Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Past Blogs and Notes



JULY 19, 2011
Letters to young lucid dreaming researchers….

In science, we call the study of mushrooms, mycology. As in any discipline, the study of mushrooms requires precise classification of characteristics, since many mushrooms share similar traits. From experience, mycologists know that some edible mushrooms look very similar to poisonous mushrooms, so the ability to distinguish mushrooms correctly may have life or death consequences. Those fine distinctions have critical importance for the proper understanding and use of edible mushrooms.

When researching a psychological event like lucid dreaming, one needs a thorough self-report to insure the event meets the criteria established for a lucid dream. By doing so, the young researcher guards against the pollution of his or her lucid dreaming database by the inclusion of experiences that may seem similar to, but fail to meet the fundamental definition of, lucid dreaming. Although the consequences may not qualify as “life or death,” lucid dreaming researchers can easily and unintentionally pollute their own research by allowing for inclusion psychological experiences that do not meet the definition of a lucid dream.

The American Psychological Association defines a lucid dream as “a dream in which the sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming and may be able to influence the progress of the dream narrative.” Others commonly define lucid dream as “realizing you dream while dreaming” or “a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming” (Wikipedia). The common point to all definitions involves a mental realization while in the state designated as “dreaming”.

The problem? Some people prepare to fall asleep and suddenly hear an odd humming around their head, feel energy moving up their body and experience concern about these strange sensations. Then they realize that they view their bedroom from a new vantage point. Because they feel consciously aware now, float around the space and know that their body lies in bed, they deem this a “lucid dream”. But does it meet the defining criteria? Did they realize they dreamt while dreaming? Or do they experience something similar to lucid dreaming, but not the same?

In the above example, the people do not report becoming aware within a dream. Rather they indicate experiencing an unusual state while preparing to fall asleep. Clearly this does not meet the definition of a lucid dream, yet innumerable posts on lucid dreaming forums call this experience a “lucid dream”. Why? Usually, they point out that the person achieves conscious awareness and experiences dream-like conditions, i.e., floating out of bed. Yet it fails to meet the definition’s criteria of becoming aware within a dream.

Moreover, a judgment to include such an experience as a lucid dream completely ignores the initial set of reported symptoms, e.g., odd humming, energy movement felt in body, anxiety about state, etc., that have no place in the definition, or in the classical lucid dream experience. When you add those to the analysis, you must understand that the event differs remarkably from the common experience and definition of a lucid dream. Like mushrooms, it may seem similar to the one you seek, yet it varies enough as to need a separate, distinct classification as something else. I want to encourage lucid dream researchers to see the difference, and refuse to include these strange ‘fungi’ in their servings of lucid dream research, so that the science of lucid dream research leads to healthy results.

Next time, I will comment on some odd aspects of the so-called Wake Initiated Lucid Dream or WILD….

P.S: I'll be at Seattle's East West Book Shop on Thursday, Aug 11, 2011. Tell your friends.
JUNE 7, 2011
For my UK and European readers, please note that I will be giving three presentations on lucid dreaming (June 18-19, 2011) in London at the Centre for Counseling and Psychotherapy, along with Dr. Nigel Hamilton and Mary Ziemer. My three talks will focus on lucid dreaming’s healing, spiritual and creative aspects. Each day’s session begins at 11:30 a.m.

For more information or to register, please visit this link http://www.luciddreamalchemy.com/page/news1

Also I will be speaking in Chelmsford, England a few days later ( evening of June 22nd) at the Marconi Sports and Social Club on Beehive Lane. The Dari Rulai Buddhist Temple is hosting the event. Visit
 http://www.freeindex.co.uk/event(lucid-dreaming-workshop-with-top-best-seller-from-usa)_185.htm to learn more about the time and place of this presentation.

Then on June 24th, join me (and more than 100 presenters on dreaming) at the International Association for the Study of Dreams Conference in Kerkrade, the Netherlands. For more details, visit

Look forward to seeing you.
APRIL 13, 2011
For a list of my upcoming speaking engagements & appearances, podcasts, author information, and more, please click here.
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Dear Dreamers,

In the last issue of
 The Lucid Dream Exchange, a lucid dreamer reported a fascinating lucid dream that resulted in an apparent physical healing. What follows is a condensed version of her story and my speculations on creating a scientifically verifiable, lucid dream healing experiment.

June L. entered the hospital in April 2008 for open heart surgery on her failing mitral valve. Following the surgery, significant drainage occurred around the heart area and four “garden-hose sized” tubes were inserted into her chest to siphon away the excess drainage. During the next ten days, while the drainage continued and the doctors expressed concern, June had a lucid dream. She became lucid when she looked out the hospital room’s window and saw an ocean view, which she knew was impossible. At that point, she realized she was dreaming and could lucidly do whatever she wished. Instantly, she decided to try and heal the drainage from her heart.

June tells what happened next: “I look down at my dream body and pull the hospital gown open. There are the four tubes, and I can see the fluid draining out of them into my “briefcase”[drainage collection device] beside the bed . . . I concentrate on the tubes and slowly the draining fluid starts turning into different colored flowers. The tubes pull out of the briefcase and wave slowly back and forth in the air in front of me, like octopus tentacles. Then flowers are pouring out of them, floating gently in the air, until I am surrounded by color and soft flower petals. Other colorful things flow from the tubes, like hearts and balloons and ribbons. I laugh and smile and enjoy the show.

“Comment: The next morning, to the amazement of the doctors and nurses, the drainage had completely stopped. The tubes were yanked out, I could finally take a shower, and the next day, I went home. I really think that had it not been for that lucid dream, I would have been several more days in the hospital."

In the lucid dream, June’s healing intent causes the drainage hoses to disconnect from the “briefcase” and wave in the air. She watches joyfully as out pour flowers, hearts, balloons, and colorful ribbons that surround her. The next morning in waking reality, the doctors are amazed to discover that the drainage has “completely stopped."

When lucid dreaming, the power of directed healing intent seems extraordinary. In
 my book’s chapter on healing lucid dreams, you can read even more fascinating accounts which attest to lucid dreaming’s potential as an alternative healing modality.

Though these accounts are anecdotes, how could one create a scientific experiment on physical healing during lucid dreams? Ideally, the experiment would require a group of lucid dreamers with a non-life threatening, measurable, persistent physical condition that could not be healed by conventional means. After appropriate baseline medical tests, the lucid dreamers would be taught lucid dreaming techniques to direct healing intent on the physical condition, when lucidly aware in the dream state. They would be reminded of the mind’s amazing healing powers in altered states of consciousness, like deep hypnosis. They would be advised to come to the hospital for medical tests after having a lucid dream in which they directed healing intent onto their body. Separately, a control group of non-lucid dreamers with the same condition would be monitored for spontaneous remission.

With the proper education and motivation, experienced lucid dreamers could be trained to take part in such an experiment. Although individual beliefs and expectation matter, I feel the results would show that lucid dreamers possess the ability to affect the healing of their physical bodies.

Lucid wishes,
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MARCH 16, 2011
Dear Dreamers,

Almost twenty years ago in
 The Healing Power of Dreams, Patricia Garfield presciently observed, “The potential for healing in lucid dreams is enormous.” Researchers like Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach had already gathered eight anecdotal reports of apparent lucid dream healing in an OMNI magazine survey in 1987. 

Since that time, lucid dream healing has been adopted by some psychotherapists and others to deal with recurring nightmares in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers. By most accounts, the psychological tool of lucid dreaming has been a tremendous success. Normally after the PTSD sufferer becomes lucidly aware in the nightmarish scenario just once, the nightmares dissipate significantly or disappear altogether.

The latest special issue of
 The Lucid Dream Exchange (LDE) focuses on Healing Lucid Dreams. Co-editor, Lucy Gillis and I asked readers to send in examples of emotional, physical and spiritual healing lucid dreams that had touched them.

For the issue, I interviewed a young woman airline mechanic, Hope, whose leg was crushed by a Boeing 767 rolling over it. During her six months of recovery from the injury and amputation, she began to have recurring nightmares almost nightly. She told me that the nightmares felt so horrendous that she came to the point of “not wanting to sleep, almost.”

Fortunately, she read a book on lucid dreaming and saw its potential to help her end the recurring nightmares of being chased. Later in the night, she realized that she was again in the nightmare, running for her life, when it occurred to her, “Hey, I am running, but I only have one leg.” Now lucid, she decides to face the nightmarish monster, “As it approached me, I waved at it and smiled a huge smile and then jumped up and flew away.” She recalled that the monster looked confused, now that the usual scenario had changed, and Hope had achieved lucidity. Soon, the nightmares largely ended.

One fascinating thing that Hope decided to do (apparently after reading
 my book) was to try and return to the moment of the accident, and see it again in a lucid dream. Incredibly, she became lucid and began reenacting the event, when something curious happened. At the moment of the accident, a “black space” (like TV censors might use to cover nudity) appeared in her visual field, which shielded her from seeing the wheel crush her leg. Upon waking, she realized that some part of her “protected” her from re-viewing the traumatic event.

Besides this interview are many other articles and lucid dreams of emotional, physical and spiritual healings. I hope you will take a moment to look through this free quarterly magazine and discover the potential of healing lucid dreams.

Lucid wishes,
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FEBRUARY 11, 2011
A common misconception among lucid dreamers involves the issue of “control.” In my book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, I explain that the lucid dreamer directs his or her self within the dreaming; the lucid dreamer does not control the dream. I write: “No sailor controls the sea. Only a foolish sailor would say such a thing. Similarly, no lucid dreamer controls the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, we lucid dreamers direct our perceptual awareness within the larger state of dreaming.” Lucid dreamers notice this via many unexpected developments within the lucid dream, such as “independent agents,” i.e., dream figures who act independently and often in contradiction to the lucid dreamer. When considered rationally, lucid dreamers realize they do not completely “control” the lucid dream. 
Further support for this realization comes from lucid dreamers who use intent when consciously aware in the dream state. For example, artists have become lucidly aware and intended to discover new works of art when they enter the next room. Strolling into the next room, many see their request realized with a fantastic creative painting hanging there. The question is, who answered the intent? The lucid dreamer only intended it; he or she did not consciously imagine it (the subject, colors, placement, size, etc.) into being.

From such examples, we confront a question Carl Jung wrestled with: Does dreaming simply reflect a “psychic mirror world” reacting to the contents of our conscious mind, or does it show more? If more, how do we explain it? The above example suggests that the subconscious responds, and shows many qualities associated with consciousness: responsiveness, creativity, affect, and so on. Moreover, the response does not seem archaic, instinctual, random, or chaotic; rather, it seems many degrees more creative than the conscious self.

