“I went to Africa. You can go to Africa. You may have trouble arranging the time or the money, but everybody has trouble arranging something. I believe you can travel anywhere if you want to badly enough.
“And I believe the same is true of inner travel. You don’t have to take my word about chakras or healing energy or auras. You can find about them for yourself if you want to. Don’t take my word for it. Be as skeptical as you like.
“Find out for yourself.”
-Michael Crichton, Travels (1988)
It was the Summer of Inception-Mania:
Ke$ha was in the charts. Oil was in the ocean. Cleveland just lost half its economy. And the characters of Lost finally found themselves. But it was Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending film that captivated the nation, and if only for a short while, granted us a break from reality, thrown through a realm where the laws of physics don’t apply.
With a smart premise and a sexy cast, the movie was a hit, and the main question on everybody’s mind was if that little totem thing was still spinning at the end: Was it all a dream within a dream within a dream?!
Or, going further . . .
“Dude. What if we’re all in a dream right now?” I asked my friend err, “Ron” about the film, while we were enjoying some “fresh air” by Lake Waccabuc one warm summer night. “You, your family and your friends and everyone you’ve ever known, all sharing this same dream, and we don’t even realize it.
“What if that’s what they were trying to tell us?”
Ron laughed. “What makes you say that?”
“I don’t know,” I answered, taking another hit of fresh air before turning back to him. “It just seems to make sense in a very . . . strange . . . way. Even though I know it doesn’t.”
Aware of how absurd I sounded, I expected my friend to tease me and call me a dork or a weirdo or a penisface or any other names from an array of common teenage insults. But he didn’t laugh this time, instead inspecting my eyes as if he was trying to find something in there that most have lost and long forgotten.
After a few awkward moments, Ron looked back towards the lake. I looked to, and noticed how beautiful it was that the still water perfectly reflected the sky above.
“Have you ever done it?” he asked, cautiously.
“Done what?” I replied, oblivious.
“Had a lucid dream. It’s when you realize that you’re dreaming while still inside of the dream.”
I immediately flashed back to when I was a child, and would often have nightmares of monsters chasing after me. I was truly frightened of these monsters, my heartbeat going mad while attempting to hide. But it was only at the moment when I came face to face with them I would stop being so afraid, for I knew in back of my mind that they weren’t real. I knew that if I clenched my eyes hard enough in the dream, I would open them up in reality.
Yet still, there was something holding me back—an inner blockade of self-awareness preventing me from finding my light, and realizing it was only me. Eventually, as I grew older, dreams became something I barely paid attention to, or even remembered. Why would I, after all? As a society we are conditioned to forget what is so outside our normal scope of reality.
Thus, by the lake that warm summer night, I shook my head to my friend. “Why, have you ever had one?”
“All the time,” he told me. “I taught myself to do it, actually.”
“So what does that mean?” I asked, my curiosity piqued. “What can you do while you’re inside a lucid dream?”
“Well anything I want, really. So if I wanted to, I could get with the girl of my dreams every night.”
My eyes went wide. “Every night?”
“Every . . . single . . . night,” he said, grinning boastfully.
“But how is that even possible? You’re asleep!”
“Because I’m not—I’m more awake than ever. You can’t really know until you experience it for yourself, man. It feels real.”
And then there it was: the realization that . . . holy shit!! This whole Inception thing—it’s actually legit. I could become aware of myself within a dream, and even enter another’s if I wanted to. This meant that I could incept the hottest girl in school into thinking I’m cool!
Okay, maybe that’s not how it works, yet I was enthralled nonetheless by the possibilities of lucid dreaming. To gain self-awareness in such a state would be an achievement in its own right. And as Nolan himself declared, lucid dreaming is a “striking experience for people who have it,” one suggesting an “infinite possibilities for the creative potential of the mind.”
And if I realized my mind’s creative potential, I could do things once thought unimaginable. I could even gain valuable insight into the structure of the cosmos itself!
Or, you know, dream sex. Don’t judge me.
Hence commenced a captivating foray into the world of lucid dreaming: I began keeping a comprehensive dream journal, I performed “reality checks” several times daily, I immersed my mind in dream music and dream films, and I at least attempted to start meditating.
Instead of going out on Friday nights, I found myself spending hours in bed striving to project my feeble consciousness into a dream. Alas, as obsessed as I became, my will was weak, and my focus untrained. While Ron was living it up every night, I still lay frustratingly asleep, cloaked beneath a veil of ignorance. I just wasn’t ready. And I was ashamed to head into my freshman year of college as a lonely dream virgin.
Eventually, however, I got over it. I met real girls. And I stopped trying so hard. Only then did suddenly everything change, on one cold October night . . .
I had opened my eyes.
And I was confused to find myself sitting alone at my dorm room desk, on my computer, with a pair of headphones plugged in. “How did I get here?” I whispered while adjusting in my chair, completely disoriented, and wondering where I had been. But I decided to just go with it, automatically assuming the only logical choice—that I had fallen asleep at my desk without realizing.
There was something odd about this sleep; it was as if I had appeared out of oblivion, slipping from a dreamless void straight into my dorm room chair.
Still, I tried not to question too hard. As strange as it seemed, I could not doubt reality. A peaceful haze then accompanied my awareness. The night was dark, and my roommates had went into dreams of their own.
Glancing at my laptop screen, I noticed I had open the page for The Beatles on Spotify radio. This made sense! It would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday that day, after all, so my roommates and I were listening to his band of hippies earlier to celebrate. With a real sigh of relief, I decided to hit play on one more song before heading into bed.
The music came out lively, the sounds of swirling guitars clanging through my cognizance.
But it wasn’t long before I noticed that the music playing was strangely psychedelic, even for Lennon post-LSD. This came with the subsequent realization that the song titles seemed to be nothing but random words with no rational connection. Unless I missed an extremely peculiar phase from the world’s most famous band, I now knew that I was on to something—something big!
Thus, I looked down at my open palms, determined to really ask myself this time: wait, seriously . . .
I couldn’t have passed out at my desk, for I remembered climbing into bed when I was tired. I remembered tucking myself underneath the sheets. And I remembered . . . falling . . . asleep! Suddenly, nothing made sense anymore. I was now left with a single possibility, one in which logic did not apply, and the entirety of existence was merely an abstraction.
“This isn’t real.”
As the music ceased into thick silence, my awareness seemed to spike several levels in an instant. Standing on my two astral feet, I again gazed down at my open palms, then up all around me.
And yet it was: with my vision clear; my breath firm and heavy; my two roommate . . . things snoring; and my mirror the same as it ever was, hanging on the wall, reflecting a now ethereal image.
As I turned to look behind at my bed, I hesitated for a moment, afraid at what I would find.
To Strive for Lucidity
“I experienced lucid dreaming, which is a big feature of Inception—the idea of realizing you’re in a dream and therefore trying to change or manipulate it in some way.
“That’s a very striking experience for people who have it.”
-Christopher Nolan, MTV Interview (July 2010)
Dreams have fascinated humanity since the dawn of civilization, a phenomenon as inescapable as the flow of one’s breath. No matter who we believe ourselves to be in the waking world, we all yearn to surrender ourselves to the clutches of night, turning off our minds, and turning in our egos. But it is not dying. Rather, it is to be alive; reborn into a world where magic replaces physics.
As hectic as it is during the day, we must cherish these moments when our rational minds are turned away, and we are but a wonder of pure imagination.
Eventually, however, we have to face the music, and open our eyes. Wake up to the fact that it was all—hmm, what was it again? Eh, screw it.
As humanity “progressed” onward, our scope of reality narrowed to a definition dull and dichotomous: Waking life is real. Dreaming life is not real. And to put any true faith in these hallucinations would be but a fantasy for the feeble minded, a lullaby for those loonies who value magic over the monotony of life, a losing war against an existence of encroaching nihilism.
For even as soon as we exit the dream world, our left brain rejects it as it seeps quickly through the pores of memory. We fear when we have nightmares. We are moved when we meet lost loved ones. But there remains a disconnect between emotion and intellect. And before we can even think or analyze, these moments have already slipped through shaky grips, forgotten on some foreign frequency. We must get on with our lives.
Thus as much as it fascinates our culture, we pity the man who perpetually dreams, and cannot seem to do the same. In this sense the dreamer is banished to obscurity, completely out of touch with the real world—a world where monsters do not exist, human beings cannot fly, and the dead never come back to us.
It is in this state, and this state only, where we can truly know ourselves.
. . . Or is it? (You knew I was going there, didn’t you?)
Indeed, there are times when we may find ourselves in unusual states, treading a fine line between asleep and awake. It is during moments like these when our rational minds are right there with us, but our bodies are not what we know them to be. It was Aristotle who once pondered, “often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”
Celebrated Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden first coined the term “lucid dreaming” in the late 19th century to mean, simply, “dreaming while knowing that one is dreaming.” In his groundbreaking 1913 paper “A Study of Dreams,” he pulls from decades of his own dream experience, remarking: “In these lucid dreams the reintegration of the psychic functions is so complete that the sleeper remembers day-life and his own condition, reaches a state of perfect awareness, and is able to direct his attention, and to attempt different acts of free volition.”
The inquisitive Dutchman similarly marvels at the sensation of possessing a dream or “astral body,” perfectly distinct from the physical you know is simultaneously asleep, yet often a stunning imitation. These astral forms contain legs that walk, hands that grip, mouths that speak—and yes, eyes that can see with astonishing clarity, afforded an inexhaustible inner light at a time thought to be so blind.
“I dreamt that I was floating through a landscape with bare trees, knowing that it was April, and I remarked that the perspective of the branches and twigs changed quite naturally.
“Then I made the reflection, during sleep, that my fancy would never be able to invent or to make an image as intricate as the perspective movement of little twigs seen in floating by.”
-Frederik van Eeden, on his first lucid dream experience (June 1897), “A Study of Dreams”
Although from a different era in the waking world, the journal of van Eeden resonates deeply with what I have experienced during my own lucid dreams.
Now lucidity can vary tremendously, but at our most meditative awareness, we can be as self-aware as in waking life—if not even more so. We can conjure up entire worlds in a flicker of pure being. We can know ourselves in ways we can only dream.
