By Lucy Gillis © 2018
About 30 years ago, while reading a Seth book by Jane Roberts, I came across a section in which Seth said it was “quite possible to take your normally conscious ‘I’ into the dream state”1 — in other words, to be consciously aware that you were dreaming while you were dreaming. My initial reaction to this remarkable claim ran something like, “That’s absolutely amazing! Is it really possible? I want to learn how to do that!”
But almost at once, doubt crept in. I assumed that in order to be able to achieve something so extraordinary as waking consciousness within a dream, I’d need to be highly trained in some way. I’d probably need to meditate regularly for at least 20 years in order to attain the kind of control and discipline that I thought necessary for such a feat. Not practical for me, and the ‘results’ too far into the future. In other words, it seemed like something I would never achieve. Still . . . I really wanted to know how to bring my conscious awareness into my dreams . . ..
Fortunately, my desire was stronger than my doubt. Within a month or so I had my first spontaneous ‘conscious dream’ or what we now call, lucid dream. The sheer awe and triumph I felt was life-changing. Quite literally, a whole new dimension of reality had opened up for me and I was hungry for more.
It wasn’t long after this that an astounding thing happened. I had an experience in which I was lucidly aware of being in two dreams at the same time. It’s difficult to put into words an accurate description of what that means, other than I was fully aware and engaged in two dreams at once, with no switching of focus back and forth between dreams. Being “in two places at once” was as natural and automatic as breathing. It was one of the most amazing things I’d ever experienced. I still feel a sense of wonder whenever I recall these simultaneous dreams2, and a profound gratitude that I had this experience at such an early stage in my lucid dreaming adventures.
Though happy that I hadn’t needed to meditate for 20 years, I didn’t just sit around waiting for more spontaneous episodes of conscious awareness in my dreams. My excitement for lucid dreaming was very high, and I was very focussed. I read all I could on the subject, found and joined a lucid dreaming group (that corresponded by regular mail), practised various induction techniques, participated in lucid dream experiments and surveys, faithfully kept dream journals, etc.
In those early years, there was also, of course, a lot of personal experimentation within dreams — the usual, like flying, walking on water, penetrating through walls, ceilings, etc. Passing through solid objects produced little to no sensation and though I hadn’t thought about it much, I guess I took it for granted that discomfort and pain didn’t exist in lucid dreams. I felt so strong in my lucid dreams, so full of energy, so alive! I was having the time of my (dream) life!
Then, one night, something very surprising happened:
. . . I’m holding a small dog in my arms, as I get off an elevator and enter an apartment. Two women are there. The dog I’ve been carrying is now inside a small bottle of nail polish. I begin to sense that something is not right. I fling the bottle to the floor so it will break. Out pops a piece of lint. I stare at it, knowing that when it shakes itself it will pop into being a dog again. When this does indeed happen, I turn to the women and say triumphantly, “This is a dream!”
One of the women responds in an exasperated voice, “You mean to tell me that we are all dreaming?” I say, “No. I am. You are characters created by my mind.” Then I see a bright white light in a narrow horizontal band with black edges flash in my eyes and on my hands. I am surprised. The woman gets angry and interlaces her fingers with mine. I see more flashes rip through the “fabric” of the dream world and hear a crackle and hiss like static. The fabric of this reality looks like bad reception in a TV.
The woman then bends my fingers back. But I don’t pay attention to her. Instead, I wonder how my fingers can hurt when I am aware that I’m dreaming. I’m startled by the feeling of pain and begin to get concerned. I feel I have to close my eyes. I then hear myself say, “Open your eyes.” I do. I wake.
Pain in a lucid dream! Incredible!
Another surprising dream occurred some time later, after I had read about the concept of (lucidly) facing your fears in dreams as a way to overcome nightmares. Even the gesture of ‘thanking your monsters’ was said to help alleviate nightmares. It seemed a great idea, but I pretty much never had nightmares so I didn’t expect I’d ever get the opportunity to experiment with this. However, in time, I did get a chance to express my thanks to a potentially menacing dream figure:
I am barefoot in what resembles the lobby area of one of the dorms at my university. The place is bustling with activity as students go about their business in high spirits. A man follows me. I’m giving him directions to somewhere, leading him on his way. As I point him in a direction of stairs that lead up around a corner to more stairs, I look down and see and feel with my bare feet — a pattern in the stone floor. There is a large circle and inside, a star pattern made with small hematite stones. Then the ‘story’ (for it feels like I am in a story) changes with each of my changing thoughts. I notice this as it happens. When I think of something specific or feel my train of thought alter, the story, not necessarily the scene, changes. All of a sudden I feel ‘that’s enough,’ and I decide to back out of the story/dream and just let it proceed without me.
