Friday, 23 August 2019

Dream 1034

'HMP Goodtimes & Bad Times'
Date: 17 August 2019
Scene 1: A Prison - Day
I was in a prison - I was sitting in what I thought might be the visits hall, with my Mum, at one of the tables. The room was very brightly lit and the table was round and wooden (so not resembling a real life visits hall). I was discussing something with my Mum, but I cannot recall what it was. There was the sense that something was going to upset my boyfriend AJR - and I had to deal with it. I then got up and walked over to a small legal visits room, in which there was a prisoner, who was my client in the dream. He was a tall, light-skinned black male, quite large and wearing a bandana and blue overalls. He was angry, but I am not sure why. He was not threatening, but he was shouting and directing it at me. I did no feel worried. The prisoner stormed out of the legal visits room - into the main visits hall, where my Mum was still sat (and a number of other dream characters were present). He shouted, but this time in a happy way: 'Tell AJR I'm going to HMP Good Times!' I knew this would upset AJR as he wanted to be transferred to HMP Good Times, and this prisoner was taking his place.

Scene 2: An Unknown Exterior - Day
I was then outside, standing next to a red brick wall, which was slightly higher than me. It was daytime and sunny. I was using a mobile phone, and was trying to contact AJR - who also seemed to be a composite of my him and my ex-boyfriend PS, who I was with when I first met AJR in real life. I knew AJR had a mobile phone and a Whatsapp account, but when I tried to message him, I saw he had blocked me. This made me very upset, as I knew this meant he had broken up with me. I then 'remembered' he had another Whatsapp account and tried to find that one, butt then discovered I was blocked on that also. I wa devastated and began trying to find someone to ask for help. I recall talking to another dream character, or maybe even several, and walking around in a state of panic, but I cannot recall exactly what happened in this scene, up until there was a change.

I was now able to stand and reach the top of the wall. I was standing there, and had an eyeshadow palette. I was trying to grind a marble into sparking dust, to add to the eyeshadow and customise it (with crushed glass!) I thought it would make the eyeshadow look like a galaxy. I did not know which shade of eyeshadow to add the crushed marble powder to - I considered the matte white, but 'did not want to ruin such a useful shade'. I then considered a very pale, neutral, creamy-beige nude tone, but also concluded I did not want to 'pollute' that shade with the marble powder. I decided to add it to purple, because that was a colour I'd rarely use. 

Additional Notes:
  • The angry prisoner dream character is probably inspired by a real life situation where a client was recently aggressive to me - I did not tell AJR, but he eventually found out via another client
  • The reference to 'Good Times' relates to the management company of the same name which worked with Tana Mongeau on the notoriously disastrous TanaCon event
  • I had a significant dream about marbles recently - Dream 1033 - 'Murdering 'This Man' in a Rape Scenario' (AMAZING LUCID DREAM!)

Sunday, 18 August 2019


'Murdering 'This Man' in a Rape Scenario'
Date: 15 August 2019

This dream was as a result of a real life incident which took place the day before this dream - I was out walking alone at night, when I was followed by a group of men. I was in a small, dark wooded area near my house when the men decided to try and find me, while making loud, threatening/intimidating comments which led me to believe they had malicious/sexual intentions towards me. I escaped any harm - but I was unsettled and angry about this incident and in a vlog I recorded a number of hours later, I referred to the fact this might influence my next dream as I have had recurrent dreams of being chased (often near woodland) by a man/men carrying knives. This dream took place during the day (sometime between 07:30 and 14:00 hours).

Scene 1: A 'House of Marble' - Time Unknown
I was in an interior which was made of marble - I don't mean the metamorphic rock, but rather glass marbles - the spherical children's plaything. It was a 'cat's eye' marble (which as a child I used to think of as the most common and basic - and therefore least favourite marble variety, unless it had an odd colour scheme). The walls weren't transparent, although they were made of clear glass (they were too thick to be transparent, so I could not see beyond them). The coloured centre of the glass was a mix of blue and green. I did not question how odd this interior was. I cannot recall any of the decor or furniture, only the actually structure being made on marble. There were some dream characters present, but I do not recall them as my attention was on leaving the marble interior - trying to find a door, which was difficult, as all the walls seemed to be made of smooth glass with no entrances or exits. 

I walked down some marble/glass hallway and found a door which would enable me to leave. 

Scene 2: An Entrance - Time Unknown
I found myself in a scene from a recent dream - it was the exact same place, which had seemed significant in the original dream - Dream 1031 - 'Bowling Green, Sudsbury' (MY DREAM TOWN APPEARS). It is an entrance of a very institutional building - everything seems dusty and old and solid. I got a distinct feeling of nostalgia when in this location - as if I had seen it in childhood. I associated it with being the entrance to a building in London - maybe the entrance to a solicitors, or tax office, or psychiatrists (I know these are random professions, I just can't describe the strong impressionist reaction I had to this banal location). Finding myself in a dream location I have recently experienced in another dream (and one which I felt was significant in the previous dream) should have been a dreamsign, triggering a reality check and lucidity - but I accepted the reality of the dream and the fact I was back in this location, even though I recognised I had been there before. 

I noticed  that behind me (on a wall I had not observed in my previous dream), I saw there was a TV monitor mounted on the wall. I knew that this was a CCTV monitor, showing security footage. The screen was showing a showreel of a Youtuber (a male Youtuber, who I think was just a dream character as I cannot link him to any one particular content creator I am aware of in real life). The showreel was basically the thumbnails of his videos being displayed on the screen. I noticed that some of his video thumbnails were diagrams of brainwaves which I had used on this Blog (uploaded the same day as this dream). I knew they were images he had taken from my Blog, and thought it was odd (and unconnected to his channel), but at the same time, I did not question what was happening to the extent that it acted as a dreamsign - even though I was actively thinking about my dreamwork and dream journal, while in a dream scene location!

