Dr. Arnold Kalnitsky – Lucid Dreams and Subconscious Memories in Lucid Dreaming
I’ve kept dream diaries on and off for various lengths of time over forty five years, and written down and analyzed unusual and notable dreams even when not actively keeping journals. My interest in the uniquely vivid and compellingly immersive type of dream now commonly referred to as ‘lucid’ goes back to early childhood when I was subject to a particularly intense and memorable sequence of what I would call ‘dual consciousness dreams’ – characterized by a sensation of floating above my infant body, but with a sense of alternating modes of ‘mature’ and ‘childlike’ consciousness.
However, recently (November 2010) I had an a lucid dream that stood out far more than any other. I wrote it down in as much detail as I could immediately after, and have spent months trying to reflect on it and explicate every nuance of meaning.
I was having a normal form of dream. It was a sunny afternoon, I and my wife were shopping in a generic urban setting….[note: this has been edited for the sake of brevity]
At some point amidst this park environment, I felt a strong tingling, mostly along my arms and upper body. Just then it struck me so absolutely clearly. “This is too vivid, exotic, strange. It can’t be real” I looked into the face of a woman in front of me. She appeared to be of native African origins, wearing a full length robe or dress with orange and brown patterns and was holding what seemed to be a clay or porcelain jar. When I looked into her face, I had the distinct impression that she was some kind of automated character, a role player, actress, projection, but with no individual selfhood. “All appearance, no substance” was my instinctive impression. Or else, maybe the analogy of a sleep walker, or hypnotized or entranced subject could apply.
The instant that I concluded that “this can’t be real,” the entire populace of the park simply disappeared. The woman I was looking at seemed to fade away, and I quickly recognized that no one else was there. And the quality of the experience changed again. When I found myself alone, I thought “This is a lucid dream, and I can make of it whatever I choose to.” I have had a number of previous lucid dreams over the years, and sometimes found myself in similar circumstances. At times, they have become more detailed and hyper-realistic or surreal, at other times, quickly dissipated before awakening from sleep or transition to traditional dream form. But at this time, things took a new turn for me.
I calmly surveyed my environment. The previous exotic park was now empty, and had become a rather barren dirt surface with some rocky hills in the distance. I tried to will a new scene. I said/thought that “I want to see a beautiful pastoral environment. Blue lake, green fields, mountains with trees.” I tried really hard to concentrate, visualize, will the creation of this scene. In the past I’ve had mixed success at this kind of intentional exercise of will. Often there would be an initial manifestation generally like I intended, but it would shift or morph in unexpected ways. And sometimes the lucidity would be more passive than active, without much creative control.
This time, I felt very focused, cognizant, poised. However, the more I concentrated and willed, the more the scene shifted in another way. Instead of vivid brightness, the sky became more and more pale. It changed from bright blue, to light blue and then settled as a hazy gray. The sun went from bright yellow to just a source of mild illumination underneath the gray sky. The immediate foreground became only a bleak outline of a desolate mountain range. I recognized that things were progressively changing, but not in the way I was willing, and that I could not do anything about it. This is when the experience seriously became unique and profound.
Instead of directing my consciousness on trying to will or create an environment/world, I just became observant and waited to see what would happen. Once the locale settled into that dominant hazy gray texture, I started to become introspective and a powerful feeling dominated my consciousness. I recognized that “this is my inner world.” Rather than direct attention towards the ‘out there’ world, I realized that I was observing/awakening to/participating in some form of deeper consciousness. It was clearly something very different than familiar waking or dreaming states, but in some way was more authentic and enduring.
I think the relatively sudden reduction in detailed dream content from a complex, multi-layered bright exotic, detailed dreamscape to a stark, almost void minimalistic artifice of a environmental ‘set’ triggered the recognition that the deeper level is the foundation upon which the more familiar domains of dream are built upon.
The most profound element of this experience was the transcendent state of consciousness that accompanied the recognition of ‘my inner world.’ The most amazing sense of peace and tranquility dominated my being. My consciousness felt like it was above/encompassing/ beyond what I was experiencing. As if ‘my inner world’ was a dome without visible boundaries, but with the center everywhere. And the sense of peace felt like it was penetrating untold layers of selfhood. At the time of this
dream, I was enduring months of severe anxiety and worry while waiting for scheduling for potentially critical medical tests. And when I was in the depths of the peace of this dream I managed to will myself to remember about my ‘waking existence.’ The most impactful memory of everything was when I thought to myself that “I wish I could wake up with this state/feeling/sense of peace and tranquility, because even the worst problems won’t penetrate this serenity and sense of enduring deep consciousness.”
I could go much further with philosophical theory, psychological analysis, anecdotal supplementation and so on, but I really just wanted to share the dream as it felt and unfolded for me….
Almost six months later (April 2011) I was waiting in line for the local library book sale. This was just a few days after my medical tests but before I knew the results (which were problem free I happily add).To pass some time I took out my Ipod Touch and randomly flipped through the playlists. The first song to come up was “Renaissance Fair” by the Byrds from their Younger Than Yesterday album. I hadn’t listened to that song or album in decades, but my Ipod is filled with music I enjoyed when young and is neat to listen to again on occasion. The lyrics to that song are amazingly similar to the scene/setting of the park environment of my dream. Not literally exact of course, but uncannily close, especially factoring in the tonality, imagery and feel of the song.
Could a song I hadn’t heard in thirty plus years have subconsciously provided imaginative material for re – shaping from my deeper levels of consciousness? Was the dream imagery actually intended to follow an ‘archetypal representation’ that was the source of both my dream and the song, and other similar thematic expressions? Was it extracted from an archetypal realm as an extra intuitive aid for me to remember because I was familiar with the song, and then ‘coincidentally’ reaffirmed through the seemingly random playlist selection?
A synchronistic and timely indicator that there was something substantive about the feeling that this specific dream was felt to have a transcendent quality – just between my medical tests and the results? A lot of potential lines of speculation, but even if just a curiosity, still personally important and directly connected to a dream six months earlier.