerge charges that I “frequently quote out of context and take extreme liberties with interpretation” with regards to his book Lucid Dreaming1, citing three specific instance in which I do this.
First, he says that since he “did not specifically discuss ethical or moral issues anywhere in my book”2, the attempts I make to talk about the ethical implications of his work are unjustified. I disagree. It is precisely my point that Dr. LaBerge does not deal explicitly with the ethical implications that follow from his ideas about lucid dreaming. If lucid dreaming is as revolutionary a development of human consciousness as he claims it is, it is going to have implications for the ways in which we interact with other people in society, implications that demand our attention.
Second, he says that I neglect to set a quote from Lucid Dreaming in its appropriate context. The quote referred to the process of decision-making, and while I claim that Dr. LaBerge is ignoring the tremendously complex nature of ethical reflection he points out that in the preceding sentence he does in fact fore the difficulties that we often face in life. I admit that my usage of the quotation from his book is misleading and, while I do not believe it diminishes the force of my argument, I apologize to him for this unintentional error.
Third, Dr. LaBerge disagrees with my suggestion that it could appear that he is promoting a form of ethical egoism. I argue that, since he claims that the values of lucid dreaming can be carried over into waking life and that the best advice for lucid dreaming is to follow one’s intuitions without any other guide, one could conclude that this means we should only obey our subjective intuitions in waking life also. In his reply Dr. LaBerge asks rhetorically. “Does common sense count for nothing here? Could this really be my ‘ethical theory’?...How can this not be obvious?”3 My answer is no, in this sort of a discussion “common sense”, whatever that might mean, counts for exactly nothing: clarity and precision do.
4) Dr. LaBerge says in his reply that morality is nothing more than the accumulated social conventions of a given culture; that moral standards of good and evil vary from culture to culture; and that it is extremely difficult for us to judge what is right and wrong. I believe that this extremely relativistic view of ethics is misguided, and can have some very problematic consequences,
The greatest moral philosophers in history, from Plato through Kant to John Rawls, have all begun their theories with the emphatic assertion that judgments of right and wrong are not to be based on social conventions, but on clear-headed reflection, deliberation, and discussion. Furthermore, anthropological studies in comparative ethics suggest that most human cultures share many fundamental ethical principles4. Morality is not an arbitrary code imposed on people from some external source; morality emerges out of the experience of human interactions, out of our need to live together in social communities. In this sense it is meaningless to speak of ethics as something separate from our lives--ethics is simply the name for our attempts to get along with other people in our community.
1 LaBerge, S., Lucid Dreaming (New York: Ballantine, 1985).
2 LaBerge, S. “Reply to Bulkley”, p. 18.
3 LaBerge. S. “Reply to Buikley”. p. 18.
4For example, see the works of Clifford Geertz, Victor Turner, and Sudhir Kakar.
I fully agree with Dr. LaBerge on his third point, that ethical judgments are hard to make. Indeed, they are so hard that often we are tempted just to throw up our hands and say that it does not matter what we or anyone else does. But there is a vast abyss separating the admission that ethical judgments are difficult from the surrender of all attempts to make such judgments. To give in to that temptation, to conclude that it is useless to try and figure out what is good and what is evil, is to take the first step down the path of moral relativism, If we follow the Burton poem which Dr. LaBerge quotes, no one can really know if the slavery of blacks was a bad thing, if the torture of political prisoners in Latin America is wrong, if apartheid in South Africa is a profound evil.
My point is that even though it may be extremely hard to figure out what is the world, we still have to try --the great suffering of the modem world demands it of us. We will not always be absolutely sure that we are right, and we know that we will often be wrong, but we cannot let these limitations deter us from our ethical members of society.
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Research Award Recipient Announced
The Lucidity Association is pleased to announce the winner of the first research award. The committee, Harry Hunt and Robert Ogilvie of Stock University, choose as the award recipient Franklin Galvin, a doctoral candidate at Boston University. Galvin’s study entitled, “Testing a Lucid Dream Training Procedure with Subjects Who Have Frequent Nightmares”, is being done in conjunction with Ernest Hartmann. A brief report of his findings will be published in a future issue of Lucidity Letter.
