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Lucid dreaming: Tim Post at TEDxTwenteU


Translator: Tijana Mihajlović
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. When I was seven years old,
I had this recurring nightmare. I dreamt about this huge
and boundless space. There were no trees, no buildings,
even no other people in the dream; there was just me. And I was locked up in a tiny iron cage by the old, and awful,
and scary-looking Snow White witch from the fairytale
with the poisonous apple. Now, in that dream I felt truly terrified. So, as soon as I woke up
from the nightmare in the middle of the night,
I ran to my mom. I was crying. I woke her up,
and I told her about my nightmare. And she would always reassure me
of the simple fact it was just a dream, that the old witch
was just part of my dreaming mind, that there was no real physical danger,
that these were just dreams. Feeling a bit more reassured and safe,
I return to sleep, but at one particular night,
had that exact same nightmare, in that following sleep period, so, suddenly, I found myself again
in that iron cage, holding on to the iron bars,
and looking to the old witch, while remembering what my mother
said to me just a few hours ago, “Tim, this is just a dream.” Now, interestingly, that realization
did not wake me up, so I knew that I was dreaming
while still being in the dream. And I can still vividly recall
how I looked around in the dream, had a sense of my own dream body,
which felt incredibly real, although I knew that my real physical body
was actually lying in bed asleep in some other place called waking life. It was a stunning,
very profound experience, and at the same time,
I didn’t feel scared by the old witch, because I knew she was just part
of my dreaming mind. So, I really felt empowered and free. Now, as a seven-year-old kid, I had no idea that these kinds of dreams
in which you know that you are dreaming are scientifically referred to
as lucid dreams, and that these lucid dreams
seem to almost exclusively occur in a sleep stage that we call REM sleep,
rapid eye movement sleep. And that’s a stage in which we experience
our most vivid, most immersive dreams. These are not your typical
one-dimensional, daydream-like experiences in which you’re just
visualizing something, and you still have a sense
of your own physical body, and you’re just imagining stuff. In these REM sleep dreams – that will be true
for our lucid dreams as well – we are provided with this fully immersive, three-dimensional, multi-sensory
hallucinatory experience. So, it feels like almost being absorbed
into your imagination. You own this dream body
that you can use and move around with, not just to look at
your dream surroundings, but, for example,
to touch the dream ground, its texture, its hardness. That’s how real our dreams are
each and every night in REM sleep. It’s incredible. You could listen to dream music,
or someone’s voice in a dream. You could even smell or taste dream food. Wow! Now, at the same time, the lucid dream
provides for limitless flexibility, as our dreaming mind is continuously
listening to and giving shape to our thoughts and intentions
while we are dreaming. So, once you turn lucid in a dream, you could consciously and reflectively
refocus your thoughts and intentions in order to reshape the entire dream, and dream about anything
that you could imagine while you are dreaming. So, you could allow
an entire dream city to appear, or your favorite sports car, or you could give yourself any kind
of super hero power that you can imagine, like flying or walking through walls, or you could just consciously decide
to explore the dream while knowing that it is a dream, just go to the left, or go to the right,
or just leave the dream as it is. Lastly, that lucid dream
is a learnable skill. About 20% of the general population of us has at least one
spontaneous lucid dream each month, but now through scientific study, there are various cognitive techniques
that anyone can learn to apply in order to have
these lucid dreams deliberately. So, now, today, there are thousands
and thousands of lucid dreamers all over the world, who are practicing lucid dreaming to have these extraordinary
dream experiences that are impossible or very unlikely according to our ordinary waking life
social and physical standards. So, for example,
they are an exciting flying dream in which you are a superhero
and fly above the clouds, or this exhilarating adventure
in which they are the main character in their own blockbuster dream movie,
or romantic dream. Of course, there are many other
lucid dreams that you can think of, because anything is possible
in a lucid dream, right? Kind of incredible. If you take a closer look
at these three lucid dream features, and you would kind of add them up, you might come to see that a lucid dream provides for
this fully immersive, virtual simulator. That functional description is not far
from what scientists believe to be the function of our ordinary REM dreams, although, more precisely, the function of threat simulation
and its related memory consolidation. So, for example, in the old days, when we would encounter
this dangerous bear in waking life, and we would be frightened
and hopefully be able to survive, then that following night, our dreaming mind would pick up
on those waking life threats, simulate those in our dreams in order for our dreaming mind
to reinforce on the neural circuits that are involved with the schemas,
the expectations, and the scripts that we need to effectively survive
the next waking life threat. The following day, when we would encounter a slightly different bear
in a slightly different circumstance. In modern days, most people don’t dream
about dangerous bear encounters anymore. We would dream about
an angry boss encounter, or a family member, or a friend, or whatever that we need to cope with
in order to socially survive. And through that same process, our dreaming mind picks up
on those social threats and simulates those in our dreams in order to reinforce those related
to schemas, and scripts, and so on. Now, imagine turning lucid
in those dreams, and to consciously
and reflectively enhance that function
of psychological development, and use the flexibility of the lucid dream
to experiment with improved behavior to learn from in the lucid dream, so that then, the next day,
when you would wake up, you could implement
those learning experiences and improve your waking life circumstances from what you have learned
and experimented within your lucid dream to improve your psychological well-being. The emerging science of lucid dreaming
has now generated evidence to suggest just that: that lucid dreaming
can be used as an incredibly valuable tool to enhance psychological development, and is now invested into
various research areas, like nightmare treatment,
mental rehearsal, creative problem solving. So, as a lucid dream practitioner myself,
