Every year on April 12th, lucid dreamers around the world unite to celebrate the annual Lucid Dreaming Day.
This exciting opportunity provides a platform for passionate lucid dreamers to meet other oneironauts, take part in dream challenges, win prizes, hear from the experts and introduce the uninitiated to the wonders of dream exploration.
The event is a collaboration of lucid dream experts and researchers which is hosted online - so turn up in your pajamas and join the celebrations!
Join me now in considering the scientific roots of lucid dreaming that make April 12th such a landmark date. Plus, find out how your support of this artistic, entertaining, therapeutic and philosophical tool can benefit oneironauts around the world for generations to come.
Lucid Dreaming Day falls on the historic date of April 12th when, in 1975, lucid dreaming was first scientifically proven by Dr Keith Hearne.
For it was Hearne who first demonstrated a method by which we can communicate to the waking world during a lucid dream.
He exploited the nature of Rapid Eye Movements (REM) to have an experienced lucid dreamer called Alan Worsley perform a pre-defined set of eye movements during his lucid dream.
After a false start (in which Worsley performed the routine but the recording equipment had been shut down for the night), Hearne successfully recorded Worsley's smooth and deliberate eye movements on an electro-oculogram (EOG) at around 8am on the morning of April 12th, 1975:
Hearne's EOG experiment was formally recognized through publication in the journal for The Society for Psychical Research. Unfortunately, this fell short of the required reading material for most relevant experts and his work went widely unknown.
A few years later, in 1983, Dr Stephen LaBerge performed another ocular signaling experiment at Stanford University. He went on to forge a lifelong career in the field of lucid dream research and is a widely known expert on the subject, often credited for being the first to scientifically verify lucid dreaming.
The media fell in love with the romantic idea of lucid dreaming being a real phenomenon and today it frequently hits the headlines - curiously, in both science and paranormal media streams.
Clearly, both Hearne and LaBerge have played significant roles in this field and it's important that we recognize both of their contributions over the years. But on April 12th, we'll remember the Neil Armstrong of lucid dreaming: the humble shop worker, Alan Worsley, and his landmark eye movement signals to Dr Keith Hearne working through the night in his sleep research lab.
Increasingly, "lucid dreaming" is becoming a household term.
To keep raising awareness of lucid dreaming as a regular nocturnal pastime means that more students of tomorrow will:
Not only will greater interest lead directly to new developments in our lucid dream technology (from induction devices, to dream playback machines, and even experiencing shared dreams one day)... it will also afford us huge opportunities to better ourselves as individuals and mankind as a whole.
I believe that if every human being were to start harnessing the power of lucid dreams then our culture, art, technology, medicine, science and beliefs would quickly evolve in a whole new direction. The human race would be enriched as a result, both individually and universally.
That certainly gives us something to strive for on Lucid Dreaming Day.
Here's a good question. If a lucid dream is any dream in which you know you're dreaming, then why aren't we always lucid in dreams? Why doesn't it just become the default state of dreaming? Why do we accept our dreams of flying pigs and dinosaurs as an extension of waking life? What is the mechanism for defaulting to non-lucid dreams? Intriguingly, scientists have approached this question from three different angles./p>
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
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?