Your Avatar and You.

A major appeal of lucid dreaming is the fact that you can be whoever you want to be. Many meditative practices revolve around the recognition of a distinction between the mind and the body. It can be very healthy to give yourself the perspective of a new shell, even if it’s only subjectively.

What’s great about dreams is that your avatar, the physical representation of yourself in your dreams, is only limited by your imagination. Manipulating the dimensions of your avatar is the usual way people experience this, whether they become as tall as a building or thin as a crack in a door. However, more abstract things are entirely possible through dreams such as taking the form of an animal or the wind.

In a dream that I had just last night I took the part of a strain of seaweed being pulled along by the crashing waves of a beach. With some effort I was able to direct the aim of my drifting in order to sting the main antagonist of the dream with the jellyfish eggs tangled within me.  Admittedly this was an extremely strange dream for me, but at the same time I was glad that I had trained myself to recognize this dream’s insight.

The forms you take can be extremely interesting to observe. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recognize that you’re an active participant in your dreams and it can also be difficult to know what you look like. Thus, the two goals to avatar recognition are knowing that you are and knowing what you are.

Knowing that you are is the basis of all lucid dreaming and comes with practice but there are some checks you can do to make it easier. Looking at text such as watches, books or phones which tend to look garbled in dreams is usually a good way to assert consciousness. Another method is to focus your energy on any specific object or person in the dream. The “anchor” typically works well for this. Focusing on something allows you to control the flow of the dream and prove your presence to yourself. There are many more methods, but these are a couple that came to mind.

Knowing what you are is where the fun part comes in. Try to take note of the perspective from which you’re viewing the dream. Are you way down at the feet of the people around you? Are you looking them right in the eyes? Or are you soaring far above them like a bird?  Mirrors are usually a lucky find in dreams as they force your mind to either create a picture of your avatar or leave it blank and give you a blatant clue to the fact that you’re dreaming. If you’re able to catch a hint of what you are try to act the part. Ebb and flow like a wave, stretch your wings like a bird or simply just breathe.

Oftentimes it’s only in retrospect that you can recognize what your role was within the dream you just had. Even if you find that you were just yourself most of the time it’s a huge step forward to know even that. Keep on trying and see what you’ll become.

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

 

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Movies: The second showing is free!

If there’s one thing I’ve really come to notice about movies is how directly they influence dreams. TV shows and series can also have an influence, but movies are unique in the ability to affect your perspective in just 2-3 hours. I’d like to take a quick look at how and why movies imprint themselves in this way.

It’s late in the evening and you have a few hours to kill before bed. You curl up into your favorite recliner or just a theater seat that has no one in front so you can put your feet up. The next few hours it’ll be you and a screen, sometimes you’ll be so enraptured that you’ll  forget you’re even watching a movie. As though in a trance, you’ll dote on every quirk of the characters and twist of the plot.

Personally I’ve come to dislike watching too many movies as I feel their affect is too pronounced on my dreams. But that doesn’t mean that movies are a negative influence for lucid dreamers. In fact learning to manipulate the power of movies can give you a useful tool to have all sorts of dreams.

It’s common sense for most to think that a scary movie like The Exorcist or Insidious: Chapter 2 will cause you to have nightmares. In just the same strain of thought movies like Spirited Away or Memento can cause fanciful and thought provoking dreams. Similarly, its entirely possible to have dreams of movie universes like the Star Wars trilogy or The Avengers by having a movie marathon (bring a friend!).

I think a lot of the reason that movies become so imprinted on our subconscious is because our mind is processing the bulk of new information presented to us. The same affect happens when we read a new book, or go to a vacation somewhere exotic. The only difference being that while reading a new book or traveling may take half a day or more, movies pack all that newness into 3 hours. Superheros, demons and space stations are not things that we see on a daily basis, so our minds asses those images by reanalyzing them in our dreams. At least that’s my theory.