Contents of the Lucidity Association 1989
Lucid Dreaming Symposium
This year the Lucid Dreaming Symposium of the Lucidity Association will again be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams. The ASD meeting is in London, England from July 26 to July 29. Information about the conference can be obtained by writing ASD. Box 1600, Vienna, VA. The Lucidity Association is sponsoring four one hour talks. These talks will appear in the December, 1989 issue of Lucidity Letter and audio tapes of the talks will be available for purchase from the Lucidity Association shortly after the conference. Write to Lucidity Association,, 8703 109th St., Edmonton, Alberta, T60 2L5, Canada, after August 1, 1989 for order information on these tapes. The four talks are:
Susan Blackmore, Ph.D., University of Bristol, England, “Mental Models in Sleep: Why Do We Feel More Conscious in Lucid Dreams?”, 8 to 9 pm, Thursday, July 27, 1989.
Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., Stanford University, United States. “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming”. 7 to 8 pm, Thursday, July 27, 1989.
Paul Tholey, Ph.D., University of Frankfurt, West Germany, “Lucidity Training as a Way to Creative Freedom”, 4:30 to 5:30 pm. Thursday, July 27. 1989.
Tarab Tulku, L.R.G.S./Dr. Phil., Copenhagen University, Denmark, “A Buddhist Perspective on Lucid Dreaming”, 10 to 11 am, Saturday, July 29. 1989.
1989 Association for the Study of Dreams Program on Lucid
Several invited address, papers, and workshops will be offered at the ASD conference on lucid dreaming. Versions of some of these may be published in Lucidity Letter at a later date. Audio tapes of the invited addresses are not available from the Lucidity Association but are available from ASD at the address above.
Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D., University of Alberta, Canada, “From Sleep Consciousness to ‘Pure’ Consciousness”, 9:30 to 10:30 am, Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Celia Green, Institute of Psychophysical Research, Oxford. England, “Lucid Dreams” [working title], 8:30 to 9:30, Friday, July 28, 1989.
Patricia Garfield. Ph.D., San Francisco, United States, workshop entitled “Creative Dreaming” where approaches to creative problem solving and lucid dreaming will be explored, 2 to 4 pm. Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Fariba Bogzaran, MA., California Institute of Integral Studies, United States, workshop
entitled “A Creative Journey into Dreams” where participants will journey to the sound of a shamanic drum beat to lucidly experience their dreams, 2 to 4 pm. Thursday, July 27,
Norbert Sattler, Ph.D.. Frankfurt, West Germany, workshop entitled “The Use of Lucid Dreams in Psychotherapeutic Practice”, 3 to 5 pm. Saturday, July 29, 1989.
Monigue Tiberghiem, MA., Belgium, workshop entitled “Induction of Lucid Dreams and Singing Overtones”, 2 to 4 pm. Saturday, July 29, 1989.
Andrew Brylowski, M.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas,
United States. “Clinical Applications of Lucid Dreaming”, part of a paper session from 2
- 5:30 pm. Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Mary Darling*, Robert Hoffmann & Alan Moffitt, York* and Carleton Universities, Canada, “The Pattern of Self-Reflectiveness in Dream Reports”, part of a symposium from 2 to 4 pm. Thursday, July 27, 1989.
Franklin Galvin, Boston University, United States, “The Boundary Characteristics of Lucid Dreamers”, part of a paper session from 2 - 5:30 pm, Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Keith Hearne, Ph.D., Hull, England, “Some Theoretical Implications of Lucid Dreaming”, part of a paper session from 2 - 5:30 pm. Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Jan Meirsman, The Netherlands, “Neurophysiological Order in the REM Sleep of
Participants of the Transcendental Meditation Programme”, part of a paper session from
2 to 4 pm. Saturday, July 29, 1989.
Thomas Snyder & Jayne Gackenbach, University of Alberta, Canada, “Vestibular Involvement in the Neurocognition of Lucid Dreaming”, part of a paper session in lucid dreams from 2 to 4 pm. Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Alan Worsley and Nicola Dooley, The Institute of Psychiatry, London, England. “Audio-tactile lucid Dreams: Induction and Phenomenology in One Subject”, part of a paper session in lucid dreams from 2 to 4 pm, Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Kaleb Utecht, Frankfurt, West Germany. “Critical Realism and Lucid Dreaming”, part of a paper session in lucid dreams from 2 to 4 pm. Wednesday, July 26, 1989.