as a researcher, and a trainer, I teach people from all over the world
how to have and apply these lucid dreams. I really believe that the application
of lucid dreaming is an idea that is worth spreading
today at TEDx. Scientists were initially quite skeptical
about this phenomenon of lucid dreams, “This is impossible.” By definition, dreams lack
this reflective awareness, right? Therefore, they are dreams.
So, this cannot be possible. Others said, “Well, perhaps a lucid dream
is just an ordinary dream in which we merely dream
about being lucid, which is something different, right?” Others said,
– well, still say today, actually – “Well, ordinary REM sleep
just cannot allow for lucidity. So, the lucid dream must be some kind
of a hybrid state of consciousness in which one part of the brain is awake,
while the other part is dreaming, or some brief awakening from sleep in which our mind
still lingers a bit in REM sleep, and through that we could know
that we are dreaming.” In the early 1980s,
a sleep researcher called Stephen LaBerge, at that time working
at Stanford University, conducted this ingenious experiment to scientifically verify
the existence of lucid dreams. And he’d done this through basing his experiment
on an earlier study that had shown
that our dream eye movements are reflected by our actual eye movements
behind closed eyelids when we are in bed, dreaming. So, for example, when you would be
in a dream, or a lucid dream, you could look to the left,
right, left, right, left, and our actual eye movements
behind closed eyelids in bed would also show the same kind
of left-right-left-right movement. So, Steven thought
that’s interesting and quite useful, because obviously, we could instruct
lucid dreamers as research subjects to make any kind of distinctive eye signal
in their lucid dream, therefore, verify that they are lucid,
and that the lucid dream is real. And that’s what he did. So, what you see here
is a one-minute episode of someone who is in the sleep lab, hooked up to all kinds
of electronics, electrodes, and you see four different data channels. Here, the uppermost channel
shows the brain activity, the characteristics of REM, left eye movements, right eye movements, and the muscle tone,
completely absent in REM sleep, also characteristic of REM. So, Steven instructed
all of his research subjects, including this single case, to make a left-right-left-right
eye movement as soon as they – that he –
turned lucid in a dream, and make that signal twice
once he thought he’d awaken from sleep. So, that next very minute, this subject successfully signals
from his REM sleep dream that he’s just lucid. “I’m lucid”, making the eye signals. The next minute,
something strange happens. The subject signals that he is awake, while the data shows
that he is clearly still in REM sleep – I mean, no muscle tone,
brain activity is characteristic of REM, and obviously, the [subject]
seems still being asleep – so hmm, what’s happening here? Then the next minute, the subject makes
a lucid eye signal again, but makes incorrect one first,
and corrects for it. Only a few moments later,
he actually awakens from sleep. You can see the muscle tone reappears,
and the according brain activity, that is characteristic of wakefulness. At that point, the researchers
came into the lab, approach the subject and said,
“What were you just dreaming about?” The subject said, “I had a lucid dream, and I successfully signaled
that I was lucid, but then, a few moments later, I only dreamt about waking up
in the sleep lab, and some weird-looking
sleep researcher came to me, ripped off the electrodes from my skull,
and I thought, “That’s bold.” (Laughter) “That’s not the correct procedure.
Perhaps I’m still dreaming. So, I rediscovered that I was dreaming,
did the lucid signal again, and made a mistake first. So, I waited a moment for you guys to know in the sleep lab
that I would redo the signal, did the lucid signal again, until a few moments later, I woke up.” Incredible. This piece of evidence
clearly shows, undoubtedly, that lucid dreaming is real, and that it happens
during uninterrupted REM sleep dreaming. Today there’s much more
advanced technology in which we can study
the lucid dream state and compare it to the waking state
and the state of REM sleep. So now, scientists are discussing whether REM sleep could allow
for this reflective awareness, or whether the lucid dream
is this hybrid state of consciousness, a different state
in which one part of the brain is awake, while the other part is dreaming. Many more future studies are needed
to turn these theories into facts. However, all of this research has led us
to a far better understanding of how to train people
to become frequent lucid dreamers, and to assign them to all kinds
of interesting lucid dream experiments in which they could do
all kinds of things in their lucid dreams. Then scientists could study
and explore the way, the effect of those lucid dreams
on their waking life performance. So now, scientists are venturing
into nightmare treatment. Think about someone who is suffering
from a post-traumatic disorder, who has for example, served in wartime, and still has these terrible nightmares
about being in war and fearing for his life. How lucid dreams can be used
to treat those nightmares and to complement their daytime therapies by training such a patient
to become lucid in his nightmare, and to resolve and rescript a nightmare
while he is having it, rather than only in a retrospective way
the next day in just talking about it. The evidence shows that lucid dreaming can even be used
for that purpose, to treat nightmares, which is incredibly valuable application. Meantal rehearsal: think about sport athletes, how they can make use
of the immersive lucid dream to rehearse peak performances,
to prepare for sport competitions, and rehearse all kinds
of complex sport movements. Again, evidence is showing that lucid dreams
can be used for this purpose. Incredible. Creative problem solving: how we can make use of the creative nature
of our REM sleep dreams to come to new ideas,
visualize a business solution, visualize your new refurnished home and experiment with it
within the lucid dream, or rehearse and develop
your TEDx presentation. Despite the fact that lucid dreaming
is not yet formally employed in psychiatric practices, and many more future studies are needed
to support the claims that I just made, research clearly shows
the use and power of lucid dreaming to improve our psychological well-being. I would really like to encourage
researchers and training professionals to embrace this phenomenon
of lucid dreaming, to inspire and more effectively equip patients, athletes, and our general
lucid dream practitioners of tomorrow. And I would also like to encourage you
to have a lucid dream, and to explore
this fascinating state of consciousness, and not just to empower
and improve your dream life but your waking life as well. Thank you. (Applause)

