by David L. Kahn
Lucid dreaming is often thought of as the ability to control your dreams. A more accurate definition would be that lucid dreaming is an awareness that you are dreaming while still within the dream. The difference between control and awareness is at the heart of the potential of lucid dreams, and quite possibly at any level of consciousness.
Some common choices of dreamers upon lucidity including flying, walking through walls or some other impossible action during waking life, living out a sexual fantasy, or having a spiritual experience. This is the control aspect – a choice that you are making in regards to what you want to be doing. Awareness is the aspects of the dream that you did not choose, at least consciously. If you choose to fly, for example, you may indeed be in control of the flight. Chances are, however, that you did not take the time to choose the clothing that you are wearing, what the weather and scenery are like, the wind direction, other dream characters that may be in the scene, obstacles that show up, or even the degree to which you find yourself able to achieve your objective of flying. If you literally took control of the entire dream, it would take you so much time that you would wake up before you ever took flight. So, what you have controlled is your thoughts and along with that a conscious decision to fly. What you have become aware of is everything else in the dream that was created by a consciousness other than the dreaming mind that you are using at that moment.
So what are some things that you can do with awareness in a dream?
Consider that anything that appears in the dream was placed there on purpose by the creator of your dream, whatever part of yourself or other entity you may believe that to be. When I become lucid I frequently ask the dream to “Show me what I need to see.” What I am shown are not things that I created with my conscious mind, even though I feel as conscious as I do during any waking moment. I have come to realize that indeed I am shown what I need to see – which may not necessarily be what I want or expect to see.
By asking the dream to show you what you need to see you choose to simply go along with what the dream offers up to you. If you see a door in the dream, open it. Check out what is inside of a box, or take a close look at a picture hanging on the wall. If a dream character offers you a gift, accept it with gratitude. Let your awareness soak up the imagery and trust that what are you being shown is for your greater good.
There is certainly nothing wrong with having fun with a lucid dream. Doing something that you would not normally be able to do may result in waking up in a positive mood that can last throughout the day or longer. But, over time, I have found more value in using lucid dreaming as a unique opportunity to learn about myself and for spiritual growth. I have learned to trust the creator of the dream to conjure up what is best for me at that moment, and to let go of what I believe that I want in place of what I most need in order to achieve my highest potential.
Lucid dreaming, like so many other things in life, comes easy to some and requires more effort for others – though I believe virtually anyone can have success with enough practice. Regardless of your success level with lucid dreaming, I recommend trying the “Show me” approach with your dreams in general. You can do this by incubating your dreams before you go to sleep. As you lie in bed, say “Show me what I need to see” or something along those lines that suits you. This approach may spark a lucid dream, but even if it doesn’t you may well wake to find that your dream answered you anyway.
David L. Kahn is author of A Dream Come True: Simple Techniques for Dream Interpretation and Precognitive Dream Recognition (Cosimo, 2007) and columnist for The Lucid Dream Exchange. He is a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) and the World Dreams Peace Bridge, and was a presenter at the 2007 IASD PsiberDreaming conference. His website is www.dreamingtrue.com.