Lucidity Letter - December 1990 - Vol. 9, No. 2

Virtual Worlds

Letter from the Editor                                                                                                                                  



Applications of Lucid Dreaming in Sports - Paul Tholey                     

Freud, Van Eeden and Lucid Dreaming - Bob Rooksby and Sybe Terwee

Panel Discussion: Should You Control Your Dreams? - Walter Bonime, Jayne Gackenbach, Patricia Garfield, Eugene Gendlin, Johanna King, and Jane White Lewis                    

Conscious Mental Stillness in Dreams: Two Different Effects - Elinor Gebremedhin

Reflections on 20 Years of 'Conscious' Sleep Experiences - Father "X"      



Patricia Garfield's "Pathway to Ecstasy" Re-Released: An Interview   


1990 Lucidity Association Meeting

Higher States of Consciousness Conference Report - Jayne Gackenbach    

Panel Discussion: Is Lucid Dreaming Related to Higher States of Consciousness? - Charles Alexander, Fariba Bogzaran, Melissa Derfler, Jayne Gackenbach, and Harry Hunt                                  

Mind and Body in Medicine and Transcendental Meditation - Susan Vegors           

EEG Correlates of Consciousness During Sleep: A Pilot Study - Lynne Mason, Charles Alexander, Fred Travis, and Jayne Gackenbach 

Neurophysiological Order in the REM Sleep of Participants of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program - Jan M.R. Meirsman           

Intelligence and Higher States of Consciousness: A Longitudinal Study - Robert W. Cranson, Charles N. Alexander, David Orme-Johnson and Jayne Gackenbach         



Jacob's Ladder: Dreams and Consciousness, Hollywood-style - Kelly Bulkley        

News and Notes

Lucidity Letter Readers Survey Results                                             

Lucid Dreaming Bibliographic Updates                                              

What's New In Lucid Dreaming?: 1991 Lucidity Association Meeting

1991 Association for the Study of Dreams Meeting                           



Lucidity Letter Staff: Senior Editor: Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.; Associate Editors: Kathy Belicki, Ph.D. and Elinor Gebremedhin, M.A.; Copy Editor: Elinor Gebremedhin, M.A.; Editorial Consultant: Harry Hunt, Ph.D.; Typesetting: Rhonda Day, Jayne Gackenbach, Joanne Gazzola, Elinor Gebremedhin, and Shelagh Robinson; List Maintenance: Jayne Gackenbach; Printer: Waverly Publishing, Waverly, Iowa; Publisher: Lucidity Association.


1990-1991 Lucidity Association Steering Committee: Kathy Belicki, Ph.D.; Harry Hunt, Ph.D. (Chair); Fariba Bogzaran, M.S.; Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.; Elinor Gebremedhin, M.A.; George Gillespie; Gita Holzinger, M.S.; Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D.


ISSN: 0847-2688; Copyright is held by the Lucidity Association; Printed in the United States. Lucidity Letter is published by the Lucidity Association, a nonprofit organization incorporated in the United States and devoted to education about and research into the lucid dream and related phenomena. It was formed to enable a dialogue between professionals and sophisticated experients interested in the phenomenon of lucid dreams and related states of consciousness. Lucidity Letter  is published semiannually and receives mail at 8703 109th St., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2L5. The editorial offices can be reached through the mail or by calling (403) 468-4104. Manuscripts should be submitted to the editor, in duplicate and double spaced. It would be appreciated if, whenever possible, a computer disk with the submission on it could be supplied. All disks will be returned to the author. Opinions expressed on the pages of Lucidity Letter are not necessarily those of the Lucidity Association. The 1991 subscription to Lucidity Letter is $25, $30 (Canada and Foreign ground mail), and $35 (Foreign air mail). All subscriptions are U.S. funds drawn only on U.S. or Canadian banks. For checks drawn on all other banks add a $20 collection fee. Subscriptions, change of address and inquiries should be sent to the the editorial offices.


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Letter from the Editor


      As I sit looking out over Edmonton's snow covered river valley, after having just caught up on the latest war news, the peace of my view stands in stark contrast to the realities of today's world. So too the fulfillment I have felt the last 10 years editing Lucidity Letter stands in stark contrast to the financial realities of a very small organization trying to keep a very small journal on a very esoteric topic alive. A topic which I deeply believe is critical to our growth as individuals and ultimately as a civilization. As one of the original consciousness researchers, R. Keith Wallace, recently wrote: "the process of growing to the highest state of consciousness - traditionally known as 'enlightenment' - is referred to as a process of becoming more and more fully awake inside, awake to the inner dynamics of consciousness." I believe that Lucidity Letter has played, and hopefully will continue to play, a key role in supporting this perspective.


      Due to the efforts of a small cadre of loyal supporters we are able to bring this issue to you. The Lucidity Letter was on the brink of folding due to lack of funds in November of 1990. (See the subscription renewal letter enclosed with this issue of Lucidity Letter for further details.) Heart felt thanks to these individuals for helping to rescue Lucidity Letter: Kathy Belicki, Joseph Dane, Rita Mary Dwyer, Elinor Gebremedhin, Gordon Globus, Gordon Halliday, Harry Hunt, E.W. Kellogg, Margaret Jane Kephart, Stephen LaBerge, Lucidity Institute, Jim McNamara, Robert Ogilvie, Vincent Parr, Shirley Purdy, Theordore Rockwell, Stanley Rojo, Charles Tart, and Alan Worsley. There were also contributions from seven other individuals who asked that their names be withheld. Somehow it was validating to get contributions from some of the major figures in dreams and consciousness (named and unnamed above). As I sit in my office with the sounds of my children playing upstairs it seems that this show of support makes me realize that the many hours of putting past Lucidity Letters together and responding to the increasing flow of inquiries about lucid dreaming has been appreciated. None-the-less we still stand at a decision point; whether to continue publishing two issues a year, which will require more funds to be raised, or to go to one issue a year at the same price. If you think you can help please read the enclosed information and send what you can.


      As Elinor Gebremedhin commented while finishing the last of the copy editing on this issue, "this is really an exciting issue." Yes, I thought, it is. And that is how I generally feel when writing this letter to you our readers. It was gratifying to see her degree of involvement and excitement about what she has helped "birth". So too Kathy Belicki and Harry Hunt were very instrumental in bringing this issue to you.


      The increasing international flavor of Lucidity Letter is apparent with the two lead articles. The first is by one of the premiere figures in lucid dreaming, Paul Tholey from Germany. Although his English language work on dream lucidity is increasing it still lags far behind what is available in German. Thus it is with pleasure that we are able to bring this article on sports training while lucid in sleep. It points to the breadth of activities that are available to the avid lucid dreamer and further highlights the importance of Tholey's contribution to this field. Pictures of Tholey engaging in sports activities he has perfected through lucid dreaming are on the cover of this issue.


      Another important article by Europeans follows Tholey's. Bob Rooksby of England and and Sybe Terwee of the Netherlands bring us a previously unknown letter from Sigmund Freud to Fredrik van Eeden about dreams and lucid dreams. This article is a major contribution to our understanding of the history of lucid dreaming. A picture of van Eeden is also on the cover of this issue of Lucidity Letter.


      A lively discussion on "Should You Control Your Dreams?" follows. This took place at the 1990 meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams and was transcribed and then edited by each speaker for publication in Lucidity Letter. The panel was evenly divided on the advisability of trying dream control.


      The last two articles in this section are first hand reports. The first from Lucidity Letter  editor Elinor Gebremedhin. She considers two experiences of "mental stillness" while conscious in sleep, which had very different waking results. The final article in this section is a twenty year reflection on consciousness in sleep by a Catholic monk priest, "Father X", who prefers to remain anonymous. The simple humility with which he speaks is always a compelling reason to stop and listen to this truly extraordinary man.


      Our interview this issue is with another of the giants of the lucid dreaming field, Patricia Garfield. With the surge in New Age publishing her much appreciated "Pathway to Ecstasy" has been re-issued. This autobiographical journal through lucid dreaming and meditation experiences was far ahead of its time when it was originally published in the late 1970's. We are pleased that it is now receiving the attention it so richly deserves.


      Selected proceedings from the 1990 Higher States of Consciousness conference constitute the next section of this issue of Lucidity Letter. The invited addresses to the conference are being gathered for a book to be published by Plenum. First there is a report on the conference followed by four of the 20 posters and the panel discussion on "Is Lucid Dreaming Related to Higher States of Consciousness?" Since this conference was designed to explore the science and theory of Higher States of Consciousness and to help facilitate communication between groups of researchers who have not here to been in direct communication you will see that the proceedings we have enclosed in this issue are of a wider scope than we normally offer. Highlight people from the area of lucid dreaming and higher states of consciousness discussed if lucid dreaming was related to these states in the panel discussion. The relationship of witnessing sleep/dreams to lucid dreaming is part of the panels discussion and three of the papers from the poster session discuss witnessing sleep/dreams.  In the first of these Lynne Mason and colleagues present some pilot data on EEG correlates of this experience. In the second, from another European, Jan Meirsman reports on his research on the neurophysiological characteristics of the REM sleep of long term meditators. Finally, Robert Cranson and colleagues look at the relationship of intelligence to the incidence of witnessing sleep. Also included is a paper by Susan Vegors on one perspective on the mind/body medicine question.


      The review in this issue is of a movie! Kelly Bulkley recently saw "Jacob's Ladder" and writes of how its really about dreams and consciousness. In the News and Notes section the results of the Lucidity Letter readers survey are reported on. Then you will see that the writing on lucid dreaming is continuing to grow with the lucid dreaming bibliographic updates. Finally, some of the proceedings from the forthcoming meetings of the Lucidity Association and the Association for the Study of Dreams are listed.


      It is with great pleasure that we bring you this issue of Lucidity Letter and hope that it will aid in your understanding of the "process of becoming more and more fully awake inside, awake to the inner dynamics of consciousness."


Jayne Gackenbach,


Senior Editor


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Paul Tholey


J. W. Goethe-Universitat



The following article has above all a practical orientation. The various possibilities for the application of lucid dreaming in sports training are presented and briefly illustrated.  These theses are based on findings from experiments with experienced lucid dreamers[1]  who were instructed to carry out various routine and sport-related actions while lucid-dreaming, with the object of observing the effects on both dreaming and waking states (Tholey, 1981a).  Additionally, I report here on numerous spontaneous accounts of athletes who have mastered lucid dreaming, as well as my own years of experience as a lucid dreamer and as an active competitor in different types of sports.


With regard to theoretical principles I have relied on the gestalt theory of sports as it was first systematically presented by Kohl after numerous phenomenological and objective experiments (Kohl, 1956), and as it was further developed in my own work (Tholey, 1981b).  The latter explored the significance of lucid dreaming to sports. Due to space limitations, only the most important theoretical conceptions concerning the application of lucid dreaming to sports training will be discussed here.




Basic Theoretical Principles




According to gestalt theory, the complex sensory-motor feedback system of the human physical organism is to be conceived of as a servo-mechanism which serves the finely-tuned, energy-saving control of the organism.  The main control center of this circuit system lies in the brain.  There the physical world is represented more or less exactly as the phenomenal world (phenomenal body ego and phenomenal environment) by means of sensory processes.  The control of the organism can be compared to the control of a large airplane in whose cockpit all the relevant data about the airplane and its surroundings are represented by the transfer of computer information. 


In a dream, the sensory-motor feedback system is interrupted to such an extent that both intended [output] and immediately experienced [input] body movements do not lead to corresponding movements of the physical organism itself.  The situation in a dream is therefore comparable to the one of a pilot in a flight simulator.  Just as a flight simulator can be used to learn how to fly a real airplane, dreaming (especially lucid dreaming) can lead to the learning of movements by the physical organism in the real (waking) world.  Because of the close connection between sensory and motor processes, we speak of sensory-motor learning.


Given that the world is experienced as real in lucid dreaming, I am are of the opinion that lucid dream training is more effective than various forms of so-called mental training during which which the athlete performs movements in a world that is perceived as existing only in the imagination (for the physiological argument on this point see Tholey, 1981a, p.42).


Having pointed out that various characteristics are common to both the sensory-motor system of the physical organism and the technological simulation systems such as those made for an airplane, I want to indicate some important differences.  While the data in the control center of a technological simulation system are usually stored in records and files that are dynamically independent of each other, the phenomenal facts represented in the brain find themselves in a state of dynamic interaction.  For this reason I also speak of the phenomenal field (body ego and surrounding field).  A person's movements can now be controlled by the phenomenal ego[2] (as with voluntary actions, or by field actions (cf. Lewin, 1936).  The playing field in soccer, for example, can be experienced as an action field formed by force lines having an immediate effect on motor performance -- i.e., without intellectual or deliberate effort. This was noted in 1927 by Hartgenbuch.  Leaving aside the aforementioned differences, the control of the organism through the surrounding phenomenal field is most comparable to the automatic control of an airplane with the aid of an auto-pilot.


There is an important difference between experiences simulated in lucid dreams and those simulated in waking-life computer-based technological simulators. Through the use of certain manipulation techniques, the experienced lucid dreamer can intentionally call forth experiences which contradict not only the routine, daily experiences of the waking state, but also the physical laws of nature.  In this way lucid dreaming offers a broader range of learning possibilities than a technology-based simulator. Furthermore, we have found that improvements in motor-related performance occur from one dream to the next.  This is especially pronounced in actions which were not heretofore known in a waking state, for example, various exercises performed in flying or soaring states.




Theses on the Application Possibilities


of Lucid Dreaming in Sports




Thesis 1:  Sensory-motor skills which have already been mastered in their rough outlines can be refined by using lucid dreaming.


Experiments showed that repeated movements in particular can be substantially improved with the appropriate exercises during lucid dreaming. These include rapid slalom movements on snow skis, skateboards and snowboards.  This improvement was imputed to various tendencies towards a good gestalt (pregnance) that can be observed in all living systems in which the individual parts are locked into dynamic interaction with each other.  In a lucid dream the individual areas of the phenomenal field interact in a more intensely dynamic way than in a waking state in which the areas of the phenomenal field are more dependent on sensory processes.  In addition, body movements which are harmonious with each other and the situation as a whole are more likely to be retained than non-harmonious body movements.  Good gestalts are also further distinguished by a particular kind of multisensory sensitivity which is ultimately responsible for the perfection of movements (for details see Tholey, 1986).




Thesis 2:  New sensory-motor skills can be learned using lucid dreaming.    


To illustrate this point I will first present the case of a competitor in the martial arts (Tholey & Utecht, 1987, p.208). For years this man had studied the so-called "hard systems" (karate, tae kwon do, and jujitsu).  Then he decided to learn the "soft" system of akido. Over a period of two years, however, he failed to succeed in this because the previously learned movements stubbornly refused to be superseded.  He considers the following dream account to be the key experience that put him on the right path:




On this particular evening, after still not succeeding in wearing down my attacker and taking him to the mat, I went to bed somewhat disheartened.  While falling asleep the situation ran through my mind time and again.  While defending myself, the correct balancing movement collided with my inner impulse to execute a hard defensive block, so that I repeatedly ended up unprotected and standing there like a question mark...a ridiculous and unworthy situation for the wearer of a black belt. During a dream that night, I fell down hard one time instead of rolling away.  That day I had made up my mind to ask myself the critical question in this situation: "Am I awake or am I dreaming?"  I was immediately lucid.  Without thinking very long about it, I immediately went to my Dojo, where I began an unsupervised training session on defense techniques with my dream partner.  Time and time again I went through the exercise in a loose and effortless way.  It went better every time.


            The next evening I went to bed full of expectations.  I again achieved a state of lucid dreaming and practiced Akido further. That's the way it went the whole week until the formal training period started again . . . I amazed my instructor with an almost perfect defense.  Even though we speeded up the tempo [of our interchanges], I didn't make any serious mistakes.  From then on I learned quickly and received my own training license after one year.




The following example comes from a snow skier.




Jetting with its strong shift of the center of gravity backwards, had always made me so afraid that I constantly fell and came home to the cabin covered with bruises.  The summer after I learned lucid dreaming, I began to dream about skiing over moguls.  I often used the hump to initiate a flying experience, but at some point I also began to lean back shortly before the hump, thereby taking my weight off the skis in order to change direction with my heels.  That was a lot of fun and after a few weeks it became clear to me during lucid dreaming that my movements corresponded to jetting.  When I went on a skiing vacation again the following winter and took a course, I mastered jetting in one week.  I am absolutely convinced that [this accomplishment]  was connected to my summer night exercises.




This example demonstrates that a lucid dreamer can simulate a world in which the usual physical laws apply, as well as a world in which they are not applicable.  Both such simulations are significant for sensory-motor learning.[3]




Thesis 3:  Sensory-motor actions can be perfected by test runs carried out in a lucid dream state.   


Jean Claude Killy, winner of several Olympic medals in Alpine skiing, has reported the following.  On the evening before a race, in a half-sleeping state, he mentally skis over the slalom course (which he has imprinted in his memory during the day)  as many times as are necessary to master the course well enough to ski it without falling.  Although this is hypnagogic rehearsal, the technique can be used in lucid dreams.


Sladko Solinski, an internationally successful equestrian, has written me several letters about his lucid dreaming experiences.  Here is an excerpt from one of his letters (Personal Communication, 1983):




Thus, in a lucid dream I can form my figures to an extremely exact degree--whether in the sand of dressage competition or across the landscape of a cross-country course during military-style competition.  I manage to do this in slow motion, giving the horse "assistance" at exactly the right moment in a particular movement phase.  During lucid dreaming "I ride" the course through several times (three to nine times), exactly and completely.  Based on this experience, my "body knowledge" is sufficient to get through the course autonomously, i.e.--without conscious or deliberate effort.




We will come back to these important executions in another context. Here it should only be pointed out that when an athlete performs a flowing movement without conscious or deliberate effort, it is often described as instinctive, automatic or unconscious. None of these expressions are quite correct since the movements do not result from inborn instincts, but rather from learning processes.  Furthermore, the movements are not to be understood as the movements of an isolated person, but as an event taking place in a field.  This event is grasped and controlled as a multi-sensory sensitivity to the present or anticipated total situation.




Thesis 4:  The flexibility of an athlete's reactions can be substantially improved by varying body movements in lucid dreams.     


This is especially important for complex types of sports in which the athlete must quickly react to unforeseen situations. For this reason it isn't wise to execute only the most optimal actions during lucid dreaming, but rather (as in the Killy example) to vary the actions such that they could either lead to a fall or at least come close to it.  This is important because athletes who take part in risk-taking sports frequently fall into dangerous, unforeseen situations from which they can save themselves only if they have previously acquired a large measure of reaction flexibility.  Additionally, flexibility of action also promotes a finely tuned and disturbance-compensating control of sensory-motor performance. 




Thesis 5:  Lucid dreaming can also be used for practicing mental movements which make sensory-motor learning easier.   


"Mental movements" are understood to be those movements which are experienced as occurring merely in the imagination rather than in physical reality.  The effectiveness of mental movements derived from observing or imitating the movements of a practiced athlete has been known for a long time.  This is not an appropriate place to describe all of the various types of mental movements which are significant in sports; for more details, see Kohl (1956).


There is one type of mental movement that does seem both important and particularly appropriate to lucid dreaming, and that is "anticipation."  "Anticipation" in this context can have two aspects. It can be an overall plan of action that is determined before the execution of any particular movement or action.  It can also be an interactive process:  during the execution of a particular movement, the immediately following movement is imagined. The anticipation of the next movement doesn't occur in a willful or deliberate manner, but is an event which takes place in a total phenomenal field.  This aspect of anticipation makes it possible to react "lightning quick" as it is expressed in Zen Buddhism[4] because the athlete is reacting to the anticipated situation, not the present one.  Top skiers, for example, are always four or five gates ahead in slalom skiing. For a physiological explanation, see Kohl (1956).


With the help of the test runs described in Thesis 3 (experienced as real during lucid dreaming), an athlete can sketch out a plan of movement for himself before its execution in a waking state.  More importantly, due to the repeated execution of the movement in lucid dreaming, during actual execution, a person is prepared to carry out an action while taking into account the coming event. 


Two other kinds of mental movements are bound up with various ego experiences.  In the first, the athlete feels himself to be playing the roles of both the actor and spectator simultaneously.  This means being able to better control the movement from "within"  as well as "without." In the second type of movement, the athlete puts himself in the position of another athlete.  This is helpful when another athlete is taken as a model in order to learn from him, purely through observation or by imitating his movements.  An example is a skier following behind a better skier.


To my knowledge, examples of the first type (whereby the athlete is both actor and spectator) are only to be found in the realm of lucid dreaming.  This is most likely because the ego core can leave the dream body and can be duplicated into an actor as well as a spectator of the lucid dreaming.  Sladko Solinski reports that riding becomes especially easy for him (and more fun) when he feels himself to be rider and spectator at the same time.  Another experienced lucid dreamer reported to me that he can control his car better while racing when he steers it from inside as well as with an imagined ego observing from a bird's eye view.


Mentally/imaginally slipping into the body of another person is particularly significant for the martial arts as well as being potentially useful in other sports.  It is a way of anticipating the opponent's intentions and avoiding his ruses. Here again, putting oneself into the "body" of another person can be made significantly easier and intensified during lucid dreaming by the fact that the body of the "other" dream character can be entered by the ego core of the lucid dreamer.




Thesis 6:  Lucid dreaming can be used for improving the organization of the phenomenal field with respect to the execution of sports movements.  


According to gestalt theory, the learning process involved in complex sports is much less a matter of acquiring a particular form of movement or a repertoire of such forms than it is a matter of improving the organization or structure of the total phenomenal field.  A better understanding of this requires an examination of each individual aspect of the organization of the total field, even though the parts are closely connected to each other.




6.1  The unit-formation in the phenomenal field. In the course of sensory-motor learning, separate parts of the phenomenal field can grow together with an increasing degree of unity.  In this way, for example, the skier "grows together" with his skis, the tennis player with his racket. The sports equipment acts like an extension of the senory-motor organs in the practiced athlete. The skier feels the snow and the terrain with his/her skis and no longer willfully and deliberately moves his/her body, but rather, the skis.


Something similar is also emphasized by Gallwey, who refers to "inner training" (Gallwey, 1981) or the "inner game." (Gallwey, 1974), but my experience is that elements of his theories are ineffective for beginners.  For example, Gallwey maintains that skiers should first watch for sensations in their feet in order to achieve a feeling for the snow.  According to gestalt theory, this attention to bodily sensations (like the pressure on the soles of the feet or kinesthetic bodily sensations) prevents  the perception of the characteristics of the phenomenal objects existing outside of the phenomenal body. When the skier concentrates on the body ego, feeling for the snow and the terrain is lost.  For both the beginner and the advanced skier, this can lead to tension.    It invites the beginner to experience the tension of fear.  Therefore, in sports where the surrounding field plays a role, the athlete should concentrate on the perception of it  from the beginning (for details see Tholey, 1987).


The particular significance of lucid dreaming lies in the greater fluidity (cf. Lewin, 1936) of the phenomenal field available in the dreaming state.  It is much easier to unite the phenomenal body and sports equipment into a single whole, or to extend the boundaries of the phenomenal body while lucid in a dream. For example, while lucid dreaming, a sailplane pilot first learned flying techniques which involved flying with only his body.  Later he flew with a waking-life sailplane, developing such perfect unity with it that "his wings could feel the winds which are so important to the control of the aircraft."


More interesting than achieving oneness with sports equipment is the "mutual empathy" achieved between two living beings.  To explain this we will quote again from a letter from equestrian  Sladko Solinski:




The essential thing for me (to be achieved during lucid dream training) is the looseness of the horse since it alone guarantees a good evaluation from reasonable judges in dressage competition and the safety of the horse in going over the most difficult hurdles in military-style competition... It is as if the rider hands over responsibility for success to the horse through mental training (in lucid dreaming)...and peculiarly enough, the horses seem to be waiting exactly for this in order to prove what they can do if you just don't bother them. 




In other words, the horse is more important to the movement than the rider, if he is a master in this sport.  In the conclusion to his book, Solinsky wrote that a rider who has achieved "perfect mutual empathy with his horse perceives the world through the eyes, ears and nostrils of the horse." (Solinsky, 1983, p.123).


These and similar kinds of experiences sound so fantastic to the layman that they have been considered supernatural (for example, White and Murphy, 1983) but they find a natural explanation in the gestalt theory of sport.




6.2  The organization of reference systems in the phenomenal field.  The structuring, differentiation and coordination of psychological reference systems (perceived space and perceived time above all) is also of great significance in sensory-motor learning.


Just how useful lucid dreaming can be in this regard is shown in the above-mentioned example by Solinski, where he points out the phenomenon of slow-motion during riding practice (in a lucid dream state).  This slow-motion makes it possible for the "assistance of the rider" to be given "at just the correct moment."  Generally speaking, a differentiation occurs in the temporal reference system's standard of measurement.  The "timing" of movements, which is so important in sports, is thus made easier.  The expression "assistance" makes it clear that Solinski focuses on the horse's flow of movements during the "timing" he speaks of. During lucid dreaming he also occasionally links his exercises to a certain piece of music which acts "almost like a metronome for the horse's flow of movements." When he later rides the dressage course during the day, he sometimes lets himself be guided only by the rhythm of the "inner" music.  Solinski also points to parallels in other sports where similar behavior can be observed.[5] For instance, in investigations involving top athletes in motocross racing, this slowing of time often occurs spontaneously in service of the racer's safety (Nurbarkhsch, 1987).


It can be advantageous to manipulate phenomenal space as well as phenomenal time.  In an earlier work (Tholey, 1982) we demonstrated the extent to which phenomenal space can change in many respects through the execution  of sensory-motor actions. The further significance of lucid dreaming for sports is shown in the rapidity with which movements can be carried out relative to the waking state.  A person is able to execute longitudinal and latitudinal turns of the body in quick succession.  In our investigation, this was shown to be especially relevant in the waking state in those sports which demanded a finely developed multi-sensory sensitivity to the situation as well as body balance and movement.  This would imply improved coordination of both space and time systems.


Relatedly, there seem to be amazing similarities between lucid dream experiences in a state of phenomenal weightlessness and the experiences reported by astronauts (cf. Furrer, 1987), in a state of physical weightlessness.  In both cases, learning processes are necessary to adjust to the new and unusual situation.  Furthermore, it is necessary to learn how to distinguish between up and down until it is possible to deliberately vary the spatial system in such a way that what was formerly up is now down and vice-versa.  From this it seems to me that lucid dreaming offers the best alternative for training astronauts in weightlessness (Tholey, 1987).  The possibility of altering the time and space system so that it no longer corresponds to daily experiences is also demonstrated by the above-mentioned superiority of lucid dreaming in comparison to technology-based simulators which serve the danger-free exercising of sensory-motor skills (e.g., those required to pilot the airplane).




6.3  The focusing of attention in the phenomenal field.  As Kohl was able to show in detail in his investigation of various sports (1956), a clear change of focus takes place as the degree of sophistication with a sport increases.  While the beginner directs his attention to the body ego, the expert focuses his attention on all the relevant areas of the "surrounding" phenomenal field, such as the sports equipment and the terrain. Beyond that, the expert concentrates on what is coming, not on what is happening at the moment.  With the very best athletes, the ego can recede completely into the background.  Boris Becker reported that he was no longer conscious of what he was doing during the finals of the 1988 Mater's Tennis Tournament against Ivan Lendl.  The racket had swung itself.


Then, directing our attention to the ego--among other things,  we find the fear of being injured or being judged harshly by trainers and spectators.  These fears have a negative effect on the athlete because they lead him or her to tense up, increasing the susceptibility to injuries or mistakes--thus increasing vulnerability to the feared criticisms. 


The practical significance of lucid dreaming for sports is that the athlete has no need to fear injury or the negative judgements of others in the lucid state.  He/she can concentrate on the essential areas of the phenomenal field from the beginning.


The changing of the focus of attention can also promote the "growing together" of the athlete, equipment and terrain as well as the mutual empathy between the athlete and his partner or other living creatures.




6.4  The tendency towards good gestalt (pregnance).  The last example shows that the previously-described organizational forms of the phenomenal total-field can be separated from each other analytically, but remain closely connected to each other in reality.  Finally, the general tendency towards good gestalt underlies all of the stated changes in organization.  This tendency towards good gestalt means that the structure of the phenomenal field tends towards an organization that, with respect to motor performance, will always as "good" as the prevailing conditions allow.  As stated above, given that the prevailing conditions are much less restricted by sensory processes during lucid dreaming than in the waking state, this tendency in lucid dreaming can be much more effective.


Physiologically, we assume that the improved organization of the phenomenal field corresponds to an improved dynamic coordination between the sensory and motor-related processes in the brain.




Thesis 7:  By changing the personality structure, lucid dreaming can lead to improved performance and a higher level of creativity in sports.    


When a person acts, the flexibility and creativity appropriate to the situation can be significantly limited by the inner constraints of the personality.  This occurs when the subsystems of the personality lose their dynamic connection to each other, or even come into conflict  with each other. According to gestalt theory, the ego seeks to protect itself (usually unconsciously) with various defense mechanism against the external compulsions and restraints of our cultural system. Ultimately this ends up producing an ego-centered personal outlook which, in contrast to a situation-oriented personal outlook, leads to a distortion of perception, thinking and feeling as well as to behavior inappropriate to a situation. In this context, by "ego" we mean a subsystem of the personality which seems to gradually dominate the entire personality by taking over the most diverse roles.  The whole world thus becomes merely illusory and seems to revolve around the ego.  What matters most is to "wake up" (cf. Tart, 1986) from this illusory world[6] so that a person is ready to fulfill the requirements of the situation creative freedom, that is, without internal or external constraints.  This requires a radical change from an ego-centered to a situation-centered personal outlook.  In general, this transformation of the personality structure also leads to ongoing changes in the organization of the phenomenal field.  These changes partially correspond to the previously discussed structural changes in the organization, but go beyond them because they lead to the recognition and solution of unconscious problems.


The evolution of consciousness is a way to creative freedom. I have described elsewhere (Tholey, 1990) how a person can achieve a situation-centered outlook through lucid dreaming. This path ultimately leads--by way of reconciliation with hostile dream characters (cf. Tholey, 1988)--to the symbolic death of the ego and to the rebirth of a higher Self which, in turn, leads to creative freedom in the most varied areas of activity--including sports.








Furrer, R. (1987). Raumerfahrung in dr Schwerelosigkeit. Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 2, 48-49.


Gallwey, T. (1974). The inner game of tennis.  New York: Random House.


Gallwey, T. (1981). Besser Skifahren durch "Innertraining". Munchen: Heyne.


Hartgenbusch (1927). Gestalt psychology in sport. Psyche, 27, 41-52.


Kohl, K. (1956). Zum Problem der Sensumotorik. Frankfort/M: Kramer.


Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of topological psychology. New York, London: McGraw-Hill.


Metzger, W. (1962). Schopferische Freiheit. Frankfurt/M.: Kramer.


Nurbakhsch, H. (1987). Empirische Untersuchung zum Problem des Erlebens und Verhaltens im Motocross-Sport. Unpublished diploma thesis. Universitat Braunwchweig.


Solinski, S. 1983). Reiter, Reiten, Reiterei. Hildesheim: Olms. 


Tart, C. T. (1988) Hellwach und bewusst leben.  Bern, Munchen, Wien: Scherz-Verlag.


Tholey P. (1981a). Empirische Untersuchungen uber Klartraume. Gestalt Theory, 3, 21-62. 


