Photo by Ryan Brohm via Iowa State Daily
London-based consciousness explorer Todd Acamesis uses lucid dreaming to explore the depths of awareness. Learn how in this interview by Robert Waggoner.
Tell us about your first spontaneous lucid dream. How old were you? What happened?
Well, depending on your worldview, you could say my first lucid dream (LD) took place during a near-death-experience (NDE), when I was five years old. Although LDs and NDEs are not commonly associated with one another, as NDEs can commonly occur during amnesia induced sleep states, it’s an interesting angle to explore.
One day during a family outing, I walked off unattended to explore some old fishery ponds. While exploring one of the ponds, I leaned over the water to see my own reflection. I remember there being something really interesting about the reflection. I was quite mesmerized and I literally fell in. As I wasn’t a good swimmer, I quickly sank into the water (the way I am articulating my account to you now is from an adult’s way of expressing this experience, it is not as I’d recount it as a five year old).
Within seconds there was calm. There was a bright flash of light and then I was standing again, dry as a bone, but somewhere else. I remember it vividly and clearly. It was a small city environment and there was a really large ornamental tree. I loved climbing trees so I instinctively raced up the tree. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I probably had just drowned. That wasn’t within my awareness. What was also very interesting, thinking back to that moment, is the clarity that I had was beyond the childlike aspect of five years old.
While I was up in this tree, a small crowd of people was forming down below, and for some reason they weren’t very pleased with me being in this tree. There was then a call of my name. I looked up and there was another man sitting on one of the branches higher up than me. He said, “Hi Todd.” I looked up and noticed he had curly hair and he said, “You’re not supposed to be here yet.” I was suddenly thinking about the people down below and thinking, “Am I not supposed to be in this tree?”
Although this man was speaking to me I could also feel him in my mind. He then chuckled and said, “Yes, you probably shouldn’t be in this tree either. I think that it is sacred to these people. What I mean is you are not supposed to be ‘here’ yet.” I then had a moment of clarity in my mind, “Oh yes, I have a physical body and it’s currently under water.” He said, “We’re going to get you some help.” There was then another bright flash of light and I was literally being wrestled out of the water by someone.
Sounds like you were kept from making an early exit from your ‘life dream.’ Did you have any success with lucid dreaming then, or did it take a while? What happened in your early lucid dreams?
The NDE was a really fascinating experience, which left an ingrained mark on my young mind; to the point where I started having spontaneous lucid dreams a couple of months later, shortly after my sixth birthday.
One night, during a particularly scary dream where my little brother and I were confronted by a tiger in open field, something clicked in my head. Splitting off in two different directions, the tiger laid chase to my brother, which caused a mix of emotions in my mind. It was at this point I heard two synchronised voices say, “That tiger doesn’t look very real from where we’re standing!” The voices cut sharply into my consciousness piercing the logical part of my mind, causing me to ask, “How did I get here?” (again, I’m articulating this from an adult perspective).
It was in that moment I realised I was dreaming, which had a powerful transformative effect on my emotions; where moments before I felt out of control and helpless, I was now feeling anything was possible. As such, I chased down the tiger and wrestled it to the ground, where I watched in amazement as it shrank down to the size of a kitten. My brother was safe and I felt like a superhero.
Spontaneous lucid dreaming soon became a regular weekly experience, where I learned to transform bad dreams into more pleasant realities, which seemed to have a positive impact on my waking life.
As you went along, did you have lucid dreams that surprised you? Or led to unexpected events? Tell us about those.
For a six year old growing up in the 1970s, there was no internet and no popular books on the subject, so I didn’t know lucid dreaming was a thing. Beyond my mother, who encouraged me to talk about my experiences, I had nobody else to turn to for answers.
The kind of experiences that surprised me the most were what I now know as “false awakenings”; a vivid and convincing dream that can trick you into thinking you’ve woken from sleep, when in reality, you’re still sleeping. Many times I’d dream about waking up to get ready for school, only to soon discover I was still dreaming. As a way to help me keep things straight in my six year old head, I came up with my own terminology: “wakey house” and “sleepy house.” Sleepy house was my label for lucid dreaming.
What was it about lucid dreaming that fascinated you?
It was definitely the false awakenings. Although I couldn’t articulate my thoughts very well at that age. I instinctively felt there was a reason for the experiences. Like they were trying to communicate something deeper to me. As an adult, I find my fascination with false awakenings has grown, and feel my childhood intuitions are now being validated by my adult experiences.
The level of realism I’ve personally experienced during false awakenings and lucid dreams can be so physically convincing, it’s caused me to question my beliefs about reality. When dreams take on such advanced qualities of realism, to the point of reproducing physicality to such a high level of fidelity, I have to ask myself if we’re dealing purely with information synthesized by the brain or is it evidence of a quantum model of reality and alternative levels of human consciousness.
As you think about ‘instructional’ lucid dreams, who or what provides the instructions? Your unconscious mind? Your inner self? A spiritual teacher? Or does it vary according to the situation?
My intuition tells me the instructions do vary according to the situation, especially in respect to the developmental level of the individual. As the intention behind these interviews is to expose readers to different philosophies and new perspectives, I’ll expand on this further.
To me, the unconscious mind is more than a storehouse of buried information that governs physical existence. Based on my own personal lucid dreaming experiences, I see the unconscious mind being guided by a deeper nature beyond the boundaries of this store consciousness. Connected to the infinite or a superconscious mind, the unconscious becomes accessible to spiritual guides, teachers, and loved ones.
