ABC Radio National/All in The Mind/Dreams-the lucid experience 02.11.14
Stephen La Berge: The first thing is that people definitely like lucid dreaming, they find it a rewarding experience. It’s an unusual condition. I’m having this amazing control where I can do things that I didn’t think were possible. I can fly, for example. Walt Disney says that doing the impossible is kind of fun.
The second general area might be simulation or using the dream state to practice, and that ranges from things like athletic performance, musical performance, social interactions. People have described overcoming shyness, using it as a means of cognitive behaviour modification, overcoming fears. When you are lucid it still feels real, even though you know it’s not. So you know you are safe but you know if you are doing something like you’ve got stage or performance anxiety, as one person described in our book, he is going to play the violin in front of this big audience, so he is doing it in his dream. It still feels like he is in front of the big audience, and he feels a bit of trepidation, but he does it and it all works well and he feels great, and that then relieves his anxiety.
Then a third area is creativity, enhancing the possibilities of new ideas. For example, artists looking for a new painting would go in their lucid dream to open a door in the expectation that on the other side of this door will be a gallery showing new art. And indeed they open the door and there are these new paintings, and then you remember and then reproduce when they wake up. People have described using that as a means of getting new musical ideas, new ideas in computer programming and relationship management, all kinds of things that are basically using a creative synthesis of our abilities at night.
…Dreams have long had the reputation for being the way that people work through problems, get to the point of being able to let go of something, including for example having experience with an encounter with a dead loved one and being able to experience them in a way that lets you actually say goodbye and let go. So many different applications of healing in terms of the mental health level of overcoming nightmares, of facing your nightmares and working through them in a way that gives you a sense of empowerment that you can handle these fears within yourself. Just one final broad area is the idea of knowledge that lucid dreaming can give you an opportunity to have an encounter between the unconscious and conscious mind in the dream world that is difficult to arrive at in other places. And so that means self-encounter, self-exploration, then lucid dreaming is one of the ways to do that. It’s the levels that you can’t get elsewhere that I think are most important, and that is dreaming the impossible dream, doing what you can’t do while you are awake.