It is not uncommon, then, to encounter something like van Eeden’s “twigs”: a sensation so intensely real, so breathtakingly intricate, that I must make a mental note to my waking self to never let slip the memory of that moment; to never devalue the sheer reality of the experience, as well as the limitless potentiality of our creative mind.
For here lies a glimpse of the infinite, within us and all around us.
Yet again and again, I am continually blown away.
And it is just something that started happening to me: first a little . . . and then a lot. My dream self, flattered by my conscious attention, began to display a significant confidence in its own cognizance. It was as if a new gateway of awareness opened up in my brain. With a meditative mind, I would be able to spend progressively longer periods of time awake in my dreams, within a world where time itself seems to loosen its steady hold.
So no dream sex, unfortunately, or you’ll come very quickly out of it! I learned that the hard way. Still, this doesn’t mean that lucid dreaming can’t be an incredibly sexy experience!
Although I don’t keep it anymore, because I am a grown man (allegedly), my dream journal ended up recounting hundreds of mental adventures. In some I was lucid; in most sound asleep. But it is the latter that I would study, searching for symbols and patterns to plot against my own ignorance. I would hence develop techniques to improve my awareness.
I would strive for lucidity.
“Those damn little greys,” I grumbled about my recurring dreams of alien abduction. “I can never figure out that they are just a part of me!” And the funny thing was every time I saw that frickin’ flying saucer I would shout in my mind: “This is not a dream—this is actually happening!” But it wasn’t. Well, at least not physically.
I couldn’t wake up to the fact that it was only me, and I wanted to smack my dream self for it! That part of me was still learning how to be conscious of itself, apparently. Frustrated and fed up with those dumb aliens, I urged myself to realize I was dreaming the next time I had this nightmare.
Finally, one night I opened my eyes, and stopped being so afraid. With profound insight came an innate divinity bursting through me, exclaiming with delight as the UFO halted overhead, “Hah! I can’t fool myself this time!!”
I shot down those little bug-eyed freaks.
The biggest thing I learned is that it is all too easy to simply accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented, no matter how absurd.
Thus we must question.
Even in this world of apparent permanence we should make it a habit to ask ourselves, “Who am I?!” and “How did I get here?!” at least nine times every day. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a work meeting, on the toilet, playing checkers or making love: these hourly existential crises are essential if you wish to increase your awareness to Leo-level!
And really ask yourself, for too often in our sleep we are humbled by our ignorance. And too often during the day we take this precious awareness for granted. Once we begin to question reality in waking life, this seed of thought will branch down through our subconscious, taking root in our dreams.
This is where it is useful to create a personal “totem” to aid you in questioning. Although I don’t carry around a little spinny top with me, I know I will always have (a version of) my hands no matter in which dimension my awareness resides. Thus, when performing reality checks, I would make it a habit to stare closely at my open palms, simultaneously searching for any inconsistencies or “glitches” in natural movement—which would hence indicate that I’m dreaming.
During the time of writing this post, for example, I had an experience in which I was gazing into a mirror, straight through my astral eyes. Turning my face to one side, I naturally expected my reflection to emulate; instead, however, it lingered and smiled at me—very eerily! Disturbed yet slammed with a sudden awareness, my eyes were endowed with lucidity.
“In 1907, I found a passage in a work by Prof. Ernst Mach in which the same observation (of the twigs) is made with a little difference.
“Like me, Mach came to the conclusion that he was dreaming, but it was because he saw the movement of the twigs to be defective, while I had wondered at the naturalness which my fancy could never invent. . . . I prepared myself for careful observation, hoping to prolong and to intensify the lucidity.”
-Frederik van Eeden, “A Study of Dreams”
As similarly noted, it is best not to overthink while lucid dreaming, but rather carefully observe. The most frustrating thing for a first-time lucid dreamer is experiencing blurred vision from over-excitement! I soon realized, however, that meditating on dream palms would effectively “prolong and intensify” my lucid awareness, staring until every little crease and crevice swung into focus.
Refused to be lulled in by illusion, I would quickly come back to lucidity.
PhD Stanford psychologist (aka not some random hippy) Stephen LaBerge founded The Lucidity Institute in 1987 to research lucid dreaming and aid others in awakening. After teaching himself to lucid dream at will, he produced the first peer-reviewed scientific studies on the subject.
With his “MILD” (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) method, LaBerge stresses the importance of these daily reality checks, challenging his subjects to “ask yourself the following question: ‘Am I dreaming or awake, right now?’ Be serious, really try to answer the question to the best of your ability, and be ready to justify your answer.”
The lucid dream expert also acknowledges the significance of dream recall, affirmations, and visualizations in order to attain this desired state, in addition to inventing several techniques to prolong these experiences once awake within them.
Alternatively, you can perform the “Tom Cruise” technique, in which case you just run like a maniac.
With enough repetition, awareness will naturally expand. Ultimately, however, it may come down to pure desire more than anything. For in order to dream lucidly, you must first believe that it is possible. Assert to yourself that you will! Replay it in your mind before you shut your eyes at night! Because, trust me, our subconscious understands.
Personally, it reached the point where I was once conversing with my cousin on my living room sofa—about what, I cannot remember, but it seemed rather important. And then something . . . shifted. As a mysterious stillness pervaded the room, my cousin sighed, looking at me with disappointment.
“You’re missing something,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“Think about it, Mark. How did you get here?”
And so I thought: an act that proved to be disconcertingly difficult. But with enough force of will, I penetrated this deceptive veil, coming to the realization that I shouldn’t have even been in that house at the time! And my Greek cousin shouldn’t have even been in the same continent!! I stared down at my open palms, then back up to him with an astral mouth agape. As absolutely insane as it seemed, I knew it just had to be the case . . .
My cousin nodded. “That’s right,” he said, beaming, before vanishing into thin air. Suddenly, I found myself alone in the silence of my psyche.
“For me, the primary interest in dreams and in making this film is the notion that in your mind, while you’re asleep, you can create an entire world that you’re also experiencing without realizing that you’re doing that.
“I think that says a lot about the potential of the human mind, especially the creative potential. It’s something I find fascinating.”
-Christopher Nolan, on Inception, MTV Interview (July 2010)
See, there’s always that hump you have to get over—that blockade of self-awareness, obstructing the inner light. Yet out of all the experiences detailed in my journal, this one stands out as particularly special, as a familial dream character actually assisted me in tearing down those pesky walls.
Now I don’t think this was my actual cousin “incepting” me (never asked), but more of my subconscious understanding the desire to get to know it more intimately, taking the form of someone I feel comfortable with, and inviting me into its ethereal realm. Hence I am convinced that this higher mind of mine was attempting to aid my ego’s aspiration to lucid dream.
Well, more like literally talking me into it with an Inception-level quantity of craziness, from a cousin I shouldn’t have even been talking to in the first place!
And once awake, this was one of those experiences entirely lucid, as if I was physically walking around in my own house, or perhaps a place all the more profound. I just didn’t want to let it go.
So I took advice from Leo: Breathe. Don’t freak out. Just be still.
Because I realized he is right about our mind’s potential: When we’re awake, we only use a tiny fraction of it. When we’re asleep, it can do almost anything.
Well . . . not without a catch.
You may marvel at your inexplicable creations, but you cannot always manipulate as pleased. This is because the “plane” in which you enter may differ; some environments seem unnervingly physical, while others display a more otherworldly transience. Hence it all depends if it is a dream you can control, or if you are simply swayed along by the astral wind, in which case you understand that your conscious ego is but a tiny fraction of who you really are.
Likewise, once you learn to stay lucid for long enough, you may begin to comprehend the quirky laws of your subconscious. It was van Eeden who acted as an impassioned dream physicist, attempting to break a bunch of shit simply to see what happened (for science, of course). He writes of smashing a fine glass with his bare astral fist:
“It broke all right, but a little too late, like an actor who misses his cue. This gave me a very curious impression of being in a fake-world, cleverly imitated, but with small failures. I took the broken glass and threw it out of the window, in order to observe whether I could hear the tinkling. I heard the noise all right and I even saw two dogs run away from it quite naturally. I thought what a good imitation this comedy-world was.
“Then I saw a decanter with claret and tasted it, and noted with perfect clearness of mind: ‘Well, we can also have voluntary impressions of taste in this dream-world; this has quite the taste of wine.'”
-Frederik van Eeden, on a Sept 1904 lucid dream experience, “A Study of Dreams”
With enough practice, you could become a master of your dreams, a real architect, and there is so much you can do.
Fly around, for example, or immerse yourself in astral art. Dance to a celestial melody, then unwind with some dream yoga. Touch things. Taste things. Break things. Create magic! You can even walk through walls, unless you believe that walls can stop you—then you will be held back.
Conjure up a world of doughnut people for all I care and bite their heads off while they run around screaming . . . it is up to you and you only, even if some parts of “you” are above your conscious control.
So spread those restless wings and take flight! Living is easy with eyes closed.
And yes, you may even have dream sex if you so choose—but don’t get too excited, you just might wake up.
To Struggle for Actuality
“Through lucid dreaming, we appear to have the capacity to realize our connection with our inner self as something more than merely theoretical. Lucidly aware, we can finally interact and engage with our larger psyche and experience its reality to some small degree.
“The elusive psyche may finally be found in the most unlikely of places, the paradoxical nature of lucid dreaming.”
-Robert Waggoner, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self (2008)
Among the many sensations my main man Freddy marvels at in his “A Study of Dreams” is one of voice, having “sung, shouted, and spoken loudly” in hundreds of these astral expeditions, despite knowing with perfect clarity that his physical body lay quiet in sleep.
This brings us to one of the more amusing things we can do in any dimension: interacting with our dream characters (or DCs).
Because more often than not, our minds are cluttered with them.
So inventive is the inner eye, that you may soar over a mental metropolis with dozens walking at every turn. Some are old and overweight; others young and beautiful; many eerily inhuman. Greet them as you do a forgotten friend. Know them as you know thyself.
You will come to realize that there are an infinite variety of entities forever venturing between the viaducts of your dreams, each endowed with their own proto-consciousness, yet never questioning their origins or destination or even the reason for their own existence!
It is only you who understands these universal secrets.