Lucidity Association 1990 Meeting
The Lucidity Association is proud to announce that it will sponsor a two-day symposium
on Higher States of Consciousness in the summer of 1990 in Chicago, Ill. Members of the program committee planning this historic meeting include Charles Alexander, Jayne Gackenbach, Gordon Globus, Harry Hunt, Stanley Krippner and Stephen LaBerge. Look for more details on presenters, dates and specific location in the December, 1989 Lucidity Letter.
Lucidity Institute Formed
Stephen LaBerge has recently founded the Lucidity Institute. According to its newsletter, “NightLight”, the purpose of the institute “is to advance research on the nature and potentials of consciousness and to apply the results of this research to the enhancement of human health and well-being.” The institute can be contacted at Box 2364, Stanford, CA 94309.
Lucid Dreaming Bibliographic Updates
Antonio, B. (1988). A special section of Cyber on lucid dreaming, no. 6, pp. 6-26.
Bogzaran. F. (1988). Dream marbling. Ink & Gall, 2(2), 22-23.
Gillespie, G. (1989). Lights and lattices and where they are seen. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68, 487-504.
Hunt, H. (1989). A cognitive-psychological perspective on Gillespie’s “lights and lattices”: Some relations among perception, imagery, and thought. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68, 631-641.
Volumes 1- 7, 1981-1988
(Vol. 1. No. 1. 1981. thru, Vo1. 4, No. 1. 1985, are in the previous newsletter style of 8
1/2” X 11” paper. Thus all 138 consecutively numbered pages are bound and sold as one
Vol. 1. No. 1, December, 1981
Relationship Between Alpha Waves and Lucidity - Harry Hunt and Robert Ogilvie. pp. 1
Negative ions May induce Lucidity Thomas Adler, pp. 1
Sex Differences in Lucid Dreaming Incidence - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 2
Lucid Dreams Content - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 2
Switching on a Light - Keith Hearne, pp. 2
Vol. 1. No. 2, March, 1982
Is Dream Lucidity Work Another Reich’s Orgone Box - Robert Ogilvie, pp. 6
Early Results With Hearne’s Dream Machine - Steven Venus, pp. 7
Balance and Lucid Dreaming Ability: A Suggested Relationship - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 7
Switching on a Light While Lucid - Charles Tart, pp. 8
Lucid Dreams, Out-of-Body Experiences and Near-death Experiences - Kenneth Ring;
Susan Blackmore: “Perspective”. pp. 8
Imagery Skills and Lucid Dreaming Ability - Susan Blackmore, pp. 9
More Sex Differences in Lucid Dreaming Frequency - Susan Blackmore. pp. 9
Dreamspeaker Programme - Peter Fellows, pp. 10
Vol. 1. No. 3. May. 1982
Relevance of Dream Lucidity to Dream Theory Via Content Analysis - Harry Hunt, pp. 13
Settings and Causes of Lucidity - Keith Hearne, pp. 14
Keith Hearne’s Work on Lucid Dreaming - Keith Heaine, pp. 15
Near Death. Out-of-Body & Lucid Experiences: Additional Comments and Data - Enlendur
Haraldsson, pp. 18
Ten Tests for State-Assessment - Keith Hearne, pp. 18
Vol. 1. No. 4, October, 1982
Alan Worsley’s Work on Lucid Dreaming - Alan Worsley. pp. 21
Lucid Dream Research at the Sleep and Dream Laboratory, University of Virginia, Medical
Center - Joe Dane, pp. 23
Lucidity Language: A Personal Observation - George Gillespie, pp. 25
Clinical Utility Seen in Lucid Dreaming Ability - Gordon Halliday, pp. 26
Training for Lucid Awareness in Dreams, Fantasy and Waking Life - Judith Malamud, pp.