Experienced lucid dreamers can experiment with this question of creativity’s origin. In my case, certain unusual lucid dreams led to the realization that a larger, more creative awareness existed “behind the dream.” To test this, I developed a counter-intuitive lucid dreaming technique in which I ignored all of the dream figures, objects, and setting (assumed to represent aspects of the dreamer), and simply shouted my requests and questions to the “awareness behind the dream.”

Using this counter-intuitive technique, most lucid dreamers routinely receive a creative and helpful response. Sometimes the response is completely unexpected. In one example, the response was a direct refutation of the questioner’s errant assumption. In another case, the response was an analysis of the lucid dreamer’s inability to handle the magnitude of the request’s manifestation. The apparent awareness behind the dream exhibited more than creativity and responsiveness, it demonstrated the qualities that Carl Jung identified as suggestive of an inner awareness: perception, apperception, affectivity, memory, imagination, reflection, judgment, etc. By all appearances, lucid dreaming may be the tool for science to confirm the existence of a “second psychic system” or inner self, which Jung called “revolutionary in its significance."

I’ll be addressing the issue of control and inner self at this summer’s International Association for the Study of Dreams conference in Kerkrade, Netherlands (June 24–29, 2011). I hope to see you there!

Robert Waggoner
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JANUARY 14, 2011
The International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) for over 27 years has served to bring together many of the world’s great scholars, practitioners and authors in the field of dream research, clinical practice regarding dreams, sociology, spiritual practices, culture and the arts as well as other fields of study. Members of the organization adhere to a code of ethics that governs practices in dreamwork in both small and large contexts.

Since the tragic shootings in Tucson much attention has been focused on the psychological state and motives of the alleged killer, Jared Loughner. Information about Mr. Loughner included reports that he kept dream journals and was involved with practices of lucid dreaming. While it is not appropriate for IASD to comment on this individual’s state of mind or his practices and how they related to his abhorrent behavior, we do note that it appears he has a record of drug use and mental problems. So, it is possible that what he experienced and recorded may have been hallucinations or delusions rather than dreams as most people understand and experience them.

Nevertheless, since his lucid dreaming has repeatedly been mentioned in the media, it seems useful to briefly summarize the best information and most helpful viewpoints on lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming, or the ability to become consciously aware of dreaming while in the dream state, has been scientifically accepted since 1980 through the research work of Stephen LaBerge at Stanford University.

Since then, lucid dreaming has been widely explored by curious dreamers and scientists. International research indicates that a majority of college students report having had at least one lucid dream experience. A smaller percentage indicates that they have frequent lucid dreams. On becoming consciously aware in the dream, lucid dreamers often report flying through space, interacting with dream figures and manipulating objects in the dream.

Lucid dreaming has been successfully utilized by psychotherapists to assist people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who suffer from recurring nightmares.

Lucid dreaming also has a long history in various religions, such as Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism. By becoming consciously aware in the dream state, many religions feel that the lucid dreamer comes to a clearer understanding of waking reality.

Scientific research has not noticed any harmful effects to practicing lucid dreaming. Instead, lucid dreamers normally show higher levels of mental acuity and creativity in some perceptual tests.

Though the recent movie,
 Inception, used a more extreme Hollywood version of “lucid dreaming” as a plot device, it’s distorted representation—gun battles and almost continuous violence—has little to do with real lucid dreaming. In actuality, lucid dreams normally consist of consciously creating wonders like flying, making items appear and disappear, and other Harry Potter-ish actions—all the while, clearly knowing that this is a dream. 

Some recent news articles have examined the life of the alleged Tucson gunman, Jared Loughner, and suggested that his interest in lucid dreaming may have something to do with his waking actions. Unfortunately this seems pure speculation, and does not correlate with the experience of millions of lucid dreamers around the world, who find joy, healing and creativity in their lucid dreaming experience.

Robert Waggoner,
 IASD Board Chair
Jodine Grundy,
 IASD President
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OCTOBER 20, 2010
Dear Dreamers, 

Recently, I learned that a University of North Carolina–Wilmington theater student, Sarah Burke, felt so inspired by reading my book that she created a multimedia, collaborative theatrical performance, called “The Dream Project,” which premiered in Wilmington on October 15, 2010, for a weekend run.

According to an article by Trey K. Morehouse in the student newspaper, The Seahawk, “Burke had been interested in dreams ever since she read the book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner. ‘The book opened me up to the crazy possibilities of dreaming,’ said Burke. ‘It was really fascinating, and it offered a completely different way to look at dreaming.’ ”

I truly feel honored and pleased that senior Sarah Burke has created an event for herself and others to share their collective fascination with this wild and wonderful thing, dreaming. So often, dreaming (and the subconscious) is ignored or devalued as worthless or irrelevant, and lucid dreaming is seen as a mere fantasy. Yet dreaming and lucid dreaming underlie and support what we are. Without them, we would figuratively, and literally, die.

I hope Sarah continues her creative expression and produces future events—like Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, The Musical perhaps!—and wish to publicly express my sincere thanks to her for creating this collaborative theatrical event.

Thanks, Sarah,

Robert Waggoner
PS – To read the full article, click here.
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OCTOBER 18, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

As we seek to remake
 Inception to be that movie lucid dreamers talk about for decades, we envision a heart to heart conversation with Christopher Nolan. In it, we convince him of the spiritual nature of lucid dreaming and urge him to make Cobb’s “extracting” actions either understandable or basically ethical.

We begin to outline a new spiritual awakening version of
 Inceptionwith the pitch that Cobb realizes information exists independently of us all. It waits free for the taking. He even realizes that his own information exists “out there” in some meta-web of unconscious knowledge for those who understand. It’s not a heist; it’s a lucid realization.

In this way, Cobb’s journey supports his understanding that waking reality seems dream-like and a co-creation of his larger mind within the larger spiritual system that exists beyond and before Cobb. Yet, Cobb struggles with accepting this concept fully and advancing spiritually to a more profound state of realization, because he knows to do so means
 losing his wife and children. His spiritual gain means their loss – and he clings to their memory.

In our new version, it is this dilemma that tortures Cobb. How can he advance, while losing those he loves? He must make a choice. So he lucidly investigates time and space, and sees their fundamentally illusory nature. Then, he tells the team that he will seek the path of an “eternalist” – voluntarily creating mental worlds in which his wife and children live, in which he can hold onto their memory and his feelings.

In the new draft’s finale, Ariadne follows him into a shared lucid dream, as he beholds the illusory forms of his wife and children. Ariadne begs him to come back or be lost forever within lucid dreaming’s reality creating complexity. Cobb turns one final time, spins his reality checking top and looks at her. “What have I to lose?” Then as if answering his own question, he murmurs, “All experience seems dream-like.”

The top spins and spins, as he disappears out the door.

Lucid wishes,

Robert Waggoner
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AUGUST 26, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

Imagine yourself as an experienced lucid dreamer, consulting with Christopher Nolan about the making of
 Inception. You want to make the first lucid dreaming movie that lucid dreamers will love, because it stays true to what lucid dreamers experience. You want Inception to be that movie lucid dreamers talk about for decades.

Nolan proudly sketches his first outline for
 Inception. So what do you do?

You agree to keep the basic subconscious heist story line, since you have experienced instances of mutual lucid dreaming and played around with dream telepathy. And you save the wounded-by-grief lead man, Cobb, and his tormented personal subconscious, since lucid dreamers have issues to work through and often deal with subconscious projections. You even keep the “lucid dream team” together, so you can bounce around ideas about realities with sympathetic friends.

Next, you help Nolan develop a truer plot by shooting scenes compatible with lucid-dreaming consensus. For example, when lucidly aware, the dream figures must be shown to vary. Cobb must deal with thought-forms, projections, independent agents, and apparently consciously aware dream figures. You need a way to differentiate these figures from the lucid dreamers. Obviously, they will all act differently; a thought form will sit there or act nonresponsively when questioned, while an independent agent may try to act contrary to the lucid dreamer. So in your new version, Cobb and his fellows maneuver through the complexities of identifying and handling a variety of dream figures.

Then you help Nolan realize that lucid dreamers rely on mental principles, such as belief, expectation, focus, intent, and will to make things happen. As lucid dreamers, we intuitively understand that. Like Neo in
 The Matrix, Cobb can lucidly stare down a bullet and watch it fall to the ground, because he knows that the bullet has no inherent existence outside of the mind. Cobb then trains his understudy, Ariadne, to realize her beliefs and expectations about each situation will help shape its outcome, so she must recognize her cocreating role in each dream drama. Changing the lucid dream requires “changing” the contents of her mind.

You’ll show Nolan that experienced lucid dreamers can change levels in the lucid dream. How? It’s quite simple, actually. Become lucid, and then shout, “I want to go to the next form” (or “the next level,” if you prefer). Experienced lucid dreamers instantaneously find themselves in a completely new realm with subtle differences when they do this.

Then you convince Nolan to have Cobb meet the duped dreamers in a shared dreamscape and “extract” their secrets. He announces that their secret will appear when he opens a book or steps into the next room. There in the intended medium, he discovers their secret. But as lucid dreamers know, he wonders if the shared secret comes in literal or symbolic form. Has he seen it clearly, or has his personal perspective distorted it?

In my next blog, we’ll rewrite a powerful, new ending to
 Inception– one that will make lucid dreamers talk about it for decades, because it touches on the primary question that every experienced lucid dreamer faces: the nature of reality.

Lucid wishes,
Robert Waggoner
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JULY 28, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

Recently I was asked by ABC News to comment on Christopher Nolan’s new movie
 Inception, which I was happy to do. But as it’s impossible to do the movie justice in a fifteen-second sound bite, I’d like to offer you my list of ten things I like about Inception.

1. “Dreams seem real while we’re in them,” Inception’s main character, Cobb, says. It’s a simple point, but an important one, and the dream sequences in Inception get it right. As theInception team’s newest student, Ariadne, learns, the assumed reality of our experience, waking or dreaming, seems to us compellingly real. It’s only when the street disintegrates that we question reality. Just a few nights ago a dream figure asked me, “How do you know you’re not sleeping right now?” I blew him off for asking such a sophomoric question—and woke up in my bed!

2. Inception illustrates the way in which expectations operate in the dream state. Cut your finger in a lucid dream and you’ll feel pain—unless you actively expect otherwise. Even in lucid dreams we carry with us the idea of physical senses. Yet there is an escape clause: the mind’s expectation about what it experiences. To feel pain in a lucid dream, you must mentally believe in it. No belief, no pain.

3. The brilliant creativity accessible to lucid dreamers shines through Inception like the sun—and is equally taken for granted. Aware in the subconscious, the mind’s warehouse of creativity stands completely open and ready for requests. Many lucid-dreaming painters, novelists, song writers, programmers, and engineers access their Muse while consciously aware in the dream state, and marvel at its beauty and creativity. Lucidly knock on the door of your subconscious, and Creativity opens it.

