One of my earliest and most memorable dreaming experiences took place about ten years ago, and firmly altered my beliefs, feelings and course in life.
It was this experience that first lead me to what I believe are undeniable conclusions; both that we are far more than our physical bodies, and that our dreams are not random neurons firing in our heads as our unconscious processes the day's information. It is a weak theory, backed by very little proof that simply cannot exist for me alongside my personal experience.
[RT: The activation-synthesis hypothesis (1977) was based on Hobson & MacCarley's EEG data which was used to produce a mathematical model which could predict this random neurological process.
As newer technology evolved, along with criticism from Freudian analysts that our dreams actually do make some sense and are not totally random sensory data, this neurobiological theory of dreams was revised. It says dreams are most likely the result of the sleeping mind's attempt at making sense of these random firings using unconscious reasoning.
According to Hobson, writing in 1999: "Dreaming may be our most creative conscious state, one in which the chaotic, spontaneous recombination of cognitive elements produces novel configurations of information: new ideas. While many or even most of these ideas may be nonsensical, if even a few of its fanciful products are truly useful, our dream time will not have been wasted."]
Prior to this, I'd probably had roughly 10 to 15 lucid dreams. Some of these were very short and vague, others were more memorable. Nothing however, prepared me this.
I had tried to induce my first WILD, and had been using Robert Monroe's Hemi-Sync meditation program for a while but with limited success. I had experienced some interesting visuals and mild sleep paralysis, but nothing close to the full WILD experience. I had been trying hard to practice reality checks, meditation and in particular all day awareness diligently.
I went to bed that evening, deeply focused on my intention, "I am having the most amazing lucid dream tonight." I woke up needing the bathroom at about 3 or 4am sure enough not having experienced my lucid dream. Already the idea that this was not something that I was destined to experience had taken a hold and was beginning to grow stronger and stronger.
After having been to the bathroom, I got back into bed and started performing the same deep relaxation exercise and visualization as I had just a few hours before when I first fell asleep, using the WBTB technique. My flow of consciousness and awareness was not strictly continuous, but only lapsed for a matter of seconds.
I remember rolling out of bed, but rather than hitting the floor with a thud, it was more of a bounce expected of a rubber ball. I instantly felt a surge of adrenaline and excitement run through me as I knew exactly what had happened. In the next moment, I was lying back in bed again performing the exercise.
A couple of minutes later, I felt myself again roll out of bed and hit the floor, with that same bouncy feeling as before. I felt that I was on my hands and knees – it was dark and I couldn't see anything, despite the fact that I knew it to be getting light outside. I took a moment to calm myself and to become aware and present in the fact that I was now out of my body. As I did, my vision started to clear. The thought ran through my mind, "I can't believe this. I am out of my body." I was desperate to turn round to see myself sleeping, I was just so curious. I quickly remembered the numerous experiences that I'd read that almost guarantee being snapped immediately back into the body and ending the experience should you see your sleeping body.
I walked straight out of my bedroom and down through the corridor towards the lounge, again, fully conscious and aware of what I was doing. I have no adequate words to describe the experience more fully. The clarity and level of awareness was far greater than what I had experienced in day to day reality. Powerful qualities, feelings and emotions arose that don't have names.
If we compare the old VHS tapes to today's HD TV, back when we had VHS, we were all perfectly happy with it. There was no desire for a better quality picture, and it was impossible to imagine. Once we do experience HD TV however, the old VHS tapes pale in comparison. Let me say the same about this experience. It was more "real" and vivid than this "reality" that we live in. The memory of the experience is burned into my mind stronger than most of what I did over the past week. The experience was so powerful that it led me to re-evaluate everything I believed in, where those beliefs had come from, and how they were serving me.
I walked down the corridor into the lounge and saw my rabbit in his hutch. He's an indoor rabbit and roams the flat freely all day, only going in his hutch at night. I put my hands effortlessly through the metal bars and stroked him. The pleasure and enjoyment was significantly magnified in the out of body state. He smiled back at me with a strange "Cheshire cat" type grin, exposing teeth that he doesn't have in waking reality! Maybe it was his dream body.
I stood up and gently pushed my hands through the solid wall. The texture felt fantastic, and it was a completely new experience. It was just denser than oil. I turned around and decided that I was going to leave, and go and visit other apartments. I realize now in hindsight that I had lost my awareness, and just "day dreamed" my way back down the corridor as I had always done in waking reality. By the time I got to the door, I was oblivious. I went to walk through it but instead bumped into it as I would have done in waking reality. As I'd become more unconscious and unaware, I had lost my lucidity. In my unconscious "knowledge", I was unable to walk through a door, and so I couldn't, even though if I had remained focused and aware, I would have been able to do so effortlessly. The shock caused me to open my eyes and find myself in bed looking at the ceiling.
I immediately committed every detail to memory and then to my dream journal. Unfortunately, I have no way of asking my rabbit if he noticed anything strange, or knowing whether I affected him in any conscious way.
It was after this experience that I was no longer able to ignore this reality, and I had no choice but to become a fully committed dreamer.
About The Guest Author
Adam Palmer first became interested in lucid dreaming after experiencing sleep paralysis at 14 years old, followed by a range of vivid dreams and false awakenings. He's been consciously practising lucid dreaming and exploring the out of body state for 10 years since.
Rebecca Turner is a science writer, illustrator, explorer of consciousness - and founder of World of Lucid Dreaming. She is currently studying for a biology degree in Auckland and blogging at her site Science Me.
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