Lucid Dreaming, Brain Injury, and Me

Because of my brain injury, I was leery of lucid dreaming. The idea of knowing that I am in a dream while dreaming was beyond my normal understanding. My problem with lucid dreaming was that while awake, I am prone to going into fugue states. Reality can be a problem for me to parse out, and I believed that lucid dreams would confuse me more.

After researching lucid dreaming, I discovered that I do have them. I have what I call “brain dreams.” In these dreams, I am in a big room, which is a library with four beds. There I would meet my three other selves, and we would decide which of the beds to sit on. After taking a book off one of the shelves, each one of us would take turns reading it to the others. Since my traumatic brain injury, I have four selves, each of which represents one of the lobes of the brain. (Note 1.) In the dream, the selves decide which lobe needs healing at that time. They direct the reading to excite the lobe into working. (Note 2)

Another set of dreams that I would have frequently involved flying about in a black void. This void is a place of stillness and contemplation. Clare Johnson in “The Art of Lucid Dreaming” describes this black space, “The Lucid Void,” which she defines as the gap between dreams. Johnson says that the Void is the birthplace of dreams.

For me, the simplest way to enter the Void is by deciding to go. I would affirm that I wanted to go there, and off I go. Eventually, I mapped a part of the Void by bouncing from each pinprick of light. I discovered I was dancing on Indra’s Net (the Jewel Net of Indra). (Note 3) I experienced the Net as a vast network of jewels at each node of interlocking threads. Each jewel is reflected in all of the other jewels forming cosmic reality. For me, I feel immense joy simply being there.

Another place that I go in my lucid dreams is the Tree of Life. I have a magic acorn that the Squirrels gave me (in another dream). When I want to go the Tree, I would hold the acorn and say “Squirrel.” The Tree, itself, glows and shimmers in gold and silver. A lot of little animals live in and around the Tree. When I arrive, the squirrels would greet me and off we go.

One thing that I noticed is that my lucid dreams follow the phases of the Moon. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart in “The Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard” explains why. The Moon, he says is the Mistress of Dreams. Because of this, the best time to have lucid dreams is the Waxing Gibbous Moon. I have found this to be true.

Meanwhile, Andrew Holecek in “The Lucid Dreaming Workbook” stresses sleep hygiene for successful lucid dreaming. He says that a calm transition from day to night is necessary. (A part of this is paying attention to the body’s circadian rhythms.) For lucid dreaming to occur, a bridge between wakefulness and sleep needs to be built. Holecek suggests saying slowly, “I am dreaming, I am dreaming…..” I tell myself as I drift off is “I enjoy lucid dreams.”

Holecek cautions about being conflicted about lucid dreaming. For example, he says ignore the inner voice that says it is a waste of time. To combat this voice, I tell myself it is for the brain. To be successful at lucid dreaming, note any self-talk of “I just can’t do it.” I find this to be true. If I have any doubts about being able to dream lucidly, I cannot do it.

Notes:
Note 1. The frontal lobe is where the executive functions occur. The parietal lobe integrates sensory information. The temporal lobe processes the sensory information and memory. The occipital lobe is for visual processing. I have damage on all of the lobes.

Note 2. Lucid dreaming can be regarded as a form of neuroplasticity. The Max Planck Institute of Human Development found evidence that the brains of lucid dreamers have more grey matter. I interpret this to mean that lucid dreaming is healthy for a recovering brain. In my dream, the selves reading to each other is either rewiring or laying down new neural circuitry.

Note 3. From Mahayana Buddhism. “Indra’s Jewel” is a metaphor for “the interbeing of all things.”

Works Used:
Holecek, Andrew, “The Lucid Dreaming Workbook.” New Harbinger Publications: Oakland (CA). 2020.
Johnson, Clare, “The Art of Lucid Dreaming.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2020.
… “The Art of Transforming Nightmares.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2021.
Larsen, Stephen and Tom Verner, “The Transformational Power of Dreaming.” Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2017.
Sowton, Christopher, “Dreamworking.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2017.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.” New Page Books: Franklin Lakes (NJ). 2004.

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