Here is my list of the 9 reasons why everyone should lucid dream. These include profound benefits that touch all of us, no matter our culture, beliefs or life circumstances. Ultimately, I think all of these benefits put together would play a serious role in advancing the human race, if only it was something that came naturally to all of us. What I'm really saying is: lucidity is a powerful mental tool like no other.
1. Lucid dreaming creates freedom and escapism.
This is probably the one and only reason most people initially pursue consciousness in dreams - to have sex with their secret crush, to re-enact a day in the life of Jack Bauer, or to fly like an eagle over breathtaking scenery. We all have unfulfilled desires and lucidity is an amazing way to experience them in stunning realism. It is our natural virtual reality headset, our one portal to other worlds where we can temporarily escape this reality and live the life of our dreams... Literally.
If you're not a lucid dreamer, think of this escapism as akin to watching a movie or diving into a novel. But here, you are the central protagonist and all the characters, plot twists and epiphanies are profoundly tailored to your needs. An experienced oneironaut can manifest anything they want in a guided dream, or they can let the dream movie play out of its own volition. This gives us both the ultimate power to create any situation imaginable, and the thrill of being presented with unexpected twists and turns produced by our own subconscious.
Many people never get over the need for escapism in lucid dreams. The important thing is to remember - at least every now and then - to reach beyond the novelty value and see the potential of conscious dreaming as it truly stands.
2. Lucid dreaming reveals the power of your brain.
If you've never had a lucid dream, taken psychedelic drugs, or experienced profound meditation, then you are yet to reflect on the nature of human perception and awareness.
Have a look at your surroundings right now. I mean really look. Question whether any of it is real. How is it that you can see everything in such detail? What processes occur in your brain to make vision possible? What if you trip your information processing abilities, and the things you can see become a little less tangible? To understand what I'm poking at, watch this extraordinary TED video in which Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few scientists would wish for: she had a massive stroke and was able to study her own brain functions (motion, speech and self-awareness) shut down as it happened.
When you become conscious in the dream state, you have an astonishing opportunity to experience a vivid and tangible dreamworld that is not actually real. Probably the most shocking example of this is a false awakening, where the dreamer becomes convinced they are awake - so vivid is the detail of the dream. Think about that: in a sleep state, where your body is processing only the tiniest amounts of external stimulus, your internal world is as rich as it ever was. Your brain realistically reproduces a world with tables, buildings, gravity, air, emotions, atoms (in fact anything you can conceive of) and it's very lifelike. While limited to the scope of your subconscious imagination, the lucid dream world is still a shocking place which truly has the capacity to mimic reality.
After the tragic Arizona shootings by the disturbed 'conscience dreamer' [sic] Jared Lee Loughner, some naive commentators suggested that anyone who confused dreams with reality must be mentally ill. Clearly, they had never experienced a lucid dream. And they forgot to make the clear distinction: when awake, I know I am awake. That's all fine and good. However, when dreaming, there is much confusion. Most people don't even know they're dreaming while it's happening - and I wouldn't call "most people" mentally deluded. It seems to be that lucid dreamers are actually ahead of the game. They have the insight to know when they're dreaming, at least part of the time. They are much better primed to distinguish the difference between dreams and reality.
Rather than use lucid dreaming as a scapegoat in what was quite obviously a case of mental instability, we should revere conscious dreaming for the wonder that it is. This special phenomenon, reserved only for those bold enough to delve into altered states, gives us a safe and natural way to explore the depths of human consciousness and perception. It has the potential to alter the way we regard the world around us for the rest of our lives.
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