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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dream Symbols 18: Types of Dreams Part 2: Lucid Dreams and the Senoi

Dream Imagery. Photo Credit
Lucid dreams, sometimes called waking dreams are a fascinating phenomenon. Essentially in a lucid dream one is aware of the fact that one is dreaming. Hence, many lucid dreamers are able to control the dynamics of their dreams. In other words, they are able to direct where they will go next in the dream, what they will do, whom they will interact with, and so on. Find many articles about lucid dreaming here.

From a therapeutic point of view, lucid dreaming offers enormous potential, as one could practice all that which one fears in real life, or all that which one is not yet good at in real life. Imagine, for instance, if you fear public speaking, or networking at a cocktail party. Practice in your lucid dreams, come to realize that it is, in fact, not so difficult, and theoretically, this savoir faire will now translate into your waking life, allowing you to make the transition into becoming a practiced public speaker, or a successful networker.

The Senoi, a culture from Malaysia that was stumbled upon in the 1930s by Kilton Stewart, an American psychologist and adventurer, used lucid dreams to maintain their society virtually crime-free. Stewart developed the Senoi Dream Technique which was directed towards spiritual development through the use of dream control and manipulation. The technique was based on Stewart’s expeditions in Malaysia working with the Senoi tribe of hunters and gatherers whose modern-day descendants are known as the Senoi Temiar. William Domhoff carried on some of Stewart's work on the Senoi Dream Technique and wrote about it extensively. A post on Grasshopper.com about Senoi dreaming here.

Unfortunately, the rather idyllic society of the Senoi was almost entirely destroyed during World War II, after they shared their dream system with Westerners. Nowadays there are still Senoi, but many will not talk about their dreams anymore. Some even deny that they have had such a dream system.

However, lucid dreaming is of no use if one is unable to accomplish it. Some of us, on occasion, especially if we have recurring dreams, may have had a sensation of deja vu in a dream. We seem to recognize events, sequences, places, people, or situation, and on the outer periphery of our consciousness we feel - in the dream - that we have been here before, but that is a long way from truly being lucid in the dream and being able to manipulate events to our liking.

An aid is available. The NovaDreamer was developed by Stephen LaBerge and others at Stanford (LaBerge is the author of one of the most highly-recognized books on the subject: Lucid Dreaming: The Power to Be Awake and Aware in Your Dreams). This aid is currently being re-tooled and once the new version is available (sign up to be notified), it is theoretically the best, most reliable, and most serious around.

The NovaDreamer works by giving users flashing light cues when they are dreaming. Users work with their devices to find an intensity and length of cue that enters their dreams without awakening them. In addition, device users should practice mental exercises while awake for the best preparation for recognizing the light cues when they appear in dreams. The devices are based around a soft, comfortable sleep mask, which contains the flashing lights. The NovaDreamer detects the rapid eye movements of REM sleep, when the wearer is likely to be dreaming, and give cues when the level of eye movement activity is high enough.

Apart from the LaBerge book about this topic (see above), there is another excellent, although older book, by Celia Green titled Lucid Dreams, and by Mary Watkins, titled Waking Dreams. Strephon Williams wrote the Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual. Jill Morris and Jeremy Taylor have also written excellent books. Numerous other - more modern - titles are available.

One curious question you might like to consider: if we are conscious when we are awake and not conscious when we are asleep, and if we are able to be aware of ourselves when we are awake, but not when we are asleep, then if during a lucid dream we are indeed aware of ourselves as "living" out the dream reality of our dream, then the conscious part of ourselves that is asleep is either awake - even though we are sleeping - during a lucid dream, or, if indeed our conscious self is asleep, then it begs the question: what part of us is conscious during the lucid dream? What do you think? Have you had a lucid dream?

Previous posts in this series are:

Dream Symbols 1: Pregnancy and Birth
Dream Symbols 2: Death
Dream Symbols 3: The Snake
Dream Symbols 4: The Butterfly
Dream Symbols 5: Flying
Dream Symbols 6: The House Part 1
Dream Symbols 7: The House Part 2: The Kitchen
Dream Symbols 8: The House Part 3: The Bathroom
Dream Symbols 9: The House Part 4: The Bedroom
Dream Symbols 10: Marriage
Dream Symbols 11: The Spider
Dream Symbols 12: Sex
Dream Symbols 13: Exams
Dream Symbols 14: Murder
Dream Symbols 15: Water, Swimming and Drowning
Dream Symbols 16: The House Part 5: The Cellar
Dreams Symbols 17: Types of Dreams Part 1: Paralysis Dreams

You may also be interested in viewing some of the recommended dream books and books on symbolism on my website, as well as some of the dream links on my links page.There are also some videos posted about Carl Jung and his take on dreams. Click here to view them.

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  1. Fascinating!

    I often control the outcome of my dreams. I don't know if it's exactly "lucid dreaming". I do it when I realise I don't like where the dream is heading. In my sleep I think, "I'd better do something about this..." or "I'm going to re-do that situation" and then I sort of re-write the script.

    It's very effective and means no nightmares - everything turns out like I like!

  2. Brenda, this is absolutely lucid dreaming indeed! What a gift you have. The next step you might like to take, is try to take your dream to a totally new place, for example, you might try to visit someone in another country...think yourself there, and see what happens.