What distinguishes lucid dreaming from dreaming? What makes a lucid dream – lucid? Why explore and develop this skill? How could it contribute to better health and well-being?
To begin exploring this, let us first land upon a story shared in the Zhuangzi, by the master Zhuang.
In the “Butterfly Dream”, Zhuang Zhou dreams of being a butterfly, happily fluttering around. He awakens from this vivid dream and – pauses, wonders – is he Zhuang Zhou who dreamt of being a butterfly? Or is he a butterfly, dreaming that he is Zhuang Zhou?
“The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zhou is a dream, recalled — and a portal through which we can move between the concepts of dreaming and lucid dreaming.
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
Psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge specializes in the scientific study of lucid dreaming. He describes lucid dreaming as “fully reflective consciousness during unequivocal (REM) sleep” — and also simply: “dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming.”
When you become aware that you are dreaming, myriad new possibilities emerge in your dreams. Applications being explored by lucid dreamers include: healing themselves, clearing up nightmares, problem-solving, increasing their playfulness and joy, creativity — e.g., creative writing, rehearsing to improve in public speaking, artistic performances or sports; spiritual practices, transcendence.
The term “lucid dream” was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden in his 1913 “Study of Dreams”. Dr. Eeden believed in carefully observing and studying dreams and also became an experienced lucid dreamer. He rejected the idea set forth by the German poet Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) that “we are near waking when we dream we are dreaming.” For Dr. Eeden, “lucid dreams occur in deep sleep and do not as a rule end in waking up, unless I wish it and do it by an act of volition.”
Could it be that the poet was referring to something beyond the literal meaning? Perhaps he was hinting at transcendence made more accessible while awake. Dreaming and lucid dreaming; lucid consciousness while asleep and while awake.
We were given the programming ages ago to “suspend disbelief” – in order to believe something that isn’t true – so the story goes, to enjoy fiction. Millennia later, along with the benefits, that has left most people generally focused externally, watching the world, attached to its apparent material realities. It has weakened (or disconnected many from) inner creative forces. That, of course, is also reflected in the degree of dream recall, the quality of dreams, and levels of lucidity.
What may best distinguish lucid dreaming from dreaming is a skill that develops in lucid dreaming: to consciously navigate between your lucid dreams and the world you inhabit with others, weaving more and more intentionality and coherence between them.
Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you; when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.Barbara Marciniak
“The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zhou is a dream, recalled. It is also a portal through which we can move between the concepts of dreaming and lucid dreaming. The portal is found in the pause, in that suspension of disbelief and suspension of belief. That’s where we can make choices at a higher level of consciousness and find ways to transform ourselves and our environments.❂
For more information on lucid dreaming:
Video – How Lucid Dreaming Really Works
Feature photo by Saeeed Karimi
The information, materials, and content in this post and on this website are for general educational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or to serve as a substitute for professional medical consultations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare practitioners before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness routine or other wellness program.