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lucid dreaming

...in order to dream, You gotta still be asleep.
--Bob Dylan, "When You Gonna Wake Up?" (1979)

The seventh type of dreams, which I call lucid dreams, seems to me the most interesting and worthy of the most careful observation and study. Of this type I experienced and wrote down 352 cases in the period between January 20, 1898, and December 26, 1912.

In these lucid dreams the reintegration of the psychic functions is so complete that the sleeper remembers day-life and his own condition, reaches a state of perfect awareness, and is able to direct his attention, and to attempt different acts of free volition. Yet the sleep, as I am able confidently to state, is undisturbed, deep and refreshing. I obtained my first glimpse of this lucidity during sleep in June, 1897, in the following way. I dreamt that I was floating through a landscape with bare trees, knowing that it was April, and I remarked that the perspective of the branches and twigs changed quite naturally. Then I made the reflection, during sleep, that my fancy would never be able to invent or to make an image as intricate as the perspective movement of little twigs seen in floating by. ---Frederik van Eeden, A Study of Dreams (1913)

Lucid dreaming is dreaming while being aware that you are dreaming. Lucid dreaming advocates strive to control and guide their dreams.  Some desire to avoid recurring nightmares. Others desire fun. Some New Age lucid dreamers, however, believe that lucid dreaming is essential for self-improvement and personal growth.

Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., claims that lucid dreaming is

a priceless treasure that belongs to each of us. This treasure, the ability to dream lucidly, gives us the opportunity to experience anything imaginable -- to overcome limitations, fears, and nightmares, to explore our minds, to enjoy incredible adventure, and to discover transcendent consciousness.

Ordinary dreams give a hint of these possibilities, through their regular violation of the rules of waking life, and their occasional offering of insights into our lives. The art of dreaming is a learnable skill, and I believe the highest level of that skill is found in lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams are dreams in which you know that you are dreaming, and are aware that the dream is your own creation.

With lucidity comes an astonishing, exhilarating feeling of freedom -- the knowledge that you can do anything, unbound by any laws of physics or society. One of the first joys of many lucid dreamers is flying: soaring like a bird, freed from the restraints of gravity. From there, people can go on to discover the vast power of lucid dreaming for transforming their lives.

If you need help with your lucid dreaming, you can purchase books, tapes, scientific publications and induction devices, such as the DreamLight ($1,200), the DreamSpeaker ($150) or the NovaDreamer ($275), from LaBerge's Lucidity Institute. For $2,000 you can attend a seminar at a beautiful tropical resort where you can learn all the latest techniques to help you tap into your "unconscious mind," an absolute necessity for living the good life. For an additional $35 you can even get 2.0 units of nursing continuing education credit through the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Why Dr. LaBerge doesn't just advocate daydreaming to do all this wonderful transcendent stuff is explained by Frederik van Eeden in A Study of Dreams (1913). When we're awake, we are logical and feel restricted by conventional social rules and oppressive laws of nature. Our imaginations would be too repressed by our waking consciousness to allow us to let go and dream of such things as flying with spirits.

For some, the main goal of lucid dreaming is to have lucid dreams that are indistinguishable from out-of-body experiences (OBEs). Flying free from the restraints of gravity in one's dreams takes some people out of their bodies to hover and watch themselves dreaming lucidly.

Some skeptics do not believe that there is such a state as lucid dreaming (Malcolm 1959). Skeptics don't deny that sometimes in our dreams we dream that we are aware that we are dreaming. What they deny is that there is special dream state called the 'lucid state.' The lucid dream is therefore not a gateway to "transcendent consciousness" any more than nightmares are.

Self-awareness resides in the prefrontal cortex, which shows reduced activity during sleep for most people most of the time. This reduced activity may well be why we can dream of the most bizarre things without being aware of how bizarre they are until we wake up and remember them. Perhaps lucid dreaming is possible for some people because their frontal lobes don't rest during sleep.

See also dreams and out-of-body experiences.

reader comments

further reading

books and articles

Blackmore, Susan. Consciousness: An Introduction (Oxford University Press 2003).

Gackenbach, Jayne, and Stephen Laberge (Editor) Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brain : Perspectives on Lucid Dreaming (Plenum, 1988).

Green, Celia Elizabeth and Charles McCreery. Lucid Dreaming: The Paradox of Consciousness During Sleep (Routledge 1995).

Hobson J. Allan (2002). Dreaming: An Introduction to the Science of Sleep. Oxford University Press.

Malcolm, Norman. Dreaming (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1959).


Lucid Dreaming: Awake in Your Sleep? Susan Blackmore in Skeptical Inquirer 1991, 15, 362-370.

Out-of-Body Experiences vs.Lucid Dreams by Bob Peterson

The Lucidity Institute

Lucid Dreaming - share your dreams with other dreamers

Diary from Lucid Dream Camp By Keelin

Through the Mirror - Beyond Dreaming



BellaOnline - Lucid Dreaming links


new Lucid dreaming: Rise of a nocturnal hobby For the man or woman who has nothing...lucid dreaming can make your dreams come true.....[/new]

Last updated 27-Oct-2015

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