“Suspended in Light” by Amy S Turner
I know there are a readers of this blog from a wide variety of dreaming backgrounds and experience, who will have equally diverse reactions to the article below. I share it because I hope some of you may find it helpful or interesting.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2715003/The-women-claim-control-dreams.html#ixzz39UGcS3QM
Personally, on the one hand, I am encouraged to see dreams and lucid dreaming discussed in mainstream media, particularly in a generally positive light. I also believe there are many benefits to lucid dreaming, including as mentioned in the article: the ability to address scary elements of nightmares, to deal with the pain of loss of loved ones and much more.
The article, in I believe a fair attempt at balanced journalism, also warns of the “dangers” of lucid dreaming, citing Dr Max Blumberg, (part time) psychology researcher at Goldsmiths University of London who states:
“From a psychological perspective, by trying to treat nightmares with lucid dreaming, you may be ignoring an underlying mental-health condition,’ he says. ‘A lot of people will exploit vulnerable people, offering quick cures for something that needs a long-term therapy, and that is dangerous.”
This is an interesting point, and one I feel requires more investigation and discussion. Can lucid dreaming fast-track psychological recovery from deep seated trauma? What are the benefits or risks associated with this?
I have personally used “active imagination” to face fears that are raised in nightmares while in a relaxed but awake state, and have recommended this process for others who have found it useful. We have anecdotal evidence of people who have used this process, as well as those who have used lucid dreaming to “self heal” but it is true there is very little fact-based scientific evidence available on this, particularly the long term efficacy. I will try and do some research on the research, and share it with you all over coming months, but anyone else who wishes to contribute their wisdom or learnings in this field, we all welcome your input!
I do agree that, as in any field that deals with a person’s inner world, and consequently the attendant fears, traumas and vulnerabilities we all have, that there is an opportunity for unscrupulous or unknowingly incompetant people to cause pain or damage to the very people they should be helping or healing. We must always be wary of this, both as those who offer our assistance, well meaning as we may be, and those who accept this help, to do so with a critical, cautious and considered approach. But one very special element of lucid dreaming actually minimises these risks – all processes happen in your own mind. A person or institute may help you to trigger a lucid dream, but once the dream starts, it is all yours. There is no authority guiding you or seeking to change what you dream, YOU are the ultimate authority. This can be both intimidating and empowering. Lucid dreaming can be as profound or as frivolous as you choose. But most people find once the experience starts, it is something very special they wish to explore in greater detail, and do so with a growing respect and even awe of the experience.
I am not at all trying to discredit Dr Blumberg, but I would also caution against leaning too heavily on the opinions of a person who in this article is put forward as an expert, but does not specialise in dreams, sleep or psychotherapy, but is a corporate, sales and HR psychology specialist, who does “media work around what makes happy couple relationships (the subject of my initial psychology research and LBC Radio Show) and also why people believe in non evidence-based phenomena like psychics, alternative medicine.” (Source: Dr Blumberg’s LinkedIn page.)
There are two key points in the article I disagree with.
The first is that Dr Max Blumberg asserts “There’s no evidence lucid dreaming actually exists.” If you are after empirical evidence that lucid dreaming is real, I would urge you to explore the work of Stephen La Berge for starters. I have listed some references below, and La Berge himself cites many references of his own.
Sources other than LaBerge:
A good layperson’s summary:
The second point I would like to stress is that Lucid Dreaming is not the same as controlling dreams, although of course there is an area of overlap. There are varying degrees of Lucid Dreaming, and all of these stages fall along an even greater spectrum of consciousness that modern science, be it via psychology or neuroscience, is really only beginning to explore. For example, it is possible to become aware you are dreaming and therefore be “lucid”, but still be a passive recipient of the dream’s actions and images, and not interfere with the events or outcome of the dream. It is also possible to influence (though maybe not exactly “control”) the content of your dreams, through processes such as “dream seeding” or “dream incubation” and still not actually become lucid in the dream. And finally, even to Lucid Dreamers, it seems there are some things in dreams that you cannot change, regardless of your belief or will power. For example, it seems difficult to read in dreams, to tell the time reliably and to turn lights on and off. Again, it would be great to see a thorough exploration of how “laws” may apply to dreaming and what is changeable and what is not.
Dreaming is a universal human experience, so we have thousands of years and many diverse cultural resources to inform our thinking. To be limited to the last 40 years of scientific research to decide what is real or not, what is possible or not, seems incredibly shortsighted to me.
And if you don’t know whether lucid dreaming can happen or not, whether it can fun or helpful or challenging, then why not give it a try? The only person who will ever really know the answer is you.
If you would like to learn more about Lucid Dreaming but don’t have the time or interest to commit to the full Sacred Dreaming course, for a limited time only I am offering Lucid Dreaming as a stand alone course. You can learn more about it here.