Tholey P. (1981b). Erkenntnistheoretische und systemtheoretische Grundlagen der Sensumotorik. Sportwissenschaft, 10, 7-35.


Tholey P. (1983). Techniques for inducing and manipulating lucid dreams. Perceptual and Motor Skills,  57, 79-90.


Tholey P. (1984a). Sensumotorisches Lernen als Organisation des psychischen Gesamtfeldes.  In E. Hahn und H. Rieder (Eds.), Sensumotorisches Lernen und Sportspielforschung. Festschrift fur Kurt Kohl (11-26). Koln: bps-Verlag.


Tholey P. (1984b). Zur Gleichgewichtsproblemstik im Sport. Sportpadagogik, 8(5), 13-15.


Tholey P. (1986). Letter to the editor. Lucidity Letter, 5(2), 45-48.


Tholey P. (1987a). Prinzipien des Lernens und Lehrens sportlicher Handlungen aus gestalttheoretischer Sicht. In J.P. Janssen, W. Schlicht & H. Strang (Eds.), Bericht uber die Tegung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Sportpsychologie in Kiel 1986. Handlungskontrolle und soziale Prozesse im Sport. Koln: pp.95-106.


Tholey P. (1987b). Wahrnehmung und Vorstellung im Raum. Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 10, 5.


Tholey P. (1988). A model for lucidity training as a means of self-healing and psychological growth.  In J. Gackenbach & S. P. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain: New perspectives on lucid dreaming. New York, London: Plenum, pp. 263-287.


Tholey P. (1990). Unpublished manuscript. p.21.  


Tholey P. & Utecht, K. (1987). Schopferisch Traumen. Der Klartraum als Lebenshilfe. Niedernhausen: Falkenverlag.


White, P. A. & Murphy, M. (1987). Psi im Sport Der Einflussubernaturlicher Wahrnehmungen auf sportliche Spitzenleistungen. Munchen: Hugendubel.







[1]A lucid dreamer is called "experienced" once he or she is able to induce lucid dreams with a high degree of reliability (more than 50% of the time), and intentionally in a given night. Additionally, he or she is able to manipulate the dream according to his or her purposes. (cf. Tholey, 1983).  This can be learned within  half a year under right circumstances.  It should be noted that I have met a few spontaneous lucid dreamers who have had lucid dreams frequently for some years but were still absolute beginners in terms of the aforementioned meaning of "experienced."

[2]In this context, the phenomenal ego is not the phenomenal body ego but the ego center or ego core, which usually is perceived behind the phenomenal "cyclopean eye" (Tholey, 1986). The ego core is experienced as the origin of voluntary forces and attention.  However, it can change its position in the phenomenal body, leave the body or disappear completely

[3]When sensory-motor skills are first mastered in lucid dreaming, they are frequently accompanied by "Aha!" experiences. This applies especially to those cases when the skills were previously unknown and first invented during lucid dreaming. Excited by various sport magazines in which readers were asked to invent new tricks for free-style skiing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and BMX bike-riding, I created several tricks during lucid dreaming which could in fact be executed in a waking state.

[4]In general, we refer to several works on Zen Buddhism, which are cited by the gestalt theorist Kohl, Metzger, Tholey.

[5]I can confirm from my own experiences that the possibility of slowing time is effective for certain sports.  Furthermore, I have occasionally succeeded in deliberately bringing about this slowing of time in a waking state.

[6]"Maya" is the Zen Buddhist term for the illusory world perceived by the ego subsystem.


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Exeter University, UK; Leiden University, The Netherlands



There has not been a complete discussion of the biography of Fredrik van Eeden, who is credited with coining the phrase "lucid dream" and publishing the first serious research into these dreams.  Writers on lucid dreaming have not addressed some very basic questions about the development of the concept of lucid dreaming in the context of the development of psychoanalysis. Most descriptions of that historical period in the history of lucid dreaming have been limited to what was presented in a 1913 paper by Fredrik van Eeden. The existing literature does not provide many details about who van Eeden was or why he appears to have written so little on this topic.


This paper presents two new historical perspectives. It offers 1.) a biographical sketch of van Eeden and his relationship to Freud and the psychoanalytic movement, and  2.) a previously unpublished letter from Freud to van Eeden, outlining what would appear to be Freud's opinion about and attitude toward lucid dreaming.




Historical Oversights




Although there has been a steady growth of interest in lucid dreaming since van Eeden's paper was reprinted in books by Celia Green (1968) and Charles Tart (1969), the historical dimension of the topic has been neglected.  The possibility that Freud may have known about this concept and therefore, being one of the most influential thinkers on dreaming in the early part of this century, may have influenced its course of development (at least within the psychoanalytic arena) has not been explored.  Indeed, the first explicit suggestion of  a link between the two men regarding lucid dreaming came with Rooksby (1989).  This is late, especially when it is considered that Ernest Jones writes in his biography of Freud that Dr. van Eeden was "...an acquaintance of his from the old hypnosis days" and continues on to say, "Van Eeden, a Dutch psychopathologist, is now remembered more as a poet, essayist and social reformer; both Freud and I had been unsuccessful in getting him to accept psycho-analytical theories." (1955, p.412) Such remarks might suggest that the relationship between Freud and van Eeden was negative.  As we will discuss in a moment, there is some foundation for such a conclusion.  However, Jones makes these comments as an introduction to a letter dated December 28, 1914, written by Freud to van Eeden concerning the Great War.  This comment raises the possibility that the two men might have been exchanging letters, despite any differences between them, around the time of van Eeden's paper and therefore may have actually discussed lucid dreaming itself.


Support for the suggestion that Freud may have known about lucid dreaming came initially from two other sources.  First, van Eeden's essay, "A Study Of Dreams," did appear in the bibliography of the fourth German edition of Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1914). However, it appears that Otto Rank was responsible for bibliographical additions from the second to the eighth additions, so there can be no guarantee that Freud had read this paper, or that he even knew of it. In the modern Standard Edition, the bibliography of The Interpretation Of Dreams  is restricted to the works originally cited by Freud. This editorial decision was made by Angela Richards, who, according to correspondence between Rooksby and Albert Dickson (the present General Editor of the Pelican Freud Library), wanted to retain only those post-1900 references that reflected textual additions actually made by Freud himself.


The second source of support for the suggestion that Freud may have known about lucid dreaming came from references made by Freud himself to lucid-type dream experiences.  Jones, in Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (Volume 1) reports that in a dream diary, Freud describes what he calls a "sharp dream,"  which we suggest has shades of lucidity to it (i.e., Freud began to question whether or not he was dreaming). Jones says this is an improvement on other reports of the "dream within a dream." (p. 386)  This questioning of the dream reality is mentioned in The Interpretation of Dreams as the "dream within a dream" and in Freud's 1901 book, On Dreams.  Whether or not these really are lucid reports, and whether or not lucid dreaming was known as the "dream within a dream" before 1913 by Freud is a matter for further research. Up to now the investigation into Freud's knowledge of van Eeden and lucid dreaming remains elusive and speculative.  However, with recourse to van Eeden's diaries and several of his biographies, with the knowledge that he is something of a major literary figure in the Netherlands, and with the discovery of a letter written by Freud to van Eeden, the following historical sketch can be drawn.




van Eeden, an Historical Sketch




Fredrik Willem van Eeden (1860-1932) entered the psychoanalytic scene late in his life.  After completing his medical training and Ph.D. work, he pursued both a literary career, becoming one of the founders of  the literary-political journal, De Nieuwe Gids, and a medical career, practising as a physician in Bussum. In 1887, he opened the first psychotherapeutic institute in The Netherlands, in collaboration with the seemingly practically-minded A.W. van Renterghem (van Eeden was the theoretician of the two).  By 1893, van Eeden had lost interest in this "experiment in hypnosis" (methods Liebault) along with psychotherapy.  Until 1892, he did publish frequently in Dutch, English and French journals on psychotherapy, hypnosis and related subjects (cf. Wentges, 1976; Bulhof, 1983; Fontijn, 1990). One can wonder if he influenced Freud's thinking on these topics.  The reverse is unlikely. Although it is true that Freud began to get involved in psychotherapy as early as 1887, he did not really publish much on these topics prior to 1893, concentrating instead on neurology.


There are two occasions when the similar interests of these two men theoretically made it possible for their paths to cross. The first opportunity was at a lecture by Charcot in Paris on November 17, 1885.  Freud had gotten a stipend to study with Charcot and consequently was in Paris between October 13, 1885 and February 28, 1886.  Van Eeden spent several weeks in Paris during November, researching artificial nutrition for tuberculosis patients, the subject of his Ph.D. thesis.  Despite apparent difficulties, he managed to get into Charcot's Tuesday lecture (a demonstration of hysterics) in the Salpetriere on November 17th.  However, there is no documentary evidence to suggest that they actually did meet on this occasion.  The second possible time they could have met was when they both attended the International Congress on Hypnotism in the Hotel-Dieu in Paris between August 8-12, 1889.  According to Ellenberger's account there is, again, no evidence to suggest that they did meet at that time.


It was probably not until Freud's star rose at the beginning of this century that he seriously attracted van Eeden's attention, which at first was very negative.  Van Eeden wrote in his diary on July 31, 1910, that Freud was "...a cynical, coarse soul" (p. 1111), and later on he began to refer to "Freudism," as the "psychosis of psychiatrists." (p.1120)  By January 1911 his dislike of anything psychoanalytic seemed complete.  He wrote of:




... a special aversion I feel against Freud's school.   That is the zenith of unsympathetic medical science.  All medical science has grown unsympathetic to me--there is something extra ugly, sinister, death-like and stuffy to it--but Freud's doctrine is the worst.  It works on me as a suffocating vapor.  I surmise there are demonical influences here.  Sexual life in its entirety is the right point of application for lower beings."(p.1212)




Dutch biographers have attempted to explain van Eeden's rejection of psychoanalysis along standard psychoanalytic lines; criticism of Freud's work is nothing more than the operation of a defense mechanism, usually of a sexual nature.  In the case of van Eeden, there are also suggestions that his rejection may also be based on his aversion to materialism and traditional medical science. Further research is needed into this area, especially in view of the next sequence of events.


We are not sure what led van Eeden to visit the psychoanalytic meeting held in Munich in September 1913.  His impression of this experience is vividly reflected in his diary entry dated September 9th, when he writes, "...the whole seems a nightmare to me now."  (p.1333)


Yet something occurred which apparently made him begin to rethink his attitude towards psychoanalysis.  We do not know the nature or cause of this change, but in his diary entry for September 23rd, he seemed to be reflecting on personal love as the essence of life, and went on to write, "...all wisdom and greatness of the soul can only be reached by a deeper understanding of our own essence, the so-called unconscious.  This is real culture.  And it is also the goal and power of psychoanalysis." (p.1337)  The cause of this change in attitude can only be a subject of speculation at present.  It  is also one of the most interesting of the questions yet to be answered  about van Eeden.


If September 1913 represented the beginning of van Eeden's intellectual turn-around, then it seems likely that his "conversion" to psychoanalysis was completed in February, 1914. At this time, van Eeden was on a lecture tour.  On January 29th he was in Vienna and amongst his audience on that night were several psychoanalysts--including Freud.  A meeting took place after the lecture, with Hugo Heller acting as "host", which appears to have led to van Eeden being invited to Freud's house for lunch on February 1st.  This meeting seems to be the real point of full conversion.  After this date van Eeden would never say anything against Freud himself, although he never lost his skeptical attitude towards some aspects of psychoanalysis. With this new attitude, van Eeden wrote an article on Freud in the German Daily, Frankfurter Zeitung (May 29, 1914).  From this there is evidence that shortly after the lunch meeting an exchange of letters had occurred (the one regarding the Great War has already been mentioned). 




Freud's Letter To van Eeden




   The following letter, previously unpublished, would appear to be Freud's response to a request by van Eeden for several points of clarification regarding dreams, and in particular, lucid dreaming.  The full text of the letter reads:




1 March '14


Dr. Freud


Vienna 1X Berggase 19




Dear Dr. van Eeden,




It is of great and valuable interest to me that you will be writing an essay on my work and I am happy to give you the information you request, although I cannot add any more to what has already been written in my "Interpretation of Dreams".  I secretly hope, however, that you have not read it properly and that I can induce you to re-examine a few points.


      To your First Question: My "Interpretation of Dreams" is not based on dreams by neurotics, but largely on my own dreams.  The assertion that one does not judge nor appraise in a dream, nor speak, cannot contradict your experiences, for it is derived from the distinction between manifest and latent dreamthoughts - which is a fundamental one - yet one which is so rarely being taken seriously. Analysis shows, that all thought, judgment and suchlike stem from the latent dreamthoughts in which, of course, our entire psychic activity is reflected.  One must not, however, confuse the dream with the latent dreamthoughts, like the Swiss do now.  The dream is, correctly perceived, the result of dream-work, a process that converts the latent thoughts into the manifest content.  This dreamwork does not know judging, appraising, dialogue-forming and suchlike.  Wherever something like this occurs in a dream it has been taken over from the dreamthought either dark or distorted, and reshaped.


Read again the relevant examples of my dreams in which manifest content as well as judgements and suchlike may appear just as in yours (Section Dreamwork).  There is thus no contradiction between our experiences, but a misunderstanding, which is based on the fact that you neither accepted nor applied the premise, in every dream interpretation, of the distinction between manifest and latent dream content.


      To your Second Question:  I think you are being unjust by saying: for me there is nothing else psychic than what is conscious. This can only be said as long as one has not taken any notice of the facts of dream analysis, observation of parapraxes, study of neurosis.


Of course, every one of us knows only conscious processes in oneself and may conclude that those of some other person, unconscious to himself, are known to that person.  But whoever analyzes must learn by necessity that he has erred in this quite natural premise, and that he can find psychic acts in himself that have remained unknown to his conscious awareness which he must, however because of certain consequences, deduce in the same way as reliable circumstantial evidence without a confession. Finally, analysis provides him with the means to raise to consciousness these, initially unconscious processes, similar to photography that makes visible otherwise invisible ultraviolet rays.  I cannot understand, however, that the unconscious should mean a loosening of the relationship between our psychic life and our individual body.


      My unconscious thought is my individual property in the same way as my conscious one.  At this point we are not threatened by a radical change.  I now have two copies of your work.  Jelgersma's talk surprised and pleased me.  Thus the Interpretation of Dreams has been recognized in an academic setting in your little Holland of all places.  It was in fact particularly on this point, that Bleuler did not follow me.  Your visit has left us with the most pleasant memories.  The ladies still often speak of you and your so informal and charming companion, and the boys regret not to have seen you, because of the change of you initial plans.  My kindest regards to you together with the request to continue sentiments of friendship regardless of our theoretical disagreements.




Yours Faithfully






The translation of the German transcript of this letter has been made to conform to current translations of Freud.  Strictly speaking, the word "Seelische" means "soul" or "soul-based."  In the version above it has been left to read "psyche" and "psychic" because of the implications of the translation problems (as noted by Bettelheim in his book, Freud and Man's Soul) with respect to our current understanding of Freud.


It would seem that the exchange of letters between the two men was not abundant, though it may well be that there are few others in existence.  It is obviously of great interest to find the van Eeden original which led to this reply, although reconstruction is possible up to a point, based on the above.  Freud or van Eeden may have written to or talked with other members of the psychoanalytic group on this topic, so there are some other interesting avenues still to be explored.  Contact between van Eeden and Jung would be interesting because of Jung's interest in the manifest dream, but considering the dates of van Eeden's meeting with Freud, the former would not have "naturally" met Jung because of Jung's rift with Freud at this time.


Overall, Freud's letter offers three main points:  1.) it supports the claim made in van Eeden's diary that the two men did meet, at least on one occasion; 2.) it alludes to the article that was subsequently written and which appeared in the Frankfurter Zeitung; but most importantly of all, 3.) it offers Freud's basic attitude towards what we can call in retrospect the "lucid dreaming concept" (although it is not mentioned by that name in the letter itself).




The Limited Importance of Manifest Content




A central point in Freud's dream theory is his distinction between the manifest dream and latent dream content, both theoretically and in actual clinical practice. Note his comment about it "rarely being taken seriously."  He saw the appearance of a dream in sleep as the end result of a process which had begun deep in the unconscious.  This process involved the "release" and "movement" of repressed psychic energy towards the sleeping conscious mind.  He argued that if this material was to break into the conscious mind in its "raw" state, the shock would be enough at least to wake the sleeping person in an unpleasant way.  


Because this material needed to find expression, be recognized by the sleeper, and be dealt with (ideally by proper analysis), Freud described the mechanism by which this occurred under the title of "dreamwork."  He saw this process as using various methods, like condensation and displacement, to convert the raw energy into a form which could be experienced by the dreamer in a comfortable way which did not cause the sleeper to wake.  Dreams took on a protective role allowing the individual to hallucinate the fulfillment of repressed wishes, release the repressed energy and remain asleep as well. For Freud the real 'psychic activity' in this process occurs at the level of the unconscious and anything that ends up in the conscious mind in the form of a dream is only the product of the dreamwork and a symbolic expression of something else. On a practical level, this meant that it was not so important how a person experienced the manifest dream,  but rather what the symbolic content of a dream actually related to in the unconscious. It is only by breaking the person's symbolic code that the analyst can trace the source of the dream, hidden in the person's unconscious.


This distinction between the two parts of an individual's psyche is applied by Freud to the difference and function of the person's conscious awareness of the dream (as suggested in the lucidity concept).  The relative importance of the conscious and unconscious parallels his view of the latent dream contents and manifest dream.  The conscious mind is the "smaller" and less important of the two, yet we mistakenly believe that it is more important because it is the bit we have direct access too.


Now as far as the general idea of lucidity in dreams goes, Freud indicates in the letter that he is basically happy with it. "The assertion that one does not judge nor appraise in a dream, nor speak, cannot contradict your experiences..."  Where he takes issue is in the interpretation of this activity and the importance that may be attached to it.  Since, according to Freud, the conscious mind is the less important part of a person's total psychological activity (the bulk of which lies in constant flux in the unconscious) it is of little real importance how dreams are experienced - especially so in the context of the therapeutic process.


In the final analysis, we can say that it is Freud's devaluing of the manifest dream (a point which contributed to the split with Jung) that naturally led him to "devalue" the idea of lucid dreaming.  Lucid dreaming posed no threat to his major thesis. He probably felt that he had already given it enough attention - note how he directs van Eeden back to the Interpretation of Dreams in the opening of the letter.  One can't help but speculate about what might have occurred had Freud accepted van Eeden's "lucid" term and the idea he was suggesting, but he didn't, so "lucid dreaming" did not attract the attention of other psychoanalysts and did not become a topic of discussion earlier this century. 




van Eeden's Review




It would appear that shortly after van Eeden's article on Freud and the related exchange of letters, van Eeden dropped out of the psychoanalytic scene.  Exactly why is not known at present.  His disappearance was as sudden and as mysterious as his "conversion."  The Frankfurter Zeitung  article casts little light on this question; it contained an enthusiastic introduction to psychoanalysis and to Freud's Interpretation of Dreams in particular.  An English translation has only recently appeared in a collection of reviews of Freud's work edited by Norman Kiell, called Freud Without Hindsight. (1988)  Though Kiell is a faithful Freudian, and quick to analyze every criticism of Freud as caused by misunderstandings or resistances, he calls the main thrust of the review by van Eeden "a trumpeting of Freud, a veritable paen of praise." (p.209)  There are, however, some interesting criticisms of Freud in the article.  With regard to the notion of wish-fulfillment, van Eeden asks about whose wishes are fulfilled - a person's?  He also wonders, "Can wishes be unconscious? Why are they expressed in this strange dream language? Does the unconscious only consist of mechanisms?"  He adds from his own vantage point as a lucid dreamer, "From my own practice I have had occasion to report dreams whose symbolic character was clear to the dreamer even in sleep..." (p.216) Freud, however, admits the existence of unconscious thoughts: van Eeden refers to Freud's letter, quoting him as saying, "...my unconscious thoughts are mine." (Kiell, p.216)  In the letter itself, we have read, "My unconscious thought is my individual property in the same way as my conscious one."


Van Eeden's point is not that in lucid dreams one may experience (be conscious about) the "unconscious," in Freud's sense.  Freud, because of his manifest/latent distinction, as already mentioned, is forced to deny that the manifest dream is an experience at all. Thus experiences connected to the manifest dream (such as those reported by van Eeden and other lucid dreamers) have no relevance for the meaning of dreams. Such issues will be discussed further in a different context (Terwee & Rooksby, 1990).








This article has provided missing elements of the historical context surrounding the emergence of lucid dreaming as a concept in the early part of this century.  It has answered in part the question regarding possible contact between Freud and van Eeden. Yet there are still questions which need to be dealt with, related both to van Eeden's sudden conversion to psychoanalysis and to his apparent withdrawal from it. Also, it may be asked what possible conversations or written exchanges about lucid dreaming that Freud or van Eeden might have had with any of the other members of the movement (Jones or Jung, for example). It seems likely that since van Eeden's involvement with psychoanalysis was short-lived there may be little to add to the correspondence questions. However, since there was contact, and Freud did know about the concept of lucid dreaming, a new area of research has presented itself.  New areas of discussion may prove to be very interesting to follow up, perhaps along lines relative to the tension between lucidity and psychoanalytic notions (e.g., the manifest dream, wish-fulfillment, and Freud's denial of judgment in dreams), or van Eeden's ideas as expressed in the Diaries or any of his other written work in relation to psychoanalytic ideas in general.  Based on the answers to some of these questions it will be possible to see how the equivalent of the lucidity concept was treated in subsequent psychoanalytic writings and in what form it now takes (if any).  We hope that it will not be long before a proper history of both lucid dreaming and perhaps dream research in the last century itself will be constructed, with all the insight and understanding that such a history could bring.








Bulhof, I.N. (1981). From psychotherapy to psychoanalysis: Frederick van Eeden and Albert Willem van Renterghem. Journal of the History of Behavioral Science, 17, 209-221.


Bulhof, I.N. (1983). Freud en Nederland. Baarn: Ambo.


Fontijn, Jan (1990). Tweespalt. Het leven van Fredrik van Eeden tot 1901. Amsterdam: Querido.


Freud, E.L. & Abraham, H.C. (Eds.) (1965). A psycho-analytic dialogue. The letters of Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham 1907-1926. New York: Basic Books.


Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams . In Standard edition of the complete psychological works (S.E. Vol. 4 & 5), 1-627


Freud, S. (1901). On dreams. In Standard edition of the complete psychological works (S.E.), (1955-1974). London: The Hogarth Press.


Freud, S. (1955-1974). Standard edition of the complete psychological works (S.E.). London: The Hogarth Press.


Green, Celia (1968). Lucid drems. London: Hamish Hamilton.


Jones, E. (1953-57). Sigmund Freud: Life and work (3 vols.). London: The Hogarth Press.


Kiell, Normal (1988). Freud without hindsight.


Nunberg, H. & Federn, E. (Eds.) (1967). Minutes of the Vienna psycho-analytic society (4 vols.). New York: International University Press.


Rooksby, R. (1989). Problems in the historical research of lucid dreaming. Lucidity Letter, 8(2), 75-80.


Tart, Charles T. (1969/1972). Altered sttates of consciousness. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor.


Terwee, Sybe J.S. (1990). Hermeneutics in psychology and psychoanalysis. New York: Springer.


Terwee, Sybe & Rooksby, R.T. (1990). Why are lucid dreams not manifest? An early discussion between Freud and van Eeden. Unpublished Manuscript.


van Eeden, F. (1888). De psychische geneeswijze. De Nieuwe Gids, 3, 383-433. Also: Studies II, 1894, 163-223.


van Eeden, F. (1889). Ons dubbel-IK. De Nieuwe Gids, 4, 53-62. Also: Studies I, 168-180.


van Eeden, F. (1892). Het beginsel der psychotherapie. De Nieuwe Gids, 7, 296-325. Also: Studies II, 225-253.


van Eeden, F. (1895). The theory of psycho-therapies.  The Medical Magazine, 1, 230-257.


van Eeden, F. (1913).  A study of dreams.  Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 26, 431-461.  (Reprinted in: R.L. Woods (Ed.), The world of dreams. New York: 1947, pp. 309-321 (partial); in Celia Green, Lucid dreams, Oxford: 1968 (partial); and in C.T. Tart (Ed.), Altered states of consciousness, New York: 1969/1975, pp. 145-158.)


van Eeden, F. (1914). Siegmund [sic] Freud. Frankfurter Zeitung, May 29, 1914. Also in Norman Kiell, (1988), Freud without hindsight.


van Eeden, F. (1918). The bride of dreams. (Authorized translation by Mellie van Auw) New York/London: Mitchell Kennerley.


van Eeden, F. (1971). Dagboek 1878-1923 (Diary, 4 volumes). Culemborg: Tjeenk Willink-Noorduijn.


van Eeden, F. (1974). The deeps of deliverance (The Library of Netherlandic Literature; translation by Margret Robinson). New York: Twayne Publishers.


van Eeden, F. (1979). Dromenboek. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker. ('Book of Dreams': includes the dream diaries, 1889-1923, some notes on dreams from the diaries, 1875-1927, and a Dutch translation of "A Study of Dreams", 1913; 509 pp).


Wentges, R. Gh. R. (1976). De psychiater Frederik van Eeden. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 120, 927-34.


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Walter Bonime, M.D.


Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.


Patricia Garfield, Ph.D.


Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D.


Johanna King, Ph.D.


Jane White Lewis, Ph.D.




This panel discussion took place at the June 1990 Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD) conference in Chicago. After the panelists presented their views, a lively interchange took place.



Jayne Gackenbach: As the "technology" of dreaming in the last decade has validated and made more widely accessible lucid dreaming (awareness of dreaming while in the dream), dream control has become a reality. When the dreamer knows he/she is dreaming numerous studies have shown that a significantly enhanced sense of control over the dream events, dream characters, dream plot, dream ego and dream setting is possible. The purpose of this panel is to address the question of "SHOULD one control one's dreams?"


Debate over the question of the advisability of dream control has been going on for several years in the pages of publications devoted to inquiries into dreaming. On the pro side is this excerpt from an unauthored article from the pages of Stephen LaBerge's newsletter, "NightLight":




Typically, three related assumptions underlie arguments against dream control... These are a) that all dreams can be meaningfully interpreted and should be left alone so that this interpretability is not damaged, b) that dreaming is normally an entirely unconscious process, and c) that controlling dreams interrupts their natural function... Becoming more conscious in dreams does not impair our ability to interpret them...Being conscious that you are dreaming does not prevent the appearance of symbolic phenomena in the dream. If you know you are dreaming, you can interpret the dream as it happens.




West German psychologist Paul Tholey has made a persuasive case for the control of dreams in the context of therapy. In conjunction with psychotherapist Norbert Sattler, Tholey has shown that awareness in dreams and the resultant control gives the dream ego a rare opportunity to fully experience and potentially resolve long-standing psychological problems.


On a purely pragmatic side is the potential of generalizing work from waking imagery into the dream, the most powerful image we have. Everything from sports training to bodily healing may be more enhanced in the state of dreaming if lucidity and thus control is available. However, concern is arising from the ranks of clinicians with opposing views. As Walter Bonime (personal communication to Jayne Gackenbach, November 20, 1989) recently pointed out:




The phenomenon occurring spontaneously does intrigue me. The intensive pursuit and development of a capacity to dream lucidly is, however, in my view, an interference with, an interruption of the creative valuable revelatory quality of dreaming. Much, though not all the value of the dream, apart from the REM integration of new information, lies in one's activity of deriving from it and using its meaning. (Even without interpretive activity the dream can have value as human experience, which I wrote about in Milt Kramer's Dream Psychology and the New Biology of Dreaming.) Controlling dreams is for me, as a clinician, diminishing the value of the dream in terms of both product and process.




Bonime's comments point out the closely related concern of the pursuit of lucidity itself in dreams, apart from the issue of control. Even if lucidity occurs spontaneously as part of a holistic system of self work, i.e., dreamwork, therapy, meditation ... what then?


Eastern esoteric disciplines which speak of consciousness in sleep unfortunately offer contradictory advice. On the one hand some say one should remain removed from the dream and not get caught up in its illusionary system, any more than one should get caught up in the illusionary system of the waking "dream." On the other hand, some Eastern systems suggest that full scale manipulation of the dream while conscious in the dream offers another "path" for the spiritual seeker.


The middle ground is found in another quote from a "NightLight" article:




Controlling our dreams is not essentially different from controlling our lives. There is no easy answer to how much we should control the events of our lives, so why should we expect an easy answer in regard to dreams? When we speak of controlling our mental lives, our thought, impulses, and emotions, it is fairly clear that there are times when we should control, and time when we should not.




With these issues in mind, I approached Patti Garfield and Jane White Lewis, and said, "Hey, why don't we put a panel discussion together that represents a variety of opinions about controlling our dreams!" I think the members of this panel are very evenly balanced in this way, and I'm hoping that that will promote dialogue.


We'll each make a brief presentation stating our position. Then, after that we'll talk to each other and open it up as well to the audience in terms of your questions and concerns.




Walter Bonime: I am here on invitation because I believe the practice of lucidity can be destructive to the value of dreams. My inclusion on this panel springs from a criticism of certain aspects of this field, which I expressed in a letter to Jayne Gackenbach, after reading her recent co-authored book, Control Your Dreams. I responded as a psychoanalyst who, during nearly fifty years in practice, has found the use of dreams of profound, almost indispensable value.


My criticism was directed against two features:




1) encouraging development of the skill of lucid dreaming, and


2) basing this effort on the proposition that such a skill gives one a unique capacity to help solve personality difficulties.




I do not feel there is anything inherently negative in a study of lucid dreaming. The development of an increased capacity to dream lucidly can facilitate research into dream psychodynamics, into the physiology of the phenomenon, into its relationship to sleep, waking, and other states of consciousness. There has been productive investigation of sensory responsiveness during sleep. Certainly a study of cognitive and conative activity during REM is a valid area for exploitation. What is taking place when a person in REM sleep becomes aware of himself or herself dreaming, and in such a state of awareness modifies the course of a dream? This is a fascinating question.


I feel, however, that cultivating an extraordinary ability to become lucid during dreaming, and using that skill to control the course of dreams, seriously reduces the usefulness of the dream as a source for understanding one's feelings, motivations and behavior. Jayne Gackenbach says (p.20) dream control may be "an expression of our desire to understand what we are at heart." Understanding oneself gives one opportunities to change some of one's waking experience. Where one's own behavior is a significant factor in bringing about one's pain, self-understanding, insight, can present new behavioral options, opportunities for new, more comfortable, and rewarding kinds of experience.


The process of personality change is slow and labored but the use of dreams for understanding oneself can foster change which is incremental over time. From my clinical standpoint, lucid modification of uncomfortable dreams can obscure the clarifying possibilities of the dreams --- and can offer the dreamer little more than the joy of extraordinary control or reassurance.


To illustrate a contrast between a clinical and a lucid use of a dream, I will present a fragment from the psychoanalysis of a patient and her dream.


This patient was a young woman in the fourth year of her analysis. A beginning concert pianist, she had come to me because of feeling increasingly tense and threatened during practice, auditions, and performances. She had been groomed for musical renown by a tyrannical mother who had pressed her toward fame and concurrently served and infantalized her. The patient had serious misgivings about her ability to succeed professionally, and had indulged in fantasies of abandoning her career and becoming a domestic servant.