4. Inception offers a cautionary tale. Lucid-dreamer Cobb fails to resolve major personal issues and they prove to be his undoing. Dream-architect Ariadne repeatedly begs Cobb to deal constructively with his guilt and grief; instead, he both avoids and befriends his guilt and grief, and it accompanies him in each layer of the mind. Cobb fails to learn the fundamental psychological lesson of lucid dreaming: No matter where you go, there you are.

6. Inception shows us the vast creativity of the subconscious in the hands of a psychologically wounded lucid dreamer who fails to learn his lessons and so accumulates increasingly complex karmic wounds. Whatever else you may think, lucid dreaming remains, fundamentally, a spiritual journey. Until you clear away the emotional and psychic wounds and misperceptions, they distort your view, your understanding, and the lucid landscape. Once they are taken care of, lucid dreamers see clearly that lucid dreaming follows a spiritual path of extraordinary beauty, complexity, and depth.

7. Inception illustrates what most experienced lucid dreamers know: layers of lucid awareness exist. While Inception relies on the “dream within a dream within a dream…” metaphor, some lucid dreamers have become consciously aware and moved to other levels of consciousness. How? Well, they didn’t useInception’s fantasy device, PASIV; rather, they did it the old fashioned way: they used the power of the mind. Next time you’re lucid dreaming, shout out, “I want to go to the next level!” and see what happens.

8. Inception hints at, but never asks, “How would society respond if technology offered a drug and device that would place you with others in a stable lucid dream?” Would you give up weekly bridge games for a few hours in a shared "Holodeck," lucidly aware with friends? I can only speculate, but a chemical compound that creates stable lucid dreams may be discovered in our lifetime. Science fiction seems headed toward science fact. One day those weekly bridge games may collapse faster than bee colonies, as people swarm to lucid-dream gatherings.

9. Inception presents us with something lucid dreamers grind their metaphysical teeth on: another type of reality. Sure, physical reality has physical pleasures: peaches and watermelons in season, Lady Gaga. But physical reality also has death, taxes, and lutefisk. Lucid dreaming offers whatever you expect and more in a lucid reality; except that it’s not real. Or is it? If you step outside of Plato’s physical cave and stumble into Plato’s lucid dream cave, who’s to know?

10. I like Inception for bringing up these reality-checking ideas, these “How do I know that I know” questions that push thousands of lucid dreamers like myself to go deeper and deeper, to play lucid dreaming reality off of so-called physical reality, to see more clearly the attributes of a physical, mentally mediated reality (waking) contrasted to a mental reality with Gumby-like physical forms (lucid dreaming), and to experience, behind it all, the unseen Architect, the “awareness behind the dream” that I discuss in my book.

So these are the ten reasons I like
 Inception. Hey, wait a minute. There are only nine reasons here. My software arbitrarily removed #5—no kidding. I guess that’s the final reason I likeInception: the minor details and anomalies our awareness floats over and fills in reminds us of the mentally “created” aspect of this experienced reality. Who knows, maybe we’re dreaming, right now, but managed to overlook that, too.

Lucid wishes,
Robert Waggoner
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JULY 12, 2010
Dear Dreamers, 

The upcoming sci-fi movie thriller by Christopher Nolan,
Inception, raises many fascinating questions that experienced lucid dreamers (those who become consciously aware of dreaming while in the dream state) have wrestled with for decades, namely: 
If you become consciously aware of dreaming, can you lucidly enter another’s dream and/or bring them into your dream? 

If they share unknown information with you, would this provide evidence for a shared or mutual dream?

And if that information proves to be valid, what does that say about the nature of dream

Do dreaming minds have access to an individual or collective unconscious where they share information?

 Inception a talented lucid dreamer named Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is able to bring an unsuspecting dreamer into a mutual dream environment and then “extract” information from his or her subconscious. The lucid dreamers in Inception rely on a special machine, PASIV and a special drug, Somnacin, to achieve a stable lucid dream realm and enact their underhanded (or under-minded) deeds. 

Inception’s basic premise resonates with many experienced lucid dreamers who have empirically investigated these questions of gathering information and interacting in an apparent shared or mutual dream. Though complex, the simple answer to each of the above questions appears to be “Yes. Lucid dreamers have provided numerous instances of acquiring unknown information while consciously aware in the dream state.” 

In the movie, Cobb explains the three-stage approach to ensnaring another’s subconscious information while lucid dreaming. First, “We create the world of the dream,” Cobb tells his understudy. After creating a stable lucid dream, “We bring the subject into the dream,” he says. And for the finale, “[T]hey fill it with their secrets.”

Nolan’s cinematic version of shared dreaming offers a glimpse of what actually happens, according to some experienced lucid dreamers. In fact, Nolan appears to be personally familiar with lucid dreams. In an April 4, 2010,
 Los Angeles Times interview with Geoff Boucher, Nolan comments on the reality of the lucid dream state. “You can look around and examine the details and pick up a handful of sand on the beach,” he says. “I never particularly found a limit to that; that is to say, that while in that state your brain can fill in all that reality.” As to Inception’s plot, “I tried to work that idea of manipulation and management of a conscious dream being a skill that these people have,” he says. “Really the script is based on those common, very basic experiences and concepts, and where can those take you? And the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else.” 

Nolan correctly observes that nothing keeps a lucid dreamer from trying to interact with other dreamers in the dream state and obtaining information. In fact, many lucid dreamers have tried this and some have achieved stunning results. Let me share a few examples from my book,
 Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, in which lucid dreamers “extract” secret information while consciously aware in the dream state. 

In 2006 Ian Koslow, a talented lucid dreamer and university student, wrote to ask if I truly believed a lucid dreamer could obtain verifiable, unknown information when lucid dreaming? I suggested that he should devise an experiment that would prove or disprove the ability to get unknown, verifiable information in the lucid dream state, and then try it in his next lucid dream.

A month later, Ian surprised me by submitting a lucid dream in which he did just that. He writes, “I was talking to a girl in my dorm about lucid dreaming, and we were discussing whether or not the people you see in the dream are actually real, or just imaginations. To test this out, we decided to do a little experiment.”

The young woman told Ian that she had “an awkward looking freckle” on her back, and she invited him to locate in the lucid dream state. Within a week, Ian had two lucid dreams during which he and recalled the task. In the first lucid dream, he could not make it to her room due to distracting dream figures. But in the second lucid dream, he consciously requested that the woman come to him, and suddenly she entered his room. He recalls, “I finally found her in my lucid dream and searched her back until I saw a dark freckle on her lower back, dead center, right above her ass. I remember thinking during the lucid dream that there was no way this could be the right spot, because I thought I remembered her hinting to me that it was on the side of her back.”

Waking with this lucidly sought information, he went down to her dorm room and told her of his discovery. “I went up to her back and pointed my finger at the spot that I saw it in the dream,” he writes, “and to both of our surprise, she lifted up her shirt and my finger was directly covering her freckle. Now, I have no idea what this means, but I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that I happened to guess exactly where the lone freckle on her back was. All I could think is that the power of lucid dreaming might be more then I imagined.”

Notice how the freckle doesn’t appear on the side of her back where he thought she hinted it might be; instead, he found it deep down on her lower center back. Notice, too, how in the lucid dream he thinks, “there was no way this could be the right spot” because it runs counter to the suspected hint that he already considered. Thankfully, when he visits the young woman, he points to the exact place indicated in his lucid dream. He follows the lucid dream information faithfully. (
Lucid Dreaming, 177–78) 

Another talented lucid dreamer, Clare Johnson, consciously sought telepathic information while competing in the annual Dream Telepathy Contest conducted at the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) conference. This educational event is an outgrowth of the scientific investigation into dream telepathy conducted by Montague Ullman, MD, Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., and Alan Vaughan in the 1960s and ’70s. Their book
 Dream Telepathy: Experiments in Nocturnal ESPsummarizes the fascinating findings in support of dream telepathy.

On the night of the Dream Telepathy Contest, Clare became aware that she was dreaming and sought to find the “telepathic sender” who was telepathically transmitting an image. (Earlier in the evening the “sender” had selected one sealed envelope with an image from a group of four sealed envelopes and retreated to her room to open the envelope and transmit the image to contest participants.) Before falling asleep, Clare incubated the desire to get in touch with the telepathic sender and discover the target image.

Clare desribes her dream:

I am wandering around with IASD members, commenting on the greenness. In the distance, a woman's voice is shouting “Tree! Tree!” as if she has just discovered the answer to some fundamental question. . . . Later [in the dream], we are all at the conference site in a high-ceilinged room, discussing the dream telepathy contest. I see Beverly [the telepathic sender] across the room and know that I'm dreaming this. Beverly looks cheerful but I think she's got to be tired since she must be having a sleepless night trying to transmit the image. I ask her how she is feeling. She flings her arms out, grinning, and says, “I've just been shouting the word inside my head!” 

“That's interesting,” I say, “because in my last dream, people were shouting about trees.” I want to ask her outright if tree is the image she is projecting, but think this might be cheating. A woman across the room says excitedly, “I've been getting that, too. Tree shouting.” We get into a discussion about the nature of greenness. Is green a positive or negative color? We agree that it is both dark and light. Deep and beautiful. . . . Then, very slowly, I wake up. I am smiling in the dark. “The telepathy picture really might be a tree,” I think. (
Lucid Dreaming,179–80)
Upon waking, Clare finally visits the Dream Telepathy Contest table, where all four images are revealed; however, only one is the “target image.” She explains, “When I get to Registration with the slip of paper upon which I scribbled down my dream, there are three images which don’t resonate with me at all, and on the end is a picture of the tree I tried to draw in my dream.” Clare selects this image and includes her dream report. 

A few days later, Clare discovers that she won the Dream Telepathy Contest. Moreover, she says, “I was intrigued to learn that Beverly did actually shout about trees inside her head while attempting to communicate the image. This experience has given me food for thought concerning receptiveness in lucid dreams.” (
Lucid Dreaming, 180) 

The next real-life example touches on the plot twist of Inception in which Cobb must go beyond merely extracting information from another while lucid dreaming—he must “implant” an idea into another’s subconscious without them being aware of it. If he can do this successfully, he will win his freedom.

In the following personal example, I manage to “implant” an idea into another dreamer’s subconscious, which she then showed me in the waking world. My lucid dream of November 24, 1998, begins as I lucidly observe the inside of a restaurant and see my friend Moe come inside.
She’s wearing a white T- shirt and black pants. I ask her if she realizes this is a dream. She seems just a little bit alert, so I walk her around a bit. Then I decide to hold her and levitate (to convince her we dream). I keep saying, “See, we’re floating! This is a dream." 

Trying to make some impact on her, I get the idea to make a peace sign with my fingers. Putting them in front of her face, I say, “Look, Moe, do you see this peace sign? Every time you see it, it can make you become lucid —you’ll know you’re dreaming.” Again, I put the peace sign right in front of her face.”
I wake.

