Since it has existed, music has been used by humanity as a tool to enter altered states of awareness. Even the common example of a teenager hooking up to their iPod to relax and forget the fight they just had with their parents is a way of changing self perception, by shifting attention away from certain situations.
The central nervous system (CNS) has two different functions: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). They are not separate neural pathways, but two distinct, complementary functions.
The SNS is activated by adrenaline and is needed in extreme situations to ensure our survival. It helps us react faster when we need to fight or flee. When it is active our heartbeat and breathing accelerate, and our visual and auditory perceptions become sharper. Our muscles tighten.
The PNS is activated by noradrenaline and is needed to help us rest and recover. When it is active, all our muscles relax, and our breath becomes deeper and slower. Our heartbeat decelerates.
These systems work in the same way that a complementary pair of muscles work. Both have to play their role so that we can be balanced. But if we are stressed all day long - if our SNC is active for longer than it should be - this depletes our energy. We run out of adrenaline, and when we need it, it's not there.
As adrenaline and other substances related to the SNC accumulate in our muscles, we enter a state of perpetual stress. Our muscles are chronically contracted - and this takes a LOT of energy!
Naturally, the PNS should be primarily active during sleep. Our capacity to remain alert in our dreams depends largely on how deeply we can relax. But if our muscles are permanently stressed out, there is no way we can achieve profound relaxation, and there is no way for our dreaming attention to flourish.
Playing, singing, dancing, or simply listening to music is a very direct way to shift into the PNS. In this sense, it can be described as a direct pathway into the world of dreams and enhanced self perception - even during wakefulness.
It can be no coincidence that so many cultures have made music and sound the focal point of their search for the indescribable. For these traditions, sound is the border that divides the physical world and an underlying world of energy.
Traditions from the world over have used music, chants and dance as ways to glimpse other realities. From the Aboriginals of Australia, to the Shamans of the steppes of Russia; from the Sufis to the Hopis, we can find this search for the unknown through our intrinsic connection to sound. Although the musical styles, instruments and specific interpretations and cultural edifices around music and sound vary immensely, the basic truths remain constant.
Music has always been a basic part of human culture, a basic building block of society, and a channel to achieve a deeper connection to ourselves and the universe. Sadly, music in the western world, and everywhere else, through its influence, is becoming merely a commercial product, with no deeper significance, and its true power goes unperceived by more and more people every day.
Rebecca Turner is the creator of World of Lucid Dreaming where she offers valuable first-hand insights. Learn more about Rebecca. Take her home study program. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and the lucid dream forum.
Chloe is a natural lucid dreamer. That's to say that all of her dreams are conscious (lucid), highly realistic and incredibly vivid. She can remember these dreams as far back as being a toddler. That level of mindfulness we regular folk strive to achieve in our dreams is always present in her nightly escapades. Her dreams, by default, are highly intense, profound and acutely self aware.
Lucid dreams are a life-changing opportunity for all of us. If you want to learn how to have lucid dreams, this section gives a flavor of the mindset and the techniques you'll learn. I'll be absolutely up front with you. If you're going to learn how to have lucid dreams, you need to inject three things in your life starting today. Time: it takes time to learn a new skill like lucid dreaming. For instance, time to record your dreams each morning. Time to meditate and incubate a self-aware mindset. Time to perform a pre-sleep lucidity routine.
It's the most frustrating thing about lucid dreaming. You finally realize you're dreaming, get excited about the infinite possibilities... and immediately wake up. What's the point of all this lucid dream training if the experience only lasts a few seconds? How much more effort is it going to take to learn how to prolong your lucid dreams? The answer is: none at all.
Learning to have lucid dreams -- it's fun, intensive, frustrating, euphoric, bizarre, daunting -- yet ultimately, lucid dreaming is a hugely rewarding and life changing experience. Learning how to lucid dream is like any other skill that you develop over time. There is no magic secret. But there are a number of tried-and-tested methods that you can employ. Below I've listed a number of those techniques to get you started. Happy dreaming...
This week I was the recipient of a ten-year anniversary gift from Pete (meaning I opened a package with his name on it and was all "Hey cool! Is this for me?!"). The gift was a set of AcousticSheep SleepPhones - wireless headphones embedded in a plush headband which receives audio from your nearest device. The main reason he got this for me was to listen to music and podcasts more comfortably in bed. It's also a top selling product among joggers, air travelers, the partners of snorers, and insomniacs. AcousticSheep SleepPhones have applications in entertainment, leisure, sport and sleep therapy.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?