Cue another lesson from Leo:
You see, what occurs within lucid dreams is exactly like in Inception! Okay . . . maybe they won’t stab you. My subconscious, if ultra-strange, is much more forgiving.
What the DCs will do is communicate with you in a very intimate, often telepathic manner. They welcome you to your world, taking time off their hectic dream schedule to converse with their God—or at least the friendly ones. There are always a few jerk-off atheist dream characters who repeatedly ignore you no matter what you do.
As for the topic of conversation, well, perhaps it’s for the best to keep things light. Talk about movies or cars or the astral stars! Don’t bring up things like the meaning of life, the origins of existence, or Radiohead.
When I first began lucid dreaming, I made the mistake of thinking every DC I encountered was some sort of higher self or “spirit guide.” Accordingly, I would eagerly ask them stuff like “Where am I?” or “What is my purpose?” or “When will I die?” (don’t ask this, especially). Soon realizing that most of these characters are blabbering idiots, I gave up attempting to obtain authentic answers to esoteric questions.
So just smile, nod, and go with it! Appreciate the experience of communicating with your inner reflections—to stare at yourself deep into their eyes. Preferably with the sexy ones.
Oh yeah, and try your best not to undermine their existence, unless you want to see them throwing an inter-dimensional temper tantrum!
I’ve done this quite often, and every time I get the same reaction: If you ask a DC if they are “real” they look at you like you’re crazy, perhaps laughing it off if lucky. But if you persist, demanding “proof” of their existence, then prepare to get your astral shit handed to you!
It is not just me who realizes this, either. Perusing the lucid dreaming subreddit, I was surprised to find that this is an uncannily common scenario for anyone who denies the reality of their stubborn creations. They laugh at you. Scoff at you. Even cursing you off if you’re a real asshole about it.
Reddit user “BeaconOfBacon” writes, “The best response came from a dream version of my friend’s little brother. We were in a car driving and I became lucid. I asked him how it was being a made up person in my dream and he simply said ‘Fuck you.’ hahaha I was so shocked.”
Indeed, it can be undeniably hilarious to watch them fight for their conscious independence—to struggle for their own actuality.
At the same time, they can appear unnervingly real, right there, in the moment. And then you feel bad for them. You even start to believe them! For you never know what fashions their cheeky grin; what puts that silly hat on their heads; what forges the light in their eyes, for deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.
And they’ll take back what they own.
They are our subconscious personified, portions of our magnificent mind dormant during the waking state. But not even these semi-conscious fragments want their realness to be questioned; this sole truth they cling to dearly. For more often than not, we are the ones asleep in their world, and—as I have alluded to earlier—they only wish to wake us up.
“A lot of the time the characters will just look at me and smile or nod like they’re so proud I’d figured it out,” Bacon acknowledges in his reddit post. “I love interacting with the DCs.”
Back in 2011, researchers at Germany’s Heidelberg University published a study of “Lucid Dream Mathematics,” which just might be the strangest thing you’ll ever read in a scientific journal. This experiment enlisted twelve Leo-level lucid dreamers to enter into their own minds, later asking DCs to attempt specific problems in arithmetic.
As expected, these abstract entities mostly struggled, their quantitative abilities “no better than the ones of primary school pupils.” And sometimes, things got weird.
Twice, dream characters ran away in terror when asked to solve a math problem. One declared to “never give the answer” of 18 − 6, for the reason being that the results are something personal rather than objective logic. Another even broke down crying when presented with simple arithmetic, subsequently questioning everything he ever thought he knew during his momentary existence.
“Lucid dreamers, who are aware that they are dreaming during the dream, can have deliberate conversations with their dream characters and ask them to accomplish specific tasks.
“Previous studies have shown that dream characters can be creative and ingenious, but they seem to struggle with more logical tasks, such as doing arithmetic.”
-Stumbrys, Schmidt & Erlacher, Heidelberg University, “Lucid Dream Mathematics: An Explorative Online Study of Arithmetic Abilities of Dream Characters” (2011)
So they suck at math. I mean like really hate it! This is not to say, however, that these creations cannot exhibit more complex forms of intelligence.
A previous study by Liverpool John Moores University psychologists found that dream characters (especially those who self-identify as “guides”) “may contribute to problem solving when dealing with more creative rather than logical tasks,” to the point where several answers to metaphorical questions seemed to “surpass those provided by the participants themselves.”
And then there’s the extensive research provided by German psychology professor Paul Tholey, who trained his students to lucid dream with his “reflection technique” before using them as test subjects.
In the 1983 study “Cognitive Abilities of Dream Figures in Lucid Dreams,” Tholey discovered that despite poor mathematical performance, the DCs displayed highly impressive verbal skills, including being able to rhyme and speak foreign languages when requested. He similarly noted that these abilities seemed “in some cases better than those of the dreamer.”
Another 1989 experiment recorded 92 lucid dreams, during which dream characters were able to “write and draw; to rhyme; and even to say an unknown word to the dreamer.” Often outwitting the dream ego, they appeared to act with strikingly independent feelings and intentions. This led Tholey to draw a bold conclusion: that these DCs should be “taken as seriously as if they had a consciousness of their own.”
“I’m sure that I have a consciousness,” one particularly sassy dream character responded when asked, “but I doubt if you have one, because you ask me such stupid questions!”
So perhaps it was wrong to call them idiots, even if they cannot perform simple math. For while any sort of logic is set on hold, there is much wisdom to be found in these realms of creativity.
You don’t need any of your dream characters to tell you that.
Just try not to mock their existence, or you will learn so the hard way. These embryonic modes of awareness all strive for their own free will; autonomy; purpose; reality! The greatest insult is to deny them this primordial truth.
They might have a right to curse you off.
And if you really think about it, Kurt Russell might be on to something!
Because to me, it would be hypocritical to let the ego decide whether a creation is “real” or not. Your higher mind is exponentially more powerful than its shallow surface usually concedes. So if they say they want their freedom, who are we to keep them down?
It is the inner self, after all, that provides vitality for the outer. It is from within we arrive at a knowing our normal eyes could never see.
It is only once you end this inner journey, however, do you often feel exhausted and disoriented—as if you’ve spent a lifetime awake on another plane, only to fall back to the physical. This is why lucid dreaming goes hand in hand with sleep difficulties. It also goes hand in hand with being a crazy person! Just read Stephen King’s Insomnia.
King writes of a protagonist who cannot sleep; even in dreams he is awake. And this causes his waking life to seem more and more like a dream, seeing otherworldly beings and auras only visible to the inner eye.
This occurs until finally, the distinction between dreams and realiti evaporates altogether . . .
“One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams.”
Getting a little too weird for you now, huh? Just you wait, honey.
Weirdness is relative. Craziness is universal! You see, we’re all a bit crazy on the inside, even if we haven’t yet seen it for ourselves. And this universe is downright insane—something both wacky meta-physicists and stone-cold materialists can agree upon.
Awakening to this insanity is linked with creativity. This is what Leo meant when he spoke of rediscovering the “genuine inspiration,” deep within ourselves. And it is no wonder so much of this inspiration seems extracted straight from the dream world!
This is a not-so-well kept secret of artists of every kind: Paul McCartney was said to have composed the entire melody of “Yesterday” within a dream. Mary Shelley drafted Frankenstein after a vivid nightmare. James Cameron aimed to “create a lucid dream state” while directing Avatar. And Salvador Dalí used “incubation techniques” to pre-program his dreams, later turning them into art.
But fear thou not you reasonable men! For the merciful Dream God extends her love to more than just right-brained weirdos.
In fact, dream symbolism has supplied a subconscious impetus to several major scientific discoveries, from Bohr’s atomic structure to Mendeleev’s periodic table to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Moreover, Nikola Tesla was seen conducting “waking dream experiments” in the middle of his lab. And his one-time employer, Thomas Edison, was thought to be an avid lucid dreamer, given his habit of holding steel balls in his hand while brainstorming. As little Tommy would drift into sleep, the balls would then fall to the floor, waking him up with newfound inspiration.
This was the inventor’s way of reaching the hypnagogic state, thinning the line between his conscious ego and unconscious genius. To no surprise, this seems extremely similar to techniques used by lucid dreamers today.
There’s no denying the dream realm provides an abundant well of energy and insight, helping human beings and canines alike to push past those constricting walls.
But perhaps the most revelatory epiphany we can obtain from our dreams is a first-hand understanding of the creative capacity of our own consciousness! This in turn may lead to an eye-opening inquiry as to the very fabric of our universe, and everything we ever thought we knew during our momentary existence.
It has, as Stephen LaBerge puts it, a “life-changing, worldview-transforming potential.”
It might be difficult for some to be open to the possibility. Because I know, I know—dreams are all in your mind! Don’t take them too seriously, man! And quit it with that damn blog post. They are simply . . . not . . . real.
Fair enough. But now ask yourself: What about this physical world we have somehow found ourselves in?
We walk through it as if we are so separate, but can it truly exist independently of mind? Is consciousness honestly just some senseless consequence: attaining subjective experience, dreams and awareness of self through an astonishing miracle of dead matter?
If so, this universe could cruelly go on without us, void of any life. Heartless. Uncaring. Beginning and ending with nothing . . .
And all the more depressing.
But fear thou not you unreasonable men! For there is reason to believe that this disconnection is merely an illusion, albeit a stubbornly persistent one.
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion.
“Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”
-Albert Einstein, Letter to Grieving Father (12 Feb, 1950)
For one, there exists a surprisingly fine line between what we perceive and what we create. Even classical theory in physics acknowledges that when we perceive a tree, for example, we can never penetrate into its true essence. Rather, we are forging and fixing the image within our minds, out of a very limited array of visible light!
There is no objective way of knowing what is out there; to observe is to assign properties to our world.
This means that everything you have ever seen or felt was, in a sense, made by you. Every tree, every star, every painful scar, and every sweet taste of wine. And so I hope you can feel life within you.
Then we can get into some of the spooky non-local behavior of photons. Niels Bohr was once quoted as saying, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.” This is because it demonstrates just how powerful, and possibly participatory, the act of observation can be.
It was the view of renowned physicist John Wheeler that we are not independent bystanders on this cosmic stage, but active shapers and creators. That our minds are not bound by space and time, but transcendent means of manifestation. To test this interactive nature, Wheeler proposed a delayed-choice thought experiment, made to determine at what point photons “decide” to act as either a particle or a wave.
