Lucid Dreaming is essentially being aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming.
That is the simplest description. Many times people recognize either that their dream reality is absurd or frightening, and they will feel affronted and wake themselves up. This is the most basic form of lucid dreaming.
Others perceive that they are dreaming, and can shape and mold the dream, it’s denizens, or it’s milieu. Lucid dreaming in one form or another is not too uncommon. The term “conscious dreaming” is sometimes preferred, as it signifies that the dreamer is aware or conscious that they are dreaming — however, Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden coined the phrase “lucid dreaming” to imply a brief understanding, or interval of lucidity, as with patients of psychosis. He was not insinuating a complete understanding of the dream itself, nor that the dream would be clear or vivid.
Some attribute lucid dreaming to supposed experiences of “astral projection”, where the meditator believes they are literally outside of their own bodies, when in fact they are merely experiencing a dream where they are “seeing” themselves within the dream.
Persons deemed “psychotic” experience vivid hallucinations and disillusions, as their minds are incapable of discerning between the real and the imagined or dreamed. The “filter”, as it were, between what the mind creates in a healthy person’s unconscious mind, does not work properly. People who are deprived of sleep often experience similar apparitions, despite being awake, as the mind attempts to force the natural process of sleeping psychosis.
Why Consider the Unconscious?
We live in a very physical, corporeal, material oriented world, in that which cannot be seen, touched, bought or sold is not regarded as “real” or worth consideration. The unconscious mind is many things, but not “worthless”.
A practical man with artistic skills may put them aside in order to provide for himself or a family, but those interests do not evaporate into non-existence, they are repressed into the unconscious.
So it is at times like a tote-bag.
Our eyes and brain can see and perceive FAR more than we are able to process every second, minute and day. “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the -inability- of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” *
So it’s also an individual’s editing suite for the great film we call “perception of reality”. But what of that which doesn’t make it into the final cut? The unconscious mind is the cutting room floor, and there’s some good deleted scenes that can provide insight into our big picture.
Approaching that “inner world” can provide release, mini-vacations, if we can harness just a fraction of it’s power.
Dream work (actively recording and interacting with our dreams) and active imagination (purposeful day-dreaming) are just a couple of the ways we can approach the unconscious. One should not attempt this without respect or regard for the potency and power of our inner lives, however, because once man has tamed the jungles, the seas, the deserts and outer space itself, the last unmapped territory may still prove to be… ourselves. And we must beware, for “Here there be monsters.”
* H.P. Lovecraft