Four months later, I’m traveling on business on the West Coast and call Moe to see about having lunch. We make plans to meet. Arriving early, I wait outside the restaurant and, at last, I see Moe coming down the sidewalk. As she walks up to me, she gives me a curious look—then suddenly, she reaches up and puts a big peace sign right in front of my face!

I am completely stunned—I had recalled the lucid dream earlier in the day, but had never mentioned it to her. Shocked, I muttered, “Why did you do that?” I asked. She shrugged her shoulders and said nonchalantly, “I don’t know. Just felt like it.” Later over lunch, I told her about my lucid dream of meeting her and showing her the peace sign and how shocking it felt to see her mimic my lucid dream behavior [in the waking world]. (
Lucid Dreaming, 182-83) 

Moe’s mirroring of my lucid dream action seems impossible to discount as mere coincidence. Not only had a “sign” been exchanged in the lucid dream, but my dream action appeared to influence Moe’s waking action. Suddenly, the two worlds of dreaming and waking didn’t seem so separate. For a moment on a sunny suburban street corner, lucid dreaming merged with lucid waking.

So, does lucid dreaming allow us access to another person’s mind as
 Inception suggests? Or do we all connect subconsciously in a meta-web, mind-grid of a Collective Unconscious, which our ego blithely ignores as illusory dream fantasies? Could we use lucid dreaming to provide scientific evidence of a mental realm or shared inner dimension? 

Lucid dreaming offers us a new and revolutionary psychological tool to investigate such questions. Using advanced and experienced lucid dreamers, scientists could develop experiments that consciously explore the mysteries of what psychological researchers are now calling a “hybrid state of consciousness” with features of both waking and dreaming awareness. The dream theories of Carl Jung, often criticized for lacking an experimental basis, could be re-examined through lucid dreaming. From my experience, I believe evidence for a type of collective unconscious or inner communication system would be uncovered.

Christopher Nolan correctly states that “the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else.” However, he need not worry about technology or lucid dream machines. Talented lucid dreamers have already provided anecdotal evidence of obtaining unknown information while lucidly aware in dreams. This fact alone should wake up science to the potential of lucid dreaming to explore deeper aspects of consciousness—an
 inception that many physicists, lucid dreamers, and others have long imagined. 

Lucid wishes,
Robert Waggoner
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JUNE 15, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

The website
 BestBookTopTen.com has given my book the first-place ranking out of the “Top Ten” books on lucid dreams. Using a variety of measures such as sales, blog reviews, and reader enthusiasm, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self garnered the top spot. My thanks to all of the readers, lucid dreaming bloggers, and others who have recognized this book’s significant insights into lucid dreaming.

If you like the book, please tell your friends. Announce it on Facebook, tweet about it, discuss the ideas on lucid dreaming forums—all of these simple actions spread the word.

You can also include a link to some of the radio shows that have interviewed me, like a recent one with
 Dream Talk Radio’s Anne Hill at http://bit.ly/bdcsDQ

You can also spread around interviews and discussion, such as
Rebecca Turner's article on the upcoming movie, Inception, which include my comments on lucid dream telepathy (the movie’s theme).

I truly appreciate your help in spreading the word about my book. The Internet is a huge place, which means that things can get lost—or virally picked up and promoted to millions!

My thanks to you, the reader, and to BestBookTopTen.com for your support.

Lucid wishes,

Robert Waggoner
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MAY 13, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

My recent radio show on Iowa Public Radio (
Talk of Iowa, April 27, 2010) focused on health and healing in dreams and lucid dreams. For millennia, dreams have forewarned of impending illness, prescribed possible cures, and in some cases, healed the ailing person while they dreamt. To a large degree, the people who phoned in reported that this ageless tradition continues.

Some callers pointed to dreams that gave them assurance about a difficult pregnancy or suggested the best option (out of many) to a complicated surgery. Others called with profound emotional dream healings. A diabetic woman reported realizing that when she dreamt of being in the kitchen and looking for food, she needed to wake and get something to eat! On those occasions where she ignored the dream symbol and continued to sleep, she often came dangerously close to a diabetic coma.

Another very earnest listener phoned in and asked could we really realize that we were dreaming, and then alter the course of the dream? I responded to his first point that yes we can become consciously aware of dreaming, while in the dream state. Moreover, besides altering the dream, we lucid dreamers could do something profound: we could direct healing energy or healing intent onto our disease, while consciously aware in the dream state, and sometimes wake with extraordinary improvements in health.

Lucid dreaming takes healing in the dream state from a rare and random event to a conscious act which potentially can be scientifically studied.

As I cover extensively in my book, when lucid or consciously aware in the dream state, experienced lucid dreamers have repeatedly shown that they can focus healing intent on areas of illness or disease while lucidly aware. This healing intent may appear as a beam of light from the lucid dreamer’s hand or simply be a deeply felt suggestion within the lucid dream. Frequently upon waking, these lucid dreamers sense a radical change in their illness or condition, e.g., the signs of infection have disappeared, the plantar warts have turned black overnight, the bleeding has stopped. Upon personal inspection or by X-ray in their doctor’s office, they verify that a radical change has occurred.

Though largely unrecognized by science, lucid dreaming provides a new approach to investigate the connection between lucid awareness and the healing of the physical body. While neuroscientists like Ursula Voss and Allan Hobson are beginning to map out the physiological correlates of lucid dreaming as a unique “hybrid state of consciousness,” experienced lucid dreamers are investigating its practical applications for the health and wholeness of the body, brain, and mind.

Lucid wishes,
Robert Waggoner
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APRIL 6, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

The apparent connection between vestibular abilities (that is balance and spatial orientation) and lucid dreaming has been explored by lucid dream researchers. Looking at my personal life as a lucid dreamer, I noticed a number of curious vestibular activities which may have enhanced my spatial abilities. Let me mention a few.

A year or two before I began lucid dreaming in high school, I taught myself how to juggle. This seems a wonderful vestibular activity since you must focus on three moving balls, two moving hands, and coordinate their collective activity rapidly and sequentially. Now that I think about it, my most active period of lucid dreaming (30 lucid dreams in a month) occurred coincidentally with my most active period of juggling, when I tried to master four-ball juggling.

Coincidentally, scientific research has shown that juggling helps dyslexic students (and general students) with their studies, concentration, and test scores. Even though a playful action, some researchers suggest that juggling may help the two halves of the brain make bilateral connections, which allows for greater communication and coordination. I recall marveling in the midst of juggling that my hands could anticipate the balls position in space, even though I visually could not track or think about it consciously. On a deeper level, the subconscious computations were taking place.

I also realized that in the years leading up to lucid dreaming, I often performed an unusual stunt on my 15 minute walk home from junior high school. This is what I did: I would close my eyes and see how far I could walk before opening them! At first, I’d manage to go ten feet with eyes closed. Then, I could go twenty, then thirty feet, then more. I taught myself to concentrate on my feet, the direction of the sun on my face, the visual impression of the cracks in the sidewalk and such things, as an alternative to sight. Using this new skill, I could sometimes go almost an entire block without opening my eyes.

However, this practice of walking blind does present hazards. Once, I walked right into a lamppost positioned at the sidewalk and driveway’s edge. So please be careful if you try to imitate this skill.

Later, I developed a new skill during waking moments. During the day, I would often imagine myself flying “as if” in a lucid dream. I would fly to the top of a building, or around a classroom. In these moments, I could shift visual perspective and sense the scene from the imagined perspective. These daytime flights of the imagination reminded me of my joyful lucid dreams, but may have taught me new spatial skills, as well.

So my advice to lucid dreamers: play with space – strengthen those vestibular skills, whether physical or imaginal. Expand your relationship with space, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Bring lucid space into the waking world and grow the conscious space of your nonphysical mind.

Lucid wishes,

Robert Waggoner
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MARCH 19, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

Recently, I had the good fortune of interviewing an early researcher into the science of lucid dreaming, Dr. Jayne Gackenbach. Currently she serves as a professor of psychology at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, where she researches the influence of video games on dreaming and lucid dreaming. Yes, die-hard gamers have a tendency to become consciously aware in their dreams. From what I read on forums, gamers often use their lucid awareness to blast their way through the dream realm with guns blazing. Who said Grand Theft Auto and Halo should be limited to cyber-reality when we have a subconscious with apparently unlimited brain RAM and awesome graphics?

Before this area of research, Gackenbach was noted for investigating the cognitive characteristics of lucid dreamers. How is a lucid dreamer different than a non-lucid dreamer? What cognitive characteristics are common to lucid dreamers?

In her research, Gackenback uncovered that lucid dreamers (along with frequent dreamers and meditators ) seemed to possess greater field independence and more advanced spatial skills. Field independent people are those that naturally understand where they (or other objects) are in space and can separate themselves from distractions, so they don’t get lost. They process spatial clues more readily and organize the environmental space more accurately within their mind. Since they know where they are in space, they would feel comfortable moving and manipulating in the mental space of dreams.

Through testing, some evidence emerged that a well-functioning vestibular system (which deals with balance and spatial orientation) allowed for easier learning of lucid dreaming. Those who showed evidence of diminished vestibular activity seemed less likely to learn lucid dreaming. These spatial skills and abilities might be necessary requirements to handle lucid dreaming, since one flies around the mental space, deals with amazing and unusual spatial actions (falling, moving through walls, going backwards, zipping through tunnels of light, etc) while maintaining a sense of coherence throughout.

I recall conversations with a graduate student, Kenneth Leslie, at an ASD conference many years ago, who presented a research paper titled “Vestibular Dreams: The Effect of Rocking on Dream Mentation” (
Dreaming, Vol 6(1) 1-16, Mar 1996). In Leslie’s experiment, dreamers slept in sleep lab hammocks which rocked back and forth to stimulate the dreamer’s vestibular system while asleep. After ten minutes of REM sleep, the subjects were wakened. It appeared that rocking did increase “lucid mentation” during the early morning REM periods, when compared to the control group who slept in the non-rocking hammocks.

Leslie’s research reminded me of a number of dreams in which I shifted rapidly back and forth in the dream space, and then became lucid. For example, I might dream of driving a car on a winding road, or flying in a plane buffeted by the wind, then it dawned on me, “This is a dream!” Waking, I wondered if the dream’s vestibular activity of being moved back and forth helped activate my lucid awareness. Perhaps some of you have noticed this tendency in your dreams a few moments before becoming lucid.

With all the talk about lucid dreaming and vestibular skills, I began to wonder: Could a person improve their waking vestibular abilities in order to enhance their propensity for lucid dreaming? Did I see any personal evidence between lucid dreaming and vestibular skills?

I’ll explore this in my next blog.