It wasn’t until recently that variations of this experiment were tested scientifically, such as the one performed by physicists at The Australian National University. The paradoxical conclusion was that photons do not take on independent properties until they are observed at the end of their journey. In other words, a measurement in the future dictates how they will behave in the past.
“It proves that measurement is everything,” says ANU Professor Andrew Truscott. “At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.” This is evidence suggesting that an observer is fundamentally entangled with what is observed; until then, reality is merely an abstraction—a suspended state of infinite possibility.
And we are not necessarily forced to limit ourselves to the quantum level. By common rationale, these laws should be universal. And I’m talking “wave function of the entire universe” universal, a universe that itself is theorized to arise from a singularity of matter compressed to a size infinitesimally smaller than that of an electron!
In his 1998 paper “Universe, Life, Consciousness,” pioneering Stanford astrophysicist Andrei Linde acknowledges that consciousness is a tricky subject in quantum cosmology, a “hard problem” that has continually been brushed aside and ignored. Yet Linde offers up a daring proposition: “Without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time.
“Does this mean that an observer is simultaneously a creator?”
These apparently idealist paradoxes, combined with teachers even wiser by the names of experience and intuition, point strongly towards a worldview in which this detachment from our world is simply delusion.
And consciousness is not a “problem” but a primordial gift.
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
-Max Planck, father of quantum theory, The Observer (25 Jan, 1931)
So perhaps we’ve got it all inside out! Perhaps, as Wheeler proposes, we are powerful co-creators in a participatory universe; or possibly some kind of simulated multiverse, with life merely a “game” predicated on choice and intention . . .
Or even like a literal matrix! As string theorists on the more insane side of the spectrum are suggesting, reality may be more akin to computer code than anything, and we’re all asleep in vats of goo somewhere counting on Keanu to wake us up . . .
Nah. But you may prefer the idea—as first theorized by David Bohm, who literally wrote the textbook on quantum theory—that we have simply found ourselves in a collective hologram. And if this were the case, then the world as we know it is nothing more than a shadow of a transcendent, unified reality; an alluring mirror of illusion . . .
Okay, fuck it. Maybe we’re all just dreaming.
“In a dream, our mind continuously does this—we create and perceive our world simultaneously. And our mind does this so well that we don’t even know what’s happening.”
-Leonardo DiCaprio (as Cobb) to Ellen Page (Ariadne), Inception
Can it really be?! Well, it’s not like this is a new concept, one held true for millennia by the wisest of gurus, and a select few brave weirdos in the science community.
This includes Richard Conn Henry, professor of astrophysics at Johns Hopkins University, who penned a totally non-controversial article in Nature asserting that in order for the laws of quantum mechanics to be consistent, the universe as we know it must be entirely “mental and spiritual”—made “more like a great thought than like a great machine.”
The raving lunatic later commends the usefulness of dreams in dissecting our reality, writing that aside from solipsism, “the best I can come up with is that we are dreams in the mind of God. We on an ultralight beam. This is a God dream. This is everythang.”
Ugh God. Meh. Yuck. So out of style. And way too much metaphysical baggage! Just forget I quoted that.
I prefer that we’re all in a turtle’s dream somewhere in outer space. Or—as that dude with the famous cat implied—at some level, we all share a single mind of a space turtle.
As panpsychist philosophies swing back into fashion, an increasing number of esteemed physicists are expressing their belief that there is probably at least some underlying mental (or, dare I say it, dream-like) component of the universe, an idea that philosophers, shamans and dreamers themselves have discovered long ago.
And yet it is well known that several Nobel Prize-winning quantum pioneers—including Schrödinger, Pauli, Heisenberg, Wigner and Josephson, among others—were not only physicists but in many ways “mystics” as well: favoring the primacy of consciousness, the creative role of the participatory observer, and the indestructibility of mind.
Even more agnostic thinkers such as Bohr were sympathetic to these Eastern-inspired philosophies, affirming that we must never ignore the “epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao Tse have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.”
But you don’t need any instructors to guide your role as an actor, no director to read you the script. You don’t even need any scientists to tell you what is right, nor any priests or philosophers. Our worldview is constantly shifting; the only constant is the miracle itself. And you certainly don’t need any degree to determine whether or not you’re capable of making an informed decision as to its value.
You already have all that you need! And if fools tell you otherwise, then go on, leave them in the dust. You are the director, after all, the producer and the prop master.
It is my view that it’s not only impossible for our Universe to go on without life—it is an outright contradiction! This is because The Universe itself is living, dreaming and forever awake, brimming with vitality behind every electron.
It is my view that we’re half-awake in a collective “dream.” And when we sleep, we simply slip from one form of illusion to another.
“I think that most people dream of flying at some point and when we’re kids we dream of flying and I certainly did, and still have a lot of flying dreams and I thought that if I can connect to an audience, to a kind of collective unconscious in almost the Jungian sense, then it bypasses all the politics and all the bullshit . . .
“. . . and connects us all to that kind of childhood, dreamlike state when the world was magical and infinite and scary and cool and you could soar.”
-James Cameron, to Hollywood Today (2010), on creating a lucid dream state within Avatar
Unfortunately, it appears that most have been thoroughly conditioned to forget just how “magical and infinite and scary and cool” this world really is! Brought up by a culture that values cleverness over wisdom, we think too much, and feel too little.
Hence we are led to drift through this life, encompassed by delusion, denying the awareness that shone so freely as children.
Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung was a notable crazy person: enamored with ideas of archetypes, the collective unconscious, and deciphering dreams within a little red book. Coincidentally, one of his patients was none other than quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who is one of those aforementioned Nobel Prize-winning really smart dudes.
Fortunately for Carl, little Wolfy too was quite the crazy one, obsessed with the symbolism within his subconscious, as well as discovering deeper meaning behind strange coincidences. Hence commenced a mystical bromance. ♥
“There is one common flow, one common breathing, all things are in sympathy.”
-Hippocrates, circa 400 BC
An almost inexpressible connecting principle, synchronicity plays a role similar to that of dreams, shifting one’s awareness out of an egocentric shell and into a greater wholeness—a “cosmic order of nature,” as Pauli put it, “beyond the differentiation of physical and psychical.” From then on, it was said to be an “ever-present reality for those who have eyes to see.” More specifically, to realize that the inner psyche and outer matter are two manifestations of the same phenomenon.
Or, in other, more scientific words: to wake up to the dream-like nature of our Universe! Encouraged by the tutelage of Pauli, Jung became convinced of parallels between synchronicity and quantum entanglement, experiments he thought might lead to the discovery of a hidden bridge between mind and matter.
A rebuke to his former mentor turned evil arch nemesis, these ideas suggest that we do not stand in harsh isolation to the world, but are fundamentally entangled on a very intimate level. And do not think you are insane when these lines become blurred—nor some damn occultist! Rather, it is personal, subjective experience that should pose the most veritable threat to the common intellectual worldview, a humbling glimpse into a dimension of reality transcendent of the intellect itself.
In his 1952 book Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung deduces that the answer to recognizing this psychic framework is when, “on closer reflection, a causal connection appears to be inconceivable.” This in turn may lead to an epiphany that, just as in lucid dreams, the same can be achieved in the conscious world: the mind can manifest reality.
So what even is reality, anyway?
Well who am I to say, really? And who are you? And what about all those physicists and priests and philosophers and pretentious bloggers? Those homeless beggars? Those kings and queens? Those inter-dimensional ETs of my dreams?
Are they real?
. . .
Am I real?!
. . .
Is anything real anymore?!?! Or are we simply living amongst shadows?
Suddenly it’s easy to empathize with those thought crazy. But have no fear you forsaken souls! And have no doubt. For reality is simply what we make of it.
Humanity has long cherished the physical: every tree, every star, every sweet taste of wine, and every vessel gazing back onto discerning eyes. Its actuality is deemed a step above the rest, and it’s not hard to see why. The rules of this reality involve time, stability, density, and conscious memory. So when we avert our eyes from the object of our gaze, and then look back—it’s still there! And appears to have always been there possessing defined, independent properties.
This does not mean, however, that realms with other root assumptions cannot exist in an equally valid sense. For all we know, this physical dimension is but a paper-thin crust on the cusp of true reality—a reality much larger and more mysterious than we have ever dreamed, brimming with layers of unparalleled imagination, spontaneous creation!
Or, perhaps true reality is not real at all! Perhaps, as Mark Twain put it, “Nothing exists; all is a dream . . . save empty space—and you!” Or, as Edgar Allan Poe wrote, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” These were quite cheery gentlemen, as I presume.
And yet, we are not doing ourselves a favor by blindly dismissing these dream-like dimensions! As human beings, our perceptions are localized to an extremely limited point in time and space. Though if we only believed it was possible, we can transcend this delusion. We can evolve. We can all become radio-heads, tuning into other frequencies of reality, other layers of awareness, other ways of knowing ourselves.
If we start thinking in this sense, our consciousness sets free of its self-imposed shackles, rediscovering its own striking mobility. So don’t be afraid to open your mind to what this world can be, even if you begin feeling kinda bonkers in the process . . .
“Some might say: ‘Fragmentation of cities, religions, political systems, conflict in the form of wars, general violence, fratricide, etc., are the reality. Wholeness is only an ideal, toward which we should perhaps strive.’
“But this is not what is being said here. Rather, what should be said is that wholeness is what is real, and that fragmentation is the response of this whole to man’s action, guided by illusory perception, which is shaped by fragmentary thought.”
-David Bohm, theoretical physicist, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980)
I only wish it was more acceptable in modern academia to do weird hippy shit without fear of ridicule, empowering intuition rather than material reduction, while expounding subjective experience as something greater than the sum of dead objects! For as much as we construct technological terrors, it is fruitless if we forget to look within—a marvel by way of unbroken breath—the living truth of life itself!
And our minds are more powerful than we can imagine. So why not study this awareness the best way we know how? Turn your gaze inward. Explore beyond the limits of mechanistic physics, as many of the most brilliant physicists have discovered by doing.