Differences Between Types of Lucid Dreams - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 31
A Suggested Experimental Method of Producing False-awakenings with Possible
Resulting Lucidity or O.B.E. -- The “FAST” (False-Awakening with State-Testing)
Technique - Keith Hearne, pp. 32
LaBerge Comment - Stephen LaBerge. pp. 33
Vol. 2. No. 1. January. 1983
An Historical Note on Lucid Dreaming - Rhea White, pp. 35
A ‘Scene-Change Phenomenon in Externalized Imagery - Keith Hearne, pp. 3h
Natural Induction of Lucid Dreams - Olivier Clerc, pp. 38
Letters to the Editor: Response to Gillespie: Response to Gackenbach: and Response to
Worsley, pp. 39
Vol. 2. No.2, April, 1983
Physiological Characteristics of Three Types of Lucid Dream - Stephen LaBerge, Lynne
Levitan, Matthew Gordon and William Dement, pp. 49
Lucid Dreams and the Arousal Continuum - Robert Ogilvie, Harry Hunt. A. Kushniruk and
J. Newman, pp. 49
Migraine, Out-of-Body Experiences and Lucid Dreams - Harvey Irwin, pp. 50
Intelligence, Creativity and Personality Differences Between Individuals Who Vary in
Self-Reported Lucid Dream Frequency - Jayne Gackenbach, Robert Curren, Stephen
LaBerge, Douglas Davidson and Pamela Maxwell, pp. 52
Presleep Determinants and Postsleep Results of Lucid Versus Vivid Dreams - Jayne
Gackenbach, Robert Curren and Gregory Cutler, pp. 52
Negative Air Ions and Lucidity Induction: Additional Data.: Thomas Adler, Jayne
Gackenbach, and Stephen LaBerge, pp. 53
Objective vs. Subjective Approaches to Investigating Dream Lucidity: A Case for the Subjective - Alan Worsley, pp. 55
Lucid Dreaming: Personal Observations - Joseph Sharcoff. pp. 56
Problem Solving and Dream Lucidity: AnUnpleasant Experience - Ruth Haak, pp. 57
Letters to the Editor - Ann Wiseman, pp. 58
Vol. 2, No. 3, July, 1983
A Survey of Lucid Dreams, OBE’s and Related Experiences - Susan Blackmore, pp. 61
Senoi Dream Praxis - Robert Knox Dentan, pp. 66
Birth, Lucid Dream and the OBE - Susan Blackmore, pp. 63
Review of Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide in Astral Projection - Harry Irwin. pp. 64
Lucid Dreaming and Mysticism: A Personal Observation - George Gillespie, pp. 65
Comments on an Investigation of the Relative Degree of Activation in Lucid Dreams -
Alan Worsley. pp. 65
Lucidity and Reading: A German Lucid Dreamer’s Report - Edith Gilmore, pp. 65
Lost Lucid Dreaming Ability - Al Mitrevics, pp. 66
Vo1.2. No. 4, November, 1983
Auditory Biofeedback as a Lucidity Induction Technique - Robert Price and David Cohen,
Cognitive Abilities of Dream Figures in Lucid Dreams - Paul Tholey, pp. 77
Psychophysiological Parallelism in Lucid Dreams - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 71
The Relationship of the Lucid Dreaming Ability to Mental Imagery Experiences and Skills - Jayne Gackenbach, Sandra Prill, and Pamela Westron, pp. 72
Meditation and Lucid Dreams - Barbara McLeod and Harry Hunt, pp. 74
An Exploration into the Inducibility of Greater Reflectiveness and “Lucidity” in Nocturnal Dream Reports - Gregory Scott Sparrow, pp. 75
Memory and Reason in Lucid Dreams: A Personal Observation - George Gillespie, pp. 76
Vol. 3, No. 1, March, 1984
The Selling of the Senoi - Ann Faraday and John Wren-Lewis, pp. 79
An Estimate of Lucid Dreaming Incidence - Jayne Gackenhach, pp. 81
Terminology in Lucid Dream Research - Charles Tart, pp. 82
Remarks by A Lucid Dreamer - Edith Gilmore, pp. 84
Vol. 3, No. 2 & No. 3, August, 1984
Problems Related to Experimentation While Dreaming Lucidly - George Gillespie. pp. 87
Comments on ‘The Selling of the Senoi” - Patric Giesler, pp. 89
A Response to Giesler - Ann Faraday and John Wren-Lewis, pp. 91