Lucid wishes,

Robert Waggoner
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JANUARY 7, 2010
Dear Dreamers,

When you use lucid dreaming as a psychological tool to investigate the nature of reality and the psyche and not as an amusing toy to consciously direct dreams, you begin to understand how lucid dreaming can radically alter numerous physical and psychological assumptions. Assumptions about the nature of time and space, assumptions about the boundaries of self and mind, even assumptions about identity—all of these can be probed by a serious lucid dreamer to expand their perspective toward a truer understanding of the mystery of apparent reality.

In my book,
 Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, and in these blogs, I have sought to underscore the importance of that journey and the power of those mind-expanding lucid experiments. I hope my experience will encourage others to experiment, since these areas have such dramatic potential for each person and science and culture.

To some degree, these cultural and scientific assumptions act as an “invisible fence,” which constrain a broader inquiry. Why look beyond those assumptions, when we are assured that nothing exists outside of them? In lucid dreaming, we possess a revolutionary psychological tool that can allow us to leap over that fence of assumptions and experimentally utilize our greater nature and abilities. As our experiments puncture those invisible assumptions, we begin to increase our personal and collective understanding. From the awakened sleep state, we bring greater “awareness” to the waking reality.

In normal dreaming, we also have a reflection of our expanded self and what seems the truer nature of reality. We can conduct dream telepathy experiments, intend information unknown to us, and more. However, when consciously aware in the dream state, we can vastly accelerate those experiments and begin to reach the broader nature of the psyche. We can more accurately probe this inner realm, when consciously aware.

Through lucid dreaming, you can discover the rich inner lands of the psyche. My book, explicitly and implicitly, can serve as a guide to help you make your own personal discoveries.

In this New Year, I wish you well on your journey,

Robert Waggoner
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NOVEMBER 17, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

On the popular lucid dreaming forum
 Lucidipedia.com, one of the hosts wrote a blog about the lack of evidence for mutual lucid dreaming. He doubted its existence and furthermore, saw no reasonable explanation for the “mechanism” to explain a mutual dream or a mutual lucid dream.

This bothered me. In my book,
 Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, I have a chapter titled, “Mutual Lucid Dreaming” in which I provide many examples of apparent mutual lucid dreams with fascinating interconnections and shared knowledge. Also, a friend of mine in 1997, Linda Magallon, wrote the book, Mutual Dreaming, and provided numerous examples of mutual dreams.

So on the Advanced section of the forum, I posted a new topic, entitled, “Mutual Dreams. Any Evidence? I Think So . . .” In the post, I suggest dream telepathy as one possible mechanism to explain mutual dreams. Dream telepathy has been scientifically studied by internationally known researchers Montague Ullman, M.D. and Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., who provided considerable evidence for the phenomenon. In fact, they received a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant for their research in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Unfortunately, some researchers who sought to replicate their studies had various levels of success and failure. At least one of these researchers later admitted to creating difficult or inhospitable lab conditions in order to (in his mind) defend science. Yes, I know that logic seems totally twisted, and just as that researcher desired, his experiment on dream telepathy showed negative results. Years later, Dean Radin evaluated all the dream telepathy experiments and concluded that collectively they showed results beyond chance.

To demonstrate my belief in the validity of dream telepathy, I proposed an experiment on the forum. I would agree to be the telepathic receiver, if the forum would find a coordinator (to select a group of target images) and a telepathic sender to randomly select an image and send it on the night of the experiment. After a month, a coordinator emerged who found a young woman to be the telepathic sender. Oddly, I did not even know the full name of the sender; I just knew some scattered bits of information about her, and that she lived in the Netherlands.

Our first experimental trial was an incredible success! I sent in five dreams – all of which mentioned food, cafés, picnic tables and people (it seems rare to have five successive dreams that mention the same basic subject). Then the coordinator revealed the image; a drawing of a café with patrons being served by a young waitress. In my dream reports, I even commented on one woman dream figure, seated at a table with food, who wore a yellow gold dress – in the image, the most prominent customer is a woman seated at a table wearing a yellow gold dress.

You can read my dreams and see the Target Image at

Because of the existing scientific evidence, dream telepathy offers the simplest explanation of the mechanism for both procuring unknown information and creating a consensual dream experience. The mental intent to send and to receive information acts to allow the communication. Moreover, dream telepathy likely explains most instances of mutual dreams; two dreamers share a correspondence of thought, which becomes expressed as similar dream environments, actions and information. Considered thusly, consensual dream reality reflects consensual thinking.

Feel free to follow the action on the
 Lucidipedia forum as we continue with more dream telepathy tests. However, do yourself a favor. Find a friend and try dream telepathy yourself. By trying it yourself, you will learn so much more and develop your own dream telepathy abilities.

Lucid wishes,

Robert Waggoner
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OCTOBER 16, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

In lucid dreaming, we realize that many of the actions or events occur according to our expectation about what seems likely to happen. If you lucidly expect to fly through a wall easily, then normally you will. If you turn around and fly through the same wall expecting difficulty, then your expectation will create trouble, and you will likely bounce off that wall. I call this the Expectation Effect in lucid dreams. Simply stated, the Expectation Effect suggests that you experience what you expect to experience to the degree that you expect at that moment.

But does the Expectation Effect explain the lucid dreaming experience? Or is this more?

In my previous blog, I suggest that the Expectation Effect cannot easily explain unintended events, and new environments, like the new vista seen when you lucidly fly around a corner. Some have ventured that the unintended events and new environments can be explained as the result of a subconscious Expectation Effect composed of mental models. They suggest that the subconscious Expectation Effect creates an appropriate action or environment, which then appears, and this explains how unintended environments and events occur in a lucid dream.

Like many lucid dreamers, I wrestled with this for years. I noticed quickly that my expectation created my experience on most occasions. Yet, I became mystified by the unexpected and unintended actions and events on other occasions. Finally, I began to realize that I needed to experiment within lucid dreaming to resolve this dilemma. The experiment? Actively seeking information beyond conscious and subconscious knowledge – in effect, I sought to discover the unknown.

By actively seeking unknown information in a lucid dream, the lucid dreamer can go beyond the limits of conscious or subconscious Expectation Effect, and journey deep into the psyche, the unknown part of the Self. If the unknown information (as in telepathic, clairvoyant or precognitive information) later appears validated, then it apparently comes from beyond my conscious or subconscious expectations. Unknown information like this must exist outside of the commonly accepted closed system of my mind.

Castaneda’s don Juan suggested that a “silent reservoir of knowledge” existed within each of us. In The Power of Silence, don Juan states, “Silent knowledge is something that all of us have. . . . Something that has complete mastery, complete knowledge of everything. But it cannot think, therefore it cannot speak of what it knows.” To access this “silent reservoir of knowledge,” a person had to touch it – to contact it. So in lucid dreams, I set out to do that through a number of methods including my counterintuitive technique, “asking the awareness behind the dream.”

Aware in the dream state, I began to probe for telepathic, clairvoyant and precognitive information. To my delight, the information seemed routinely valid or validated by later events. On occasion, the information came in symbolic form, requiring some interpretation (which could be misinterpreted). Yet overall, I discovered that lucidly seeking the unknown could result in consistently valid information. Moreover, I discovered that other experienced lucid dreamers were discovering the same thing!

In my book,
 Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, I chronicle many of these lucid adventures in search of unknown information, which you can read for yourself.

By lucidly accessing unknown information, the lucid dreamer shows the limits to the Expectation Effect, as the definitive explanation for all lucid events. These personal experiments in search of unknown information have shown many lucid dreamers that they can touch a broader range of knowledge and information. By all appearances, lucid dreaming shows us that the mind is not a closed system. It has access to information beyond the conscious self’s knowing.

In the next blog, we will look at scientific studies on dream telepathy, conducted at the Maimonides Hospital Sleep Laboratory by Montague Ullman, M.D. and Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. Dream telepathy may be the mechanism that explains accessing telepathic information lucidly, and explains mutual lucid dreaming.

Lucid wishes,

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SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

For many lucid dreamers, the Expectation Effect becomes the castle from which they understand and view the realm of lucid dreaming. Each and every experience, they relate back to the Expectation Effect. However, thoughtful lucid dreamers know that this hardly explains the totality of lucid dreaming, which stretches across a much larger realm of experience.

Previously, I noted that: “The Expectation Effect suggests that you experience what you expect to experience to the degree that you expect at that moment. So “if” you expect in a lucid dream to fly through a wall, then you will fly through the wall according to your expectation. Expect it to be easy, and you fly right through with ease. Expect trouble, and you hit the wall and bounce off.”

That sounds valid, right? So where are the holes in the castle walls of the Expectation Effect?

Let’s explore a simple lucid dream from Lucy Gillis, co-editor of The Lucid Dream Exchange (from p.58 in my book):

I turn to the girls and say triumphantly, “This is a dream!” Patty is exasperated and says, “You mean to tell me we’re all dreaming.” I say, “No, I am. You are characters created by my mind.” . . . Patty gets angry and interlaces her fingers with mine . . . Patty bends my fingers back. I don’t pay attention to her. Instead, I wonder how my fingers can hurt when I am aware that I’m dreaming.

Like many lucid dreamers, Lucy experiences something completely unexpected when dealing with a dream figure. Have you ever lucidly asked a dream figure to do something or answer a question, and they just look at you blankly and walk away? Or have you ever told a dream figure, “I am dreaming you!” and noticed the unhappy look on their face? If dream figures exist as a creation of your expectations, then why do they respond unexpectedly? How does the Expectation Effect explain the unexpected?

In Lucy’s lucid dream, Patty disagrees with her assessment that she alone creates the lucid dream and suggests an alternative viewpoint that “we’re all dreaming.” When Lucy denies that possibility, Patty continues to act in an unexpected manner, and bends Lucy’s fingers back until they hurt!

So in this case, we have two unexpected developments: on a cognitive level, a dream figure disagrees with the lucid dreamer’s assessment of the situation and on an experiential level, a dream figure acts in opposition to the lucid dreamer. How does the Expectation Effect explain these simple, yet unexpected activities? Why doesn’t the dream figure simply comply with the lucid dreamer’s assessment? Why does it “act out”?

The simple answer seems to be that the Expectation Effect does not explain all lucid dreaming activity. In the complex realm of the lucid dream, there is more than the lucid dreamer’s expectation.

For example, consider this lucid dream: I become consciously aware on a gravel path. Feeling great, I come upon a woman dream figure and hold her hand as we walk down the path. Coming around a corner, I see the mouth of a cave. It is decorated like a wedding chapel with white lacy fabric and bows. Lucid, I feel surprised to see this. How does the Expectation Effect explain unexpected dream materializations, like this cave? Obviously, on a conscious level, I did not expect to see a cave decorated as a wedding chapel – so how did it come into being?

Or how about this lucid dream: Lucid, I decide to see how far I can elongate my arm. With my right hand, I grab my left arm and pull it. The left arm begins to grow longer and longer. Happy with my success, I look around for my brother to show him my vastly extended left arm. When I see him, I notice that both of his arms look like they have been pulled inwards. Only his fingers emerge from his shoulders! I expected my left arm to lengthen, but did not expect his arms to disappear. The Expectation Effect seems to explain the success of my arm lengthening, but does not explain my brother’s arm shortening. So how do we explain this?

