Why is it that when we dream, we don’t recognise that we are dreaming?
Why do we just accept the strange scenarios like ……a pink cat….oh and it talks……?
It is as if a fundamental part of our minds are missing during dreaming.
A lucid dream occurs when we realise we are dreaming and consciously navigate the dreamscape. This can happen spontaneously from time to time but induction techniques can be learned to consistently achieve this state.
There are a number of induction techniques that can be used to achieve lucid dreams. These mostly rely on memory conditioning.
To most people’s experience this seems a little bit of a task as memory is seriously impaired during sleep, hence we have such poor dream recall. This is due to an evolutionary function that allows the body to make sense of and consolidate recent memories without deleting them.
In order to achieve this, new memories during the sleep process need to be hindered as the nature of memory is such that making new memories often requires the deletion of old memories. This of course is a simplified model of a more complex process but the point remains, memory in sleep is impaired.
So despite having achieved good success myself with memory based inductions I could not help but to read about countless aborted efforts of many other wannabe dream walkers. There had to be a better way.
So I asked myself when else does the mind just accept things at face value?
The answer is when we are hypnotised.
There had to be a relationship. What do the hypnotised mind and dreaming mind have in common?
There are many definitions of hypnosis – but they all essentially subscribe to the same idea that the part of the mind that monitors our reality, the Critical Function, is effectively off line.
Here is a brief explanation of the critical function that I‘ve written up using my own model. I call this the model the Critical Loop. This is crucial so make sure you understand.
The Critical Loop above can best be described as starting with an experience in our lives. This event is then turned into a memory which is then passed through the learning centre where the event is analysed so as the mind is ready for the next time the same event is encountered. This is referred to as an expectation.
Lucidity Tip: Seek wisdom in the Dream….
On a subsequent occasion, when the same event is encountered again, the experience is made into a memory and compared to the expectation of this event (from previous experience). If the experience is similar to previous experiences then the event goes unnoticed. If the event is dissimilar to the previous experience then the expectation of the experience is modified by the intervention of a conscious consideration.
This means that most of what we do from day to day goes unnoticed until something strange (expectation and experience out of sync) event occurs, in which case we immediately become acutely aware of the situation.
So, for example we (from previous experience) expect a pineapple to taste sweet until we eat a bitter one at which point we then make a memory of this. This causes the mind to become conscious in its consideration of the matter and it now modifies our expectations of future pineapples to be possibly bitter.
Our brain continuously monitors our world in this fashion, observing our experiences and when necessary consciously adjusting our expectations accordingly – this is known as the Critical Function.
So I asked, what part of the loop is missing in sleep, what brings the critical function off line?
The answer was painfully obvious – Memory!!
So a reduced memory means the loop is off line and a shorter loop now comes into play.
Looking at this shorter loop we can see how experience and expectation become uncritically interchangeable – so a talking pink cat becomes acceptable and hence we do not realise that we are dreaming.
Memory techniques rely on familiarising oneself with one’s personal dream signs (these are people, places etc peculiar to our individual dreams). By becoming familiar with these and making an effort to remember to recognise them when we’re dreaming we can trigger lucidity. However common experience would seem to be that lucidity, though achieved through this method, rarely occurs by actually “remembering a dream sign” but more so by being alerted to the oddness of something else in the dream.
So according to my model – it would seem that the forcing of memory is, in effect actually bringing the critical function back on line rather than actual relying on memory to recognise a dream sign to become lucid. So it is a critical mindset that ultimately triggers lucidity, fired up by the forcing of memory into the equation.
No denying the effectiveness of memory based technique but I wanted to bring the critical mind online in a more predictable way. So after countless exercises and theories I have opened the floor to encourage a more multi dimensional approach to becoming lucid, employing a number of different methods, while all ultimately subscribing to the Critical Mindset Notion, the very essence of becoming lucid.