After three years of work in analysis, which had involved first of all a struggle to emancipate herself from her mother, she had made substantial progress. She had achieved considerable self-determination and professional confidence. She had some recognition of her own manipulativeness through helplessness, and had had some success in dealing with that.


Despite progress, she had ambivalently come to several recent therapy hours declaring she wanted to collapse, or, by some other destructive activities, prove to herself and to me that she was helpless. In the midst of this resistance, however, her predominating motivation for change made it possible for her to spontaneously recognize and communicate these unexercised pathological impulses. At this time -- so far the healthiest period of her life -- she reported a dream:




A young man's ship is sinking and he needs some help to save him. He goes to another ship, hoping for the Captain to come to his aid. He finds a very sexy woman lying on a couch and he impatiently asks for the Captain. "My ship is sinking and I need him right away." The woman says, "I'm the Captain -- I'll help you." He refuses to believe her and keeps demanding, "Where's the Captain?" until he is finally convinced.


Then they are swimming toward his ship. A strong undertow is dragging him under, and then they are covered by a big tidal wave. He is panicked, but she knows how to handle this. They seem to be staying in the same place, but, if they give up their direction or activity, they will be overcome. [End of dream].




The patient at once talked about the dream. "The young man is such a jerk. He's helpless, ineffectual, whining -- a weak nothing. The Captain-woman is wonderful, capable. I hate this man. He's a leech and a conceited ass besides. He thinks he's wonderful and strong, but he's weak and puny." Then she said, interpretively, "I feel I am both these characters, particularly the man. I doubt if I can achieve the dignity and status of this Captain-woman."


Yet, despite her diffidence, ineptness and unwillingness to mature, this "jerk" aspect of her personality was contradicted as she went on to discuss her enjoyment of her recent constructive and independent pursuits, which she collectively identified as the Captain-woman aspect of her personality. She said, "My activity is what I do really like about myself." That declaration was itself a clarification of her objective, and a statement to resolve to struggle for maturity.


My reason for presenting this woman and her dream is to suggest the probable great loss to her if she had been skilled in lucidity. In the initial role in the dream, as the young man, the Captain of a sinking ship, she might have used oneiric magic to rescue him, (her "jerk" aspect) from the dangerous predicament. Or even if she had let the dream continue further, and was then swimming with the Captain-woman back to his own ship, the dreamer might have lucidly extracted the two of them from his panic situation of undertow and tidal wave.


If lucidity had been the agent this young woman called upon to free herself from her self-defeating activity, she would have substituted external, lucid (magic) forces, which might have obscured the problem, and she would have been robbed of recognition of the fierce conflict between her goal of being a helpless dependent jerk and her goal of being a mature and executive person in her own waking life.


Pat Garfield, in her book, Creative Dreaming, says (p.148): "Once lucidity is attained, you must be constantly alert to avoid falling back into ORDINARY dreaming..."


I have found all dreaming extraordinary and idiosyncratic in its night-to-night progression. With help, I believe people can find in the authenticity and expressiveness of unaltered dreams a rich source of insight into their personalities. They can find a clarity through which, with courage and persistence, they can develop more fulfilling personal and interpersonal functioning.


Whatever enhancements may be derived from the oneiric products of lucid control, these enhancements can not compensate for loss of the density of meaning to be found in the dream that arises spontaneously.




Patricia Garfield:  Well! We'll discuss that later.


Should you control your dreams?


Yes, if you want to.


Controlling your dreams takes a lot of energy and effort and concentration, so you probably won't want to do it much of the time, even if you can do it. I personally and professionally find dream control useful in certain situations.


Here's a couple of brief examples.


I was trying to make a drawing of a dream-tiger for a text that I had written for a children's book, and I wanted it to be very special, unique. I was dissatisfied with my initial efforts, so I decided I'd call on my dream-power next time I was lucid in a dream, and ask to see a dream tiger. The first opportunity I had, I called out "Dream-Tiger!" as I was flying through the air in a great lucid dream. I passed a couple of polar bears, but that wasn't what I wanted. I landed in a children's playground where there were children the age of the heroine of the story, but no dream-tiger. After a few more abortive attempts, I finally did meet a dream-tiger. He had wonderful arched eyebrows and a marvelous panache. I welcomed him; I drew him; I treasured this evoked dream-friend.


Also, in working with clients with nightmares, I have found that teaching dream control can be enormously helpful in conveying to the dreamer his or her lost sense of power. A woman who was having a recurrent nightmare about driving her car over the cliff and crashing, remembered in her dream, "But, Dr. Garfield said I didn't have to let the car crash." And she was able to steer it safely from the air, land safely for the first time. She was using, I believe, her own inner resource to provide a better ending.


Now, obviously if she could have been in long term therapy, she might have gotten many other benefits. But in a short-term way, these techniques can be enormously helpful to an anxious or helpless-feeling, powerless-feeling person. It offers hope that it is possible to bring control in one's life. And I think this is a very important demonstration to some dreamers.


Once the possibility of control is established, it has to be used judiciously. With certain clients with a tenuous hold on reality, for instance, it may very well be contraindicated.


Yet many of us, I believe, can benefit from controlling our dreams from time to time. We can confront and conquer our enemies, negotiate with them, befriend them. We can question dream characters. You know, we don't always have to tell them what to do. We can ask them, we can embrace them, we can love them, we can surround them with golden light; there's a great variety of options. We can encounter creative solutions, we can practice skills, we can direct healing energy. Lucid dreams, I believe, provide unique opportunities for the dreamer.


These days, for myself, I usually prefer occasional open-ended questions, requests in lucid dreams such as, "Take me where I need to go," or "Show me what I need to know," rather than specific assignments, in the same way that Fariba Bogzaran sometimes asks in lucid dreams to see the divine. Making a general request, and then stepping back and letting the dream energy roll can sometimes provide the greatest wonder.


Gordon Globus would perhaps call this receptive rather than deliberate control, and I suspect that Eugene Gendlin would speak of keeping the channels open by asking questions.


I believe lucid dreams with control still retain symbolic significance. They are coming from the same mind. If you ask the dreamer awake to make up a story, you would still have the symbolic material to interpret. By changing the dream, we give the dreamer some power. We empower him or her, yet we can still interpret what happens. It doesn't cut it off, it doesn't end it. Controlled or not controlled, the psyche is always present.


Should we control our dreams?


Should we control our lives?


Yes! If and when we want to.




Gackenbach: The next speaker is Johanna King.




Johanna King: Before I begin trying to give you my version of the answer to the question, "Should we control our dreams?" I would like to focus on the antecedent question, "Can we control our dreams?"  Despite the tremendous amount of enthusiasm about lucid dreaming, it nevertheless remains a naturally occurring, but rather rare phenomenon.


Some people have frequent lucid dreams, but most people have them rarely. Jayne says in her book, that one person out of five spontaneously has a lucid dream once or more a month. That's quite rare in terms of the total number of dreams and somewhat rare in terms of the total number of dreamers.


From dreaming, and listening to people, and listening to papers presented here at the conference, I have to conclude that the answer to that first question is that it's not very easy to become lucid. It's not that simple. We talk about controlling our dreams as though we can do it so readily. I'm not so sure we CAN do it.


Trying to influence dreams is much more common. As Patricia and so many others have informed us, there is an enormous history of trying to influence dreams. Usually we call it incubation. I wonder about this process, too, because I believe that this is also a naturally occurring phenomenon. What I mean is, we do without intervening dream about what we worry about, what we think about, what's on our mind, what we are trying to decide about, and so on. 


I think the process of incubation, rather than actually influencing the dream, serves to call our attention to this fact that we dream about what we are thinking about, what we we're worrying about what we are trying to decide about. The process of incubation is simply a mechanism for alerting us, for putting us in touch with the process that's already there, without us having to touch it or manipulate it or make it happen.


So now I'm going to give you my answer to the question: "IF individuals find it possible, with lucidity, to control their dreams, should they do it?"


My answer is, "No, I don't think so. I don't think so."


While I enjoy lucid dreams as much as the next person (I certainly don't want to take candy away from kids), I have a number of reasons for thinking that control of dreams is not such a good idea.


The first one has to do with what it is that we normally try to get away from and avoid through lucidity and dream control. While I do acknowledge that lucid dreaming can be a major therapeutic tool, I want to caution against using it to try to avoid threatening characters and negative situations in dreams.


However, as I reflect on the video we have seen on nightmares of Vietnam warvets, on a couple of the cases we have talked about, and on my own experiences with my clients it seems that most of us would like to, if we could, avoid negative affective material in our dreams. Perhaps it comes naturally. Perhaps we all try to avoid the negative if we can. The trouble is,  I don't think that avoidance of the negative yields a very good model of the human psyche.


A lot of you know that tomorrow I'm going to Indonesia. I've come across a couple of interesting social rituals that occur in Indonesia, specifically in Bali, that I think, illustrate an alternative model that  the negative.


Bali is our archetype of beauty, of meaning, of spirituality, of cooperativeness, of all the things that we envision as missing in our own culture. Whether it is true or not is another story. What IS true is that the spirit of cooperativeness is the ultimate virtue in Bali: cooperation in nature, cooperation with the gods, cooperation among people.


Yet there are two common social rituals in Bali illustrating that for this spirit of cooperation to manifest itself, some accommodation has to be made to the negative, the underside of the psyche, the dark voices.


The first of these two rituals is the cock fight. The cock fight in Bali is a very important part of the social fabric. It operates under a very orderly, very complex very systematic set of social rules. The people are rarely aggressive with each other. They allow the cocks to act out these negative impulses. The cock fight itself is ugly, violent, and bloody.


The second social ritual involves a sacred conflict between Rangda, who is a witch that kills her own children and eats entrails, and The Baronj, who is an Apollo-like character that embodies all Balinese virtues.


In this ritual Rangda and the Baronj, played by masked dancers start their dance. People in the audience, men, gradually fall into trances and take up large swords and start engaging in tremendously violent sword fights with one another. As they stab at each other, even though the swords press in very dramatic fashion against the flesh, they don't bruise the flesh. When Rangda periodically emerges as the more powerful, the entranced dancers try to stab themselves. Then when the Baronj becomes more powerful, the sword is directed toward the other dancers.


The thing that I found so interesting about this ritual, is that there's no resolution. There's a continual fight. There's a recognition of the relationship of the forces of evil and good, destruction and salvation, dark and light. Harvey Bellow, who narrates a terrific film about this ritual, sees it as a sacred psychodrama in which, in full public view, participants are acting out and exorcising the destructive forces that impair harmonious living within the social fabric.


I think to us, certainly to us Californians, this continuous drama is not an image of the psyche that we like. We like light, resolution completeness, a future of living happily ever after. We are devoted to this image, by and large. I do believe that this image from Bali is more realistic, more potent.


A second reason for speaking against controlling the dream, is that I think control somewhat violates the existential nature of the dream, the fundamental nature of dreaming. Dreaming occurs when you are asleep. It's characterized by reduced conscious control. By and large, it unfolds, and moves and changes and forms not because the dreamer wills it to do so. A dreamer doesn't dream a genre of dream, such as a tragedy or a nightmare. It just happens somehow. This is part of the essential nature of dreaming.


I LIKE that about the dream. I think it's a precious component, and I don't like the idea of violating that part of the nature of the dream.


My third point involves my resistence to control and perhaps over-control, I know I live in California, but I'm from an older generation. I'm a child of the sixties, when we learned to value experience over action. We learned to "go with the flow." We learned to watch, to experience, see what was there, to be receptive. We didn't live by the current motto in California, which is "get control of your life." I therefore have a personal, generational issue with control. That's not to say I always go with the flow, either, but I do feel the need to speak for relaxing control.


That's my point of view. I don't think we should control our dreams.




Gackenbach: The next speaker is Eugene Gendlin.




Eugene Gendlin: This is symbolic. I'm sitting in the middle--which side am I more on?


What I think is that control is a very unfortunate way to approach this whole problem. This question of control does, however, mirror one of our basic problems both in therapy and in this society at large. Quite apart from dreams or even therapy, in any process of trying to develop, there has to be a CONVERSATION, an INTERACTION between our conscious selves and whatever you call the rest of us.


Whatever you call that which we are not conscious of can be that which we are not yet, or could be, or the larger part of us, or the unconscious, or the universe that we're part of. As you notice from my rattling off this string of ways of talking about it, I am deeply committed to NOT having a single way to talk about it, for the very reason that that would be controlling. If you tell me one way of talking about the larger part of me, I'll deny it. I'll think you're wrong. The only way you can sense the larger part of me is by some string of contradictory concepts that we've back-channeled.


 Now that's true of any attempt to develop oneself. One has to have a conversation. One has to take a stand consciously, and deliberately go to work. Once one has deliberately and consciously gone to work, then one has to relax right there at that edge there, right there at that uncomfortable spot, and let the rest of oneself come in, then. When something comes, one has to consciously absorb that, consciously respond to that, consciously ask further question.


Do you know what I mean?


That's the only way to work. It doesn't matter what it is. It might be a behavioral step that I have to train myself, but I have to be aware of my whole body again, and my larger way of responding so I can reprogram myself, and reevaluate. I have to be there at every step, but I have to let "it," whatever you call "it," respond to me, in between each step.


So suppose there is, let's say in Bali, since you just mentioned Bali, a very wise woman whose renown has spread all the way here. Let's say you have some desire to go there and partake in some way of her wisdom. Let's say you even hear (which would be really strange) that she has visions that have some relationship to you. So now you're really excited, and you get yourself together, and you get yourself all the way to Bali. She lives not in the city but out somewhere, so you have a struggle getting all the way to her.


But you finally get there . . . and you're going to tell her what to say to you???  (Laughter and applause from the audience).


On the other hand, you might very well want to ask her a question. So I can certainly agree with what Jayne and Patti said, except that they say it as an afterthought. It's like, "Yes, let's control your dreams, but be careful, don't close it all out."


I would say, "That's a terrible way to get into this territory." Well, we're already there, let's face it. We are in America, control is a big thing, O.K. But that's no way to deal with the unconscious, or whatever you call it. That's no way to deal with dreams, to first say, "I'll control," and then say as an afterthought, "I better not control too much."


The Senoi teach their people to ask questions. That's different. It's not, "Let's be in control, but watch out."  It's a totally different thing. It's an interaction, it's a conversation, it's an interplay, it's a zig-zag. It's like, "Yes, I deliberately want to go there so that then I can hear. And then, yes, I want to deliberately react to what I hear so that I can develop as an "I", as a person. But then I want to hear back again. And then I want to be there again for it and do something."


Jung talks about this kind of interaction all the time. Be active in your dream, and let it be active to you and then be active again. It's clear that that's a model for Jung for this kind of question.


So we wouldn't want to close the either dream channel OR the lucidity channel. I wouldn't want to say, "Lucidity is dangerous; stay away from it," I wouldn't want to say that. Yet I'm clearly placed more on this side of the table than the other, since it seems to me wrong to start out in the process by talking about controlling the process. That's in fact the hardest to learn in an ordinary therapy process-- to deliberately work hard and yet not control. Back up if you can't stand it, but don't run away.


Another thing I want to talk about is to have some feel for processing the dream awake, as Walter was illustrating. Once you have the experience that a dream can give you a further step that involves bodily awareness, once you have the feeling of what it's like to get a piece of development from a dream, a physical sense of "Oh!" -- something opens. Some sense of energy or aliveness occurs. When you have an experience with that, then that's what you want from a dream.


You don't want to edit it to come out good or bad or whatnot according to your thinking. You want some sort of living "step."


A man dreams that this very sloppy person that he knows is in bed with his wife, and that he, the dreamer, has given his wife to this slob for a birthday present. So he hates the dream.


  So I say to him, over a period of time of course--something like, "Well, what part of you is like this sloppy person?" and some smile comes and he says its a part of him that doesn't care, that couldn't care less.  That part of him hardly ever gets to him, because he is a very considerate, very ethical, very careful-of-other-people kind of person. And I said, "What would it be like if you gave your wife to THAT part of you?"


And some energy comes. Right? Now that would be difficult to imagine if he had controlled this dream. Right! I'm making the same point you just made. [gestures toward Johanna King]


I do think that when a person has a series of experiences like that, of the bodily-experienced step forward, it is possible to tell the difference between controlling in the silly sense of just closing the channel, and controlling in the sense of looking for the step forward and finding it.


It's a very difficult question. [turns toward Garfield] You had it in that example of that car. To drive that car down without crashing it could very well have been an invented solution that avoids a real resolution, or it could have been looking for a step forward and finding it. You are clearly telling us, since you were there, that it was a step forward.




Garfield: It was just that that was her solution. I didn't suggest it. She chose it.




Gendlin: To you it's important because SHE chose it. To me, the same problem of genuineness arises, but inside of us. Did that solution REALLY come, from HER, or did she just stick it on there so she wouldn't have to be scared?


In conclusion, I think the nature of working with our larger self or whatever you call it, is some kind of interplay. I think it would be wrong to go for passivity or flow, and never deliberately do something or ask something, but I think it would be just as wrong to get stuck with your own conscious self and slop that underneath the first solution that presented itself.




Gackenbach: Jane White Lewis.




Jane White Lewis: "Should you control your dreams?" On this issue I would have to say I am "Pro-choice". Certainly the work and research on lucid dreaming is not only interesting, but valuable. In lucid dreaming studies, there is the potential of increasing our understanding of dreaming and how the mind works.


      But from my perspective as a psychotherapist and Jungian analyst, controlling dreams doesn't make much sense. It seems to me that dreams are a readout from the unconscious; they tell us what is going on. That is, to me, dreams are an expression of Psyche speaking in images, playing, creating as well as reworking themes, struggling with conflicts and core issues stirred up by day-residues. In my experience, dreams always point to something, tell us something we do not know, something that is unconscious. Or in other words, Psyche (or the unconscious) has a broader perspective and knows a lot that the conscious mind does not know. If the unconscious is, as I think it is, a storehouse of valuable information about repressed memories of early wounds and desires, and if the unconscious is also a source of creative expression, and carries the potential for psychological development and healing -- why should the conscious mind interfere with the unconscious/Psyche's capacity to reveal itself? The unconscious offers us the possibility of getting out of our stuckness, of getting beyond or removing the old complexes; whereas the conscious mind is limited by the limitations of a limited perspective.


One argument for controlling dreams that appears repeatedly in the literature is the potential in lucid dreaming of reaching a blissful state, of experiencing the excitement of flying high, of avoiding fears and difficult situations, of feeling good, but I wonder, after once experiencing this state, what one learns. If one feels ecstatic, there is little motivation for change, for soul work, for suffering through the painful process of self examination, for working through and dismantling the defenses that have been erected to distance us from our wounds and from our true selves. If we focus on the "good" and want to eliminate the "not-good", we lose half of ourselves, our shadow. By splitting or polarizing the opposites, by being unable to bear the tension of the opposites, by refusing to legitimately suffer the conflicts and paradoxes in our lives -- we miss the opportunity for a third way, transformation, for resolution and for healing. It is only by going into our fear that we can get through it. Otherwise it goes underground and undermines our sense of self.


To take flight is not the answer, and -- I must admit -- I am quite suspicious of the emphasis on flying in lucid dreaming reports. Humans can not fly, are not meant to fly. Metaphorically, to fly is to be ungrounded, to be high, to escape from the reality and complexity of life, to flee from others, the environment, and one's deepest self.


To sum up, in the arena of psychology -- the study of psyche or soul, it is not at all clear to me what the purpose of controlling dreams is. Why not trust the unconscious to reveal itself and accept, without conditions, psyche's invitation to engage in soul making.




Gackenbach: I'd like to present a third position, one I've been stuck with having to deal with for years from a group which highly regards consciousness in sleep. "Do not control our dreams or even be aware of them. Do not pay any attention to them. Do not remember them." Yet, this group shows on multiple psychological evaluations considerable well-being.




Gendlin: Do they say why?




Gackenbach: The idea is that dreams are simply processing the stress of daily activities. Do not reengage this process.




King: I got the impression, Gene, that you were saying that "not controlling your dreams" is "taking a step." How the additional perspective results in an achievement is not clear.




Gendlin: I think I wasn't clear about what a step is. In my example, where the man is giving his wife to the slob, the step comes out of working with the additional perspective when you are awake. Through the question of "What part of him is this?" which is a traditional question you can ask any dreamer, he got in touch with the repressed part of himself that wouldn't be so performance-oriented and so would be a more sexually free, more aggressive area. You got that?




Garfield: Oh yes.




Gendlin: The moment of feeling that part of him involved a movement of energy in him. It was a physical bodily shift. That's what I call a "step." He said, "Oh-h-h-h-h." The CONCEPT of this is not a step. He could read books, get an idea, and say, "Oh, I could take charge." But to have it physically come through your body, that is a step. On the other hand, to think it through and invent some kind of solution is not a step. Where's the difference? The difference is in your body. A new way of being comes.


Now a new way of being sounds fantastic, but what I'm talking about is a little bit, it can be very small, a moment of smelling what it would be like. It is often the case that a dream presents a picture of how things are, and it takes a bit of processing to get to a step.


A person dreams...let's take, for instance, a woman who lives on a farm and loves animals, and would get upset as a child when the animals were slaughtered and so forth. She dreams of this pig-mother who is doing behavior that pigs don't do but that she does. It often happens that some symbol of the cosmos or something very healthy is acting in an unhealthy manner in the dream. It naturally takes the question, "How would a real pig-mother act?"


"Oh-h-h," she said, "a real pig-mother would..." and out came a step. A real pig-mother would act naturally, and so on.


There is a step to be had with most dreams. When you have experienced this often enough, then if you are asking the dream questions, you have that experience with you. You are asking, "How do I get down from this mountain. How do I get control of this car?"


 There is an open-ended sense, which the Senoi had very clearly. What have you come for? What is right here? How do I go on from here? Then the possibility of taking control would be a positive step for some people and letting go of control would be a step for others. Whatever the right step is is what we want. We may be using the wrong word here, control.




Garfield: I think what you just said is an important point, Gene. We may be using the wrong word here, "control." It may be good for some people and not for other people. [Turns to Walter] Walter may I ask you a question?




Bonime: How could I refuse!?




Garfield: Would you object if your concert pianist, in one of her dreams, had become lucid, and she turned to the Captain-woman, and said "How can I be like you?" Would that bother you? I don't know what word to use instead of control, but an active putting of the personality of the dreamer into the dream.




Bonime: That was already there in the dream. After all, there were the two aspects of herself. She was this jerk who wanted someone to get her out of this predicament she was in. That is what people do when they are in lucid dreams. She was also the Captain-woman. There was an undertow which has a suggestion of depression, the down-pulling.


 However, the two aspects of herself...




Garfield.  I agree. They're there, and they came out in the after discussion. But what I'm really wondering is whether you would find it offensive if the dreamer just asked a question in the dream. Or take mine, where I said, "Show me a dream tiger. Dream-Tiger! That's what I want to see. " Does that aspect of what we are discussing trouble you? Do you find it inappropriate?




Bonime: I think it would have expressed one of the commonest problems people have, which is to want somebody else to do it. The whole direction of what I try to do is to help individuals discover and use their own resources. That's the way out. Depressives hate to find out that they can do things.




Garfield: So in this case you would feel asking this would definitely be inappropriate?




Bonime: I think it would be another manifestation of her difficulty.




Garfield: Even if she was taking action and doing something in the dream?




Gackenbach. She's lucid, right?




Garfield. Yes. I was hypothesizing. Maybe its better to take my own case. "Show me a dream tiger." Is that wrong of me to do? To use my creative resource?




Bonime: Let me answer not directly, but appropriately. I try to bring to light the genuine resources of the person. They sometimes get sore as hell at me when I say, "You can do it."


Now, one of the things I like so much about the ASD is that I'm exposed to this very broad varied field of working with dreams. I experienced something yesterday which connected me with this very topic. I sat in on some of the sessions on nightmares. There, a young man working towards his Ph.D., was doing some interesting research on nightmares. He spoke about using lucidity in order to help the person deal with the problem. He did help; however there was no discussion of psychodynamics. He simply discussed the effectiveness of using lucidity. I have nothing against getting this type of relief, but in most cases it doesn't deal with the basic problem.


Once in a while, if you have a headache because you're sore at somebody and you don't express or recognize the anger, it's O.K. to take an aspirin. I just wouldn't resort to it a great deal. I'm not saying don't use lucidity, Patti. I'm not saying that at all. I do think it is intriguing and enticing. 




Gackenbach: Let's turn toward the audience now.




Robert Bosnak, from the floor: I have a question as to whether you think lucid dreams can be interpreted symbolically.




Garfield: They are all interpretable. There are definitely other things going on in the dream. People who are put in the position of having to defend dream control, often have to say, "Look guys, you're lucky if you can get what you started out asking for. It's not all that simple, in the first place. Don't worry. Not everyone is going  to want to do this."


The dream is still of value. All of the side trips that I took on the way to the dream-tiger I would work with too. Why did I go there. Was it some kind of cold element? Was there a crushing bear-like thing involved? There's a lot that could be worked with in that dream. It's just that the dream mind has such tremendous resources, and in lucid dreams, we can sometimes contact things in better depth. Before the dream, I couldn't I couldn't draw that tiger when I was awake. I tried and I got drawings of clicheish, stereotyped dumb-looking tigers. But when I drew him out of whatever depths he came from, he was something special. He had just the kind of looks I wanted. I just feel that it would be foolish to ignore that type of resource. But I don't for a moment devalue the rest of the dream.




From the Floor:--question about Gackenbach's book.




Gackenbach: That's what I'm saying. Becoming lucid became a defense. I've used lucidity to stop dreaming something that was happening.




From the Floor: You don't always advocate control?




Gackenbach: No. The title of the book is something that I was told the book had to have. If you read the book, you'll find that the book tries to advocate a moderate position. There are some circumstances where it may be appropriate and some where it's not.




From the Floor: Why do you ask questions during a dream?




Panelist: Because you are consciously trying to direct it.




Garfield: Why can't you ask within the dream?




Gackenbach: Why can't you ask within the dream?




Panelist: There are certainly dreams in which dream figures ask questions.




Garfield: Why can't the figure of the dream-ego ask a question?




King: Because the ego is involved and introspective. It's not separated.




Panelist: Because you are asking the question, you are in another state of consciousness, right? So it's not really the dream ego. Its something else. It's more conscious.




Gackenbach: In a sense your right. It's not really the dream ego. The 'self' while lucid feels like it's somehow more "me", more present, more aware.




Panelist: What's the difference between the dream ego IN a dream and a lucid ego? They are not the same, right? Are they?




Gendlin: I tend to think of control from a different point of view. I think rather, make a distinction between control of ourselves in situations and control over. So often we want control over somebody or something else. What is so attractive about control of dreams, is that you are constantly looking for control over something else. What we lose when we use lucidity this way is that we lose control of our own resources.


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Elinor Gebremedhin


Berwyn, Pennsylvania



One of the advantages of being an isolated spontaneous lucid dreamer without any other lucid dreamers around to compare notes with, is that you may weather some very weird experiences years before someone else tells you their traditional names (if there are  any).  While this may not feel like an advantage while you are trying to integrate what happened without much in the way of verbal tools, it does make the reality more authentic, because no one had ever suggested that such a thing could be. 


There is more than one way to be conscious while we are asleep.  In my first full-blown lucid dream, I said to myself, "I'm awake and aware in my dream!"  But there have been a number of other experiences, in which I am sleeping, and I gain consciousness, and I find myself saying to myself, "I'm sleeping, and I'm conscious, but this does not seem to be a dream."  They can be very powerful.


The world of consciousness can get very confusing ...sometimes new experiences occur in the middle of a dream. It might seem that the very fluidity of being in a state that is not so tied to sense experience and specific body-shapes would leave the door open for unlimited numbers of experiences, a hopeless mess to sort through, so there's no point in trying to sort out what might be "lucid substates."  The dreams I want to discuss here suggest this is not the case.


Many people who work with dreams seem to have the attitude that nearly all dreams except nightmares have a lot to offer. By and large, the goal with nightmares is to make them go away; otherwise the job is to dig out the pot of gold in the other types of dreams by interpreting it and applying the interpretation in waking life.


It is my opinion that a number of other aspects of dream-life are ignored by these approaches, and that it would be worthwhile to explore a more middle-of-the-road pragmatic position, at least with regard to lucid dreams (since it's harder to do anything about the others). Some dreams have a lot to offer and others might end up robbing you of something quite important: energy. Many of my lucid dreams, especially when my "I" have gotten quite clear-minded, have "charged" me with energy that lasts for days, even when the plot seems to be full of "negative" events.  Other less negative-seeming dreams have proved to be a drag after I woke. It seems to be more important to be clear-minded and clear-hearted about whatever goes on, than to have a good time. 


On this theme, I'd like to present two dreams with very similar experiences in them, which had opposite effect. The similarity lies in what I called then an episode of "mind-stillness" where the thinking of thoughts stopped for awhile, although I remained fully aware. This sounds very similar to the "pure" consciousness or "witnessing" described by TM meditators in Lucidity Association's panel discussion on higher states of consciousness at their 1990 meeting in Chicago. However, only one of my dream experiences resulted in the predicted enhanced levels of well-being and energy -- the other did just the opposite.








The following was a clear example of a dream which served as a bridge into another state.


Lucid Dream Within A Dream (8/2/84-2)


Dreamed I was in Center City Philadelphia after midnight, on the northeast corner of 16th Street and the Vine Street Expressway, waiting to catch a bus to go home.  I was very tired and struggling with myself to stay awake.  I leaned against a telephone pole, drowsily trying to remain upright and conscious while my mind clouded and dipped.  Every part of my body felt full of sandy fatigue.  Finally I could remain conscious no longer. I sat down on the curb, leaned my head against the pole and went to sleep, hoping I would wake when the bus came. 


I immediately started to dream a lucid dream.  In this dream's dream, my consciousness cohered into a lucid clarity that was in marked contrast to my mental functioning in the first part of the dream.  I looked around alertly, head high, without feeling any sense of tiredness.  I was on a railroad station platform with a male companion to my right. We were waiting for a train. "Lucid,"  I said to myself under my breath.  As I continued to look around and take in this dream environment, I saw that it was late at night, and the train was rolling up. The wind blew my hair against my cheek with a distinct physical sensation, and I felt how this dream-hair was black, not my usual light brown. I also felt taller, thinner, and healthier.


This sensing of my characteristics as "different" made me think of that self that was asleep, leaning against the telephone pole...and it was THAT sleeping self I mistakenly thought of as the self that was dreaming the dream, not the real physical self at home in my bed in Berwyn. In other words, even though I was completely aware that I was dreaming, and thought I was thinking clearly, I wrongly identified the situation of my physical me as being the one sleeping against the telephone pole.


My companion and my lucid dream-self climbed into the train as soon as it came to a halt. We found that it was separated into compartments, like some European trains are, so we went into one of them.  My companion was a quiet, good-natured, moderately good-looking, scholarly fellow, who immediately settled down  to read a book. I felt a need of sleep, but it was quite  different than the desperate way the first "I" needed sleep.  The lucid I didn't exactly feel tired, but just felt the need of stopping the movement in my mind for a while. The need presented itself as a kind of knowledge rather than a physical sensation. 


