Learn how to maintain lucid dream awareness and avoid waking up in this fascinating and practical dream stabilization guide by community guest author, RTW. Dream Stabilization The stability of dreams, especially dreams in which the dreamer has become lucid, is something which I believe to be riddled with less than helpful information. There seems to be a significant lack of any strong foundations on the subject, or weak arguments for causation that are easily toppled. Because the lucid dreaming community jargon is littered with largely metaphorical concepts (not helped by the overly zealous imagery in Inception), a true understanding of dream stability is lost in the very experience of the phenomena, rather than its actual cause.
To different authors, stability means somewhat different things. Either they are referring to the strength of the dream itself (and how liable the dreamer is to wake up); or simply the lucid clarity of the dreamer (which is liable to be lost when dreamer become engrossed in the experience). The latter is also known as the ‘lucid presence’ representing the intensity of a dreamer’s awareness. In this sense, it’s possible to stop lucid dreaming because you’ve forgotten you’re dreaming – something which often happens when you have become overly involved in the dream world you’ve created. Although simply losing your lucid awareness is a real bummer, I don’t think it quite matches losing the dream itself. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the surge of excitement and euphoria that comes with achieving lucidity – only to have the dream come crashing down on you. All that’s left the feeling of groggily lying in bed a few moments later, wondering where it all went wrong!
This is the most popular interpretation of the phrase ‘dream stability’ and the subject matter of this post. But instead of jumping right in, it’s worth considering the opposite end of the spectrum – dream collapse! For its only when things go wrong that we understand just how to keep dreams running smoothly. Dream collapse is a popular concept due it’s gritty, and somewhat brutally portrayed dream endings, leaving would-be lucid dreamers tumbling back into their physical bodies. Even I get caught up in the metaphorical descriptive galore! This is very much in contrast to the typical experience. Normally dreams fade in a completely anticlimactic shift back to waking life. Nothing exciting at all unless there’s a mind heist going on! But instead of simply describing how to stop dreams ending short of the mark – I think it’s important to have a grounded understanding of why this occurs in the first place! Although dream stability methods are pasted all over lucid dreaming communities, there is a large area of uncertainty for why dreams collapse at all! However, by piecing together many shared experiences it’s possible to create an initial framework of possible causes.
What Causes a Dream to Become Unstable? Dream stability largely comes from focus on the dream itself and many dreams will become unstable upon as soon as you draw your conscious focus away from them. This can happen in a number of ways, but outlined below are the two most common.
Firstly is through over-powering emotions (whether that’s fear or excitement), which appear to immediately destabilize the dream environment. More an issue for beginners, it is common to experience a surge of positive proud emotions upon become lucid. However, this seems to be rather overpowering in the dreamscape; possibly due to dreamer’s focus being retracted from the dream itself and instead on the euphoria of realization. There is still a sever lack of research in this area (or maybe information), with everything from changes in brain activity to blips in dream creation blamed. But you’ll be glad to know there’s an easy fix – just don’t get excited… Dreams may also become unstable due to the nature of the lucid dreamer, who may denounce the dream upon become aware. Become overly focused on the illusionary aspect of dreaming (e.g. the fact you’re actually lying in bed right at that moment) or failing to engage in the created reality of the dream will cause the dream to fail. This seems logical given the creation process of dreams are partly based on your own associations – which you are now ripping yourself away from in a lucid awareness directed at your presence in the dream, rather than the fact that you are dreaming.
Remedies for this state of mind are commonly known as ‘anchoring’ or ‘grounding’ yourself in the dream (maybe dependent on if you’re a sailor or a geologist!). Removing your conscious self from the manifold of the dream (either purposefully of accidentally) will usually result in the dream becoming fuzzy, less vivid, and then fading. A fine balance exists between become overly engaged in the dream to the point you get wrapped up in the story and forget your lucidity; or on the other hand, being so cognizant and hyper-aware that the dream is no longer viable. You must walk a tightrope between being in the dream and being aware that the dream is just a dream. It’s like breaking the forth wall to wave at your mum whilst maintaining your performance as Hamlet. Hence why lucidity is known as a ‘hybrid’ state.
The concepts of ‘anchoring’ and also stabilizing dreams have rather vague differences when it comes to lucid techniques. In an attempt to partially fix the metaphorical jargon dispersed throughout the subject matter, I’d like to propose the two following concepts: Dream Stability – Preventative Methods
These are habits you should make whilst lucid dreaming to ensure that you stay engaged and grounded in the dream. The most important point it to actually experience the dream itself! Explore, adventure, interact to ensure focus on the dream. LeBerge recommends cramming your perceptual dreamscape with material – drawing your focus to that of the dream world rather than the waking world. Get touchy-feely in the dream and engage your senses in the most immersive experience known to man. Indeed, there are a number of strict methods or techniques, but these are just as effective as simply enjoying the dream for what it is.
Dream Stability – Curative Methods These are the types of things you’ll find riddled through books and on the internet – what do you do when the dream does start to fade? Maybe you’ve got lazy and reminded yourself you’re actually lying in your bed? Or perhaps you’ve got so excited in the make-believe celebrity crush visiting that you’ve burst the dream bubble? There are a number of things you can do to force the dream manifold back into its former stable self. Here are three of my favourite!
Staring at your hands: Lift your hands up to your face and study your palms. You want to replace what you’re seeing in the dream with the palms of your hands until you feel the dream return to normal. Falling or Spinning: Spinning is good for turning dream scenery into a blur! Upon slowing to a stop, the dream should right itself and create the scenery once more. More importantly, you may be a little dizzy and frantically searching for the horizon to steady yourself – tricking you into engaging with the dream directly. Licking the floor: Surprise can work great wonders in a dream, bringing yourself back to a more stable scenario. Get down on the ground and take a big lick at the floor. Simple, if a little disgusting! Upon getting back up and looking round the dream should be back to normal.
It’s worth noting that many techniques used to make dreams appear more intense and vivid also work as stabilization techniques. The link between dream stability and vividness (intensity) is something I’ll have to leave for another post though. Like with anything (and especially lucid dreaming) everything will come together with practice. It will take a few faded experiences or dramatic dream collapses to teach you practical skills. Trial and error is the only way to get a true handle on what techniques work for you. Even initially recognizing destabilization when dreaming can be tricky at first! Like mentioned previously, there’s a lot more research that needs to be done into this area of lucidity – so comment with your own experiences in stabilizing dreams! Let me know what you think! How do you lose lucidity? What methods help you stay lucid dreaming as long as possible! Why do you think dreams become unstable and collapse? Have you tried licking the floor in a dream? Share your reply in the original forum thread.
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