Scene 3: Countryside, 'Sudsbury' (My 'Dream Town') - Day
I left the entrance, through the big burgundy/maroon door and found that I was in my 'Dream Town' ('Sudsbury') - for explanation of my 'Dream Town' and links to all dreams in which it has appeared, see Dream 998 - 'My Dream Town Becomes Victorian'. I was in a countryside location, but I could not see the building from which I just exited. I could just see a typical English countryside, which was very tranquil and beautiful. The sun was shining and the sky was very blue. I knew I was going to a picnic in the forest (which was where I was heading, walking across the fields/meadows) - I knew my boyfriend AJR would be there to meet me, along with other people (who I assumed I would know, although it is unclear who would be there as I did not actively think about the other guests). I was very happy and excited about the prospect of the picnic and was eager to get there. 

I walked to the forest, which was a normal looking forest. I seemed to instinctively know which direction to walk in. I reached a clearing in the trees, which was where I knew the picnic would be taking place. This was in the depths of the forest. 

I heard a noise - footsteps through the forest floor, and I think I assumed it was AJR coming to meet me. However, I became aware it was a strange man and he had malicious intentions towards me - he was a sex offender who was going to rape me. I was terrified, but didn't try and run away (I am not sure why - I didn't even attempt to do this, I was rooted on the spot). 

The man appeared through the trees and I saw that it was 'This Man' (see my post on 'Have You Seen This Man? (Debunking the 'Dream Hoax'). He looked broadly similar to the image used for this hoax - he was in his 30s and very short in height, and squat in build. He was white, with a vary pallid complexion and a wide, creepy smile. His hair was black and thinning on top. He was dressed in a navy outfit which might have been a onesie - or just matching top and trousers. I instantly recognised him as 'This Man' - and as a viral marketing hoax and urban legend/myth. This caused me to become lucid! 

I performed a reality check - trying to push the fingers of one hand through the palm of the other - and found that the outcome was only slightly dream-like and odd - my fingers did not push through my palm, and my hands looked normal to me - the only 'unreal' or dream-like outcome of the reality check was the fact that my palm was a bit like plasticine or dough - malleable to the extent my finger sunk in a small amount, just enough to be impossible in real life. I was certain I was lucid. I began to run my hands together to stabilise the dream, but my hands felt quite numb and disconnected from me so I placed my right hand on the trunk of the tree nearest to me, feeling the rough, realistic bark texture. This seemed to stabilise the dream sufficiently, as I had clarity of vision and thought, and felt grounded in the dream. 

This Man stood in front of me - about 5 meters away, or possibly less. The colours of the forest seemed very vibrant and bathed in an intense green light. I began to shout: 'AJ' trying to summons my boyfriend into the lucid dream so that he could help me. At first nothing happened. This Man said to me: 'He can't hear you from the portal'. I perceived 'the portal' to be the big burgundy/maroon door from Scene 2 and my previous dream involving this entrance (Dream 1031 - 'Bowling Green, Sudsbury') which had also involved AJR being present. I said to This Man: 'the portal is in my dream, so I can summons whoever I want through it'. I imagined that the door was a portal to my Dream Town (I am not sure if that is what it does symbolise, but I have now had 2 dreams when it has led to my Dream Town, so I had a deep belief that this was a possibility). This Man started laughing manically at me and said 'you're just another rape victim today' which was a terrifying statement to hear him say. He did not try to get closer to me - he seemed confident that he had me trapped. I began shouting: 'AJ! AJ!' willing him to appear. AJR appeared through the trees, the same direction This Man had come (straight ahead of where I was standing). He was dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans and looked as he does in real life. This was the first point I became aware of how I was also dressed - I was wearing a pink zip-up hoody and leggings and I assume trainers (the outfit I was wearing in real life on the day before this dream). AJR's facial expression indicated that he was annoyed. He stopped, just behind This Man and said: 'What do you want me to do about it?' which indicated he did not want to help me in any way, which made me feel disappointed. This Man said (directed at AJR): 'this is just a one-off' - which I perceived to be him saying that he was only going to rape me once, and therefore it shouldn't worry AJR too much. 

I realised I would have to fight This Man myself, because AJR wasn't helping (and I did not want to lose focus by trying to control AJR as a lucid dream character). I imagined summonsing power into myself - I guess this is akin to 'psyching myself up' for a fight. I felt a surge of electrical energy pulsate through my body, which was a pleasurable and reassuring feeling - I guess it was literally a rush of adrenaline. I said, out loud, to manifest this: 'I've got superpowers'. This Man was just smiling at me. AJR said: 'You shouldn't lie to him when he's about to rape you'. He did not seem concerned at all about the prospect of me being raped by This Man. I felt that he was trying to undermine me within my own lucid dream, but then had to tell myself that he is a projection of my subconscious and it was actually me trying to undermine my own power. I felt extremely conscious of conscious awareness (as awkward as that sounds, I mean I was very aware of how much insight and logic I was using to interpret my own lucid dream as it was actually happening, and use that to my advantage).

I knew I had to visualise and manifest a weapon of some kind - and the obvious choice (based on my current Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiment #10) was a meat cleaver - I had held one in my hand, and could remember the weight and feel of it, as well as it's size and shape. I held out my hand and decided to look up at the sky, visualising the meat cleaver and feeling its weight in my hand. I looked up at the sky, and could see tree branched criss-crossing my field of vision. I thought they seemed higher than they should have been. I had my hand held out in front of me as I tried to manifest the meat cleaver I was visualising. I couldn't feel it in my hand no matter how hard I tried to will it. I wondered if I should close my eyes, but I didn't want to, because that can either change the lucid dream scene (this is my association as I have used this method before), or sometimes wake you prematurely. This Man was laughing at me and he said: 'I'm going to get big on you', which made me feel terrified. I still did not have a weapon. I looked at This Man, and noticed that he had opened a flap on the front of his trousers (or onesie? It was like the flap on the back of a babygro, but at the front) and his penis was exposed - it was erect (I knew this, even though it didn't look like a normal penis) and I knew this was what he meant by the phrase 'I'm going to get big on you'. His penis was actually really short and fat, like a large field mushroom, and a very bright pink colour, with sparse, black pubic hair. It looked unrealistic - like it was a badly-crafted sculpture of an ugly 'choad'-type penis, a caricature, rather than a real penis