As we begin to look for unexpected developments in our lucid dreams, we realize that the Expectation Effect seems limited to events that we consciously intend to experience (for example, flying through a wall). It explains these lucid dream events nicely, while failing to explain many others.

Some may say that I fail to account for a lucid dreamer’s subconscious expectation, that at a subconscious level, an expectation may exist which shortens my brother’s arms, which makes wedding chapels appear at the mouth of a cave, and which creates dream figures who challenge the lucid dreamer. While subconscious expectation may explain some of it, a lucid dreamer can challenge the subconscious explanation by lucidly asking for information that the person’s subconscious cannot know.

Next time, we will explore more deeply the Expectation Effect, as we look at experienced lucid dreamers whom question the awareness behind the dream for unknown information. What does it mean when that awareness provides answers unknown to you or anyone, which later prove to be valid? How can you expect (consciously or subconsciously) unknown information?

Thanks for joining me as we explore the principles of the lucid dreaming mind together,

Robert Waggoner
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AUGUST 8, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

Consciously aware in the dream state, we have direct access to the enormous freedom of imagination’s source. Space, time, ideas, perspectives, emotions can be thrown together, smashed apart, reshaped in a million different ways in the laboratory of the dreaming mind. Some casual observers label this as “chaos” or “dreaming as psychosis”—but experienced lucid dreamers know it as something else: the perceiver in the principled infinity of the subconscious mind.

Aware in the dream state, lucid dreamers begin to learn the deeper principles of dreaming that serve to structure apparent chaos. Lucid, you quickly realize that your ever-changing thoughts, beliefs, focus, and emotion matter immensely, since they act as building blocks of your dream experience.

In my book, I call the “most likely to be discovered” principle of lucid manipulation, the Expectation Effect. The Expectation Effect suggests that you experience what you expect to experience to the degree that you expect at that moment. So “if” you expect in a lucid dream to fly through a wall, then you will fly through the wall according to your expectation. Expect it to be easy, and you fly right through with ease. Expect trouble, and you hit the wall and bounce off. Or like me, expect it to be a little bit problematic and suddenly find yourself stuck half in and half out of the wall! The Expectation Effect mirrors your (conscious and often subconscious) expectations at that instant, and to the appropriate degree.

In your next lucid dream, try it for yourself. Expect trouble from a lucid dream figure, and suddenly you will discover your expectation acts to create hassles. Expect compliance from a dream figure, and you will discover compliance. Expect compliance but then doubt that your expectation will influence the dream figure, and see the results of conflicted expectations.

Needless to say, by changing your expectations you can change your experience mightily. In fact, if you pay attention to your thinking during a lucid dream, you can “watch” those expectations adjust the ever changing experienced reality. You can lucidly flip expectations from “possible” to “impossible” and from “desired” to “disgusted” and experience the active reality of the dreaming mind. This immediate feedback teaches lucid dreamers the importance of the Expectation Effect, which explains its widespread acceptance as a commonly recognized “principle” of the dream realm.

So, you have to wonder—does the course of regular dreaming simply follow the dreamer’s “non-lucid” subconscious expectations? Does the apparent “chaos,” the seeming “psychosis” simply reflect the twists and turns of unrealized, subliminal expectations bouncing off the non-lucid, focus shifting, association connecting, dreaming mind? To some degree, I believe it does; however, more principles exist than the Expectation Effect.

While one could argue that lucid awareness simply overlays the discipline of the waking mind and its belief/expectation system on the chaos of dreaming, many regular dreams have those moments where an expectation emerges. And, at that moment, normally the regular dream follows the expectation. The Expectation Effect, if you watch closely, even exists in regular dreams to some degree.

Now that I have suggested the Expectation Effect as one primary principle of your lucid “castle-building” mind, I will return next time to scale the castle walls and breach the Expectation Effect. Oh yes, any experienced lucid dreamer can test the apparent principles, probe their many sides and discover their weaknesses. So in the next blog, watch as the White Knight transforms into the Dark Knight and teaches you how to conquer the castle of the Expectation Effect, as we move more deeply into the peculiar and wonderful territory of the seemingly infinite, yet principled, dreaming mind.


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JULY 10, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

This past week, I attended a fantastic conference in Chicago, hosted by the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD). For 25 years, IASD has held annual conferences featuring many prominent authors on dreaming and lucid dreaming, as well as new scientific research, experiential discoveries, and workshops.

It is a wonderful opportunity to meet lucid dreamers of all stripes – in fact, the new lucid dreaming documentary "Wake Up: Exploring the Potential of Lucid Dreaming" was filmed at the IASD Conference in Sonoma, CA, two years ago, and shows many of the lucid dreaming authors and researchers who present at IASD conferences. Check out the documentary’s trailer at

In that brief trailer, you meet Beverly D’Urso who participated in many early lucid dreaming scientific experiments, professor Scott Sparrow who authored
 Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light, professor and researcher Jayne Gackenbach who authoredControl Your Dreams and was editor of the Lucidity Letter, professor and artist Fariba Bogzaran, novelist Clare Johnson, dream scholar, and author Kelly Bulkeley, and myself. And those are just some of the talented lucid dreamers who attend the IASD conference.

You can read about next year’s conference at
www.asdreams.org/2010/. Since I am the newly elected president of IASD, I hope to see you there – and if not 2010, then perhaps 2011, when IASD hopes to host a conference in Amsterdam.

At this year’s conference, I met a talented lucid dreamer from the former Soviet Union. From our conversations, I learned that lucid dreaming has been heavily influenced by the works of Carlos Castaneda. Since I taught myself how to lucid dream after reading Castaneda’s
 Journey to Ixtlan (this was before lucid dreaming had been proven, no less!), I had followed Castaneda’s writings, particularly as they pertained to lucid dreaming. Lucid dreamers from the former Soviet Union appeared to be focusing strongly on these ideas of Castaneda’s and taking them even deeper.

As I mention in my book, don Juan told Carlos that “
Dreaming is the gateway to infinity” (Castaneda italicized dreaming to mean lucid or conscious dreaming). Some lucid dreamers will interpret that to mean in the imagination you can do anything within your infinite imagination, while others will suggest lucid dreaming leads to innumerable other dimensions. A’la Castaneda, some lucid dreamers from the former Soviet Union are focusing on the multidimensional view of lucid dreaming.

In my book I mention that a lucid dreamer can radically shift one’s focus by announcing to the awareness behind the dream, “Take me to the next level!” or “Show me the next form!” Instantly, you will find yourself lucidly aware in an entirely new lucid dream. In my experience, you may find yourself in your current home, for example, completely lucid in a changed environment. Now imagine what lucid dreamers from the former Soviet Union are doing: they lucidly go to the next level, then lucidly go from there to another level, and then another and another! They use lucid dreaming to explore multidimensional depth. Experientially, they appear to have discovered that each successive level leads to greater lucid dream stability.

In lucid dreaming, one can focus on the seen or the unseen, the known or the unknown, the actual or the potential – if one learns to use
 focus. Generally speaking, we focus within the framework of our conceptual base, because we feel comfortable there. However, lucid dreaming also allows us to focus beyond our conceptual knowing. It’s then that we get a sense of don Juan’s proclamation that “Dreaming is the gateway to infinity.”

Lucid wishes,
Robert Waggoner
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JUNE 4, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

Failure can be a wickedly wonderful teacher. My early lucid dreams were filled with these sweet sour teachings. I’d become lucid, get excited and watch the lucid dream collapse. Or I’d become lucid, modulate my emotions, then watch a few interesting dream figures play a strange game – within twenty seconds, I would become captivated by their antics and lose my lucid awareness! Waking, I’d see the new lesson, “I have to focus on being consciously aware.”

Focus. To grow as a lucid dreamer, you have to learn focus.

The lessons on
 conscious focus continued for years, as I concentrated on the beauty and complexity of focus. For example in my early lucid attempts at flying, I would wonder with a bit of fear, “How high am I?” and then focus on the ground. You know what? Each time, I focused on the ground, I would move toward the ground. Suddenly, I would be lucidly falling out of the sky, as the object of my focus (and fear) came ever closer.

The lesson? Focus has an emotional dimension.

My failures taught me that focus involved more than sight. Focus followed the emotions in all their complexity. When lucidly walking and you fear that mean looking dream figure has noticed you, your fear locks in that focus, and pulls you into the gravity of fear and a near certain encounter. Conversely, if while flying you strongly wish to stand next to that attractive person on the hilltop, your emotionally tinged focus pulls you there more quickly. My teacher, failure, taught me that focus was rarely neutral. Focus usually followed the lucid dreamer’s emotions.

Consciously aware in the dream state, you can choose your focus. You do not have to focus on the attractive person; you do not have to focus on the person you fear. Instead, my teacher taught me that you can actively change your focus through a shift of mental and emotional emphasis. Almost instantly, you can say, “No,” to your habitual focus, and
 re-focus on another goal.

Making that shift of focus occur requires inner will. You will your focus away from entrapment by fear or desire. You will your focus in the direction of your new intent. Then, your will becomes a powerful reality creator, as you learn to adjust your focus and free yourself from habitual tendencies and emotional instincts.

Yet, there is even more to focus, since it has a multi-dimensional aspect. Next time, we’ll concentrate on using focus to access the unseen, the non-apparent, the imagined and unimagined.

Until then, stay lucid,
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MAY 4, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

When the first spark of lucid realization illuminates your mind and you gleefully announce, “Hey, this is a dream,” what happens next?

For many beginning lucid dreamers, their success will be determined by how they respond in the first 15 to 30 seconds. In those initial crucial moments, taking four important steps can set you on the path to an exciting and lengthy lucid dream. These are the steps: 1) modulating your emotions, 2) elevating your awareness, 3) maintaining your focus, and finally, 4) establishing your intent.

The joy or euphoria that often accompanies your lucid dream realization will lead to its quick demise, unless you rein in the emotional intensity. Lucid dreaming newbies quickly learn to modulate their emotions, since intense emotions lead to the collapse of lucid dreams.
Lucid dreamers deal with intense emotions in a number of ways. Some visually focus on something boring, like their hands or the floor, since visually neutral stimuli serves to decrease any emotional upsurge. Others mentally tell themselves to “Calm down,” before their emotions get too high. While others begin to concentrate their energies on other tasks, which naturally reduces the level of sensed emotion.

Once the emotional level has stabilized, you will want to elevate or clarify your awareness. Some do this by performing a “reality check” (they levitate, put their hand through a wall, etc.) to re-confirm that they exist in the dream state. Some engage in a solidifying ritual, such as rubbing their dream hands together to ground themselves and spark the kinesthetic senses. You can take this further by shouting out a suggestion to the dream, such as “Greater clarity now!” or “More lucid awareness!” These vocalized intents normally show immediate results.

