The first time a person realizes it’s possible to consciously manifest anything imaginable while dreaming, the very first thing he or she probably looks for is to experience those unfulfilled desires and fantasies of the egoïc mind. I’m here to tell you that is (or could be) just a superficial beginning of a long path of personal and spiritual growth. My name is Laurens (a.k.a. Lence on Lucidipedia) and just like Melanie (nailgirl10), I’m also very excited to have been invited to post weekly updates on the Lucidipedia blog. If there’s anything I love more than lucid dreaming, it would be sharing my passion for lucidity with others. :-) In this first post I’ll dig straight to the core of what I believe lucid dreaming is all about: the experience of pure awareness and how it can change your life.
The four stages of competent lucid living
I believe learning how to lucid dream can make you radically change your life for the better and ultimately (hopefully) also the lives of everyone close to you. I will attempt to explain how and why, by using the model of “the four stages of competence” applied to lucid dreaming. Be warned that this is a rather serious (and long) first post, but for me, these were incredibly important realizations, so I invite you to join me on this trip down the rabbit hole…
The stage of “unconscious incompetence”: the sleeper
The first stage in this model is that of “unconscious incompetence”. Most people on this earth are just as deceived by their sleeping mind as they are by their waking mind. Their emotional reactions and the actions they take in life are completely controlled by their thought patterns – thoughts about the past, the future or about what others might be thinking about them.
This state makes them completely emotionally dependent on the reality they think they are experiencing. Their lives are ruled by determinism, random chance and the illusion of choice, rarely by free will. For a large part, society dictates what they can and cannot think. When they wake up in the morning, they feel like they had no control over their dreams. They might think they acted completely irrationally. They might be amused with (or scared of) what they dreamt about. What they don’t realize yet… is that the exact same thing applies to their waking lives too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s anything “wrong” with living this kind of life, but… know that they are responsible for most of the misery and pain they will inevitably experience. As they are suffering, they will consciously and subconsciously make others suffer with them. I’m talking about “them” as if I’m not part of them, but of course I, like most others, am still partly in this stage. I never said mastering lucidity is a linear progress… Nevertheless, I believe it is possible to “free your mind” from these rigid thinking patterns and this process begins by acknowledging that we are very, very irrational beings capable of so much more than we are led to believe, which brings us to…
The stage of “conscious incompetence”: the dreamer
“You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” That’s what Morpheus said to Neo in the beginning of the movie “The Matrix”. This movie beautifully exemplifies metaphorically what a person experiences during his/her “awakening”. Usually it starts innocently – for me it did at least. A person might discover lucid dreaming by watching a YouTube video or after seeing a popular movie like “Inception”. Driven by the allure of literally experiencing our wildest dreams, we explore and learn about all the technicalities: keeping a dream journal, looking for dream signs, doing reality checks, practicing prospective and retrospective memory, learning about WBTB, DILD, MILD and for the adventurous types among us, even trying the “WILD” technique…
All of this is part of the second stage of competent lucid living. Usually it takes about a month – sometimes a lot shorter, sometimes a lot longer. It takes effort and dedication, but most of all: passion! Eventually, everyone who keeps exercising his/her dreaming mind will experience that eye-opening experience (often literally…) of having a lucid dream.
The stage of “conscious competence”: the lucid dreamer
Once someone has realized it’s possible to be conscious while in an unconscious state and experienced it first hand, all doubt disappears and old beliefs are shattered. It becomes easier to recreate the experience from now on, but it still requires effort. This is the awesome stage of “conscious competence” – a stage of exploration and learning.
It might also be the stage of great disappointment. After the initial excitement, many dreamers will soon realize it isn’t always easy to create a lucid dream at will. Moreover, it’s especially not easy to control the dream environment without it getting unstable. Staying calm and in control of our primordial, ego-fueled desires becomes key at this point.
After a couple of lucid dreams, some of us will find the techniques we relied on just don’t cut it anymore. They won’t bring us to the next level and they never will. This is where we learn the most important lesson and this is what my first blogpost is actually about: the “lucid” in “lucid dreaming” is the key. It’s all about mastering awareness.
The stage of “unconscious competence”: the oneironaut
An advanced lucid dreamer realizes triggering a lucid dream happens by becoming aware of the present “reality”. The techniques are merely helpful tools in achieving this. The process of becoming aware has been delegated to the subconscious (or rather, higher conscious?), hence the fourth and last stage of “unconscious competence”.
Now, what do I mean by “awareness”? Being aware or “lucid” is basically attentively observing the reality you are experiencing both externally and internally right NOW, without judgment. It’s “letting go” and truly living in the present. It’s also what people do in meditation. Note that this is not about “not thinking [about the past or future]”, because our mind cannot think in negation.
Awareness is both the means and the end. You might not always be in control of your situation, but by becoming aware of your present state, you can let go of negative, harmful thoughts and emotions. This makes room for more clarity. You’ll be able to “see” the changes your body, heart, mind and soul demands of you, but which you may have been ignoring – maybe because they are too scary, too difficult, too crazy, too weird, … Only by ACTING on these changes, it’s possible to lead a more lucid and fulfilled life. This is what lucid dreaming thought me. Personally, I’ve started exercising vigorously for the first time in my life and gained nearly 15 kg of muscle mass in less than a year, I’ve started learning martial arts (krav maga), I’ve joined a local “Toastmasters” club to confront my fear of public speaking, I’ve started meditating daily, I’ve cleaned up my diet and haven’t gotten sick ever since… These are just some of the superficial changes which satisfy mostly the “ego” (the sense of “self”; identity). The main benefit one experiences is my most important point I want to make with this blogpost…
I believe a true oneironaut realizes the only way to always know when (s)he’s dreaming is to assume (s)he’s always dreaming. However, waking life is tricky… everything and everyone wants to convince us this life is REAL and SERIOUS! The oneironaut realizes these are ridiculous, limiting beliefs originating from an insecure Western culture that actively discourages spiritual growth. The oneironaut sees through the illusion of “self”. (S)he realizes everything that is perceived is part of the one who perceives – and vice versa. As a result, compassion and empathy are values that feel very natural to the oneironaut.
This is how I believe lucid dreaming can make a person rise to his/her true potential.
Is this making some sense to you?
I’m sorry if this blogpost was a bit too “heavy”, too long and/or too serious. I promise to make shorter and more practical contributions as well. ;-)
This was pretty much a summary of my beliefs about “lucidity”. Many of the elements I’ve touched upon were topics of discussion in several Lucidipedia forum threads. If you’re a beginner, I hope this post provided you with a decent overview of the exciting path of self-discovery that still lies ahead. Any questions are always welcome. If you’re an experienced lucid dreamer, I hope my view resonated with yours and if not, that’s ok. :-)
Also, if you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to see discussed on the Lucidipedia blog, feel free to PM me or contact me otherwise.
Super perfundo on the early eve of your day,