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Metaphysics & Psychology

You Will Want to Learn Lucid Dreaming After Reading This

So you know the psychological definition of lucid dreaming and how it’s all supposed to work – but what do lucid dreams feel like?

Years ago, before I had my first lucid dream, I had a very specific idea about what a lucid dream would feel like. I thought it would be very intense and magical and perhaps a bit spooky. Turns out I was right on all fronts.

But there is a heck of a lot more about the sensation and perception of lucid dreams that I have learned about since then. While no two lucid dreams are the same (and while it’s no substitute for experiencing a lucid dream first-hand) I have tried to define my own experience of a lucid dream for the uninitiated.

I’ve broken it down into physical, mental and emotional components:

The Physical Experience

Your physical experience is made up of sensory interpretations, like the feel of the ground underneath your feet, or the smell of the ocean. In waking life, this information is received via the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. The stimulus is real and your brain interprets the data.

In dreams, this information is synthesized by the mind – from memory and imagination. And yet, when lucid, it can feel just as “real” and vivid as waking life. Sometimes that’s very intense and pleasurable (which is why many beginners go in search of lucid dream sex) or sometimes it can be dulled down (when you lose lucidity).

Here are some examples of physical lucid dream experiences:

Eating in Lucid Dreams

It may be a cliche that women love chocolate – but it’s a cliche for a reason.

Eating in Lucid Dreams. So naturally, I have eaten some truly delicious chocolate cake in my lucid dreams.

Imagine the smoothest, richest, creamiest chocolate cake in the world. It’s perfection embodied in a dessert. Now intensify that experience and you’re getting close to lucid dream cake…

When lucid eating, chewing and swallowing takes less time and it’s all about the flavor and texture of the food. What’s more, your taste buds never become accustomed to the flavor so each bite is like your first. And of course there’s no need to feel guilty about consuming unnecessary calories.

While chocolate cake is right up there, you can of course eat anything imaginable in a lucid dream. It can be a favorite childhood meal or even something you’ve never tried before (would that taste be authentic?)

Remember that your expectation of it being totally delicious makes it so. Which means you won’t get gristle in the world’s best beef burger, nor a floppy bit of lettuce. Expectation is why eating in lucid dreams is so awesome.

Flying in Lucid Dreams

Aside from skydivers, base jumpers and other extremists of that ilk, most people have never experienced the physical sensation of flying freely. Yet the lucid dreaming mind simulates it in extraordinary physical detail.

Flying in Lucid Dreams. In my flying dreams, the sense of weightlessness, whooshing and wavering in the air is incredibly authentic (or at least how I imagine it to be). This awareness is critical to the experience, and your mind can even play tricks on you, like suddenly falling and simulating that stomach-dropping feeling.

Your dreaming mind may add more sensations such as feeling the wind in your hair, rain hammering on your skin, or the warmth of the sun on your face. If you have any doubts about your new skills, you may unexpectedly whack into a powerline mid-flight – which brings me to the subject of pain in lucid dreams…

Pain in Lucid Dreams

The lucid dream is co-created by two players: the unconscious dreaming mind (the one that loves surreal symbology) and the conscious self. In normal dreams, the unconscious has basically all control. In lucid dreams, the conscious self steps in and starts to tweak little things as it desires.

Both can technically create pain in lucid dreams, although it’s most likely the unconscious mind that produces this experience. Pain is a result of pre-conceptions and established neural pathways: if you hit your thumb with a hammer, what do you expect? The brain simulates dream pain because this is its reality.

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) by Salvador Dali. So, if you fall onto a bed of spikes in your lucid dream, you might just find out what it feels like to be impaled. But fear not – you can will the pain to stop instantly or even wake yourself up. And I’m sure it won’t be a patch on the real life experience of being impaled.

When I’ve experienced pain in a lucid dream, it was very different from real pain. It was inconsistent with the cause, and stopped abruptly when the dream moved on. What’s more, there was no psychological component, which can make real life pain so much worse.

I have also experienced choking, drowning and dying while in a lucid nightmare and my dream self automatically moved “out-of-body” where it was no longer painful and I could keep observing.

