Tessa Schlesinger is the author of "Lucid Dreaming: How to Heal Your Life and Increase Your Power."
Lucid Dreaming Technqiues are a Path to Hidden Memories
There are times when we don't understand why we instinctively act in a certain way - even when we know it is not serving us well.
Generally that's because we have a pattern of behaviour in our unconscious mind that we don't even remember.
Lucid dreaming enables us to access those memories while we are asleep. It also enables us to repair and replace those memories so that our behaviour is permanently changed.
During lucid dreaming, you are sufficiently awake to be able to change your dream. Because you can do this, you can eradicate trauma or negative patterning, and this changes your behaviour permanently.
Is Dream Therapy Different to Lucid Dreaming?
Dream therapy doesn't necesssarily use lucid dreaming techniques to change behaviour.
Generally it is a way of keeping track of dreams by writing them down as soon as we wake up. Later we will try to interpret those dreams using Jungian techniques to see what our deep inner conscious is telling us.
Then we use that information to change our habits and possible come to a new perspective about events that happened a long time ago.
While dream therapy is highly effective, it is slow going because we cannot change the patterning without a lot of work.
Lucid dreaming allows us to change the pattern within minutes.
Lucid Dreaming Is a Validated Technique
Dream Therapy and Lucid Dreaming Use Dream Analysis to Determine the Meaning of Dreams.
Entire shelves of books can be found detailing the meaning of various symbols in dreams. You can ignore it all. The symbols used by the mind are different for every individual. Carl Jung was the first psychologist who understood that.
Let me give you an example of that.
For some twelve years I dreamt of snakes every night. I was surrounded by them - a foot deep in them. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get rid of those dreams. I bought a dozen dream books. They all said that dreaming of snakes meant sex. So I had more sex or less sex or sex with different people during the following six months. The dreams did not go away.
When I chanced upon Carl Jung’s interpretation I said to myself “I am both scared and fascinated by snakes. What else do I feel the same way about?” The answer was immediate. “People.”
That night, I determined that if I dreamt about snakes again, I would take out a huge automatic gun and shoot the whole lot of them. I fell asleep, completely focused on getting rid of those snakes, once and for all. I visualized that gun in my hand and concentrated so hard that I fell asleep while still concentrating.
During the night, I became aware I was dreaming of snakes. I saw them all around me – a lucid dream. I picked up a gun. It turned out to be a pop gun, and when I shot the snakes, only two or three ping pong balls came out. The snakes scattered.
The next night I determined I would have a bigger gun. That did not happen. It was still a pop gun, but there were now very few snakes.
I never dreamt of snakes again.
I also completely lost my fear of people.
What did happen was that, in real life, my fear of people immediately disappeared, and from that day on, I started speaking to people.
It was the beginning of my interest in treating deep-down problems with dream therapy and lucid dreaming.
How to Trigger Lucid Dreams.
Lucid dreaming is not easy to trigger.
It generally happens when we are intensely upset just before we fall asleep, or we are so focused and in such a state of concentration before we fall asleep that the unconcious mind goes to those areas of our brain during sleep.
Consider that when we are in deep intense prayer or in deep intense meditation, the mind is concentrated on only one thing. For whatever reason, when this happens, the body is relaxed. When the body is relaxed, we fall asleep, and when we fall asleep in this state of concentration, lucid dreaming is much more likely to happen.
I suspect that the brain is midway between the theta and delta states. Our brain waves work at different speeds. When we are awake and active, we are in beta state. When we are in an imaginative state or 'in the zone,' we are in alpha state. Then just before we fall asleep, we are in theta state. And when we are in deep sleep, we are in delta.
I think the excessive concentration on a particular topic just before we fall asleep prevents us from reaching the very deep sleep of delta, and but we are not completely in theta. I think it's mid-way.
Dream Therapy Needs a Dream Diary for Dream Interpretation
One of the most difficult things about dreams is that if you don’t write them down, they quickly fade from memory. They disappear within an hour of waking up. It is vital to have a dream diary and to write down every aspect of that dream in the morning immediately after waking up. If you don't do that, it will be difficult to recall later on.
Here’s what you need to note when writing down the dream.
- Immediately note the various emotions that you felt during the dream. One way of establishing what the symbols mean is to find out where, in your real life, you feel those same emotions. I felt fear about snakes, and the equivalent fear in real life was people. Ergo, the snakes meant people (for me).
- Write down the sequence of the dream. Take note of colours and shapes. Ask yourself if those resemble any situation or place in your current life.
- Write down the people and animals in your dream, plus anything you have noted about them. Ask yourself if any of those people or animals resemble someone in your current life. Remember an animal or a monster can represent a person.
Why Therapists and Counselors Often Can't Help Us
All our experiences are stored in the unconscious mind. Most of these memories are forgotten by the unconscious mind, and if we can't remember incidents that trigger irrational behavior in real life, we can't change.
If you, the patient, don't know what the causes of your behaviour are, then it is impossible for counsellors and therapists to know either. That's why people can be in therapy for decades and not get any better.