A pioneer of quantum computing, Richard Feynman provides another example of this experiential insight, observing his altered consciousness through the use of meditation, psychedelics, and sensory deprivation tanks. However, the perverted genius notes in his memoir Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! that he became especially excited, “intellectually as well as sexually,” while reflecting within his lucid dreams.
And, although he didn’t yet know the term for it, while under sleep paralysis (more on this coming up!).
The ability to dream lucidly could afford an invaluable inner apparatus for scientists, sages, mystics, visionaries and anyone else with curiosity unending. Because if you could see for yourself the mind’s creative capacity, you would surely wonder why not all human beings choose to be grouped among the aforementioned . . .
This is why dream characters view us as hypocrites to question their existence, when—at least at the surface of our psyche—we might not know shit about our own! We should not devalue our thought projections if we ourselves might be thought projections of something greater.
(Don’t blow your mind with why)
Life on the Astral Plane
“Astral travel was equally trendy, but I had more experience with the idea of ‘out-of-body experiences.’ I had done such things since childhood, when quite by accident I discovered I could shift my awareness out of my body and move it around the bedroom.
“The most comfortable place seemed to be a corner of the ceiling, looking down on myself. But I could also send my awareness outside, and roam around the backyard, or through the house, if I didn’t mind the feeling that I was snooping on other people.
“I didn’t think anything about this . . . I assumed that anybody could do it.”
-Michael Crichton, Travels (1988)
Awaken to an alarm at 4 AM. Count down the seconds steadily from 100. Focus your mind on the idea of your fascination, however crazy it may seem. And whatever happens, keep your body still. You’ve got a meeting to catch in a different dimension!
In order to get there, all you have to do is keep your mind awake while your body drifts back to sleep. Sounds simple! So as your limbs grow numb and heavy, you try not to excite at the thought that you’re doing something right . . .
Suddenly, as electricity funnels through your hollow frame, you begin to realize that mental travel is anything but a smooth ride. To tune to another channel. To enter another vessel. To awaken your inner eye. You understand you are headed for a transition that most human beings simply aren’t meant to experience.
In Marvel’s recent film, Doctor Strange gains the power of astral projection after a near-death experience guides him under the tutelage of a white-Asian ancient master Thom Yorke look-alike. This means that he could willfully leave his physical body and travel around freely, either on Earth or to other dimensions entirely within this enigmatic multiverse.
Like other examples of Marvel mysticism, this is an unmistakable consequence of writers taking a little too much LSD. Also, despite its glossed-out Hollywood guise, it is indeed based on a phenomenon all too real—direct from my deceptive eyes!
But don’t you worry you dubious minds, for I too was once like you. Yet there are times when belief is an essential prerequisite to a desired experience, however crazy it may seem. That’s when I began to vibrate, and enter into a dream.
As, umm . . . this completely normal dude from YouTube explains, the transition is a thrill in itself, one it took me quite a few attempts to overcome. Your body pulsates sometimes violently. Your heartbeat drives you mad, yet you’re pleading for it to stay calm. And what can only be described—in scientific terms, of course—as “shadow people” whisper through your awareness, their secrets indecipherable through an ocean wave.
Then there’s the laughing. Screaming. Strangling your body. Whispering your name.
This is your mind on sleep paralysis. (No drugs required, kids!!)
After this comes separation.
“The transition—which I have since undergone many times—is most wonderful. It is like the feeling of slipping from one body into another, and there is distinctly a double recollection of the two bodies.”
-Frederik van Eeden, on a Jan 1898 experience of a transition between the physical and astral bodies, “A Study of Dreams”
The strangest secret to lucid dreaming is that you don’t really need to gain lucidity from a point of ignorance. You don’t even have to fall asleep in the first place! It is how I define “astral projection” as a direct transition from a self-aware state, and it is these experiences I value more, for they are usually the most powerfully real—the most uncannily out-of-body.
In his journal, van Eeden observes that there are rare occurrences when the body is very tired, and “the transition from waking to sleep takes place with hardly a moment of what is generally called unconsciousness.” Thus, one may simply slip into their astral body; a term, as the distinguished Dutchman himself admits, induces accusations by peers of dabbling in the occult. “Yet if he had only one of these experiences,” he writes of one particularly snooty skeptic, “he would feel that we can escape neither the dabbling nor the dream-body.”
Although depictions of a “subtle body” date back to the Vedas, the idea of an innate astral-vehicle in which to travel around—while still alive—was first systematized by the Greek Neoplatonist Proclus. Then it went through that awkward witch phase for the better part of the next millennium.
More modern notions of an astral body weren’t established till 1875 NYC, when Helena Blavatsky, your everyday Satan-worshiping Russian sorceress, founded the Theosophical Society. Alongside former military officer Henry Olcott, the pair sought to enlighten their devilish followers in the astral arts.
According to Theosophic metaphysics, the soul simultaneously resides in a physical and astral form, the latter composed of extremely fine matter vibrating at a rate beyond ordinary perception. Considered closer to the authentic self, the “liberation” of this unseen frame from corporeal constraints was a goal early devotees would obsess over; if accomplished, one could travel great distances, or even through time.
These psycho-spiritual practices were aimed to awaken the astounding abilities of the inner being, thereby challenging the rigid dogmas of both Christian theology and reductive materialism. Indeed, it was the belief of Blavatsky that controlled astral travel was the “very last and highest possible achievement in magic” (although she backtracked on this later in life, asserting that spiritual enlightenment—freedom from illusion—was more about universal love than obtaining any so-called “occult powers”).
“Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’;
“but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya.”
-Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (1888)
Not long after the turn of the century, the first manuals entirely dedicated to astral projection were produced, pioneered by psychos such as Oliver Fox, Sylvan Muldoon, and the French writer Yram. These themes were further explored on the ’90s Israeli trance scene.
Perhaps the preeminent 20th century researcher in the field, however, was Robert Monroe, whose 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body popularized the term “out-of-body experience.” In the midst of a boring adulthood as a radio executive, Monroe began to sustain bouts of sleep paralysis, from which he realized he could then detach from his physical form and delve into other realms!
He eventually learned how to project at will, founding The Monroe Institute with the help of NASA nuclear physicist Thomas Campbell, and devoting the rest of his not-boring life to educating others about altered states of (drug-free) consciousness.
In the interview above, Monroe explains how he began experiencing a vibration in the body, which he at first found frighteningly irritating. One night, while waiting for it to fizzle out, he attempted to roll over so he could simply go back to sleep; instead, he soon found himself bumping against his own ceiling, gazing down in astonishment upon a familiar man in bed with his wife.
It is one thing to listen to a crazy old man speak and try to take his word with an open mind. It is something else entirely to have some of the most profound personal experiences of your life retold through another and many more.
The vibrations those such as Monroe describe are strong and palpable—especially as an unacclimated beginner—yet non-physical. And the transition between two bodies so seamless you consistently cannot tell at what point it takes place. Likewise, it is often difficult to discern whether you are still seeing through your earthly eyes, or by some dark art have awakened another!
“I spent the next day arguing with myself about the experience. My whole belief system was blown to pieces. Seeing is believing, and I could not deny that I had experienced the vibrations, the hissing sound, the paralysis and the blue ring of energy. I even ‘saw’ through my closed eyelids. I knew I was not hallucinating, I was not insane, I was not dreaming and I was not under hypnosis.
“My experience was very ‘real’ to me, as real as my normal waking consciousness, if not more real than that.”
-Robert Peterson, on a Sept 1979 astral projection, Out-of-Body Experiences: How to Have Them and What to Expect (1997)
There are several effective techniques to induce this detachment. You can imagine yourself climbing up a celestial rope, for example, or even having your soul sucked out by a giant magnet on the ceiling. Additionally, there may be times when you encounter the peculiar sensation of astral limbs flailing out of the physical, needing to use all of your remaining will to “stretch” out those ethereal arms, and achieve full separation.
If you’re feeling especially insane, you can try some of Oliver Fox’s metaphysical practices. The projecting pioneer devised two ways of knowing oneself while out of body: The first is the way of dreams, inspired by a series of “dreams of knowledge” while ill as a teenager in 1902. Although he found these to be incredible—mystically beautiful, even—they were less than ideal because of the break in awareness.
The second form of experience was arduous yet much more effective: by way of self-induced trance, eventually progressing to the point of enacting spontaneous projections through sheer will and extreme concentration upon the center of his forehead. Fox called this the “pineal door” method, and because there was no lapse in consciousness, lucidity remained at peak levels of intensity.
This is essentially the key difference between ordinary lucid dreams and astral projection, and why the latter can feel especially profound, exceptionally illuminating.
But you don’t need any fancy techniques or 500 page manuals in order to achieve such a state. Instead, it is mainly about intent, and discovering within yourself that deep, meditative focus until overtaken by trance.
As for me, I like to stick with Monroe’s “roll-over” technique, which is very popular among beginners. Coax your limbs into paralysis, relax, and surrender to the electric force. Then, once you intuitively feel as if you’re in command of another vessel, quite literally just roll out of the physical!
The first time this happened, I rolled off of my bed, still very much unsure if I was tuned to this dimension or not. As I slipped off the edge, I braced for a loud thud, preparing for the unique embarrassment of concussion through failed dream projection . . .
There was no thud.
I opened my eyes moments later grazing my fingers against something in front of me: extremely hard . . . tangible . . . solidly existent. That’s when I noticed I was somehow standing in the rec room downstairs, and the thing I was touching was the smooth exterior to the toy closet! Astonished, I stared down at my astral palms, then up all around the room—it seemed real—with my perception perfectly lucid, and my awareness firmly out of the physical.
Right there. In the moment. Out-of-body.
“Shit,” I remembered thinking to myself. “This is exactly like waking life.” In fact, it was so hyper-realistic, that it took a few seconds of convincing for my mind to even fathom its current state. I was at first struck by the belief that I blacked out, slept-walked downstairs, and only then regained consciousness; but soon I realized that would be absurd, so I stopped worrying about it.
Eerily at peace, I tiptoed out through the door, passed my astral kitchen, up my astral stairs, and finally back into my own bedroom—now with some bump underneath the covers I was afraid to look at.
So I walked through the walls, and flew out into the nighttime sky.
There is clearly a pressing question for anyone immersed in these experiences: Is it any different from a direct lucid dream—an incredibly intricate subconscious simulation? Or is it possible, in special cases, to still resonate with the physical as opposed to an astral plane, and perceive waking reality in some sense?
Monroe seems to think the latter: “It took me a year of very cautious exploration to determine that it was not a dream,” he affirms in the TV interview. Indeed, it could require quite a bit of scrutiny to spot any inconsistencies between the physical and astral versions of your house; of your room; of you! Consequently, there has been considerable debate on this subject dating back to the 17th century philosopher Henry More, who boldly claimed that the soul’s astral body may live “in an aerial vehicle as well as in the ethereal.”
As such, there are always those attempting to prove that astral projection is “real”—specifically, that astral awareness can operate on a physical frequency—though evidence for this is always anecdotal, and alleged experiments within a controlled setting are murky at best.
From a broader perspective, however, this sort of debate proves trivial, if not downright hollow. As previously explained, it is unwise to de-emphasize an experience on a dream-like plane; these inner dimensions of reality are still reality! And if anything, it is all the more empowering to realize it is only you. Because no matter which plane we walk through, it is mind that manifests our environment all around.
Moreover, if Schrödinger is correct, then this higher mind would be connected to the source of all wisdom, and everything there is in this mysterious multiverse.
Thus, it is very real. And it is eerily out-of-body! Well, at least what we normally think of as our body. For during this vibratory state, you sure don’t feel like you’re falling asleep to reality. Rather, it feels as if you’re tuning to a different frequency—to an alternate universe, even! From this point on you may exit your physical form and take control of another one.
Sometimes, it’s as easy as getting up out of bed. These are the times when you usually enter directly into your own room (or, a vivid psychic reproduction of your room) and hence can explore your astral home. This is certainly the closest I’ve ever felt to being a ghost in my life, and it’s pretty cool! Especially when you encounter other entities there with you. One time I was surprise attacked by a literal astral frog in my astral living room, for example, which was super annoying because it kept lashing out at me till I was back to bodily awareness.
The creepiest experience, however, occurred when I got out of bed one morning and headed to my astral bathroom, in which I heard the sink running. Peering through the open doorway, I was shocked to see a woman and a little girl—both dark-skinned and with eyes entirely black—staring at me vacantly. This was the only moment on the astral plane where I’ve ever felt genuinely afraid, screaming in my head to “Go back!” before my newfound black-eyed buddies even had a chance to say hello.
For a second, however, I wasn’t sure if this would happen. Because as my awareness became engulfed within their big black eyes, my world too was overcome by darkness, undeterred by my will to remain in light.
Suddenly, I had this very rational idea in my mind that I would be “possessed” by these demonic entities!
Yet of course, I opened my eyes. And then I slapped myself for giving in to fear as opposed to a friendly hug, for it is both naive and unwise to believe that these astral entities, or the experience in general, are anything entirely detached from your own psyche. If you could realize it is only you, then the necessary courage is gained to embrace those darkest shadows of your mind—to turn those demons into angels.
This is an important lesson I’ve learned from these psychic journeys: that in any dimension, your outer environment is a reflection of your inner self. Smile, and you will see joy in others. Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Fear, and you can greet your own demons. Listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness . . .
And it is often you may find yourself alone in your subconscious home. There is a surreal beauty that accompanies these unimaginable moments.
“I was standing on the pavement outside my London home . . . I was about to enter the house when, on glancing casually at these stones, my attention became riveted by a passing strange phenomenon—they had seemingly all changed their position in the night.
“Then the solution flashed upon me: though this glorious summer morning seemed as real as real could be, I was dreaming! With the realization of this fact, the quality of the dream changed in a manner very difficult to convey to one who has not had this experience. Instantly, the vividness of life increased a hundred-fold. Never had sea and sky and trees shone with such a glamorous beauty; even the commonplace houses seemed alive and mystically beautiful.
“Never had I felt so absolutely well, so clear-brained and inexpressibly ‘free!’ The sensation was exquisite beyond words; but it lasted only a few minutes and I awoke.”
-Oliver Fox, astral projection pioneer, The Occult Review (1920)
Still, there is a second type of projection I find far more adventurous, filled with environments and entities so foreign to the waking self. This occurs when instead of simply getting up out of body, you feel sucked out as if by an astral vortex, flying through the abyss and off to another world!
It is often out of your control how this happens, but if done right, it is perhaps one of the most fantastical excursions possible for human or canine consciousness (again children, no drugs!!).
Now ordinary lucid dreams undoubtedly exhibit the mind’s striking potentiality, but there remains that annoyingly ambiguous break in awareness. You are forced to find yourself from a point of ignorance, within an environment that is usually already assembled.
With astral projection, however, it is possible to perceive an entire ethereal plane spontaneously manifest before your inner eye! Out of once was total darkness. This is why it is incomparably compelling to be consciously aware during this transition.
Dr. Albert Taylor (again, no random hippy) relays this sentiment during an interview with some creepy-looking ’90s dude possessing an incomparably large forehead. An aeronautical engineer who aided with the development of the original F-117A Stealth Fighter, Taylor left behind decades of a scientific career to research and write about the weirder ways one can take flight.
Similar to Monroe, the ex-professor was at first unnerved by the feeling of a vibration in the body, but soon learned to conquer this paralysis, using it as a conduit to induce forms of out-of-body awareness. “It’s about staying conscious long enough till your body falls asleep,” he states matter-of-factly. But above all, the power of intent cannot be stressed enough; not only the intent to project from your physical body, but to be able to see once you are “out.” This is because “there are times when you leave the body and it’s still dark but you have a feeling of movement.”
This takes me back to the frustration of when I first started: those moments when I “separated” and was struck by a very clear sensation of rapid motion, as if I was soaring at light speed, though it was still completely dark. Yet through this darkness, I uncovered the efficacy of asking for light—pleading for clarity—yearning for the gift of vision! And by a source unknown, I was granted my second sight, afforded this inexhaustible inner light emanating from the eye of the mind.
There were also instances where I felt like I literally “landed” in a fully-formed, hyper-realistic environment after flying through darkness, arising in me the peculiar notion that these planes have not been spontaneously created, but rather have been there all along, buried deep within the collective unconscious. It is a concept that is fun to contemplate.
Likewise, there are times when you simply need to open your eyes—only to find out it is not the physical ones you are opening. So un-blind that third eye and shine through the darkness! Wake up to another world.
Just as in dreams, the planes in which you enter may vary. The first time I succeeded at one of these “flying through darkness” projections, I ultimately “landed” in the midst of a massive stone corridor of what could have been a church. Floating to the wall, I caressed my fingertips against its rugged edges, doing all in my power not to freak at how real it all was! It was a feeling that will always stay with me, one so unlike that of any ordinary dream.
Other environments I happened to project into include, but are not limited to:
- A “hospital wing” flooded with humanoid entities, some hastily rolling injured patients back and forth on stretchers. Overwhelmed by this sudden scenario, I glided out of the room and into a limitless expanse of pure white nothingness, with the exception of a few well-dressed men conversing nearby in a very hushed manner. I decided to go up to one of these men and ask who he was; subsequently, I spent the next few minutes listening to him attempting to convince me that he was anything other than a subjective illusion.
- An open room in some sort of Buddhist home, with an illustration of an elephant in the center of the floor, which I thought was extremely random. At the edges of this room I discovered several shelves stacked with shimmering books. Opening one up, I was hoping to glimpse some sort of fantastical astral novel or Akashic record, but to my disappointment, found only jumbled words and senseless information—my higher mind can do better than that!! After a while exploring around the house, I sat in lotus position and began to meditate.
- Opening my eyes to find myself falling through the air over a vast blue ocean, as if I was skydiving. Then I realized I did not have to bow to any gravity, but I could fly!
These are just a few examples of the astral environments chronicled in my journal, but it is pointless to predict just where you’ll end up. Expect nothing but to be blown away, afforded the gift of inner sight, and the astounding ability to take flight! And you may ask yourself, “How did I get here?” And you will struggle for any sort of logical explanation except that life is a miracle of consciousness, and you are alive in that very moment, so why not accept another one?
“The subject is likely to find himself or herself in the same environment as the physical body, which he or she sees in an inert state below the point of perception, which is spatially separate from the physical body. The subject usually notes that he or she has a ‘new body’ in a form similar to the physical body. The experience is vivid in quality, is more real than a dream, and has a profound influence on the individual’s subsequent life according to self-report.
“Frequently, the subject may view the experience as spiritual in nature, and may be more likely to believe in life after death as a result of the experience. The individual has a fascination with the experience and would like to try it again, often describing it as one of the greatest events of his or her life.”
-Stuart W. Twemlow (M.D.) on astral projection (based on first-hand accounts of 339 subjects), “Clinical Approaches to the Out-of-Body Experience” (1989)
All in all, there may be something to what Nolan declared about the power of the mind, as well as the remarkable mobility of human consciousness! In this space your soul can breathe; from the body your mind can leave.
For a while, however, I couldn’t get past the paralysis—and I still often have difficulties with this stage. I overthink it. I get too excited, and as a result, the vibrations simply fizzle out. The trick is to just surrender. Don’t give in to excitement, and especially not fear nor any of that demon bullshit! Just let it go, man, and let it take you over.
Just let it happen.
And with enough practice, you will develop a form of “astral muscle memory,” making it easier for you with each successive projection. Self-awareness will expand naturally with these experiences in the ethereal realms.
Now screw academia, here’s a vegan hippy to explain his “rope” technique.
Think what you will about that hippy: He probably smells like essential oils. He may have not showered for several days. He doesn’t possess the credentials people think other people need in order to make an informed assessment regarding the value of their own life. And he’s almost certainly stoned! Judge all you want.
But if you would like to expand your universe, it is best to listen with an open mind. It is even better to experience!
Because as hippy dude states, it surely says something that everyone doing this seems to experience the exact same thing—and are similarly moved upon bodily return. It is only interpretation that may vary.
And whether you label this experience a “lucid dream,” “astral projection” or “out-of-body experience” does not really matter. Because of the unsurprisingly scarce amount of scientific literature on the subject, there exist extremely fine lines between these terms, leaving one to develop their own definitions.
