I have had an interest in lucid dreaming since before I knew there was a name for it. As a young girl, I used to pine away the daytime hours, waiting until bedtime so I could drift away to magical lands with pirates and dragons and other exciting adventures. This was always much more exciting than my waking life and I loved how I could create my own adventure, limited by nothing but my own imagination. This became one of my favorite things in life. Waiting until time to dream so I could be anyone I wanted to be and do anything I wanted to do. Little did I know that while this is common in children, most adults lose the ability to do so naturally as they grow up.
No one gave my brain that memo and I still had lucid dreams naturally as I grew up. That said, life would get in the way and as I grew busy with responsibilities, I noticed these dreams were more difficult to capture than they had been in my youth. It was then that I became curious. What made me do this? Was I unique or could other people do it, too? How could I make it happen more often?
And thus my study into the world of lucid dreaming began.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
For those of you not in the know, what is lucid dreaming anyway? A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. In relation to this phenomenon, Greek philosopher Aristotle observed: “often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream”.
When lucid dreaming, you will be able to consciously direct and control your dreamworld. It will transform your dream world into an alternative reality; one where you are safe in the world of dreams but aware of what is happening so that you can control the outcome. It’s like being the director of your own movie. Ordinarily when we dream, our self awareness turns off. This is why dreams seem fuzzy and difficult to remember. You might even say, “I don’t dream.” I assure you that you do. You simply don’t remember them because you’ve forgotten how.
Controlling Your Dreams
So how can you control your dreams and what benefit is there to doing so? There are methods of techniques you can use to retrain yourself to become lucid in dreaming. Some people pick back up on it really quickly while others will take more practice but anyone can do it. It doesn’t require anything aside from a willingness to do it and the commitment to see it through. The concept isn’t new, although it’s only been known by the term “lucid dreaming” since around the 1800s.
Some techniques that may help you with lucid dreaming are dream journaling, visualization, mnemonic techniques, meditation and even self hypnosis. As for the point of controlling your dreams; for one, it’s a lot of fun. Secondly, many people have found this to be a valuable tool at working through issues in their lives, getting to know themselves better and even reducing stress.
The Role That Gaming Plays
How does playing video games help you with lucid dreaming? There was a study a few years back that explored the role that video games play in lucid dreaming and being a gamer myself, I found this incredibly interesting. Many of the friends I had talked to who have lucid dreams (without knowing there was even a name for such a thing) were all gamers. I had always suspected there was some kind of correlation.
Playing video games before bedtime may give people an unusual level of awareness and control in their dreams, LiveScience has learned.
Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada, had a great deal to say about video games and the dreamworld. Both represent altered realities, when you think about it. One comes biologically from the human mind where the other is driven by technology.
In 2006, Gackenbach reported in the journal Dreaming that frequent gamers have more lucid dreams than those who don’t game at all.
“If you’re spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it’s practice,” said Gackenbach. “Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams.”
Both lucid dreamers and gamers seemed to have better spatial skills and were less prone to motion sickness. They also have a higher level of concentration and focus. Gamers also have a strong sense of proprioception, meaning they know where their character/avatar is in relation to the game matrix. This same process must happen in a dream when one becomes lucid. Gamers develop what is known as field independence, a psychological trait that is connected to high lucidity levels.
Bringing it All Together
Some people may not look at video games as a solid method of increasing awareness but studies have shown they can be for many people. In fact, it can give you the same results as meditation. A game encourages diligence, it fosters awareness on a variety of levels and it practices the very same skillset you need for successful lucid dreaming. This could easily account for why many gamers seem to have more lucid dreams than their non-gamer counterparts.
Pete Casale talks more about this at World of Lucid Dreaming and recants his personal tale of going lucid and playing video games. He describes what he calls video game induced lucid dreaming (VGILD) and how it has affected his life. He also discusses video games as a cure for nightmares; something else that is closely tied to the dream world. It’s definitely an interesting read for anyone interesting in gaming and the dream world.
So what do you think? Do you recall a recent lucid dream? Is this something you do regularly or something you’d be interested in learning more about? We want you to sound off in the comments