More than twenty years ago in The Healing Power of Dreams, Patricia Garfield presciently observed, “The potential for healing in lucid dreams is enormous.” Researchers like Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach had already gathered anecdotal reports of apparent physical healing experiences from an OMNI magazine survey of lucid dreamers in 1987, and Ed Kellogg reported in the Lucidity Letter (1988) of his success healing an infected tonsil.
Since that time, little research on physical healing in lucid dreams has occurred, apart from the additional investigations of Ed Kellogg. After the publication of my book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self and its chapter on successful and non successful examples of lucid dream healings, new reports of physical healings arrive almost each quarter to the magazine I co-edit, Lucid Dreaming Experience (LDE). Seemingly, lucid dreamers only needed a reminder of its healing potential to realize it.
While the concept of directing healing intent in a lucid dream towards physical ailments waits for a researcher to study, psychological research has occurred on using lucid dreams to deal with recurring nightmares in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers. By most accounts, the psychological tool of lucid dreaming has led to successful outcomes. Normally after the PTSD sufferer becomes lucidly aware just once in the nightmare scenario, the nightmares virtually cease. In some cases, the PTSD sufferer shows positive benefits from simply hearing about the idea of lucid dreaming.
In a past issue of the LDE, I interviewed a young woman airline mechanic, Hope, who suffered from PTSD after a Boeing 767 broke free and rolled across her leg as she watched. During her six months of recovery from the injury and amputation, she began to have recurring nightmares almost nightly. She told me the nightmares felt so horrendous that she came to the point of “not wanting to sleep, almost.”
Fortunately, she happened upon a lucid dreaming book and saw the potential to help her end the recurring nightmares. A few nights later as she ran for her life, it occurred to her, “Hey, I am running, but I only have one leg.” Now lucid, she decided to face the nightmarish monster for the first time, “As it approached me, I waved at it and smiled a huge smile and then jumped up and flew away.” She recalled that the monster looked confused, now that the usual scenario had changed and Hope had achieved lucidity. After this, her recurrent nightmares basically ended, and her normal sleep life returned.
Years later, Hope decided to try and revisit the moment of the accident, and see it again while lucid dreaming. Incredibly, she became lucid and began re-experiencing the horrible event, when something unexpected happened. At the moment when the 767 wheels rolled up to her leg to crush it, a “black space” (like TV censors might use to cover nudity) appeared in her visual field, which shielded her from seeing the wheel crush her leg. Upon waking from the lucid dream, she realized some deeper part of her “protected” her from re-viewing the traumatic event’s re-enactment.
Conceptually, the idea of a lucid dream vanquishing the reactive fear of persistent nightmares seems straightforward. However could you use lucid dreaming for healing other mental and emotional disorders? Could lucid dreaming resolve a waking life phobia, like fear of flying? Could lucid dreaming help an addict stay clean and sober? Could lucid dreaming resolve a suffering person’s sense of free-floating anxiety?
Yes, yes and yes. Consider these examples of psychological healing in lucid dreams:
While self-reports of healing phobias seem more prevalent, I have also heard from a lucid dreamer who used lucid dreaming to stay sober after a serious drug addiction. He conceived of an approach after reading my book, and wrote to tell me of his success. Others have conveyed to me stories of working through issues of self-esteem, anger, nonconstructive beliefs - all while lucidly aware.
I offer these examples as simple illustrations of the conceptual growth inherent in using lucid dreams for psychological healing. Assisting sufferers of PTSD seems only the tip of the iceberg. Patricia Garfield’s observation, "The potential for healing in lucid dreams is enormous," has other layers, even beyond those discussed, such as healing the human spirit. Moreover, these lucid dream healings outline important elements about the nature of the psyche and the dynamic energy accessible, which could lead to a new and beneficial model of the conscious and unconscious minds’ relationship.
Note: This article was originally published in DreamTime, the magazine of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Vol. 30, No 2, Spring 2013.
Rebecca Turner is the founder of World of Lucid Dreaming. She is currently studying for a science degree in Auckland and becoming famous as a science writer. Try our free lucid dreaming course and connect with the team on Facebook and the lucid dream forum.
A lot has happened in the last 5 months. But how did we go from business as usual to changing the face of the entire lucid dreaming supplements industry? It’s a story that I think will interest you – and you might even learn a thing or two in the process. When I was first taken on-board as Chief Lucidity Officer in 2016, one of the first things I was tasked with was taking a good look at our operations and giving things a bit of an overhaul.
What is reality? How can we define it - fit it into a box - so that whatever experiments we throw at it, our definition always holds true? I consciously observe the lucid dream world. It is real to me because the firing of neurons in my brain stem are interpreted as real sensory data by my brain. I could argue that lucid dreams constitute part of my reality.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
Years ago, before I had my first lucid dream, I had a very specific idea about what a lucid dream would feel like. I thought it would be intense and magical and a little bit spooky. This turned out to be a pretty accurate representation. Becoming aware in the dreamstate is like entering another world. One where physical laws can be manipulated (there is no spoon, Neo) and your fantasies can come true in an instant. There's definitely something magical about that - and it's as if the lucid dream world is a living, breathing organism that can react to your very thoughts.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
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?