I’m going to do something a little different today, and tell you about a lucid dream that I had last night! This dream demonstrates some very interesting features of lucid dreams, and I think that sharing it with you will be a fun way to show you what lucid dreaming can be like.
It started with a kiss…
I’m standing in my lounge room and talking with a beautiful woman. She gazes deep into my eyes, and slowly leans in for a kiss. I wrap my arms around her, and we share a beautiful kiss together. It feels very playful, and we both laugh as we come up for air. I’ve read hundreds of lucid dream reports, and I can tell you that people do all kinds of things for fun in their lucid dreams! Survey research shows that intimate encounters are the second most common recreational lucid dreaming activity. Flying is the most common. Everything in my lounge room looks normal, but there are a few people lying on my couch that I don’t recognise. I wonder if I might be dreaming, and I so do a quick reality test by trying to inhale with my lips closed. I feel the contradictory sensation of air moving through my closed lips, which confirms that I’m dreaming. I’m now in a lucid dream! Many lucid dreams are triggered by the dreamer noticing something strange or unusual about the dream environment. Reality testing is a valuable technique for confirming whether you’re dreaming or awake. I’ve been developing a new way of doing reality testing that incorporates mindfulness for my upcoming Lucid Dreaming Video Course, which I was experimenting with the day before this dream occurred. I believe this is why I became lucid in this dream. I notice a few teenagers sitting in a circle on my loungeroom floor. They’re passing around a cigarette. I don’t smoke in the waking world, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t smoke with teenagers! But I’m curious to see what it would be like to try smoking in a dream. One of the teenagers passes me the cigarette, and I take a drag. However, the cigarette is almost burnt down to the filter, and there’s very little smoke. The small amount of smoke I inhale tastes just like cigarette smoke. I get a very mild head-spin sensation, which quickly disappears. People usually report that all of the senses, including taste, touch, and smell, are the same in lucid dreams as they are in waking life. Even more fascinating, when people take recreational substances in lucid dreams (e.g. alcohol), they usually report that the experience feels the same as it does when they’re awake! Isn’t it amazing that the dreaming mind can recreate almost any experience we’ve ever had? I discard the cigarette and walk towards a full-length mirror in the hallway to see what my reflection looks like. To my surprise, I look the same as I do in waking life. I do another experiment and look at my hands; I notice that my fingers are unevenly spaced, and twice as wide as usual. They also appear to be moving slightly – very strange! Looking at one’s hands is a widely used reality test. This is because in dreams, your hands will often look quite different from the way they do in waking life. This test was popularised by Carlos Castaneda’s fascinating book series, which I highly recommend if you’re looking for an entertaining read! I walk into my bedroom and am immediately drawn to a pinboard that I keep on my wall. Usually, it’s covered in photos of some of the most special people and moments from my life. However, instead of photos, there are dozens of little pieces of paper with various words and diagrams on them. The first one I notice has the word “Nurture” written on it. I do a bit of dream interpretation within the dream, and the first thought that comes to my mind is that I need to take better care of myself (I’ve taken on a lot of counselling clients lately and I've also been working very hard on a new lucid dreaming video course). I resolve to remember this message and do something nice for myself when I wake up. Next, I notice a diagram of what looks like a strange helicopter, as well as a few artworks, but I decide to move on and continue exploring the lucid dream. As a Doctor of Psychology and a Counsellor, I’m especially interested in using lucid dreaming for personal insight and self-development; hence why I was drawn to the potential meaning of the word “Nurture” on the pinboard. Many professionals, such as engineers and artists, deliberately seek out ideas, images and designs in their dreams to inspire their work. If I was an engineer or an artist, I might have spent more time looking at the helicopter design or the artworks on my pinboard. I turn to my bedroom window and see that the garden outside is even more beautiful than usual. I go to the window and decide to try walking through the glass. To do this, I hold out my hand with my fingers pointing towards the glass and rapidly dart forward, piercing the glass with my hand. I slide through the window effortlessly without breaking the glass, and I’m now standing outside. I’ve used this technique to move through solid walls and windows many times in lucid dreams, which is why it was easy for me to do. The more times you successfully do something in your lucid dreams (e.g. walking through walls), the more confident you become in your ability to do that thing. This is one of the principles of dream control – experience and confidence gives you greater control over your lucid dreams. My garden looks incredible! Giant plants are growing right in the middle of the back lawn, and there is a huge greenhouse filled with all kinds of exotic plants in full bloom. I’m excited and keen to take a closer look, but as I walk forward the sharp point of a long thin leaf from my ponytail palm gets caught in my eye! This feels very uncomfortable, and I have to carefully move my head backward to get it out of my eye. Contrary to popular belief, we can feel pain and discomfort in dreams. Fortunately, pain in dreams is quite rare, and is usually very mild when it does occur. In one fascinating study involving burns victims, it was found that most were free of pain in their dreams despite being in constant pain while awake. For those who live with chronic pain, lucid dreaming can provide a welcome break from physical suffering. After freeing myself from the ponytail palm leaf, I take a few more steps through the garden. But then, all of a sudden, I start to wake up! I try to do a stabilisation technique to keep the lucid dream going, but I’m not fast enough and I wake up almost instantly. If you start waking up from a lucid dream, you can stabilise the dream by rubbing your hands together vigorously – if you’re quick enough! This floods the brain with sensations from within the dream environment, and can delay the process of becoming conscious of your physical body and waking up.
So, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my lucid dream experience. Now, I’m going to go and do a little self-care, starting with a hot bath and a good book!
Dr. Denholm Aspy
If you're interested in learning lucid dreaming, you can check out my new Lucid Dreaming Video Course here: