a historian's blog

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a historian's blog

Postby a historian » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:03 pm

I've been somewhat interested in lucid dreaming since I was a teenager (I'm now 23) but I have never made serious attempts to produce these experiences, although I do rather often have spontaneous, short and not very intense lucid-phases in my dreams.

During past year or so I have been reading literature on "Western esotericism" on which I'm planning to write my graduate thesis in history. This term is an umbrella term for a cluster of traditions reaching from the renaissance period to present, and all things "occult", "esoteric", "superstitious", "paranormal" etc. can be seen as parts of its area. While I made a minor research of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - a secret society in England in the late 19th century - I came across a fascinating technique called "astral projection", which was considered a part of “higher magic” in that society. When I made a little more research, I found out that this technique was not practiced only by long gone occultists but is a vital phenomenon even today. So, that's how I found this webpage, and that's also how my early interest in lucid dreaming rose again.

I haven't read much about astral projection/OBE/lucid dreaming -techniques yet, but I'm eager to make attempts based on everything I already know. (I have read some books: Monroe's first book, Anthony Peak's The Out-of-Body Experience: The History and Science of Astral Travel, and - of course - Golden Dawn material concerning their rather complex and ritualistic approach.) So, during this week I have made two or three attempts to enter "the phase" as you call it here. This morning I had some kind of success.

Last night I went to sleep at two o’clock or so and was woken up around eight o’clock in the morning by noise from up the stairs: apparently a neighbor above my room was drilling a concrete wall for some reason. Soon the noise stopped and I – the circumstances being appropriate – decided to attempt to induce an out-of-body –experience.

I lay on my back, the room was dim and warm and there wasn’t much noise anymore. I relaxed using a method familiar to me from a book on hatha yoga: I concentrated to my toes and relaxed them at will, then moving the concentration point upwards through whole my body, including my face, until I was in a deep relaxation and lost my sense of position. My eyes were closed and I stared in to the darkness of my eyelids. I stayed in that state, in total stillness, for maybe ten minutes or so, trying to induce some sort of state of near-sleep. Then I concentrated my thoughts on my hands and imagined moving them before my eyes while my physical hands lay there, immobile. I could “feel” the movement of these “thought-arms” and tried to visualize them, but this didn’t work. Then I tried something that I’ve also tried earlier this week: I grabbed my chest with these thought-arms and tried to pull myself “out of my body”. Like earlier, at the same moment that I started to “pull” (merely imagining this pulling, no physical muscular action was involved) my physical body began to shake (this time my muscles seemed to be involved) and my heart rate increased rapidly. This was a very peculiar feeling: it really felt like something was trying to separate from my physical body but couldn’t do it. After couple of attempts I stopped pulling and the shaking simultaneously stopped. I returned to the earlier stable relaxation. Then I tried to “roll out” (in the way I assume Monroe did it), but it didn’t even induce same sensation as “pulling”. I also tried some other techniques, without success.

With these attempts I was trying to induce an out-of-body –experience, but now I began to attempt lucid dreaming (here I assume these as different things) by trying to put myself into sleep without losing my consciousness in the process. But I couldn’t do it and after ten or fifteen minutes I became bored and chanced my position several times. A good try but no success, I thought, and tried to sleep normally instead. But – I don’t actually remember/know how this happened – soon I found myself sleeping – and being lucid. I was very exited in this dream, although it was kind of a deflated and thin “world” and I was constantly in danger of waking up and coming conscious of my physical body and surroundings: every time this started to happen, the dream-landscape started to fade off and turn into the blank blackness of my shut eyelids. But with some struggle I could keep myself inside the dream. And it was a strange dream. There were odd people – very vague, impersonal, constantly changing shapes – and the general atmosphere was somewhat melancholic. But as I knew I was dreaming, and I remembered my intention to discover this “world” and its phenomenology, I began to make some tests. At my will I tried to build colourful and beautiful surroundings: it worked quite well for a while, but – as I mentioned – it felt kind of a “thin” and not very intensive. The landscape was beautiful but not vivid, although it had - if I remember correctly (I should have written this in the morning - now I'm not so sure what it actually was like and what I can say about it with certainty) - depth and feeling of distance, as if I had been watching down from the top of a mountain. And I couldn’t keep anything solid even for one moment: everything was in constant movement. Then I tried to see myself in the dream by looking down, but this was impossible. I couldn’t get a visual contact to my “body” and if I tried hard I started waking up.

