An Interview with Daniel Love
By Rebecca Turner (Founder and former owner of World of Lucid Dreaming)
This is an archive of the 2013 article originally hosted on World of Lucid Dreaming prior to its change in management.
An interview with Daniel Love, creator of the Cycle Adjustment Technique, author of Are You Dreaming?, and consultant to the upcoming show Anamnesis.
Daniel Love is a British lucid dreaming expert and oneirologist. He is a lifelong lucid dreamer, initially inspired by his own early experiences in overcoming childhood nightmares using lucidity. He has dedicated his life to the research and teaching of lucid dreaming, which he believes has the potential to transform us both as individuals and as a species.
For the past 16 years he has taught the subject, running numerous workshops, retreats and talks around the world. Perhaps most well-known for his Cycle Adjustment Technique, Daniel is also the author of the book Are You Dreaming? Exploring Lucid Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide. The book aims to bring the subject of lucid dreaming fully up to date and to appeal to those new to the topic, as well as advanced lucid dreamers. Daniel also works as the lucid dream consultant on the upcoming series Anamnesis - a sci-fi drama based on the world of lucid dreaming.
Daniel's aim is to share lucid dreaming in an honest and thoughtful manner. His motto is that we become "lucid about lucidity" and he aims to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding the subject, with the hope that it will help bring the wonders and benefits of lucid dreaming to a wider audience.
What first got you interested in lucid dreaming?
Daniel Love: For me lucid dreaming has been a lifelong friend, I really can't remember a time in my life without it... although I can remember a time before I knew there was a name for the state or that others experienced it also!
My journey as a lucid dreamer started very young; roughly the age of five years old. It was around this time that I suffered from terrible recurring nightmares as well as other parasomnias, such as sleepwalking. As a method to deal with these nightly terrors I devised a crude method in which I'd attempt to "catch the moment I fell asleep", to cut a long story short, this practice eventually resulted in my own early personal discovery of lucid dreaming.
Whilst not only curing my childhood nightmares, lucid dreaming also transformed my sleep into a wondrous world of adventure. This love of dreaming has stayed with me throughout my life, and my passion for its exploration and a belief in its wider value to our species has never faltered.
As soon as I discovered that the state had a name and had also been documented by others (way back in my early teens), I decided then that I too should add to this field of knowledge, and from those early beginnings and until this day that's still very much my goal. Since those humble beginnings I've spent the majority of my adult life researching the dream state, teaching the skills required for lucid dreaming and generally attempting to spread the benefits of its practice as far and as wide as possible.
Can you broadly summarize your Cycle Adjustment Technique for anyone who is new to the concept?
Daniel Love: You do a very good job of explaining the more commonly known version of the technique here on your website, so I needn't repeat the details of the practice itself. What I will say however, is that there is more to CAT than is generally discussed online (it's considerably more flexible than people assume), and with that in mind I've included a revised and updated version in my upcoming book.
The premise of the Cycle Adjustment Technique is essentially the idea that the chemistry of our sleeping brain is just as important to our success at attaining lucidity as are our psychological preparations. The effectiveness of chemicals such as Galantamine demonstrates this fact rather clearly. CAT was designed as a natural alternative to such supplements, as a way to enhance our brain chemistry through behavioral changes in our sleeping patterns. It was also devised to be a method that would be more suitable to people locked into a regular sleeping pattern (those with strict working hours), and to whom many of the usual lucid dreaming practices were impractical or only viable during weekends and days off.
Essentially the technique in a nutshell (and as the name suggests) is that the practitioner makes calculated changes in their sleeping cycle designed to increase their alertness during REM sleep. CAT is slightly more involved than some of the simpler techniques, and certainly requires a little determination, but I have found that in both my own and my student's experiences, for the right individuals it can be very effective indeed.
How did you discover and refine this technique?
Daniel Love: I would suppose the seed of the CAT method probably stems back to my college days, during which by pure serendipity I found my classes had been scheduled on an alternating pattern; on every other day I was required to wake an hour earlier than the next. During the days I could sleep in, I found an increase in the occurrence of lucid dreams and especially Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams when I experienced a brief awakening at the earlier time and then returned to sleep. I also noticed much longer, more stable periods of REM on these days.
This piece of information must have rattled around my brain for many years, and it wasn't until around 2003 when Galantamine first appeared on the scene, and it became apparent that we needed a natural alternative for improving brain chemistry, that I decided to experiment with alternating sleeping patterns. The long and short of it is, that after a lot of trial and error, and with feedback from my students, the basic premise for CAT was born. As with any technique, there is always room for improvement - they are a work in progress. So I'm also a strong believer that every lucid dreamer should refine and adapt techniques to suit their own personal lifestyles.
Have you got any more lucid dreaming techniques up your sleeve?
Daniel Love: Absolutely! I've included several of my own and other techniques in my book, so there's really something for everyone. However, one point that I really feel is important here, is that techniques themselves are only one part of a much larger process, a single piece of the puzzle. We shouldn't become too focused on finding the "perfect technique" or the "holy grail of lucid dreaming" so to speak. We should remember that we are all unique individuals; it is unlikely that there is one method for inducing lucid dreaming that will be effective for everyone. Whilst there are certainly processes and practices that will benefit us all, we are each on our own private journey of self-discovery and as such our approach to lucid dreaming needs to be tailored to our own individual needs.
With this in mind, I've also outlined a theory in Are You Dreaming? that explains the basic principles for developing an effective approach to inducing lucid dreams. These guidelines are designed to help each of us discover why it is that certain techniques are seemingly more effective than others and also what is required to build one's own technique (or combination of techniques). The principle, which I call The Three Pillars of Lucidity is aimed at moving the discussion on techniques and lucidity induction forward, and to solve the 'unreliability issue' - the fact that the same technique can work one night and not another. I've also shared several supplemental techniques that are designed to help readers get the most out of their lucid dream experiences, such as a method that works as a notepad that dreamers can carry between the two worlds.
Can you tell us more about your book and what you hope to achieve?
Daniel Love: If I were to be sentimental, I'd explain it this way: lucid dreaming for me has been somewhat of a love affair throughout my life. As with any love, one wishes to express and share it. Above anything else Are You Dreaming? is my way of giving something back to lucid dreaming and the community of dreamers, because for me lucid dreaming has had such a profoundly positive influence on my life.
In more practical terms, as an experienced long term lucid dreamer, I've long been waiting for a new book on the topic, something that isn't just a beginner's guide, but is also aimed towards those who have already discovered lucid dreaming. Therefore, rather than wait, I decided to take matters into my own hands. So in many ways Are You Dreaming? is the book I, as a passionate lucid dreamer, wanted to read.
Of course there are many great books on the topic such as Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge, and I absolutely do not consider my book as a replacement or in competition with such works (as lucid dreamers we are all one family and should work together to promote the subject). Instead Are You Dreaming? is a new member of the family, an update and new approach, showing us where lucid dreaming is now, after the 22 years since ETWOLD was first released.
Also of course there are many new discoveries and techniques inside, as well as philosophical discussions and ponderings on the future of lucidity (and a great deal more!) It is a guide for both those new to the subject and a deeper exploration for those to whom lucid dreaming is already known. I have also attempted to bring to light (and correct) some of the current fallacy's surrounding the subject, one simple example is that many lucid dreamers mistakenly believe it was Frederick van Eeden who coined the term "lucid dreaming", which isn't completely correct - so it seems right to make these things clear. I also wanted to create a no-nonsense approach to the topic, one that is based on the facts and doesn't attempt to promote an agenda beyond the wonder of lucid dreaming itself. I can't easily sum up the book and its goals in a short interview, I'd rather it speak for itself. If nothing else, I will simply say that I wish to bring the joy and practical uses of lucid dreaming to a wider audience in a way that is accessible and honest in one comprehensive guide.
How can we make lucid dreaming more accessible to the general population?
Daniel Love: That's a great question, and one that I think is really very relevant to the entire lucid dreaming community. Firstly, sites like yours do a great job at promoting the subject and bringing it to a wider audience, which is wonderful.
One area in which I feel is of utmost importance, especially in this information age, is that we all hold ourselves to a high standard of critical or "lucid" thought in regards to the topic of lucid dreaming itself. As lucid dreamers, to become lucid we must first develop a certain level of awareness, and with this comes the skills of discernment and critical thinking - to simply recognize the differences between dreaming and waking - and we, essentially, become detectives of the mind. As I discuss in my book Are You Dreaming? we must also use those very same skills when approaching the waking-life aspects of lucid dreaming.
It is easy to get excited by new techniques, or the latest lucid dreaming product or fad and there is a real risk that in our excitement we will act in a similar way to our non-lucid dreams, by uncritically accepting things on face value. Instead, we should become lucid about lucidity, and approach the topic and any new discoveries with honesty and discernment. We must not be afraid to voice our concerns or tackle some of the problems that, as a community, we are faced with.
