Lucid Dreaming via Nightmares
It began with nightmares. Severe and chronic. Without alleviation I imagined they would steal far too much of my childhood. It did much more than that…
An entirely separate world was created. The zombies from Romero’s Night of the Living Dead waited outside my door. They came every night. So did vicious and uncontrollable dogs with realistic bites I felt until I physically shocked myself awake by jumping out of bed. I drowned for several years after that in disturbingly deep black waters. Blindness followed. I could only sense people and things in the dream world.These nightmares persisted for many years, switching positions of rank and degrees of intensity, but always they remained part of my other life.
Although the nightmares were insufferable because they don’t let you sleep, or dream of running through fields of dandelions they served a distinct and perhaps priceless purpose. They helped me to wake up inside the dream. With the suffering came the courage to face the dark side of the mind, to open up and feel the texture of the dream.
Upon waking, the zombies still scared me, the dark waters were still deep, the blindness everlasting, but I was determined to discover the source of the fear. Little did I know…my nightmares had turned into lucid dreams.
Of course, you don’t need nightmares to learn how to have a lucid dream, but it certainly sped up the process for me. There are several well known techniques. Over the years, I’ve tried them all with some variations. After much practice, it got easier and became habitual to plan my dreams before going to bed.
Is it worth it? Well, if you’re a writer and you learn how to hone in this skill, you’ll not only crack open the unconscious, but you’ll give yourself a limitless platform in which to explore the art of fiction.
Here are a few things I like to do as soon as I recognize I’m dreaming:
- Make sure to maintain a calm attitude toward the dream. This usually entails deep breathing, a kind of centering.
- Think about where my body is sleeping. For some reason knowing that I am sleeping comfortably allows me to enjoy the dream just a little bit more.
- As a precaution, I ask a dream figure to remind me that I’m dreaming after a few minutes. Suzy, a recurring dream figure spikes my drink to help me achieve lucidity.
- Quietly study the details of the dream, i.e. seemingly mundane objects like chairs or doors. I have a tendency of running my hand against walls wherever I go (a neurotic quirk I acquired when I helped my uncles build a wall in my mother’s house), but this translated well in my dreams. Now, whenever I find myself touching random objects or walls, I recognize I’m dreaming. Touching tree bark works well, too.
- I repeat, “This is a dream.” I say it under my breath over and over again. It’s a type of quiet acceptance.
- Those zombies, mean dogs, and dark waters always trigger lucidity. Formerly elements of my chronic nightmares, I’ve learned to recognize these as my personal dream signs. You have your own. The trick is to recognize the pattern and repetition in your dreams.
As far as lucid dreaming goes, I believe it’s an invaluable tool for any writer. Whether it’s the case of writer’s block, or figuring out the ending to the story, plot or developing character, learning how to remember your dreams and becoming lucidly aware gives any writer the chance to explore the depths of the mind.
Are you a writer? Does dreaming influence your writing? If you’re out there, give me a shout!