Most kids have an imaginary friend; I had an imaginary nemesis.
His name was Phantom Darkness Man and he dwelled in our basement.
My parents made me practice piano alone in the basement, a mere 15 feet point-on-triangle from the Scary Bathroom and the Storage Room, which had a door in it that led to the even scarier Furnace Room.
(This was in keeping with their parenting approach, called “Hate Me Now, Thank Me Later.” And I do.)
I was afraid of the dark until I was 17. I shit you not. And, I was plagued by recurring nightmares of Phantom Darkness Man. I would descend the stairs into to the pitch-black basement, and his terrifying tentacles would caress me as I froze and gasped for air. No scream would come out when I tried to call.
It was then that an English teacher at boarding school introduced me to the Senoi Method of Dream Control. It is a series of suggestions that you either read or think about before you go to sleep, to induce lucid dreams. Here is my adaptation:
1. If you encounter a friend or friendly figure in the dream, ask it for a gift—a song, a poem, a story, a formula. At advanced stages, you can call people into your dream.
2. If you encounter an enemy in the dream, fight it to the death instead of turning and running.
3. If you are flying or floating in the dream, try and stay afloat as long as possible. At advanced stages, you can choose your destination.
4. If you’re having sex in a dream, pursue it to orgasm.
There are more suggestions, but these are a good place to start.
When I was 17, I had a dream where I descended the stairs into the basement, rounded the corner near the wet bar, and sensed that Phantom Darkness Man was there, waiting to pounce. I remembered the suggestion. I became lucid and pounced on him. I started wailing on him, punching and kicking. In a twist, Phantom Darkness Man embraced me in a hug, surrendering. I never had that recurring nightmare again, and I was never again afraid of the dark. I used lucid dreaming to cure a phobia. Realizing how simple it was has given me greater confidence in “mind over matter.”
Culled from various sources, I offer the following suggestions to supplement this basic lesson:
A) While you’re going to sleep, repeat this line to yourself: “The next scene will be a dream, the next scene will be a dream, the next scene will be a dream.” You are priming yourself to realize that the very next thing that happens to you is dream.
B) Upon becoming lucid, it is easy to be surprised or overwhelmed, and wake up. To stay in the dream, rub your hands together (other theorists say to spin around). Creating bodily sensations in the dream keeps you there.
C) Probably the most effective technique I’ve used: All day long, ask yourself, “Is this real, or is this a dream (and how do I know)?”
Perform reality tests throughout the day. The best one is to look at a digital clock. Then look away. Then look back. Time should be steady. (In dreams, letters and numbers rarely hold steady.) This has been a trigger for lucid dreaming for me. Almost anytime I dream of letters or numbers, because I check so often in reality using this technique, I can become lucid because the characters dance, jumble, or rearrange, and I know I must be dreaming. Then I proceed with the Senoi Method of Dream Control (which takes advantage of the lawlessness of dreams to help you conquer real fears, tap unconscious creativity, and fulfill sex drive).
D) Finally, to set up the best chances of having a lucid dream, you must record your dreams every morning. If you remember your dreams, you are a good candidate, but a dedicated practice involves recording your dreams every morning. When I’d get lazy, I would use a voice recorder. What’s nice is my mom once gave me a dream pen as a gift; when you press on the tip, it lights up, so you can write in the dark.
Please visit the page I created, dedicated to lucid dreaming, where I share some MP3s of lucid dreams I have had.
Also check out this crazy dream-induction mask that uses lights to send you a signal while you are dreaming—I have one.
Have you ever become lucid in a dream? Would you like to? Do you often remember your dreams? Do you ever record them? How can we use our dream lives to enhance our waking lives?