This Man then did this tip-toeing walk towards me - I don't know it I can describe it, but it reminded me a lot of a cross between the dancing, theatrical movements of the evil presence in the Creepypasta 'The Smiling Man' (I have seen a video made which was based on this story) and also the creepy, overly-exaggerated creeping tiptoe movements of burglars in The Sims 3. This had a really nightmarish quality about it, even though looking back with hindsight, it actually seems really funny! In the dream, my thought was that he was 'playing with' or taunting/mocking me. I looked down at the floor, and saw the meat cleaver was laying amongst the debris of the forest floor, which also had a lot of wild flowers growing. I picked up the meat cleaver and lunged at This Man. I found my arm were really heavy and it was difficult to lift it with the meat cleaver, so I had to will my muscles to loosen. I told myself this is a lucid dream and moving is harder (because I know that to be true from past experience - I often feel the muscle atonia of REM sleep through my lucid dreams). I managed to pump my arm up and down in a way which made movement easier, but in doing this, I chopped off one of This Man's arms. This made me anxious because my first thought was 'now he's going to kill me', so my only option (or at least the only thought present in my consciously-aware mind at the time this was happening) was 'now I have to kill him, it's my only option'. 

I guess I knew AJR wasn't going to help me. I had also afforded both dream characters - This Man and AJR - almost full autonomy as dream characters, without trying to use lucid dream control to manipulate their behaviour in any way. The fact I could try and change the dream scene or walk away, or even try to use different superpowers to protect myself did not come into my mind at all in the moment. As I was fully-lucid with a fairly decent amount of lucid dream control, and access to a lot of logical reasoning, I would have assumed I would have thought about a less drastic option than murder, or actively associated this entire scene with the real life experience of what happened only a matter of hours before. But I did not - at no point did I think 'this is inspired by real life events, and This Man represents the fear of a man preying on a woman with sexual malice or violent intent, in a woodland setting'. Or consider that in a lucid dream I had limitless options open to me. I am not sure if I had selective memory here - i.e. my memory or conscious awareness did no stretch to these thoughts - or maybe, it was taken for granted that this was inspired by waking events to the extent I didn't even need to consciously acknowledge it in the dream? I also wonder if the fact I could only imagine murder being the solution was because this is how I'd react if this situation happened to me in real life? In my vlog, recorded a couple of hours before I went to sleep and had this dream, I mentioned the fact that if a man or group of men tried to rape me, I'd murder them and plead self defence. 

I started to hack at This Man with the meat cleaver. I went completely crazy. It was the most exhilarating and awesomely powerful feeling I have ever experienced in a lucid dream. I could see blood and entrails and skin and hair flying outwards from This Man, while he looked like a cloud of dust/blur - so the way it appeared to me as I was chopping him up into bits was as it would be depicted in a classic cartoon, albeit probably a lot more gory. I think the dust cloud and the blurring was because of the speed at which I was hacking up This Man with the meat cleaver. As the blade of the meat cleaver made contact with This Man, it felt like I was striking thin air - there was no substance to him, but the meat cleaver was still able to chop him up. I began to laugh at what was happening and how it was depicted in the dream. When This Man was completely hacked into pieces, I stopped. I looked down at the ground, expecting to see his remains all chopped up amongst the leaves and flowers. Instead, I saw a large number (maybe even 100), small square packages of meat piled on the ground - they were about the size of a Rubix cube and identical in size/shape. The packages were in brown wrapping paper, tied with string and I could see the blood seeping through them at the edges.

AJR stepped forward and picked up some of the packages of meat - and I saw he had an empty wicker basket on his arm. He said: 'we can take the meat to the picnic' and then winked at me in a really exaggerated way and said: 'you're halfway to becoming a butcherer now'. I noticed he said 'butcherer' and wondered if he meant 'butcher'. To me, in the dream with my conscious awareness, the distinction was between a 'butcher' working in the meat industry and a 'butcherer' being a murderer. My vision began to go blurry, and then black. I woke up.

I woke up from this dream feeling so happy and satisfied - this was the perfect way of releasing my frustrations at what happened to me in real waking life, when I was feeling threatened/intimidated by men in the forest area. I wish I had been able to use my lucidity for finding out more about Sudsbury and also to explore different sides of my relationship with AJR, given there are real life limitations on our relationship at present, so any chance of interacting him in a sexual way in a lucid dream is a top priority for me. However, in this dream my focus needed to be on dealing with This Man. I am surprised that I didn't become lucid in this dream at a sooner point, given all the dreamsigns which were present, but This Man was the final straw which snapped me to lucidity, just at the right moment. 

I feel this dream was extremely cathartic and therapeutic for me. I didn't like AJR's behaviour in the dream, but I am glad that I recognised he was a projection of my subconscious (and therefore not necessarily reflective of himself in a reliable sense - my subconscious is filtering him through a lot of my own anxieties or fears) as this meant I didn't waste time trying to reason with him or question why he was behaving in the way he was.

