What Dreams May Come
Perhaps most people think of dreams as a simple creation of the brain while the body is asleep. While some may pay attention to the dream content, further consideration may not explore what is transpires beyond the nocturnal images.
Lucid dreaming is a type of dream state where the dreamer becomes consciously aware within the dream that s/he is dreaming. With this consciousness, s/he can influence the dream in ways s/he cannot exercise during traditional dreaming. Activities such as flying like a bird may happen in a lucid dream. As a lucid dreamer becomes more experienced and knowledgeable, many other opportunities for exploration in the dream state are possible.
There is a growing awareness of this dreaming state. It has spawned broader interest in experiencing and understanding this type of consciousness. Some excellent books have been written by people who have dedicated many years researching the subject.
Dreams As Tools
Robert Waggoner poses an interesting question in his book Lucid Dreaming – Gateway to the Inner Self. “What does the unconscious know?” If you’ve read other sections of this Consciousness-Café website, you may have an appreciation for the breadth of information and perceptions buried in our subconscious minds. Does the dreaming state offer opportunities to tap into this reservoir of knowledge? “With the scientific acceptance of lucid dreaming, science finally has a tool; lucid dreaming is a kind of psychological microscope to probe inwardly (p.139), according to Waggoner.
Here’s a section from Waggoner’s book (p. 61) where he shares a lucid dream experience:
“I see something odd, become lucid, and decide to go find my friend Bill (who lives 2,000 miles away)…Suddenly I descend into a restaurant. Bill and his wife are there, seated at a heavy, dark wood table….I notice his wife has a set of necklaces in front of her. Each strand has a different color. She begins very deliberately to place a necklace over her head, and suddenly I know each necklace represents one year of their marriage. With the seventh necklace, she stops. Without any word spoken, I have the distinct impression that their marriage will last seven years. I wake, wondering if this lucidly sensed impression could be valid. I didn’t think the symbolism into being; I simply knew each necklace was a year in their marriage, but there were only seven necklaces. Their marriage? It lasts seven years, then dissolves.”
Dreams may influence our waking selves. Listen to this story of a person who woke up with a physical reminder of a cigarette in a dream.
Dreams As Warnings
Larry Burk is a radiologist and holistic medical practitioner in Raleigh – Durham, NC. He conducted some exciting research into dream content that had a real-world health impact. Eighteen women were participants in his study, all of whom had dreams that warned them of breast cancers prompting them to seek confirmation from their MDs. Dr. Burk wrote a book called Dreams that Can Save Your Life – Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases. His work indicates that perhaps we should hold dream content in higher regard. If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Burk’s work, check out his TED talk.
While vacationing on the Colorado River, a person had a dream encounter that may have saved their lives.
Dreams As A Way of Knowing
Lucid dreams appear to provide evidence that there is a source of information that isn’t available to our ordinary conscious mind. This information isn’t only available to us in the dream state though it isn’t easily accessed when our brains focus on the powerful signals from our five senses.
There are many ways of tempering our normal senses allowing us to experience a broader reality. Some of those methods include meditation, breathwork states, trance work, and hallucinogens for example.
On rare occasions, two individuals can share similar dreams. Robert Waggoner describes two types of mutual dreams. One is a “meshing” dream where the mutual dreamers don’t interact with one another, but both individuals share some aspect of the dream. The other is a “meeting” dream where two individuals report seeing each other and having had shared elements of the dream. These two friends met in a dream.
Waggoner offers this personal example and while this anecdote isn’t a lucid dream, it shows that by starting to open ourselves up to something more, we can receive valuable insights and information.
Robert and his niece both dreamt about a recently deceased relative, the niece’s grandfather. In their respective dreams, the grandfather indicated he wanted the dreamer to “get something out of the closet.” Later, Robert and his niece compared dream notes and decided to contact the grandmother. She had given most of the grandfather’s clothes to charity but recalled two suits still hanging in the closet. In one of the suitcoat pockets, the grandmother found a group of family photos. Interestingly, this could also be an after-death communication.