– Comments by Lucid Dreamers
Note: Many lucid dreamers wrote about using lucid dreams to face fears, and how lucid dreaming often led to overcoming long term fears and personal concerns. The LDE has placed three of these commentaries in this special section.
Lucid Dreaming to Overcome Fear
At the end of last summer, I got a young dog that needed to be walked every day. As the season progressed into autumn, the days got shorter and shorter, and soon by the time we went out for our walk in the evening it was completely dark. I live in a wooded area, and although I felt completely comfortable walking in the day time, and there was nothing more dangerous in the woods at night than there was during the day, I was very nervous walking after dark.
I imagined the worst when I heard any little noise in the woods, and constantly looked over my shoulder. My dog was nervous as well, probably recognizing my fear, which didn’t help matters.
Often in lucid dreams I find myself in a forest, and it used to be that every time that happened I would quickly fly out, looking for somewhere better to be. I decided that I would first overcome my aversion to being in the dream-forest, and hopefully that would help me overcome my fear in the real forest.
At first, I was much more scared in the dreamforest than in the real forest, despite the fact that obviously there is more to fear from reality than anything in a dream. However, I forced myself to face the dream-forest and recognize that there was nothing to fear there.
Then, when I walked in the real forest, I used the same technique. I imagined that it was a dream, and remembered facing greater fear in the dreamforest, and since it was actually less scary than it had been in dreams, I quickly lost my fear.
I also do not like speaking in public, and I had originally planned on practicing in lucid dreams to help with the fear of public speaking, however the scenario rarely presented itself in dreams. By using a similar technique, like pretending it was a dream, and knowing that nothing can really hurt you either in a dream or by speaking in front of a crowd, I decreased my fear of that as well.
I think facing fear in dreams, which can be much, much scarier than anything in real life, is good practice for facing fear in reality (as long as the situation is not actually dangerous, of course). Also, the feeling of fear gives reality a dream-like quality, and by focusing on that dream-like feeling, you can operate as if it were a dream.
Facing My Fears
When I was a kid (about ages 9-11) I had a recurring nightmare. When the dream began, I was faced with a scene in which two big men were standing on top of a large cement mixer. (It was a big delivery truck, with the hopper on top of the back of a huge turning drum.) The drum was turning and the men were shoving my father, who was hanging from their hands, upside down, into the hopper of the mixing drum.
At first, I was in a state of terror, but then I realized that there was a board with a row of pegs on either side of it, in front of me. The pegs were small, like the little cribbage board pegs. There was also a string there that could be used to wrap around the pegs on either side, almost like playing Cat’s Cradle of setting up a loom. I knew that I had to complete the stringing of this board to stop the men from killing my father, but I kept getting distracted from that task by looking up to see what was going on in the cement truck tableau.
I always awoke in a cold sweat, never completing the task (for years). As time went by I got quicker at focusing my attention on the game. Every time the dream began again, I got quicker at going to the game and not allowing myself to be distracted. Finally, as soon as I sensed that I was in the dream, I went right to the game, without even looking at the scene, my full attention focused on the redeeming task. At that point I felt a huge sense of satisfaction and I never had that dream again.
Looking back on this, as an adult, I think the lesson I needed to learn to become an effective person (the father), was to learn to focus my attention fully on what was at hand (a meaningful life or death) and to not be fear-directed or frozen by fears. It also feels like making connections is an important task for me in this life.
Roger “Pete” Peterson
My Recurring Superman Nightmare
I call this my Recurring Superman Nightmare because it was… until I finally faced my underlying fear. I was around eleven when this nightmare first occurred. It woke me up in the dream and left me terrified beyond belief. It occurred every year or two after that until my forties.
It was always the same – darkness was falling, and even though I was Superman in this dream – I couldn’t fly because of a thick rope (2-3 inches in diameter) tied around my waist. Like a “silver cord” meant to keep wandering souls attached to their human bodies, it was always there. I knew it was attached to something else at the other end but I never had time to figure out what it was.
All I knew was that with the rope tied around my waist, I couldn’t fly. The rope’s weight not only prevented me from flying, it slowed me down as I ran out of the park, across a city street and approached a tall office building. A large, powerful Frankenstein monster, cobbled together from various body parts, was right behind me. The weight of the rope slowed me down even more as I climbed up the side of the building barely ahead of Frankenstein.
About a third of the way up the side of the building, my fear spiked and I looked back just in time to see the monster reach up to grab me by the ankle. In desperation, I woke up to avoid being caught.
Finally, in my mid-forties, I felt prepared. The next time this scary Frankenstein reached up to grab my ankle, I wasn’t going to run, I was going to stand my ground! When my last encounter with him arrived, instead of waking up in bed, as he reached up for my ankle, I turned around and punched him unmercifully, until he lost his grip and fell to the ground below in defeat. Don’t ask me how I kept from falling off the building myself but I didn’t.