Additional Notes:
  • This dream took place after my launch of the Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiments (see video below for QDI#10, and my introductory article - Quickshot Dream Incubations | QDI#1) - this dream was a highly successful Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiment dream - however, it must be noted that I consciously visualised and manifested this dream trigger in a lucid dream rather than it just appearing
  • I have been searching for a piece of 'lost media' for some years - since childhood. I have searched across so many websites which aim to track down forgotten books which may be out of publication, and used keywords to find any reference to a children's book which would have been published in, or before the early 1990s. We used to have Book Sales at our primary (elementary) school, where publishers/book sellers would set up stalls in our school canteen after school, and we could attend with our parents to browse and buy books. I recall the book being about a young female protagonist who receives a message in a bottle, which she discovers comes from another young girl - who may or may not have been her doppelganger? The protagonist has a younger brother, who goes missing. She finds where her brother might be by looking into a marble, where she sees a vision of his whereabouts. He has been abducted and appears to be living in an alternative reality within the marble. I had the feeling this book might be called House of Marbles. Due to my inability to find a book with a plot anything like that I I have described here, I began to wonder if this was a false memory and whether it in fact did exist. I had been thinking about asking on social media in the hope someone else might remember this book on the day I had this dream. Whilst writing up this dream, I decided to conduct another online search. I am not sure what different search terms I used, but I found a book which I had not come across before - Amy Herrick, Kimbo's Marble (1993), which is a story about Princess Kimbo who is able to communicate with animals as a result of a magic marble she was given as a baby. Kimbo inadvertently wishes that her mute brother Willy disappears - and must rescue him after he is kidnapped by a troll named 'Grimpoke'. Reading about this book did lead to me believe this might be what I was misremembering - there is a young female protagonist, a marble (in the title too) and a missing/kidnapped brother. Even the reference to him being mute stirred some kind of recognition. The book was published approximately around the time I would have been in primary school and attending the Book Sales, so the time-frame is broadly right. However, there are many inconsistencies between this book and my memory of the one I am trying to track down - for example, I didn't recall the troll, the fact the protagonist was a princess who could talk to animals, or the fact that the book was illustrated. It may be that I grossly misremembered it, or have combined the memory of 2 different books into one. I also have the vague memory of having a dream about this book as a child - so perhaps I am actually remembering aspects of my dream, rather than the actual book? 
  • I noticed that on my Blog, the 'Have You Seen This Man? (Debunking the 'Dream Hoax' post had been viewed a couple of times on the day before this dream - although I did not look at my own post, I have a clear and vivid visual memory of how This Man looks and I'm guessing I must have mentally visualised him in this moment. Note that in this dream, I did not remember that I had seen the statistic of page views on my Blog, or briefly thought about This Man in waking reality, despite my dreamsign being the fact that I know he does not exist
  • On the day I had this dream, I had mentioned in my vlog that I have had recurrent dreams about being pursued with a man with a knife. I had noticed that on my Blog - my post about weapons - 'Interpreting popular dreams themes (5) - Knives & Stabbing' and 'DREAM INTERPRETATION: Weapons & Violence in Dreams (Knives,Guns, Bombs etc)' have always been the most popular posts of this Blog, on a daily basis, and according to my overall global statistics. I think that the fact I had the real life waking incident, then thought about other instances where I have been pursued or intimidated by men, coupled with my Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiment dream trigger and my thoughts of previous dreams which relate to being pursued by a man with a knife (and then acknowledging the fact I have popular Blog posts about knives/weapons in dreams), made such strong associations in my mind, that a dream reflecting that much associated day residue was inevitable - a point I had also consciously acknowledged just before this dream
  • The night before this dream I had considered buying a mushroom quiche, shortly after the incident which inspired this dream
  • I had watched a Youtube video about the creator's all-time scariest Creepypastas on the night before this dream - although I don't think 'The Smiling Man' was actually on his list
  • I had seen a Facebook post on a Sims 3 group about burglar NPCs on the night before this dream
  • AJR teases me by giving me the nickname 'Yokey Bear' (based on Yogi Bear) as a reference to how I am disgusted by eggs - Yogi Bear was famous for stealing picnics

Friday, 16 August 2019

Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiments

So far, I have made 10 Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiments videos for my Youtube channel, Tallulah La Ghash - you can access my introductory post by clicking on Quickshot Dream Incubations |  QDI#1. I am using this post to link all of my current Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiment videos to date, which you can find by scrolling down this page.

The concept behind this dream incubation challenge is that I regularly choose a thing - a location/place, object or person and then film a short video, uploaded onto my Youtube channel (see below where I have embedded the video for your ease of watching!) I give myself just 24 hours to see if my chosen/recorded 'thing' appears in my dreams. I then record my results, both on this Blog, and on my next Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiment video. 

Perhaps you might like to try this challenge yourself - watch my videos and see if you can incubate a dream using the thing you see! Don't worry if you are not following along with this challenge contemporaneous to the date I have uploaded these videos - even if you watch them at some point in the future, I'd be fascinated to know if any of my 'dream triggers' happen to influence your dream content after watching a Quickshot Dream Incubation Experiment video. Let me know your results! 💗

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An explanation of hypnagogia
The hypnagogic state occurs as we transition from wakefulness into sleep (the transition from sleep into wakefulness is known as the hypnopompic state). Bizarre and mesmerising mental phenomena may occur during this transitional state of threshold-consciousness, which include visual hallucinations, sleep paralysis (muscle atonia) and lucid thought. 

Visual hallucinations
The visual hallucinations and other sensations which occur during the hypnagogic state are sometimes referred to as 'presomnal hallucinations', 'anthypnic sensations', 'oneirogogic imagery', 'phantasmata', 'praedormitum' or 'wakefulness-sleep transition'. The hypnagogic state is fairly brief, and may go unnoticed, but it can be prolonged by sleep disturbance or intentional induction of this state, for example during meditation. 

The most common form of hypnagogic hallucinations are the perception of phosphenes, which can manifest as random brightly coloured and luminescent speckles, lines or geometric patterns - and sometimes even representational or figurative images, such as faces, landscapes or objects. Some people report seeing complex fractals or experiencing the sensation of moving through tunnels of light. Hypnagogic hallucinations are fleeting and often change and shift rapidly. They differ from normal dream imagery, in that they are static and lacking in any accompanying narrative content, although they may be linked to fragmentary dreams (microdreams). 

When an individual engages in repetitive activity before sleep - particularly new activities - it is common for this to dominate their imagery during the hypnagogic state. This is referred to as the 'Tetris Effect', and has been reported by amnesiacs who don't have a memory of the original waking activity which influenced their hypnagogic hallucinations. Professor  of Psychiatry Robert Stickgold (2000) has asserted that the Tetris Effect is a separate form of memory - likely to be related to procedural memory. The Tetris Effect is not merely confined to visual imagery, but can manifest in other sensory experiences and perceptions, such as physical touch. Some scientists consider the hypnagogic state to be a decluttering of the brain - a clearing out of the useless junk, while others believe that it has more value. 

Auditory hallucinations
Hypnagogic hallucinations often have an auditory (sound) component, which can vary from intense, recognisable sounds, to vague and indistinct noises. People report hearing their name being called, the sound of a doorbell or telephone ringing, paper being crumpled or white noise, amongst other phantom noises.

Another auditory phenomena which can take place in the hypnagogic state is that of 'Exploding Head Syndrome' which is the brief sensation of a loud bang from inside the head, sometimes accompanied by flashes of light and physical sensations, similar to electric shock or tingling. 

