12-15-17 Update

What I’m reading
I finally finished reading Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep by Charlie Morley. I made plenty of notes.

I began Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens by Lisa Hilton. I think watching the second season of The Crown on Netflix renewed my interest in English history. I’m only in the first chapter and I’m finding interesting genealogical information. The chapter talks about Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror’s queen, and mentions that her ancestry goes back to Charlemagne. Maltilda has another husband, a man named Gerbod, by whom she had a daughter, Gundrada (or Gundred), who eventually became the wife of William de Warrenne, first Earl of Surrey. There’s some speculation that Gundrada may have actually been the daughter of William and Matilda.. Genealogy works in strange ways. History seems more personal when it’s about your own ancestors.

Events I’ve attended
On Tuesday I attended my grandson Nick’s first band concert. He even had a trombone solo. He and the rest of the Sixth Grade Band have only been playing since September but, with practice, they’ll improve and sharpen their skills.

Nick-171212-04 (copy)After the band concert, we made our way to the high school for the choir concert. I don’t have any grandchildren in the choir but at the end, they bring up all the choir alumni for two songs. This is Jacob’s first alumni performance so we were eager to see him on the stage again.

Dreams
Reality-CheckI still haven’t had a lucid dream but I’m starting to see positive indications in my dreams. Two nights ago, although I didn’t remember any dreams, I did recall an image of two hands with one pushing a finger through the palm of the other. The image looked like a crude drawing.

 

This morning I had a dream in which I squeezed an egg until I broke the shell. I looked at my hand and saw no yolk or egg whites, only the shell fragments. In the dream I attributed the lack of a mess to the fact that it was a dream. I did not become lucid so I’m not sure whether or not I was actually aware that I was dreaming. It may have just been the way the way the dream was playing out. Still, the idea of lucid dreaming is working its way into my dreams which is encouraging.

Quotes I’m pondering
“The real you is not a body. Your body is merely a suit of clothes. Physical birth was not your beginning and physical death is not your end.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“No one and nothing can free you but your own understanding.” ~ Ajahn Chah

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Counting to lucidity

After awakening from a dream this morning, I jotted the dream down in my written dream journal. After going back to bed I decided to try Charlie Morley’s technique from his book Dreams of Awakening, counting “1. I’m lucid? 2. I’m lucid? …”. It’s very similar to the counting technique Robert Waggoner describes in Lucid Dreaming, Plain and Simple.

I was in bed lying on my back with my legs slightly spread and my hands at my sides. Soon after I began counting I became aware of hypnagogic imagery and once the count was well above 50 I began to notice changes in how my body felt. I felt a general tightening sensation in the center of my torso and a vague feeling of stiffness in my joints but I wasn’t sure if it was sleep paralysis setting in. (I’ve never consciously experienced sleep paralysis so I don’t know what it feels like.) I also noticed my breath becoming shallower. The images in my head seemed to solidify and become more cohesive but were still not forming into a dreamscape. I was still also aware of the physical reality around  me like sounds and physical sensations and that I was lying in bed. By this time I’d stopped counting (around 100) and mentally repeating a mantra of “lucid dreaming”. When I drifted off to sleep I still wasn’t fully in a dream state, although I felt I might be getting closer, and I recalled no dreams from that last sleep period of the night.

 

10-27-17 Update

What I’m reading
I finished my notes for Lucid Dreaming, Plain and Simple and began reading Charlie Morley’s first book, Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep. So far I’m finding it quite interesting, maybe it has something to do with his more spiritual (Tibetan Buddhism) perspective on the subject.

What I’ve been watching
I was sick one day this past week so I spent much of the day either in bed or a recliner watching the television, particularly Netflix. My daughter-in-law had recommended that I watch Sausage Party so I took advantage of the opportunity and viewed it. I’d probably seen a trailer for it on TV and I figured it was a CGI-animated frat-boy movie where a bunch of guys get drunk and try to get laid. It was nothing like that, nothing at all. I can’t really describe it yet I thoroughly enjoyed it – beliefs meet reality.

I also watched a series called Norsemen. Again, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The program description on Netflix – “The residents of an 8th-century Viking village experience political rivalry, social change and innovations that upend their culture and way of life.” – kind of led me to think it might be a documentary. It turned out to be a Norwegian sitcom and a very funny one at that. I later learned that when they filmed the series, they shot every scene twice, once in Norwegian and then again in English. I’m hoping Netflix will pick up the second season.

Quotes I’m pondering
“No costume that has ever been invented is equal in comfort to perfect nakedness.” ~ C. Crawford (1881)

“Lying naked on a beach is still a source of suspicion and contempt.” ~ Unknown

“The demand that we always wear clothing while in society causes at least four kinds of alienation: it alienates us from ourselves, from others, from nature, and from the Divine.” ~ Mark Storey

 

State of Dreaming (10/12)

My efforts to have lucid dreams seem to have regressed lately. For a while I was regularly remembering my dreams, at least one nearly every night but now I seem to be remembering them less frequently and most of those I do recall seem to have fewer details and rather generic. I had a solid week where I didn’t remember any dreams or the dreams faded almost immediately upon waking.