LaBerge, in his paper “Varieties of Lucid Dream Experience,” asserts that astral projection is simply an alternative conceptualization beneath the broader category of lucid dreaming. Those who prefer to differentiate the two—believing that these out-of-body projections are fundamentally distinct from lucid dreams—may tend to confuse physical and astral environments, hence operating under a (probable) false assumption that dream characters (or, “astral entities”) have an objective reality of their own.
After hundreds of experiences within lucid dream/astral body awareness, I personally perceive astral projection as being a direct transition into an, accordingly, extraordinarily lucid dream. Consequently, several misconceptions can arise out of narrow-minded notions prioritizing the body and the sole “reality” of physical existence, notions that in turn may very well place one within an illusory framework of their own bedroom (with, ironically, their own sleeping body!) once they are “out.”
But it is not the fault of your own if these lines between worlds abruptly evaporate; blame it on the higher mind’s astounding capacity for creation and re-creation—constantly—in the astral plane or otherwise.
Ultimately, it is not what you label it that matters, it is what you experience, as well as the accompanying sensation of otherworldly sublimity.
Because at the end of the day, they are all just forms of conscious sleep. And as Monroe claims, we probably all engage on alternate planes each night anyway, only to rise to our morning amnesia. As such, astral projection is not some unique superpower—solely limited to strange doctors, demonic sorcerers and real-life barbie dolls—but a universal aspect of what it is to be a human being. And to be a human being is to exist and experience on levels other than purely the physical!
To be a human being, to me, is to be a spiritual being, whether or not the ego is aware of its true self.
“You, yourself, are the eternal energy which appears as this universe. You didn’t come into this world; you came out of it. Like a wave from the ocean.”
The trick is simply to bring these practices to the forefront of our awareness, hence forming conscious memory for our waking selves to recall and evaluate.
Certainly, these concepts conjure up countless questions for the critical mind: Is there such an objective world as the astral plane? If so, how many “planes” are there? How many “bodies” do we possess? And on how many “levels” can we exist? Furthermore, is it somehow possible to perceive the physical world, or is it all a subjective illusion? Does there even exist any such objective world out there anyway, or is this entire universe composed of inner realities??
But then is it all in our brains?! Is it all a simulation?! Is it all a bunch of neurons fooling our imagination?!
And, of course, my favorite question of them all: Is what I just experienced a real experience?!?! Or was it only entering into a lucid dream??
I hope to have clarified my personal position on this matter. However, due to the subjective nature of perception, varieties of experience, and infinitude of interpretations as to the essence of reality, we’d be hard pressed to arrive at a firm conclusion to any one of these questions. So don’t overthink it. Don’t judge. Don’t analyze. And don’t even attempt an explanation! For it doesn’t have to make any sense . . .
Just be in the moment, through the flow of consciousness, enraptured by the experience. In this regard it is more “real” than imagination can bear.
Because if vegan hippy man is right about anything, it is this: “It sounds crazy, but it’s something you must experience for yourself to fully comprehend the magnitude of what it really is.”
Also—that it will completely change your life, shattering your belief systems, and altering every way you look at the universe. Indeed, the sheer process of projecting from your body may elicit experiences you will remember till leaving for good.
And I don’t really care if I’m alone in my own delusion; these experiences have made me feel more in tune with everything around me, permanently blurring lines between dreams and “reality.”
“There’s a major discovery that comes with the result of such activity. Without any equivocation . . . you know that you do survive death.
“This changes your overview, your perspective—you have that knowledge. And it’s not a religious thing, it’s not a philosophical thing, it’s a pragmatic thing.”
-Robert Monroe, on the implications of astral travel, The Morning Show (1979)
Yet while researchers like Monroe are undeniably bullish on the spiritual implications of astral projection, you are not obliged to draw the same conclusions.
Taking the other side of the coin are those such as evolutionary biologist Susan Blackmore, perhaps Britain’s best known media skeptic behind only her spaghetti-monster-touting colleague. Writing for The Skeptical Inquirer, Blackmore divulged a fascinating account of a spontaneous OBE during her time at Oxford.
While since dubious it had anything to do with psychic or “paranormal” phenomena, she could not deny the incredible reality of how it had felt at the time, admittedly inducing an arduous intellectual conflict that had lasted for years to come.
“I had an experience that was to have a lasting effect on me—an out-of-body experience (OBE). It happened while I was wide awake, sitting talking to friends. It lasted about three hours and included everything from a typical ‘astral projection,’ complete with silver cord and duplicate body, to free-floating flying, and finally to a mystical experience.
“It was clear to me that the doctrine of astral projection, with its astral bodies floating about on astral planes, was intellectually unsatisfactory. But to dismiss the experience as ‘just imagination’ would be impossible without being dishonest about how it had felt at the time.
“It had felt quite real. Everything looked clear and vivid, and I was able to think and speak quite clearly.”
-Susan Blackmore, winner of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry “Distinguished Skeptic Award,” The Skeptical Inquirer (1987)
Since the dawn of the internet era, concepts of lucid dreaming and astral projection have become increasingly thrown into the mainstream consciousness, with thousands of weirdos from around the globe reporting their experiences, along with online viewership for astral tutorials in some cases surpassing a million.
Moreover, the beautiful thing about these and other such forms of out-of-body phenomena is that the experiences themselves are remarkably consistent no matter what one’s interpretation may be of what they mean. All things considered, it is best to approach these experiences with a fair dose of healthy skepticism, rather than adhering to religious dogma on either side of the coin.
It is extremely difficult, however, to have this continually happen to you without being at least more open to ideas of spiritual transcendence.
When the seeds are planted, these ideas may blossom and touch everything in sight, endowing your eyes with an alternate lens on all you encounter. Indeed, the common world can seem quite boring contrary to the power of out-of-body inspiration, and the intuitive notion that we are a part of something greater—in preference to perpetuating the dangerous treason of over-identifying with your body, your gender, your nationality, your race and your species (and as some would have it, your current life).
All too often we see the lethal consequences of a closed-minded mentality that has held humanity back throughout history, and is still a poison to our progression. Ideas of bodily transcendence lend a luminous key to these barbaric shackles; before we know it, something is ending within us, allowing higher thought to cultivate.
“Improving the quality of consciousness, advancing the quality and depth of awareness, understanding your nature and purpose, manifesting universal unconditional love, letting go of fear, and eliminating ego, desires, wants, needs or preconceived notions—these are the attributes and the results of a successfully evolving consciousness.
“What do the facts of your life, the facts of your existence, and your results say about the quality of your consciousness, the effectiveness of your process, or the size of your picture?”
-Thomas W. Campbell, PhD physicist (NASA) & astral projection instructor, My Big TOE: Awakening, Discovery, Inner Workings (2003)
This is why in Michael Crichton’s memoir Travels, he devotes the chapter “Life on the Astral Plane” to a handful of mystical experiences—including communication with an astral version of his dead father—that only inspired him to drop out of Harvard Medical School and pursue his passion for dinosaurs and sexy androids!
But Crichton is far from the only creative openly aroused by out-of-body insight: Renowned novelist Richard Bach has heaped praise upon the breathtaking ability. Celebrated heroin addict William Burroughs has conversed with Bowie about his interest. Better yet, Van Morrison’s most acclaimed masterpiece, Astral Weeks, was sparked by depictions of astral projection.
Then we can get into the host of spiritual jazz emboldened by these ideas, from Pharoah Sanders to Sun Ra to Kamasi Washington and, of course, Alice Coltrane—whose bizarre brilliance was always overlooked in the shadow of her husband. Unfortunately, once John died of liver cancer, the eccentric pianist promptly went insane, plunging her weight to 95 lbs, and scorching herself as a test of supreme spirit.
“The rainbow-covered booklet makes no mention of her jazz music career, her husband, or her travels to India. Instead, she matter-of-factly details making a doctor recoil in horror at the sight of her blackened flesh, what occurs when one experiences supreme consciousness, the nuances of various astral planes, her ability to hear trees sing, and scaring the family dog with her astral projections.
“Amid this, her family feared for her sanity.”
-Andy Beta, “Transfiguration and Transcendence: The Music of Alice Coltrane,” Pitchfork (Jan 2017)
Fortunately, Coltrane’s great-nephew Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus aka Captain Murphy aka “steve,” is one of the more ingenious producers of music today, with a heavy hand in perhaps the most seminal rap record this side of the millennium. Following in the footsteps of his offbeat auntie, Ellison has explained to Vice his affinity for astral travel, otherworldly dreams, and any experience “that makes you question how the universe is put together.”
“I imagined I was astral projecting,” when asked how he conceives his supernatural sound, “seeing things no one had seen before.”
This should come as a surprise to precisely zero of his listeners.
Inspirational indeed. But if a miracle of dead matter can truly produce subjective experience so real and so powerful, then I give a most heartfelt salute to the cosmos, the chaos and the void.
What makes astral projection especially empowering is that it does not require any spontaneous trances, near-death accidents, or mind-altering drugs; instead, it is deliberately induced!
This fascinating concept of a voluntary OBE was recently explored in a Popular Science article, entitled “The Woman Who Can Will Herself Out Of Her Body.” The article focuses on a study within Frontiers neuroscience journal, in which a young woman was examined while claiming to project her consciousness to a form of out-of-body awareness, gaze down upon herself, and rotate.
“The participant described her experience as one she began performing as a child when bored with ‘sleep time’ at preschool. She discovered she could elicit the experience of moving above her body and used this as a distraction during the time kids were asked to nap. She continued to perform this experience as she grew up assuming, as mentioned, that ‘everyone could do it.’
“. . . She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving ‘real’ body.”
-Smith & Messier, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, “Voluntary Out-of-Body Experience: an fMRI Study” (2014)
The experience, which University of Ottawa neuroscientists called “really a novel one,” exhibited extremely unusual brain activity associated with kinesthetic imagery. They concluded, “The existence of such a case and its presentation raises the possibility that this phenomenon may have a significant incidence but unreported because people do not think this is exceptional.”
Indeed, the unique psychology student did not think much of this, for she had been doing it her entire life. Much like a young Michael Crichton, she grew up simply assuming that “everyone could do it.”