I then say to the man, “Thank you for participating in my dream.” He becomes confused, then angered by my statement, and wants to hurt or annoy me or flip me over onto the floor. I am not concerned. He then starts to transform, looking less and less human and more like an animated cartoon man. As he grabs at my side, I again say, “Thank you for participating in my dream.”
He continues to morph, his whole body trembling and appearing to wiggle all around the ‘edges.’ Either holes appear where his eyes should be or else his eyes turn black, like a typical scary ‘alien being.’ He has no hair, no features as such, and an open space where his mouth should be. His skin is pale and dull, like rubber. But I feel no fear or uneasiness. I know I’m safe in my dream. He continues to grab at me. This time I take his hand and, kissing it, I say again, “Thank you for participating in my dream.” I wake.
Witnessing firsthand the power of simple gratitude in the face of a potentially unpleasant dream situation was amazing!
Since those early days I’ve had many lucid dreams of indescribable wonder and astonishment, and quite a few more surprises along the way. To discuss them all would take too much time here, but there is one more interesting episode I’d like to share. Just recently, I had another surprising lucid dream encounter:
. . Lucid, I’m walking outdoors across a courtyard or paved lot of some sort, passing by a broad set of stone stairs, where some people are sitting, talking among themselves. Glancing at the group as I pass by, I notice one young blonde woman whose presence is ‘much more’ than that of the others; she stands out somehow. Perhaps it is because she is staring at me, her eyes following my every move. I wonder if I know her and, just in case, to be polite, I raise a mittened hand and wave. Briefly, I wonder why I’m wearing a mitten (I never wear mittens) and notice I’m in winter clothing, even though it is spring. But I’m not all that concerned, as I know this is a dream . . ..
I go into a building, around the corner from the people and the blonde woman, and discover a room that is a cross between a laboratory and a restaurant. I explore a bit, and after having some cake with a lovely East Indian family (to see how it will taste in a dream), I am soon alone at a table. Suddenly the blonde woman from earlier, plus a young man, come in and take seats opposite me. It’s obvious they want to talk to me. Curious, I ask the woman, “Do I know you?” and then I’m stunned by her response. She says, “I am the one who brings you pain . . . I’m the one who bent your fingers back.” Instantly I recall that lucid dream from about 30 years ago. Wow! What does this all mean? I wonder. I’m about to ask her for more information, when the young man next to her begins speaking, and I’m momentarily distracted.
He is shy and seems a little self-conscious. He says, “I’ve sent you dreams before (for LDE), and I recently sent something else.” Apparently, his submission has something to do with achieving a different sort of lucidity, or a different technique for attaining lucidity, and he is afraid it will “stir things up” in the lucid dreaming community.
“Good!” I say, noticing that as I do so, the blonde woman’s eyes widen in surprise and she smiles, evidently pleased with my response. I continue with something like, “Every individual is unique. Of course we will have many different ways, different techniques of accomplishing similar things.”
Unfortunately, I wake before I can turn back to the blonde woman to question her further.
On waking, I was amazed that a dream figure had searched me out in my dream, to tell me she is the one who brings pain, who bent my fingers back (three decades ago!). I also had to laugh — no wonder I waved at her with a mittened hand!
Interestingly, within a few weeks after this dream, I received some LDE submissions in which new or modified techniques for initiating lucid dreams are mentioned. (Not that I assume the young man in my dream is specifically one of these individuals. I believe the symbol of the young man merely served as a way to present precognitive information regarding some upcoming LDE submissions.)
Thirty years on, and I’m still amazed by lucid dreaming, and still very grateful to be able to have such thrilling and often surprising dream adventures. I’m also very grateful to lucid dreamers everywhere, and in particular to those who share their experiences, insights, thoughts, and lucid dream-inspired artwork with LDE. Without your participation and support, LDE would not exist in this form.
You are all doing wondrous, creative, and aweinspiring things in your lucid dreams — pioneering new dimensions of awareness — and I learn so much from you. You continually broaden my lucid dreaming horizons, and for that, I thank you all, very much.
In gratitude and (frequent!) amazement,
References 1 Roberts, Jane, The Nature of Personal Reality, Prentice Hall, 1974 2 Gillis, Lucy, Simultaneous Dreaming and the Lucidity Advantage, Lucid Dreaming Experience, Vol 1, No 3, December 2012