I woke up at 5am this morning, wrapped myself up in a sweatshirt, sweatpants, a fleece coat and a fleece blanket, meditated in the dark for 23 minutes and then went right back to bed. This midnight meditation was planned. It's a two-for. I was practicing the WBTB (wake back to bed) lucid dream induction technique, which requires the practitioner to wake up towards the last part of her/his sleep cycle and do something active (reading or writing, for example) for half an hour to an hourish before going back to sleep. The idea is to sharpen awareness right before entering the REM-rich end of the sleep cycle. (Because there's nothing to distract me so early in the morning, I figured why not knock a sitting session out during the awake time. If you read my last post, you know I'm on a meditation crack-down. And it doesn't hurt that meditation has been reporting to enhance lucidity in dreams.)
Last night marked around the 20th time I've tried the WBTB technique, and probably the fifth time or so that it has resulted in a lucid dream for me. These are not bad odds for a lucid dream technique, but the price is sleep. I lay awake for what felt like around an hour after getting back in bed, wondering if I'd fall back asleep at all before my 8am alarm. But suddenly I found myself in sleep paralysis (the state in which the body is asleep but the mind's still awake.) Sleep paralysis can be terrifying -- ask anyone who has experienced it. I've hallucinated a crazed old banshee sitting on my chest and choking me during sleep paralysis before. Let's just say I can go without a replay of that. But now I know sleep paralysis is a natural part of WILD (wake-induced lucid dreams), so I welcomed the sensation of my body becoming dead weight and the vibrating around my ears. "I'm about to go lucid," I told myself to stay calm.
After about a minute or so I decided it was safe to do a reality check. I brought my right hand to my nose and plugged up my nostrils. "If I can still breathe," I thought, "Then I'll know I'm dreaming." And in fact I could still breathe despite a closed off mouth and nose. But I still couldn't believe I was dreaming, because my room looked no different than it had when I woke up to meditate at 5am. The moonlight was realistic. The furniture was an exact replica of the real thing. I woke my boyfriend up and he tried to convince me that I was not actually dreaming. But the freckles on his face keep me suspicious...I couldn't remember him having freckles in "real life."
So I brought him into the hall and decided to prove to him that we were in a dream. Already I'd made a mistake at this point in the dream. I mistook my mind's projection of a person as the real person somehow transported to my dream, or perhaps also dreaming the same dream -- a rookie mistake. But I couldn't help it. He seemed so genuine and I was excited to have a buddy for my lucid adventure. In the hall I tried to fly with little success -- I expected not to be able to fly through the ceiling and so I wasn't able to: the expectation effect. "Let's go outside, " I suggested, where I knew I'd be able to fly.
Out on the grass (where it was already light out), I easily flew up towards the clouds and, now finally convinced it was in fact a dream we were in, my dream character boyfriend flew up to join. "To outer space!" I yelled into the sky and we flew higher and higher. But I could tell we weren't going fast enough to make it to the depths of space, assuming our dream movement was following the rules of physics. "Faster!" I exclaimed. "To outer space!"
We approached a deep blue up above. I thought we'd burst through it into deep space, but instead we splashed up over a beautiful, prehistoric ocean next to a luscious island with a mountain in the center. "Welcome to Jurassic Park," I heard or read or felt. "Let's go see the dinosaurs," I said to my projection of a boyfriend (whose independent existence I was still sure of at the time) and we approached the mountain.
It was like a Disney ride, rushing water curving down around the mountain in a ribbon. First there were only dogs splashing in the water but soon I felt the presence of something much larger and, right on point, a gargantuan triceratops appeared, snapping at me on the side of the mountain, spinning me into a panic. "Let's get out of here!" I yelled, just as my boyfriend turned into a fish and fell into the river, mere feet away from the dinosaur.
I debated for a moment. Should I leave him? He wasn't my living, breathing boyfriend, after all. But...what if he actually was, somehow? Was it worth the risk? Of course I must save him, I decided, so I flew right up to the triceratops and scooped up my little fish of a boyfriend out of the water and into my hand, shooting up through the sky with him, safe and free.
At this point I remembered my intention to ride on a train in a lucid dream so I tried to do the spinning technique to spin up my desired new dream scene. However, I couldn't get it to work without something solid under my feet. Instead I had a false awakening, during which I wrote down my dream before I woke up for real, right before my 8am alarm.