So why does it matter? Well it matters because fictional or not the characters in movies become symbols in our dreams long after we watch those movies. By contrasting what a movie character originally is versus our relationship with that character in our dreams we can make some interesting interpretations.

For example, I recently had a dream where Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean was sprinting around my apartment complex cutting into ship sails fastened to the side of the building with a scimitar. I wondered if I should stop him but he was running way too fast to catch. Soon he had ripped every sail attached to the apartment complex, leaving it woefully unable to go to sea again.

The unbelievably fast saboteur is quite different from the drunken free-spirited pirate from the movies. This might represent a feeling of being held back by those that once seemed fun to me. Or maybe something else entirely. What do you think?

What movie do you think has the best atmosphere?

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Manifestation vs. Manipulation

I often get asked by friends what kind of control I have in my dreams. I’ll usually answer with a practiced bit of how I have basic decision-making abilities, and sometimes can make myself fly and similar fun things. Here they usually ask if I’ve placed them in a lucid dream, and if so what happened to them.

First and foremost, its usually best not to tell people about their dream-projections as it’s a quick route to awkward conversation. Ignore this rule if their dream-projection did something particularly hilarious.

However on a more serious note, this question prompts an interesting debate about the difference between manifestation and manipulation in lucid dreams. Both are definitely possible in dreams, but the levels of difficulty are completely polarized. In this post I hope to distinguish the two in a way that will lead you to have more realistic expectations of your dream world.

Many expect that any amount of lucid dreaming practice will lead to the ability to manifest objects in your dreams. This includes generating fireballs, creating dreamscapes and summoning characters from your everyday life. It is very dissuading to newcomers when they find that this is not indeed the case in most recalled dreams. While it is possible, it is in fact the exception for lucid dreams. More often than not manipulation will be the primary way in which you exert conscious control over your dreams.

Manipulation in dreams works very much like real-world manipulation. You are presented with a situation and you have the ability to react in any way you choose. In the real world an example might be a rainy day, and whether you choose to stay-in or brave the rain. In the dream world an example might be an infinite white space, and whether you choose to sit-down or go exploring.

Especially in the early stages of recalling your dreams this will be the primary way in which you take an active role in your dreams. Try to take note of the decisions made in a dream in your dream journal. Anything from “there was a fork in the road, I turned left,” to “the man asked me to take a bite of the burger, instead I slapped it out of his hand” counts for this exercise. During the dream try to recognize points where you feel the power to make a decision. Try doing the exact opposite of what you think would be a good idea. Although you may end up in some particularly interesting situations, this is a good way to practice the power of manipulation.

Manifestation is a feasible goal for lucid dreamers, but it is in fact a lofty one. It is also definitely NOT the only way to have fun with lucid dreams, so acquiring this ability should not be a stressful process. The ability to manifest characters and objects in your dreams comes with a lot of practice.

As a disclaimer, I do not have the ability to manipulate everything in my dreams (nor would I want such an ability) so this is entirely theorized.

The easiest things to manifest in your dreams are things that you are very familiar with and have no definite dimensions. An example of this would be the quintessential ball of fire. The hardest things to manifest are people. Yes, that includes all of you inquisitive friends of mine. While it is easy to fling an object it is much harder to create a anatomically correct human being with a proper persona. Go figure.

My recommendation for working towards manifestation in your dreams is to recreate the simplest thing you can imagine. The “anchor” you chose (see my post Lucid Dreaming: The Basics) is a great start. Maybe create a list of objects that you check off each time you successfully manifest them. Something like this would work: Anchor object > pen > book > sandwich > ??? > fireball. Just a warning, on occasion trying to manifest even the simplest objects may wake you up as a result of the conscious effort you’re exerting.

I want to stress the fact that manifestation is NOT the only goal of lucid dreaming, and the inability to do so should not be seen as a failure on the lucid dreamer’s part. Relish in the power you do have in your dreams, you may find that even the smallest manipulations can bring great insight.

