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Movies like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind entered the dream state to actually alter the mind.
Reality is almost stranger than fiction in this case. While we may not be able to enter a dream world through complex machinery, there are plenty of people who can be conscious during a dream. I know, it sounds like a contradiction but you’d be surprised at how many people go to sleep with the intention of dreaming how they like.
Today we’re going to look at the phenomenon known as lucid dreaming, how it works and why it can be helpful.
To understand lucid dreaming, we need to understand why people dream to begin with. A dream is a collection of thoughts, images and other stimuli that are brought on by your subconscious. It’s not as simple as thinking while sleeping and academics have argued about why we dream for decades.
Some of the theories thrown around include cleaning out all the jumbled thoughts you had so you can start the next day fresh. Or dreams being an automatic way of associating emotions and thoughts, giving you a fresh perspective. . Whatever the reason, dreaming is very different from lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is simply: knowing you are in a dream while you dream. It’s a moment of realization that doesn’t come often, at least to most people. Most often, lucid dreaming only involves awareness.
It’s a skill that can be learned and some people take it far enough to exert control in their dreams. There are techniques and even technologies like sleep masks with lights and sounds to help ‘cue’ you into lucidity. It sounds fun and it’s pretty cool, but what’s the benefit?
Why lucid dreaming happens is a tough question. We could be passing through various ‘depths’ of unconsciousness, if you will. At some point, our active mind may float closer to waking, either by chance or because of your mental state. What are the implications of being conscious while dreaming though?
Some have begun to use lucid dreaming as a form of stress management.
Depressed people often sleep more to escape their unhappy lives. So the effect of remembering and being aware inside your dreams increases the comfort they give.
Lucid dreaming is also used with people recovering from trauma or suffering paralysis. It’s thought that by practicing a skill or movement while dreaming, your brain reinforces the neural connections.
Some want to become a dedicated lucid dreamer, or oneironaut. Others may benefit from some self-analysis and reflection. Either way, we’ve barely grasped the power of the mind and there’s a whole world inside ourselves, just waiting to be explored. The question is: Are you ready?