It can take a lot of time, practice and determination for the average person to achieve a lucid dream, and some of you readers out there may be wondering if the lucid dream experience is worthwhile. Lucid dreaming stories from people who have attained lucid dream states can provide inspiration if you are wondering, “why bother trying to have a lucid dream?”
Stephen LaBerge, a pioneering scientist in the field of lucid dreams, has compiled real people’s lucid dreaming stories in his book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreams. As well as describing the process of sleep and steps for achieving a lucid dream in detail, Le Berge offers several suggestions of worthwhile ways to exploit your lucid dreams once you attain them. You can use a lucid dream to have an adventure that would be impossible in real life (as in a flying dream), to overcome your fears, for self-improvement, problem solving or even to speed up physical healing. He backs up his suggestions by including lucid dreaming stories of people who have used their lucid dreams in these various ways.
Lucid dreaming stories in which people confront their nightmares seem to be especially common. It’s possible that in a nightmare, one is more likely to become lucid spontaneously due to the intense state of emotional arousal and fear that bad dreams can induce. People have reported becoming lucid as they defend themselves against threats in a nightmare; realizing that one is in a dream and can’t be physically harmed is often enough to enable one to shape the dream at will. One young man dreamed of being chased by a lion, and when he realized he was dreaming, turned to confront the lion and ended up play-wrestling with it. La Berge records other lucid dream stories in which people have conquered the fear of death within a dream, with positive and lasting results that carried over into waking life.
Lucid dreaming can also be a powerful aid in learning a new real-life skill or in solving a difficult problem, and can be a form of creativity enhancement for people looking for new routes of artistic inspiration. There are lucid dreaming stories of athletes who were able to practice a sport in dreams, and mathematicians who found themselves lucidly tackling difficult equations in their sleep and waking up with the solution fully formed in their minds. Studies also show that uncommon word association increases by 29% in people who are tested immediately after waking up from a dream. During sleep, the brain is not constrained by sensory information from the body, allowing it to create an imaginary model of the world based on unconscious assumptions. Imagine if you could take the unfettered creativity of the subconscious (experienced by most of us as “dream weirdness”) and pair it with a lucid state of mind that would allow you to remember what you did and saw in the dream with perfect clarity!
One application of lucid dreaming that many people aren’t aware of is for physical healing. Having patients with chronic pain issues meditate on soothing imagery has long been one method to reduce pain, and there is no more powerful mental imagery than the kind we encounter in dreams. Lucid dreaming can also provide a space in which people who have reduced mobility due to brain and spinal cord injuries or strokes can practice physical movements. In clinical studies, patients who used lucid dreams to practice physical movements showed a more rapid recovery from trauma and injury. The brain can’t tell the difference between movement in a dream and in waking life, so the neuronal pathways formed by the dream activity carried over into waking life. It is this aspect of how the brain works that makes lucid dreaming such a powerful route to self-enrichment. Since anything you do or see in a dream seems completely real to your brain, it only takes the added touch of being fully aware within your dream for you to be able to carry over the experiences and lessons of your dream into your waking life.
Finally, some people have even discovered that lucid dreaming can be a route to transcendence. Lucid dreaming powerfully brings home the idea that the world is a construct by our minds. Cut off from the sensory information that bombards us when we’re awake, our brains are able to create any world we want when we’re asleep (and lucid). The brain’s ability to create a world that feels totally real, but that the lucid dreamer knows is not real, has made more than a few people ask, “If my lucid dreams aren’t real, what is?” Many people have engaged in spiritual seeking after experiencing lucid dreams that made them ask this question, even if they originally induced the lucid dream for a more mundane purpose.
Lucid dreaming is great for having fun, having adventures, bolstering skills, getting creative, and even getting healthy, among many other things. Most of all, lucid dream stories can reveal how people just like you have discovered the limitless potential of the mind in enriching one’s life and many have been prompted to explore the nature of reality and humankind’s relationship to it as creative beings by lucid dream experiences. If you have any lucid dreaming stories you would like to share, please do not hesitate to send us an e-mail or leave a comment with your story!