A prime example is the great deal of scam products available out there, the learn-to-lucid-dream-in-2-days kind of thing; we've all seen them. As I am sure you are more than aware, lucid dreaming is a skill, much like learning a musical instrument; if you were to see a piano tutor exclaiming "I can guarantee you'll be a concert pianist within a month" you'd be skeptical and see them for the fraud they are. However, because lucid dreaming is an entirely internal psychological experience, we can sometimes forget that the same rules apply.
I think the population at large mostly views lucid dreaming as a bit of a quirky subject, probably because it is so easy to find these kinds of products and individuals who have hijacked the subject for their own agenda. So, to answer the question: if we collectively stand up against this kind of thing and promote lucid dreaming on its true merits, namely the fact that it is one of the natural free wonders of the human mind, one which offers unrivalled experiences and is a wonderful tool for self-exploration and improvement.
At the same time we must always make it abundantly clear that learning lucid dreaming comes with the same requirements as any skill, namely the investment of time, motivation and energy. Once we have our house in order in that respect, the public may be more inclined to take us seriously. We can all do our part in this, the simplest approach is honesty - we must make it clear in our discussions on lucidity if we are stating fact, speculation or personal belief.
Of course we should also all do our bit to promote lucid dreaming where we can, such as sharing thoughtful online videos, blogs, putting on events, etc. I've given many examples in my book; one in particular that I hope will appeal to most lucid dreamers... so I'll not spoil the surprise!
Can you tell me about the upcoming series Anamnesis, on which you are a lucid dreaming consultant?
Daniel Love: Anamnesis is a project I am very excited about and something that I am certain will appeal to almost every lucid dreamer out there.
In short, Anamnesis is a new sci-fi web series about a group of strangers who realize they are connected by shared, lucid dreams. Firstly, my role within the project is as a factual consultant, it's my job to help the writers keep the show as closely linked to the true experience of lucid dreaming as possible, of course with allowances for artistic licence when it is required for the plot.
They're also using my book Are You Dreaming? as a general guide in helping keep the show authentic. It's this attention to detail that excites me about Anamnesis - the fact that the team behind it are so absolutely dedicated to making a show that will be both wildly entertaining but also appeal to the community of lucid dreamers who understand the experience inside out... we'll it's very refreshing indeed! I'm both flattered and pleased that I can do my part to help them in these regards.
As for the show itself - well it's simply mind blowing. The production values are second to none, the acting and story-line promises to grab the hearts of its viewers and take them on a wild journey into the world of lucid dreaming and beyond.
One thing that is very important to mention here: the team behind the show need the help of the lucid dreaming community to bring it to fruition. They're funding the project via a Kickstarter campaign and are edging closer towards reaching their goal of raising $10,000 by January 1st 2013. To encourage donations, they're giving away Anamnesis downloads, posters, dream journals and other gifts for all monies received. I wholeheartedly suggest that the lucid dream community get behind this project and make it happen.
We've talked about how we can make lucid dreaming more accessible, and shows like this will go a long way in achieving that goal. So if you can do your bit, even if you can only donate a small amount or help promote the series online or offline, you'll be helping play your part in lucid dream history. Not only this, but you'll be giving a gift to yourself, because these guys really are going to make a show that will blow your socks off!
Finally, what do you enjoy most about lucid dreaming?
Daniel Love: Now there's a question with as many answers as there are stars in the night sky! I suppose the simple answer is the unrivaled freedom and wonder of the experience... but that's probably a little too obvious! No, I think the deepest level of enjoyment I gain from lucid dreaming, is that it is a subject that grows with you. You are exploring the byways of your mind; a mind that changes with every day, month and year.
There is more to it than this, however. This universe we find ourselves in, this place we call "home" is an unfathomable mystery... life is just very strange indeed! We, humans, are innately curious, we love to learn, explore and discover. Lucid dreaming allows us to do this; to adventure into the universe inside our minds (which is a reflection of the wider external universe), to learn and peel away layers of mystery, revealing new knowledge and understanding of ourselves, who and what we are and our place in the cosmos.
It's almost a form of "emotional science" - a method for tackling some of the deepest questions we as humans are faced with, namely who and what we are. I think if nothing else, such mysteries and such a magical way of exploring them, is something that should excite us all!