I lay down on the seat facing my companion, with a sense of nonworry, because I knew he would wake me when we arrived, or if anything untoward occurred. However, as soon as the train started up, I had difficulties because the rocking movement threatened to pitch me off on the floor. As I struggled to stay put, I dipped in and out of sleep. Finally I got up and lay down on the floor, twining my arms around one of my trusted companion's legs, and using his foot as a pillow.  He raised his eyebrows in an expression of mild surprise, so I explained, "The ground is one place you can't fall down from."  He sat very still, perfectly immobile so as not to disturb me, and returned to his reading. I felt secure in my sleeping place, and in the  atmosphere of caring that he exuded.


Then I fell into a deep sleep, but it was an odd kind of sleep, because I did not black out into unconsciousness. I remained lucid, still aware I was asleep, but all mental movement stopped, all thinking of ideas  halted. Maybe instead of having a lucid dream, with ideas, feelings and a plot going on, I was having a lucid sleep.  My mind and all the rest of me was simply clear, like a deep transparent lake where all currents have been stilled.  This mental immobility felt like it lasted for a relatively long duration...fifteen or twenty minutes, or maybe even an hour. I don't mean that during all this time there was an image of a lake in my mind, but that's the best likeness I can think of to point to the big transparent stillness that just sat there, with no thoughts going on.


Then I "awoke" from this deep lucid sleep, not into the lucid dream, but into the original nonlucid level of the dream. I felt tremendously refreshed, but alarmed, because I felt it was now 1:00 A.M., and I might have missed the bus. I thought about the "dream" I had just had, and suddenly realized what a dope I was to be standing here and waiting for the bus.  I should be taking a train, just like in the dream, because all I had to do was walk a few blocks, six blocks or so, and I would be at the train station (the waking-life distance is about four blocks), and I could go directly home.


I thought, I must have been really tired to just stop here and start waiting for this bus, when I would have had to change busses, and besides, Philadelphia busses were less reliable anyway.  I wondered if one of the busses had already passed me by. I decided to "take my dream's advice" (as I put it to myself), and go immediately to the train station.  I woke just as I had started to walk down the street.


When I woke from this dream, which included an experience I had never had before, I did not feel so much ecstatic or bemused, or anything like that--I felt enormously NORMAL and very healthy (which was unusual, since I was leading a frantic life mothering five children and working in the computer industry).  The picture of my exhaustion at the beginning of the dream was a good representation of the way I felt most of the time when I went to bed (and sometimes when I got up, too). The distinct sense of deep refreshment from what I labelled motionless "lucid sleeping" or "mind-stillness" that was  carried into the waking-life day was wonderful.  My notes from that time show that I felt  great for a number of days, not just one.  I conjectured at the time that if I knew how to do this at will, I would need very little sleep to operate at optimum levels. I thought I might even  live longer as well as feeling great. 


This is just the opposite of conventional wisdom, which has it that you need to black out into a deep unconscious sleep to be really refreshed.


This is the only dream I have ever had that shifted into a state that so clearly resembled what the TM people are calling "witnessing,"  but I immediately recognized it when they spoke of it, and was able to distinguish it from a second dream, following, which has superficial resemblances.




Who's The Dreamer?




My second example involves a dream with another motionless episode that has an entirely different effect.  However, the basic situation won't make sense without a side-track into some background information.


At the time the dream occurred, I had been thinking about the difference between what seemed to be "my" dream-thoughts, and the events which seemed to happen TO me.  Even though a dream was "my" dream, my control over what happened was unpredictable and weak when I was lucid and almost nonexistent when I was not lucid.


"Wait a minute," I thought. Is this idea that "I" made up the dream-environment and the dream-plot just another one of those fictions  my scientific civilization is fond of?  There is something quite different about dreams, which I can "experience" quite fully, and scenes and plots which I consciously "imagine." My conscious imaginings involve a watered-down, "unreal" element to them. I visualize, but I don't actually see.  Even if I go to the movies, where I really hear and see, and get so involved that I cry when the hero dies in the end, I still don't feel the cold of the blizzard that did him in, or smell the coffee he drank at his last breakfast. When I dream, I can even feel cold and smell coffee (although it's more common to just know somehow that the cold and the coffee are there and operative elements of the plot).


Perhaps there is something "out there" making all this happen to me, and my "I" is just an honored guest who is occasionally able to experience everything to the full.


In support of this idea, it occurred to me how often in my dreams, things happen "suddenly" and I am "surprised."  If I make up the ideas and events myself, even on the fly, why should I be so surprised at what happens?  In fact, now that I think of it, one of the reasons dreams are great fun is that things happen which I can't see myself beginning to think up in waking reality.      Whatever "the unconscious" is, it is certainly a necessary item, if we are going to maintain that all of our dream is  ours. If "I" made up the whole dream, the reason I am surprised must be because my "unconscious" made up the plot, and my "I" is in my conscious mind, not my unconscious mind.


At this point, I was relieved to remember how much of the dream-environment seems to be made up of the nuts and bolts of my daily life.  I found it very uncomfortable to try and seriously entertain the idea that somebody or something else might be wandering through, producing "my" dreams. At least "my" unconscious was "mine" (whatever that meant, it felt like a good idea).  Another argument in favor of the all-mine theory was how often a dream that fascinated me was completely boring to someone else.      


However, the exercise of deliberately trying to undermine my felt-sense of the dream being all mine, and especially the thought about the element of surprise, had added an element of uncertainty as to where the boundary ended between "my" dream "in here" and something or someone "out there."  This also left me thinking about who dreamed the dream. The one who made up the parts of the dream that surprised me (ignoring whether this was myself, other, or both of us)  might or might not be able to control what my "I" experienced in the dream.  In that case my unconscious was also having a dream with the unpredictable element being how my "I" responded. In that case, who was having the WHOLE dream?  (This may seem like a ridiculous thought-snarl to someone who is always pondering cognition as part of his or her life's work, but I'm trying to explain what I had gotten myself tangled up in just before I had the following dream).


My tentative answer was that the one who is having the whole dream is the one asleep on the bed, not the dream-I (dream ego) in the plot, the one that we usually call "the dreamer."


When my dream-body walks up to a visible dream-door, feeling the walking was "my" activity, and the door was "out there",  the "real" physical me remained unmoving in a bed in a dark room where the door was not visible. I envisioned the whole dream as an entity that had some kind of boundary (my dream-mind had come up with this years earlier) and the whole thing sat inside my sleeping head, and inside the dream my "I" and the rest of my mind both experienced the dream.  


Immediately, I wanted to see how my dreaming mind would react to this conception.  I decided that I would try to remember, while I was asleep, that the one I felt myself to be was not the one having the whole dream. Knowing that usually I can remember only short "slogans" from the daytime, I decided I would say to myself, "I am not the dreamer," and remember the real dreamer, sleeping "out there." in order to evoke the whole line of thought.  Since I had occasionally remembered the one sleeping "out there," this seemed workable.


That brings us up to date with the background thinking behind the following dream.




I Am Not The Dreamer (1/19/87)


Sometime in the middle of the night, abruptly I began dreaming, knowing I was dreaming from the start. I felt myself to be in the familiar formless dream-space with nothing going on yet but my own thoughts. I thought very hard...there was something important I was going to try out next time I had this lucid kind of "dream."   Then I remembered, and I said very cautiously (because of feeling I didn't want to destroy "the fabric of the dream"), "I am not the dreamer."  I felt my mind sucked being "backwards" out of the dream (I wasn't aware of any body), and tried to concentrate "forwards," into the dream, which seemed to be more towards the front of my head.


I found myself in a body-image lying on a bed-image in the middle of a light-colored room, and distinctly felt the sensation of my back pressing on the mattress.  However, I managed to keep my mind carefully focused on the dream state without being too forcible about it; this felt a little tricky, but after a brief uncertainty, everything seemed to stabilize into a stable lucid dream. I felt myself float upwards out of the body on the bed, and said to myself, momentarily puzzled, "Well, this may look like an out-of-the-body state, but it certainly doesn't feel like it."


Then very cautiously, but  firmly, I tried my affirmation again, "I am not the dreamer."  This time I managed to stay floating in the room without being sucked backwards, so I hazarded picturing in my mind (fuzzily)  where the real dreamer was--somewhere "outside" of the dream environment, in a physical body sleeping on a bed someplace. It felt dangerous to do this; it felt like I didn't have a strong enough grip on my mind to stretch it that far away and still stay here, so if I were not careful, I would lose my precious lucidity.   I quickly pulled my mind back together again, without attempting to go any further than that, and focused "forward" again, in the lucid direction. 


There was a door in front of me. Very cautiously, remembering the lucid dream where the tree had slapped me in the face when I tried to walk through it, I reached my hand forward, and pushed it through the door. There seemed to be no difficulty now. After deliberating on the closed door and my arm imbedded in it for a bit, it abruptly came to me that I couldn't see what might happen to the part of my arm on the other side of the door. Galvanized, I withdrew the arm, scurried back to the the security of the dream-body on the dream-bed, and jumped into it, forgetting completely that this wasn't the "real" dreamer's body. I stayed with this body-image for a while, just feeling safe, not thinking or experiencing anything, a kind of mental immobility without any content. The plot, my thoughts, everything stopped. Then I felt myself being lifted up again. I labored mentally to get going, to verbalize a direction, still lucid, but now feeling very muddle-headed and spent. Laboriously, I thought, "Highest," and, "God." 


Suddenly I was surrounded with something like a clear current, or a wind, which was lifting me up and pouring into all parts of my drifting body from all directions--head, ears, mouth, chest, abdomen and so on.  Without any thought or intention on my part, or any other type of other preliminary imagery, I felt a distinct sexual sensation, climaxed, and abruptly woke up. 


I was very surprised when I woke up, because nothing in what went on prepared me for the outcome. I had occasionally had problems with this "wind" having a sexual side effect (usually it didn't), but previously there had always been  some preparatory sexual feeling, even if the partner was indistinct. However, that is beside the point here.


What lingered after this dream was exhaustion. It was the very opposite of the first dream. Why?


I have several observations on this point. First of all, this dream did not shift completely into another state like the first one did. I jumped into the body on the bed and lay there--but this was not "going to sleep" (changing state).  Secondly, it is quite clear in the dream that I moved from a state of pretty clear lucid functioning to a state that was less clear, requiring more effort to say even a few words.  The movement into the body involved confusion.  Whatever might or might not be symbolized by the manifest content, the direction of the mental clarity was opposite to that of the first dream.


It appears that these mental


So much for the results of these dreams.  What about cause?


I have no idea where they came from, what they are related to, or why I have never had a witnessing dream.  I am not a steady meditator.  Although I have dabbled in it a visualizing form of meditation, I have never practiced TM.  Therefore it was very interesting to hear them try to describe my "lucid-sleeping" experience in their terms.


The effects of the dream on the steadiness of my energy level, and overall sense of well-being and health were so striking that going to the conference has made me consider trying out TM! (Other types of meditation have always attracted me  more.) 


But the bottom line is that still feel that if I could find out how to open this particular door more often in my lucid dreams, my health and energy would be top notch. The most odd thing about this "altered state" was that it felt so NONweird, so UNunusual, so totally ordinary that it wasn't ordinary. In this day and age our minds need deep rest.   


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EDITORS NOTE: Over the past several years, Father "X" (who prefers to remain anonymous) has written a series of letters to Charles Tart (with copies to Lucidity Letter senior editor, Jayne Gackenbach) together with copies of dream diary entries in which he detailed his extensive experiences with lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences.  Father "X" has kindly shared his correspondence and diaries with us, and in a previous issue of Lucidity Letter, we published excerpts.  Recently, he sent us copies of his latest letter to Charles Tart and [the accompanying] diaries.  What follows are two lightly edited representative diary entries describing his experiences, and an excerpt from his letter in which he summarizes his thoughts about these phenomena.  Where our editing involves addition of or substitution of clarifying words, we have added brackets ([  ]).



October 16, 1989 Diary Entry




Another one of those instantaneous out-of-body experiences without the usual paralysis and vibrations.  I was just resting on my bed after mass, fully clothed, with my eyes closed and mind not thinking about anything.  Suddenly, presumably out of nowhere, that "television set" in my head clicked on.




A scene of an empty parking lot, maybe on a Sunday morning, came before my eyes.  The sky was overcast and I wondered if I could create a sun in that dark sky.  As I began concentrating my mind on that idea, sure enough a sun appeared in the sky and I was no longer in bed but wandering around in that empty parking lot.  As usual (when I am not overcome by fear) I had a great sense of excitement and exhilaration at being able once again to leave my normal state of consciousness and to enter another state with my complete day-conscious mind about me.  A big truck came rolling by with two men sitting in the cab.  When I yelled and waved at them, they responded with yells and waved back; then they turned their truck around and headed back toward me.  When they got about twenty yards from me they stopped and the sides of the truck started peeling away from the main body.  The whole truck was transformed into a huge building with wide steps in front going up to the roof.  I scrambled up the steps to the roof and [found myself] overlooking an enormous desert where hundreds of soldiers were manning tanks and other vehicles that were half buried in the sand.  The whole scene had a dark, foreboding, terrifying look about it, like a World War I battlefield; before I could do anything else the experience ended.




March 5, 1990 Diary Entry




These early morning experiences after the office of Vigils were preceded by two vivid non-lucid dreams which I will briefly describe only to make the point that lucidity is not triggered by the bizarreness of the dream landscape. I had lain awake in my bed for over an hour when they began: 




. . . one second I [felt myself to be lying] in my bed and the next second I was leaving an outdoor meeting [i.e., conference] together with a nun (although she wasn't completely dressed as a nun, she did have a veil and a dark dress).  After crossing the street we stood in front of a small store and continued our conversation, until I noticed a dead pigeon lying on the ground in front of me.  The nun knelt over the pigeon and tried to cover it with her body, which quickly became the body of a black cat resting on top of the pigeon. 


Then it ended and I found myself back in my bed wondering why lucidity had not clicked on because of the bizarre nature of the experience.  While I was still pondering this question I went right back to the same location:


. . . this time the nun and the pigeon were gone.  Sitting on the steps of the store was someone who looked like one of our monks talking to a childhood acquaintance of mine who has appeared in several of my experiences.  I don't know why he has because he was not a close friend but only a general acquaintance.  Anyway, they were babbling away together and I jumped in and asked him if he ever finished college (In reality I don't know if he ever started). 


Before he could answer, the experience ended and I was back in bed wondering why I still couldn't attain lucidity.  But now something new was being added--I could feel tensions and chilly vibrations starting up in my body and I knew I would have lucidity in the next experience. 


And sure enough, when I found myself standing on the steps of what might be a huge mall or a large office building with shops and stores on the ground floor, all I had to do was walk a few steps and I had total lucidity confirmed by the tensions I still felt throughout my dream body.  Perhaps a better term would be "Energy Body," because it really feels like your whole body is percolating with energy.  I immediately walked down the steps and out the door which opened out onto this huge piazza filled with people.  I fought the temptation to go up to the first person I saw and start interrogating him; instead I tried to take everything into my memory but I knew I would only remember a fraction of what I was looking at.  (That is what is so damn frustrating about these experiences, along with their ending so quickly, usually at a crucial moment.)


Well, anyway, as I was trying to take everything in, a man came up and started talking to me; the best I could make of his conversation was that he was trying to sell me an air pump.  When I told him that I wasn't interested, a sinister-looking crowd started gathering around us.  As I said on a number of occasions, there is nothing that scares me more than being surrounded by these creatures with no place to run, and I could see that I was indeed surrounded.  From the look of them I know that they weren't going to sing "Oh for he's a jolly good fellow" to me; they had something else on their mind and I could feel the panic starting to take hold of me.  So I closed my eyes and started shaking my head as vigorously as I could and concentrating on my body back in my monastery bed; after a few moments of struggle I was back in my bed.




September 8, 1990 Letter




Dear Dr. Tart:




I hope you have been keeping well as it has been a little over two years since my last letter.  Here I am again with what should be the last installment of my experiences, which gives me a sense of relief at having this burden taken off my shoulders.  My experiences are now "out there" for researchers to comment on as they see fit, and what I perceived to be a moral obligation to scientific research has been fulfilled.


However, I am also aware that I may be overestimating the importance of my experiences, and some may see them as nothing more than the "hallucinations" of a "mad monk."  That doesn't concern me, as my only purpose was to contribute, along with others, to the slowly accumulating data of this most strange phenomenon.


It is still a great mystery to me why some dreams become lucid and others remain non-lucid.  I don't think it is just a matter of finding the right technique; I'm sure it goes a lot deeper than that.  It certainly isn't the often-times incongruous dream environment.  I have had many dreams with the most outlandish situations in which lucidity never clicked on, and when I awoke and reflected upon them, it just amazed me that they didn't become lucid.  On the other hand, there were many dreams that became lucid when I was involved in the most ordinary things.  And, as far as my out-of-body experiences are concerned, I wouldn't even begin to try to explain them.


So I guess what I am saying is that I am as perplexed about these experiences today as I was almost 20 years when they first began, and the wonder of them still amazes me.  Every time I enter an experience I feel like an astronaut landing on Mars for the first time and finding a thriving civilization.  When I read reports of other peoples' experiences, and the almost blase and casual attitude they have toward them, I sometimes wonder if we are talking about the same thing.  The bottom line on my experiences is that I have entered a world inhabited by people who look and dress a lot like us, and do a lot of things that we do; they live in apartments and houses; they eat in restaurants and drink in bars; they drive cars and taxis; and ride in buses; they go to meetings in large halls and watch sporting events in huge stadiums; they attend colleges and universities; they work in offices and factories; they attend "religious" services in buildings that look like churches; they take their children for walks in the park, etc., etc.  But they are not us!  Then who or what are they?


To simply label them as "dream characters" and let it go at that seems to me to be more than over-simple.  There is a lot more going on here, as I am convinced that they have some kind of personal consciousness.  At one time I thought (and maybe I still do) that they might be "spirits of the dead" who have somehow got trapped in some sort of transition world between here and the hereafter.  Or maybe this is the hereafter -- then we're all in trouble.  A few times when I asked them if they were dead , some replied in the affirmative, but most of the time they just look at me with a confused look on their faces and say nothing.  But I still can't forget that woman checking out books in a library who replied to my questions by saying, "Yes, but I am the only one around here who remembers dying."  I've always thought that was a most extraordinary thing to say, and although she spoke in English I thought I detected a Swedish accent.




In the Dec. '89 issue of Lucidity Letter (Pg. 15, bottom paragraph) Paul Tholey has something to say about communications with dream characters:




...Inexperienced lucid dreamers frequently have difficulty conducting a rational dialogue with other dream figures.  This is because most of these figures play word games involving hidden or multiple meanings which the dream ego can not initially understand.  Thus it is not surprising that the dream ego considers the dream figures' speech to be pure nonsense--although it can later often be shown to have logical meaning...




After almost twenty years of these experiences I have a hard time seeing myself as a "inexperienced" lucid dreamer, and I still have not been able to make sense out of many of the responses I have received from these "dream characters" or whatever they are.  If Dr. Tholey has some sort of Rosetta Stone for distilling meaning from these mostly illogical [dream] statements I would hope that he would share it with us, because I would love to know what the relationship is between the Italian traveller Marco Polo and the Swedish botanist Linnaeus.  It would also be fascinating to know what a character from a Henry James novel was doing in one of my experiences -- a novelist whom I have never read.


There are times when I think that it may take another Darwin to figure all this out, because I honestly believe deep in my gut that something very important for the study of human consciousness is going on here.  However, I must admit that there are other times when I feel that these experiences have no meaning at all outside my own muddled-up subconscious, that they are just some erratic chemical/electrical connections firing off haphazardly in my brain.  Well, I will let the professional researchers worry about it, as I try not to think about it any more.


Most of my experiences in the last couple of years have been what I refer to as the "instantaneous" kind; what I mean by that is that they are similar to my out-of-body experiences, except that there is no paralysis or vibrations preceding them, nor do you have the feeling of leaving the body.  One second I am lying on my bed wide awake and the next second I am walking around in this strange world; in some of these experiences I have complete lucidity right from the beginning, as in my out-of-body experiences, while other times lucidity comes over me slowly.  What all this means is that I don't pass through any sleep cycle -- alpha, beta, delta, theta, REM, whatever -- but enter this other state of consciousness directly from the waking state, as in my out-of-body experiences.  These are the kinds of experiences that I suspect LaBerge would describe as "WILD's" (Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams).  Since I don't pass through any sleep cycle but enter this strange world spontaneously how could they be labelled as lucid dreams of any sort?  It seems to me that a new category needs to be found.


Researchers keep talking about "higher" states of consciousness, but I am not sure that that is how I would describe the world I have been visiting these many years.  It is more like a "lower" state of consciousness because rational discourse seems to be at a premium, and some of these "dream characters" behave in such a zombie-like way that I would certainly think twice before I invited them into my home.


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EDITORS NOTE: This interview with Patricia Garfield by Jayne Gackenbach concerns her recently re-released book, Pathway To Ecstasy.  This book was originally published right after her best selling Creative Dreaming.



Patricia Garfield:  Spirituality and lucid dreaming were the things I was most excited about when I finished Creative Dreaming. They seemed like the future and thus where my writing should go.  In 1974, before Creative Dreaming came out, I put together a book proposal and submitted it to Simon and Shuster.  They felt there was not enough interest in dreaming to warrant another book, and particularly one devoted primarily to this weird aspect: lucid dreaming. 


I mean, nobody knew what that was.  They wouldn't take it. I had the option of just submerging it into something much larger, making it a very minor part of a book, or sticking with it and trying to get it published elsewhere.  I think I hadn't clearly developed how I wanted to present the whole of the material, other than the lucid aspects of it. 


Eventually it was picked up by Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, who were not terribly interested in the lucid dreaming aspect either. They were much more interested in the personal elements. At the same time this was going on, I was undergoing very intense forms of meditation. Suddenly there was the realization that these meditation experiences were connected to the lucid dream experiences.  That's where they intersected. I became so excited when this happened.




Jayne Gackenbach:  Would you talk about that moment of realization?




Garfield:  It's in the chapter of the book called, "The Magical Land Of Breeze And Light."  You know the characteristic feelings that accompany lucid dreaming are, by now, quite well known.  But at that time, very little was spoken about them.  Frequently people who had lucid dreams would talk about the rush of wind in their face, and the intensification of colors and the other things that are now common knowledge.  What I experienced I didn't quite know how to describe.   I called it a "sound-feel", or a "vibration-buzz".  To me it was kinesthetic, as well as auditory.  It was not just wind in the face, the entire body seemed to "buzz".  So when I practiced this Taoist meditation, and when I had, what would probably be called in other cultures, a kundalini experience, these inner sensations became very perceptible to me while awake and meditating.  Then they would occur spontaneously at other times once I had aroused them in meditation.  This was then a very conscious force in my body.  After I got some help with it, particularly by a Taoist meditation teacher who taught me methods of controlling it and calming it when necessary, then it became much more regulated. 


The metaphor that flashes into my my mind to describe these sensations is that it was like being pregnant when the baby's kicking you and you're sitting talking to someone, trying to be normal.  The baby is kicking away inside, tickling you under the ribs, while you're saying, "Well yes, that's right."  The effects of meditation can also have that inner life that is so strong that it makes it difficult to focus on the external.  It's definitely a live quality once it has become aroused.


I found that it was a kind of barometer in the sense that certain things made it stronger, other things made it weaker.  Certain foods that I ate stimulated it.  Certain rooms, certain atmospheres.  In any case, when I underwent an acupuncture treatment, I was amazed to feel this buzzing kind of line along the acupuncture channel, and I'd never heard anybody describe this or speak of it. When I talked with my acupuncturist about it, he said, "That's your chi.  Most people don't feel it this quickly."  It was probably that my body was already very aroused in certain areas, and this became perceptible to me in quite a vivid way. 


This all came together in a dream in which ordinary kinds of things were going on, and then suddenly I became aware that something was happening in the next room.  I hurried around the corner, and entered a very spacious room. All the windows were open, with sunshine streaming in every window.  There was a very high ceiling and sheer curtains on the windows that were being lifted up by a breeze that was pouring in along with the light. I said to myself, "The magical land of breeze and light!"  I lifted up into the air with the excitement of realizing that I was dreaming.  That was my clue.  By then  I'd had enough lucid dreams to know that when I experienced certain imagery, then this was dreaming.  I felt myself lifted up by the buzzing in my legs, a "vibration-sound". In the dream I said, "My God!  The buzzing vibration from acupuncture is the same as the feeling of lucid dreaming.  It's identical."  That brought together a whole disparate number of experiences.




Gackenbach:  So the felt experience plugged you into a wide range of other experiences. 




Garfield:  The connection came in the dream, while I knew I was dreaming. This integration that occurred in my thinking combined the meditation experience, the acupuncture experience and the lucid dream experience.




Gackenbach:  So there was an experiential element as well as a theoretical integration going on?




Garfield:  Yes.  How to frame what I was trying to express about lucid dreams began to make more sense.  I was also at that time reading a great deal, and undergoing some training in Tibetan Buddhism. The concept of a mandala occurred to me as a possible framework. I began taking some of the most powerful images from my dreams and trying to make a mandala composed from my lucid dream images.  For example, we know how common flying is in  pre-lucid or  lucid states, as a vehicle for moving up and out.  I wanted flying in my mandala.  I'd had a very powerful lucid dream that began very ordinarily, as so many of them do. 


I was standing on a street corner talking to some people about a book I was going to get published.  They were going to the publishers, and I said, "I'll meet you there in a while."  I had to run home and pick up some notes.  I hurried to where I seemed to live in the dream and opened a little iron gate that led to an alleyway. I was barefoot in the dream.  I went into this little alleyway, and I was suddenly across it. I'm never barefoot outside on the sidewalks, and I don't live in an alleyway, so these are discrepancies that might have clued me to the incongruent aspects of the dream. But it didn't happen until I got into the alleyway and I saw this beautiful tree across the street. It was covered, not with leaves, but with blue feathers.  On this feathered tree were sitting many, many bluebirds, and I looked at the tree and said, "Ah!  I'm dreaming!  You know, this has got to be a dream tree!  Suddenly one of the birds was on my finger and I began stroking this little creature.  And I started to say "Oh you pretty . . ." 


But I began to feel tired. For me, when a dream becomes lucid or right after, there's often a change in consciousness that can take the form of going to sleep.  It can take the form of waking up.  It can take the form of going into a trance.  It can be being light-headed, but there is some kinesthetic feeling in my head that says, "Oh, you know. . ." And I go into another state.


In this case I suddenly felt very tired, and I lay down on my right side and I could feel this buzzing vibration, but in this case it had the actual form of light.  It was a buzzing light that travelled in my legs and around my buttocks and I just lay still in the dream watching this buzzing light knowing perfectly well I was dreaming, just waiting to see what would happen.  And suddenly it occurred to me that my husband actually turned over in bed, so the whole bed jiggled, and my dream snapped into the ordinary.  It continued, but now there was this little child, a little boy lying in his cot on his right hand side and his mother had just opened the door to ask him what he wanted for dinner.  In the lucid part I was trying to decide what to do with the lucidity and here was this little boy being offered a choice of all kinds of wonderful things. Then she looked at him and said, "Oh I'm sorry.  Did I wake you up?"  And then I actually awoke. 


The bluebird that was in my dream became an important figure representing the ability to fly, so I condensed my many, many flying images from lucid dreams into one blue feather that had a place on the mandala. 


Passionate dreams are a very consistent part of my lucid dreaming, not always, but often.  In one of the dreams which became lucid:


I was lying on the couch in a beautiful room, and I looked out the open window, and saw that the moon was full.  I suddenly realized that I was dreaming and said, "Fly me to the moon."  I lifted off the couch, out the window and into the night sky with the wonderful streaming of the wind against my face and hair.  There was an exhilaration of moving toward the light, this wonderful luminous light, and suddenly I was there, on the moon, and everything was red. There was a bare-breasted woman in a red dress that was in the shape of a strawberry. The whole dream scene was infused with this strawberry red light. 


So from this dream I then took the symbol of the strawberry, almost like a nipple, a female succulent symbol that became my image for the passion of lucid dreams.  So I had the flying element, and I had the passionate element.  I call these figures "deities" in the framework of the mandala because they were, it seemed to me, to be the images that brought a supernatural kind of experience. 


You know how sound in lucid dreams can become very crystal clear.  Often there is music, pulsation and rhythm going on.  Another compelling image from my dreams was a woman who spoke in musical tones which I called in the dream "bell tones". When she opened her mouth to speak, what came out was a musical bell tone, so I used the bell as a symbol. This is the way I built the mandala.  There were four major deities and there were the "temple walls" which were the walls of my childhood where negative dreams used to take place. I likened this to the sacred space in which the dreamer's power is encapsulated if you can get in touch with it, rather than being frightened by it and scared away by the fear. 


The central figure of the mandala became the deity of the branching woman, which was another one of these revelations from an accumulation of dreams.  I had a dream once in which I was at a conference.  I described this in Creative Dreaming. I stood up and . . . nobody was paying much attention to me.  It was long before I had written Creative Dreaming, and there wasn't any response to my work.  I said, "I've had a series of dreams in which there were women that had growths coming from their head.  They were branches or antlers, I wasn't quite sure, but many, many reaching out in all directions.  I'm fascinated with this." 


And in the dream, people just started talking and not paying any attention, and going on with their thing and my husband leaned over and said, "Oh you did that very well."  And he kissed me on the cheek. I wandered over to the table where people were eating and there wasn't any food left for me.  I woke up and thought, "What a weird thing to say!  Have I ever dreamt about women with things growing out of their head?  I don't remember it."  I often draw little sketches in the left hand column of my dream journals, so I went back through the journals, years back, and I found that, indeed, that was true.  There was a whole series of such images.  They were characters in the background.  One for instance was a woman in a hat that just had branches coming out of it.  All the way through the years there had been a series of images that I never consciously noticed.  And then finally this branching woman.  It became a numinous symbol for me, I mean, what is this?  It was the arising of an archetype. I wondered, "What is this coming from?"  I sculpted it and I painted it and I thought a lot about it and it finally occurred to me that this was upward moving energy, from my point of view, that referred to my own creativity that was branching, that was growing, that was reaching out in many directions. 


This too, I saw was related to meditation.  If you look at any form of esoteric knowledge, all systems have some symbol that has to do with the head, and the radiance coming from that.  In Christianity you have the halo.  In Buddhism you have the thousand petaled lotus.  In many of the groups a piece of hair is at a particular point on the head.  In acupuncture this point is called the "thousand crossroads".  There is, again in Chinese acupuncture theory, a spot at the top of the head at which all the channels cross, and it is this point that becomes active in meditation, when there is a kind of kundalini experience.  I somehow came to the realization that my branching woman was my personal version of all of these images in different systems that come up with a different image, but that the energy was in the same place.  And so this became the central image in my dream mandala.




Gackenbach:  What were you were trying to say with Pathway?




Garfield:  I was trying to integrate the experience of enlightenment. Regardless of whether it took place within a dream or in a waking meditation, I was trying to trace that experience within the visual form.  There is a certain path that you follow within the mandala.  You enter in a certain place and you move around it.  And each of the images were signposts of what was happening within the dream.




Gackenbach:  It wasn't just dreams though. It was within meditation as well.




Garfield:  Yes, it was paralleled.  Higher states of consciousness and lucid dreaming share many characteristics. Many of the things that are happening in lucid dreams also happen in intense meditation sessions.  There is a parallel between the two states. One could have created a mandala based on meditation experience.  I chose to make a visual pattern that was based on my lucid dream experiences. 




