There is a lot to appreciate when modern technology attempts to provide measurable data to validate phenomenology, which is the study of the structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. Since my focus in this column is to report on the scientific research of lucid dreams, I usually remain neutral when presenting information to the readers of the Lucid Dreaming Experience Magazine.
I have submitted information that has revealed the specific state of consciousness that is unique to lucid dreams; environmental factors that may influence the vividness of dreams, the experiments intended to recreate our dreams in video simulations using computer algorithms, along with other consciousness research that is dependent on sophisticated technology to quantify a subject‘s experience that historically has been based on testimony.
Robert Waggoner recently stated in an interview with Faye Sakellaridis, Associate Editor of Reality Sandwich,
‘When the scientific evidence for lucid dreaming emerged in 1980, everything changed. It clearly showed an amazing paradox; namely, you could be simultaneously asleep, dreaming and consciously aware. Moreover, it gave this ancient spiritual practice of lucid dreaming a sense of scientific acceptance and respect. Lucid dreaming could no longer be denied as impossible.”
As Robert pointed out, the practice of lucid dreaming can be traced to ancient civilizations, long before computers, electroencephalograms, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, even before an understanding of human physiology was grasped. The experience of becoming lucid in a dream continues to trump the science behind the research into understanding this unique state of awareness.
It is in this spirit that lucid dream researcher Ryan Hurd was inspired to create a unique tool that combines a number of details that makes it not just a beauty to behold, but effective perhaps partially due to the intent of its existence. I can think of no better example of the practice of lucid dreaming manifesting into an object designed to facilitate the ability to become more aware whether you are awake or asleep.
I have used small objects before that I would periodically inspect as a reality check in hopes the habit would result in more frequent lucid dreams. But Ryan got the formula right and released the Lucid Talisman as a tool to become more self aware of your surroundings and state of mind.
To evoke an ancient feel to the amulet, the Lucid Talisman has many fine details including the Latin phrase “Dormiens Vigila” (sleep with vigilance) which Ryan told me comes from a 1595 wood carving seen at the top of this article which is known as the Alchemist’s Library. The phrase is inscribed above the door leading to the alchemist’s bedroom, which hints that lucid dreaming is a part of the alchemist’s practices.
I also found myself drawn to the weight and texture of this very special coin. The tactile response when holding it is part of the process of becoming familiar with it. Ryan worked with the very talented specialty coin designer Lee Adams of http://embleholics.com/ and the result is a high quality coin design that is a functional collector‘s item.
It is certainly beautiful, and I put it to the test. My wife and I have an informal lucid dream study lab in our home and we‘ve documented results of testing various EEG‘s with different computer software and smart phone apps all designed for measuring brainwaves during various sleep cycles or triggering gentle alarms in hopes it would be timed right to journal a dream. As mentioned, I have used objects as reality checks before, but none of them have the level of detail as the Lucid Talisman or the specific meaning behind the object except for what I assigned to it.
I carried the amulet with me for over a week (I still do) and periodically removed it from the attractive velveteen bag to establish the habit of checking it and my surroundings. I also have a pair of LED equipped reading glasses at my bedside as I enjoy a good book after we turn out the lights at night. It was this night time ritual that seemed to set up what was to follow as I would fall asleep. Instead of ending my evening with the closing of a book, I would examine the Lucid Talisman. Although I had success in attaining a degree of lucidity more than once, I will share the most recent one.
In my dream, I suddenly found myself in the 1924 Los Angeles home I purchased over 20 years ago. This house was anything but practical, with a very vertical but narrow construction perched on top of a high hill. Storage space seemed to be an afterthought to the designers but I suspected I was in a dream. In my peripheral vision, I thought I spotted the Lucid Talisman but it scooted behind me as I tried to face it.
This occurred several times but as I spun I began to reconfigure the house, after a few turns it resembled my parent‘s home in New Orleans which was more open and I nearly grabbed the amulet. Finally, I was able to recreate my environment into a modern, open space and I reached over and grabbed the Lucid Talisman but opened my eyes and actually put my hands on it next to my bed.
I shared my experience with Ryan and asked him if he could provide some additional information about the imagery on the amulet. Among other details, he provided this insight:
“A good reality check object should have some simple text, as text is very unstable in dreams. It should also have some “bizarre” visual element as to shock or alert the dreamer. The iconography for the Lucid Talisman incorporates sacred imagery from bronze-age Celtic art and Medieval alchemy to achieve this — as well as the image if the eye, which is a universal symbol for lucidity, and one of my favorite dream signs.”
This article on my experiment with the Lucid Talisman was a departure for me as I can report statistics, new developments in biosensors, and advances in neuroscience and maintain a certain detachment despite my passion for engaging in lucid dreaming.
But this unique nickel plated solid copper coin is very special, and connects the modern lucid dream enthusiast with the ancient practice of achieving enlightenment through self-discovery.
LDE Science Correspondent