In my books and my talks, I encourage lucid dreamers to engage the ‘awareness behind the dream’ (or subconscious mind/inner self), which often responds to questions or requests that the lucid dreamer may ask. For example, I suggest that a person begin by asking simple questions, such as, ‘Hey dream, show me something important for me to see!’—and then waiting to see what happens. Normally, something new will appear in the lucid dream in response, or the entire dreamscape will change.
As I have discussed in my books and talks, the responses often seem dedicated to instructing and educating the lucid dreamer. In some instances, the lucid dreamer may ask a question, and the larger awareness may respond to say that the question seems based on an errant premise. In other cases, the larger awareness may respond to say that the person does not seem in the proper frame of mind to handle the response. These lucid dreams show that the larger awareness appears to care about the lucid dreamer, and does not simply ‘echo’ back responses to nonsense questions or requests (it discriminates).
Sometimes, however, people will write to me and tell me about their problems with this process of engaging the awareness behind the dream. In this article, I hope to provide a guide to help lucid dreamers ‘troubleshoot’ the process.
1. Difficulty asking a question:
Some people tell me that when they become lucid and decide to ask a question of the awareness behind the dream, suddenly they cannot ‘ask’ the question—it gets stuck in their throat! They feel perplexed and frustrated. Here, the problem seems to occur in the lucid dreamer. Some may feel conflicted about this process, have a subtle fear about communicating with their subconscious mind/inner self, or even asking a question. Their concern then appears as an inability to speak! In almost all cases, the lucid dreamer has to look at their fear, their beliefs, their question and resolve it first, before proceeding successfully.
For example, imagine a lucid dreamer who has successfully asked many times, ‘Show me something important for me to see!’ and received a fascinating response. But now, they decide to ask a really ‘big’ question, and as they get ready to say it, it becomes stuck in their throat. What happened? Obviously, they have some conflicted feelings about the ‘big’ question or fear a possible response, and it shows in their inability to speak.
2. Poorly worded questions:
Some people write to tell me about an incident where they did not receive an appropriate response. However, when they share the exact question they asked, the ‘problem’ seems to connect to a poorly worded question. In my book, I recount how an artist asked, ‘Let me look for art that I can create’—and would spend the entire lucid dream looking for art. However, when he changed his request to ‘Let me look at art that I can create,’ suddenly artwork would appear on a nearby wall. Success occurred when he properly worded his request.
The point: You must carefully consider the question. Does it seem clear? Does it truly express your intent? Does it have hidden assumptions? All of these points can make a huge difference. Take time to craft the question. Start with simple questions, before getting into more complex or powerful questions or requests.
3. Two or more intents in a question or request:
Some people write and share with me that they received no response. When they share their question or request, I notice it has two completely divergent intents or goals. For example, “Show me the most nutritious food for me and how to move forward in my college education”? It seems difficult to respond because the question or request is not simple, clear or direct; rather it seems divided, unclear and disconnected.
4. Receive a response, but do not understand:
Some people ask a question, and get a visual response (meaning a new dream symbol, event or object appears). However, they write to complain, ‘I don’t get it. I asked this question, and then saw a stoplight with the red light flashing. What does that mean?’
In these cases, a thoughtful lucid dreamer can ask a follow-up question in the lucid dream, in order to understand the response. Or upon waking, they can work with the ‘symbol’ and see how it connects to their question. For this reason, I encourage lucid dreamers to work on techniques to understand their own personal dream symbolism.
5. Receive a response, but fail to recognize it:
A person once wrote me about a lucid dream where she looked into a dream mirror and asked her larger awareness, “Show me the problem with my boss!” but saw herself in the mirror. She asked again, “Show me the problem with my boss!” Again, only she appeared in the mirror. She tried one more time; same result. She wrote to ask me, ‘Why?’
Here, you may see that she possibly received a response, but simply did not care to recognize it. Or it did not fit her hope or expectation. She preferred to learn something about her boss and his issues, when the dream seemed to suggest that she had the issue.
6. Treating the inner self as a magic Genie:
Sometimes people write me about lucid dreams in which the ‘awareness behind the dream’ did not act like a magic Genie! In my books, I make the point that the inner awareness seems dedicated to educating and instructing the person— and NOT delivering every ego-centered wish that a lucid dreamer may wish. The larger awareness (of which you are a part) appears to have vast creativity, knowledge and understanding. Properly approached, it can help you grow and learn on numerous fronts.
When interacting with the ‘awareness behind the dream,’ it seems important to remember that the person (i.e., you) and the process play a role in the response. By understanding that, you can better troubleshoot the response.
Exploring the larger dimensions of the self helps us see the potential and possibilities of lucid dreaming. Used wisely, it can act as a path of accelerated growth for thoughtful students of lucid dreaming.