Sleep always includes several periods of dreaming. Dreams can be lucid dreams in which one is aware of the dream. Lucid dreaming exerts some degree of control and participation in the dream setting. As Rebecca points out, “lucid dreaming is the ability to become aware while you are dreaming- to consciously wake up inside the dream world and control your dreams” (1). This persuasive essay will prove to what extend lucid dreaming is feasible and the conditions of awareness that a dream must fulfill in order to be defined as a lucid dream. Dreaming remains a somewhat unexplained mental process that scientist continues to study its mechanism and implication. “The term lucid dreaming was coined by Frederik Williams and van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist and writer who established a free psychiatry movement in the Netherlands around the end of nineteenth century”(Holzinger 216). Lucid dreaming comes from the Tibetan Buddhism and is also known as Sufism and/or Indian yoga. In the last 35 years, experimental work has been study to prove lucid dreaming. Therefore, scientists found that a correlation between the frequency and content of the sleeping subject’s dreams exists.
New techniques show us specific brain regions involved in dreaming. “Despite the fact that the phenomenon of Lucid dreaming was known since the times of Aristotle’s, only 30 years ago it was successfully verified in a sleep laboratory by measuring eye movements during rapid eye movements (REM) sleep correspond with shifts of gaze in dream imagery (Schredl 1457). There have been several scientific researches that prove the presence of lucid dreaming. Two famous oneirologists demonstrated the existence of lucid dreaming; Paul Tholey and Stephen LaBerge. LaBerge based his research in his eye signals during lucid dreaming method to physiologically investigate lucid dreaming by comparing physiological process with dream reports. As an evidence of lucid dreaming, a laboratory research by LaBerge in Stanford University proved that lucid dreams occur during sleeping. Based on studies, the laboratory showed how some of the eyes movements of REM corresponded to the direction of the dreamer’s stare.
Researchers asked lucid dreamers to carry out different patterns of eye movements when they become conscious of dreaming to continue with the experiment. “The prearranged eye-movement signals appeared on the polygraph record during uninterrupted REM, providing that the subjects had indeed been lucid during sleep” (LaBerge 15). This experiment helped to prove that the psychological effects of the brain and body are identical as the effects in real life. “For example, we found that time intervals estimated in lucid dreams closely match actual clock time, that dreamed breathing corresponds to actual respiration, that dreamed movements result in corresponding patterns of muscle twitching, and that dream sex shows physiological responses similar to actual sexual activity”(LaBerge 15). Additionally, records of brainwaves during REM sleep also showed activity in the frontal and frontolateral of the dreaming brain areas. “The seat of linguistic thought and other higher mental functions linked to self-awareness. This scientific evidence substantiates that lucid dreaming does occurs while dreaming. On the other hand, Tholey identified seven conditions that needs to be fulfill in order for a dream to be defined as a lucid dream.
1. Awareness of the dream state;
2. Awareness of the capacity to make decisions;
3. Awareness of memory functions;
4. Awareness of identity;
5. Awareness of the dream environment;
6. Awareness of the meaning of the dream;
7. Awareness of concentration and focus (The subjective clarity of the state). (Holzinger 4)
In order for a dream to be a lucid dream it most fulfill 7 factors. “Stephan LaBerge and Holzinger, lucid dreams are dreams during which the dreamer recognizes the dream state and is able to act upon volition. Factors 3-7 are descriptions of a lucid dream” (Holzinger 4). Furthermore, a British parapsycologist Dr. Keith Hearne also proved lucid dreaming in 1975. He recorded eye movements from Alan Worsley, his volunteer, who was in a lucid dream. Turner points out that by “manipulating his REM, Worsley showed that he was consciously choosing to look in certain directions while dreaming. It was a kind of communication (like morse code) between the dreamer and the outside world”. Sleep scientists accept that lucid dreaming is real and may offer considerable insight into the nature of human consciousness” (Turner). This explains why humans sometimes confuses dreams for reality. The difference between a normal dream and a lucid dream is that lucid dreams are more vivid. You have full control of your dream; you have the power to chose your actions from what you eat to what you say, including even the ability to fly. Everything you feel, see hear or taste could be as real as your waking reality. Also, the dreamer can act freely and decide upon what to dream before going to sleep.
Additionally, dreams of clarity are “those dreams in which the dreamer has complete consciousness and awareness about the fact that one is dreaming and can therefore interferer or influence, even create the dream as he or she wishes”(Holzinger 216). Gackenback suggested that lucid dreaming can be classified into two induction techniques. The first category, presleep induction, includes intentional techniques and unintentional techniques. Intentional techniques focus on the present moment or on the future moment and unintentional consideration focus during the day and individual propensities. Moreover, some techniques might combine both methods. “Tholey´s combined technique, which includes elements of reflection (present focusing) and intention with auto-suggestion (future focussing)” (Schredl 1458). The second category, sleep induction, is divided into external and internal cues. “External clues are various environmental stimuli that can be applied during REM sleep to be incorporated into a dream and recognised as a cue by the dreamer that he or she is dreaming. Internal cues can be unusual events or inconsistencies within a dream, a sense of dreamlikeness or just a spontaneous insight occurring in a dream which leads to the awareness that one is dreaming” (Schredl 1458). In conclusion, I believe in the existence of lucid dreaming.
“Great things can happen in dreams- great discoveries in science and in art. “The French chemist August Kekule discovered the structure of the benzene ring in a dream. Elias Howe invented the sewing machine based on a dream. Robert Louis Stevenson reported that his novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came to him directly from a dream” (Hartmann 1). Every dream is a lesson from our waking life. After we dream, we awake in an important state of minds in which can sometimes help us accomplish our goals. We can find creative inspirations, emotional healing, and gain insights in our lucid dreams that could be a great benefit from our lives. Dreaming is really important in our lives because it allow the dreamer to make connections with his/her emotions and concerns in his/her daily life. The only possible limitation for lucid dreaming that I can find of is limit imagination. You are only limited by yourself.
“Dream Views: Staying Up all Night.” Dreamviews. vBulletin Solutions, Inc, 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. Hartmann, Ernest. Dreams and Nightmares: The New Theory on the Origin and Meaning of Dreams. Cambridge: Perseus, 1998. Print. Holzinger, Brigitte. “Lucid Dreaming: Dreams of Clarity” Contemporary Hypnosis 26(2009): 216-224. Print. Laberge, Stephen. Lucid Dreaming: A concise guide to Awakening in Your Dreams and in Your Life. Boulder: Sounds True, 2004. Print.
Michael Schredl, et al. “Induction Of Lucid Dreams: A Systematic Review Of Evidence.” Consciousness & Cognition 21.3 (2012): 1456-1475. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. Paker, Julia, Derek Paker. Dreaming: remembering, interpreting, benefiting. London: Mitchell Beazley, 2007. Print. Turner, Rebecca. “World of Lucid Dreaming: Developing Conscious Dream Control and Exploration”. Creative Media NZ, 2008. Web. 13 Nov.2012.