Techniques and Antecedents: A Response to Giesler - Robert Knox Denten, pp. 91
A Contribution to the Dynamics of “Lucid” Dreams - Z. Havlicek, pp. 93
A “Bringing to Awareness” Dream - Stephan Knorles, pp. 94
Can We Distinguish Between Lucid Dreams and Dreaming--Awareness Dreams? – George Gillespie. pp. 95
Lucid Dream Definition - Alan Worsley, pp. 97
Vol. 3,No. 4, December, 1984
The Lucidagogic Effect of Medical Residency On-Call Nights on Dreaming - Kenneth
Moss, pp. 99
The Phenomenon of Light in Lucid Dreams: Personal Observations - George Gillespie,
The Lucid Dreaming Ability and Parasympathetic Functioning - Jayne Gackenbach, Jill
Walling, and Stephen LaBerge, pp. 101
Statistical Description of My Lucid Dreams - George Gillespie. pp. 104
Book Review - Edith Gilmore, pp. 112
Letter to the Editor - Lawrence Earl, pp. 116
Vol. 4, No. 1, June, 1985
A Comparative Psychology of Lucid Dreams - Harry Hunt, pp. 117
Dreaming: Lucid and Non - David Foulkes, pp. 118
Reply to Foulkes - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 120
Single-Mindedness and Self-Reflectiveness: Laboratory Studies - Alan Moffitt, Sheila
Purcell, Robert Hoffmann, Roger Wells, and Ross Pigeau, pp. 121
Dream Self-Reflectiveness as a Learned Cognitive Skill - S. Purcell, J. Mullington, A.
Moffitt, R. Hoffmann and R. Pigeau, pp. 122
Eye Movement Direction and the Lucid Dreaming Ability - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 124
Sex Differences in Lucid Dreaming Self-Reported Frequency: A Second Look - Jayne
Gackenbach, pp. 127
Are Lucid Dreams Universal? Two Unequivocal Cases of Lucid Dreaming Among Han
Chinese University Students in Beijing, 1985 - Myrna Walters and Robert Knox Denton,
How Valid is Auditory Biofeedback as a Lucidity Induction Technique – Andrew Brylowski,
Experimentation With the Vortex Phenomenon in Lucid Dreams - Kenneth Moss, pp. 131
“With the Eyes of the Mind: An Empirical Analysis of Out-of-Body States by Glen O. Gabbard and Stuart W. Twenlow” - Reviewed by Susan Blackmore, pp. 133
(From December, 1985 to the current issue each is separately bound and thus separately available.)
Vol. 4, No. 2, December, 1985
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 2
A. Near-Death and Dream Lucidity
Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experience - A Personal Report - John Wren Lewis, pp. 4
What Do We Mean By Lucidity? - Charles Tart, pp. 12
“Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experience”: A Lucidity-Meditation Analysis -
Harry Hunt, pp. 17
Comments on “Dream Lucidity and Near-Death Experience - A Personal Report”.
by John Wren-Lewis - George Gillespie. pp. 21
Near-Death and Dream Lucidity: Comments on John Wren-Lewis’s Account
Michael Grosso, pp. 24
Representation of Death in My Dreams - Beverly Kedzierske, pp. 28
Near Death, Near Dream - George Gillespie, pp. 30
B. Out-of-Body and Dream Lucidity
Lucid Dreams and Viewpoints in Imagery: Two Studies - Susan Blackmore, pp. 34
Out-of-Body Experiences as Lucid Dreams: A Critique - D. Scott Rogo, pp. 43
WANTED: New Mapmakers of the Mind - Robert Monroe, pp. 47
Comments on OBEs and Lucid Dreams - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 54
OBEs - Are They Dreams? - Lynne Levitan, pp. 59
Lucid Dreams or Out-of-Body Experiences: A Personal Case - Father “X”. pp. 62
C. A Theoretical Model
Distinguishing Between Transcendental Consciousness and Lucidity - Charles Alexander, Robert foyer, and David Orme-Johnson, pp. 68
“Dreams, Illusions, Bubbles, Shadows”: Awareness of ‘Unreality’ While
Dreaming Among Chinese College Students - Myrna Walters and Robert Knox
Dentan, pp. 86
Dream Control or Dream Actualization? - Strephon Kaplan Williams, pp. 93