The Mental Experience

Now let’s move to the cognitive experience of lucid dreams: how it feels to be aware, process information, recall memories and mentally control the dream.

Location Awareness in Lucid Dreams

In lucid dreams, your focus is expanded considerably compared to normal dreams, but some aspects are still very different from what you experience in waking life. Location awareness is one of them.

For example, sitting at my desk right now, I am aware of the room around me, the house beyond that, the garden, the village, the New Zealand landscape, and even a sense that I am on planet Earth. I know my location in the grand scheme of things and I know this is a solid, reliable construct.

Dream Awareness. But the lucid dream world is much more fluid. When lucid, I am most often in unfamiliar places which have no GeoTag. I accept this automatically, knowing that I can teleport to a new location any time. It’s as if my brain has no intention of placing my location so instead focuses my awareness only in the immediate vicinity. The best way I can describe it is becoming absorbed in a video game or a movie and forgetting the “real world” exists beyond it.

Of course, with conscious effort, you can recall that your real body is lying in bed. Sometimes, however, such thinking only serves to wake you up prematurely.

But generally (for me, anyway) the default setting is to focus on the pretty colors in in front of my face right now. This is why it’s a good reason to set up a lucid dream intention while awake, because it’s hard for the conscious dreaming mind to imagine new places from scratch. If you have no pre-set intention, just allow the dream to take over and show you an unlimited amount of cool new stuff. This is where the best creativity arises anyway.

Memory in Lucid Dreams

Your memory works differently in the dream world. That’s because large parts of your brain are inactive during sleep and it can be difficult to rouse them, even when you become conscious inside the dreamworld.

In normal dreams, you have little memory of your real life, and sometimes you even have false memories to make the dream scenario fit. Even the memory of the dream itself fails to lock into short term memory very accurately. In other words, your dreaming memory rather sucks.

Lucid dreams are only a notch or two above this. Waking memories can be hard to grasp while lucid, and the lucid dream must be recorded immediately upon waking or you risk losing the detail forever.

The moment I become lucid, I try to recall my lucid dream intention (my goal for the dream). Usually I’ll set this the night before, when I’m going to bed, or earlier in the day during meditation. Sometimes I can’t remember any particular intention, which is frustrating if I had a great one lined up, but I always have a backup plan to simply explore the local dreamscape, ask general probing questions of fellow dream figures, or let the dreaming mind take over.

Long term memory in lucid dreams is also off the radar. Like location awareness, unless you are specifically trying to access a piece of information, the awareness of past memories are simply absent – or out of focus. This is equally true of thinking about the future. My lucid dream self lives in the present moment and cares little for childhood memories or abstract intentions, unless I make deliberate attempts to focus on them.

Dream Control

Dream control is a cognitive aspect of lucid dreaming because it’s all done through willpower and mental focus.

Contrary to popular belief, when you become lucid you don’t automatically have total control over your dream environment. Lucid dreaming only means to have conscious self-awareness within the dream state. Sometimes this means controlling many aspects of it, sometimes just a few key expectations, and sometimes you may choose to relinquish all control altogether.

“The sailor does not control the sea,” as lucid dream researcher Robert Waggoner puts it. You may navigate your ship (consciousness) through the ocean (the dream) but you do not have to consciously populate every dream scene with every leaf and blade of grass and wisp of cloud. The dream populates itself while we consciously frolic within it. Sometimes that means a bird flies of its own accord, or a dream figure behaves autonomously. It is all still classified as lucid dreaming.

Beginners often run into the trap of trying to control major features of the dream with only a partial sense of lucidity. This can be frustrating and disheartening. To overcome this obstacle, employ these tricks for increasing and prolonging your lucidity. Only then can you master full dream control (if you so choose).

When you do exert greater control over the dream, the world is your oyster. You can paint the sky with a sweep of your hand. You can burrow down into the ground and journey to the center of the Earth. You can fight zombies, become Iron Man, or even create an entirely new civilization. Absolutely anything is possible – unless you have a preconceived limiting belief about it.