While some of the auditory hallucinations experienced during the hypnagogic state may be nonsensical and meaningless, it is possible to perceive them as being apt summations of, or commentary, on the individual's thoughts at that time, often involving wordplay, neologisms and made-up words. The individual may hear their own 'inner voice' or the voices of others, often familiar. Very rarely do hypnagogic auditory hallucinations involve the perception of music, although this is possible.

Other sensory hallucinations
Gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell) and thermal (heat) sensations are often reported as occurring during the hypnagogic state, as well as other forms of tactile (touch) perceptions, for example synesthesia (unity of the senses); paresthesia (the abnormal dermal sensation of being touched, with no apparent physical cause); or formication (the sensation of insects crawling under the skin). 

Proprioceptive ('kinaesthesia') effects in the body may be noticed - for example, numbness and changes in body size, shape, proportion or position; feelings of floating, pulsating or bobbing; and Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs/OOBEs). The most common of these experiences is the 'hypnic jerk' - the feeling of falling, accompanied by a sudden reflexive jolt back to sudden wakefulness, which happens as the individual is falling asleep. 

As mentioned above, the hypnagogic state often leads to individuals experiencing the onset of sleep paralysis (muscle atonia) which is characteristic of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, a necessary condition, which prevents us from physically acting out our dreams. Sleep paralysis may be accompanied by humming, roaring or buzzing noises, which are also typical of OBE (Out-of-Body Experiences), and can also include vivid visual hallucinations, such as the perception of a presence in the room.

Cognitive processes during hypnagogia
The thought processes which take place during the hypnagogic state differ radically from waking thoughts - they may be bizarre, abstract or even ridiculous. During the hypnagogic state, there is a loosening of ego-boundaries and the individual is likely to be more open, suggestible and receptive, experiencing an illogical and fluid flow of ideas and associations.

Psychoanalyst Herbert Silberer (1882 - 1923) coined the term 'autosymbolism' to describe the process by which hypnagogic hallucinations tend to represent (without repression or censorship) the thoughts of the individual at that time, turning abstract thoughts, into concrete, symbolic visual representations. 

One feature that the hypnagogic state shares with other stages of sleep is amnesia. This is a form of selective forgetfulness, affecting the hippocampal memory, responsible for autobiographical memory, rather than semantic memory.

Hypnagogic hallucinations may be perceived as being visions, prophesies, premonitions, apparitions, demonic visitations, hauntings, alien-abductions or a form of divine inspiration, depending on the beliefs and worldviews of the person experiencing this phenomena. 

Interestingly, the hypnagogic state can provide insight into problem-solving and many notable examples exist of scientists, inventors and artists crediting their experience of hypnagogia in enhancing their creativity or problem-solving. These include: organic chemist August Kekule (1829 - 1886), who visualised a snake eating it's own tail, enabling him to crack the chemical structure of benzene; composers, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) and Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883); novelist Walter Scott (1771 - 1832); painter Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989); inventors Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931) and Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943); and mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727). References to hypnagogia date back to the writings of Aristotle in 350 BC and continued, with a renewed fascination for this phenomena of altered consciousness emerging during the Romantic period, which took place in Europe during the early to mid-19th century. Various authors, such as Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870) who provides a description of hypnagogia in Oliver Twist (1837 - 1839), while Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849) wrote of the 'fancies' he experienced 'only  when I am on the brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so'.

Hypnagogia & lucid dream induction
Regular meditation can assist in prolonging and 'freezing' the hypnagogic state at later stages, allowing the individual to assess the depth and deepening of the meditative process and induce lucidity. Just like lucid dreams, the hypnagogic experience can be directed and interpreted as it is experienced.

It is possible to experience mild hypnagogia while fully awake and mentally conscious, by cupping the palms of the hands over the eyes so that all you can see is darkness. Focusing your open eyes on the middle distance enables you to see some faint visual light effects (the phosphenes, which are sometimes referred to as 'eye worms'), which will generally appear as static shapes or geometric patterns when you focus your attentions on them.

The Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream Technique (WILD)
One method of intentionally inducing a lucid dream involves paying careful attention to the hypnagogic state as you fall asleep. The most powerful (and rewarding technique) of lucid dream induction is known as the Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream technique, which allows the lucid dreamer to harness the hypnagogic state during meditation, and transition directly from wakefulness into the lucid dream without any lapse in consciousness. 

The key to this technique is to lay completely still and flat on your back, relaxing the body through meditation, while retaining mental consciousness - the paradoxical state of Mind Awake/Body Asleep. All muscles should be loosened and circular 'yoga breathing' (inhale through the nose, hold the breath, and exhale through the mouth) is encouraged here. Some people extend their arms behind their head until they receive the 'Roll Over Signal' - an increasing urge to roll over onto your side, and a sign that the body is falling asleep. Resisting the urge to move, by directing attention away from the physical sensations of the body is necessary here, and at this point you will likely begin to experience hypnagogia. 

The ensuing hypnagogic imagery which is experienced during this paradoxical, transitional state can be used for dream visualisation - by directing the fluid, transformative hypnagogic imagery, you can eventually begin to visualise a lucid dream scene, using imagination and memory. 

As you enter sleep, your dreaming mind will take over, introducing new forms of imagery from beyond your field of vision - a similar process to recalling a memory in your mind's eye. If you manage to maintain your conscious awareness, you may end up in a lucid dream within a matter of minutes. Due to the focus on hypnagogic imagery, this technique is sometimes referred to as the 'Hypnagogic Induction Technique'. The most complex aspect of this approach is transitioning from the observation of hypnagogia to being fully submerged in a lucid dream.

The hypnagogic state offers a fascinating opportunity to explore the transitional limbo-like realm between wakefulness and sleep, offering trippy, psychedelic visual experiences, deep relaxation, clarity of thought and new insights. 

The Stages of the Sleep Cycle

Every night, when you to sleep, you transition through a number of stages, each of which is characterised by different types of brainwave, with a different effect on your sleeping body. Each cycle of sleep lasts 90 - 110 minutes. Let's take a look at the different stages in the sleep cycle. 

NREM Stage 1: alpha - theta waves (4 - 7 hz)
Stage 1 is a very light stage in the sleep cycle, which is it easy to be awoken from. Muscle atonia begins to set in, which causes twitches and hypnic jerks. Hypnagogic hallucinations occur, which often manifest as swirling, abstract colours which hypnotise you into sleep. You begin to lose self-awareness and consciousness and most sensory attachment to the external world as your brainwaves slow.