Reynold King

47 Replies to “Lucid dreaming: Tim Post at TEDxTwenteU”

  1. I dreamt I went to an office with he idea to try to discus something calmly with someone. I got to the table where a German Officer was working busily and with total distain he pulled out a pistol and shot me in the face. I actually felt my jaw being shot away. The German was irritated by my presence and no intention of being bothered with worthless person beside him. That was the worst dream. I hope it wasn’t a past life dream. The best dreams are when Im with family again, Mam and Dad, my grandparents my dogs and pony. Those make me awake feeling confident and good. I once dreamt I wonder if I can actually feel that cupboard door knob, for some reason I tried touching it and shocked I wok up because yes, the door knob was solid, it was white pearl colour with a thin gold metal line pattern. Totally, it’s real, dreams are powerful.

  2. One of my friends is a down to earth guy. Cool to hang out with and funny… he claims to have lucid dreams all the time and is "bored" of them. I think that's the first time I was ever truly mad at him XD. Bored of infinite possibility with the literal limits being your own creativity??? Your fuggin spoiled, man! XD

  3. Dreaming is an interesting thing. When you're dreaming, your body doesn't make anything of it, and passes it off as something normal. That's why for beginners in Lucid Dreaming, it's important to keep a dream journal and read it every single day, so that if you have one of those written dreams again, your brain goes, "Wait, I can do anything! It's a dream!"