This assumption is, without a doubt, rooted in truth. Nonetheless, Western society has ostensibly chosen to focus most of its energy outward while largely ignoring internal realities. Social, cultural, and even religious aspects of our upbringing automatically inhibit such experiences from childhood on.
We cannot sever the connection with our innate being.
What should come so naturally to us is shunned by a rigid mentality, generating a disconnect between intuition and intellect. Life on the astral plane can afford an invaluable apparatus to again interact with the innermost psyche, and reconnect with our essential nature.
A Psychological Drama
“Maybe the one thing that keeps us from actually solving all of the other problems in the world is this persistent flawed thought that we are separate from the world.”
-Jeff Lieberman, MIT physicist & roboticist, “Science and Spirituality” lecture (2011)
What originally inspired me to write this extra-long piece, to all of my thousands of readers, was an internet post I randomly stumbled upon within the weirdest realms of reddit, written by a Saudi Arabian user by the name of “mohdgame.” He describes being a very negative, materialistic person until discovering the wonder of lucid dreaming, specifically within the dimension of astral projection.
Out of his experience, “a new person was born,” shattering all the beliefs that he once held sacred. He has since gained the ability to project at will—leading to “a tremendous spiritual development”—and claims to have had over 200 of these projections and counting.
Although surely from a completely different society, I related strongly to his story, and hence began a private conversation. He explained to me how astral projection has changed his life entirely, also affording me a few tips as to how to end my cold streak. “Wake up after 4 hours of sleep and lie down, count down from 100 to 1,” he says. “Once you get extreme vibrations, start rotating as if you were a log in water, just keep rotating and hopefully you will separate.”
The most precious gift that astral projection has granted him, however, was the experiential insight to investigate the inner-workings of this universe.
For with each successive projection into a plane as palpable as the physical, the lines between realities progressively dissipated. Accordingly, through occurrences of synchronistic manifestation, an understanding was attained that this physical reality may indeed operate in an analogous manner to that of an astral plane, albeit at an exponentially denser vibration.
All this endowed my Middle Eastern friend with a heightened sense of spiritual awareness, as well as an increasing tiredness with the many silly dogmas that exist in his country (specifically regarding women)—and across human civilization—perpetuated by deluded fanatics bowing to a slim shadow of any true spiritual essence.
Lucid dreams offer an oh-so-intimate solace to the absurdities of existence; a necessary antidote to the abnormalities of normal life.
But here, too, in this mass-hallucination we call “reality,” exists a dream-like magic infused through its fundamental core.
“The reason I believe why its important for people to learn how to astral project is because it shows you that our reality is just an illusion. When I am projecting, it’s just as real as my current physical reality. So for people experiencing astral projection, they realize that the astral world is so real, yet it’s so fake.
“It’s just another plane of existence. And the higher you go, the less dense is the universe.”
-Reddit user “mohdgame,” private message
And if anyone fears for my sanity for entertaining such ideas, so be it; I am perfectly content being absolutely insane! My new-found Middle Eastern friend is as well.
Besides, it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.
The benefits of lucid dreaming are well-examined. Surely, it is reasonable to believe that the means alone of establishing awareness within dreams would promote enhanced internal reflection during waking life.
Indeed, a recent study by German neuroscientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development found considerably larger-than-average anterior prefrontal cortices among lucid dreamers, a section of the brain associated with strong introspective abilities. Correspondingly, the greater volume of gray matter implies a link between lucid dreaming and metacognition, or critical awareness of one’s own thought processes, as well as the overall capacity for self-reflection. This theory was supported by brain images taken while alert participants underwent metacognitive tests.
“Our results indicate that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams,” affirms Elisa Filevich, post-doc at the Center for Lifespan Psychology.
But don’t think that this is predetermined! According to Harvard studies, the plasticity of the human brain is such that developing a meditative awareness can modify its entire structure, increasing the concentration of gray matter within several key areas.
On the whole, this can lead to greater sense of self, empathy, dart proficiency and ability to understand the viewpoint of others.
“Lucid dreaming has considerable potential for promoting personal growth and self-development, enhancing self-confidence, improving mental and physical health, facilitating creative problem solving and helping you to progress on the path to self-mastery.”
-Stephen LaBerge, PhD Stanford psychologist, Lucid Dreaming – The Power of Being Awake & Aware in Your Dreams (1985)
So perhaps instead of indoctrinating our youth, and abandoning our inmates, we should train them in meditation, and teach them how to lucid dream! There is reason, after all, why Dr. Joseph Green incorporates lucid dream techniques heavily into his psychotherapy, assisting everyone from a 12-year-old girl bitten by dogs to a Vietnam veteran struggling to overcome his recurring nightmares.
If we wish to dive deeper: Our sense of identity, freedom, power and love would be immeasurably enhanced if we could understand that all of what we are does not end at the confines of the skin.
Consequently, that the cosmos as we know it may not be so different than what lies in our dreams.
And I know just what your dirty mind is thinking. But as I grow older and less of a virgin, further along from my original conversations with “Ron,” I find that dream sex is a fleshly waste of an ethereal experience—one that can easily blur from over-excitement anyway.
Instead, as my Middle Eastern friend advises me, it is best to make productive out of these astral excursions. Meditate on problems in your waking life, for example, and seek out spirit guides to assist you. Obtain the answers to questions you’ve long pondered, within an entirely uncanny frame of reality! Connect with yourself. Relive past memory.
Rejoice in wisdom! Revel in creativity!
You will realize that there are incredibly more constructive uses of your time than whoring out your subconscious . . . yet even if you go down that route, there is no judgment, bro (or sis). Just make sure that it’s consensual.
Additionally, the astral plane offers human consciousness an ideal setting to attempt the impossible: journeying through space, or even through time; conjuring up portals to converse with dear friends, dead or alive!
“A second period of lucidity followed in which I saw Prof. van’t Hoff, the famous Dutch chemist, whom I had known as a student, standing in a sort of college-room, surrounded by a number of learned people. I went up to him, knowing very well that he was dead, and continued my inquiry about our condition after death. It was a long, quiet conversation, in which I was perfectly aware of the situation.
“I asked first why we, lacking our organs of sense, could arrive at any certainty that the person to whom we were talking was really that person and not a subjective illusion. Then van’t Hoff said: ‘Just as in common life; by a general impression.’
“‘Yet,’ I said, ‘in common life there is stability of observation and there is consolidation by repeated observation.’
“‘Here also,’ said van’t Hoff. ‘And the sensation of certainty is the same.’ Then I had indeed a very strong feeling of certitude that it was really van’t Hoff with whom I talked and no subjective illusion. The whole atmosphere of the dream was happy, bright, elevated, and the persons around van’t Hoff seemed sympathetic, though I did not know them.”
-Frederik van Eeden, on an astral encounter, early 20th century, “A Study of Dreams”
It doesn’t matter if this is in any way possible: Be ambitious!!
Personally, I find it very valuable to set certain astral objectives, replay them in my mind, and remind myself of them the next time lucidity strikes.
My aspirations have included soaring over supernatural landscapes, while simultaneously shaping various planes with potent bursts of psychic energy. Surely, I have attempted multiple times the “talking to the dead” bit, yet all I got were subjective illusions—except one time when I jumped through a portal (while focusing on someone I wished to talk to) and found myself seemingly staring through someone else’s eyes while they lay in bed, within an environment appearing exactly like the physical. This only lasted for a few seconds, and I still have no idea what it was.
My most recent experiment has been to somehow inquire about any past lives I may have had, thus perhaps revitalizing my hidden anima. For I know these secrets are sealed somewhere deep within the collective unconscious, from which my awareness emanates, connected to the source of all wisdom.
And if you think it all to be nonsense, I will hold no grudge. Reality is simply what you make of it. Believe what you will; perceive what you will. For in this state of infinite possibility, you may find it as scary or as scarily beautiful as you make it out to be.
“You are a creator that exhibits, uses and manipulates the evolution of consciousness and you are the result of that same process at both the nonphysical and physical levels.
“You create your own personal reality and we create our own collective reality. What you are drives what you experience and what you do.”
-Thomas W. Campbell, PhD physicist (NASA) & astral projection instructor, My Big TOE: Awakening, Discovery, Inner Workings (2003)
Basically, the point of this entire article is this: Screw the outside world, you can travel in your damn mind!! So take a trip to the astrals, and venture into the slipstream, between the viaducts of Dream Venice! Conjure up an Astral Amsterdam even, and have a nice little dream smoke, on an impeccably-rolled dream joint.
Kids—don’t do drugs! Do the astral plane!!
And please don’t have any unprotected sex! Have unprotected, unhinged dream sex!! No babies to worry about.
Finally, for those feeling especially adventurous, you can even visit a dear old friend.
Eventually, however, we have to face the music, and open our eyes. Wake up to the fact that it was all a dream.
Yet now stare at your open palms—focusing until you can see every crease, every crevice. And ask yourself, will those fingers be the extent of your eternal grasp? Going further, during waking life, are we not also burdened with blockades of self-realization? Can we claim that we are truly awake? Or are we simply asleep in life’s waiting room?
Indeed, for a species who pride ourselves in self-awareness, we possess surprisingly little conscious knowledge of our inner self. Each day, we walk alone through this strange environment, without knowing our origins or destination or even the reason for our own existence! It’s as if we are thrown into a psychological drama—born into a world where we have forgotten our soul, and forced to search desperately through the eyes of others.
Perhaps it is during the dream state when we genuinely know ourselves, and are closest to our truest potentials. Perhaps it is in the clutches of night when we soar with remembrance; yet after dawn, we are intent to wander in an amnesic haze.
And as the sky reflects our image, we sleep right through our lives.
So turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream. For life is but a dream! A game we must play to the end of the beginning.
Yet one day, even with your beautiful house, and your beautiful wife, you may hit the pause button to just stop and breathe for a second. And you may gaze down at your open palms. And you may feel your heartbeat starting to drive you mad. And in the stillness of remembering, you may finally shout to yourself, “Who am I?!” and “How did I get here?!”
Because deep down inside, you know very well who you are. And we are all that. Only we’re pretending we’re not.
Finally, I think it is time for us as a humanity to once and for all open our eyes. If we could collectively remember, if we could simply wake up, then perhaps we would stop being so damn afraid of each other! We could transform our world into one we have always dreamed.