In the days when I didn’t know what was preventing me from writing, I asked my brain just before I fell asleep what was holding me back (a long, long time ago). The next morning, I wrote down my dream. I then attempted to figure out what the various symbols meant. There were always people chasing me, all of them attempting to harm me and stop me from getting to where I wanted to go.
I eventually looked at each figure in the dream. I wondered who they were, and I tried to establish if they were particular people. It turned out each of those figures had something about them that corresponded to someone in my own life. When I looked at that, I found out that each of those people had said something that stopped me from attempting to do anything.
Consequently, I did two things. I approached each of those people in real life (where possible), plus I designed a method of action in my dream. In my dream, I drew thunder from the sky and hurled it at each of them. They stopped trying to kill me (that was what was happening in my dream).
In real life, there were all sorts of denials. I let bygones be bygones. Sometimes forgiveness is the best option.
I started writing shortly thereafter.
Why Lucid Dreaming and Dream Therapy Get Rid of Nightmares and Change Behaviour
When we are able to access and understand our dreams, we are dealing with the initial template that formed our behaviour.
When we face the situation in our dream that originally set the template, we can do so from a rational viewpoint rather than one based on fear and lack of knowledge when the template was created.
Just understanding it and thinking about the situation is often enough to wipe out that template and replace it with a new one.
Sometimes, however, understanding what caused our responses doesn't change an ongoing situation in real life.
For instance, if the template was formed as a result of abusive parents, the parents may still be abusive.
If we're working on patterning concerning early experiences with our family, and we would like to discuss it with them, they may not be so keen to go there. Sometimes people are just in denial about a situation. We can’t force them to accept things as we see them. That’s when we have to accept that while we can change our patterning, it is not always possible to change the people who caused the patterning.
I had to make peace with the fact that I had both a heavily abusive stepmother and mother (malicious narcissistic personality disorders), and that while I could move on to better behaviours, I couldn't change the behaviours of others.
If you would like to use this methodology, it takes about three or four days to figure out what the dream means and design a new understanding to insert through lucid dreaming into our unconsious mind.
Further Steps in Changing Lucid Dreams Once the Dream is Understood.
Once we have understood what the dream means, we are then ready to change the early patterning.
We do, however, need something to substitute for the old patterning. When I eradicated the snake dream, I went in with guns ablazing. I didn't, however, insert anything to replace the dreams, so there was no patterning for me to follow when coming into contact with other people.
What I should have done the second night of the lucid dream about snakes was to actively replace the snakes with people, and then go out smile at them and make them feel comfortable. I never did do that.
So for many decades afterwards, I never really developed an automatic response to people.
It's important once you have figured out what the dream means to trigger lucid dreaming again. This time, before you fall asleep focus deeply on the solution. You might find that your dream will fight you. Don't let it worry you. Just keep focusing on that solution before you fall asleep.
I have never had it take more than three or four nights.
Once this is done, your behaviour will automatically change, and you will reap the benefits.
Poll for Dream Therapy and Lucid Dreaming
There Can Be Many Dreams
We often experience many different events all associated with the same cause. For instance, if there is abuse in the family, there isn't only one event. In the same way, we can have many different templates or filed memories.
We will then have to access each of those dreams. It can take a long time.
As a result of various experiences in the first 35 years of my life, I developed PTSD. I started working with that 15 years later, and it took 18 months to eradicate all the bad experiences. I have been free of them now for 20 years.
Lucid dreaming and dream therapy works in a way that no other form of therapy does. It is compatively fast and very effective.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Alexis Nicole Campos on November 02, 2018:
I didn't want to say anything but, I had a very terrible dream about a dogs eyes coming out, and my brother and sister we're missing there face and I looked for bits of there faces, and I met a boy named Cody, he was reading a book called "the skintaker in Crystal Cove" I ran away because of the book, because I've heard of a scary story with the skintaker in Crystal Cove, when I was running I fell, and my brothers eye popped like a balloon, when I finally made it to my brother and sister I tried to put there faces back together and I ruined them, and I couldn't wake up from the dream until I kicked a tree, I woke up with tears on my face and my brother and sister asking me "what's wrong?" I never want to think of that dream again. Sorry if I messed something up with my Grammer or something, my English is not really good, but I'm trying.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on September 18, 2017:
I've been lucid dreaming since I was a teenager. I had to teach myself because of recurrent nightmares. Well I changed my nightmares and no longer have those. I am having a recurrent dream every night lately. I want to figure it out before I change it, lol.
nicci from ukraine on September 18, 2017:
Hello Tessa, nice article. Today my question was answered. I always had full control of my dreams and never woke up scared in the middle of the night because I am able to influence my dream and see what I want to see. Just never knew it was called lucid dreaming. Thanks for the information
pen promulgates on September 18, 2017:
Hi Tessa, I am fascinated by this article. It's thrilling to know that one can actually deal with its dreams by framing a mindset to tackle/combat.
I will try that. Thanks.
Your real life experiences breathe life into this article.
Until now, I didn't even know any such thing existed.
You are right, dreams mean something. For Instance,
As per our rituals, snakes that attack in dreams mean the person has done some wicked deeds. A single snake can mean you have an enemy, and if you are just surrounded without threats by the snakes, it implies your fortunes might expand.
A great article! Well done.