I think last night I took some of my real beginning steps to lucid dreaming.
Let me briefly summarize what lucid dreaming is. It is a highly aware form of dreaming in which you have complete knowledge that you are dreaming and can willfully direct the course of events and happenings in your dream. This art can be practised.
I think I came across this phenomenon (among many other delightful things) while roaming about on StumbleUpon. I tried the exercises on the websites a long time, perhaps a year or two, ago, and I think they worked a bit. They instructed that I keep a notebook, a dream journal, handy on the bed as I go to sleep. If I wake up in the middle of a dream, I was to jot down whatever I could remember in the notebook.
I had dreamt of the death of a close relative. I woke up and wrote down in the notebook, sleepily, just the name of the relative, because I really didn’t have the strength or the will to write any more. Then I went back to sleep.
I woke in the morning to discover I’d never even tried out the plan of keeping a notebook on my bed. The whole thing had been a dream. But I remembered clearly which relative I had dreamed of as dying.
So I guess that was probably my very first step to lucid dreaming, a long time back. Then the next step was last night, or what I suspect as early this morning. (It’s weird how you still preserve a sense of time while you sleep. Maybe it’s a false, distorted sense, but nevertheless a considerably clear sense.) I’ll try to describe to you the dream I had in all the detail I can master.
I had many dreams last night, all very confused and possibly interwoven. I’ll skip the irrelevant ones and get to the one that was important.
It was a remote, wild place, possibly somewhere in the mountains. A storm was raging at night and it was raining and very muddy all around. There was either some natural or man-made calamity going on, and we were stuck and needed to get out of there. I vaguely remember that my mother and sister were there.
I think I was outside on the street in front of a wooden bench of some small tea-shop in the middle of this, when I remembered about lucid dreaming.
The very next thing I remember is that I was lying flat, face down on the ground in a comfortable position, and was feeling as if I was being sucked downwards in a strong sudden whoosh. It was a floating, weightless sensation as if I were swimming effortlessly on water, at the same time that I was sinking very fast downwards in response to some great force pulling me in. It was a very passive, light sensation, like you have when you have downed some glasses.
I was tremendously happy. I remembered an interview of a guy who’d just been able to dream lucidly and was very happy. (It was a real interview I had watched in a BBC video in my laptop. See, that’s how in lucid dreaming you are much more conscious and can access your conscious memory like you normally do. You don’t experience the reduction of consciousness or mental abilities that you usually have in a dream.) I was happy, for I knew this was happening because I had identified that I was in a dream, and as an immediate consequence was being sucked out of it. I think my flat, face down posture was actually my awareness of my own body that was sleeping on the bed, dreaming. So, my first lucid dream, I thought happily.
I started feeling an increasing pressure on top of me, though, particularly on my head, as I kept sinking like that. As if I were going down deep into water and the pressure on top of me was building. I tried to keep calm, telling myself that this is all in the dream. No matter how bad this gets, you’re actually all fine on a bed, sleeping, and no real bodily harm will be done. Keep calm, I told myself, but panic was rising.
Suddenly I was out of the sensation. But I wasn’t on my bed. I was standing in a brightly lit, expensively decorated, majestic corridor, like in some palace. It didn’t seem weird at that time that I didn’t wake up on my bed.
The corridor had no doors or windows opening laterally. It was narrow, and just went on forwards, pillar after pillar, very brightly lit, until it ended at a narrow vertical piece of wall. At the foot of this wall there was a very expensively decorated, majestic trunk.
I approached the trunk and was looking at it. I think I also crouched and touched it.
Then I think the dream ended or something. I think what I felt was that my sleep was getting lighter and I was gaining waking consciousness. You know when at the end of a dream you’re waking up and you know you’re conscious but you still try to continue the dream, adding to it consciously but it’s not as much fun any more? I think that’s what was happening. I was disappointed.
I told myself, ‘you need to get out of this. For that, you have to open your eyes.’ I had done this before when I was on the operation table for my fractured wrist and under sedative drugs. That was one hell of a trip I’ll talk about some other time.
And sure enough, as I opened my very heavy eyes with a lot of deliberation, I realized that I rose at once from all the confused layers of dreams and saw the bedsheet under me. White with interweaving patterns of green. It was a calculated, deliberate, forced action, not very pleasing, to have to wake like that. But it was very real. I could tell that I was now awake and my head was working clearly.
I was sleepy still though. Nevertheless I tried to analyze my dreams a bit. I realized that the first bit, being sucked out of that dream within a dream, was closer to lucid dreaming. I also realized that I had ‘woken’ from it into another dream which was much less lucid, in the sense that I wasn’t as conscious in it. It was very vague and I wasn’t directing the course of events or thinking too much by myself or making decisions. It had been more like watching TV. And I also realized that waking from that hadn’t been like lucid dreaming at all. The dream had just faded away and I had slowly woken up, trying to continue it using my conscious self, which is not lucid dreaming at all.
I was disappointed. I think I went back to sleep.
I woke up much later. I was on a blue, purple and red bedsheet. I checked it carefully. I couldn’t believe it. There is no white and green bedsheet in the house, nor do I remember having slept on one. This bedsheet, though, I remembered.
I think my mother was waking me up. It was midday. There was a lot of sun around. I realized that the first lucid-like dream, the second vague dream, and the third very conscious, very real, waking up and analysis, had all been dreams. Dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. Four layers. I stared at my mother’s face for a while, I think. Then I remembered to ask myself one of the lucid dreaming exercise questions: ‘Is this a dream?’ Because I was seriously not sure any more how long this would continue.
Fortunately, that’s where it stopped. It’s the same blue-purple bedsheet on which I am sitting right now as I write this. But it was one hell of an experience. I am looking forward to more adventures soon. I am pretty sure lucid dreaming works, and I will see this to the end.
Have you ever had any unusual experiences with dreams? Let me know; it will be interesting.