My biggest surprise when reading Charlie Morley’s new book Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner's Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreamswas when I discovered Charlie and I both had the same self-hypnosis teacher - Mervyn Minall-Jones. I hope Charlie won’t mind if I start my review of his book with a bit of reminiscing.
Merv and his wife Barbi were friends of my parents back in the 1970s. They were part of a club called Enigmas, which investigated paranormal and unexplained phenomena. I was only a child then and sensibly considered too young for scary stuff like ghost hunting, but I did go along with my mum to Merv’s self-hypnosis classes – and a very useful technique self-hypnosis is too.
Of course, that is a different topic from lucid dreaming – which Charlie’s book is about – but it isn’t that different. Both hypnosis and dreams are ways of connecting with the subconscious mind. Just paying attention to our dreams can help us learn about ourselves, and self-knowledge is the key to personal development. Lucid dreaming – when we are aware we are dreaming and can affect what happens in the dream – offers a whole range of opportunities to take that further.
As Charlie says, children often find lucid dreaming easier than adults and it can be a useful way of helping them deal with nightmares. I remember when I was very young being told that if I dreamt a monster was chasing me I should imagine I had a weapon so I could kill it. Actually, I never fancied killing anything so instead I used to imagine a door for little me to escape through that was too small for the monster. It seemed to work.
However, Charlie suggests that facing the monster and embracing it – or at least having a chat with it – is more effective. The monster in our dreams – and pretty much everything else in our dreams – is just a part of us. Facing our fears and understanding them is the best way to learn and go forwards. Charlie offers a case study of one woman who faced a monster in her nightmare and gave it a hug, when it promptly turned into a baby.
There is more we can do with lucid dreams. For example, we can have fun. A few years ago I had a dream that I was on a train going on holiday. The railway was running along the cliff beside the beach. I suddenly became aware that this was a dream – a lucid dream. Then it struck me that I should be able to do anything I wanted, so I made the train fly up from the tracks and land on the sand, which was all very exciting. Charlie points out that having fun with lucid dreams is OK - we can do stuff that we simply wouldn't be able to do for real, such as flying to the stars or even having sex with someone otherwise unobtainable.
Lucid dreams offers practical benefits too, including practising skills while we are asleep. Apparently dreaming that we are doing things like sport, playing a musical instrument or driving a vehicle can actually make us better when we do them for real. There are a whole heap of personal development opportunities within lucid dreams apart from facing our fears. All sorts of other self knowledge can be gained from conversing with the denizens of our subconscious minds. We can also practise visualisation and mindfulness within lucid dreams and there is some evidence that they are more effective than when we use those techniques while awake.
Now, while I’ve had a few lucid dreams, I’ve never mastered the art of having lucid dreams to order. That’s where Charlie’s book is most useful in my opinion. It offers a wide selection of techniques for both recognising when we are dreaming and for prompting lucid dreams when we want them. Keeping a dream diary is a start. Training ourselves to look for signs that we are dreaming is a common method. Learning to fall asleep consciously and also waking up early then counting back into sleep are two other easy-sounding suggestions. Charlie also says we need to make sure we are getting enough sleep and that we are eating healthily - especially the right vitamins and minerals.
Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner's Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreamsis in the Hay House Basics series, which means it is aimed at beginners to the subject, but I found it to be packed full of really useful information, techniques and advice. Charlie's writing style is very engaging and easy to read too. I've reviewed a few books in the Hay House Basics series already, and you can see links to my posts below. To find out more, Hay House's website for the series is: http://www.hayhousebasics.com/. At the site you can find free downloads to go with each Basics book.
Links and previous related posts
Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner's Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams (Hay House Basics)