Photographic and Cinematographic Applications in Lucid Dream Control -
Kenneth Moss, pp. 98
E. Book Review
‘The Mystique of Dreams: A Search for Utopia Through Senoi Dream Theory” by O. William Domhoff - Reviewed by Robert Knox Dentan, pp. 104
Vol. 5, No. 1. June. 1986
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 2
A. Anthropological Perspectives on Lucid Dreaming: A Panel Discussion - Deborah Jay
Hillman and Patric Giesler
B. Religious and Philosophical Origins and Implications: Short Talks
Ordinary Dreams, Lucid Dreams and Mystical Experiences - George Gillespie,
Lucid Dreams and Meditation - Harry Hunt, pp. 31
C. The Relationship Between the Out-of-Body Experience and Lucid Dreaming: A Symposium
The Relationship Between the Out-of-Body Experience and Lucid Dreaming: A
Personal Account - Patric Giesler, pp. 38
The Out-of-Body Experience: A Personal Account - Andrew Brylowski. pp. 43
Comments on the ORE/Lucid Dream Controversy - Roy Salley, pp. 47
D. Individual Differences Associated With Dream Lucidity Ability: A Talk
Personality Characteristics Associated With the Dream Lucidity Ability: Fact or Fiction - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 57
E. Personal Exploration of Lucid Dreaming: A Panel Discussion - Stephen LaBerge
(Chair), Beverly Kedzierski, Kenneth Moss, Jill Gregory, George Gillespie, and Henri
Rojovan, pp. 75
F. Physiological Mechanisms of Lucid Dreaming: A Talk - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 105
G. Psychophysiological Issues: A Symposium
H-reflex in Lucid Dreams - Andrew Brylowski, pp. 116
EEG Cartography of a Night of Sleep - Pierre Etevenon, pp. 119
Alpha and Dream Lucidity - Harry Hunt, pp. 128
Non-REM Lucid Dreaming - Joe Dane, pp. 133
H. Empirical and Theoretical Analysis of the Psychological Content of Lucid Dreams: A Symposium
Kinesthetic Imagery as a Duality of Lucid Awareness: Descriptive and
Experimental Case Studies - Tore Neilsen, pp. 147
The Manifest Content of Self-reported Lucid Versus Non-lucid Dreams - Jayne
Gackenbach, pp. 160
Dream Psychology: Operating in the Dark - Alan Moffitt, Sheila Purcell, Robert
Hoffmann, Ross Pigeau and Roger Wells, pp. 180
Discussant - Harry Hunt, pp. 197
I. The Problem of Induction: A Panel Discussion - Robert Price (Chair), Stephen LaBerge.
Christian Bouchet, Roger Ripert and Joe Dane, pp. 205
J. Mental Health Applications: A Panel Discussion - Patricia Garfield (Chair), Judith
Malamud, Jean Campbell, Ann Sayre Wiseman and Gordon Halliday, pp. 230
Vol. 5. No. 2. December. 1986
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 3
A. Healing: Speculations and Suggestions
Speculations on Healing with the Lucid Dream - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 5
Healing Through Lucid Dreaming - Stephen LaBerge. pp. 9
Rio-Magnetic-Imaging: Implications for Healing - John Zimmerman, pp. 11 B. Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations
Out-of-Body Epistemology - Thomas Metzinger, pp. 16
Beyond Lucidity - A Personal Report - Ann Faraday, pp. 22
The Dream Lucidity Continuum - Kenneth Moss, pp. 25
Visual Phenomena Alter Sleeping or Restin2 - Darrell Dixon, pp. 29
C. Research Reports
Lucid Dreams and Migraine: A Second Investigation - Harvey Irwin, pp. 31
Lucid Dreaming, Witnessing Dreaming, and the Transcendental Meditation
Technique: A Developmental Relationship - Jayne Gackenbach, Robert Cranson,
and Charles Alexander, pp. 34
D. Book Reviews
Harvey Irwin’s Flight of Mind.: A Psychological Study of the Out-of-Body
Experience - Reviewed by Susan Blackmore, pp. 50
Robert Monroe’s Far Journeys - Reviewed by Roy Salley, pp. 53
VoL. 6. No. 1. June. 1987
