Lucid dreaming and flying dreams

“Of course this isn’t a dream,” I said, “everything is perfectly normal, and anyway, if it were a dream I would be able to fly.”

I did a half-hearted little jump to prove my point to the two guys I was talking with, and instantly shot up into the sky.

“So,” I thought, my heart super-excitedly beating fast as I looked down at the two men standing outside the church, and Michael manoeuvring our car in the churchyard, “amazingly, this is all a dream! Who would have thought?”

I was lucid, awake in my dream, feeling totally present in my flying body while also being aware that I was taking part in a dream. I celebrated with some fearless flying acrobatics, soaking up the sensations of superb ease and weightlessness, before waking up in my bed.

I do fly from time to time in my normal, non-lucid dreams, never surprised that I have the ability, but always enjoying it. If you’ve ever wondered what your flying dreams may mean, check out my blog, What’s Your Superpower?

I don’t lucid dream very often, and when I do I usually have a stronger sense of being in two realities at the same time, in the dream, and also in my bed. I’m not talking about that sensation where you hover on the edge of sleep and catch that moment where hypnagogic* dreamlike images and sensations begin while you are still aware of being awake and in bed. Or the similar sensation where you are beginning to awaken in the morning yet you’re still dreaming, experiencing hypnopompic* imagery. Much as I love those sensations of zooming up close to the dreamlike scenery and examining every hyper real detail, I’m more aware of being in my bed than in the dream. I’m more of an observer given an amazing opportunity to explore, although the emotional texture can be as real as being an observer in any life situation.

No, in my lucid dreams I usually have a sense of having an equal investment in each reality – waking and dream – and can play with that notion, tipping it toward my awareness of being in bed, then tipping it toward my awareness of being in the dream, while somehow enjoying fully being in each reality simultaneously.

In these dreams, each reality feels as real as the other, each illusion as illusory as the other.

Last week’s lucid dream was different.

Instead of gradually thinking, during a dream, that things suddenly seem a bit weird and then beginning to wonder if I’m dreaming and then gently testing it by trying to fly, in this dream I absolutely knew that it wasn’t a dream – until, suddenly, I absolutely knew that it was.

Somehow the sheer surprise that I had been so taken in by the dream, rather than catching it out, resulted in my attention being fully directed toward being awake and flying in my dream rather than noticing that I was also in bed.

Listening to people talk about their lucid dreams, I’m aware that there are many different types of lucid experience, and what one person might call lucid another person might call semi-lucid or even non-lucid.

Perhaps definitions don’t really matter. Lucid dreaming, in whatever form, at heart, helps us to become more consciously aware of the illusory nature of whatever seems to be our reality.

I don’t set out to dream lucidly. I prefer to let my dreaming mind go through its natural processing and take me along for the ride, 100% invested in the dream. When I wake up in the morning, I can interpret my natural dreams to gain more insight into my mindset and my life, and use this insight, day by day, practically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Perhaps as a result I’m generally more of a Failed Lucid Dreamer, missing the cues with hilarious but deeply insightful outcomes.

Many dreamers, however, seek lucidity as a therapeutic, creative, or exploratory space where they can engage with their dream symbols to discover more about them, or explore changing the ending of their dreams, or practice dream alchemy, or identify creative solutions to life challenges and issues.

Others enjoy being lucid but letting the natural dream unfold, watching as an observer, noticing more detail than they might remember on waking from a non-lucid dream. One might question, though, whether simply being lucid does change the otherwise natural flow of the dream, and I strongly suspect that it might.

Every time you wake up from a non-lucid dream you witness the transition from one reality you firmly believed in (the dream) to another reality you firmly believe in (waking life). Despite this, so many of us continue to believe in the solidity of waking reality. Others wonder if we might one day awaken from this waking life not into a lucid dream but into another reality, perhaps a life after death reality, or a sliding doors type of parallel life reality.

On a day-to-day or night-by-night level, our dreams give us the opportunity to re-examine our individual perspectives of – or illusions about – waking reality. When you learn the art and science of meaningfully interpreting your dreams, you discover your unconscious beliefs, feelings, and patterns and how these powerfully influence your perception of reality. Any unconscious beliefs, feelings, or patterns that are blocking or limiting your life experience can then be changed using various processes including awareness, dream alchemy, and dream therapy.

One of the many gifts our dreams, once understood, bestow is to soften us for change through waking us up to our conditioned notions of reality, our judgments and opinions, our biases, and to replace these with open minded and open hearted empathy and compassion, for others, and for ourselves.

Yesterday, I was walking along Southbank in Brisbane after a visit to the theatre, talking to a friend about all of this. “You see,” I said, “this is so obviously waking reality, if it wasn’t, I could fly.” I exaggerated a couple of flying attempts to make him laugh, much to the amusement of passers-by. I was rather surprised to wake up in my bed a moment later.

Let me check now. I have just finished writing this blog. I hope I really have written it, and that I’m not about to wake up and have to do it all over again. Let me see now, can I fly? It seems not, so, fingers crossed, let’s publish!

 

* Hypnagogic imagery: dreamlike images that often occur as you transition from wakefulness into sleep. They are usually fast and apparently unconnected, like watching a random slide show. They may include sound.

 

* Hypnopompic imagery: dreamlike images that can occur as you transition from sleep into wakefulness, or fragments of dreams if you begin to wake up while still dreaming. If you open your eyes, your brain may decide to ‘see’ these images superimposed on your sleeping environment, interpreting them, for example, as dark figures or ‘ghosts’ in your bedroom.


Jane Teresa Anderson

Graduating with an Honours degree in Zoology specialising in neurophysiology from the University of Glasgow, dream analyst and dream therapist Jane Teresa Anderson has been researching dreams since 1992, and developing and teaching dream alchemy practices that shift perspective and reprogram unconscious limiting beliefs. Jane Teresa is a multi-published author, and appears frequently in the media on television, radio, and in print. She is also host of the long-running podcast, The Dream Show, and offers her online study and certificate courses through The Dream Academy.

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