I had two lucid dreams this morning. The last lucid dream I had before that was less than a month ago. A year before that I had another. And my first one, more than a year before that. I like to think that the process is accelerating, that this reflects some underlying spiritual or psychological growth that is just beginning to manifest itself in the form of these dreams.
Lucid dreams are those dreams where you realize that you are dreaming, and "wake up" within the world of the dream. Often this means that you can then control the dream, or at least influence the course of it. I've never had much success with trying to control my dreams, though. It's something that takes a lighter touch - you make something happen by expecting it do so, not by concentrating really hard and commanding it to happen - and I've had little opportunity to practice such controlled expectations in my dreams so far.
However, there is one thing that I have experienced in every lucid dream I've had. That is, a particular clarity and sharpness to the visual details of the dream world. Everything looks so much more real when I'm lucid, much more than the vague and muddled state of my ordinary dreaming. And the more lucid I am, the more calm and aware I am in my mental state, the more my sight improves. It's like putting on glasses.
To illustrate, I'll tell the story of my lucid dream last month:
This morning I had a lucid dream after going back to sleep. It was my longest and most calm lucid segment yet. I was telling someone that I was dreaming, then decided to try to become lucid and started writing on a piece of paper, "I am dreaming." I saw the letters change as I read them, as they do in dreams, and continued to write on the paper and watch how my writing changed. Then I walked around, and I found that the level of my lucidity would correspond to the brightness of the space around me. I would start to lose it in dark areas, then become more aware again in bright areas with their windows open to the light and visual details outside.
That's it. The dream was notable in not feeling rushed or frantic at all. I was able to maintain my lucidity for a long time, relatively, with a calm and open mental state. It was like my mind was a net, holding everything together, and I was able to keep it from collapsing without much effort as long as I stayed in the light.
The key here was the light, and the visual details that went with it. But it wasn't until my dreams this morning that I realized the significance of this factor.
I had a lucid dream. It started when I went outside to the backyard, in my dream. The openness and brightness and visual detail opened my eyes, and I became lucid. I collected my mind and did some breathing checks to confirm that I was dreaming - I found I could still breathe, even while pinching my nose shut. However, it must not have lasted too long, since I can't remember what I did after that other than walk around in the grass.
I had another lucid dream. I fell asleep again after writing about the first one, and dreamt that I came across some of the guys from Novel that I used to work with after graduating. I started walking along with them, near the university, and some others were with us too, talking about balance issues with the new MMO they are working on. There were a lot of students around, walking, too, on the sidewalks and street.
And then I opened my eyes and became lucid. Again, everything sharpened, the visual details popped out, and I realized I was in a dream.
But I found that I couldn't control the dream. I couldn't even walk anymore. When I tried to move my feet in the dream, focusing in on the feel of them pressing against the ground, I just felt my own feet in my bed, faintly but stronger and stronger the more I tried. And I realized it must be after 9am, and I must have fallen asleep again accidentally after writing in my notebook. So I allowed myself to come into my own body fully and woke up.
The interesting thing about these dreams is that they seemed to happen spontaneously, triggered not by some dream check or verbal reminder but just by the act of opening my eyes.
But with the experience of these last few lucid dreams so fresh in my memory now, I have realized that there is a particular trigger behind the lucidity I experienced, and that it is actually much easier to practice than a more conventional check like pinching my nose and trying to breathe.
What came first, the lucidity or the enhanced sight? Neither. It was the act of looking, wide-eyed, out and up, in awe, holding my entire visual field in perception, like this, that did it. The lucidity and the visual detail came together, in response.
Stepping outside in my first dream this morning triggered this act of looking. Looking outside, into the light, strengthened it in my dream from last month. And somehow, looking out at all the people, walking in sunlight, triggered it in my second dream this morning.
What this experience has told me is that the way to inspire more lucid dreams in the future is to practice this "wide-eyed" mental state often in daily waking life, rather than obsessively doing weird dream checks throughout the day that I can never seem to remember while asleep.
Because this state of mind - as well as the correspondingly muddled state of non-lucid dreaming - is one I recognize from my waking life as well. It's the same in both waking and dreaming, and I know it well. Having experienced the contrast so recently and often, relatively, I am now able to see this.
Just look up, open your eyes, let the details emerge, and become lucid. Not a bad habit to have, even while awake. Especially while awake.