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackeabach, pp. 2
Dreaming (&Waking) Lucidity and Healing A Proposal: Can Lucid Dreaming Effect Immunocompetence? - Andrew Brylowski, pp. 4
Lucid Dreams or Resolution Dreams for Healing? - Strephon Kaplan Williams, pp. 10
Comment on Strephon Kaplan Williams Article - Katrina Romana Machado, pp. 21
Utilization of Awake Dreams for Therapeutic Intervention - Diane Jones, pp. 24
B. Research Reports and an at Home Research Project
Psychological Content of “Consciousness” During Sleep in a TM Practitioner -
Jayne Gackenbach and William Moorecroft, pp. 29
Flying Dreams and Lucidity: An Empirical Study of Their Relationship - Deirdre
Barrett, pp. 37
At Home Research Project: Lucid Dreaming Exercises and Questionnaire -
Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 39
Interview With Physicist. Fred Alan Wolf, on the Physics of Lucid Dreaming, pp. 51
D. 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, pp. 64
Dream Light: Categories of Visual Experience During Lucid Dreaming - George
Gillespie, pp. 73
Problems at Refining the “Lucid” Label: Shooting at a Moving Target - Elinor
Gebremedhin. pp. 80
Awake in the Dark: Imageless Lucid Dreaming - Linda L. Magallón. pp. 86
Dreams of Lucid Dreams - Darrell Dixon, pp. 91
Is an OBE a Dream or Are Dreams Just OBEs? - Janet Mitchell, pp. 94
E. Book Review
Kenneth Kelzei’s The Sun and the Shadow: A New Classic on Lucid Dreaming -Reviewed by Charles Tart, pp. 102
Vol. 6. No- 2. December. 1987
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 2
A. Ethical Concerns Essays
Clinical and Transpersonal Concerns With Lucid Dreaming Voiced - Jayne
Gackenbach, pp. 4
Response to Gackenbach - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 8
B. Proceedings from the 2nd Annual Lucid Dreaming Symposium
Session 1: What is a Lucid Dream: Psychological and Physiological Considerations
Manifest Content Analysis of Sleep Laboratory Collected Lucid and Nonlucid
Dreams - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 11
Dream Content Within the Partially Lucid REM Period: A Single Subject
Content Analysis - Robert Price, pp. 22
Flying Dreams and Lucidity: An Empirical Study of Their Relationship - Diedre
Barrett, pp. 33
Varieties of Experience from Light Induced Lucid Dreams - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 38
EEG and Other Physiological Findings - Stephen LaBerge and Andrew Brylowski, pp. 40
Commentary - Ernest Hartmann and John Antrobus, pp. 50
Session 2: Applications of Lucid Dreaming
The Creative Process: Paintings Inspired from the Lucid Dream - Fariba Bogzaran, pp. 61
Potential Effects of Lucid Dreaming on Immunocompetence - Andrew Brylowski, pp. 65
Ethical Issues for Applications of Lucid Dreaming - Joseph Dane. P. Eric Craig, and Morton Schatzman, pp. 70
Session 3: Transpersonal Implications of Lucid Dreaming
Lucidity About Lucidity - Robert Dentan, pp. 95
Lucidity as a Meditative Sate - Many Hunt, pp. 105
Dream Lucidity and Dream Witnessing: A Developmental Model Based on the
Practice of Transcendental Meditation - Charles Alexander, pp. 113
Distinguishing Between Phenomenon and Interpretation: When Does Lucid
Dreaming Become Transpersonal Experience? - George Gillespie, pp. 125
The Physics of Dream Consciousness: Es the Lucid Dream a Parallel Universe? -
Fred Alan Wolf, pp. 130
Concluding Comments - Stephen LaBerge, pp. 135
C. Articles Research Reports
“Consciousness” During Sleep in a TM Practitioner: Heart Rate, Respiration, and Eye Movement - Jayne Gackenbach, William Moorecroft, Charles Alexander and Stephen LaBerge, pp. 127
Induction of Lucid Dreaming by Luminous Stimulation - Stephen LaBerge, pp.