NREM Stage 2: mixed EEG activity
Stage 2 is marked by the brainwaves slowing even more, and a loss of virtually all muscle tone, so that your body cannot physically act out your dreams when you enter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. There are brief bursts of higher-level brain activity, known as 'sleep spindles' or K-complexes'. This is a light, dreamless stage of sleep, in which you spend almost half of your sleep time.

NREM Stages 3 & 4 - deep sleep: delta waves - below 4 hz
Stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle are known as deep, delta or slow-wave sleep, which is characterised by delta brainwave activity and a complete lack of consciousness. The sleeper is less responsive to external environmental stimuli and less likely to awaken as a result. This is a dreamless stage in the sleep cycle, when somnambulism (sleep-walking) is most likely to occur.

REM Sleep - paradoxical sleep: theta waves
REM sleep is characterised as paradoxical sleep - marked by higher levels of brainwave activity. This is when dreaming takes place. Gamma waves (30 hz and above) may be observed in lucid dreamers, this being a form of brainwave activity associated with higher perception and consciousness. 

REM sleep occurs throughout the sleep cycle. Here is an illustration of a typical 8 hour sleep cycle:

The longest, more intense and vivid dreams take place in the 4th and 5th periods of REM sleep, right at the end of the 8 hour sleep cycle, after approximately 6 hours of sleep. This means this is the optimal time for lucid dreaming to occur. The 4th an 5th stages of REM sleep can last between 45 - 60 minutes.

If you tend to wake naturally (without the use of an alarm clock), it is likely that you awaken directly from a dream, when it is fresh in your memory. It is possible to directly re-enter the dream if you allow yourself to immediately fall back asleep. 

The amount of sleep needed on average differs from person to person, and is also dependent on other variables such as age and general health. Newborn babies require the most sleep (14 - 17 hours per day), while adults tend to require approximately 7 - 9 hours of sleep on average. 

If you awaken with an alarm clock, you risk waking mid-cycle, which can be an unpleasant feeling - and you may miss the last periods of REM sleep, which are perfect for dreaming and more pleasant to wake up from. This problem can be overcome by understanding your sleep cycle, or employing the new technology and apps which can monitor your sleep cycle and wake you up once a cycle is complete.

EEG machines can be used to monitor how long a dream lasts. The EEG machine reads brainwave activity - and as you can see from the diagrams above, each stage in the sleep cycle has it's own distinctive brainwave activity associated with it. EEG brainwave monitoring indicates that dreams which occur in early stages of REM sleep last only a few minutes. As you then transition through different stages in the sleep cycle, including the deep, delta-wave sleep, it is unlikely that you will have a vivid memory of these early, fleeting dreams.The majority of the first sleep cycle is dedicated to non-REM sleep, due to the need to prioritise restful and restorative healing sleep.

Time may be experienced differently in dreams - there may be some time distortion - in particular time dilation, where the passage of time is experienced as being much longer within the dream. Generally, it's likely that dream time is relatively commensurate with real time, but it can be very difficult to judge the length of a dream from the first person perspective. Some people report that their normal, non-lucid dreams are experienced as stretching over days, weeks - even months or years. 

Just like normal, non-lucid dreams, lucid dreams can last from minutes up to the full period of REM sleep (i.e. 60 minutes). Lucid dreams may be cut prematurely short due to heightened arousal and the intense excitement of the experience waking the dreamer up. Lucid dream stabilisation can significantly help in prolonging the lucid dream experience as well as enhancing the clarity of the lucid dream.

There are a number of ways in which you can 'hack' the sleep cycle in order to maximise your chances of successfully experiencing a lucid dream - see The Dreamhacker Series | Hacking the Sleep Cycle (2) for a beginner-level tutorial on this topic.

Below, are some neuroimaging of the brain, showing different levels of mental activity and inactivity during REM sleep and comparisons to brain activity during wakefulness and NREM (delta, slow-wave) sleep.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Dreaming | Aristotle 'On Dreams'

On Dreams (De insomniis) is a text, written in 350 BC, by Ancient Greek Philosopher, Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) which is part of his Parva Naturalia - a 'short treatise on nature'. 

In his early years, Aristotle maintained the Platonic belief that the body and soul were separate entities, but subsequently moved on to form a non-dualistic theory that the body and soul (this being a term incorporating the personal consciousness, memories, and experiences) were polarities of the same thing. To put it simply, he adopted the monist view that the physical body - and specifically the brain and soul or consciousness are the one and the same and do not exist separate from one another. 

In his On the Soul (De Anima) treatise, also written in 350 BC, he defined the soul in terms of animating the corporeal body, and giving it life. The soul directs the growth and survival of the physical body, and can be seen as the 'blueprint' for the physical body, giving it purpose and motivation. Therefore, the body and soul - or body and mind in this non-dualistic relationship, exist in dynamic symbiosis.

On Dreams has 3 sections; in the first section, or chapter, Aristotle attempts to determine whether dreams 'pertain to the faculty of thought and intelligence, or that of sense-perception' (De Somno et Vigilia - On Sleep and Dreams). In the second section, he considers sleep and the operation of the sensory organs (De Insomnis - On Sleeping and Waking) . In the third section he explains how dreaming occurs, hypothesising that it is a result of the residual movements of the sensory organs, during sleep (De Divinatione Per Somnum - On Divination Through Sleep)

Aristotle theorised that during sleep, there was a lack of external sensory stimuli, and due to our eyes being closed, we perceive nothing visually. Comparing the experience of hallucinations to dreaming, he proposed that 'the faculty by which, in waking hours, we are subject to illusion when affected by disease, is identical with that which produces illusory effects in sleep'.

We may misinterpret sensory input when in waking reality (by mishearing something, for example), but this is due to a mistake in reasoning. But generally, our waking perception we only see or hear something incorrectly when we actually see or hear something, and perceive it incorrectly. When asleep, we do not perceive sensory input in the same way, which according to Aristotle, leads to the conclusion that sense and must also be affected in some way. 

