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My Take On Lucid Dreaming
by Jerry Gifford

Active imagination is extremely similar to lucid dreaming in that one uses the image making faculty of the imagination in each in order to distill conscious meaning from the unconscious contents. They are also extremely similar in that they occur because of a basically free-flowing, spontaneous function of the mind at ease.

I believe there is good evidence that lucid dreaming is a real phenomenon. But I am not an expert on the subject nor studied the theory extensively because it is not a concept Carl Jung included in his study of dreams. Because lucid dreaming is very similar to his concept of 'active imagination', a cognitive methodology that uses the imagination as an organ of understanding, it is the understanding of the 'imagination' as an unconscious process that influences dream images. This is the primary problem I have with the concept {lucid dreaming}, due to Jung's emphasis on the therapeutic value of active imagination and my personal belief the dream is a therapeutic tool. I personally believe dreams are a natural therapeutic mechanism provided by nature. If too much emphasis is placed on controlling the dream then the therapeutic affect is diluted and whatever message the dream may trying to communicate could be lost. Having interpreted dreams for as many years that I have the interpretation of the images and actions in the dream is how I determine what the dream meaning is and how it applies to the conscious life. If someone is 'consciously' controlling the dream, say flying too high because it is fun, then the meaning of the flying symbol may not apply to the actual waking condition. If the person's emotional state of conscious is 'too high' for their well being then the flying symbol could reveal this emotional conflict so it can be corrected. Flying at high attitudes because of lucidity could alter that meaning and this lead to an incorrect assumption of how to apply the image. The image is defining an emotional energy. If the control of the symbol is altered so can its true meaning.

Jung thought that when engaging in the process of active imagination, we must temper our desire to control the outcome of the situation by imposing our own meanings or explanations of them, at least for a time. I think this to be true in general, outside the use of active imagination {a conscious activity}. Lucid dreaming is a means of imposing control of the dream. Jung said that people should wait to extrapolate meaning from their active imagination practices until after they have observed the impact of them {interpreting the dream}. Both depend on an image-making instinct we all possess, and which interestingly both provide insight into our deeper drives.

The lucid dreamer can sometimes control the unfolding of the dream plot, the patterns or motifs the dream uses to expose emotional energies. In the lucid state the dream characters can make things happen in the dream that are contrary to the will of the dream. In Jungian theory it is the dream message that needs to be understood because it reveals emotional energies that often unconsciously control the dreamer's conscious life. If this message is altered or unduly influenced then the therapeutic value of the dream can be lost. What needs to be determined through further study is the affect of lucid dreaming on this 'natural' therapeutic process. Until that is done I caution anyone to use lucid dreaming sparingly.

In addition to the normal elements of the dreaming mind in the lucid state, the lucid dreamer and other dream characters may have added mental capacities. If the lucid dreamer can make things happen in the dream, it could be considered miraculous if they occurred in waking life. The lucid dreamer may be convinced he has supernatural mental powers not only in in the lucid state but also in waking life.

Lucid Dreaming

What is Lucid Dreaming?

Lucid dreaming means dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming. Typically this happens when the dreamer experiences something strange, and when they stop to question their reality, they realize they are in a dream. Lucid dreamers are aware of the state they are in and can deliberately perform actions and control events in their dreams. People who dream normally, on the other hand, have lower levels of brain activity during REM sleep and no awareness of the state of consciousness they are in. It is shown that there are higher amounts of beta-1 frequency band experienced by lucid dreamers, hence there is an increased amount of activity in the parietal lobes making lucid dreaming a conscious process.

Lucid dreams can be realistic and vivid. The most common of lucid dreams is the ability to fly, the second is sex. Your chance of having a flying dream doubles if you are a lucid dreamer. Most new lucid dreamers explore fantasies during their early conscious dream experiences. People who are especially creative and/or have an imaginative
personality with these characteristics are more likely to have flying dreams than the average population. This is also true for people who do public speaking. Not surprisingly, folks who fly planes and hang gliders have flying dreams, although they tend to fly without their vehicles, like Superman.

The term lucid may be a bit misleading. In the literal sense, true control is never actually achieved but the dreamer can influence the course of action indirectly. "In normal dreams we have very basal consciousness, we experience perceptions and emotions but we are not aware that we are only dreaming," explained Martin Dresler, lead author of the study published in the journal SLEEP. "It's only in a lucid dream that the dreamer gets a meta-insight into his or her state."

A Dutch psychiatrist named Frederik van Eeden came up with the term lucid dreaming in 1913. But lucid dreaming isn't new. Aristotle may have been the first to write about lucid dreaming, although he didn't have a term for it. And some Tibetan Buddhists have been practicing something like lucid dreaming for a very long time: dream yoga.

Lucid dreaming occurs during REM sleep, the fifth sleep stage. The body is basically paralyzed, with the exception of the eyelids. In the experiment we mentioned before, subjects took advantage of this quality of REM sleep, using prearranged eyelid movements to signal that they were dreaming. Tiny movements from a test subject paired with an EEG to confirm the sleep stage are, so far, the only way that scientists have been able to study lucid dreamers.

We aren't sure what's going on in the brain during lucid dreaming. According to Dr. Matthew Walker, director of a sleep lab at Berkeley, the lateral prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that deals with logic, may be responsible. During REM sleep, this part of the brain is supposed to be "asleep," but it's possible that it "wakes up" so that dreaming and logic are both working at the same time, enabling the dreamer to recognize the dream situation for what it is.

Researchers believe that although lucid dreaming is an interesting phenomenon in its own right, it can also serve as a useful tool in studying dream disorders. They suggest that with further investigation, lucid dream training could be utilized as a treatment for people with a variety of disorders, such as recurrent nightmares, hypnagogic hallucinations and pathological dream vivification. According to one study, with enough practice a person can by purposefully thinking about the deeper emotional problems they have been avoiding can increase the odds of changing the outcome. If you do encounter your problem in your dream, then you can consciously try to change the outcome through lucid dreaming.

The grand idea of lucid dreaming is about control. In your dream, you could consciously decide to visit a specific place, say, Provence, France -- and your dream self would obey the waking mind. The possibility of controlling the mind even in sleep has led some researchers to consider lucid dreaming as a treatment for nightmares. One study showed that lucid dreaming exercises caused a group of chronic nightmare sufferers to have nightmares less often. The practical implications for dream control are enormous. People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or children plagued by bad dreams could be taught to salvage their sleep and get some rest. You could even take it a step further to a scarier conclusion -- think of the CIA's mind-control experiments with LSD and hypnosis. Imagine what kind of control a government may have if it could figure out how to manipulate the enemy's dreams.
more about Lucid Dreaming from The Lucidity Institute

Lucid Dreaming vs Dream Control/OBE's
Lucidity is not 'dream control'. The two are related, but one can happen without the other. Many lucid dreamers experience little or no control in some dreams. It is possible to be lucid and have little control over dream content, and conversely, to have a great deal of control without being explicitly aware that you are dreaming. Once lucid dreamers usually choose to do something permitted only by the extraordinary freedom of the dream state, such as flying.

When somebody has an out-of-body experience they are able to see their physical body. An out-of-body experience involves a clear dichotomy between the physical body and the immaterial mind. Many people report seeing their physical body lying where while they leave the body. Out-of-body experiences can typically involve strong sensations of dualism. This is because the body remains alive and functional despite a conscious state of having left it. It is therefore possible to experience sensations from both your "mind body" and your physical body. This is quite a bit different from dreaming: dreaming doesn't involve a separation between the mind and body. Instead, dreams are fully contained within the physical body.
more about Out-of-Body Experiences vs. Lucid Dreams

Skepticism {of Lucid Dreaming}
The science community is divided on the subject of dream control. The majority of scientists say that it's not possible. But there are some scientists who argue that there's so much we don't know about the human mind that we can't make any conclusive judgments one way or the other.

Skeptics counter that self-awareness resides in the prefrontal cortex and shows reduced activity during sleep. This reduced activity may be why people can dream bizarre things without being aware of how bizarre they are until we wake up and remember them. If this is the case then lucid dreaming is possible because in some people the frontal lobes don't rest during sleep.

Some skeptics do not believe that there is such a state as lucid dreaming. They don't deny that we can be aware that we are dreaming. What they deny is that there is special dream state called the 'lucid state.' Their objections are as much about lucid dream as a gateway to "transcendent consciousness" as a state of lucidity.

Mystical Experiences of Carl Jung

Swiss psychologist and major contributor to psychotherapy, Carl Jung cultivated the ability to have visions from deep imagination. Some would label these explorations as mystical experiences while others would say they are more akin to the sort creative thinking artists do.

In addition to these experiences, Jung had several spontaneous visions when he was recovering from a heart attack when he was 69. All of his visions are described in detail in his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
read more Mystical Experiences of Carl Jung