I’ve reading Robert Waggoner’s Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple and taking a lot of notes. Since I’m reading it on a Kindle, it’s taking a while. In the book, he has some exercises that looked interesting.

One was a practice for the MILD technique in which you look at a recent dream, find a point in the dream which could have triggered lucid awareness, and rewrite the dream from that point as if you were lucidly aware in the dream. I chose to try it with the pool dream I had on September 20th. [State of Dreaming (9/22)]. The main difference between the dream and the rewrite was that in the dream I just found myself in the air with the others while in the rewrite I had become lucid and chose to fly up there. I was only able to rewrite it as far as the original dream went. I was at a loss as to how I would have moved the dream forward.

Another exercise from the book was an exercise to find symbolism and meaning in dream objects. The exercise was to review the written dream, list all the nouns and then, next to each noun, write three descriptive words or short phrases. Then I rewrote the dream, replacing the nouns with the descriptive words. The results were interesting.

On a couple of occasions I tried a technique from the book called “Countdown to Lucidity.” This is a technique that can be used when you’re already drowsy or have awaken in the middle of the night. You close your eyes and begin counting: “One, I am dreaming. Two, I am dreaming. Three, I am dreaming.” And so on. So far, I haven’t had any success with this technique. I first tried it one afternoon when I felt drowsy after reading and decided I’d try to take a nap. I’d counted up to over 400 before deciding that it wasn’t working.

That same night I tried it again after having woken up around 1AM. I fell asleep sometime after passing 100 but didn’t recall any dreams other than a dream that occurred about five hours later.

This morning I set an alarm to wake me up early so I could attempt a WILD and used the countdown technique to get back to sleep after being awake for about half an hour. After reaching 100, I stopped and drifted off to sleep normally. The only dream I recalled was one I had just before my alarm went off.

On the other hand, I’ve made progress in my meditation practice and have been meditating twice a day. Aside from my meditation, I find the shower to be a good place for contemplation. I’ve been reading the online magazine, Lucid Dreaming Experience, and found some articles about surrendering to the lucidity in a lucid dream or the awareness behind the dream. That got me to thinking about my concept of surrender. In Western culture, surrender is seen as giving up, admitting defeat, or relinquishing control through demand or compulsion. In many Eastern philosophies, such as yoga and Buddhism, surrender often means willingly submitting to a divine power, a higher consciousness, or the Inner Self. I prefer the Eastern connotation but I’m a product of Western culture. Maybe I need to reword my intentions to reflect a willingness to accept the gifts and blessings of the Inner Self or the Greater Awareness.

Letting go is another concept I have trouble with. It seems to imply loss because when I let go of something (an object, an idea, a belief, a habit), I no longer have it. It seems that having “something” is empowering, even if that something no longer serves me, holds me back, or may be harmful or toxic. I’m still working with that one.

State of Dreaming 9/22

I read in Robert Waggoner’s book about the various level of lucidly in dreams and it’s possible that I’ve been at a lower level of lucidity where I’m aware that it’s a dream but it’s interesting so I opt to see how it plays out. I’ve also read how one’s beliefs, fears, and mental attitudes can interfere with having lucid dreams. I don’t have any beliefs that would prohibit delving into lucid dreaming and I’m quite open to the ideas of it and the possibilities of lucid dreaming.

In waking life, I’ve never been one to take control or be in the forefront, preferring instead to work in the background or on the sidelines. I’ve always preferred to observe, document, and draw conclusions. I think that carries over to my dreams. There are inhibitions in my waking life that carry over into my dreaming life and I need to overcome them and be more willing to assert myself in both realities.

Here are a couple of recent dreams (non-lucid or low lucidity)

September 15
The dream starts out in an apocalyptic future on Earth. The land is barren but we still have much of our technology. I’m a manual laborer, and I’ve been recruited to work in the cargo hold of a spacecraft. I tell the recruiter that I’m not qualified for that kind of work but he says that’s not a problem as he puts a helmet-like device on my head and flips a few switches. I hear the device hum and I feel it vibrate, then I feel a current flow through me for few seconds, and suddenly I’m fully trained for the job.

Then I’m aboard the spacecraft and we are traveling in outer space. Several other workers and I are in the cargo area of the craft. We are notified that some sort of alien entity is attacking the ship and we start making preparations for the attack. We don space suits and ready our weapons. There are not enough weapons for everyone so I don’t have one. The entity attacks and the hull is breached. The entity looks like a shark. In the initial attack, several workers are killed and I’m able to obtain a weapon. We fire laser weapons at the “space shark” thing but they don’t seem to have much effect on it. All seems lost.

Next I find myself back on Earth many years later. I had apparently survived the space shark attack and lived to be quite old. I’m in a vehicle with several other people and we are stopped by a cop. The cop recognizes me and says, “Romig, eh?” somewhat derisively. He says that I shouldn’t have survived that mission when no one else had and hints that I must have been a coward. I don’t respond. I know that I’d fought valiantly but I have no recollection of how I survived or how I was rescued. I think that the event had either been so traumatic that I’d blocked it from my memory or that my memory of it had been deliberately and permanently erased.