Phenomenology: Personal and Theoretical Considerations
The Dream-Art Scientist: A Sethian View of Dream Lucidity - Linda Magallón, pp. 147
D. Book Reviews
Paul Tholey and Kaleb Utecht’s Schoepferisch Trauemen: Der Klartraum als
Lebenshilfe - Reviewed by Norbert Sattler, pp. 150
Charles Tart’s Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential -
Reviewed by John Wren-Lewis, pp. 154
Vol. 7. No. 1. June. 1988
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 3
A. Concerns With the Field of Lucid Dreaming Essays/Letters Lucid dreaming: Ethical Issues - Alan Worsley, pp. 4 Letter from Scott Sparrow. pp. 6
Lucidity and Other Things That Might Go Bump in the Night - Bob Trowbridge. pp. 9
Letter from Linda L. Magallón, pp.12
Lucid Dreaming and Ethical Reflection - Kelly Bulkley, pp.l3
Reply to Bulkley: “A thoroughly confused picture of what ethics is all about utterly antithetical to any sort of valid ethical position” - Stephen LaBerge, pp.17
B. Proceedings of the European Symposium on Lucid Dream Research
From Ordinary to Lucid Dreaming: Research and Politics of Dreaming in North
America - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 19
Overview of the German Research in the Field of Lucid Dreaming - Paul Tholey,
Lucid Dreaming And The Evolution Of Human Consciousness - Olivier Clerc,
Lucid Dreams And OBES - Susan Blackmore, pp. 35
Dream Lucidity Induction And Control - Alan Worsley, pp. 44
Interview with “The Sun and the Shadow” author, Ken Kelzer, pp. 48
Senoi, Kilton Stewart, and The Mystique of Dreams: Further Thoughts on an
Allegory About an Allegory - G. William Domhoff, pp. 1
EEG Activity During Signaled Lucid Dreams - Robert D. Ogilvie. Kevin P.
Vieira and Robert J- Small, pp. 57
In Pursuit of the Goal of Science: Through a Synthesis of Phenomenology and
Lucid Dreaming - Todd Pressman, pp. 59
Induction of Ecstatic Lucid Dreams - Daryl E. Hewitt, pp. 64
On Constructing Our Own Reality - Robin Robertson, pp. 67
Psychedelics and Lucid Dreaming: Doorways in the Mind - A.S. Kay, pp. 69
The Serendipitous Facilitation of Lucid Dreaming Ability in a Single Subject -
David R. May, pp. 74
E. Book Reviews
“The New Biology: Discovering the Wisdom in Nature” by Robert Augros and George Stanciu - Reviewed by Stanley Krippner. pp. 76
“Speaking of Silence: Christians and Buddhists on the Contemplative Way”, Edited by Susan Walker - Reviewed by Stanley Krippner, pp. 78
Vol. 7. No- 2. December. 1988
Letter from the Editor - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 3
A. Proceedings of the 1988 Lucid Dreaming Symposium
The Multiplicity of Dreams - Harry Hunt. pp. 5
Induction of Lucid Dreams Including the Use of the Dreamlight - Stephen
LaBerge. pp. 15
East Meets West, Buddhism Meets Christianity: The Lucid Dream as a Path for
Union - Kenneth Kelzer, pp. 22
The Potential of Lucid Dreaming for Bodily Healing - Jayne Gackenbach, pp. 28
A Validation of Lucid Dreaming in School Age Children - Deborah Armstrong-Hickey, pp. 35
A Conceptual and Phenomenological Analysis of Pure Consciousness During
Sleep - Charles Alexander, pp. 39
Clinical and Spiritual Implications of Lucid Dreaming: A Panel Discussion, pp. 44
A Discussion Between Charles Tart and Lucidity Letter Editor, Jayne
Gackenbach, Examining Similarities Between Dream Lucidity. Witnessing and
Self-Remembering, pp. 59
An Historical View of “Dreams and the Ways to Direct Them: Practical
Observations” by Marie-Jean-Leoa Lecog, le Marquis d’Hervey-Saint-Denys -
C.M. den Blanken and E.J.G. Miejer, pp. 67
Hypnotherapy: A Natural Method of Learning Lucid Dreaming - Hildegard
Klippstein, pp. 79
Notes on Conscious Cessation of Lucid Dream Activity - Thomas Lyttle, pp. 89
Communal Lucid Dreaming: An Introductory Technique - Francis Louis Szot, pp. 93
From the Beginning Thru Feast or Famine - Krisanne Gray. pp. 97
D. Book Review
“The Nature of Physical Reality” by Subhash Kak- reviewed by Stanley Krippner, pp. 101
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