Gackenbach:  What's nice is that the dream is better able to offer you clear visual images.  In meditation that can happen, but it's more rare.




Garfield:  And it's considered distractive by many disciplines, so that you might almost suppress it rather than welcome it.  In the dreams visual imagery is so much a part of the experience that it helps you to retain it.  It helps you to stay in touch, I think, with the energy and the feeling and the emotion of the dream, and gives you the handle to get back into it.




Gackenbach:  Have you ever had experiences of what I would call "pure consciousness?"  Just awareness, not witnessing.  Where there's no second thing, yet you're very clear.  You are all awareness, not just awareness of something.




Garfield:  Yes I have, but more in waking meditation, or even just lying asleep in bed at night awakening in the night, probably fresh from the dream, when I am awake, but just extending.  There is no limits to the body, and I can actually feel waves of pulsation, extending out from some center.




Gackenbach:  You don't necessarily call it "me, me."




Garfield:  Of course in dreams one has this sometimes, or something like it anyway.  Have you never dreamt you were a point of awareness in the dream, just a tiny speck? You're not a thing.




Gackenbach:  Or it emerged out of pure awareness to a point and then it became structured, and then a "me" got put on it.  Like geometric forms came before "I" came, but awareness came before the geometric forms.




Garfield:  Mine would be more perhaps the opposite, just like this tiny crumb, sometimes going between being one little focused point, somewhere in the dream, just watching, and then to a giant, I call it "God-like". Suddenly you're above and you're not in a dream body.  You're omniscient somehow.  You see and  know everything.




Gackenbach:  When you read such accounts there are certain themes that reverberate through them.




Garfield:  I'll just conclude by saying, Jayne, that I'm really pleased that Pathway has a second life because the first was very short really.  It was in print for one year, and it was the year that the government imposed a tax on inventory. The publishers were panicking right and left, and they were taking any book that wasn't moving fast enough to suit them and chopping them up into paper towels.  If you want a nightmare, picture the book of your heart being chopped up into paper towels.  So it was rather traumatic, extremely distressing.  But as time went on. . .




Gackenbach:  So why the second offer, do you think?




Garfield:  Because, although  Pathway didn't have a broad audience at the beginning, it did have a very devoted one.  The people who read it and understood it were limited, but they were absolutely passionate about what it meant to them.  People kept it by their bedside, and said, "It was the best book I ever read.  This book changed my life."  That kind of thing.  It was much more extreme than for the first book, which was generally liked. This was at a much deeper level.  I began getting letters from libraries saying that their copy had been stolen again, so please, please could I replace it?  It was one of their most popular books.  People began hunting for it.  I got passionate letters asking if they could please buy a copy from me,  they'd put searches on it.  So there was a whole stream of people to whom it did speak.  Finally, ten years later, after it had come out in seventy-nine, one of the publishers said, "But this is a New Age book.  You know, you were ten years too early, and now we want to publish it."  They asked me to write a new introduction, and said that the time is right for it now. Now people can understand it.  So many people now know what lucid dreaming is -- it's almost a household word.  And the dreamwork movement is very broad.  The bodywork movement is very developed, but at the time that this was originally written, it was all embryonic.  Way ahead of its time. I know a lot of people who say, "I was so glad to see that in print again."  So I think it has a new life and has something to offer to a certain segment of aware dreamers.




Gackenbach:  I think it would be nicer to be able to say something deeply to a few people than something cursory to so many.




Garfield:  Well one would like to be able to do both. 


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Higher States of Consciousness Conference Report


      Nobel laureate and religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, recently commented to a well known meditation researcher that, "your way of identifying the physiological impact of spiritual forces has done a thousand times more to bring the religions of the world together than all of the philosophers." It is in this spirit that the Lucidity Association sponsored a conference on the science and theory of Higher States of Consciousness.


      Over the last several years there has been an accumulation of data on what has been called Higher States of Consciousness (HSC) in various spiritual traditions.  Terms such as "pure consciousness", "transcendence", "enlightenment", "mystical experience"  and "flow" have been used to describe these states of being.  While most clinicians and researchers today would reject the classical Freudian hypothesis that these states of mind are regressions to an infantile narcissistic mentality, there is much less consensus on what they actually  represent in terms of cognitive, affective, physiological, developmental and sociological functioning. Enough research is now available to critically analyze the concept of HSC and explore the following questions: Is the concept of HSC supported by data? Can HSC be reliably measured by existing technology?; What is the phenomenology of HSC? What are the outcomes of HSC? Where do HSC theoretically fit? What social issues are raised by HSC? and What are the next steps for such inquiries?


      This conference was designed to explore the science and theory of Higher States of Consciousness and to help facilitate communication between groups of researchers who have not here to been in direct communication. In particular this includes facilitating communication between Transcendental Meditation researchers and consciousness researchers in areas such as Transpersonal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Physiology, Dreams, Medicine, Sociology, and Psychiatry.


      We have observed that although there has been considerable dialogue in the past several years between the various eastern spiritual traditions, most notably Buddhism, and contemporary psychology/psychiatry there has been a notable lack of two factors. First, the empirical study or "science" of higher states of consciousness has been almost entirely ignored in such discussions, meetings, or writings. Second, the largest group of both scientists and "eastern" meditators has also been ignored, Transcendental Meditation. As an independent group interested in higher states of consciousness the Lucidity Association decided to host this conference in an attempt to addresses these two "holes" in this emerging dialogue.


      Seven speakers gave invited addresses to the HSC conference:


1. Spirituality in Models of Human Development and Wisdom - DEIRDRE A. KRAMER




3. The Neurophysiology of Enlightenment - R. KEITH WALLACE


4. Developmental Issues in Transpersonal Experience - HARRY HUNT


5. A Model of the Development of Higher States of Consciousness Based on Maharishi's Vedic Psychology - CHARLES N. ALEXANDER


6. Shamanism and Higher Consciousness:  A Cross Cultural Analysis - STANLEY KRIPPNER


7. Creating Coherence in Collective Consciousness: A New Theory for Societal Change - DAVID ORME-JOHNSON


Bodily Dream Processing and Keeping the Channel Open - EUGENE GENDLIN


These talks are being collected in an edited book to be published by Plenum. In addition to the above there were about 20 poster presentations and two panel discussions. Four of the posters and one of the panel discussions are presented in this section of Lucidity Letter.


      Not only did we make a few hundred dollars profit on the conference but the response of the 80 attendees was very positive. For instance:



*The conference on HSC was really wonderful. The opportunity to hear people from different traditions comment on each other's papers was the highlight for me. . . I was particularly surprised by the lack of intellectual one-upsmanship at the conference. . . The atmosphere was peaceful and collegial.


*provocative, insightful, intriguing


*extremely helpful


*efficient, smooth with plenty of information




About some the speakers attendees said:


*A thoroughly pleasurable man who knows so much it radiates from him.


*She was quite simply a pure delight.


*He is funny - I appreciate that!


*He provided wide context for discussion.


      Finally a word of thanks. Anytime a meeting of this size and scope is planned it takes the time and commitment of a lot of people. As you can see from the lists below people from Canada and from the east, west and central U.S. came together behind the scenes to make this meeting happen. Although all of their contributions were essential I would like to especially thank Charles Alexander, Fariba Bogzaran, Harry Hunt, Stanley Krippner, and  Mosie Lasagna for their pivotal roles in making this conference happen. Those involved in this conference were:


Planning Committee: Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D. (Chair), Charles Alexander, Ph.D., Harry Hunt, Ph.D., Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., and David Orme-Johnson, Ph.D.


Co-hosts: Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D. and Fariba Bogzaran, M.A.


Lucidity Association Steering Committee: Harry Hunt, Ph.D. (Chair), Fariba Bogzaran, M.A., Andrew Brylowski, M.S., Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D., Brigitte Holzinger, M.S., and Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D.


Volunteers: Alberta - Rea Kinzel, Gord Rever, Shelagh Robinson; Anne Stevenson, Olaf Coausen; California - Fariba Bogzaran; Illinois - Kelley Bulkley, Stanley Davis, Jim Glyman, Helga Hauser, Mosie Lasagna, Martha Peavey, Staajabu Seaton, Dawn Silver, Gary Wattles, Chuck Winter,  Iowa - Mario Orsatti, Marlene Moreno; New York - Robert Cranson, Bill Crist; Pennsylvania - Elinor Gebremedhin; Texas - Chandra Edwards.




Jayne Gackenbach,


Planning Committee Chair and Co-host

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Charles Alexander, Ph.D.


Fariba Bogzaran, M.A.


Melissa Derfler, M.D., Ph.D.


Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.


Harry Hunt, Ph.D.




EDITORS NOTE: This panel discussion took place at the July 1990 meeting of the Lucidity Association Conference in Chicago.



Jayne Gackenbach: In this panel discussion we will address the question, "Is Lucid Dreaming Related To Higher States Of Consciousness?"


The members of the panel include myself, and I am from Athabasca University, Charles ("Skip") Alexander from Maharishi International University, Fariba Bogzaran from California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, Melissa Derfler from University of California, Irvine, and Harry Hunt, from Brock University.


I want to begin by talking to you about a model that I've come up with that's very tentative and preliminary, and builds heavily on Skip and Harry's work as well as my own reading, research, and interviews.


The reason I got into research and wrote on lucid dreaming in the first place is because I was interested in higher states of consciousness. That's always been my passion. As an ASIDE from that, I got involved in dreaming. I'm really glad I did, because my work in dreaming has helped to ground me and ground my work in lucid dreaming. I see lucid dreaming as a bridge from the essential human experience of all dreams -- which reflect our activity, our feelings and our experience of daily life -- to the transpersonal, the transcendent, the experiences that seem in some sense larger than us.


In fact, the idea of conceptualizing lucidity and related types of dreaming as a bridge is one that underlies a lot of Skip's theoretical and experimental work; his findings have influenced my thinking. Equally important to understanding the relationship of lucid dreaming to higher states of consciousness is the idea of conceptualizing lucid dreaming as a form of meditation or at least related to meditation.  Harry has done a lot of original work in this area which has influenced my thinking.


What I've done is used these ideas in the context of my own supporting research and come up with a possible five-stage process. This process largely emerges from the experiences of a meditator who is not a psychologist, which is a MAJOR advantage, as we psychologists tend to get stuck in our own language. He's from another of the sciences -- it's not human -- and was able to say things in a way that I found very communicative. I found it helped ME sort out some of these ideas. I put all of these ideas together with some of the work of George Gillespie as well as other sophisticated lucid dreamers. George is also not a psychologist: he's is a theologian working on a Ph.D. in Sanskrit.


First, the minimalist definition of lucid dreaming is knowing that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. You are sound asleep and it occurs to you that it's a dream, or that you are sleeping as the case may be.


Now you can build on that initial awareness. There are all kinds of things that you can go with in such a state some of which have already caused concern such as, should you control lucid dreaming? [Editors Note: See panel discussion from the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams elsewhere in this issue of Lucidity Letter.]


Thus in the first stage the actor is dominant. The actor is the person who is involved in it. The observer in this model is the one that recognizes, "I know this is a dream." However, the recognition initially tends to be very brief. Despite the recognition, the feeling is very "out there." The dream "feels" real. You are involved. You are impacted by the dream. The dream has this attractiveness to it, this draw to it, this allure to it. You are still involved in it.


At this point the dreamer may or may not decide to manipulate or engage the dream. One of the questions that I'd like the panel to talk about, is, "Should you engage the dream or not?"


The Tibetan Buddhist tradition says "Yes!" That's one of their yogas. In that tradition you go in and actively engage, and become involved with, and create deities and all sorts of other things. Other traditions say, "No!" You'd be wiser to simply watch it go by and not get attached to that activity.


At some point it may occur to the dreamer that what is "out there" is in fact "in here". I'm generating that; it's as if I made an imaginal world, as it were. At this point two paths may open, one being to actively engage what is "out there;" create it, manipulate it, engage it, ask questions of it, whatever. The other is that there may be a shift of attention to inside, away from "out there," so that "out there" may dissolve. It may change character. I'm not sure, but the beginning of a separateness beyond the cognition that this is a dream emerges. This is the Second Stage.


At the Third Stage lucid dreams appear to be short, perhaps because of how they are perceived. Such dreams have been described as a thought that arises, that you take note of and then let go. One interviewee compared this to a kneejerk. "I had a kneejerk, but that's all, it was passing, I'm not attached to that kneejerk." The action of the dream does not grip you. You don't identify with it, as opposed to the first step where the focus is more on the active, participatory aspect. At Stage Three, it's just the inner state of awareness that is dominant.


In Stage Four the inner wakefulness now clearly dominates. You are not absorbed in dreams, but rather in the witness. In the work I have been doing with Skip and Bob Cranson we have been trying to make a distinction between witnessing and lucidity. Rather than calling it active versus passive lucidity, we think they may be something entirely different. But when you have categories they are typically not clean: there is a continuum. The notion of a continuum of conscious experience in sleep is part of what this model is trying to address.


So now you are absorbed not in the dream, but in the witness. This sort of sleep awareness can be so continuous that you may for months go without recalling a dream, losing awareness of even the passage of time.


Finally in Stage Five, once the dreamer has moved into the transcendental state, or pure consciousness, he or she moves "into" the experience. One interviewee talked about how everything condenses, condenses, and is gone, and then just opens up, but opens up in a way that seems to not be sensory-bound. There's no mental images, no emotional feelings, no sense of body or state of mind, but rather a quality of unboundedness. Here the ineffable quality of describing these experiences often dominates. One dreamer talks about it as a "web of relationships", which, may reflect his particular world view as a physical scientist whereas another view from another interviewee focuses on the numinous aspect of "the light" also perhaps reflecting a mindset as a theologian and Sanskrit scholar.




Member of the Audience: You used the term, "witnessing?"




Gackenbach: It is a conceptualization which I struggled with for what? Five years? Hours, and hours! Why don't we just go to Skip, and he'll talk more about that.




Charles (Skip) Alexander: Let me begin by saying that the Vedic tradition from ancient India, as it has been introduced in the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is the context in which I've had almost all my experience. In that tradition, as Maharishi has talked about it with people who have been meditating for fifteen or twenty years, he doesn't usually use the word "lucid." In fact, he doesn't use the words, "lucid dreaming." But he HAS described in a great deal of detail, a similar experience which he calls "witnessing" -- witnessing in waking, witnessing in dreaming and witnessing in sleep. He says that all three of these are possibilities.


And so when I was beginning to interact with Jayne, she was into lucid dreaming, I was into witnessing.




Gackenbach: And we were in Iowa!




Alexander: And we were in Iowa! So we grappled with bridges between these different ways of looking at consciousness in sleep.


The very simplest way that I felt comfortable with was to think of lucid dreaming as it's typically studied, as a precursor to witnessing. I have to say maybe, because I haven't talked to Maharishi in any detail about it in order to see it from his point of view.


In terms of witnessing the best road into witnessing is through meditation. At least it is the simplest way for ME to get at it. When you practice TM (I'm not an expert on other traditions) -- you experience a particular thought, a sound called a "mantra," from which we take the sound value, not its meaning, so we don't associate it with any thoughts. It's not something you could do that with the word "baseball." If you repeated that, we'd think of baseball, and then we'd think of the Cubs, then we'd get upset, or we'd get happy!


The mantra is a sound without meaning which is said by the tradition to be very charming and settling to the mind. When you entertain it in your awareness, the sound begins to refine; it becomes quieter, more delicate, more abstract, more nonvocal. Eventually, the sound itself disappears. It's as if the awareness is following the sound. It's the chicken and the egg -- I don't know if the awareness is going down and that's refining the appreciation of the sound or visa versa. In any event they are correlated. As the sound is being experienced as a quieter level of thought, more delicate, then the awareness is becoming increasingly subtle as well.


Eventually duality between the knower and his or her thought is transcended. There is no separate thought of a particular sound or of the mantra or any other thought.


Then there is just a state of inner wakefulness, which is on the one hand silent, because there is no thought content, but on the other hand you feel more awake, as if you have woken up from the waking state. You feel more alert on the one hand, and on the other hand more subtle, because the mind is silent in terms of cognitive processing. The body is physiologically in a deep state of rest at that point, even virtual breath suspension, yet the awareness is there.


We also call that experience "restful alertness" or a "self-referral" experience which is why I found this morning's talk by Melissa Derfler about self-organizing principles so interesting. The process of knowing is no longer mediated by "normal" thinking. The experience of awareness is not awake to anything other than itself; it's not awake to a thought, or perception, or feeling. In that sense we call it self-referring.


One simple analogy is that ordinarily awareness is like this [draws circular figure on board], and there's some boundary, and then there's an outside, that's perception, and what's happening is that permeable little holes are being dug through this circle on the boundary, and our awareness becomes diffuse, increasingly diffuse until the thoughts have gone away.


At first we may still experience our awareness as localized. We are so used to having a "me", and a thing that "I" experience, the subject of "me". But then awareness begins to diffuse to the center of me and the peripheries of awareness, and then it becomes just nonlocal. The awareness experience is unbounded experience in space and time. There's just awareness. The experience is not that "I am this," or "I am that," but it is just "I AM," or "am-ness" or "being." So it's "knowingNESS."  [Editor's note: For another description of this state occurring spontaneously in the lucid dream of a person who had never heard of it, see the Gebremedhin article elsewhere in this issue of Lucidity Letter.]


Now, when this state of knowingness is maintained, according to Maharishi's tradition, the silent, settled state can come to be maintained along with active changing states. When this state of knowingness becomes maintained along with active states, silently and separately, then that becomes a "witness" to the changing states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. So that it's awake, it's aware of itself, it's a knowingness, and yet it also stands as a silent observer to the active thinking process, or the dream process, or the deep sleep process.


One of the original ways we who were working on witnessing thought that maybe we could tease these things apart is to look at deep sleep, because ordinarily the lucid research has been in the area of dreaming.


If this witnessing component transcends thought of any kind, and it's a fourth major state of consciousness which can then be maintained (the pure consciousness state we also call "transcendental consciousness" [TC]), we should be able to see that even during deep sleep, even if every cognitive system we know of is out cold. That shouldn't turn off the TC being-state, if it is something new and different. It's  a level of self-referral awareness which is independent of ordinary waking and dreaming processes.


So we began to study witnessing in the deep sleep of advanced meditators, in other words, the subjective experience of this inner silence even when there is no dreaming going on. If you look at the EEG, you are at least stage 2 but usually in stage 3 or stage 4 sleep if you are in deep sleep. That's work that's going on now with Lynn Israelson Mason, Fred Travis, Michael Provo and Jayne. We have begun to look at some very advanced practitioners who, by self-report, say that they are awake even during deep sleep. [Editor's note: See also the Cranson et al., Mason et al., and Meirsman articles elsewhere in this issue of Lucidity Letter]


So we are beginning to look at witnessing in ways it is less likely to get confused with lucidity in dreaming. Lucid dreaming may be a state involving cognitive processing which is not unlike waking state cognitive processing but somehow those processes are going along with dreaming.


In the earliest types of lucid dreaming experiences people have told me, and various experiences I've had, you can feel like you've woken up in your dream. It's really your waking individual ego that's woken up in your dream; in the early, earlier, earliest stages, you go, "Wow! I'm in my dream, and I'm me!" You look in your wallet and see you've got your I.D. here, and ask, "What am I going to do?" You're tricked because it turns out you are not nearly as rational as you thought you were, but it's like you are awake in your dream, but the wakefulness is not unlike your ordinary thinking, perceiving self.


Witnessing, in the sense that Maharishi would mean, is much more developed, a further process of awakening, a deeper process of awakening that transcends ordinary waking activity then takes on this self-referring quality, without boundaries in space and time, nonlocal.


So, you could end up in the situation that your individual ego, your ordinary ego in the dream, is acting, and the Silent Witness is outside the dream, just being awake. That's something more.


In one sense there is a clear continuum, which Robert Cranson has also talked about and is a process of identification. When you're really locked in your dream--as you were saying, Harry, when you move in and out of your dream--then the dream is real, just like when you are awake, you think this is real. I mean, this is real! [He knocks on the wooden table!] You're locked in and you identify with your dream; you don't know you are dreaming. Lucidity seems to me in principle to be a more advanced state, even in the classical sense of these deep traditions, because you've begun this process of differentiation from the dream world. So you are less identified. You may still be identified with cognitive processes, and there may be another step, when you de-identify with the dream altogether, and you identify with this silent state.




Gackenbach: Next, we have Harry Hunt.




Harry Hunt: I'll start by addressing the more general issue of the relationship between meditation and lucid dreaming. What I've been struck by is the similarity between the dawning of lucid awareness in the dream and the goal of meditative practices, such that it's tempting to say that lucid dreaming is the spontaneous emergence in dreaming of a meditative-like state.


Meditation aims to develop a receptive witnessing attitude and potentially integrate that into the ongoing participatory activities of everyday life, so that you have a kind of balancing of participating in a situation and being detached from it at the same time. That's basically what's happening in the lucid dream, at least the prototypically lucid dream. You're in the dream, you're participating, at the same time you are aware it's a dream. When this is successfully achieved and maintained for a while, the subjective experiences of many lucid dreamers are rather like those of some accounts of meditative practice. There is an increased sense of clarity, a sense of presence in the dream, and often a sense of exhilaration that is rather like classical accounts of peak experience.


It is also interesting that when you look at Tibetan Buddhism -- where I've had most of my personal experience -- something very much like lucid dreaming seems to be defined by them as the state that allows meditative practice to proceed during dreaming as well as when you are awake. We tried, at Brock University, to test this out with a very small group of Tibetan Buddhist meditators. We did find modest correlations between the length of time they had engaged in meditative practice and the frequency of spontaneous lucidity. These were not meditators who were aiming for lucid dreaming, or dream yoga, these were beginning practitioners. Also, the longer they had been meditating, and the more their dreams tended to be lucid, the more the dream content of those dreams tended to be archetypal and ecstatic, involving mandala-like structures, experiences of white light, and encounters with very powerful deities and dream beings.


Within the idea that lucid dreaming is a spontaneously developing meditative state, I tend to think that there are multiple lines of development or articulation.


On the one hand, there is Maharishi's Vedic witnessing tradition, deepening the aspect of meditation that involves receptive detachment and observation. The Tibetan tradition does that to some extent in that they also talk about the capacity of a continuous lucid awareness being carried throughout dreaming and throughout dreamless sleep.


But the Tibetan tradition also emphasizes some degree of control and deliberate manipulation of the dream, an aspect of higher practice. For example, a Tibetan lucid dreaming practitioner might deliberately call up his or her guru or a guiding deity and ask that being for teachings in the dream, using the lucid dream as an opportunity to deepen understanding. Or there might be deliberate manipulation of the dream content rather like the sort of magical practices with which some western lucid dreamers become involved -- making some things in the dream disappear and making other things appear. However, the point of doing that kind of practice in the Tibetan tradition would be to help teach oneself about the illusory nature of all experience. There is also some description in Tibetan Buddhism of merging with the "light of the void" in one's lucid dreams.


My own bias has been that the emphasis on dream control in the secular western literature has no significant spiritual or transpersonal aspect, but reflects a more egoistic kind of gratification. So that I have tended to regard the emphasis on lucid sexuality, flying, and deliberately changing dream content as little more than psychic adventuring.


Of late, however, I've been reading in the very interesting works by A. H. Almaas on what he calls "essential" realization. For Almaas, there are very different aspects of "essence" or spiritual realization. What he's doing, I think, is taking classical accounts of peak experience and ecstatic realization and pointing out, that they show different aspects or sides -- each of which may receive a differential emphasis in the various spiritual traditions.


Accordingly, he distinguishes what he calls an "awareness" aspect of essence, which I would see as being particularly developed in the witnessing meditation of the Vedic and Tibetan traditions.


He separates "awareness" from a "mergence" aspect of essence, which would be best reflected in the ecstatic "dissolving" into an entity higher than yourself. I mentioned that the Tibetan tradition develops this in some of their accounts of lucid dreaming.


Finally -- and here's where the control dimension of lucidity may come in -- he locates a "strength" aspect of essence, which appears most directly in the "I am" quality of some spiritual experiences -- an increased sense of "presence". In many ways, Gurdjieff-type traditions of self-remembering, which would be a meditative practice fully integrated into ongoing daily life seems to highlight this aspect of developing a sense of personal essence, and presence. 


Now Almaas sees this "strength" aspect as a transpersonal or spiritual line of growth and argues that full spiritual development requires articulation on all these and some other dimensions.


From this point of view, I am now less inclined to automatically assume there is a single line of spiritual development in lucid dreaming -- especially one that would necessarily exclude dream control. Perhaps using lucid dreams to fly or to magically change dream content might well be quite empowering and useful in certain stages of meditative realization or in some meditative traditions rather than others. There may be no meaningful distinction between lower or higher within these varieties of essential development. Each would have its own line of unfolding and each would ideally need the others for balance. Each could also have its pathological or disorganizing aspects if it was overdone or if it became fixated.


In terms of such one-sided imbalance the problem with the mergence aspect of meditation could be that it can be misused as an impersonal expansion and escape from the personal.


The problem with the cultivation of pure awareness is that if it becomes overly fixated that could turn into more of a withdrawal and false detachment.


Then finally, and it's always seemed to me, most obviously, the control aspect of lucid dreaming and the meditative traditions can become an egoistic indulgence and self- gratification.  That is always the danger for what Almaas would call the strength aspect of essence, while nonetheless reminding us that dream control can also be used to reach positive forms of essential "strength" and "presence" as well.


What I'm suggesting then is that it does make sense to see prototypical lucid dreaming as a kind of spontaneous meditative state, but that there may be different lines of development that then become available rather than just one or two.




Fariba Bogzaran: You concluded with something that I wanted to conclude with, Harry.




Hunt: That's all right. Can I find out how you got there?




Bogzaran: I would like to share with you some of my research findings on the experience of the Divine within the lucid dream state, which is an experience of an altered state of awareness in dream life.  Many individuals have reported experiencing the Divine in lucid dreams. These experiences seem to vary in level and type from one individual to another.  In many of my own lucid dreams, I have asked the question, "Who is the Divine?" or I have said, "I would like to experience the Great Spirit."  Since my definition of the Divine is broad and not very specific, my personal experiences of the Divine in lucid dreams vary in many ways, from particles of light and mind/body sensations to visions of moving and changing forms.


My curiosity about this subject made me want to explore it further in a study suitable for my graduate thesis.  One night, while contemplating whether or not I should spend the amount of time that would be needed for researching a topic of this nature, I turned on the radio to listen to some music, and came across a talk show which arrested me. A Dutch psychologist, Ole Nydal, who has written a book called Entering the Diamond Way, was talking about enlightenment.  He had spent years studying and practicing Buddhism in Tibet.  I decided to tape the talk, hoping he would say something about dreams.


Soon after I started taping, I heard him say,  "Those moments during a dream when we know we dream, those moments when we really know this is a dream, actually those moments are that state of enlightenment. If we could hold that, our mind would become limitless and it could enter into  past and future." [New Dimension radio, winter 1988]. 


The impact of these words was that of an affirmation of my research project.


In the Judeo-Christian Bible, God says, "Hear now my words. If there be a prophet among you, I will make myself known to him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream."  In one of the B'hai writings, we read, "Consider thy state when asleep.  Verily this phenomena is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men."


If there are signs of the Divine in our dreams, there must be a way we can all experience the presence of the Divine, and experience such a state of being. I didn't dare form a hypothesis on this subject, as I knew there was nothing I  could prove.  I was simply interested in exploring to what extent our intentions, concerns, and desires for the presence of the Divine would lead us to such a dream experience.  In other words, the study was about "incubating" the Divine in lucid dreams.


The results of this research project were reported at length in the June 1990 issue of Lucidity Letter [Vol. 9 No. 1]. Research showed that individuals who had formulated a clear idea of who the Divine is (or who had personalized the Divine), encountered a Divine figure consistent with their beliefs, whereas individuals who did not have a clear idea about the Divine had a variety of encounters and unexpected experiences.


I feel that each individual experiences the Divine in their own unique way and the Divine can manifest itself in many different forms.  In the study, it seemed that the experience was just as meaningful for individuals who encountered the Divine as a person as for those who encountered the Divine in various other forms, visions and sense experiences.


In addition, the way individuals formulated their incubation questions and statements affected the way they approached their lucid dreams.  When subjects formulated the task as "wanting to experience" or "opening themselves to the Divine"  they adopted a more passive role. The Divine seemed to appear to them. Individuals who formulated the task as seeking the Divine, were more actively looking for the Divine; in most cases they were able to have a Divine encounter as well.


From this study I can say that the intention of wanting to be in the presence of the Divine may lead one to have such an experience in the lucid dream state.  Individuals had a different level of control over this encounter in the lucid dreams depending on whether their intention was to passively wait for or actively look for the Divine.  Those individuals who were passively waiting experienced the Divine presence appearing to them or experienced it in their body.  Events happened to them. The subjects who sought the Divine seemed to have more control over the dream.  They were seeking in the dream for the Divine and most cases found the Divine.


The data that I have collected leads me to say that lucid dreams can be another path toward the experience of the Divine. The Divine seems to manifest itself in many forms in lucid dreams; there is no one way to experience this. Furthermore, there are no higher and lower levels; instead, there are interwoven levels for experiencing the divine within that state. Being lucid within the dream is in itself a shift to another level of consciousness (the unconscious becomes conscious); wanting to be in the presence of the Divine is another dimension.     "Lucidity" is there.  The state is just "is."  The individual taps into that state for his experience depending on where the individual is. 




Gackenbach: Melissa Derfler.




Melissa Derfler: To start with, I think I'd like to say that I don't consider myself to be an expert on lucid dreaming, and certainly not on higher consciousness. I think I am an explorer in both of these areas, much as I would imagine everyone in this room is. So what I would like to do is to explore some thoughts and concepts that I have considered in both of these areas and share them with you.


First of all I think one notion that has been brought up here in this panel and is coming under some further consideration now in general is what do we really mean when we say "higher" consciousness? Is there a better way to conceptualize? Rather than there being "higher" and "lower", what we are really seeing is that there is a wider, fuller, deeper, greater, more inclusive, more integrative kind of consciousness or awareness that seems to be capable of emerging into human awareness.


Georges Gurdjieff was mentioned by Harry Hunt here and I've had a little bit of opportunity to study some his of writings and thoughts about human consciousness. It is interesting that he had a phrase that he used frequently, that he felt that modern man was actually asleep. That is exactly the term that he used. Of course he didn't understand English quite as well as we do, so he used that as a kind of shorthand but it's nonetheless an interesting metaphor for him to have chosen.


His hypothesis was that the consciousness that we call our usual waking state is not a finished state. It is not all there is to know or be when we say we are conscious. It's an evolving, an emerging state. The consciousness of human beings ten thousand years ago was not the consciousness that we experience now and it's not the consciousness that we are capable of experiencing, if the evolution of consciousness and the ascent of consciousness continues, as it appears to be doing.


So when we say that in a meditative state, we begin to become self-aware or self-remember at least in Gurdjieff's terms, and in many of the meditative approaches as well, it's really a very special state and in dreaming as well I think that it's inaccurate of us to dismiss that as just a breaking through of the usual egoic self. Especially in dreaming since we don't even usually have an awareness of our own being in a dream. That's really a very special breaking through for that to occur.


And in our waking everyday state, how often do we actually take the time to remember, "I am here, I am conscious, I am awake, I am a thinking being and a thinking mind." I doubt if we do that once during the entire day.


