I had a dream where I was aware of my consciousness during the dream. In other words, I was aware of my awareness while I was dreaming. This changed everything that I had ever thought about the subject of dreaming, and eventually I found out that I had been Lucid Dreaming.

In the 1890's, psychotherapist Frederik van Eeden began a study of his own dreams by keeping a journal that allowed him to categorize the kind of dreams that he was having. In an attempt to classify the different forms of dreams that he experienced and observed for a period of 16 years or more, he documented nine different kinds of dreams. His paper entitled "A Study of Dreams" was published in 1913 in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research and remains a classic of dream research. Eeden is credited for having coined the phrase "lucid dream".

BEING an Oneironaut

An Oneironaut is an explorer of dream worlds. Oneironauts train their minds to recognize they are dreaming while they are dreaming in order to become as lucid during their dreams as you are right now in waking life.

When I learned about Lucid Dreaming, I also learned about psychophysiologist Dr. Stephen LaBerge, the pioneer of lucid dreaming research. Not only did he invent one of the most popular lucid dreaming techniques, but he has also led many scientific studies on the subject. LaBerge’s work has helped researchers discover therapeutic benefits of lucid dreaming. It may be useful in treating conditions, like PTSD, recurring nightmares, and anxiety.

I have always been fascinated by dreams...and the power they have in our lives.

Now, when I dream --and especially with lucid dreaming-- I have gotten to the point where I am analyzing my dreams AS I dream them. My dreams are full of archetypal symbols...anything from climbing the side of steep cliffs in snow, to having discussions with tornados, using rainbows as bridges to walk on, and struggling through churning floodwaters rushing out to a shallow sea. I try to use visualization as I'm dreaming to actually influence the dream itself.

To become a proficient lucid dreamer (to know I am dreaming while still in the dream) I attempt to use recall techniques immediately after I wake up every day. Since I have many recurring dreams and/or often dream of specific symbols, I am learning to use the symbols as clues with which to associate the awareness that I am dreaming. I often ask myself "what am I supposed to remember about talking to a tornado?" and then I can remember that I only talk to them when I'm dreaming!

Also, I often have flying dreams and nightmares and I can use these unusual (and impossible!) dreams to associate the awareness that they happen only when I'm dreaming. I know that working with symbols while I'm dreaming is very exciting and is one of the most promising areas of my lucid dream research. For example, when I have nightmares, if I realize that I'm dreaming, I can ask the attackers in my nightmares to identify themselves. "Who are you?" I ask, "What do you want?" The dream character may answer me in some cryptic way or reveal something so that the dream itself may metamorphose into a related symbol or representation.

Symbol of transition. Bridges take us from one location to another, usually across an (emotional) body of water. If you dream of bridges, you may be in transition in your life. Do you successfully cross the bridge? Bridges that are very high above the ground suggest “lofty” career goals and major arenas of transition—crossing to new heights. Bridges also can symbolize the transition between life and death.

Climbing is a common metaphor symbolizing an attempt to reach new social, spiritual, or financial status in one’s life. Climbing a tree may indicate an attempt to “expand your horizons.” Climbing a ladder may reflect social or professional ambitions. (The ladder of success.) Climbing a mountain may reflect a spiritual quest, or search for eternal values. A difficult climb up a mountain reflects feelings that one’s life path, currently, is difficult. The dreamer is “climbing uphill.”

This is just the first chapter of my becoming an Oneironaut, but I'm sure that this will be a profound part of my life from now on.

I've been flying in my dreams!

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  • Paul Alan Bley

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