Directing a dream, or your own life for that matter, is like sailing. No one controls the sea or the direction of the wind, but you can get anywhere by adjusting your sails. What happens if we decide to lower the sails of our consciousness ship for a moment? Let’s find out.
Steer your ship, not the sea
The sailing metaphor is a great way to explain the idea of “control” in a lucid dream. It was used in one of the updates of the Facebook page of Tim’s company, Snoozon, and it inspired me to write this article. If you’ve ever had a lucid dream before, you may have found it difficult to dream what you want to dream. For example, maybe you really want to meet a specific dream character or maybe you want to fly like superman, but it never quite seems to work. What’s the problem? What prevents us from mastering dream control?
We can think of several causes for the lack of dream control. First, it could be rooted in a misunderstanding of what a dream really is. Within a dream, you take on the perspective of a character. As you become lucid, you realize you’re the one creating the dream, but who is this “you” really? Is it the character you dream you are, or is it all of your experience? The answer you give to this question will determine the limits of your “control”. So think twice before you begin to destroy stuff and harm other characters in your dreams ;)
A second problem might be the lack of lucidity. How often does it happen that you become lucid in a dream and then immediately become so caught up with dreaming, that you lose your lucidity? As described in Robert Waggoner’s article on the crucial, first 30 seconds, it’s important to remember the “MEME steps” as soon as you become lucid: 1) Modulate your emotions, 2) Elevate your awareness, 3) Maintain your focus and 4) Establish your intent. Keep reminding yourself that you’re dreaming. Lack of lucidity usually means lack of control.
Lastly, limited dream control could be caused by a misunderstanding of what “control” actually is. The mind is constructed by a network of ideas. One thought leads to another. The stronger the connection between thought A and B, the more likely it is your mind will go from A to B and reinforce the association. This is how we learn. Keep this in mind when you want something in a lucid dream. Trying to get what you want instantly can make the dream “unstable”. You have to think of a creative “path” to get there. Observe and use the dream you’re already in. Follow the connections. For example, suppose you want to relax on a tropical beach, but in your dream you’re in your house. You could try the spinning technique to teleport where you want to go, but this has rarely worked for me. Usually it stops the dream and leaves me in “the void” until a new, random dream starts. Instead, you could try turning on a television set and switch channels until you see what you’re looking for. Then stare at the screen until it becomes your new dream scene. I bet you can think of even more creative transitions. Find out what works for you.
Lower your sails
Going back to the sailing metaphor, we can easily think of metaphors for some of the “deeper questions”…. What am I sailing towards? Why? Where am I now? What am I sailing with? Who am I sailing with? Who’s the sailor? What’s it all made of? What happens when my ship sinks? Will I drown into a dark sea of nothingness, will I swim ashore to some paradise or will I find a new ship to sail with?
Obviously these aren’t just questions related to lucid dreaming, but they are nonetheless very relevant to what we do. The way to find answers to these questions is actually really simple: just stop “sailing” for a moment and take a good look around. But! But… ironically, trying to think of answers to these fundamental questions is like trying to sail to some imaginary, unknown destination that you believe holds all the answers like buried treasures. You’re still sailing!
This is why we meditate. Just like you go to the gym to train your muscles, you meditate to train your awareness (your lucidity, if you will). Lack of awareness is a sure way to get thrown around by the merciless storms and waves of the ocean of reality. It’s why we have non-lucid dreams so easily. You have to know your ship and your bearings in order to know how and where to steer it. So take your time to get to know yourself.
Study the flow
As I’m writing this, I’m in the second exam period of my fifth year of university; a pretty stressful time for students (hence the recent lack of blogposts from my part… my apologies). Just the other day, a friend told me how stressed she was for an exam. I suggested she should try meditation. “I can’t!” she told me. “My mind is never quiet! It’s always going on and on!” But that’s precisely the point! Becoming aware of the nature of the mind is a very important step. You can’t forcefully stop the stream of thought; that would be like trying to stop an ocean current. What you can do, is being aware of the current and letting your ship sail towards calmer seas.
The same applies to lucid dreaming. Study the flow of a dream and you’ll learn how to direct it.
This time I’ll leave you with a little homework assignment. :) Next time you find yourself lucid in a dream, I challenge you to do this: nothing. Simply try to observe the dream. Don’t react, don’t judge, just let go of control and see what happens!