I have been dreaming vividly lately. Some nights the dreams span between wakeful moments in the night, picking up where the plot left off – morphing and twisting, weaving in other oddities into amazing tales. When I wake up, I immediately try and think back to the details of the dream to capture them in my wakeful memory before the light fades away from the reel.
Years ago I listened to a podcast about dreams, and about hacks/tricks to be able to lucid dream more often. Lucid dreaming is when you are able to detect that you are in dream land, and not bound by the shackles and rules of the wakeful reality. The notion is you can then harness the power and freedom of your dream state to train your mind to be better at things when awake. Apparently many athletes leverage this approach to become better at their sport – personally I just thought it would be amazing to take over a dream and experience a true virtual reality that no computer could ever come close to emulating.
The podcast shared that the best way to try and detect a dream state is to create a tell – a routine that you do throughout the day to remind your brain that “hey mind, look, you are awake right now. you are not dreaming.” This concept was part of the movie Inception with Leonardo’s top being his totem to determine what reality he was currently in.
My totem, or tell, was to look at my hand during the day at random intervals. I then wiggle my pointer and middle fingers back and forth, and simply say “I’m not dreaming”. This has actually been a funny thing to do from time to time in the past few years when life has just gotten weird AF. But when I was really being mindful of this practice – I did achieve a lucid dream state on a number of occasions.
In my dreams when I would look at my hand, apparently the graphics processing unit in my dream state has a hard time rendering my own fingers – and they look like chubby sausages instead of my normal slender fingers that dance across the keyboard in front of my face most days. The first time I saw the sausages at the end of my hands, I was so excited to know that I was dreaming that I immediately woke up.
On the third lucid trip, I calmed my mind enough – kind of like I try to do when attempting to land a large fish – and was able to take over the controls in dream land. It was freaking amazing.
So my wish is to be able to lucid dream more often. And in particular, one recurring dream I would love to become lucid in is the one where I find myself on stage, with a band, instrument in hand – in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Typically in this dream it goes one of two routes – I freak out thinking I don’t know how to play said instrument… and the dream comes to a screeching halt. While a few other times, my hands magically begin to play the instrument like a virtuoso, and the crowd goes wild.
If I could take over this dream one time and enter a lucid state, I’d tell my band mates that we should play At The River by Groove Armada, and I’d pickup the trombone like the chap in the video below – and lay down the sickest improv of that glorious hook ever.
Keep dreaming friends. It is true that if you set your mind to anything, you can accomplish it – and that fact is much more obtainable in dreams. YMMV.