An elevated awareness makes the next goal of maintaining your focus much easier. Newbies frequently discover that their focus will wander, and suddenly they will get intrigued by some aspect of the dream. If not careful, this new aspect can become so interesting (or en-trancing) that your lucid awareness vanishes, and you slip back into regular, unaware dreaming.

Maintaining your focus requires an “active” realization of lucid dreaming. Many lucid dreamers perform repetitive actions to remind themselves that they are dreaming. They may repeatedly announce, “This is a lucid dream” or perform reality checks at certain intervals.

One caution about focus involves staring at objects in a lucid dream. For some reason, lucid dreamers find that staring fixedly at something for more than a few seconds often causes the dream to feel shaky and then collapse. Some lucid dreamers notice the shaky feeling and immediately look back at their hands or the ground to stabilize the dream state. Others have discovered ways to create a new dream scene (by closing their eyes for a second or spinning around); however, for inexperienced lucid dreamers a new dream environment may feel bewildering.

In my book, I suggest that the easiest way to maintain your focus involves establishing an intent or goal to accomplish, and then establishing a new intent or goal immediately after the initial accomplishment. You can think of this as the “active focus & re-focus” technique. By re-focusing on a new goal, you maintain an active state of awareness. Without an active focus on a goal, new elements will spontaneously enter the dream and capture your attention. Within seconds, your focus will likely become en-tranced by these new elements and you will lose lucidity, as you slip back into unaware dreaming. By habitually establishing goal after goal, you keep your awareness active.

Of course, a lucid dreaming goal may be a very simple thing, such as “I wonder what is around the corner?” or “I now want to walk through that door.” Each goal focuses your awareness and keeps conscious activity engaged. By stringing these simple goals together, a beginner can maintain lucid awareness, and have a surprisingly long lucid dream.

Each of these four crucial steps to successful lucid dreaming—1) modulating your emotions, 2) elevating your awareness, 3) maintaining your focus, and finally, 4) establishing your intent—requires your focus. With practice, these steps become second nature. Once established, you can confidently and lucidly explore the incredible beauty and creativity of your larger Self and the inner lands of the Psyche.

Best wishes,
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APRIL 8, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

When you read the papers of the late Gestalt psychologist and lucid dream researcher Paul Tholey, you discover a pioneer in developing a
 lucid mindset. I define a lucid mindset as a persistent mental habit of reexamining one’s perceived environment or state of awareness. This reexamination naturally leads to conscious awareness in the dream state.

In 1959, Tholey wondered if he could bring conscious awareness into the dream state by asking himself numerous times during the day, “Am I awake, or am I dreaming?” Reasoning that this question would occur to him in a dream, he then might become critically aware and conscious in the dream. After about a month’s consistent repetition of this question, he succeeded with his “Reflection Technique” and became lucid.

Some lucid dreamers have begun to call Tholey’s “Am I awake, or am I dreaming”
 the Critical Question. It definitely seems “a” critical question about one’s state – but it does not appear to be the only one, or the only one that leads to lucid awareness.

As previously mentioned, one ultra frequent lucid dreamer routinely asks, “What was I just doing?” This memory check prompts her lucid awareness, as she realizes she had been going to sleep, so this must be a dream. For her, the Critical Question that elicits
 greater critical awareness is a memory check about activity.

Other ultra frequent lucid dreamers appear to develop greater vigilance as a result of frequent nightmares in childhood. Apparently, they habitually scour the perceived environment to determine if they are dreaming and, therefore, possible prey for nightmarish figures. Perhaps their Critical Question might be, “Am I safe here?” or some expression of vigilant awareness which naturally leads to lucidity.

I imagine that young Buddhist monks learn to develop a lucid mindset when they repeatedly hear, “All of this is like a dream.” If you consistently consider all perceived environments to be “like a dream,” then you may enhance your ability to discern dreaming as being like a dream and become consciously aware in it.

In my experience, I began to develop a lucid mindset after reading the works of Jane Roberts, who put forth that our perceived experience came as a direct outgrowth of our beliefs, thoughts and feelings. Therefore, understanding our experience required an investigation of our beliefs, thoughts and feelings. So when something notable would happen in my waking life, I would wonder, “Why did I create this? How does this relate to my beliefs, thoughts or feelings?” Like Tholey, these same questions began seeping into my dream life, prompting lucid awareness, as I reconsidered an outlandish event and determined “This could only occur in a dream!”

These examples show how a lucid dreamer can easily develop a lucid mindset. By consciously adopting a Critical Question that appeals to you and requires you to reexamine your experience and by using it consistently during the day, it transfers to your dreaming and causes you to reexamine the dream experience. This questioning mindset naturally leads you to lucid awareness.

The Critical Question does not have to be philosophical; it can be simple, like “What was I just doing?” or “Where am I?” However it must be used consistently during waking hours.

Imagine an entire society and culture persistently asking a Critical Question. Maybe over time, lucid dreaming will lead to a worldwide lucid mindset,

Robert W
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MARCH 4, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

Why do some dreamers immediately take to lucid dreaming, while others struggle to achieve lucidity even once?

I thought about this question recently when interviewing a young Norwegian woman,
 Line Salvesen, for The Lucid Dream Exchange. She claims to have about fifteen hundred lucid dreams a year. For most of us who average three or four lucid dreams a month, fifteen hundred per year sounds incredible!

She’s not the only person, though. Over the years, I have met a number of ultra-frequent lucid dreamers, on-line and in person. Curious about their ability, I began to search for some common characteristics—something to explain this high frequency. I noticed how they often assumed
 everyone dreamt lucidly, and felt shocked to learn this was not the case. In some cases, their frequent lucid dreaming could be traced back to persistent childhood nightmares where they learned how to achieve lucidity to deal with nightmare scenarios. In other cases, their frequent lucid dreaming seemed connected to certain waking mental habits.

Recalling my carefree college days studying behavioral psychology and reading Carlos Castaneda, I went from three to eight lucid dreams a month to a high of thirty lucid dreams per month at my peak—all of which I nicely charted as a budding behaviorist. Some of this increase I could attribute to the use of the MILD technique. But decades later, when I began meeting ultra-frequent lucid dreamers, I began to feel a bit deflated, quantitatively speaking. How did they achieve lucidity so frequently?

Then a mini-epiphany came to me.

One day, reading an email from an ultra-frequent lucid dreamer, and feeling a tinge of envy mixed with curiosity, I responded, “How? How do you become lucidly aware in almost every dream?” The lucid dreamer wrote that she had a consistent habit of asking herself repeatedly, “What was I just doing?” This mental habit carried over to her dreaming awareness, such that in the dream she would pose this exact question to herself, “What was I just doing?” Searching her mind, she realized she had been preparing for sleep, so therefore, she must be dreaming!

At that moment, a little light went on in my brain. Ultra-frequent lucid dreamers develop a
 lucid mindset.

A lucid mindset means a persistent mental habit of reexamining one’s perceived environment or state of awareness. Whether it involved memory or vigilance (e.g., Am I safe here from nightmares?), these ultra-frequent lucid dreamers repeatedly checked or analyzed their current situation.

For some, numerous nightmares apparently reinforced the need to differentiate waking from dreaming, and allowed them to become highly attuned to dream state cues that would prompt lucid awareness. This habitual need to examine their state (waking or dreaming) naturally led to lucid dreaming, as a positive way to handle nightmares. Done with consistency over time, a lucid mindset developed, which became an unconscious and routine part of their dreaming life.

As for the lucid dreamer who consistently questioned herself to remember her last action, we find another type of lucid mindset. Here, she performs not so much a “reality check” as a memory check that leads to a reality check! Her questioning leads her to reexamine more thoroughly her environment or current state, and she becomes lucid. Whatever the underlying motivation, certain habitual mental patterns lead these ultra-frequent lucid dreamers to examine their perceived environment or current state more closely.

So how can you use this knowledge to become a more frequent lucid dreamer? How can you work towards developing a lucid mindset? Or do you have a touch of a lucid mindset already, which you just haven’t noticed?

Next blog, we’ll explore these “critical questions” and see how we can develop our lucid mind.

Lucid wishes,

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FEBRUARY 4, 2009
Dear Dreamers,

In my previous two blogs I discussed the phenomena of
 lucid euphoria and lucid ecstasy. Now, I’d like to explore what I call thelucid afterglow, a state in which many lucid dreamers find themselves upon waking from a lucid dream.

Like the natural afterglow of the sun that has already set but whose light still reflects off of high clouds and bathes the landscape in its diffused brilliance, the afterglow of lucid dreaming seems to impact us with a special feeling. Lucid dreamers often describe the afterglow as a feeling of increased energy, a positive feeling of radiant confidence or a sense of heightened awareness. Sometimes this relates back to an accomplishment in the lucid dream, but the afterglow often follows a simplistic lucid dream.

However expressed, the affect has been noted to linger for hours and even days in rare cases. The person feels a noticeable inner change, which, like the setting sun, gradually subsides and disappears.

The afterglow effect can be found in a number of human endeavors: emerging from a hot sauna, endorphins from a long distance run, a deep massage, etc. However, all of these are physical events. What is it about the mental event of lucid dreaming that creates a lucid afterglow? And why would a lucid afterglow lasts for hours, even days?

There may be as yet undiscovered chemical or hormonal releases activated by this unique state of conscious awareness in dreaming that persist in the body long after the lucid dream. In fact, it may be discovered that lucid dreaming’s similarity to waking activates those neurotransmitters and hormones associated with waking. This alone would explain how the afterglow effect persists long into the waking hours.

To develop this idea more deeply, think about the affect of a nightmare. Dreaming, we encounter something frightening and our fright multiplies as we run screaming and terrified. Once we awake, the physical and emotional affect quickly dissipate; the heart beat and breathing soon return to normal. Within five or ten minutes, we are fast asleep and headed back towards dreaming. Why is there no nightmare afterglow that persists for hours after waking? Why do many lucid dreams have a lengthy afterglow, but a regular dream does not? Does a regular dream’s influence become relatively limited to the dreaming brain, while a lucid dream influences both the dreaming and waking brain, and therefore persists long into the waking state?

The lucid afterglow may have a connection to the considerable power for healing in lucid dreams — a topic I devote a book chapter to, and which relies heavily on the work of lucid dreamer, Ed Kellogg, Ph.D. There, you can read approximately fifteen successful healing attempts in the lucid dream state, which carried over successfully to the lucid dreamer’s physical condition as an after-effect. Many of these seem quite dramatic and suggest the healing potential of lucid dreaming.

For most lucid dreamers, though, the lucid afterglow will be just that — a warm sense of joy, confidence and heightened awareness which lingers into their waking hours as an unseen gift from lucid dreaming.

