Lucid dreaming is a hybrid state of consciousness. In this elevated state, it is possible to live out your wildest fantasies and engulf yourself in a world of endless possibilities. Your only limitation is literally what you can or cannot dream up. Unlock and gain insight into your subconscious mind, and even overcome problems through lucid dreaming that ultimately benefit your waking life.
This article explores an experimental method of treating post-traumatic stress disorder with lucid dreaming. There are many legitimate and modern approaches to treating mental illnesses with lucid dreaming techniques. However, the advantages of lucid dreaming are not limited to pinpointing and conquering nightmares that attribute to PTSD. Lucid dreaming promotes overall health in numerous ways. Creative and motivational drive can be greatly elevated once you go lucid. As always is important to approach mental health first. It is a gateway to overall well-being.
What exactly is lucid dreaming? Is it a real or a made up phenomenon? Before you can grasp lucid dreaming, you have to understand a little bit of background information in regards to sleep in general.
There are four stages of sleep that we experience. Stage one and stage two are the lightest stages and involve quick naps that last 10-30 minutes. The first phase of sleep is clearly the lightest: you are easily woken up, and you certainly will not experience a lot of dream activity in this stage. The second is where your mind starts to ignore outside sounds that it perceives as non-harmful, for example a bedroom fan, or a movie that is on in the background, or even sounds from outside of your house like traffic, pedestrians, etc.
Phase three occurs when you doze off for more than 30 minutes, but less than an hour and a half. Dreams may start to occur in this stage, but dream recall will be hazy as well as your overall feeling when you wake up. Sleep inertia most commonly occurs during stage three. This feeling is associated with grogginess and the feeling of unrestfulness.
The fourth stage is where the magic begins. You are most likely to dream in this final sleep phase which correlates to periods of rest over an hour and a half. REM (rapid eye movement) begins during this deepest form of sleep. Behind closed eyelids, your eyes move rapidly and randomly in this stage of slumber. This is actually measurable, and ironically enough during REM sleep your brain’s neurons react similarly to waking life activity, more so than any other sleep stage.
Lucid dreaming begins in the final sleep stage. When you are experiencing lucidity in your slumber you are aware that are dreaming, as it is happening. Through this occurrence you gain control of the situation. Want to walk on water? Go for it! Think it would be cool to explore another world? That’s doable! You want to jump up in the air and fly? Go right ahead! Anything your mind conjures up is more than accessible once you go lucid.
Some people struggle to accept the existence of lucid dreaming, but there has been scientific evidence of lucidities’ existence for years.
As previously stated, REM sleep is in fact measurable. It is possible for scientists to chart eye movement of an individual once they have entered a deep slumber. Up until the early 1980’s the existence of lucid dreaming was hearsay and considered somewhat controversial, but a team of four scientists changed that forever.
In a study that spanned over a month long, a small team of scientists known as, LaBerge, Nagel, Dement and Zarcone, accurately monitored five test subjects. They developed a system in which electronic devices were placed in certain areas of their faces and scalps and their sleeping eye movement was closely examined. A system was developed in which a simple panning of eye motions, left to right to left to right, was used as a means of communication once the person had recognized they were lucid in their dreaming.
The test subjects were asked whether or not they went lucid each morning, and their responses consistently matched up with the intended line of REM sleep to waking life communication. This was the first recorded concrete backing for lucid dreaming: it was recited communication from the dream world to waking life.
As technology has progressed since the 1980’s, so has openness and mindsets towards alternative treatments for mental illnesses. Along with this there has been a shift in mental health stigmatization, which is extremely important. There were definitely problems regarding the issue of stigmas in mental health. Stigmas were once common and deemed acceptable by society. Luckily there’s been a very drastic change in matters of mental health and openness resounds much more in the world we live in today.
When it comes to post traumatic stress disorder, there are numerous experimental types of treatment that trump heavy medication and intrusive styles of therapy. Ideas such as art and music based therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and yes, even prescribed medical marijuana are revolutionary by comparison to traditional treatment. A unique method that is gaining ground is treatment of PTSD through lucid dreaming therapy.
PTSD treated by lucid dreaming involves sourcing associated nightmares, and facing them in a couple of different ways. Many believe that approaching your nightmares head on leads to an in depth understanding about one’s subconscious mind. The same can be said about lucid dreaming. It furthers your comprehension of yourself and sources deeply ingrained problems that can be otherwise unexplainable. Others take a milder approach with dream therapy and believe that letting nightmares naturally surface and alleviate themselves is more appropriate.
Treatment for PTSD through lucid dreaming is gaining ground. Victor Spoormaker, Ph.D found that nightmares linked to PTSD were greatly reduced when lucid dreaming techniques were introduced. Spoormaker stated, “We found that LD was effective in reducing nightmare frequency…but not everyone could learn. It is a complex treatment.”
This is still very promising though, because there is a way to cut corners on the arduous task of gaining LD abilities. Ursula Voss, of Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany, has discovered a way to enable lucidity through administering electrical currents to the brain during REM sleep. Sounds like something out of science fiction, right?
Furthermore, there is immense potential with the creation of outside induction to lucid dreams. Voss and her team were able to alter subjects brain waves without any side effects. The majority of her participants became lucid. All from controlled manipulation of REM sleep.
Alternative treatments for PTSD show strong signs of long term recovery. While LD treatment for this is still considered very new, one thing is certain: lucid dreaming promotes overall well-being and mental health. Restfulness increases, and so does creativity. These things play a role in identifying and treating depression as well. Once you go lucid, you recognize it’s potential links to happiness.
Has this left you feeling motivated to try lucid dreaming for yourself? Explore this resource on lucid dreaming that will give you six great starting points.
“What the mind can conceive that mind can achieve.” -Napoleon Hill
Featured image: “Entering Dreams” by Ice at Deviantart