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Lucidity practice on a limited time schedule

Whether it be work, school or sport we all have our own reasons to say we’re busy people. Busy as you may be there is a way to manage your time so that you can have all the benefit of lucid sleep with less overall time-consumption.

Consistency outweighs accuracy when it comes to keeping a dream journal. I recommend referring to my previous post about how to manage your dream journals titled  “The Tools of the Trade.” Yet regardless of availability, consistency with something as seemingly trivial as keeping a dream journal is still very difficult for most people.

The rules of taking notes on your dreams are the same as taking notes for any other occasion. Think business meeting or lecture hall: Get the key points down, pay attention and fill in the smaller facts later. I’ve known people that have tried different focused organization approaches to their journal keeping such as organization charts, The Cornell Method (http://www.alextech.edu/en/collegeservices/SupportServices/StudySkills/LectureNoteTaking/MethodsOfNoteTaking.aspx) and just plain speed-sketching.

So you woke up and have a good idea of your dream last night but you have about an hour to bathe and eat breakfast before work, clearly you don’t have the time to get every fact you remember down so where do you start?

Well this is up to personal preference but for me the order of importance for facts from my dream goes as follows: Characters > Tones (like brooding or whimsical) > Settings > Quotes > Storyline. The reason I put storyline last is for the purpose of keeping things easy to document for this exercise. For your end-product it’s ideal to have as much storyline as possible but when you don’t have time to get through it all don’t strain yourself. It’s better to focus on preserving broader topics such as tones as opposed to only writing the beginning of a full storyline and then forgetting what the rest of the story is when you come back to your journal later.

I know I have mentioned that doodling in your journal is recommendable in the past but I’d like to stress the point again. You’d be surprised at how even bad drawings can give you a fantastic idea of how certain people or places looked in your dream when words are hard to find. The point of the dream journal is to exercise your brains ability to remember the events of your REM sleep, not to win the spelling bee. Some things are just hard to describe in dreams, its just a fact of life, don’t be ashamed to get some charcoal on your hands with some good old fashioned drawing.

The tools of the trade

The tools of the trade

My series of half-completed journals available to me daily. The leftmost journal is usually in my book bag, the middle journal (the largest one) sits on my nightstand and that last journal goes in the living room for easy access.

The reason I bring this up as my first post is that before you do attempt any sort of lucid dreaming it is critical to grant yourself the availability to the tools necessary to train yourself. I’ve seen too many people try to get into lucid dreaming only to get frustrated within a week because they feel like they’re not remembering their dreams. Often this is a symptom of the fact that dream memories are very fickle and can quickly fade if not remembered actively.
It’s completely normal for memories of dreams to pop up in the middle of the day, only to be lost in the tumult of life’s hurdles. It’s with that reality in mind that I advise the practical solution I have taken to journal keeping. My motto is to purchase smaller journals to carry along my travels while a larger journal near my bed acts as a “home base” for the more interesting dreams. Smaller journals like the black ones pictured on the left and right side can sell for as low as under $10 for packs of three at your local office supply store. Oh and make sure to buy some pens while you’re at it of course. 🙂
The on-the-go journals can act as notepads for the large at-home journal or you can just fill them up with dreams as mine are. Keeping a strict sequential organization of your dreams is hardly important if you’re struggling with just writing the dreams at all.
In my experience many of my friends will be able to keep up with keeping a dream journal for a couple of weeks and then get into the habit of just remembering the dreams until they get home. This leads to a stressful backlog of dream memories that inevitably ends up causing the person to get unmotivated.
My humble opinion on the subject is if you just use on-the-go journals to little-by-little scribble as much as you can remember about dreams you’ve had you’ll be better resistant to the woes of loss of moral. While you wait for class, eat lunch or just decide to zone out try to write and doodle any dream recollections you might have. Don’t be ashamed to be a day or two late on writing your dreams, just write them!
That’s all I have to say for now, hope this will be an acceptable first post for you all.