Do you dream often? Studies show that the average person has three to five dreams per night. Some people like myself claim to rarely dream, but research suggests that even in these cases, we do dream but are unable to recall our dreams when we wake. As someone who rarely remembers dreaming, I sometimes envy people who have deep, vivid dreams that can be hard to distinguish from reality.
It’s interesting, as a therapist you get to meet people from all walks of life and experiences, but sometimes certain themes will repeat themselves between different clients. In my therapy work I have had several clients who fall into the category of deep, vivid dreamers. I have talked with several people about the curse and blessing that such dreaming can be. When it is difficult to distinguish dream from reality, nightmares can be all the more horrific, beautiful dreams can be profoundly influential, and mundane dreams can leave a person waking feeling like he/she just worked a full work shift.
For people who dream this way, it can be very helpful to study and practice the art of lucid dreaming. Those who have seen the popular movie Inception will be familiar with lucid dreaming; it is the state of being in a dream and being aware that one is dreaming. Through being aware of their dreaming, those who have lucid dreams are able to control their dreams, which can be a powerful, life changing ability for those who dream vividly.
Getting to the point of being able to have lucid dreams takes study and practice. There are several common things that lucid dreamers suggest trying while dreaming. While dreaming, the mind has trouble keeping track of written words. One of the most common ways lucid dreamers talk about being able to enter a lucid state is through reading something, looking away, and then reading it again. For example, in a dream, the dreamer might read a sign that says “Beware of Falling Rocks!”, look away for a moment, and then upon looking back find that the sign now says “No Left Turn”. Another common practice is to look at the time on a clock, which will often appear distorted or unclear.
This RadioLab short is a good introduction to lucid dreaming and provides the account of one man who struggled with nightmares and found power over them through lucid dreaming.
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