My husband Mitch presented a talk on supporting yourself through lucid dreaming so we’ve been talking a lot at home about the stuff that goes on while we sleep. Lucid dreaming allows you to gain access to the stories that pop up after beddy-bye and instead of simply watching them, actually be able to participate within them. While it’s a bit off the beaten track for me, as I usually focus on the subconscious mind working during the day, I think there are some areas we can learn from our forays into the night.
The Subconscious never sleeps
The part of your mind that works beyond consciousness takes on a 24/7 role for each of us whether we acknowledge it or not. When you’re awake or asleep, you’re running programs, processing events and downloading or sifting through all the extra information that the subconscious is privy to. Because there is no difference between actual memories and involving stories in the subconscious mind – they are all potentially real – we sometimes have aspects of movies, the news or daily happenings pop up in our dreams. It is the subconscious mind sorting through our active awake time.
People often worry about their dreams being prophetic indicators and to that I don’t have a confirmed answer. The mind at night is a great processor of problems and issues that are going on in the present. Many great inventors and entrepreneurs discovered solutions to their most challenging dilemmas while they were napping, snoozing, or resting. However, we have to remember that the subconscious mind takes directions – whether we are aware of giving them or not. So when we toss and turn with a crisis at bed time and suggest to ourselves that we’ll “never figure this one out” or something along that line, that’s the solution, or non-solution, we tend to get. Instead, in that time when you’re drifting off to sleep (which is hypnogogic, or a light state of hypnosis) give your mind a suggestion of what you want or need it to do – if it’s working out a question, or sorting out an obstruction, or discovering something new, tell your mind. When instructed, it’s much more likely that you’ll have resolutions when morning comes.
Don’t shoot the Lion
So a quick brief on lucid dreaming, or taking control of your dreams. The first suggestion is to get a dream log in the form of a notebook. Have it right by the bed so that you can record your dreams without much movement, which tends to make the recollections stronger. You might also note your food intake – some foods tend to increase dreams more than others (so you can use it or lose it). When dreaming you can do checks on whether dreams are real or not by seeing whether you can defy earthly parameters. If you can fly, put your hand through a wall, etc, then you’re probably not in Kansas anymore. As you do more and more dream control you’ll also notice signifiers that make it easier to realize when you’re in a dream state.
But what about the nightmares that haunt you? Just as the negative feelings we experience during the day are often trying to tell us something to better serve ourselves and our life, sometimes bad dreams are the nightly substitute. So instead of running away from or slaying the ‘lions’ in your dream, the suggestion is to turn and face them and see what they have to offer – advice, suggestions, alternatives. When you do this (daytime or nighttime) you’ll discover that often the answers are hidden in the antagonists of our lives.
Variations for Ages
Kids are different than adults in the dream world, however. After several experiences my husband, Mitch, had waking himself up because he got so excited when he realized he was lucid dreaming, he wanted to share his experience with his teenage son, Dustin, so he cautioned about getting too excited. However, after a week of Dustin’s fruitless attempts at lucid dreaming, I suggested that for teens their minds are wired differently and they need different techniques than adults. Teens need greater stimuli to ‘get through’ – that’s one of the reasons why teens experience more risky behavior, because then they actually acknowledge the feeling and experience. So after suggesting to Dustin that he could get as excited about lucid dreaming as he wanted, he could do it from that night onwards. He started to take control of his nightly adventure.
Helping children understand that they have more control over their dreaming can sometimes make bedtime less daunting for both parents and kids. Once they can take scary situations and change them into whatever they need or want, sleep becomes more restful and usually there is a leap in confidence about being able to handle the ups and downs of day and night.
Yet that can work for all ages. Should you have issues with sleep, maybe it’s time to direct your dreams in ways that support you. If you need any additional help with this, please contact us and we’ll give as many suggestions as we can.