Lucid Dreaming

A sleep outreach project by the students of UC Berkeley's Psych 133 Class - Fall 2009

"Dream is destiny."

With that abstract phrase, thus begins the equally abstract but nevertheless beautiful movie Waking Life.

At first glance, the movie Waking Life is likely to throw many people off by its unusual animation style medium; a few times while watching it, I even found myself becoming a little nauseous. Even after the first few minutes, I had to ask myself, What could be the point of this movie? It's just a bunch of random stuff happening. But perhaps that's where the beauty and uniqueness of this movie really shines through.

"There's no story... just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions. In short, the greatest story ever told..."

The movie follows the protagonist as he wanders around seemingly random places and has deep, intellectual conversations with strangers (or, rather, is lectured by deep, intellectual people) on each of their personal philosophies on life, freedom, identity, and self-expression. After some time, he wakes up and goes about his day, only to realize that he is still dreaming. He tries to wake up, only to continue to have more and more of these "false awakenings." Through this predicament, the main character becomes aware of the concept of lucid dreaming, and suddenly his quest has a purpose-- to wake up.

"The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving. Saves on introductions and goodbyes. The ride does not require an explanation, just occupants."

Waking Life is definitely a movie that is open for interpretation. I mean, it can't be much else, what with all the philosophical talk about the meaning of life and whatnot. But depending on what kind of person you are, you can appreciate the movie in many different ways. For the aesthetically-critical viewer, the art style should be enough to hold your interest. For the more ruminative movie-goer, the multiple conversations on identity and the meaning of life should have him or her feeling like a kid in a candy store. The more casual moviewatcher, however, may have a more difficult time appreciating the movie's values and may end up getting stuck in the mental rut of "... wtf?"

Personally, I can't deny that I enjoyed watching Waking Life. However, the seasick-style medium combined with each mini-lecture often made me want to go to sleep myself. Maybe that's the point, eh? Just kidding. All I'm saying is that the constant lecturing of different life views can get somewhat tiresome.

The aspect of the movie that I found most appealing were the deep, insightful quotes that were bound to pop up every now and then. Below are a few examples:

"Are you in the story?"

"I don't think so... but then, I'm kinda reading it and then writing it."

"You know, they say that dreams are real only as long as they last. Couldn't you say the same thing about life?"

"It's bad enough that you sell your waking life for minimum wage, but now they get your dreams for free."

"You haven't met yourself yet. But the advantage to meeting others in the meantime is that one of them may present you to yourself."

Overall, I enjoyed watching Waking Life. Since it was pretty late in the day when I watched it, though, I think I might have been too tired to really appreciate what it's about, so I'd definitely want to watch it again. My advice is to not think too much about what's being said (because trust me, a lot of the stuff that's talked about is pretty deep and might leave you feeling mentally overwhelmed) and to just let the information wash over you; that way, you're free to appreciate the expressiveness of the characters and scenery. But whether you're the intellectual type or the casual movie-goer, I think that the movie Waking Life will have something for you to appreciate.

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream..

Hello again!

I was given the opportunity to interview one of my friends (let's call them "P") who used to be a fairly dedicated lucid dreamer. The interview itself was pretty brief and informal, but I think it gives a good example of how the lucid dreaming process is not one that is set in stone; rather, it is an individual experience that takes a lot of time and patience to master.

How did you first get into lucid dreaming?
P : "I saw a program on TV about it, and then I read a book."

What techniques did you find worked best for you?
P :
"I kept a dream journal and used that technique where I kept questioning whether I was in a dream or not during my waking hours. The watch technique (where you keep a watch and look at it all the time and dream that you can't read the numbers) didn't work for me.

What was the best thing about lucid dreaming?
P :
"I guess it's just the ability to be in situations that I can't normally experience in my regular life, like being in a burning building, or trapped in an enclosed area."

• W
as there anything about lucid dreaming that you found to be dangerous?
P :
"No. I can't think of anything."

What kind of advice would you give to people who are interested in attempting to lucid dream?
P :
"It took me a lot of time and effort to gain even a little lucidity in my dreams, so be patient and try as many of the techniques that people suggest to see what works for you."

Hello Bloggers, Just wanted to post an interesting video I came across on the topic from Discovery Channel.

I think it will give you some intriguing, new insight on the science and theories behind lucid dreaming!

Now that you all know a little but more about lucid dreaming, you're probably wondering one of two things (or maybe even more). For starters, why would anyone want to lucid dream? (There are pretty obvious answers to this one). But probably a more complicated question would be, why would anyone not want to lucid dream? I've compiled a short list of descriptions of the pros and cons that have been proven to be effects of lucid dreaming, so read on!

Pros (or why you would want to lucid dream!):
Adventure and excitement
This is a pretty obvious one... I mean, who wouldn't want to fly or have super powers? ;D
Social practicality
Lucid dreams are useful for practicing social situations that would you would otherwise only have one chance at, such as first impressions and interviews.
Nightmare inhibition
Perhaps the most practical use for lucid dreaming, if you can control your dreams or at least recognize that they are not real, it is possible to alleviate the fear produced in a nightmare.
Problem solving
Has there some problem that's been bothering you for a while? Or you can't figure out some math question in your homework? Maybe your dreams can help you! Much in the same way that you can practice social situations, you may gain more insight into solutions to certain dilemmas.

Cons (or possible dangers):
Have you ever heard that too much of a good thing could be bad for you? Something that could be good and wonderful to begin with could turn into something dangerous if abused. If you find yourself thinking about lucid dreaming more about your waking life, it is probably a good indicator that you should hold off on it for a while.
Just as it is possible for everyone to lucid dream, it would follow that not everyone lucid dreams. Even if it seems that no one around you knows what lucid dreaming is, rest assured that there are other people out there who are experiencing the same things as you.
Because lucid dreaming has the potential to make the impossible possible, it can become difficult to distinguish dreams from reality. An example of this would be difficulty in recognizing which memories were made in waking life and which occurred in a dream.

All in all, lucid dreaming is a fun experience to experiment with but, as with any new and exciting venture, must be practiced responsibly to get the most out of it.

About this blog

We are a group of psychology students from the University of California at Berkeley who are studying the interesting sleeping phenomenon of lucid dreaming.

Our blog is dedicated to compiling information from various sources and spreading the word.

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