Photo by Ryan Brohm via Iowa State Daily
Electrical engineer and lucid dreamer, James Kroll, recently created a new forum for thoughtful lucid dreaming discussions at www.deepdreaming.net and received a patent on a new approach to lucid dream induction from the US Patent Office. Check out this illuminating interview, below.
You have a background in electrical engineering and science. How did you become interested in lucid dreaming?
Actually, my passion for dreaming is life-long. I remember being mesmerized by my ability as a child to occasionally re-enter dreams I had just woken from. The odd vibrational state I would sometimes experience in the middle of the night also caught my attention. I also had a number of childhood nightmares and other odd experiences. One that stuck with me for years was waking up and having the clown on the wall talk to me. I freaked out of course not having a clue at the time what a false awakening was.
I feel like my background in technology, modeling and simulation, original research and probability/ stochastic process theory has actually complemented my dream explorations rather nicely. I have found that coming at dreams and dream lucidity from different but complimentary perspectives works well and produces a result that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
What do you recall of your first lucid dream/s? Anything odd, unusual, or unexpected?
In my first lucid dream, I was in a car that began to float across a field of wild flowers. The car dissolved and I found myself being pulled toward a shimmering portal in the sky. I realized I was dreaming and was just dazzled by the realness of the scene. The colors and textures of the flowers and the feel of the wind on my face. I entered the portal, not under my own power mind you. I was instantly transported to a scene from ancient Egypt. I was hovering over the Great Pyramids in pristine form. A scene from thousands of years ago.
This experience made me question everything. How can a dream feel this real? What was the power drawing me into the portal? How and why did my mind project a scene from ancient Egypt, as I have no special interest in that culture or time. This experience jolted me, for lack of a better term.
Initially how did you manage to become lucid? Did lucid dreaming come easily to you?
I started at the beginning, with Laberge‘s Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. Ironically, other than the idea of WBTB (Wake-Back-to-Bed) this book has never helped me all that much though I was intrigued by the idea of the Nova Dreamer. At the time, there were several commercial dream mask options that were reasonably priced. I purchased the DreamMaker followed by the REM Dreamer.
These helped, but mostly to induce and point out my propensity toward false awakenings. I think in perhaps 50 tries or so, I only had flashing lights in a dream once. Usually I had a false awakening. But of course it took a while to figure this out, unfortunately bypassing a solid number of potential lucid events. I really like the idea of a dream mask for a beginner.
I do think they help once you figure out how to tune the REM detection sensitivity, light intensity and cadence, etc. However, mental techniques, LDS (Lucid Dream Supplements) options and brainwave entrainment are my firm preferences today. Yes, lucid dreaming did seem to come easy for me but again, it was after decades of interest in dreams in general, so I had a solid foundation.
I understand that you found a certain lucid dreaming supplement mixture (LDS) as helpful. Briefly, can you tell us what worked for you?
Over at MortalMist (MM), we have a collection of top notch LDS experts. I don‘t know if we have any exotic supplements identified per say (Galantamine/Choline, Huperzine-A, Nicotine, alphaGPC are still the most common choices I believe). But there are a few contributions to the genre that are discussed.
Personally, I like the idea of using a supplement that impacts dream vividness, stability and color (e.g. EGCG, Calea or Silene Capensis) along with a lucid dream trigger (e.g. an Acetylcholine agonist, caffeine, brainwave entrainment, etc.). A mental trick of mine to tell my subconscious that it‘s lucid dream time is to engage in a very specific and repetitive WBTB ritual.
On a personal level, I have done a fair amount of research into using brainwave entrainment to induce dream lucidity. Here, I find cranial electro stimulation (CES) and magnetic stimulation to be overwhelmingly stronger and more effective than binaural beats.
Tell me a bit more about Cranial Electro Stimulation and how it relates to lucid dreaming? Where could a lucid dreamer read more about it?