In our usual state, as Heidegger termed it, we are "thrown" into our environment, into our state of mind. We suddenly just find ourselves here and most of the time we are reacting and responding in an automatic kind of way. This is what Gurdjieff meant when he said we are in a state of sleep.


So I would argue that any time there is a breaking through of this awareness, that "I am" whether it's "I am dreaming," or "I am here," that's a special state right there. It is a wider consciousness than we are used to experiencing.


Now in neural net terms, it would certainly seem that we could define a wider consciousness in terms of, say, an accessing of a greater amount of the total state space, the model is very nicely applicable to this.


Perhaps we might say what we call our usual egoic self then is a very limited part of the state space. It's a part we experience with high probability day after day after day, thus there is a continuity that we say is us.


If there is the possibility of breaking from that bounded ego, and accessing areas of the state space that are not usually accessible, we can indeed say that might be a wider kind of consciousness, a larger consciousness, a greater consciousness.


So again, in dreaming, since there is less of the sensory constraint, and you are already accessing a larger part of the net, and then in addition we have a lucid characteristic which diminishes certain of the cognitive constraints, you can see where already you are getting a sense of that expansiveness of that consciousness compared to where we spend most of our time.




Alexander: I want to make one distinction regarding passive versus active in the way Jayne was talking about the witness. She described the way that that's more passive and observing as opposed to being an active involvement in the dream process.


In terms of the Vedic conception, or in Maharishi's conception of witnessing, it is important to realize that in that experience our awareness has been identified with a state which is nonlocal in time and space, and which we experience subjectively as "being," or our "Self." The Self that is not ordinarily individualized or localized. In that Self we can't say "now I'm going to be more passive", or "now I'm going to be more active". The "I" that can be more passive or more active is the individualized ego.


When awareness transcends, as it does spontaneously to identify with the silent state of being, then that state is a witness to the ordinary activities, no matter how they are changing or not changing. The character of that state is this sort of silence and yet wakefulness at the same time. This is where it gets a little more complicated. As we INITIALLY experience silent being, it's a state of quiescence, evenness, peacefulness, and yet it's awake. We can say it is often accompanied by a feeling of blissfulness, settledness.


When you are experiencing witness, when your awareness has become identified with THAT, it's not a matter of being passive, or less active or more passive, because this is a whole new level. It is what it is. That experience of "am-ness" or "being" just is. Active or passive involves the individual world, the individual ego. You can be more active or more passive in your dream; but that which is doing that kind of thing is the individual ego, at least the way I'm conceptualizing it now.


When we transcend identification with the individual ego and become identified with the experience of being, It Is. It's not passive or active and those are simply words we apply to it, but IT IS. It's a state of knowingness. Now we have the question of whether passivity will lead you to detachment. If your individual ego is being passive and trying to separate, that might lead to some withdrawal. But the experience of being is not the individual ego becoming withdrawn from reality. It's the expansion of the individual ego to identification with this being-state which Maharishi has sometimes described as the feeling of "mother is at home", to put it in a kind of quaint way.


You experience grounding in being. You've come back to the SOURCE of your individuality. You've put your roots down into the earth of your being. The idea is that you are coming back to the Being of yourself, the Being of the universe. That is not a process of withdrawing; that's a process of rooting in that which gives you sustenance at the very core of yourself. So, that's transcending the individuality, which could be passive, active, involved or withdrawn.


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Mind and Body in Medicine and Transcendental Meditation


 Susan Vegors





There is a growing body of literature on the effect of mental states on health. Anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, aggression, and introversion are the characteristics of the disease prone personality. Coronary heart disease, asthma, and ulcers are some of the diseases that have been linked to them (Friedman & Booth-Kewley, 1987). Many different treatments have been utilized to change these undesirable personality characteristics. In a review of 375 studies Ferguson (1981) found the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program to be especially effective in producing improvements in self-esteem and decreases in anxiety. This is one of the ways that TM influences health. By removing depression (Bloomfield, 1975), anxiety, anger and hostility (Subrahmanyam & Porkodi, 1980) and the negative characteristics of introversion (Wood, 1981) TM can remove the source of some of the problems that may damage health.


The TM program produces these health oriented changes by allowing the mind to relax to a state of deep silence, the least excited state of consciousness. When it does this, stress and fatigue are removed, and the mind is able to function more normally. A meta-analysis by Dillbeck and Orme Johnson (1987) showed that physiological factors normally associated with stress, such as basal Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), spontaneous GSR, respiration rate, heart rate, and plasma lactate, decreased significantly more in Transcendental Meditation than in eyes-closed rest. 


Part of the importance of these findings lies in the theoretical context into which they are placed, in terms of the mind and body connection. Traditionally, mental phenomena are thought of as residing in the brain, and many of the major theories of consciousness look at activity in the neurons as the underlying basis of thought. However, in recent years it has become clear that the entire body produces and uses the same neuropeptides as the cells of the brain (Pert, Ruff, Weber, & Herkenham, 1985), forming an interconnecting circuit of information between the mind and body that flows  parallel to the traditional nerve impulses. Furthermore, other researchers have noticed that the immune system is a major part of this mind/body web. These connections are being investigated in the recently emerging field of psychoneuroimmunology  (Besedovsky & Sorkin, 1985).


Research on Transcendental Meditation points to an important link between the mind and the body. TM is an entirely mental technique that triggers a complex set of physiological changes in the body. The holistic nature of these changes is illustrated in a study by Orme-Johnson (1987). He reviewed the medical care use by practitioners of the TM program and found about a 50% decrease in the number of reported diseases. Other studies (Wallace, Jacobe, & Harrington, 1982) have shown health improvements with regards to biological age in meditators.


If the mind and body are closely connected by a neurochemical link, then mental techniques should be measurable in terms of EEG and neurochemistry (see Wallace, 1986, or a review of this work). In order to understand the connection between the TM program and the body a theory of mind/body interaction has recently been introduced, called Maharishi Ayur-Ved (Chopra, 1990). This is Maharishi's interpretation of India's classic Ayur-Ved medicine.




A Systematic Theory of Mind-Body Interaction




Maharishi Ayur-Ved theory begins with a detailed description of the internal structures of the mind, and shows how these relate to similar components in the body, as well as to thoughts and feelings. It begins by looking at the mind in terms of three principle components of consciousness:


1) the knower or self,


2) the process by which that knower or self interacts with the external world, and


3) the structures that are being known.


These can be loosely connected with the psychological concept of the ego, the processes of thinking and perception, and the object of knowledge or the external environment.  These structures in the mind are then related to their most similar quality in the body.


These three basic pathways or "doshas" connect to large areas of the physiology. "Vata" is the name given to the pathway that connects the knower element of consciousness with all the flows or movements in the physiology. Examples of these are: flow of thoughts through the nervous system; breathing; movement of food through the digestive system; muscle movement; and blood flow.


Since vata is connected with flow or change, the mental characteristics that tend to be expressed include changeability in moods and thoughts, quickness in learning and forgetting, and mental and physical activity that comes in bursts. The body also reflects dominance of these characteristics by means of a light, thin body build.


"Pitta" is the name given to the pathway that connects with transformation. In the mind it governs the processes of knowing. In the body, it governs a strong hunger and thirst, digestion, and all enzymatic and metabolic processes in the body. Since pitta is connected with transformation or digestion, the mental characteristics that tend to be expressed are a  sharp intellect, highly enterprising personality, and precise action and thought. The body also reflects dominance of these characteristics by means of a medium body build.


"Kapha" is the name given to the pathway that connects with the object of knowledge, the external environment. In the body, this is the element most connected with tissue building. It also governs great physical strength, steady energy, tissue/body building processes, and a strong immune system. Since kapha is connected with tissue creation, the mental characteristics that tend to be expressed are relaxed, slowness in learning but with a good memory, and thinking things through carefully. Since kapha is the tissue building part of the physiology, the body also reflects this with a heavy body build.


These three qualities of consciousness connect mind and body through the principle of similarity. Tendencies in the mind link to similar tendencies in the body. For example, the tendency to be slow and methodical in thought tends to create the tendency to be slow in speech and action.


Maharishi Ayur-Ved theory is different from modern western theories of mind-body interaction in three ways:




1) It groups feelings, mental activity, and physical characteristics into three major categories that are based on their similarity. This is known as the Tridosha theory;


2) While it discusses a two way flow between the mind and body, the primary focus is on how the mind creates structures in the body; and


3) It shows detailed transformational mechanisms that connect the mind to the body. Many of these connecting links are currently being actively researched, in order to connect them with current biochemical and physiological knowledge.




One other important characteristic of Maharishi Ayur-Ved theory is that it discusses how these doshas can be balanced or imbalanced. Balance leads to perfect health, and imbalance leads to disease. For example, the mental characteristics involving changeability can lead to desire for challenge in life, or it can lead a person to start things without finishing them.


 This theory relates to the whole idea of holistic medicine by outlining details of a structure by which the mind can influence the body. When the doshas are in balance they are in balance in both mind and body. Any lack of balance in the mind is reflected in the body, and any imbalance in the body is reflected in the mind through these three channels . (See Table 1).


 Maharishi Ayur-Ved theory contains a detailed description of how a mental technique, such as the TM program can create a host of physical changes in the body by resetting the basic relationship between the three aspects of consciousness. It is also detailed outline of how the mind and body interact to create health and disease.




Table 1


 Comparisons of Balance and Imbalance in the Doshas



Characteristics of Balanced Dosha

Characteristics of Imbalanced Dosha



•Energetic         •Quick to act



•Mentally clear and alert


•Irregular habits & lifestyle

•Fearful & Anxious

•Scanty, interrupted sleep


•Intellectually focused

•Precise in thought and action  

•Likes challenges        

•Good humored      

•Intellectually critical             

•Easily angered

•Hard driving (Type A       personality)


•Tossing and turning in sleep


•Steadily energetic





•Difficulty in waking


Finally, these doshas have been related to dream content and sleep quality. In terms of the latter, an imbalance in vata shows a scanty, interrupted sleep, in pitta shows lots of tossing and turning while in kapha shows an inability to get out of bed. On the other hand balanced vata includes lots of "awareness" with medium "awareness" manifest with a balanced pitta. Sleep is deep and long in a balanced kapha. According to this theory when vata is imbalanced, dream activity shows fear and running while a balanced vata manifests as flying, moving, and travel. Imbalance in pitta results in dreams with fire, anger, violence, and war while dreams full of activity and accomplishment is indicative of a balanced pitta. Finally imbalance in kapha is shown by dreams which are lethargic, while the presence of lots of water and romance indicate a balanced kapha.


Research is beginning on the Transcendental Meditation program relative to this new interpretation of India's classic Ayur-Ved medicine tying mind to body.








Besedovsky, H. & Sorokin, E. (1985). Network of immune neuroindrocrine interactions. In Licke, S. Adler, R. Besedovsaky, H. Hall, N. Solomon, & G. Strom (Eds.). Foundations of psychoneuroimmuniology,  New York: Aldine Press.


Bloomfield, H. H. (1975). Some observations on the uses of the Transcendental Meditation program in psychiatry. In D.W. Orme-Johnson & J.T. Farrow (Eds.). Scientific research on the Transcendental Meditation program: Collected papers (Vol. 1). Rheinweiler, W. Germany: Maharishi European Research University  (MERU) Press.


Chopra, D. (1990). Perfect health. New York: Harmony Books.


Dillbeck, M.C. & Orme-Johnson, D.W. (1987). Physiological differences between Transcendental Meditation and rest. American Psychologist, 42, 879-881.


Ferguson, P.C. (1981). An integrative meta-analysis of psychological studies investigating the treatment outcomes of meditation techniques. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1980). Dissertation Abstracts International, 42, 1547B.


Friedman, H.S. & Booth-Kewley, S. (1987).  The "disease prone personality": A meta-analysis of the concept. American Psychologist, 539-555.


Orme-Johnson, D. (1987). Medical care utilization and the Transcendental Meditation program. Psychosomatic Medicine, 49, 493-507.


Pert, C.B., Ruff, M.R., Weber, R.J. & Herkenham, M. (1985). Neuropeptides and their receptors: A psychosomatic network. Journal of Immuniology,135(2), 820-826.


Subrahmanyam, S. & Porkodi, H.C. (1980). Neurohormonal correlates of Transcendental Meditation. Journal of Biomedicine,  1, 73-88.


Wallace, R.K. (1986). The Maharishi technology of the unified field: The neurophysiology of enlightenment. Fairfield, Iowa: MIU Press.


Wallace, R.K., Jacobe, E. & Harrington, B. (1982). The effects of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program on the aging process. International Journal of Neuroscience, 16(1), 53-58.


Wood, M.F. (1981, July). The effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation as a means of improving echolalic behavior of an autistic child. Paper presented at the International Symposium on Autism Research, Boston, MA.


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Lynne Mason, Charles Alexander, Fred Travis, and Jayne Gackenbach*





EDITORS NOTE: The following is an abstract of a pilot study posted in the corollary sessions at the Lucidity Association's Conference on Higher States of Consciousness, in Chicago in July, 1990.



      Vedic psychology, as presented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, delineates seven major states of consciousness (Maharishi, 1972).  The daily cycle of waking, dreaming, and sleeping constitute the three ordinary changing states of consciousness.  In addition, Maharishi's Vedic psychology describes an invariant sequence of higher stages of consciousness.  The fourth state of consciousness, termed transcendental consciousness (TC), is characterized as a content-free state of "restful alertness", the ultimate ground state of the mind, pure consciousness (Maharishi, 1969).  In this state "... awareness becomes completely 'self-referral' -- consciousness has nothing other than itself in its structure" (Maharishi, 1986, p. 27).  Maharishi describes TC as follows:




This is a state of inner wakefulness with no object of thought or perception, just pure consciousness [TC], aware of its own unbounded nature.  It is wholeness, aware of itself, [Self-awareness] devoid of differences, beyond the division of subject and object -- transcendental consciousness (Maharishi, 1977, p. 123).




      TC is held to be as distinct from the ordinary waking state as waking is from dreaming or sleeping.  Recent research reviews have identified over twenty physiological correlates distinguishing TC from simple relaxation, sleeping, dreaming and waking (See Alexander and Boyer, 1989; Alexander, Cranson, Boyer and Orme-Johnson, 1986; Wallace, 1986;  for a complete review).


      The distinguishing EEG characteristic of TC appears to be "non-descending theta" [theta/alpha] which is  unlike the low-voltage mixed frequency of Stage 1 sleep (Pagano & Warrenburg, 1983; Wallace, 1970).  Travis (1989), analyzing single frequency bands, found peaks at 8.5 Hz in the theta/alpha range for EEG power and coherence during meditation.  This EEG activity in the theta/alpha range has also been seen during periods of respiratory suspension during TM and is correlated with the subjective experience of TC (Farrow and Hebert, 1982; Kesterson and Clinch, 1989).  Taken collectively, these physiological parameters suggest a simultaneous increase in alertness and decrease of arousal indicative of a distinct state of "restful alertness".


      According to Vedic psychology, experience of the fourth state of consciousness, TC, provides the basis for the growth of higher states of consciousness.  When TC is permanently maintained along with waking, dreaming, and sleeping, this state is called the fifth state of consciousness, cosmic consciousness (CC), the first of three HSC.  The term "cosmic" is used because experience in this state is inclusive of the usual activity of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, along with the inner silence of TC.  This experience of TC along with waking, dreaming and sleeping activity in CC is referred to as "witnessing" because the Self functions as a silent, uninvolved observer to all activity.  The most stringent test for CC is witnessing in sleep, the maintenance of Self-awareness during deep sleep.  It is the most stringent test of stabilization of CC, because two very contrasting states of consciousness and physiological functioning must be maintained simultaneously -- the inner Self-awareness of TC even during the inertia characteristic of deep sleep. 




Method and Results




      We conducted a pilot study on the EEG of three TM subjects (Ss) reporting witnessing during sleep.  EEG was recorded from C3-A2 and C4-A1; EOG, EMG, heart rate and respiration were recorded according to standard protocol (Rechtschaffen and Kales, 1968).  One S was studied for three nights - an adaptation night and two baseline nights - and two Ss for one night only.  Their EEG tracings showed extended periods in which the theta/alpha activity, typically seen during TC in meditation, was superimposed over the EEG of sleep:  i.e., theta/alpha waves were riding the slow delta waves of Stage 3 and Stage 4 sleep.  Also, there were extended periods (up to five minutes) of alpha/theta spindling activity between sleep cycles.


      Preliminary computerized period amplitude analysis of the first sleep cycle of one subject showed, in comparison to age-matched normative data, four times the normal amplitude of theta/alpha activity and comparable levels of delta amplitude activity.




Future Study




      Based upon the encouraging pilot data, we propose the following experiment.  Since witnessing of sleep is the hallmark of HSC in Maharishi's Vedic Psychology, we will compare the EEG sleep patterns of three groups of healthy Ss cross-sectionally:  eight advanced TM Ss reporting experiences of witnessing sleep; eight non-meditating controls matched for age, gender, and diet; and eight TM Ss not reporting witnessing matched for age, gender, diet, and number of months' practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi techniques.  In addition, Ss in the witnessing group will act as its own control:  unclear nights with less reported time witnessing will be compared to clear nights with more reported witnessing.  We predict that the EEG pattern of TC will be superimposed over the EEG of each sleep cycle and will also be found between sleep cycles in Ss reporting experiences of witnessing.  It is expected that this pattern will be seen to a lesser degree in the meditating group not reporting witnessing during sleep and least in the non-meditating group.








Alexander, C.N., & Boyer, R.W. (1989).  Seven states of consciousness:  Developing the full range of human potential through Maharishi's Vedic Science and Technology.  Modern Science and Vedic Science, 24.


Alexander, C. N., Cranson, R. W., Boyer, R. W., Orme-Johnson, D. W. (1986).  Transcendental consciousness:  A fourth state of consciousness beyond sleep, dreaming, and waking.  In J. I. Gackenbach (Ed.).  Sleep and dream:  A sourcebook.  pp. 282-315.  New York:  Garland.


Farrow, J. T., & Hebert, J. R. (1982).  Breath suspension during the Transcendental Meditation technique.  Psychosomatic Medicine, 44 (2), 135-153.


Kesterson, J., & Clinch, N. F. (1989).  Metabolic rate, respiratory exchange ratio, and apneas during meditation.  American Physiology Society, R632-R638.


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1969).  On the Bhagavad-Gita:  A new translation and commentary.  Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England:  Penguin.


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1972).  The science of creative intelligence.  Los Angeles:  MIU Press.


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1986).  Thirty years around the world, dawn of the age of enlightenment.  Netherlands:  MVU Press.


Pagano, R. R. & Warrenburg, S. (1983).  Meditation:  In search of a unique effect.  In R. J. Davidson, G. E. Schwartz, and D. Shapiro (Eds.).  Consciousness and self-regulation:  Advances in research and theory.  New York:  Plenum Press.


Rechtschaffen, A. & Kales, A. (1968).  A manual of standardized terminology, techniques, and scoring system for sleep stages of human subjects.  Washington, D. C.:  Government Printing Office.


Travis, F. (1988).  Testing the field paradigm of Maharishi's Vedic Psychology:  EEG power and coherence as indices of states of consciousness and field effects.  (Doctoral dissertation).  Dissertation Abstracts International.


Wallace, R. K. (1970).  Physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation.  Science, 167, 1751-1754.


Wallace, R. K. (1986).  The Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field:  The neurophysiology of enlightenment.  Fairfield, Ia:  MIU Press.



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Jan M.R. Meirsman[1]


Lelystad, Holland



      Previous research into the sleep patterns of new-born human beings of different gestational ages has revealed that, in the course of ontogenesis, the randomly occurring, isolated, low frequency Rapid Eye Movements (REMs) of the undifferentiated sleep of the premature are gradually ordered in groups of REMs or high frequency REMs, characteristic of mature REM sleep (Petre-Quadens, 1967; 1969; 1978; 1980; Petre-Quadens & De Lee, 1974; Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971). This observation has led to the hypothesis that there exist two functionally different types of REMs in REM sleep: the high frequency (HF) REMs with an interval of less than one second, reflecting the "maturity" or "order" of brain functioning; and the low frequency (LF) REMs with an interval of more than one second, reflecting "random noise" in the brain.


      Subsequent research has supported this hypothesis. Two types of REMs, with an interval I < 1 sec and I > 2 sec, were found to be statistically independent of each other (De Lee & Goffe, 1973). Moreover, the HF-REMs (I < 1 sec) were associated with cerebral maturation (age, intelligence, learning ability) and endocrinological maturation (age, second half of ovulatory cycle, second half of pregnancy), while the LF-REMs (I > 2 sec) were not (De Lee & Goffe, 1973; Petre-Quadens, 1969; 1978).


      The HF-REMs of REM sleep were also found to parallel the "spindles" of quiet sleep to a certain extent, as they were associated with cerebral and endocrinological maturation (Feinberg, Braun & Shulman, 1969; Feinberg, Koresko & Heller, 1967), and were reflecting the cerebral ordering or integration of information (Andersen & Andersson, 1968; Petre-Quadens, 1978).


      Because the amount of HF-REMs during REM sleep was also related to the amount of information given to the subject, Petre-Quadens proposed to consider these HF-REMs in relation to the LF- REMs in a HF/LF ratio, in order to obtain a measure for the cerebral capacity to structure "order" from the "noisy stream" of information (Petre-Quadens, 1980). "Information" could be internal (e.g. hormonal and metabolic substances) as well as external (e.g. a new computer language to learn) (Chevalier, 1982).


      The research findings of Petre-Quadens and co-workers are in accordance with this suggestion. Among normal adults of the same age group, the HF-REMs/LF-REMs ratio remained relatively stable, irrespective of the total amount of REMs, which reflected the degree of stimulation of the brain (Petre-Quadens, 1980; Quadens & Green, 1984; Quadens, Green, Stott & Dequae, 1984). The ratio decreased when one was not able to respond adequately to physical or mental demands (distress): by a decrease in HF-REMs in case of disease (Petre-Quadens, 1980), and by an increase in LF-REMs in case of retirement (Hoffmann, Vanderbeken & De Cock, 1977; Petre-Quadens, 1980). The ratio increased slowly with endocrinological maturation in the woman during the luteal phase of the ovulatory cycle (which was correlated by Wuttke, Arnold, Becker, Creutzfeldt, Langenstein, and Tirsch (1975)), with increased mental performance, and in the growth from prepuberty to menopause (Hoffmann & Petre-Quadens, 1979).


      To test this ratio of HF-REMs to LF-REMs further for its validity as an index of the order-creating function of the brain, and to clarify the mechanisms of this function during REM sleep, this pilot study examined the REM sleep of experienced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the TM-Sidhi techniques.


      The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique settles and refines the activity of the mind through repetition of a particular sound pattern (a "mantra"), thereby increasing its conscious capacity and alertness. Eventually, training in this practice allows the mind to gain a completely settled and unrestricted wakefulness. The TM-Sidhi techniques train the mind to act voluntarily from the quiet and lively level gained by the TM technique. A description of the specific mental activities and their results, the "Sidhis", is also given in the yoga system of Indian philosophy (e.g. Aranya, 1963; Prasada, 1978).


      These mental techniques -- which one can learn in short, standardized courses developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (International Association for the Advancement of the Science of Creative Intelligence, 1984; Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1967) -- have already been examined in a variety of research studies. They increase the occurrence and amplitude of alpha and theta waves and, by spreading them over the entire scalp, enhance the EEG synchrony of the anterior and posterior region and of the left and right hemisphere of the brain (Banquet, 1973; Hebert & Lehmann, 1977; Wallace, 1970; Wallace, Benson & Wilson, 1971). They also increase EEG coherence -- that is, the constancy of phase relationship between two EEG signals -- especially in the alpha and theta frequencies and in the frontal areas of the brain (Badawi, Wallace, Orme-Johnson, Rouzere, 1984; Dillbeck & Bronson, 1981; Farrow & Hebert, 1982; Levine, 1976; Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981). Moreover, they improve the processing of auditory information by changing the brainstem and cognitive components of the auditory evoked potentials (Kobal, Wandhofer & Plattig, 1975; McEvoy, Frumkin & Harkins, 1980; Wandhofer, Kobal & Plattig, 1976).


      The TM and TM Sidhi techniques have also been found to induce physiological quiescence as a concomitant of the increase in the orderliness of brain functioning (for a research overview, see Wallace, 1987). For example, TM increases serotonergic activity, which has been described as a "rest and fulfillment" parasympathetic response (Bujatti & Riederer, 1976; Kochabhakdi & Chentanez, 1980). In sleep research on mongoloid patients, a lack of serotonine was found to be associated with a lack of REMs during REM sleep and with a low intelligence or learning ability (Castaldo, 1969; Feinberg, Braun & Shulman, 1969).


       TM and TM-Sidhi techniques, when practised 20-40 minutes twice a day as a daily program, have been found in psychological tests to improve cognitive and affective functioning (Aron, Orme-Johnson & Brubaker, 1981; Dillbeck, Assimakis, Raimondi, Orme-Johnson & Rowe, 1986; Gelderloos, 1987; Warner, 1986). Improvements took place regardless of the age of the subjects, even on variables like "fluid intelligence" and "field independence", which normally do not improve after the age of 17 (see Dillbeck et al., 1986). TM practitioners also showed a shorter duration of sleep and REM sleep during the night (Banquet & Sailhan, 1974) and needed less compensatory REM sleep after an experimental 40 hours of sleep deprivation (Miskiman, 1977).


      In view of these research findings, it seemed appropriate to us to further test the above described hypothesis -- that the brain during REM sleep carries out information-ordering processes which are reflected in the neurophysiological patterns of the REM sleep -- with subjects who are practising the TM and TM-Sidhi programs. This has been done with the following REM sleep parameters: the ratio of the HF-REMs (I < 1 sec) to the LF-REMs (I > 2 sec) (as a measure for the order-creating capacity of the brain); the density of the HF-REMs (as a measure for the intensity of the information-ordering process); the density of the LF-REMs (as a measure for the intensity of the cerebral "noise" which accompanies the information-ordering process to a certain extent); the REM density, or density of all REMs regardless of their frequency (as a measure for the intensity of the stimulation of the brain); the total number of HF-REMs (as a measure for the absolute amount of ordered information over the total REM sleep time); the total number of LF-REMs (as a measure for the absolute amount of cerebral "noise" over the total REM sleep time); the REM sleep time (as a measure for the total efficiency of REM sleep); and the REM sleep percentage (as a measure for the total efficiency of REM sleep, in relation to total sleep).


      In addition, several of these temporal characteristics of REM sleep have been analyzed in their evolution with the progress of sleep during the night. Previous studies have found, as characteristics of a greater maturity, that: 1.) the cerebral order during the REM phases of sleep, expressed in the density of the HF-REMs, gradually increases in the course of sleep (Petre- Quadens, 1969; Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971); 2.) this increase of the density of the HF-REMs happens according to a pattern of alternately low and high values, from one REM phase to the other (Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971); 3.) the density of the HF-REM within one REM phase gradually increases, reaches a maximum in the middle of the phase, and subsequently again gradually decreases (Petre-Quadens, 1969).


      Finally, in a qualitative observation, attention was also given to the shape of the REM signals, and to the quality of the EEG alpha activity and the sleep spindles before, during and after the REM phases, and immediately before and after sleep.












      Six experienced male TM-Sidhi practitioners, aged between 31 and 39, with different educational backgrounds, served as experimental subjects (Table 1). They had been practising TM for an average period of 139 months (range, 94-199 months), and the advanced TM-Sidhi program for an average period of 87 months (range, 76-96 months). All but the youngest were teachers of the TM technique. The author was one of the experimental subjects. The experimental group was part of a larger group of  230 male TM-Sidhi practitioners, predominantly Europeans, who resided at the TM academy in Vlodrop (Limburg, The Netherlands). There, they worked full-time and, in addition, practised an extensive TM-Sidhi program collectively. Four of the six experimental subjects reported clear experiences of the
TM-Sidhis and of "witnessing"[2] their night's sleep, and two reported less clear experiences (Table 1).




Table 1


Background Data for Experimental and Control Subjects






Age,     Technical          Academic   Number of  Amount of


Subjects           In         Education,  Education,  TM-Sidhis  Witnessing


Years   Years   Years      Practised During Night










A                        39           4             -              All                 All night


B                         36           -              8             All                 All night


C                        36           -              4             Some            -


D                        35           2             -              All                 All night


E                         32           -              5             Some            End of night


F                         31           -              4             All                 Half of night








A                        38           -                 4          -                    -


B                         37           -                 7          -                    End of night


C                        36           4                4          -                    -


D                        36           -                 7          -                    -


E                         34           4                3          -                    -


F                         33           -                 6.5       -                    -






      Six male subjects who did not practise any form of meditation, yoga, or similar technique for holistic development, served as control subjects. Their ages ranged between 33 and 38, and they all had had an academic education (Table 1). Because the control subjects sometimes pulled off the electrodes or lay on them, it was necessary to measure nine individuals in this group in order to obtain six intact night recordings. The control subjects were family members, friends, or acquaintances of TM-Sidhi practitioners, and were living in or near Maastricht (Limburg, The Netherlands). One of the six control subjects (subject B, see Table 1) reported signs of the initial stage of witnessing his night's sleep.


      All subjects were in good health. On the day preceding the measurement, none experienced intense emotions or physical discomforts, none used medicine, had alcoholic drinks, or took any additional rest in the form of sleep.




Procedure and Apparatus




      Each of the subjects was measured in his own bedroom for two consecutive nights, by means of an ambulant 4-channel recorder, the Medilog 4-24 of the Oxford Medical Systems. Starting two days before the measurement, the subject filled out some diary forms which were examined every day by the person who took the measurement.


      Measurement of the experimental group was done by the author; measurement of the control group and of the author serving as experimental subject was done by a medical student of the University of Limburg (The Netherlands). In this way, both groups were taken care of by a person with whom they were somehow familiar. During the two months' measuring period, the experimental and control subjects were measured alternately as much as possible.


      Electrode placement was as follows: EEG electrodes, approximately on C4-P4 (fourth channel) and C3-P3 (third channel) (Jasper, 1958); EOG electrodes, above the left and below the right lateral corner of the eye (second channel); two EMG electrodes, below the chin (first channel); and two reference electrodes, on the forehead.


      The skin was cleansed with a solution of 2/3 acetone and 1/3 denaturated alcohol (90%). The 9 mm silver/silver chloride disc electrodes were attached to the skin with collodion. The electrodes were then filled with S&W gel (neutral pH), and the electrode impedance was kept below 10 kohm as indicated by a Keithley 169 Multimeter. The electrophysiological signals were amplified near their source with miniscule Oxford HDX-82 pre-amplifiers. Electrodes, preamplifiers, and cables were attached to the skin once more with strong adhesive (elastic tape).


      All these activities were carried out at the subject's home, between 8 and 11 p.m. When the subject went to bed, he himself chose the most comfortable place in bed for the recorder. According to the diary of the analyzed (second) night, every subject enjoyed a normal night's rest or was fully rested in the morning.


      The registered signals were written out by means of a Siemens mingograph, connected to an Oxford PMD-12 Replay Unit. The vertical calibration was: EMG = 20 uV/cm; EOG = 100 uV/cm; and EEG = 50 uV/cm. The horizontal calibration or speed was 1.5 cm/sec. The low-pass filtering was put on 35 Hz, and the time constant was 0.3.