  4. What i like about lucid dreaming is expanding time… a 5 hour sleep feels like a day in the dream world…

  5. Do you ever have this dream that you never remember when you dreamt it, but it reoccurs to you all the time, and when you think about it you start almost getting tears in your eyes for no reason. Mine is about this white plateau in the middle of the ocean. I might be crazy.. idk

  6. as a kid I once had an experience, it felt incredible. I felt like weightless hovering in my room like a balloon. and then I floated through our apartment. I wanted it to happen again. decades later, I read about OBE and now I know it was an OBE. allthough I tried, it never has happened again.

  7. what if our dream is a real thing in in other dimension like multiverse and your other self dream about the things that happen to you but its just a dream to him 😅

  8. Whenever I’m in a super life threatening situation in my dream I’m like oh I’m dreaming then wake myself up. If I could stay in those dreams..

  9. I cannot read a page in a dream. Takes too much brainpower to quickly synthesize a whole printed page of hundreds of words at once. Yes, the brain's power is finite and you can see the hard limits.

  10. Reading some of these "lucid dream master" comments is really hilarious, I've kept a dream journal now for over 8 years, I only lucid dreamt without a break for 4 weeks and, yes it is scary when you become attached to your dream, but that's all it is, it becomes boring, experiencing your subconscious first hand in dreams is much more beautiful, we are all inner artists and our dreams are our ultimate canvas.

    If you truly are experiencing a level of dissociation from lucid dreaming you should stop, as you would say, it's in your control, from personal experience i have ALWAYS had to consciously think about lucid dreaming prior to sleeping in order to achieve the lucid state so try and refocus yourself on what is important, which is those who love you, and if no one loves you, then focus on loving yourself, what's life without love…?

  11. I've been lucid dreaming since I was a teenager. Then sleep paralysis. I have mastered this through many terrifying experiences and now I can take control and force myself to fly or change the outcome of a nightmare. Even travel.

  12. once I had a dream but it wasn’t a lucid dream or anything like that. It was a legitimate dream. Anyways, I was aware that I was in a dream and so there was people in it that I was telling that this was a dream. it was cool because when I told them that we were in a dream it’s like for a few seconds they knew it too and they said “we know but we’re not supposed to break character”. Then they got upset and had to replay their role. it was terrifying and amazing at the same time because they knew..

  13. I really want to lucid dream and be an RAF piolet in ww2 but I’m terrified I’ll have a lucid nightmare

  14. Yes, but in order to manipulate your lucid dreams greatly, each night, you need to learn with time how to do it; It is not that easy to do it as it sounds, since many doesn't experience lucid dreaming. Many of the people that experience also need to learn, to differentiate if they are asleep or awake.

  15. I have had lucid dreams and purposely jumped of a building to wake up another time I was being chased by a dinasour and wanted to wake up so I turned around and ran at it just before I got face to face with it I woke up

  16. have you ever tried to wake up from your dream but in fact you woke up in a dream that simulated reality and then you had to wake up several times? (happened to me)

  17. I suggest that dreaming and, especially, lucid dreaming is a preliminary glimpse of your ultimate potential – a potential that will be fully revealed to you after being released from the “seed-like” encapsulation of your body at the moment of death.

    Remember, you are created in the image of the Creator of this universe.

    Just put the pieces of the puzzle together and imagine what you will be able to accomplish within the context of eternal life after gaining full consciousness and control over a substance that is capable of being formed into literally anything “real” imaginable.
    _____

  18. Well how to remember my dreams i the question i want to ask ? I have read about a dream journal bit how to start one when i cant remember anything from my dreams

  19. The other night I like half woke up and ended up getting clothes and taking a twenty minute shower. By the time I completely woke up I realized it was the middle of the night and the clothes I had gotten were socks, a pair of shorts, and a pair of pants😂

  20. Sometimes I have such scary nightmares that triggers me to realize I'm dreaming. But then I always wake up. The last time I did it, I was at this theater. These people on the stage were throwing this little fairy people on to the crowd. It was so absurd it made me realize I was dreaming. I did a bunch of random things but wasn't in complete control. Then I think I sort of "forgot" I was lucid and went back to normal dreaming.

  21. In it you can do anything, in mine I am all powerful. I'm basically like a emperor in Rome. Crowds cheering me after a successful military campaign, my enemies bowing and admitting my superiority.

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