Best wishes until next time,
Robert Waggoner
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DECEMBER 17, 2008
Dear Dreamers,

In my previous blog (October 22) I discussed lucid euphoria, which can occur at the beginning of many lucid dreams. An even more profoundly intense experience can occur within and during the lucid dream. I call this
 lucid ecstasy.

Lucid dreaming lends itself to depth experiences, I feel, because it involves both the awareness of the waking mind with the vastness of the unconscious mind. This combined awareness of waking conscious and unconscious naturally leads to deep, unparalleled encounters with the mystery of the larger Self. As Carl Jung noted, however, even the light of the numinous must pass through the lens of each person’s unconscious, resulting in a multiplicity of manifestations.

Lucid ecstasy can have many forms in the lucid dream, yet primarily appears as an overwhelming sense of beauty and thanks, or a spiritual or religious knowing, initiation or comprehension, and sometimes an intense physically oriented sensation.

Once in a lucid dream, I consciously wandered the nearby streets in the sparkling darkness, admiring the beauty and seeming aliveness of the dreamt houses, the sidewalk, the trees with their near perfect details and uniqueness. At that moment, I could feel something welling up inside of me, and I spontaneously began expressing my deepest, sincerest thanks for being alive and aware in this incredible place at this wondrous time. Suddenly, the outpouring became a gushing of thanksgivings, a bursting forth of praise for the miracle of this created reality, like years of pent-up, unexpressed joy found an outlet and shot into the skies of my mind with exploding fireworks of happiness.

In the morning, I sought to understand what had happened. Lucid ecstasy was the only way to describe it.

Discovering this deep joy in lucid dreams has been noted by many lucid dreamers. The author of
 Pathway to Ecstasy, Patricia Garfield, commented that along her lucid dreaming path, she found changing levels of emotion, activity and content. She writes, “At the first level, we are total victims of our dreams figures. . . . At the second level, we are active participants in our dream struggles. . . . At the third level of interaction, we are conscious and peaceful participants in our dream adventures.” She then concludes, “At the fourth level of interaction, we move into a full-blown mystical, ecstatic experience within the dream.” 

Garfield suggests that at this fourth level, where ecstasy arrives, the lucid dreamer finds, “Forms disappear and all is radiance. We are part of a single life force. I glimpse the brilliance of this level fleetingly, at one with the universe. These are the dream experiences of light.”

For many of us, these ecstatic experiences of “a single life force” or oneness will materialize in various ways. Some will experience pure light – a knowing, compassionate, positive light, in which we find deep support, acceptance, knowledge and love. Others may find this light emanating from lucidly dreamt figures or buildings or objects, sometimes holding religious or spiritual significance that prompts an extraordinary realization within the lucid viewer. Still others may find themselves as a pinpoint of light, hurtling through the cosmos, or comprehending its connection to all other points.

However experienced, a feeling of lucid ecstasy often emerges, as the lucid dreamer consciously connects to the “radiance.”

Perhaps most common among lucid dreamers is the sense of lucid ecstasy that derives from a dreamt physical experience. It may be the sense of enormous freedom felt when lucidly flying through the dreamscape with mastery. Or, it may be engaging in a deep sense of oneness while lucidly and passionately coupling with another. However expressed, it seems the lucid senses heighten the beauty and joy to a crescendo of intensely felt sensation. For a brief moment, the lucid dreamer feels transformed by the intensity and reaches a momentary sense of ecstasy.

I recall a lucid dream in which the breakthrough was visually experienced. Frustrated by some impediment in flying, I felt lucidly determined to go as fast as possible and cast aside any constraint to flying. As I willed myself forward, propelled by emotion, the imagery slid by quickly until it became a streaked blur of color – then suddenly, like breaking the sound barrier, I seemed to break the visual barrier, and burst into a darkness where the light existed in myriad capsule forms which scattered in front of my perception, like so many pieces of broken glass. I marveled at this shattering of imagery, as bits of light tumbled through the darkness.

In many regards, lucid ecstasy points to the breaking of typical constraints. For a moment, the lucid dreamer allows an expansion, an outpouring, a breakthrough of consciousness and sensation. Then, radiant joy rushes into the openness, which the lucid dreamer experiences as a kind of ecstasy.

Next time, we will bask in the
 lucid afterglow, which many experience for hours or days after their lucid dream. 

Until then, best wishes,
Robert Waggoner
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OCTOBER 22, 2008
Dear Dreamers,

Let’s consider:
 lucid euphoria, lucid ecstasy, and the lucid afterglow.

A common and noticeable effect of becoming consciously aware in dreams is what you could call
 lucid euphoria.

At that moment of realizing “This is a dream,” you often experience a giddy feeling, like some type of primal, creative energy is now coursing through you. When you couple that feeling, that energy, with the awareness that you now exist in the mental realm of dreams, it creates a noticeable lucid euphoria. You feel newly empowered with a yet to be expressed brilliance, as if truly knowing everything actually is possible. A new world opens to you and anxiously awaits your creative breath.

In waking life, it seems rare to experience this lucid euphoria. You might have to conjure up memories from childhood – those moments of mental or physical struggle, when suddenly, without knowing exactly how, you “got” it! Sitting in the third grade, you spontaneously “got” how to divide numbers. Or in band, you finally “got” how to blow into your flute! Those brief flashes of insight and mastery that erupted within your mind – and gave you a brief sense of euphoria and sudden mastery. Those moments hint at the dreamer’s feeling of lucid euphoria.

But why lucid euphoria? I recall reading excerpts of an early panel discussion on lucid dreaming at the Association for the Study of Dreams when Ernest Hartmann, M.D. brought up that question. Why would lucid dreaming result in a sense of joy, of euphoria? No one had an answer.

As I see it, there may be any number of explanations, so let me express a few possible contenders.

Neurologically, a sense of euphoria may result from the neuro-chemical splash of mixing the dreaming brain with the lucid (more-waking) brain. The addition of conscious awareness to the dreaming brain may spark new cells, new brain areas to activate, as new mental powers come online. Science has noticed that the dreaming brain operates differently than the waking brain. As Richard C. Wilkerson notes:

“Generally speaking, when we go to sleep the brain becomes deactivated, desensitized to outer sounds and sensations and switches over from an aminergic neurochemical system that keeps us alert and focused on the outer world to a cholinergic system that allows for relaxation. We are sleeping. Then something strange occurs, the aminergic system stops almost completely and the cholinergic system becomes hyperactive” (
Electric Dreams, March 2003).

If my conjecture is correct, the awareness of lucidity prompts both systems into activation, and you suddenly get a joining of brain powers, which the lucid dreamer feels as lucid euphoria. Of course, that is simply a conjecture on my part. To my knowledge, no scientist has broached or considered this point.

On a mental level, lucid euphoria may be a function of moving from a reactive mode of being chased by dream figures or accepting bizarre situations to suddenly switching to a more conscious, more powerful and deliberate mode of lucid awareness. By gaining a sense of directive control, the lucid dreamer feels a sense of euphoria – now that he or she can consciously direct the dreaming to his or her liking.

On a spiritual level, I have only read one comment pertaining to what I call lucid euphoria -- and that was in the writings of Jane Roberts. She suggested that the giddy sense of joy reflected the Self’s awareness of having accessed the larger storehouse of its inner abilities. Our waking self rarely accessed its fuller abilities, she maintained. When lucid, all of those abilities are activated more directly, and the dreamer senses the additional power inherent in those abilities as a type of joy.

Now others may point to a psychological explanation, such as lucid euphoria represents the ego inflation that naturally results when mixing the waking self with the unconscious self. Perhaps a strict Jungian might say that. Or (thinking like a behaviorist now), lucid euphoria results from having been rewarded in previous lucid dreams; so the joy reflects the conditioned response of expecting the same playful fun as in other lucid dreams.

However it arrives, lucid euphoria truly exists. It loftily carries many lucid dreamers forward, who feel its energy as a welcoming to the dreaming awareness.

—Robert Waggoner

P.S.: Next blog, we’ll talk more as we move into the space of
 lucid ecstasy, and then move onto the after-effects of lucid dreaming, or the lucid afterglow. See you then . . .
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AUGUST 29, 2008
Dear Dreamers,

Before I had a book, I had this: 1,000 lucid dreams, thirty-two years of lucid dreaming experience, and lots of time to think about it.

I mention this not to boast, but simply state it took a lot of lucid dreaming to derive the insights, the experiences, the depth of lucid dreaming that you will find in
 Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self.

I also had something else – a deep desire to tell the larger story of lucid dreaming, and in so doing, expand the potential of new lucid dreamers to investigate that larger story for themselves. You see, I noticed that some lucid dreamers were settling for a simple explanation of lucid dreaming, which one could briefly state like this: lucid dreamers experience only the lucid dreamer’s expectation and mental models. (Carl Jung disagreed vehemently with this “mirror” view of dreaming, which suggested that dreams only mirror the contents of our conscious mind.)

When it appeared that some lucid dreamers had simplified the experience of lucid dreaming to only expectation and mental models, I knew I had to write a book – if for no other reason than to correct that misperception, that mischaracterization. Lucid dreaming seems much more profound, much deeper than expectation and mental models, and the proof lies in lucidly seeking out the unexpected, seeking beyond mental models, venturing into the unknown. When you consciously experience the unexpected, the unknowable in a lucid dream, you know that you have gone deeper than the ego self or the waking self – you have made contact consciously with a deeper portion of your own being.

This book explores that inner depth, and provides an outline of what I and many other talented lucid dreamers are discovering.

Along my journey, I had the great fortune of meeting talented lucid dreamers at the annual
 International Association for the Study of Dreams conference (asdreams.org). There, we were able to listen to each other’s presentations, talk afterwards and share ideas, techniques and some of our deepest lucid experiences. I benefited immensely from their friendship and wisdom.

Hearing that others shared many similar lucid dream experiences and had come to much the same conclusions as I, supported my developing view that common principles exist in dreaming. Lucid dreaming and the experience of lucid dreamer shows convincingly that dreaming is a principled environment. When lucidly aware, it definitely does not seem chaotic or a random firing of neurons in search of a meaning – dreaming appears to be a structured environment, operating according to certain principles. And when consciously aware, you can experiment in that principled environment and begin to establish a model of those principles and how they assist in the creation of that realm.

In this book, I have sought to do many things – to express both the principles of the lucid dream realm and the profound depth and mystery of that realm, which includes interacting with the awareness behind the dream, an awareness I call the Inner Self. Through example and explicit techniques, I demonstrate various actions dreamers can take to increase their likelihood of becoming lucidly aware and maintain that state successfully.

I hope you enjoy reading the book, as much as I enjoyed writing it. Moreover, I hope it spurs you to investigate lucid dreaming for yourself, and experience the depth of inner space.

Robert Waggoner
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