Friday, 7 November 2014

Lucid dream stabilisation (1)

One of the most common problems faced by beginner (or even moderately experienced) lucid dreamers is learning how to stabilise their lucid dreams. Often, the experience of suddenly becoming lucid in a normal (non-lucid) dream is so overwhelming and exciting, that the dreamer wakes themselves up and their dream gradually fades before their eyes. 

It is essential that you use lucid dream stabilisation techniques before you attempt dream control techniques. There are various methods of lucid dream stabilisation which can help to prolong the lucid dream experience and prevent premature awakening. Before embarking on your lucid dreaming adventure, it is advantageous to incorporate mental processes such as mindfulness and concentration into your everyday waking reality. Fix yourself in the moment and meditate upon it, not allowing yourself to be distracted by intrusive thoughts or external stimuli. Building meditative and focusing behaviours will prepare you for the experience of lucid dreaming and increase your ability to utilise them in your dreams.

Initial stabilisation & dream anchoring
There are two primary techniques which can be used to anchor yourself within the lucid dream, assisting the dreamer in connecting with the dream. These are the initial steps which help to remain within the lucid dream experience:

1. Hand examination
This method has been described by Carlos Castaneda and discussed by G Scott Sparrow, a clinical psychologist, in Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light (1976). The techniques works because, in the dream state, where the dreamer's identity is weakened and in flux, the physical body remains one of the most stable reference points upon which the dreamer is able to focus and anchor themselves. Focus your attention solely on your hands. Look at them closely and do not pay attention to anything else which is occurring around you in the dream or you may get distracted and begin to awaken. Examine your hands for as long as it takes for you to adjust to the lucid dream experience. Move your hands and meditate upon what you see. This should help to calm you down from the elation of becoming lucid. 

One of the earliest lucid dream stabilisation techniques to be published was that developed by German physician, Harold von Moers-Messmer in 1938. He suggested that staring at the ground was an effective method of stabilisation, so this may be something you wish to try as an alternative to hand examination. 

2. Verbal commands
Tell yourself to focus by saying (out loud in the dream) a short, assertive phrase such as: 'Focus on the dream' or 'Stabilise' - you can basically use whatever command feels right for you. Then imagine yourself anchored firmly in the lucid dream - actually visualise and feel yourself being anchored. Once you feel firmly within the dream, you should be able to look up, notice the dreamworld around you and see experience everything in clarity.

Sometimes, even in an anchored dream, you may find that everything becomes blurry and begins to literally fade. At this point, you need to stop and re-stabilise. Repeat the above hand examination and verbal command techniques. Do not panic, as this will increase your chances of premature awakening. You should conduct the re-stabilisation techniques as many times as necessary and as frequently as necessary until you are able to 'see' the dreamworld with clarity and focus. 

Stabilisation techniques for preventing premature awakening
1. Hand rubbing/shaking
This method involves physical sensations and touch as a way of preventing yourself from waking during the lucid dream. You may find that some methods under this category are more effective than others, or that over time and use, you become immune to them, so it is best to experiment with as many as possible and find out what works best for you. Rubbing my hands together or shaking my hands seems to work well for me, but there are countless other variations of this technique which may produce practical benefits for other lucid dreamers. You might find that grabbing hold of. or touching an object in the dream is effective. I have tried stroking the walls of the dream room in which I find myself, and this helped me prolong one lucid dream experience where I found myself prematurely waking. Combine this technique with the hand examination/verbal commands to re-anchor and focus yourself. 

You may want to try head shaking as well. I have found that this technique is also effective when I have a false awakening accompanied by sleep paralysis. More often than not, when I have a false awakening, I am able to quickly become aware that I am still asleep and dreaming, but unable to fully move my body or use my voice. As I am often only able to move my head, head shaking has proven to be useful in easing the sleep paralysis and allowing me to move the rest of my body. Once my body has become 'unfrozen' and can move as normal, I am able to get out of bed and enter my lucid dream properly. 

Because visual senses are the first to dissolve in a dream (with the visual imagery either losing colour or realism and often becoming cartoonish or washed-out in appearance), visual stabilisation techniques may be less effective than those which involve touch, which is the sense which persists the longest. 

2. Spinning
This technique is best used when the dream has started to fade and you find yourself in the void between the dream and wakefulness. Use this method is the hand examination/verbal commands are not working. Spin around on the spot in a controlled manner - if you spin too wildly then it may lead to waking up, or a false awakening. Sometimes, the spinning technique can lead to dreamers entering a new dreamscape or create significant changes in the existing lucid dream. This technique is advocated by lucid dreaming guru, Stephen LaBerge, and has been proven to be very effective. He asserts that there may be a scientific explanation for why spinning has been shown to work in empirical studies. When engaging in physical movement in a dream, the sensation is as vivid as these movements being made in waking reality and therefore it is likely that our brains are being activated in a similar way in both cases. By stimulating the brain system which integrates vestibular activity detected in the middle ear, spinning movements may facilitate activity in the nearby components of the REM-sleep systems, Neuroscientists have linked activity in the vestibular system to production of the rapid eye movement bursts in REM sleep. Another possibility is that when you imagine perceiving something with one sense, sensitivity to external stimulation of that sense decreases. If the brain is engaged in producing the vivid, internally-generated sensory experience of spinning, it will be more difficult to construct contradictory sensations (such as lying motionless in bed) which are based on external sensory input. When confronted with two contradictory interpretations of the state of the body or our physical environment, our consciousness is only able to perceive one model, not both. This assumption is what also underlies other techniques involving physical sensations, such as hand rubbing or alternative forms of movement. 

3. Falling backwards
Let yourself fall backwards, while thinking about your dreamscape. Reports of false awakening are very common from dreamers who rely on the spinning or falling backwards methods, so always remember to conduct a reality check to ascertain that you are still dreaming.

4. Linear acceleration
This is another great method for when a dreamer finds themselves in 'the void' between the lucid dream and wakefulness. Try and propel.accelerate yourself as quickly as possible through the blackness of the void or the blurred visuals you experience as your dream starts to fade. You should find yourself in a completely new dreamscape, but if you lose focus on the dream, it is likely that you may wake up, so keep a destination in mind as you accelerate forwards through the blackness. 

5. Reality checks
Conduct a reality check after each re-stabilisation method - even if you find yourself in a false awakening, a reality check (and the realisation that you are still asleep and dreaming), you may be able to transform the false awakening into another lucid dream. 

6. Basic maths
One way in which you may stabilise your dream is to do some basic mental arithmetic - such as simple addition, multiplication or subtraction. This engages your conscious mind with the dreamscape and requires concentration. If maths isn't your first choice of activity, try reciting a short poem, rhyme or song, as this will have the same effect. 

7. Grounding yourself and gathering 'chi'
Stand or sit completely still, with your arms spread in front of you and meditate. Imagine that energy is gathering in your chest and forehead and travelling down to the palms of your outstretched hands. You might imagine that this energy as a form of glowing heat and even 'see' it as a form of gas or vapour emanating from your hands. Imagine that the energy travels through your body into the ground beneath you - this may well help to ground you into the dreamscape.

8. Asking dream characters to help you
This is a more advanced method of lucid dream stabilisation and may involve some practice before you attain success. Dream characters are a projection of your subconscious mind. Interact with your dream characters and ask them to help you to remain lucid - you may also wish to inform your dream characters that they too are dreaming and instruct them to become lucid with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment