My blog dedicate to Lucid Dreaming is here : Oneironism with news about EEG sessions and workshops / experiments I am showing.
The Video above shows EEG monitored during a session of just over an hour of sleep, I recorded the subject using a 2 channel frontal BrainMachine. After analysis I replayed at the file and videoed at the faster tempo x10, to show all the sleep in just over 7 minutes – stage changes in phases can be noted. The initial dynamic peaking in many frequencies calms down into a signature of beta, receding down into Theta waves.
Lucid dreaming is a very special ability that we can all train to do more often, it occurs during the REM (rapid eye movement) period of sleep – you know that you are dreaming and you are aware, and you begin to take control, to steer the dream with your imagination.
“Dreams are a reservoir of knowledge and experience, yet they are often overlooked as a vehicle for exploring reality. In the dream state our bodies are at rest, yet we see and hear, move about, and even able to learn. When we make good used of the dream state, it is almost as if our lives were doubled: instead of a hundred years, we live two hundred.”
-Tibetan Buddhist Tarthang Tulku.
Aristotle may have been the first to write about lucid dreaming, although he didn’t have a term for it. A Dutch psychiatrist named Frederik van Eeden came up with the term for lucid dreams in 1913. And some Tibetan Buddhists have been practicing something like lucid dreaming for a very long time: dream yoga. The objective of dream yoga is to probe your consciousness and bring you to a constant state of awareness. A big part of the belief system of Buddhism is recognizing the world for what it is, free from illusion. A lucid dreamer recognizes the dream world for what it is — a dream. As you’re dreaming, you follow along the winding pathways of your own mind, making discoveries about the way you think and the obstacles your mind puts in the way of achieving clarity. Mystics have their own name for this altered state of consciousness: nondual awareness.
Neurology of sleep and dreams
There is no universally agreed biological definition of dreaming. General observation shows that dreams are strongly associated with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, during which an electroencephalogram shows brain activity to be most like wakefulness. Participant-nonremembered dreams during non-REM sleep are normally more mundane in comparison. During a typical lifespan, a human spends a total of about six years dreaming (which is about 2 hours each night). It is unknown where in the brain dreams originate, if there is a single origin for dreams or if multiple portions of the brain are involved, or what the purpose of dreaming is for the body or mind.
During REM sleep, the release of certain neurotransmitters is completely suppressed. As a result, motor neurons are not stimulated, a condition known as REM atonia. This prevents dreams from resulting in dangerous movements of the body.
Discovery of REM
In 1953 Eugene Aserinsky discovered REM sleep while working in the surgery of his PhD advisor. Aserinsky noticed that the sleepers’ eyes fluttered beneath their closed eyelids, later using a polygraph machine to record their brain waves during these periods. In one session he awakened a subject who was wailing and crying out during REM and confirmed his suspicion that dreaming was occurring. In 1953 Aserinsky and his advisor published the ground-breaking study in Science.
Background of Lucid Dreams
Dreams have been of paramount importance to cultures throughout the ages. Native Americans viewed dreams as portals to the spirit world, paths to prophecy and quests. The Aborigines refer to the stories of the world’s very beginning as their dreamings.
The Lucidity Institute – workshop in Kalani, Big Island Hawai’i
The founder of The Lucidity Institute Dr Stephen LaBerge led us through 8 days in the Kalani retreat of lucid dream techniques, science and encouragement, accompanied by ever present Keelin and Dominic. Mornings were meeting times from our amazing healthy breakfasts until lunchtime.
We would gather to compare results, discuss Novadreamer experiences, and of course be tricked into Reality Testing ! This beautiful setting gave us all the much needed tranquility and place-less ness for our group of overseas oneironauts. The frogs ‘cookie’ calling was nature’s alarm along with heavy and lush rainfall about 5.30am everyday.
The Lucidity Institute’s research currently has three foci. These are: the mapping of brain activity during the initiation of lucidity, the study of Tibetan Dream yoga methods of inducing and manipulating lucid dreams, and the development of expert explorers of states of consciousness.
The brain mapping project is an extension of prior research into the psychophysiology of the lucid dream state, which found that high central nervous system activation is a prerequisite for lucidity. The goal is to identify which brain areas are activated during the onset of reflective consciousness in the REM sleep state. With this knowledge, we may be able to develop methods of easily and reliably inducing lucid dreams whenever desired, using biofeedback or direct stimulation.