Aristotle viewed imagination as what happens when sensory and subjective perception occur after the withdrawal of the external sensory stimuli of waking reality. He recognised that the mind can create realistic 'impressions' or 'afterimages' of things it has experienced in waking reality - a form of visual memory. He believed that during sleep, this effect continues, and is applied to the world of dreaming. When we are awake we are able to easily distinguish between a real, external and imaginary, remembered object - however, in sleep this ability to distinguish is diminished or absent. This is what he thought led to our profound belief in the reality of our dreams. 

In stating that dreams must result from residual movements of the sensory organs, Aristotle also asserted that indigestion might also be a cause for dreams. He claimed:
'We must suppose that, like the little eddies which are formed in rivers, so the movements are each a continuous process, often remaining like what they were when first started, but often, too, broken, into other forms by collisions with obstacles. This gives the reason why no dreams occur in sleep after meals, or to sleepers who are extremely young, e.g., to infants. The movement in such cases is excessive, owing to the heat generated from the food. Hence, just as in a liquid, if one vehemently disturbs it, sometimes no reflected image appears, while at other times one appears, indeed, but utterly distorted, so as to seem quite unlike its original; while, when once the motion has ceased, the reflected images are clear and plain; in the same manner during sleep the images, or residuary images are clear and plain; in the same manner during sleep the images, or residuary movements, which are based upon the sensory impressions, become sometimes quite obliterated by the above described motion when too violent; while at other times the sights are indeed seen, but confused and weird, and the dreams are incoherent, like those of persons who are atrabilious, or feverish, or intoxicated with wine. For all such affections, being spirituous, cause much commotion and disturbance.'
Aristotle's theory of dreaming was therefore one of the first systematic attempts at explaining dreaming, focusing not on mystical, spiritual or supernatural factors, but rather the product of our experience of waking reality which are manipulated by our imagination during sleep. As our logical, rational, fact-checking part of the brain is inactive during sleep, we do not question our perceptions within the dream and accept it as reality.

Aristotle also made explicit reference to lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is consciously aware that he is dreaming - 'often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream'. Of course the practice of lucid dreaming had already been documented in Ancient Buddhist scriptures, dating back from centuries before Aristotle's contributions.

Aristotle's short theory of dreaming left a continuing legacy in the study of dreams, up until the modern period. In the 17th century, Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) largely adopted the Aristotelian theory of dreams, in particular the idea that dreams occur due to residual sensory organ movement and are products of the imagination. Hobbes argued that dreams are caused by 'the distemper of some inward parts of the Body'. Through this theory, he hoped to better understand the nature of certain types of dreams, for example nightmares. Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) stated in The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) that dreams 'do not arise from supernatural manifestations but from the laws of the human spirit' and affirms Aristotle's theory that dreams were the 'mental activity of the sleeper in so far as he is asleep'.

Lucid Dreaming | Tibetan Buddhist Dream Yoga

The Ancient Tibetan Buddhists documented one of the earliest accounts of lucid dreaming practices, thousands of years ago - you can read more about the origins and principles of Tibetan Buddhism by clicking here. These practices were incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism from the Hindu oral tradition of spiritual learning. 

One of the earliest textual accounts of lucid dreaming appears in the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Sanskrit scriptures, which were written circa 800 - 500 BC in India, and contain the central philosophical and spiritual concepts of Hinduism, which were later shared with Buddhism and Jainism. The Hindu text, the Bhairav Tantra set out various practices with the aim of directing the consciousness within the states of sleep and dreaming. These Sanskrit teachings were exported to the mountains of Tibet, where the Shamanic, animistic folk traditions of the native Tibetans (the Bon) had already been using lucid dreaming for meditation for over 12000 years. This cultural fusion was recorded in the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol), composed around the 8th century. The phrase 'Bardo' refers to the intermediate or transitional state between the 2 lives on earth. The highly esoteric Books of the Dead were first introduced to a Western audience when they were partially translated by Walter Y. Evans-Wentz, although they were primarily of interest to scholars and occultists, although in the 20th century they became popular amongst dream scholars and in particular, the American Humanistic and Transpersonal schools of psychology. This article will provide a basic introduction to Tibetan Dream Yoga.

Tibetan Dream Yoga, also known as Milam - 'yoga of the dream state' is an advanced set of tantric processes which awaken the consciousness. Tibetan Dream Yoga or Milam is learned through the trance Bardos of Sleep and Dreaming, and as with tantra, is taught by a qualified mentor once the apprentice has passed initiation. Tibetan Lamas refer to this teaching as an experience of conscious enlightenment, rather than textual learning. Tibetan Dream Yoga describes the existence of the bardo body (dream, mind or vision body), in which a person has a yilu (yid lus), which translates to 'consciousness body'. 

Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama) originated many important principles and traditions of Tibetan Buddhist Dream Yoga, instruction, his students to disregard all phenomena as dreams, using examples of echoes, rainbows and clouds to illustrate the illusory nature of the world. He taught that dreams were just another form of illusion, with the whole universe arising and dissolving like a mirage. Everything around us are dreamlike phenomena; there is nothing which is not encompassed with the dream of illusory being, so the act of going to sleep is the transfer from one dream state to another. In fact, Budh means 'to awaken', thus intrinsically linking the practice of Buddhism to awakening the consciousness from literal and figurative sleep.

Other strands of Buddhism emphasise the teachings of various Dream Yoga gurus, for example the Kagyu lineage and Nyingma lineage - of course there are distinctions and variations in the different Dream Yoga teachings, but they share the key principle of reaching enlightenment through clear vision. 

In Tibetan Dream Yoga, there are 4 stages or processes: the recognition that you are dreaming; transforming the dream; multiplying the dream; and unifying the dream with clear light - so recognition, transformation, multiplication and unification.