      Although the subjects had been measured in their own environment, a first night effect could be noticed and therefore only the second night was fully analyzed.


      The periods of sleep and REM sleep were determined according to the criteria of Rechtschaffen and Kales (1968). The criteria of a REM in REM sleep involved: 1.) Amplitude > 50 uV; 2.) Slope > 80°; 3.) Effects clearly distinguished from the mere effect of the time constant; 4.) Prototypes, for standardization of the scoring of the borderline cases. The EOG registration did not allow for a distinction between horizontal and vertical REMs, but the literature reports that there are no differences between these two with regard to their frequency of occurrence (Petre-Quadens, 1969; Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971).


      The experimental and control nights were analyzed by the author in alternate sequence. The total results of the two groups were compared with each other, making use of the nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-test, designed for two independent groups of small size.








Quantitative Results




      Table 2a,b, & c show the results concerning the REM sleep in its totality over the whole night.      Of the total REM sleep, the ratio of the HF-REMs (interval I < 1 sec) to the LF-REMs (I > 2 sec) was significantly higher in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners than in the control group (p < .002; Mann-Whitney U-test) (Figure 1).     


      This higher ratio of REMs in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners was effected by a much higher density of the HF- REMs (p < .001) (Figure 2), while the density of the LF-REMs was also significantly higher than in the control group, according to the rank-order test of Mann-Whitney (p < .002), but with an average that differed relatively little from the average of the controls (Figure 3). The total REM density or density of all the REMs, regardless of their frequency, was therefore also significantly higher in the TM-Sidhi group than in the control group (p < .001).


Table 2a




Total Night Results




            HF/LF                  HF                    LsF


            _________      ________        _________




Subject EXP CON       EXP CON       EXP CON 






A         2.77 0.79         935 219           338 276 




B          2.40 2.09         697 689           290 330 




C         2.03 1.32         510 400           251 304 




D         2.68 1.21         601 353           224 292 




E          2.39 1.10         652 146           273 133 




F          3.19 1.25         485 380           152 304 




Median 2.54 1.23         627 367           262 298 


p*        < .002              < .013              N.S.






CON               CONtrol group, not practising TM-Sidhi program.


EXP                 EXPerimental group of TM-Sidhi practitioners.


HF                   Total amount of High Frequency REMS (interval I  <               


                        1 second).


HF/LF              Ratio of HF REMs to LF REMs.


HF-REMD       Density of HF REMs per 40 seconds of REM sleep.


LF                    Total amount of Low Frequency REMs (interval I ≥ 2                                                               seconds).


LF/REMD        Density of LF REMs per 40 seconds of REM sleep.


p*                    EXP versus CON, Mann-Whitney U-test, one-tailed.


REM                Random Eye Movements, usually treated as indicators  


                        of dreaming.


REM%             Percentage of REM sleep time to total sleep time.


REMD             Density of all REMs, regardless of their frequency, for  


                        40 seconds of REM sleep.


REMS              REM Sleep time, in minutes.


TST                 Total Sleep Time, in minutes.




Table 2b




Total Night Results




                                    HF-REMD       LF-REMD       REMD


                                    ________        ________        ________


Subject                         EXP CON       EXP CON       EXP  CON






A                                 7.36 1.27         2.66 1.60         12.22 3.57




B                                  6.01 3.91         2.50 1.88         10.59 6.81




C                                 6.00 2.78         2.95 2.11         11.48 5.90




D                                 6.26 1.99         2.33 1.65         10.61 4.51




E                                  6.59 1.21         2.76 1.10         11.43 2.79




F                                  6.74 1.69         2.11 1.35         10.49 3.64






Median                         6.43 1.84         2.58 1.63         11.02 4.08


p*                                < .001              < .002              < .001




Notes: See Table 2a




      The total amount of HF-REMs in the REM sleep was also significantly higher in the experimental group than in the control group (p < .013), while the total amount of LF-REMs in the REM sleep did not significantly differ between both groups.


      The REM sleep time and the total sleep time (including REM sleep time) were both significantly shorter in the experimental group (p < .002 and p < .004, resp.) (Figures 4 and 5). Because the difference was more pronounced for the REM sleep time, the percentage of the REM sleep time on the total sleep time reached also a significantly lower value in the experimental group than in the control group (p < .032).


      All these REM sleep characteristics evolved during the course of sleep in a specific manner.


      The differences between the results of the second half and the first half of the sleep time were similar to the differences between the results of the experimental group and the control group concerning the REM sleep of the total night. The ratio of the HF-REMs to the LF-REMs, the density of the HF-REMs and of the LF-REMs, the total REM density, and the maximal duration of REM bursts all reached a higher value in the second half of the sleep time than in the first half, as was the case for the total night in the experimental group in comparison with the control group. Only the REM sleep time formed an exception to this general rule of similar difference, by its higher value in the second half of the sleep time and its lower value (concerning the total night) in the experimental group. Nevertheless, the increase of the REM sleep time during the second half of the sleep time was less pronounced in the experimental group (+ 10.11 min.) than in the control group (+ 22.11 min.), while the increase of the other REM sleep parameters during the second half of the sleep time was clearly more pronounced in the experimental group than in the control group.




Table 2c


Total Night Results






                  REMS              TST                 REM %






Subject       EXP CON       EXP CON       EXP   CON






A               85   115           372   430         22.76 26.84




B                77   117           318   388         24.29 30.24




C               57    96            308   427         8.42   22.48




D               64   118           269   420         23.82 28.10




E                66    81            398   397         16.58 20.32




F                48   150           279   538         17.22 27.88




Median       65   116           313   424         20.59 27.36


p*              < .002              < .004              < .032




Notes: See Table 2a







                     Figure 1                                           Figure 2




Figure 1. The ratio of high frequency REMs (HF) to low frequency REMs (LF) for REM sleep in TM-Sidhi practitioners (EXP) and controls (CON), as a measure for the order-creating capacity of the brain. Figure 2. The density of the high frequency REMs (HF) per 40 seconds of REM sleep, in TM-Sidhi practitioners (EXP) and controls (CON), as a measure for the intensity of the ordering of information in the brain.




      With respect to the individual REM phases, the density of the HF-REMs showed a tendency to increase according to a pattern of alternately low and high values from one REM phase to the other (Figure 6). This pattern was most clearly distinguishable in the experimental group.


      With respect to the distribution of the REMs within one REM phase, the following pattern emerged: first, a gradual increase of the amount of the HF-REMs; then, a maximal amount of the HF-REMs in the middle of the REM phase; and subsequently, a gradual decrease of the amount of the HF-REMs. This pattern was most clearly distinguishable in the nights of five of the six experimental subjects (A, B, C, E, and F), and one of the six control subjects (A).









                  Figure 3                                              Figure 4




Figure 3. The density of the low frequency REMs (LF) per 40 seconds of REM sleep, in TM-Sidhi practitioners (EXP) and controls (CON), as a measure for the intensity of the "background noise" in the brain. Figure 4. REM sleep time (in minutes) of TM-Sidhi practitioners (EXP) and controls (CON), as a measure for the total efficiency of REM sleep.




Qualitative Results




      With regard to the shape of the REMs during the REM sleep, it was found that in the experimental group the REMs displayed a larger amplitude and were more differentiated than in the control group.


      With regard to the EEG signals before, during, and after the REM phases and immediately before and after the sleep, it was observed that in general a larger ratio of HF-REMs to LF-REMs went hand in hand with a larger amount, a larger amplitude, and a lower frequency of alpha activity and sleep spindles (12-14 Hz). Control subject A made an exception to this general rule by his small ratio of REMs (= 0.79) and his large amount of well- differentiated sleep spindles. The EEG alpha activity of control subject A was nevertheless very poor, and therefore in accordance with the general rule.


      Spindles were frequently noticed during the REM bursts in the REM phases, and in some cases immediately before and after a particular REM, but they were never found to completely coincide with REMs. Alpha activity during the REM bursts was only observed in the experimental subject B.


      Immediately before and after the sleep, an almost continuous, high amplitude alpha activity was found in all experimental subjects, except subject C; this activity was also found in the control subject B. In the case of the experimental subjects B and F, this strong alpha activity was accompanied by rhythmical eye movements, the whole pattern showing much similarity to activity recorded during Transcendental Meditation (Figure 7). In the experimental subject B, this picture returned before and after each of the five sleep phases during the night, as a kind of transition stage between waking and sleeping.







Figure 5. The total sleep time (in minutes) of TM-Sidhi practitioners (EXP) and controls (CON), as a measure for the total efficiency of sleep.









Figure 6. The density of high frequency REMs (HF) per 40 seconds of REM sleep during successive REM phases of the night, in TM-Sidhi practitioners (EXP) and controls (CON). The pattern of alternately low and high values from one REM phase to the other, related in previous research with maturity, is most clearly distinguishable in the TM-Sidhi group.




      Experimental subject B and an additional TM-Sidhi practitioner exhibited so-called 'sleep spindles' or alpha spindles (12-14 Hz) during the waking stage at the beginning of the night's rest.


      Finally, it has to be mentioned that the experimental subject A showed, during the middle of a sleep stage 2, a two seconds' long burst of five REMs.




Figure 7. Rhythmical eye movements and an almost continuous, high amplitude alpha activity, before the first sleep stage ("Transition to Sleep"), similar to Transcendental Meditation Session (Transcendental Meditation), both in TM-Sidhi practitioner B.






Discussion of the Quantitative Results




      REM Ratio and the Order-Creating Capacity of the Brain: Previous REM sleep research has given indications that the ratio of the HF-REMs to the LF-REMs of REM sleep could be considered as a measure of the order-creating capacity of the brain (Hoffmann & Petre-Quadens, 1979; Petre-Quadens, 1980; Quadens & Green, 1984; Quadens, Green, Stott & Dequae, 1984). Research has given indications that the practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi techniques increases order in brain functioning, as expressed by increased EEG synchrony (Banquet, 1973; Hebert & Lehmann, 1977; Wallace, 1970; Wallace, Benson & Wilson, 1971) and EEG coherence (Badawi, Wallace, Orme-Johnson & Rouzere, 1984; Dillbeck & Bronson, 1981; Farrow & Hebert, 1982; Levine, 1976; Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981) and by improved central processing of auditory information (Kobal, Wandhofer & Plattig, 1975; McEvoy, Frumkin & Harkins, 1980; Wandhofer, Kobal & Plattig, 1976). In this study, the HF- REMs/LF-REMs ratio for total REM sleep is greater in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners in comparison with a control group, giving further support to the concept of the HF-REMs/LF- REMs ratio as an index of negative entropy in the brain.


      Density of HF-REMs and Maturation of the (Frontal) Cortex: The development of the HF-REMs of REM sleep in the process of ontogenesis has been attributed to the maturation of the cortical brain, in particular the frontal cortex (De Lee & Goffe, 1973; Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971). The increase in maturity or order (as expressed by EEG coherence) due to the TM and TM-Sidhi programs, has been found to be more localized in the frontal cortex than in the central cortex (Levine, 1976) or occipital cortex (Dillbeck & Bronson, 1981). In the present study, the ratio of REMs in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners is greater because of a greater density of the HF-REMs, which supports the concept that the development of these HF-REMs in REM sleep is indeed the result of a maturation process, in particular of the frontal cortex.


      Density of HF-REMs and Cerebral Assimilation of Information: The density of the HF-REMs of REM sleep has been found in previous research to reflect the intensity of the ordering or assimilation of information in the brain during REM sleep (Chevalier, 1982; Petre-Quadens, 1969; 1978; Quadens & Green, 1984). Psychological research has found that participation in the TM and TM-Sidhi programs improves the cognitive and affective functioning in children as well as adults (Aron, Orme-Johnson & Brubaker, 1981; Dillbeck, Assimakis, Raimondi, Orme-Johnson & Rowe, 1986; Gelderloos, 1987; Warner, 1986). Therefore, the greater density of the HF-REMs of the REM sleep in our group of TM-Sidhi practitioners is in agreement with the interpretation of these HF-REMs as a measure for the intensity of the information-ordering process taking place in the brain during REM sleep.


      Density of HF-REMs and Clarity of Mind: A greater density of REMs during REM sleep has been found to correlate with a greater amount of information to which the subjects are exposed. For example, Westerners who are daily exposed to a greater flux of information than the Asian tribes of Temiars and Ibans (Petre-Quadens, 1980), and astronauts who receive more vestibular information during microgravity than during earth-gravity (Quadens & Green, 1984; Quadens, Green, Stott & Dequae, 1984), showed a much higher REM density in their REM sleep. Perhaps one would therefore expect in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners of the present study a smaller REM density in REM sleep, because of the daily hours of quiet meditation practice. The fact that, on the contrary, a greater density of REMs -- and in particular of HF-REMs -- is found in the TM-Sidhi practitioners agrees with the interpretation that it is primarily the alertness or clarity of mind, as it is generated by the TM and TM-Sidhi program, that makes one receptive to stimuli and capable of integrating this information.


      REM Ratio and Independency of the Cerebral Integrating Capacity: Nevertheless, the density of REMs during REM sleep -- interpreted as a measure for the stimulation of the brain -- seems to remain dependent on the amount of information to which the subject is exposed. This can be deduced in the present study from the comparison of the experimental subject A with the experimental subject F. During the day preceding the analyzed night, the experimental subject A had been exposed to an unusually large amount of sensory information, whereas the experimental subject F had stayed in his routine of quiet, intellectual work. Consequently, the first showed an extremely high REM density during the REM sleep, while the latter scored the lowest (total) REM density of the whole experimental group (Table 2). The difference between the two subjects was even more pronounced with regard to the total amount of HF-REMs and total amount of LF-REMs in the REM sleep. However, when the HF-REMs are placed in relation to the LF-REMs to express the cerebral integration of information, then this difference disappears and the score of the REM ratio of both these subjects attain the highest value in the study. This agrees with their strong subjective experience of the TM-Sidhis and of the maintenance of pure consciousness during their sleep (Table 1). Previous research has found an enhanced information processing (ideational fluency) and EEG coherence in those with clear experiences of pure consciousness and of the TM-Sidhi techniques (Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981). It also illustrates the independency of this cerebral integrating capacity parameter with regard to the amount of information to which the subject is exposed.


      REM Ratio and Psychological Health: In previous research, the values of the ratio of the HF-REMs to the LF-REMs of the REM sleep came to an average of 1 to 1.4 after normal day activity (Hoffmann & Petre-Quadens, 1979; Petre- Quadens, 1980; Quadens, Green, Stott & Dequae, 1984), and rose to 2 after critical situations, such as ascending and descending with a spaceship and the accompanying stimulation of mental alertness (Quadens, Green, Stott & Dequae, 1984). The values of the REM ratio also showed a slow but distinct increase with increasing age in cross-sectional studies. In the present study, the values of the REM ratio reach an average of 1.23 in the control group and 2.54 in the experimental group. When located on that same line of increasing alertness and maturity, mentioned in previous research with regard to an increasing REM ratio, then this average of the TM-Sidhi group could be considered as a reflection of a more evolved stage in psychological health. This interpretation is supported by the doctoral research of Gelderloos (1987) in which the practitioners of the TM and TM-Sidhi program were found to score higher on five central characteristics of psychological health, including the qualities of integration of personality, autonomy, self-sufficiency, independency, control or mastery over the situation, experience of transcendence or God, orientation in life, creativity, and dynamism. The TM-Sidhi group scored consistently higher than the TM group, and the TM group consistently higher than the non-TM group.


      REM Sleep Time and Efficiency of REM Sleep: The REM sleep time in the experimental group was about half of that in the control group. Taking into account that all subjects reported that they had enjoyed a normal night's rest or felt well rested in the morning, these results argue for a greater efficiency of the nocturnal REM sleep in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners -- the more so, as during this shorter REM sleep time in the TM-Sidhi group, the density of the HF-REMs was more than three times as great as during the longer REM sleep time in the control group (Table 2), indicating a more intense cerebral assimilation of information during the REM sleep in the TM-Sidhi practitioners.


      The interpretation of a more efficient REM sleep in the TM- Sidhi group would agree with the finding of Miskiman (1977), that TM practitioners need less compensatory REM sleep time after 40 hours of sleep deprivation than do control subjects. That the REM sleep time before the sleep deprivation did not differ between his two groups can be ascribed to the small number of months of TM experience of his experimental subjects (5-7 months).


      REM Sleep Percentage and Sensitivity to Order: The percentage of the REM sleep time relative to the total sleep time was also notably smaller in the TM-Sidhi group than in the control group. This shows that the REM sleep is more susceptible than the total sleep is to the order- or efficiency-stimulating impact of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs. This greater sensitivity of REM sleep to a stimulus of order may be related to the already spontaneously occurring greater ordering during REM sleep, in comparison with the sleep stages 3 and 4, as was measured by Banquet (1983) in normal subjects via the EEG coherence parameter.


      The smaller REM sleep percentage in the TM-Sidhi group, who at the same time gave evidence of a greater maturity via the other REM sleep parameters, is in accordance with the smaller REM sleep percentage that Hoffmann and Petre-Quadens (1979), in their study with female subjects, found associated with a greater endocrinological maturity in the luteal phase of the ovulatory cycle and in the growth from prepuberty to menopause.


      Evolution of Temporal Characteristics and Maturity: Previous studies have found, as characteristics of a greater maturity, that: 1.) Cerebral order during the REM phases of sleep, expressed in the density of the HF-REMs, gradually increases in the course of sleep (Petre-Quadens, 1969; Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971); 2.) This increase of the density of the HF-REMs happens according to a pattern of alternately low and high values, from one REM phase to the other (Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971) ; 3.) The density of HF-REMs within one REM phase gradually increases, reaches a maximum in the middle of the phase, and subsequently again gradually decreases (Petre-Quadens, 1969).


      About 430 research studies on TM and TM-Sidhi practitioners have found physiological, psychological, or sociological data which could be interpreted in terms of greater health and maturity (For examples and summaries, see Chalmers, Clements, Schenkluhn & Weinless, in press; Orme-Johnson & Farrow, 1977; Wallace, Orme-Johnson & Dillbeck, 1989).


      In the present study, the density of the HF-REMs is greater in the second half of the sleep time than it is in the first, and this difference is more pronounced in the TM-Sidhi group. The pattern of alternately low and high values from one REM phase to the other, with which the HF-REMs density increases during the course of the night, is most clearly distinguishable in the TM-Sidhi group. The distribution of the HF-REMs within a REM phase in a pattern of gradual increase to a maximum, and then gradual decrease, is most regular in the TM-Sidhi group. All these temporal characteristics, seen in their evolution with the progress of sleep during the night, seem like indicators of the level of maturity.




Discussion of the Qualitative Results




      Shape of REMs and Intelligence or Maturity: Feinberg, Braun, Shulman, and co-workers (1969) found that the REMs in mentally retarded subjects take a less clear form and are therefore more difficult to score. Petre-Quadens (1969) found that the REMs in oligofrenic subjects (debilitas) are smaller and more difficult to identify than in normal subjects and that the REMs in pregnant women increase in amplitude with the progress of the pregnancy.


      In the present study, the REMs reach a higher amplitude and are more differentiated in the experimental group than in the control group, justifying the method of qualitative observation in distinguishing intelligence and maturity.


      EEG Alpha Activity and Intelligence or Maturity: Feinberg, Braun, Shulman, and co-workers (1969) found that the EEG alpha activity in mentally retarded subjects is poorly developed and of a lower frequency.


      The TM and TM-Sidhi techniques have been found to increase in the EEG the occurrence and amplitude of alpha and theta waves (Banquet, 1973; Hebert & Lehmann, 1977; Wallace, 1970; Wallace, Benson & Wilson, 1971).


      The present study shows that the subjects with a greater REM ratio have an EEG alpha activity which is more abundant and of a greater amplitude and lower frequency. This finding, again, is in accordance with the interpretation of the REM ratio as a measure for intelligence and maturity.


      Sleep Spindles and Cerebral Assimilation of Information: Petre-Quadens (1969) found that the sleep spindles in pregnant women increase in quantity and amplitude from the 20th to the 30th week of pregnancy (after the 30th week, the same trend continues, although with fluctuations), and that the sleep spindle activity is poorly developed in debilitas children.


      Feinberg and co-workers (1967; 1969) also found a poorly developed sleep spindle activity in mentally retarded adults, and in both normal and senile elderly people.


      Andersen and Andersson (1968) suggested that the sleep spindles form a reflection on the level of the cortex of the rhythmical reverberation of information in the thalamocortical network with which the brain would assimilate this information. This assimilation of information takes place more efficiently when the activity of the sleep spindles can proceed in a more undisturbed manner and the electrocorticogram is more synchronized.


      In the present study, the TM-Sidhi group, which has the greater REM ratio, also shows a sleep spindle activity which is more abundant and displays a higher amplitude and a lower frequency. This finding -- when taken together with the greater synchronization and coherence in the electrocorticogram and the improved cognitive and affective functioning in TM and TM-Sidhi practitioners -- agrees with the hypothesis that both sleep spindles and REM ratio reflect the cerebral assimilation of information during sleep.


      REMs and Sleep Spindles and Excitation and Inhibition: It was suggested (Petre-Quadens, 1969) that the REM activity as an excitation process is kept in balance by an equivalent spindle activity which could be considered as an inhibition process, and that therefore both activities never take place at the same time.


      The sleep spindles, observed during the REM bursts of REM sleep in the present study, indeed never completely coincided with the individual REMs.


      Spindles, Instead of Sleep Spindles: It was stated that the activity in the thalamocortical circuits responsible for the generation of the sleep spindles would be inhibited during the waking state (Hernandez-Peon, 1965). This statement is contradictory to the present study, in which so-called "sleep spindles" or alpha spindles of 12-14 Hz were observed during the waking stage, long before the beginning of sleep.


      Alpha Transition Stage and Transcendence: Immediately before and after sleep in all experimental subjects (except subject C) and in the control subject B, and immediately before and after each of the five sleep phases during the night in the experimental subject B, a kind of prolonged transition stage between normal waking and sleeping occurred


which, with its almost uninterrupted, high amplitude alpha activity and rhythmical eye movements, showed much similarity with Transcendental Meditation. This agrees with the reports of the experimental subjects in question that the degree to which the meditative state of restful alertness (here, integrated with waking) is experienced at the beginning of the sleep determines how "pleasingly" and "refreshingly" the sleep proceeds. It is also reminiscent of the vision of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1967; 1969); Alexander, Cranson, Boyer & Orme- Johnson, 1986) that Transcendental Meditation eventually develops in its practitioners a fourth major state of consciousness, termed "transcendental" or "pure" consciousness, which can be clearly experienced as a "continuous, fundamental reality," either in its pure form during the short transition stages between waking, dreaming and sleeping (which, by the very definition of the word "transition", can comprehend neither waking, dreaming nor sleeping), or during the states of waking, dreaming and sleeping, which are enriched thereby.








      To conclude, the fact that all the group results of the present study, without any exception, show coherently, according to the definitions and findings of previous sleep research, a greater neurophysiological order in


the TM-Sidhi group, adds further support to the main hypothesis that the HF-REMs/LF-REMs ratio is a measure of the cerebral capacity to structure "order" out of "noise." The fact that the experimental values on this REM ratio were far higher than the values reported in the literature could be interpreted as indicating the onset of a new dimension of consciousness: a continuum of restful alertness, serving as a background of order, extending to the night's sleep. It would, therefore, deserve further investigation. One could use larger samples of subjects, extend the measurement to four consecutive nights, and score the REMs automatically (provided the necessary software is available). Perhaps one could also use subjects as their own controls before and after their start with the TM and TM-Sidhi programs, to measure more directly the role of this practice with respect to order or intelligence. If one places the EEG electrodes in a strictly standardized manner, and measures with a low-noise apparatus, one could simultaneously analyze the EEG signals for coherence or long-range spatial order in the brain.








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Warner, T.Q. (1986). Transcendental Meditation and developmental advancement: Mediating abilities and conservation performance. Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 3558-B.


Wuttke, W., Arnold, P., Becker, D., Creutzfeldt O, Langenstein, S. & Tirsch, W. (1975). Circulating hormones, EEG, and performance in psychological tests of women with and without oral contraceptives. Psychoneuroendocrinol., 1, 141-152.



[1] I wish to thank Dr. O. Petre-Quadens for the valuable discussions about REM sleep research and TM-Sidhi research, her assistant-engineer P. Dequae, and  Dr. G. Tangelder  for  the practical advice regarding the measurement and the analysis of the data, G. Gerritsma for measuring both the control subjects and the author, and G. van Gasteren for technical assistance throughout the research project. I also wish to express my gratitude to Oxford Instruments (Rijswijk) and the EEG department of the Kempenhaeghe Epilepsy  Center (Heeze) for permitting us to freely use their EEG equipment, and the Foundation for Scientific Education (SWOL; Limburg) and several private individuals for their financial support.



[2] "Witnessing" one's own sleep is said to be the most unambiguous subjective indicator that the transcendental state, characterized by maximum restful alertness, can be maintained even during the inertia of deep sleep (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1969). [EDITORS NOTE: For a discussion of the relationship between lucid dreaming and witnessing ones sleep see the panel discussion in this issue of Lucidity Letter on Lucid Dreaming and Higher States of Consciousness.]


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Intelligence and Higher States of Consciousness: A Longitudinal Study




Robert W. Cranson, Charles N. Alexander, David Orme-Johnson and Jayne Gackenbach*


MaharishiInternationalUniversity, *AthabascaUniversity



When William James (1890) introduced the concept of consciousness into American psychology, he argued that beyond the range of normal waking consciousness there is the possibility of exceptional states of consciousness that are completely "discontinuous" with discursive thought. He argued that these heightened states of awareness could be induced under specifiable conditions, could influence thought and behavior profoundly, and could be adaptive for the individual. He challenged psychology to investigate these states scientifically.


The onset of the behaviorist revolution almost completely overshadowed this field of psychology (Hilgard, 1980). However, some groups of investigators continued to investigate these states, particularly the Jungian school (1956, 1960, 1980); Abraham Maslow (1968, 1977) and his school of humanistic psychology; and the movement known as transpersonal psychology (Grof, 1983; Rothberg, 1986; Sutich, 1976; Wilber, 1980). These experiences, called "peak experiences" by Maslow, have also been referred to as "transpersonal experiences," "flow," and others. Recently, a larger number of researchers have again begun to recognize and investigate these phenomena (e.g., Alexander, Davies, et al., in press; Alexander, Druker, & Langer, in press; Csikszentmihalyi, 1982; Hilgard, 1980; Hunt, 1989; Kramer, in press; Pascual-Leone, in press-a, in press-b; Pribram, 1986; Shapiro & Walsh, 1984; Wilber, Engler, & Brown, 1986).


James (1902/1960, p. 386) suggested that exceptional states could be systematically cultivated, and he pointed to the ancient Indian tradition of yoga as a source of such practices. He thus anticipated a promising research area: the experimental investigation of meditation and associated psychophysiological changes.


In 1957 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi  introduced Transcendental Meditation (TM) as a simple mental technique derived from the Vedic tradition of India (Maharishi, 1963, 1969; 1972a). He proposed that through this procedure [Editors Note: See discussion by Charles Alexander in the Lucid Dreaming and Higher States of Consciousness Panel Discussion for a brief explanation of the procedure], a "fourth major state of consciousness" can be regularly experienced. This fourth state is referred to in Maharishi's Vedic psychology as transcendental consciousness  (Maharishi, 1969; Orme-Johnson, 1988) because it is said to transcend or be discontinuous with the three ordinary states of waking, dreaming, and sleep, as typically described conceptually and psychophysiologically (e.g., see Natsoulas's sixth definition of "normal" waking consciousness: 1983, p. 49; see also, Gackenbach, 1987; Rechtschaffen & Kales, 1968).


Transcendental consciousness is traditionally described as "pure" consciousness (Dillbeck, 1983; Maharishi, 1969) in that it is said to be experienced as a content-free, silent state of awareness, in which all mental activity is transcended and there are no localized boundaries of awareness. In this state the knower, the known, and the process of knowing are said to converge in one unified field of consciousness, in which subjects report a self-referral state of simply being aware of awareness itself (Alexander, Davies, et al., in press; Alexander, Langer, Newman, Chandler, & Davies, 1989). The following is a report of an experience of transcendental consciousness, provided by a subject:




During the TM technique my mind settles down, thoughts become less, and then suddenly all thought activity ceases and I slip into a state of awareness which is pure, perfectly peaceful, wide awake, and infinitely extended beyond space and time. Simultaneously my body settles down, breathing becomes nil and I feel relaxed.




A series of studies on long-term meditators (Badawi, Wallace, Orme-Johnson, & Rouzere, 1984; Farrow & Hebert, 1982) found that experiences of pure consciousness (as indicated by subsequent button press during TM) are highly correlated with enhanced bilateral and homolateral alpha electroencephalographic (EEG) phase coherence in frontal and central regions (suggestive of heightened alertness), virtual respiratory suspension without compensatory hyperventilation, decreased heart rate, stable phasic Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), and heightened basal GSR, indicating a quiescent physiological condition. These and earlier studies led researchers to propose that during TM, deep rest and heightened awareness are experienced as complementary aspects of a state of "restful alertness," which is especially distinct during reported subperiods of pure consciousness (Alexander, Cranson, Boyer, & Orme-Johnson, 1987: Wallace, 1970).




Transcendental Consciousness as the Basis of Higher States of Consciousness




Maharishi's Vedic psychology proposes that repeated experience of transcendental consciousness through regular practice of the TM technique and the more advanced TM-Sidhi techniques, in alteration with daily activity, fosters growth of higher states of consciousness beyond the ordinary endpoint of human development (Alexander et al., 1989; Maharishi, 1963, 1969; Orme-Johnson, 1989) The TM and TM-Sidhi programs are said to promote neutralization of accumulated stress in the nervous system and refine mental and physiological functioning, giving rise to a new style of functioning that is capable of sustaining transcendental consciousness along with the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states (Alexander, Davies, Dillbeck et al., 1989; Maharishi, 1972; Wallace, 1986). In this experience, called witnessing, transcendental consciousness becomes a silent, uninvolved witness to mental processes (Alexander et al., 1987; Gelderloos & Van den Berg, 1989; Maharishi, 1969; Orme-Johnson, 1988)


 The following is a typical experience of witnessing the state of deep sleep (Cranson, 1989a):




Often during deep sleep I am awake inside. It's a very restful, peaceful state -- a state of bliss, unboundedness. My body is asleep and inert, breathing goes on regularly and mechanically, and inside I am just aware that I am.




Development of a permanent style of physiological functioning that spontaneously maintains witnessing at all times during the three ordinary states of consciousness defines the fifth state of consciousness, termed cosmic consciousness in Maharishi's Vedic psychology (Alexander et al., 1987; Maharishi, 1969, 1972b; Orme-Johnson, 1988). Cosmic consciousness (CC) is traditionally described as a state of unshakeable inner peace and self-realization in which individual awareness remains permanently identified with the unbounded silence of pure consciousness (Dillbeck, 1983; Maharishi, 1969, 1972b).


The realization of this higher state of consciousness is also referred to as the integration of personality, in which the innermost Self, pure consciousness, is experienced together with the contents of the mind and senses (Maharishi, 1963, 1969). Cosmic consciousness is said to be a state of inner freedom, of maximum creativity and intelligence, maximum capacity to love, ideal social behavior, and perfect health (Cranson, 1989b; Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1963, 1969, 1972b).