The study of Tibetan Buddhist techniques of lucid dreaming is aimed at making use of the thousand years of experience accumulated by this tradition. Literature currently available is couched in esoteric language from which it is difficult to discriminate useful techniques from culture-bound ritual. Through online and laboratory experiments, we are testing the effectiveness of lucid dream induction methods found in the Dream Yoga doctrines.
The third aspect of our work is part of the long term goal of the Lucidity Institute to foster understanding of all types of higher states of consciousness. The purpose of this project is to assemble and train a group of individuals with extensive experience in meditation, lucid dreaming, hypnosis, and other altered states to facilitate study of these states’ mind-body relations and potential applications and ben
Ongoing sleep research ( perchance to dream ) : Sleeping later was fine, especially if practising WILD or maybe a recovery from a strenuous night with one’s biofeedback device being too sensitive ! Alcohol was not present and caffeine was in weak supply, so once jet lag from our varied time zones had recessed, our bodies and minds adjusted to our tropical research lab !
I had access to lots of interested new minds keen to try the IBVA EEG monitor whilst they slipped into a different state or explored the soundscapes.
Stephen LaBerge’s life has seemingly been geared towards lucid dreaming. He experienced his first lucid dream when he was just six years old. He found himself underwater and thought “Uh-oh. How can I breathe?” Laberge realized that it was dream water and for the next year began to explore the ocean depth for sunken treasure and pirate-filled adventures. From age six to twenty-three, he remembered no lucid dreams. In addition, he became introverted and built bombs in his basement with chemistry sets. He graduated from the University of Arizona, with, in his own words, “an utterly non-spiritual view of the world”(and a degree in mathematics. In the sixties he had the intention of getting his doctorate in chemical physics, but felt compelled to study Tibetan Buddhism, Zen meditation, tai chi, and psychology instead. Stephen experienced another lucid dream later on in the decade and it was then he knew he wanted to study dreams. He went to go work for a research lab at Stanford.
One of the first experiments that he performed was to see if he could distinguish when a lucid dream has taken place. He hooked himself up to a polysomnograph machine used to measure eye movement. As he was just entering the REM stage, his assistant woke him up to tell him that he’s entering REM and to remember to dream. Dr. Laberge got so upset with his assistant that he told him that the next night he is going to try it again and he’d better keep quiet. So the next night, equipped with his own pillow this time, he hooked himself up and had a lucid dream where he made books fly around. Dr. Laberge expresses that “Not all lucid dreams are useful, but they all have a sense of wonder about them. If you must sleep through a third of your life, why should you sleep through your dreams too?” He discovered that a person’s brain emits unique waves during a lucid dream that confirm conscious thought. In 1980, he submitted a research paper to reviews for public education. They rejected the paper because they found it hard to believe. He performed more experiments and then the next summer he collected all his research and presented it again. This time to the Psychophysiological study of Sleep, and they concluded he had a firm case and that lucid dreaming did, in fact, exist.
According to Anne FadimanLife’s interview with Stephen LaBerge, LaBerge said that “I generally use my lucid dreams to try experiences I’d be deathly afraid of in real life, but know I can get away with if I’m asleep.”( 3 ) One such example was when he climbing the Himalayas with a tee-shirt on when “suddenly I understood- I was dreaming. So I raised my arms, jumped in the air and flew away.”
Even though “about only one in ten people have lucid dreams regularly,” Dr. LaBerge “believes it is a skill” that can be taught to anyone. And to do this he developed the MILD technique of lucid dreaming. This method involves waking up from a dream and telling yourself that you are dreaming as you go back into one. He also invented the “Dream Light.” The device is a sleeping mask that can detect REM. When it senses that a person is in that stage it flashes red to induce a lucid dream. The dreamer picks up on the flash and knows they are in a dream. Stephen LaBerge is dedicated to lucid dreaming and the people who venture to learn it.
The future looks bright for Lucid Dreaming. As more and more information becomes available to the general public, interest in this deeply spiritual, indefinably rewarding practice will increase. No matter what happens, Lucid Dreaming will be around forever.