There are many gains in becoming conscious of our dreams. The psychological benefits of exploring and interpreting our dreams were recognised long before Freud, in many ancient cultures. More recently, research into lucid dreaming has shown that we can use the sleep state to train our mind, heal our body and overcome fears and phobias.
And bringing awareness to our sleep may not only give us access to our dreams, but even allow us to experience an altered state of consciousness known as the out-of-body experience, a state where we experience ourselves fully consciously aware with the sense of being separate from our physical body.
Although it is generally agreed among researchers of the out-of-body experience that we can all potentially have such experiences consciously, in practice there is significant variation in people’s success rate. That said, it may be largely a matter of persistence. There are certainly plenty of accounts of people who applied themselves for some months and eventually succeeded to experience the freedom of out-of-body travel.
We can definitely all become conscious of our dreams, and that is itself enriching and a great first step towards expanding our consciousness further. Recalling and reflecting on our dreams can give us access to our subconscious processes, and especially at times of crisis which 2020 is for most of us, our dreams may give us access to anxieties, concerns or hopes we have not allowed to surface in our waking consciousness. Dreams, and the more elusive out-of-body experience, can also be a source of deep joy, and memories of some dreams can bring smiles to our face even days after the event. Especially when we are cooped up at home, experiencing freedom of “movement” in our sleep state can offer great psychological relief.
The following 4 steps will help you to bring more awareness to your night life:
Developing an Intention Throughout the Day
One of the things we discover when we start paying more attention to our dreams is that all stages of our life are connected. What happens during our day colours our dreams, and how we wake up in the morning can influence how we show up for the rest of the day. If we are not naturally aware of our dreams, such awareness won’t arise just by us wishing it to before we fall asleep. Instead we want to start conditioning our mind during the waking stage to notice its circumstances and check whether it is in a waking or sleeping body. This conditioning will eventually carry over to the sleep state and help us become aware in our dreams. The following are some simple techniques you can use to condition your mind. Throughout the day, from time to time:
Finally, another good way to prime your mind is to read over your own dream journal or to read descriptions by others who have had lucid out-of-body experiences or lucid dreams. There are also numerous Facebook groups where people share their dreams and other nightly altered states of consciousness. Saturating your mind with this reality will prime you to also enjoy such experiences.
Falling Asleep With Awareness
Intention is key when working with the subtle dimensions of life. Holding the intention of maintaining awareness and possibly leave the body when we lie in bed and are falling asleep is simple and powerful. We can also combine this with deliberate techniques to fall asleep with intention, such as the following breathing technique:
Generating Opportunities for Recollection
There is a proven method to increase dream recall and nocturnal awareness, but it requires altering your regular sleeping routine. It is totally worth it though! Set your alarm for 5 hours after going to bed. For me this is usually around 4am. When you wake up, get up briefly to make sure you are properly awake. I like to go to the bathroom and do a little stretch. Then spend between 15–30 minutes either meditating or reading something related to lucid dreaming or out-of-body travel. Of course if you already remember anything from your previous sleep phase this is a good time to make some notes. Then lie back down with the intention of staying lucid in your sleep and recalling your experiences. If you have any trouble settling down you can apply the breathing technique again.
Recording your Experiences
When you wake from your next sleep, take your time recalling your experiences. Ideally don’t move until you’ve gone over them in your mind, then roll over and write them down on a notepad (or tablet) you have handy at the side of the bed for that purpose. As already suggested, you can use your own notes to prime your mind for dream recall by reading them again later in the day. This can also help you understand meanings in your dreams you did not see at first.
For most of us it takes making some practical adjustments to bring greater awareness to our sleep, but the benefits to psychological integration, creativity and an overall sense of richness in our life are great pay offs.
Kim McCaul is an anthropologist with a long term interest in understanding consciousness and personal transformation.
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This blog is about my interests in consciousness, energy, evolution and personal growth. My understanding of consciousness is strongly influenced by the discipline of conscientiology and I have a deep interest in exploring the relationship between culture and consciousness.
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