The best source for information on using CES to induce dream lucidity would be my recent U.S. Patent. If you go to http://www.pat2pdf.org/ simply put in Patent # 8267851. I think the main contribution here is that CES appears to leverage a method that has nothing to do with the nicotinic receptors.
Hence it can be used between galantamine attempts for example without any cross tolerance. These methods can also be combined, as their overall effects seem to be a bit different. I find that galantamine leads to long and more fantasy oriented experiences whereas CES induced lucids seem to be a little higher level, hyper ‘real feeling’ with arguably better cognitive recovery.
Combining the two methods does in fact seem to yield an additive effect. Readers are welcome to discuss this further with me at MM in the lucid aids folder where I provide some ideas on commercial devices that can be used to further explore this area.
At some point, you began to experiment with lucid dreams/OBEs and psi. In fact, you have an article on the lucid dream forum MortalMist about pursuing psi information in lucid dreams/ OBEs. How did your interest in this come about?
I have a fairly steady flow of lucid and non-lucid dreams that appear to be precognitive. For example, in one sequence I had a dream about a high school friend who had stiff limbs due to Cerebral Palsy. He had fallen and was in trouble. In the next dream of the evening, my dog had walked over to me and began to vomit a yellow foamy substance all over a rug.
About an hour later, I had woken to the sound of my otherwise healthy 8.5 year old dog having her first seizure ever, complete with stiff outstretched limbs and foamy discharge from her mouth falling to the carpet. This sequence in particular motivated me to read up on PSI and how researchers create models and experiments to study it.
So tell me about the results of seeking psi information in lucid dreams? Does it seem statistically significant?
Because I typically start my lucid events right where I left off in waking reality, I decided to leverage this to design a rigid, repeatable experiment. I started with some basic dream based remote viewing. I would shuffle and leave out 3 Zener cards (Star, Cross, Squigly Lines) placing them face down on the kitchen counter.
I would induce an OOBE, go over to the dream cards and flip one, memorizing the image. When I woke I would map that image to the nearest candidate card image and flip the real card to see if I got it right. There was a learning curve of course. I came to realize that I had to submit to the dream images and try my best not to presume an image or otherwise bias the dream visuals.
In my last 27 attempts I got 18 correct. Odds against chance for 18 or more hits out of 27 trials is about 2500:1. I considered that significant of course, but wondered how I might challenge myself next? How might I purposely induce a lucid dream, travel to a particular location and do a true ‘remote’ view while OOB?
So how did you go about this new goal?
I was slowly developing new tricks to tune my consciousness into specific space/time locales. I came to understand that with practice, I could create a portal, imagine a scene on the other side, reach in for some specific object imagining the shape, texture, position and sounds of the target location and literally pull myself into a new scene. The method leverages perceived input from multiple ‘senses.’
One of my close friends on MM who finds my experiences interesting but is skeptical on PSI, agreed to send pictures of her finished basement. It is full of framed black and white nature photos. She provided one shot in particular with a target picture just cropped out and challenged me to tell her what it was, indicating only that it was an ‘iconic American image.’ From my dream journal entry:
I’m pretty well focused and I see the calf machine, shelf, and the weight/clock and pictures. I head right over to the target picture. The first image I see is of a Hispanic man, middle aged. I’m confused by this? I thought the person was supposed to be famous but this person I don’t recognize.
Then the picture morphs into another person, again, a Hispanic male, or perhaps a Native American – middle age. I relax, realizing that the picture is likely to morph a few more times and placing my expectation on things will screw it up. With no expectation, I watch as the picture changes a few more times. If I recall properly, each is a different person, not famous in any sense and I believe all were middle age guys.
It turns out the picture was of Tonto and the Lone Ranger. What are the odds?
Interestingly, I now see why I was getting a confused read on the second person. The dream world is a world of metaphors, and obviously the Lone ranger was wearing a mask. He was obscured. I just didn‘t have the ability to discern a greater level of detail. We had a few other very interesting hits, one other that was arguably on this level of accuracy.