Dreams become more than chaotic, illogical hallucinations of a hinterland of mind by serving as channels for “instruction” and support. Unconscious information is able to bubble to the surface as conscious thought, to prompt us to do the inner work necessary for developing balanced personalities, actualising our true potential, and taking part in something bigger.
I don’t say any of this lightly and I don’t believe this to be a projection. Direct experience, observation, and wisdom has guided me to this way of thinking.
All experienced lucid dreamers at one point or another will be confronted by the grey areas of dreamland — rabbit holes which, if explored with an open mind, can lead to new and exciting discoveries and awareness.
When it comes to instructions in lucid dreams, have you ever felt ‘tested’ in a lucid dream?
For example, you may become lucid and have to deal with a situation that seems to ‘test’ your capacity to deal with an illusion (e.g., a man pointing a gun at you — which you know as a ‘dream gun’ — but still, it is a gun)?
Yes, many times. In fact, in my very first wake-induced experience as an adult I felt like I was being “tested.” At the start of the experience, a disembodied hand reached out towards me from a bright source of light, which really shocked me. But after evaluating the situation, I decided I wasn’t going to let fear stand between me and the wider reality, so I reached out my hand and hoped for the best.
To my pleasant surprise, the hand carefully clasped mine in a friendly way, before disappearing back into the bright light. I felt I passed the test, and inner reality was now mine to explore.
I see these tests not as tests to see us fail but to give us opportunity to transcend our fears. Emotional resistance in the form of fear is no different than physical resistance we use to make ourselves physically stronger with exercise.
Without the weight there is no muscle and without the darkness there is no light. I believe it is these contrasts that allow us to experience the depths of our own light and to master the virtues of faith and knowledge — seeing through the illusion into the truth of all that is. Using truth, the law of truth, to bend the law of illusion is one of the fundamental lessons at the heart of many such “tests.”
Truth is an ultimate law of the universe which cannot be bent or broken. Like the sun it can be hidden, but remains unaffected by the clouds of illusion.
Fear is not something we can avoid as it’s part of the human experience. However, being paralysed by fear can be avoided when we take loving action.
The difference, though, lies in our state of being and whether we are being guided by fear or love. Our core beliefs may be that good guys finish last or that somehow love is weaker than fear.
This core belief is what I believe these tests are designed to change on every level on that journey without distance between the mind and the heart. This same belief can show up in many ways. For some, it’s the gun. For others, it’s the cancer. For others, it’s the poverty, and still for others, abandonment. But the core remains the same; on a core level that soul believes fear is stronger than love, and whilst that is the case, they cannot receive enough light to reach the next vibration.
What is the value of instructional lucid dreams and testing lucid dreams? To become a better lucid dreamer? Or something even deeper?
I think the value of testing lucid dreams is something much deeper than becoming a better lucid dreamer.
Testing dreams show up as:
1. Fear Tests: help us overcome our fears by confronting them with loving responses and actions.
2. Initiation Tests: serve as a rite of passage into adulthood and the different levels of adulthood represented by our archetypes and the professions we seek in life.
3. Consent Tests: make sure we’re really saying yes to showing up and to the divine intervention of the universe. That we understand what we’re signing up for, as it were. That we give our consent to becoming a multidimensional being.
4. Virtue Tests: created to see if you have the virtues required to bend some of the physical laws of the universe with integrity. These dreams test you to see what your response is in particular situations, like how to treat a beggar on a path, or how you respond to pressure from an authority figure to harm others. They test to see if the virtues are anchored fully into the soul, the DNA, and the actions of the initiate.
These different tests make becoming a better lucid dreamer a by-product of becoming a better human being. Test dreams are not something disconnected from our everyday existence. Our lucid dreaming practice affects every other area of our waking life, which means our waking life benefits from us passing lucid dreaming tests, and so does our spiritual body.
As we learn, all of us have a part to play in co-creating the shared dream of our waking reality. As we accept there is inner work to do, which can be revealed to us in our dreams, often our own shadow and weakness is something we find hard to accept and take seriously; we tend to minimise it or try to integrate it before we have really mastered our lessons/virtues and atoned for our actions.
These dreams often awaken us to experience the effect of our actions, energies, and emotions first hand, and make us aware of the ways we must change. They teach us to do what is true over what is fast, fun, or easy. They teach us to practice our virtues and values instead of professing them. And they allow us to do it in a space in which karma doesn’t operate as densely as it does on the earth. It’s kind of like a grace from the universe, where we can be in the messy chrysalis of change without as much physical and emotional fallout as when we grow on the earth plane.
Consciousness is a deeply interconnected system of reality, which I believe is self-organising and selfcorrecting in nature. As such, it’s always providing us with ways to do the inner work that helps us become balanced human beings.
This place in between the multi-verses, where we are all one, finds a way to love us, transform us, and grow within and through our experiences with us, co-creating every reality we dream and live within. I believe it speaks our language, whether that language is lucid dreaming, astral projection, or meditation. As we learn to take responsibility for what blocks our light from shining, we become free. We become healthy. We become powerful.
Such practices are capable of helping us achieve peak states of presence for doing emotional healing and forgiveness work. By taking a break from the mortal drama of physical reality, you go deeper into the spiritual reality of your true self. And as your daily practice becomes higher quality through consistency, you begin to profoundly recalibrate your nervous system, transforming your every thought and feeling; which govern your every behaviour and action. As you calibrate more and more, your relationship with physical reality improves as you become more present in your everyday life.