Witnessing the state of deep sleep is considered the most unambiguous subjective indicator of the growth of cosmic consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1969, 1972a; Alexander et al., 1987). In previous research conducted on the student population at Maharishi International University (MIU), subjects who practiced the TM and TM-Sidhi program for several years reported clear experiences of witnessing deep sleep. In several student samples, more than 80 percent of the subjects reported having had the experience at least once, and in one study 7.7 percent reported having it regularly (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, in press; Gackenbach, Cranson, & Alexander, 1986). In a longitudinal study by Alexander (1982), frequency of witnessing sleep increased in TM practitioners versus wait-list controls and non-meditators. The study used a broad measure of higher states of consciousness, rather than focusing on witnessing sleep. To date no other controlled longitudinal research has been conducted to verify longitudinal increases in frequency of witnessing sleep.


Several studies indicate significant correlations between frequency of witnessing deep sleep and higher performance on a wide range of physiological, personality, and cognitive-perceptual measures (Alexander, C.N., Boyer, and Alexander, V.K., 1987), including non-verbal intelligence, principled moral reasoning, and academic achievement (Nidich, Ryncarz, Abrams, Orme-Johnson, & Wallace, 1983); creativity (Orme-Johnson & Granieri, 1977; Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981; Vogelman, 1978); faster recovery of the H-reflex, and increased efficiency of concept learning (Dillbeck, Orme-Johnson, & Wallace, 1981). Furthermore, several longitudinal studies indicate improvements in IQ scores (Aron, Orme-Johnson, & Brubaker, 1981; Dillbeck, Assimakis, Raimondi, Orme-Johnson, & Rowe, 1986; Shecter, 1978), creativity (Shecter, 1978; Travis, 1979), and simple reaction time (Appelle & Oswald, 1974), and choice reaction time (Holt, Caruso, & Riley, 1978) among practitioners of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs. However, to date there have been no longitudinal studies linking growth of higher states of consciousness with improved cognitive performance, specifically intelligence and choice reaction time measures. At the same time, conventional efforts to improve such cognitive abilities through teaching of problem-solving strategies and learning skills in the ordinary waking state have been on the whole disappointing or inconclusive (Brody, 1985; Caruso, Taylor, & Detterman, 1982; Jensen, 1969, 1988; Royce, Darlington & Murray, 1983; Spitz, 1986).


Some investigators have expressed skepticism that higher states of consciousness achieved through TM are truly more adaptive than the three ordinary states of consciousness (Holmes, 1984; Smith, 1976). Other studies employing quantitative meta-analysis to statistically compare the effects of TM with other techniques and control conditions provided evidence contradicting these arguments (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1987; Eppley, Abrams, & Shear, 1989; Ferguson, 1981).   


The present study attempted to address the above issues by measuring practitioners of the TM and TM-Sidhi program on frequency of witnessing deep sleep (Higher States of Consciousness, HSOC), IQ, and simple and choice reaction time (RT) measures in a two-year longitudinal design with a non-meditating control group. In addition to measuring change in the above measures, the investigators measured correlations between the HSOC variable and the other dependent variables.









Subjects were students who enrolled in introductory psychology classes at two universities in Iowa. The experimental group consisted of 25 males and 20 females at Maharishi International University (MIU). Mean age was 25.2 years, Standard Deviation (SD) = 6.74. The comparison group consisted of 22 males and 33 females at another university in Iowa (University of Northern Iowa, UNI).[2] Mean age was 19 years, SD = 1.8.






The independent variable was participation or non-participation in the educational program at MIU, whose main innovative feature is the twice daily practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs. The TM and TM-Sidhi program are designed to  unfold higher states of consciousness, develop the intelligence of the individual, and improve all aspects of his or her life: physiological, psychological, sociological, and ecological (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1963, 1967, 1972a).


The dependent variables were: reported frequency of witnessing deep sleep as measured by a HSOC questionnaire, Cattell's Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CFIT) scores, simple and choice reaction time (RT) using Hick's 1-light and 8-light configurations, and intra-individual SD of Hick's 8-light RT.      






The design for comparing the experimental group and the comparison group was an untreated nonequivalent control group design with pretest and posttest. The experimental group  (MIU first-year students) received pretest on the above variables, then received two years of education at MIU, including twice-daily practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program.


The comparison group received pretest concurrent with the experimental group, and posttest after the first two years of a standard university education.






A self-report Higher States of Consciousness (HSOC) questionnaire was used to measure frequency of witnessing deep sleep. The key question asked was, "During dreamless sleep, have you experienced a quiet, peaceful inner awareness or wakefulness?"[3]  The subject was asked to check a box next to the number which most accurately represented how frequently the experience occurred. The subject was also asked to write down a concrete example of the experience from memory on a space provided on the reverse side of the questionnaire, in order to show that he or she understood the concept. The examples provided by the subjects were blind-scored independently by two researchers, and marked "yes" or "no," signifying whether or not the subject understood the concept. Responses which did not include a sample experience were treated as missing data. Inter-rater reliability for scoring sample experiences was .96.






The apparatus for measuring reaction time (RT) consisted of a panel, 13 in. x 17 in., painted black and tilted at a 30 degree angle. At the lower center of the panel was a red pushbutton, 1/2 in. in diameter, called the "home" button. Eight red pushbuttons, all equidistant (6 in.) from the "home" button, were arranged in a semicircle around the "home" button. A 1/4 in. green light was mounted half an inch above each of the buttons in the semicircle. The console was connected to an Apple IIe computer, and a computer clock (Mountain Hardware Apple model) was used to measure RT.






For the Hick's reaction time tests, subjects were instructed to place the index finger of the preferred hand on the home button. This caused an auditory warning signal (a high pitched tone of 1 second duration) to sound, followed (after a random interval of from one to four seconds) by one of the eight green lights going on. The subject was previously instructed to turn off the light as quickly as possible by pressing the red button directly below it. In the one-light condition, on each trial the same light went on, the one just to the right of top center. In the eight-light condition, the particular light that went on in each trial was random and hence unpredictable by the subject. RT is the time the subject takes to remove his finger from the home button after the green light goes on. Thus RT was measured independently of the time taken to move the finger from the home button to the button under the green light. On each trial RT was measured in milliseconds by the computer clock and recorded. Upon completion of the 20-trial set for each subject, the mean RT and standard deviation of RT for 20 trials were computed and recorded by the computer.


Each subject was given 5 practice trials in the one-light condition (the same light came on for every trial), and subsequently 20 trials in that condition. Then each subject received 5 practice trials in the eight-light condition (any one of the eight lights came on randomly) and 20 trials in that condition. 


Cattell's CFIT was administered according to the standard procedure given in the test instructions.








Covarying for Demographics


As mentioned in the design section, potential confounds related to performance on IQ tests and other measures were tested as covariates. These covariates were: level of interest in meditation, frequency of dream recall, subject's age, subject's education level, father's education level, and father's annual income. 


To test for an effect of interest in meditation on posttest scores of the control group on each dependent variable, stepwise regressions were performed with pretest scores and level of interest in meditation as the covariates. The alpha level was .05 to enter and .05 to remove. Pretest scores entered the stepwise regressions first. Interest in meditation was not kept in any of the regressions; therefore the effect of interest in meditation was not significant in any of the regressions. Hence, for the control group, who did not meditate, it was concluded that level of interest in meditation had no effect on posttest scores on any of the measures.


To test for the effect of dream recall on HSOC scores, a stepwise regression was performed for experimental and control groups combined, with pretest scores and frequency of dream recall at pretest as covariates. The alpha level was .05 to enter and .05 to remove. Pretest scores entered the stepwise regression first, and dream recall was not kept in the regression. Hence, the result indicated that frequency of dream recall had no effect on HSOC posttest scores.


Next, stepwise regressions were performed to assess the importance of potential covariates. These analyses combined experimental and control groups and were performed for each of the dependent variables: frequency of witnessing sleep (HSOC scores), Cattell's CFIT, Hick's 1-light RT, and Hick's 8-light RT. Subject's age, education level, and father's education level were included as predictor variables, in addition to pretest scores for the appropriate dependent variable. Since data on father's annual income was available for only about half the subjects, a separate stepwise regression was performed for each dependent variable using pretest scores and father's annual income as predictors, in order to maximize the number of available cases for analyses using the other predictors.


For each variable, pretest scores entered the stepwise regression first. Subject's age and father's education were also kept in the regression for posttest scores on Hick's 8-light choice reaction time at the p<.05 level; father's education was kept for posttest scores on the CFIT. Hence age and father's education were entered as covariates into the test of the assumption of homogeneity of slopes in preparation for one-way multiple analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) on posttest scores for HSOC, CFIT, 1-light RT and 8-light RT. Neither subject's education nor father's annual income were kept in any of the regressions at p<.05, and therefore these two covariates were dropped from further analysis.


For the group of variables, in the test of the assumption of homogeneity of slopes there were no statistically significant interactions between subject's age or father's education and the grouping variable. Hence, age and father's education were dropped from the analysis. Pretest scores for Cattell's CFIT, Hick's 1-light RT and Hick's 8-light CRT were not statistically significant as covariates; however, they were all kept in the analysis. 


MANCOVA for posttest scores on the dependent variables was performed with pretest scores as the covariates. Wilks' lambda was 0.355 and the F-statistic was 18.657 (p<.0001, DF=4,41). Hence, the null hypothesis of no effect of the grouping variable on the four dependent variables was rejected. The effect was in the direction of improvement on the four dependent measures in the experimental group (MIU).


Separate 1-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA'S) were then performed for posttest scores on the HSOC measure, CFIT, 1-light RT, 8-light RT and SDof 8-light RT, with pretest scores as the covariate in each case.


The assumption of homogeneity of slopes was supported for all dependent variables with the exception of HSOC scores. Hence, for HSOC scores, repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed with group (MIU or UNI) as the grouping factor and pretest-posttest scores as the trials factor. Results indicated that the main effect for group was significant (F=15.34, p<.0001, DF=1,58), the main effect for pretest-posttest was not significant (F=2.14, p=.149, DF=1,58), and the interaction between pretest-posttest and group was significant (F=11.35, p<.001, DF=1,58). Hence, the result showed that there was a significant pretest-posttest change in HSOC scores for at least one of the two groups -- either the MIU group or the control group, or both. To further verify whether this result could be attributed to positive change in MIU scores, negative change in UNI scores, or a combination of these two, independent t-tests on pretest/posttest scores were performed separately for the MIU and UNI groups. The results indicated that scores for the MIU group did change significantly (t=3.12, p<.0025, one-tailed test), while UNI scores did not (t=1.48, p=.149, two-tailed test). The MIU mean for HSOC pretest scores was 2.9 and the posttest mean was 4.7. Pretest mean for UNI was 2.2 and posttest mean was 1.6. Hence, the results showed that performance on the HSOC measure improved significantly from pretest to posttest for the MIU group compared with the UNI group, and it did not change significantly for the UNI group.


Table 1 presents results of the other individual ANCOVA's. The F-test value was converted to a t-test value in order to obtain one-tailed p-values for testing the directional hypothesis of an improvement in the experimental group relative to controls (See Rosenthal and Rosnow, 1984, p. 244).


Results for HSOC scores, CFIT scores, Hick's 8-light RT, Hick's 8-light intraindividual SD, and Hick's 1-light RT were all statistically significant in the predicted direction. Figure 1 presents pretest-posttest change in HSOC scores for experimental and control groups.


Since pretest means for the CFIT were identical for the experimental and control groups, regression to the mean was discounted as an alternative hypothesis to explain the results.


Figure 3 shows pretest-posttest change in scores on Hick's 8-light RT.


The pretest mean for the experimental group (X=350.57 msec.) is consistent with findings of other researchers (Jensen, 1985a, Pg.163; Frearson & Eysenck, 1986). A statistically significant negative correlation was found between Hick's 8-light RT and HSOC scores (N = 72, r = -.400, p <.0001), and a significantly negative correlation was found between Hick's 8-light RT and CFIT posttest scores (N = 79, r = -.290, p <.005).


Figure 4 presents pretest-posttest change in SD of 8-light RT. The Pearson correlation between SD of RT and CFIT posttest scores was -.256 (N = 79, p <.01).


The possibility of attrition affecting posttest scores was considered. Because of the size of the attrition rate, MANOVA was performed with group and pre-post completion/non-completion as the independent variables. The results showed no significant differences on pretest scores or covariates, between groups that completed the study and those that did not.



Table 1


One-Way Analyses of Covariance for Effect of Group on CFIT,


Hick's 1-and 8-Light RT, and SD  of 8-Light RT


Variable or



x pre

SD pre



SD post




































































1-light RT



























































8-light RT


























































SD of

Hick's RT



























































The results indicate that participation in the curriculum at Maharishi International University, which includes twice daily practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs, resulted in increased reported frequency of witnessing deep sleep, while witnessing did not increase in the control group. Witnessing is considered an indicator of the growth of higher states of consciousness. Furthermore, frequency of witnessing deep sleep was significantly correlated with IQ and choice reaction time, which also improved in the MIU group compared to the control group. Previous research (Barrett, Eysenck & Lucking , 1986; Eysenck 1986, 1988; Frearson & Eysenck, 1986; Jensen, 1979, 1982a, 1982b, 1985a, 1985b; Smith and Stanley, 1987; Vernon, 1983, 1987) indicates the measures used here are correlated with the theoretical construct "g", or general intelligence.


It may be claimed that improvements in the dependent measures were caused by the teaching methods and academic information given students at MIU rather than their practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program. The academic knowledge taught at MIU does include elements which relate the student's experience of the development of consciousness through the TM and TM-Sidhi programs to the laws of nature studied by traditional academic disciplines. However, a study by Shecter (1978), indicated that improvements in IQ test scores resulted from the direct experience of the TM techniques rather than intellectual study of the development of consciousness. In Shecter's study, high school students were randomly assigned to three groups: one group learned TM; a second group took a 14-week Science of Creative Intelligence course in which they studied development of consciousness but did not learn the TM technique; and a third group took both courses. A fourth matched group took neither course. Those practicing the TM technique (either with or without the Science of Creative Intelligence course) showed significantly greater improvement on IQ test scores than those who did not practice the TM technique (either with or without the Science of Creative Intelligence course).


Both the IQ measure and choice reaction time have been shown to be related to general intelligence, or "g". A theoretical model of how TM could improve intelligence is provided in the well-established principle from developmental biology and neurology, that the process of experience stimulates neural growth (Blakemore & Cooper, 1970;  Edelman, 1987; Hubel & Wiesel, 1979; Milgram, MacLeod, & Petit, 1987; Pearson, Finkel, & Edelman, 1987). An example of the principle is that  animals raised in enriched environments develop greater brain weight than animals raised in deprived environments (e.g., Bennet, Diamond, Krech, & Rosenzweig, 1964; Diamond, Ingham, Johnson, Bennet, & Rosenzweig, 1976; Wallace, 1986, pp. 216-217). According to Maharishi's Vedic psychology, meditation provides the direct experiences of abstract levels of mental processes that stimulate neurophysiological growth through the sequence of higher states of consciousness (Maharishi, 1969, Wallace, 1986).


Physiological evidence that the experience of transcendental consciousness (TC) stimulates development can be found in longitudinal experiments showing that practice of TM increases EEG coherence (Dillbeck & Bronson, 1981; Gaylord, Orme-Johnson & Gelderloos, 1988; Gaylord, Orme-Johnson, Willbanks, & Travis, 1988; Orme-Johnson, & Travis, 1988). In addition the TM-Sidhi program further develops EEG coherence (Dillbeck, Orme-Johnson, & Wallace, 1981; Orme-Johnson, Clements, Haynes, & Badawi, 1977; Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981; Travis, 1988). Correlational studies in meditators have shown that EEG coherence among frontal and central areas is positively correlated with higher levels of neurological efficiency, intelligence, creativity, mathematics achievement, principled moral reasoning, as well as lower levels of neuroticism (Dillbeck, Orme-Johnson, & Wallace, 1981; Gaylord, Orme-Johnson, & Travis, 1989; Nidich, Ryncarz, Abrams, Orme-Johnson, & Wallace, 1983; Orme-Johnson, Clements, Haynes, & Badawi, 1977; Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981; Orme-Johnson, Wallace, Dillbeck, Alexander, & Ball, in press). Thus the longitudinal increases in these EEG parameters would suggest cognitive development.


The TM and TM-Sidhi programs also produce several other physiological changes that would suggest increased cognitive abilities. Argenine vasopressin has been associated with improved learning and memory, and argenine vasopressin is elevated during TM (Jevning, Wells, Wilson, & Guich, 1987). Shorter latencies and higher amplitudes of auditory evoked potentials have been associated with more efficient information processing in the brain, and TM and TM-Sidhi participants have been found to have shorter latency and larger amplitude evoked potentials than controls (Cranson, Goddard, Orme-Johnson, & Schuster, submitted for publication; Goddard, 1989; Kobal, Wandhofer, & Plattig, 1975; Wandhofer, Kobal, & Plattig, 1976). The TM-Sidhi program also increases paired H-reflex recovery rate, an indicator of adaptability of the nervous system and a correlate of academic achievement, EEG coherence, and concept learning (Dillbeck, Orme-Johnson, & Wallace, 1981; Wallace, Mills, Orme-Johnson, Dillbeck, & Jacobe, 1983; Wallace, Orme-Johnson, Mills, & Dillbeck, 1984).


In explaining performance on speeded tasks, several investigators (Eysenck, 1986; Gardner, 1983; Jensen, 1982a; Sternberg, 1985; Vernon, 1987) have described the information processing system as a system of limited-capacity processors or components. They have proposed that individual differences in choice reaction time and performance on IQ tests are associated with differences either in operation of neural substrates, or in capacity of components of the information processing system such as short-term and long-term memory. It may be that the psychophysiological development fostered by experiences of more abstract states of the thinking process during TM includes expansion of the capacity of the information processing system, resulting in improved performance on such tasks.


As mentioned in the introduction, transcendental consciousness has been described as a state of unbounded awareness. Growth of higher states of consciousness are characterized by maintenance of this broad awareness along with the focused awareness of the waking state. Several studies indicate that long-term practitioners of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs appear to be capable of spontaneously maintaining broadened awareness while simultaneously focusing their attention on a task (Dillbeck, 1982; Dillbeck et al., 1986; Pelletier, 1974; Travis, 1988). This ability to maintain a broad, comprehensive style of awareness while simultaneously focusing on the parts of a problem may help account for observed improvements in performance on choice reaction time and tests of figural reasoning such as the one used in this study, since both tests emphasize the ability to perceive and analyze relations of parts with one another and with a larger whole, and to respond accordingly. For example, on the Hick's 8-light RT task, some subjects spontaneously volunteered that they were able to perceive the whole field of eight lights simultaneously and respond quickly and accurately when the target light came on, rather than serially scanning the lights and trying to anticipate the correct choice.


Figure 4 shows a decrease in intraindividual SD of Hick's 8-light RT, considered by some to be an index of "noise" in the information processing system, and the RT-related variable most strongly correlated with IQ measures (Eysenck, 1987; Jensen, 1985a). It is interesting that, although SD scores for the MIU group were initially lower by 150 msec., their scores improved significantly, decreasing by 58.29 msec., while scores increased insignificantly (37.5 msec.) for the control group.


This reduction of noise in the information processing system is explained by the theory associated with the TM and TM-Sidhi programs, mentioned in the introduction. According to the Vedic principles underlying TM, the technique directly reduces noise in the information processing system by allowing the individual to experience progressively quieter, more abstract states of thought until his or her awareness becomes silent or noise-free in the state of transcendental consciousness (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1963, pp. 48-49; 1969, pp. 278, 282; 1972). Regular practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi programs is predicted to stimulate development of the nervous system such that it can maintain this noise-free state along with information processing in the waking state (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1963, pp. 103, 114-116; 1969, pp. 135-137, 150-153; 1972). The present finding of reduced RT variability operationalizes and supports this prediction. In addition, the observed changes in IQ scores and reaction time measures can also be interpreted as reflecting an improved signal-to-noise ratio in the system.


The findings indicate that "g" or fluid intelligence can be developed, as measured by IQ tests and reaction time tests. The study does not refute the theory that "g" is largely genetically determined (Bouchard & McGue, 1981; Bouchard & Segal, 1985; Jensen, 1969, 1985b; McGue & Bouchard, 1988; McGue, Bouchard, Lykken, & Feuer, 1984; Plomin, 1988), but rather suggests that the experience provided by the TM and TM-Sidhi programs facilitates the expression of inherent potential.


In conclusion, the above findings, together with previous research brings to light an educational technology that results in increased experiences of higher states of consciousness, accompanied by improved cognitive abilities. These results indicate that growth of higher states of consciousness represents growth of more adaptive, optimal states of functioning than the ordinary states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. The technology employed here is based on well established theoretical principles. Both the technology and the theoretical approach deserve serious investigation by researchers in the fields of education, adult development, intelligence, and personality.








Alexander, C.N. (1982). Ego development, personality and behavioral change in inmates practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique or participating in other programs: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study (Doctoral dissertation, Department of Psychology and Social Relations, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA). Dissertation Abstracts International, 43, (2), 539-B. (University Microfilms No. 82-16, 181).


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[1] EDITORS NOTE: The following is poster from the corollary sessions at the Lucidity Association's Conference on Higher States of Consciousness, in Chicago in July, 1990.

[2] A fairly high attrition rate for the first two years of enrollment is characteristic of MIU and UNI, these two universities being typical of American universities in this regard. Hence, 97 subjects were pretested at MIU and 125 at UNI. As expected, by posttest these numbers had decreased to 45 at MIU and 55 at UNI. Analyses were performed to address the question of whether attrition could have been responsible for any observed differences at posttest, and these are reported at the end of the Results section.

[3] Although the questionnaire on higher states of consciousness had items on experiences of lucid dreaming and witnessing dreaming, these items were not included in the analysis because the investigators found that subjects confused the experience of lucid dreaming with the experience of witnessing dreaming and hence the data on these two types of experience was unreliable.


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Jacob's Ladder:


Dreams and Consciousness,






Kelly Bulkley


The University of Chicago



The Tibetan Book of the Dead is considered one of the most profound works ever written on the mysteries of consciousness, dreams, lucidity, spirituality, and the subtle relations between life and death. This ancient Buddhist treatise has fascinated people for centuries, prompting the meditations of monks the speculations of philosophers, the verses of poets -- and now, a big-budget movie from Hollywood.


That the venerable Tibetan Book of the Dead could be one of the main inspirations for the 1990 release of Hollywood's "Jacob's Ladder" may sound unlikely, if not absurd. Hollywood films are not renowned for sensitive portrayals of metaphysical anxiety and spiritual struggles with the ultimate questions of human existence. But the brilliant, bewitching movie "Jacob's Ladder" shows that popular films can in fact effectively explore the strange realms of dream, fantasy, vision, and memory.


For those who haven't seen it, he film begins with Jacob Singer in Vietnam (played with likable earnestness by Tim Robbins), enjoying a moment's rest with other soldiers of his platoon. Suddenly, a burst of furious violence explodes upon them; amidst all the frenzied machine-gunning, agonized screaming, and chaotic savagery, Jacob is bayonetted in the gut and left lying in the jungle, holding in his own intestines. Then, just as suddenly, he seems to wake up: he's in a New York subway car, in his postal service uniform, having dozed off on his way home from work. He shakes his head, puzzled by the nightmare. But now he begins to wonder if he has entered a new nightmare -- for he cannot find his way out of the eerily abandoned subway station, and he narrowly avoids being run over by a train filled with haunting, spectral faces.


Jacob finally makes it back to the apartment he shares with his girlfriend Jezebel (Elizabeth Pena), and tells her of his perplexity over these weird flashbacks and visions. Jezzie's warm, sensual tenderness helps to comfort him, but when Jacob looks at some photos of his ex-wife and their tragically killed son Gabriel, he falls into yet another vivid, disorienting reverie: he is once again with his son, playing and laughing, and once again must suffer the wrenching sorrow of losing him.


The movie shifts restlessly from the stark brutality of Vietnam to happy memories of playing with Gabriel, from terrifying, surrealistic glimpses of horror to ordinary, day-to-day life with Jezebel in New York. Sometimes the shifts are almost imperceptibly gradual; sometimes they are shockingly abrupt. Jacob is continuously forced to ask himself, was that a dream? Am I awake now? What is real, and what is imagination? "Jacob's Ladder" is like a classic mystery tale -- but rather than "whodunit?", the question is, "Am I alive, or am I dying?" Director Adrian Lyne (whose other film credits include "Fatal Attraction" and "9 l/2 Weeks") uses awkward camera angles, excessively dark or bright lighting, and unsettling changes of mood to build up a tense, thoroughly ominous atmosphere.


Themes and images from The Tibetan Book of the Dead  run throughout "Jacob's Ladder".   The Buddhist classic is primarily intended as a guide for the dying person, to help him or her navigate the transition from one existence to another.  The most important message of the book is that the dying person must learn how to distinguish between the different fears, dangers, trials, and temptations he or she will experience in making that transition.   This is exactly what Jacob Singer struggles with -- the nearly impossible task of understanding the true nature of the various dreams and visions he is experiencing.   He gets caught up in many of the nightmarish situations described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead : for example, calling out and not being heard; being paralyzed; suffering extremes of heat and cold; being chased by unknown assailants;  and enduring bodily mutilation and disintegration. One of the most harrowing scenes of the film has Jacob being wheeled on a stretcher from an ordinary hospital room down increasingly dark, deserted hallways that are first dirty, then spattered with blood, and then grotesquely littered with body parts and shreds of flesh.


As with The Tibetan Book of the Dead , the heart of "Jacob's Ladder" is a quest for release -- release from worldly entanglements, from persistent memories, from terrifying fears, even from comforting pleasures (Jacob must ultimately leave Jezebel, too). Jacob does not understand what is happening to him, and so he fights against his experiences, against the endless shifts of reality, against the transformation he is undergoing. He tries to hold on to some aspects of his world and push away from other aspects. Only when he realizes the true nature of his condition -- when he realizes he is desperately clinging to a state of existence that must pass away -- does Jacob finally achieve release.


As the title suggests, the film also makes abundant use of Judeo-Christian symbolism. Jezebel is the woman in 1 Kings 16-18 who marries the Israelite king Ahab and leads the people into the blasphemy of worshipping Baal rather than the Lord Jehovah; Gabriel is the archangel who announces to Mary in Luke 1 that she is to bear the son of God; and Jacob is the Hebrew patriarch who has the astounding dream in Genesis 28 of a ladder spanning heaven and earth. The film weaves these biblical references into an essentially Buddhist story of enlightenment, suggesting that the Judeo-Christian yearning for salvation and the Buddhist quest for release are ultimately one.


A credit at movie's conclusion states that during the Vietnam war the U.S. Army reportedly experimented with a hallucinogenic drug called BZ, although the Pentagon denies it. The suggestion is that Jacob's experiences could have a factual basis -- what Jacob suffered might "really" have happened. This marvelously confounding statement draws the audience directly into the mystery of "Jacob's Ladder": was the film "real" or not? what is real? what does it mean to us if the film included the "real" experiences of a real person.


This sort of concluding statement is a literary device that Hindu and Buddhist myths frequently use to blur the lines between the story and the audience, and thus to force the members of the audience to ask themselves whether they are actually in the story. The ending of "Jacob's Ladder" has this exact effect. After seeing the movie, we cannot help but wonder about our own perceptions, our own abilities to distinguish clearly between dreams, wishes, memories, and reality. Jacob Singer's awful predicament is really ours, too: Vietnam certainly has been a nightmare experience for American society, a painful encounter with suffering, violence, and death. "Jacob's Ladder" suggests that perhaps we, like Jacob, have not woken up from that nightmare; perhaps we are still in some sense trapped in that existence, without fully realizing it; perhaps some of the horrors of our present reality (or is this, too, a dream?) are due to the fact that we have not yet sorted out the desires, fears, fantasies, and wounds that we as a society experienced in Vietnam.


"Jacob's Ladder", despite its Hollywood pedigree, succeeds in  recreating that sense of awe and mystery that has made The Tibetan Book of the Dead  one of the world's enduring spiritual  classics.   Even more remarkably,  the film makes a powerful statement about how the metaphysical exploration of dreams, consciousness, and memory is terribly relevant to contemporary Americans and their society.  Many of the people at the theater  where I saw it seemed deeply perplexed by the film -- "What ever did that mean?" I heard a number of them ask.  Exactly.


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Lucidity Letter Readers Survey Results




Forty-three of the 280 readers of the December 1989 issue of Lucidity Letter  (LL) completed and returned a readers survey by June 17, 1990. There were five general types of questions beginning with the amount of the last two issues read and followed by three questions dealing with overall satisfaction. Six questions were then asked about specific content items for LL. Respondents were also asked how frequently they would like to see it come out under several conditions. Finally, general comments were solicited.


Of the 43 respondents, 31 said they had read from half to all of the last two issues, so the majority of responses are from individuals who are well read in this journal. A considerable majority (74%) said they saw the overall quality of LL as more than satisfactory to superior. Sixty-two percent said the same about the articles in general while not as many (37%) were happy with the layout. Although 44% said the layout was in the satisfactory range, it was clear that fewer were as happy with this aspect of LL than with the content.


As to the specific types of articles, about 50% favored more clinical, anecdotal, interview, and theoretical articles while only 31% wanted to see more scientific articles. A bit less than a quarter of the respondents wanted to see less science; only 12% on average said the same about the other types of articles. Types of articles suggested included:




Mutual dreaming studies and lucid wakefulness


Experiments in which readers can become involved


Good illustrations


Readers dreams and experiences


Training/"how to"/induction methodology


More book reviews


Philosophical reviews


Lucid dreaming and dream yoga (Tulku)


More relationship between technical and anecdotal articles


Background in disciplines that led to present professional positions




The majority of these well read respondents (64%) wanted to see LL come out more frequently while none wanted to see it come out less frequently. When asked several frequency questions as a function of type of content (more or less professional) an interesting mix occurred. For both types of questions (more frequent but less professional and more frequent but more professional) the majority response was no (49% and 47% respectively) with 37/39% saying yes to both contingencies. All the less frequent questions were overwhelmingly answered no (2.33% to 4.65%). Clearly the LL readers agree that they want the publication more frequently but it appears that the lay and professional portions of the readership cancel each other out as to whether or not they would like to see it as more or less professional. This also shows when you look at the means of types of articles liked in LL. They were all around three out of five (about the same).


Twenty-one types of comments were identified by the reader of the surveys, Shelagh Robinson. The largest category was "love it now!" at 24%. The next largest category (20%) scored involved comments of a technical nature such as "the print is too small," "improve the layout," and "needs to be visually more stimulating." Otherwise the comments tended to be suggestions for future types of articles, for example, more about the OBE-lucid dream connection. Finally, to illustrate the apparent split in our readers, two said, "Don't become too Shirley McLaine-ish or anecdotal," while two said, "Don't fall into the trap of becoming too serious with statistics and technical jargon!"


As editor of LL, I appreciate the feedback from our readers. It appears that the major complaints are of a technical nature. In the last two issues of LL we have endeavored to correct these problems with a totally new layout (December 1989) and the addition of a copy editor (June 1990). As far as content is concerned I have and will continue to "walk the thin line" between science and anecdote.


Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.


Senior Editor, Lucidity Letter


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