Dream Control and Expectations. For instance, if I told you it was impossible to fly into the sun in a lucid dream (and you really believed me) and then attempted it, you’d probably hit some kind of psychological roadblock. Perhaps you’d melt and emerge in a new scene. Or perhaps you’d hit a wall like Truman Burbank when he reached the edge of his “world”.

When it comes to dream control, your expectations are paramount. And if you have no conscious expectations of a certain event, your unconscious will fill them in for you, evolving the dream on your behalf.

The Emotional Experience

The intensity of feelings in lucid dreams can be the same, or more intense, as feelings in real life. The main difference you’ll notice is that because you’re having such a jolly wonderful time, the emotions are more along the lines of awe, ecstasy, excitement, lust, gratitude, love and all that other fluffy stuff.

Getting Too Excited

Emotions in Dreams. The big problem with lucid emotions is being overcome with excitement – especially the first few times you achieve lucidity. It’s tempting to jump for joy, shout and tell everyone in your dream that you are in fact dreaming. This is undesirable because it vastly increases your changes of waking up. Besides, in my experience it’s universally true that other dream characters really don’t care that you’ve become lucid anyway. Go figure.

So in your early lucid dreams I recommend taking extra care to remain calm. You can do it. All it takes is the simple acknowledgement right now that you won’t run off on like a raving lunatic.

Eventually you won’t need to ground yourself like this and you can let your emotions run a bit more free. But until you’ve mastered that minimum level of focus required to keep the dream running, just tone down the jubilation.

Heightening The Intensity

Eventually you may start to look for a deeper meaning in your lucid dreams. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll still have plenty of ego-gratifying activities you want to do. But none of it will be too original or paradigm-shifting. That’s when it’s time to turn inwards.

One of the more profound applications of lucid dreaming is to communicate with the dream itself by asking questions. Simply stop what you’re doing and address the dreamscape:

“How can I feel at total peace with myself?”

“How can I find true love?”

“What is the meaning of life?”

“Can you show me a totally original dream?”

Or if you’re really bold: “What is my greatest fear?”

Then let the dream reveal itself.

When you probe your dream self you will very likely start to experience more intense emotions and take-home lessons in your lucid dreams, learning about the true nature of your basest self.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Why do people see the same dreams before they die?

Specialists of the American Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo have been observing patients for 10 years and made a rather intriguing discovery: it turns out that shortly before death, people begin to have the same dreams.

People who have undergone so-called clinical death, that is, a reversible stage of death, which is a kind of transition period between life and biological death, often talk about strange visions. As a rule, their whole life flashes before their eyes, after which they find themselves in a dark tunnel, which ends with a bright light, and some even meet long-dead relatives.

However, a 10-year study by doctors at the Buffalo Hospice and Palliative Care Center led by Christopher Kerr shows that three weeks before death, people begin to have strange visions – the same dreams. Observing more than 13 thousand dying patients during this time, experts have found that 88% of people have incredibly vivid dreams on the eve of their death.

According to patients, in 72% of cases in a dream they communicated with deceased relatives and friends, while experiencing warm feelings. 59% of patients in their last dreams were packing their suitcases or buying tickets – in general, they were going on their last journey. Some were already on the train or on the plane, and sometimes they also found long-dead relatives next to them, with whom they joyfully communicated.

29% of patients also saw their relatives and friends in a dream, but exclusively alive. Finally, 28% observed in their dying dreams various memories from their passing life – certain events that left a pleasant impression. The exception was dying children: most often they dreamed about the deceased pets they recognized. Adults also dreamed, but their little patients could not remember.

Mysterious dreams begin about 10-11 weeks before death, and in 3 weeks their frequency increased rapidly, and the dreams became brighter. Unfortunately, Christopher Kerr and his team cannot explain this phenomenon. Perhaps, on the eve of death, some changes begin to occur in the brain that lead to the appearance of such dreams. One thing is clear: it calms people down and reduces the fear of imminent death.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Wigner’s paradox: what you need to know about the duality of reality?

