What Does Lucidity in Dreams Mean?

by Mar 4, 2020Guest Blogger

Ben Mackinnon

Yoga & Meditation Teacher

Ben Mackinnon Yoga

Ben is a yoga and meditation teacher with a passionate belief in the self-discovery and self transformative power of breathwork, meditation, lucid dream and dream practise.

What is Lucid Dreaming?

People often ask me in workshops and yoga teacher trainings to explain what exactly lucid is, both in waking life and in dreams.

For a long time, lucid dreaming was seen as an impossibility and an illusion of consciousness. That was until Keith Hearne in the 1970’s and later Stephen Laberge in the 1980’s proved its validity as a very real and conscious experience.

People often mistake a very real or vivid dream as a lucid dream but there is a fundamental difference. The analogy I often use for lucidity for this is that of a manual camera lens. When the lens is out of focus we can still see the image but not the finer details. The scene and the relationships between other objects are unclear. But with a fraction of a turn of the lenses focus adjustment a scene that did not make sense now makes complete sense to us.

We now see clearly the situation and how things interrelate.

Personally, I believe lucidity is our default setting but we have become conditioned to a very unnatural state of mind which we have accepted as natural and ‘normal’. When we have a lucid dream, it is that subtle change of focus which is so simple but so worldview shattering that when experienced in the waking state we would call it ‘enlightenment’. We ‘enlighten’ or become ‘lucid’ in waking life all the time but often rapidly fall back into an ‘unenlightened’ or ‘non-lucid’ state. This also occurs in our nightly dreams with the non-lucid side dominating.

We can become fully lucid in the dream knowing we are in a dream then a few minutes later we can be caught up in the images, scene, and plot of the dream, completely losing the understanding and focus we clearly had a few minutes earlier. The impossible becomes possible and what created fear loses its power.

Now compare this to life.

We become lucid. We recognise a certain pattern. We see a partner as they really are and take clear action. We feel connected to an animal or nature and feel a sense of ease and connection and peace. Then a minute, an hour, a day, a week or a year later we are carrying out the old pattern again. We stick with the relationship we once in a moment of clarity understood was not good for us or we again feel disconnected from all around us.

Dreams and life merge and continue on from one another in very clear ways. Unawareness or forgetting of our nightly dreams is like being unaware of our waking thought stream and experiences. Awareness of our nightly dreams is like being aware of our waking thoughts and experiences.

This progresses onto lucid awareness of the illusionary nature of our nightly dreams and can be compared in the waking state to being aware of the illusionary nature of our waking thoughts and tensions. Lucidly understanding the relationship between you and your nightly dream images is like understanding the relationship between you and your thoughts and how they are a manifestation of the underlying awareness that illuminates your conscious mind and experiences.

Lucid awareness of dreamless sleep is like being aware of the space that births dreams. Lucid awareness of the space that holds the waking thoughts is like being aware of the space that births thoughts, emotions, and judgements along with the sense of ‘self’.

In advanced practises we move towards lucid awareness of what is aware of the dreamless state of sleep. In Tibetan Buddhism, this is seen as our true identity experienced in the sleeping state. This awareness is often referred to as a mirror. Lucid, simple, clear and unaltered by what it manifests.

From the perspective of dreams our habitual waking experience can be seen as a person sitting inside an empty movie theatre and completely lost in an engrossing movie and forgetting they are sitting there watching the movie. Completely lost in all the characters, plots and experiences.

Lucidity is not an experience.

It is a change in perspective and a profound shift in awareness. Lucidity is not flashing lights or unicorns or rainbows or little green men or messages from a higher self. Lucidity is seeing clearly what is as we are now free of the distorted fun-house glasses we have habitually been wearing and become lost in.

Set your intent.

Really want to wake and become aware in your dreams.
This simple wish will lead the arrow of mindful awareness of your waking life into your dreams and back again and open a door to parts of yourself long forgotten.

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