In Tibetan Dream Yoga and Secret Doctrines (1935), Evans-Wentz describes 6 stages of Dream Yoga: 
  • The dreamer becomes lucid in the dream
  • The dreamer is to overcome all fear of the contents of the dream, recognising that nothing in the dream can harm him
  • The dreamer should recognise that all phenomena, both in the dream state and waking world are illusory due to constant change and transformation, therefore not possessing any tangible substance
  • The dreamer should realise they have control over the dream world and use dream control to make changes in their dream state
  • The dreamer should realise that their corporeal body is of no more substance than any other objects in the dream - and therefore they have control over this too
  • The dreamer should visualise deities (Buddha, Bodhisattva and Dakini) who are linked to, or resonate with, the 'clear light of the void', therefore serving as symbolic doorways to the mystical states of being . Meditating on these symbols can manifest their revelatory qualities
Thus, in Tibetan Dream Yoga, the dream state is characterised as a very pure state of mind, where the dreamer is able to transcend the constructs of time, place and space. It enables the dreamer to liberate themselves from the chains of emotions, attachments and ego in order to achieve ultimate enlightenment. 

One the dreamer has achieved the first stage of recognising that they are dreaming (i.e. conscious awareness or lucidity within the dream state), the possibilities of the dream state are limitless, but there are a number of tasks which Tibetan Dream Yoga apprentices were instructed to complete as part of their training:
  • Practice the spiritual discipline of Sadhana
  • Receive initiations, transmissions and empowerment (the 'whispered traditions')
  • Visit different locations, planes and worlds (lokas)
  • Communicate with enlightened beings (yidam)
  • Meet with sentient beings
  • Fly and shapeshift into other creatures

The ultimate Dream Yoga goal is to 'apprehend the dream' and then dissolve the dream state. The idea is, to remove all physical and mental/conceptual distractions within the dream state so that the dreamer is able to observe the purest form of consciousness.

The philosophy of Tibetan Dream Yoga is complex and esoteric, and deeply fascinating. However, it is not necessary to be an expert in Tibetan Dream Yoga philosophies in order to practice some Dream Yoga techniques, which can be incorporated into and combined with more modern lucid dreamwork. For example, reality checks work on the basis of increasing self-awareness and consciousness, both in waking reality and the dream state  - and increasing conscious self-awareness is undoubtedly a tenet of Tibetan Dream Yoga. 

Another common aspect of dreamwork which is akin to practices used by Tibetan Dream Yogis is dream recall - reflecting on the dream and observing its message. In Tibetan Dream Yoga, it was believed that the ego travels while the dreamer sleeps, revisiting real life waking places and events, repeating our experiences. This accounts for the reason why our memories appear in our dreams. Tibetan Dream Yoga teaches the importance of meditating and reflecting on recent dreams.

Further, one of the 'holy grail' techniques of lucid dream induction, the Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream (WILD technique) is based on Tibetan Dream Yoga practices. This is a method by which the dreamer achieves the state of mind awake/body asleep, by meditation-style techniques, which enable them to experience the onset of sleep paralysis and hypnagogia while still consciously awake. The dreamer is able to enter a lucid dream with no lapse in their waking consciousness, which makes this an incredibly powerful and intense experience.

Using Dream Yoga, taking inspiration from the Tibetan Dream Yogis can help us analyse how we construct our perceptions of reality, allowing us to have insight into our projections, preconceptions, assumptions, biases and selective-attention. The Tibetan Dream Yogi emphasised the concept that reality is a waking dream, subject to many conditions of the sleeping dream - and so, waking up in the sleeping dream and consciously questioning the nature of our reality is a profound path of true awakening, allowing the dreamer to understand the relativity of waking life, seeing it in a whole new light. The objective is to peel back the layers of illusion to perceive the nature of the infinite consciousness through mindfulness. Tibetan Dream Yoga is a training ground for the ultimate goal of remaining conscious at the point of physical death. 

However, it is important to note that for the Tibetan Dream Yogi, the mere act of lucid dreaming is not sufficient to awaken you in a spiritual sense. Lucid dreaming which focuses on the fulfilment or indulgence of fantasies is not 'Dream Yoga' in itself - this would be super-samsara, this linked to the cycle of birth, mundane life and death; desire and ignorance. Lucid dreams are not 'karma-neutral', and according to Buddhism, karma is created at the lucid dreaming stage, which can be negative. Dream Yoga is able to transform and purify this negative karma, uniting the dreamer with deeper aspects of their being, leading to self-transcendence. 

Lucid Dreaming | The Ancient Egyptian Ba

Ancient Egypt is an advanced North African civilization, from circa 3100 BC. The peak of Ancient Egyptian power was the New Kingdom, with Egypt ruling Nubia and large parts of the Middle East. Egypt has left behind an extraordinary legacy of mathematical and scientific accomplishments as well as arts and architecture. The culture, monuments and antiquities of Ancient Egypt have mysterified and intrigued the rest of the world, and captured the imagination. You can read more about Ancient Egypt by clicking here.

Ancient Egyptians believed that the person was made up of a number of separate elements, including the Shat (the corpse body), the Ka (the physical living body) and Ba (the soul or personality) as well as the heart, the 'double', shadow, form and name.

Ba represents everything that makes an individual unique, which is why it is interpreted as being linked to personality. It was believed that the Ba continued to exist after death. In hieroglyphs and other Ancient Egyptian artefacts, Ba  is depicted as a human-headed bird. Unlike in other religions, such as the late Judaism, Christianity or Islam, the soul was not merely one part of the person, but was what constituted the person. The name Ba is interpreted as meaning 'impressive', 'powerful' or relating to 'reputation'. 

In some hieroglyphs, Ba is shown hovering over a sleeping body or corpse, which appears to represent the personality or 'self' in an out-of-body state. It is the person in another form.

In his book Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, Robert Waggoner suggests that this depiction of Ba might indicate that Ancient Egyptians were illustrating a state where the self is able to fly free from the physical body. He states: 

'I was struck by the concept of the Ba being the part of one that flies during sleep, trance and after-death states...Many of us have had that experience, whether we call it an OOBE, or a lucid dream, of flying around our sleeping body.
For lucid dreamers, trance journeyers or OOBE-ers, the Ba may represent in a historic sense, the first depiction of a 'mobile awareness' separated from the physical host. Interestingly, this mobile awareness, this Ba, seems naturally connected to flying - a common and seemingly universal part of lucid dreaming.'

So, according to Waggoner, the Ba might represent the dreaming consciousness of the sleeper, with the bird being symbolic of the mobility of the consciousness or 'soul' What do you think about this interpretation of the Ba? Could these hieroglyphs be the first documented account of a lucid dreaming or altered-consciousness experience?