Quantum mechanics is weird and contrary to common sense. A 2019 study showed that the outcomes of various processes in the quantum world depend on the observer. Back in the 1960s. Eugene Wigner, an American physicist of Hungarian origin, complicated the famous thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat, in which the cat is trapped in a box with poison that is released when a radioactive atom decays. 

Radioactivity is a quantum process, so the story goes that the atom in the box both disintegrated and did not disintegrate at the same time, leaving the unfortunate animal suspended between life and death – the so-called quantum superposition. But how does it feel to be alive and dead at the same time?

Quirks of Quantum Mechanics – Observer Observer

Wigner’s paradox is a complicated experiment of Schrödinger’s cat. Wigner introduced the category of “friends” whereby the cat in the box remains alive.

Quantum paradox

Imagine a person trapped in a laboratory and measuring a quantum system. Wigner argued that it is absurd to say that he exists in superposition (since he simultaneously sees and does not see the decay of an atom) while the laboratory door is closed. Thought experiment shows that things can get very strange if an observer is watching observers.

Quantum physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane (Australia) Nora Tishler and her colleagues conducted a version of Wigner’s experiment, combining a classical thought experiment with another quantum theory – quantum entanglement – a phenomenon that binds particles over huge distances. The researchers also came up with a new theorem that places the strongest constraints on the fundamental nature of reality. The work was published in the journal Nature Physics.

Scientific American quotes theoretical physicist Ephraim Steinberg of the University of Toronto, who was not involved in the study, that the new work is “an important step forward in experimental metaphysics.”

As long as a quantum system is not observed, it does not necessarily have certain properties.

Quantum probability

Until the 1920s, physicists predicted experimental results with confidence. But quantum theory seems to be inherently probabilistic: as long as the properties of a system are not measured, they can span a myriad of values. This superposition only collapses into one state when observing the system, and physicists cannot accurately predict what this state will be. Wigner held the then popular view that consciousness somehow causes the collapse of the superposition. Thus, his hypothetical friend will determine the outcome when he or she takes measurements – and Wigner will never see him or her in superposition.

Since then, this view has gone out of style. “People who study the basics of quantum mechanics are quick to dismiss Wigner’s view as ghostly and vague because it makes observers special,” says David Chalmers, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at New York University. Most physicists today agree that inanimate objects can bring quantum systems out of superposition through a process known as decoherence.

Of course, researchers trying to manipulate complex quantum superpositions in the laboratory may find their hard work being destroyed by fast air particles colliding with their systems. Therefore, they test at ultra-short temperatures and try to isolate the apparatus from vibrations.

Note that several competing interpretations have emerged over the past decades, the most exotic of which is the “many worlds” view that whenever you make a quantum measurement, reality collapses, creating parallel universes. Thus, Wigner’s friend would split into two copies and could actually measure being in superposition outside the laboratory.

An alternative “Bohm” theory (named after physicist David Bohm) states that, at a fundamental level, quantum systems do have certain properties; we simply do not know enough about these systems to accurately predict their behavior. Another intriguing interpretation is called retrocausality. According to her, events in the future affect the past.

The problem is that each interpretation is equally good or bad at predicting the results of quantum tests, so the choice between them is a matter of taste. Nobody knows what this solution is. We don’t even know if the list of possible solutions we have is exhaustive.


Quantum physics is like magic

Other models, called collapse theories, do provide testable predictions. These models rely on a mechanism that causes a quantum system to collapse when it gets too large, while also explaining why cats, humans, and other macroscopic objects cannot be in superposition. Experiments are underway to find signatures of such collapses, but so far researchers have not found anything. Quantum physicists are also putting ever larger objects in a superposition: in 2019, a team in Vienna reported that it was doing this with a molecule of 2,000 atoms.

Most quantum interpretations state that there is no reason why these oversized superposition efforts should not go on forever, suggesting that researchers can design correct experiments in pristine laboratory environments to avoid decoherence.

Collapse theories, however, claim that the limit will be reached one day, no matter how carefully the experiments are prepared.

