by Robert Waggoner
In 1981, Stephen LaBerge, PhD, reported the scientific evidence validating lucid dreaming, or the capacity to realize within a dream that you are dreaming. Aware within a dream, you have the profoundly magical ability to make choices, direct your awareness and explore the beauty of your dreaming mind. Reading his Psychology Today article on a cold January morning in my university library electrified me – finally someone had provided the proof for lucid dreaming!
My interest in lucid dreaming dates back to 1975, when as a high school student I taught myself how to become consciously aware of dreaming, while in the dream state, using a simple technique I cobbled together. Since that time, I have logged more than 1,000 lucid dreams, and followed the science and practice of lucid dreaming with considerable interest.
My two books seek to help everyone understand and take advantage of this unique and special state of consciousness. Lucid Dreaming – Gateway to the Inner Self (now in its ninth printing) explains the underlying principles of lucid dreaming and the incredible things that an experienced lucid dreamer can do there, while Lucid Dreaming, Plain and Simple (co-authored with Caroline McCready) focuses on beginners with the techniques and science of how to become lucid, stay lucid, and consciously explore.
Why would a person care to lucid dream? For many, its extraordinary nature can bring it to the level of Maslow’s ‘peak experience’. In general, though, experienced lucid dreamers would claim that it allows you to choose from the following goals:
- Experiencing Joy and Freedom,
- Accessing Inner Creativity, and Developing Skills,
- Promoting Emotional Health,
- Promoting Physical Health,
- Exploring the Unconscious and Consciousness,
- Engaging in Spiritual Practices (e.g., meditate within a lucid dream)
Having five or six years of solitary investigation of lucid dreaming (before the evidence emerged in 1980/81) taught me many lessons about the principled nature of the dream state. I began to grasp the underlying rules and principles, as I played around and explored the dream, lucidly aware. Years later, when I met other lucid dreamers, I felt amazed to realize that most had learnt the same basic rules and principles.
Yet I differed with many, since my investigations helped me to understand one very significant point: lucid dreamers do not completely control the lucid dream. Importantly, lucid dreamers relate to personal symbols and psychical elements within the dream, as they direct themselves through the dreaming. At its heart, lucid dreaming involves ‘more aware relating’ and not control.
I developed a metaphor to make the point: The sailor does not control the sea, neither does the lucid dreamer control the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, lucid dreamers must learn to relate to many forces (internal and external) within the dreaming.
When you see lucid dreaming as ‘more aware relating,’ then you learn to respect the power and majesty of dreaming, and honor it. You become more observant, more considerate and more engaged with the heart of the experience – the profound exploration of self/Self.
Lucid wishes on your journey of awareness!
Robert Waggoner is a past President of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) and a graduate of Drake University with a degree in psychology. He is the coeditor of the online journal, Lucid Dreaming Experience and is a frequent speaker at national and international dream conferences. He shares his love for lucid dreaming, creative fulfillment and personal growth at online workshops (www.glidewing.com) and events internationally. He is the author of Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. Visit him at www.lucidadvice.com.