Dream Dancing ©: Lucid Dreaming to Support Self Awareness and Change
“The key difference between a typical dream and a lucid dream is simply one of awareness. An average dream occurs like a David Lynch movie, in evocative fragments. We experience the event, intimately, feeling terror, anxiety, or lust, whatever the dream provides. But we remain locked in the idea that everything we see is externally real. . . . The lucid dream stands this entirely on its head. In a lucid dream, we gain awareness of our true state. And lucidity strikes like lightening, rendering everything in the dream . . . in detail that often transcends waking perception . . . and we can choose our actions accordingly.” (Volk, 2011, p. 206)
Choosing the actions in a dream, or redirecting the action in a dream, lucid dreaming offers a chance to be more readily open to change or make more empowered choices in the day state. It happens with a realization of the power of choice where the ego can step aside in the dream state as the physical functions and memories attached to the ego in the day state are paralyzed while dreaming. That’s then carried through to the day time where that feeling of empowerment carries through. The somatic (the physical reacting to the mind) response is paralyzed in the sleeping state of the dreamer so that the typical reactions are also paralyzed and the dreamer can choose a new experience. “Asleep vision (dreaming) is perception that is not tied down to anything in the real world; waking perception is something like dreaming with a little more commitment to what’s in front of you” (Eagleman, 2011, p. 45). Finding that balance between the two states (waking and dreaming), perceptions change along with judgments, beliefs, and old coping mechanisms.
“If we let the day world serve the night world, experiences may come about that feel so intensely real and essential that they directly effect the quality of our vitality, thereby changing dreamers in a fundamental way. It is as though importing feelings from our day life makes dreamwork into a still where, as with alcohol, raw emotion is distilled into a strong spirit.” (Bosnak, 1996, p. 54)
Through my experience of lucid dreaming and the sensations I have upon waking, I know that if we let the night world also serve the day world we change in fundamental ways. The distillation that Bosnak speaks of here is about the interactive process between day and night, not simply in one direction or the other, but each affecting each other since perception is not tied into only day or night states. The sleep state—as the realm of the imaginal—and the waking day state—as utilizer of the intellectual— may balance through lucid dreaming as an interactive process. Lucid dreaming not only balances the two concepts, but in doing so, also offers ways to better understand the self.
Bosnak, R. (1996). Tracks in the wilderness of dreaming: Exploring interior landscape through practical dreamwork. New York: Delacorte Press.
Eagleman, D. (2011). Incognito: The secret lives of the brain. New York: Vinage Books.
Volk, S. (2011). Fringeology: How I tried to explain away the unexplainable—and couldn’t. New York, NY: Harper One.