Observer observer

Tischler and her colleagues were inspired by a new wave of theoretical and experimental work that explored the role of the observer in quantum theory, introducing confusion into the classic Wigner experiment. Suppose you take two particles of light or photons that are polarized in such a way that they can vibrate horizontally or vertically. Photons can also be placed in a superposition vibrating both horizontally and vertically at the same time, just like Schrödinger’s paradoxical Cat can be both alive and dead – but exactly before it is watched.

In general, the researchers once again confirm that quantum physics is akin to magic.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Scientists have created a device that can make dreams lucid

According to statistics, more than eighty percent of people at least once realized themselves in a dream, that is, they understood that they were sleeping. There are various practices of lucid dreaming in the world that allow a person to achieve the ability to control the subconscious, which works in a dream, and through it – radically change his life. All this is difficult and, moreover, unsafe. 

But there are people who are naturally endowed with the gift of lucid dreams, and some of them can even travel through dreams through parallel worlds in which their counterparts live – there is such evidence, we don’t know how true they are …

Photos from open sources

As for the official science, it considers dreams only as a rest of a person (any animal), as a result of which the strength lost during the day is restored. However, the world of dreams is too fantastic for such a narrow materialistic understanding. 

In addition, dreams, as people have noticed since ancient times, are associated not only with our past (memories), but also with the future (prophetic dreams).  The sages have always argued that managing dreams is the key to managing your health, destiny and your life in general.

Photos from open sources

Senoi – a tribe that knows how to control dreams

Even more interesting is that there is a tribe in the world – the Senoi, living in Malaysia, in its most impassable mountain jungle, which does not separate a person’s real life from his dreams. Senoi believe that a person has two souls: one lives in this world, and the other in the world of dreams. Both the one and the other world, according to the Senoi, is real, and that these realities are interconnected. 

Kylton Stewart, one of the researchers of this tribe, who lived among the Senoi for a certain time, proves that health, peacefulness and harmony in the social structure of this people is achieved precisely by the fact that they do not share dream and reality – this is one whole for them. 

Learning this understanding of the world order from birth, hay and hay see lucid dreams, do not forget anything about them, they know how to change everything for the better in dreams (from infancy, a special system of working with dreams is developed and maintained in a child).

Photos from open sources

For example, Stewart writes, in contrast to ordinary people, over the years, hay improves their dreams more and more, excluding any negativity, not to mention the nightmares so inherent in Europeans, thanks to which they achieve complete harmony in real life. All their songs, dances, ceremonies and even their clothes are all taken from dreams and brought to life.

Independent dream researchers have long struggled with this mystery. And the point is not even to understand what a dream is, but in the applied meaning of this secret of nature. It is important to find an opportunity to control dreams, that is, to come up with a mechanism that would easily (without tedious and often fruitless practices) allow a person to see lucid dreams and change something in them.

Dream manipulation device

And now scientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA) seem to have come close to creating a device that allows a person to manipulate their dreams. A team led by neuroscientist Adam Horowitz Haar has developed Dormio, an electronic device that allows you to control the first stage of sleep, when a person’s consciousness is in the so-called hypnagogic state (the borderline state between reality and deep sleep).

Dormio is a dream manipulation device that helps to form individual dream pictures rather than being aware of them and influencing the natural processes of the subconscious. It cannot yet be considered as a tool for lucid dreams, but this method can be successfully used, say, for training, solving some problems, and so on. 

Moreover, as the researchers at MIT assure, complete control over dreams is only a matter of time. And such control will allow solving many problems, primarily those associated with various mental illnesses of a person.

Photos from open sources

However, not all dream researchers were enthusiastic about the achievement of their American colleagues. In their opinion, an invasion of the holy of holies without a full understanding of what dreams are, can have the most sad consequences for a person, it is possible that for society as a whole.

It is no coincidence that in the practice of lucid dreaming, so much attention is paid to safety methods, and the same hay uses a unique system developed by many generations. 

By the way, lucid dreaming gurus argue that dreams cannot be approached from the standpoint of modern science, which constantly wants not to understand God, but to grab him by the beard. It doesn’t hurt to remember how it all ends (atomic bombs, epidemics bursting out of laboratories, widespread natural disasters, and so on).

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