September 20
A small dream fragment. I am at a large outdoor Olympic-sized pool. Three athletic-looking men, around college-aged, are skinny-dipping in the pool and they suddenly leap out of the water like dolphins to a height of maybe 20 feet n the air. When they reach the apex of their trajectory, they stop and hover in the air. At this point, I am watching them from the same level as they are so I am apparently also hovering 20 feet in the air although I don’t know how I got there. Then one of the men decides he’s going to belly flop into the pool and drops straight down with his arms and legs outstretched. He hits the water and makes a big splash while the other two and I watch from above. This is when I awake.

Dreaming Update (9/15)

Lately, I haven”t been remembering many dreams and what I do remember seem to be small isolated fragments with only a few details. I’ve also noticed that the dreams I remember aren’t as vivid as they were a month or so ago. I still haven’t had a lucid dream.

Looking over my dream journals, I’ve noticed a general lack of continuity in my dreams. There are a few general themes that come up fairly often but most of the time they have few common or recurring elements. That’s even true of dreams that fall into one those themes. I don’t recall ever having having recurring dreams.

My meditation practice has been becoming more regular over the past month or so and I’ve been doing at least one session a day and two a day is my goal. I’d been doing a mantra meditation but for the past week or so I’ve been doing a simple Vipassana (mindfulness) practice which seems to be working well for me. From what I’ve gathered from guided Vipassana meditations and what I’ve read online, I see to be on the right track. The hope is that this meditation practice will increase my mindfulness and awareness while awake and carry over into the dream state.

During meditation I usually hear a continuous high-frequency tone in my head. Actually, the tone seems to be always there, I’m just more aware of it when I’m meditating and at other times the mind is quiet. I’m not sure what it is but it’s been there for as long as I can remember. Another phenomena that occurred frequently during mantra meditation but not so much in Vipassana, was a vision of swirling, red cloud-like shapes behind my eyelids. It’s like watching clouds float across the sky while looking through a red filter.

This afternoon I laid down for a nap. I covered my eyes with a towel folded over several times to block out some of the light and I mentally repeated “When I dream I will see my hands and realize I’m dreaming.” I was hoping that maybe I would have a lucid dream. I can’t say for sure whether I slept but a couple or hours later I was still mentally repeating it.

I seemed to be very much aware of the tone in my head the entire time. Could that tone be some kind of a mental barrier or white noise created by my mind to block conscious access to my unconscious? That’s an interesting thought. I’ve been hearing the tone a lot today even when I’m not resting or in meditation.

08-25-17 Update

Event attended
This past Saturday my 45th high school reunion. It was a small, low-key affair held at a local Italian bistro. I’d estimate that maybe 40 out of about 325 graduates (yearbook count). We had a larger turnout at the Class 60th birthday party three years ago (about 85). We’ve been having annual gatherings since then.

Until the 60th birthday bash, I hadn’t attended any reunions. I was overseas when they had the 10th and 20th reunions. I tried to make it to the 25th but something came up. I’m not sure there were plans for the 30th and 40th reunions.

Truth is, I lost track of my classmates almost immediately after graduation. Other than having gone to school with them for 6 to 12 years, I didn’t feel that I had that much in common with them. After 45 years, that really hasn’t changed much. I’m not particularly nostalgic and I view different periods of my life as chapters in my life story. Sometimes characters make cameo appearances in later chapters.

My life since high school hasn’t been anything I could have imagined while in high school. Nor can I imagine my life if I had not left my hometown. All I can be sure of is that it would have been quite different. I’m grateful for the life I’ve had and the blessings I now enjoy are a result of path I chose long ago. Would I have done some things differently or made different choices. In hindsight, maybe. But every choice I’ve made, good or bad, has led me to where I am now. Who can say how any deviation from that path might have altered my present? I really don’t see any purpose in pondering that. In some ways I’m much the same as I was then but in many other ways I’ve evolved and grown so the last 45 years haven’t been wasted.

What I’m reading
Still working my way through Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self. I think I’m at the beginning of chapter 16. I still haven’t experienced a lucid dream but I’ve had some unusual dreams in the last couple of weeks. I’ve read that taking 100mg of vitamin B6 before bed can lead to more vivid colorful dreams. I had a vivid experience the first night I tried it but haven’t noted any effects since then. I’m not even sure that one experience was a dream as I seemed to be aware that I was awake with my eyes closed. I’ve also begun to transform my sporadic meditation practice into a part of my daily routine.

Quote I’m pondering
“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” ~ Unknown

Most people like the idea of freedom but, in reality, freedom scares the shit out of them and they resent or even hate those who choose to be free. When you are free you have to think critically, think for yourself, and take responsibility for your actions. Most are not ready or willing to do those things. Far too many people are content with others granting or withdrawing their freedom as if it was some kind of privilege. Freedom is not a privilege; it is your birthright! You were born to be free.