All this was very interesting and it was my first intentionally induced lucid dream that I have experienced, or at least closest to one. But I apparently fell deeper into sleep, because when I finally really woke up, I noticed that I had been sleeping for three hours. But it’s a start. I think I’m going to read more about these things – especially Radugas book – and perhaps begin to practice “phasing” on a regular basis.
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby Summerlander » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:31 pm

I think Raduga's The Phase Guidebook is a must for your thesis and for honing your practice. I started with Robert Monroe. I found his first book to be very honest in his claim that he was clueless and I like the way in which he explored the out-of-body experience. I cannot say the same thing for his subsequent books. It wasn't until I discovered Stephen LaBerge and Michael Raduga that my practice and understanding of the phenomenon really improved.

In here we regard lucid dreaming and the out-of-body experience to be essentially of the same hybrid state of the brain. The phase state that unites wakefulness and dreaming. You can enter it before, during, and after sleep. Nothing leaves the physical body ever. When you seemingly separate from the body, you will find yourself in the same lucid dream world that you would be in if you had just realised that you were dreaming while it was happening.

You might want to mention Raduga's pragmatic approach in your thesis and take into account the following diagram as well as diagrams of brain activity that indicate the phase as a distinct and hybrid state in its own right. It's not just dreaming:

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Re: a historian's blog

Postby a historian » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:55 am

Hi, Summerlander!

At the moment I'm just planning my thesis, and the theory, methodology, terminology, as well as the perspectives, contexts and the exact questions I'm about to seek answers to, are still open. But my very initial idea is to discover the OBE-related experiences and phenomena in the modern Western culture. I'm especially interested in the interpretations people have given to these experiences and the ways by which they have seen them as significant for themselves. So to say, I'm interested in the ways by which people in the modern Western culture have answered to the questions "what these experiences are?" and "what do they mean?" I want to emphasize that my aim is not to find out what these experiences "really" are. This is psychological and philosophical question, and it can't be answered by historical methods.

I have read about half of Raduga's book now. I'm sure that I will mention it in my thesis if this really is the topic I'm going to write about. I'm not sure yet.
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby Summerlander » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:58 pm

Whatever you decide, this is a great topic to write about. The phenomenon, as you have seen for yourself, is undoubtedly real. The nature of it is what many people find elusive. Good luck! :)
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby a historian » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:13 pm

Spontaneous lucid dream this morning. After waking up, which happened about an hour ago, I have been thinking about it quite a lot. Because it's always useful to write thoughts down (or, more accurately, think while writing), I try to make some more or less significant remarks concerning this experience.

I don't know if my current state of mind and body had anything to do with the nature of the experience. I was drinking last night, and we also smoke some pot. Now I have a little hangover. Just mentioning this setting so that I can remember it later.

If I remember correctly (bad dream-recall), I was standing on a beach when it occurred to me that I was dreaming. Unfortunately, this consciousness was very thin, and it remained this way through the whole dream. I was constantly at the border between conscious and unconscious dreaming, and it was only occasionally that I managed to keep myself aware of myself. The landscape was blurred, not at all detailed. I tried to concentrate on it, focusing my gaze on the sea, trying to see the waves. I tried to touch the sand. But I couldn't make my surroundings more realistic. I also tried to fly and look down to this landscape, but as soon as I took off, everything disappeared and I could see only some lines and shapes. In a dream, I thought this might be so due to the fact that in reality we rarely see the world from this perspective, and so my mind couldn't create that kind of a sight.

Now, when I'm awake, I don't find this explanation convincing, and I think it came to my mind in the dream because I have read something about this, written by Monroe. It's not convincing because it doesn't take to account the whole situation. It is irrelevant. In dream-world there is no objective, stable world that I could see from this or that perspective. Everything is a creation of my mind, and as such, depends on the processes of this mind. It could be said that the dream-world is idealistic, in the sense of the philosophers like Berkeley. Monroe has also noticed this nature of this "world", although he considered it as objective. For example, he states that "Locale II [I think people here know something about Monroe's "Locales"] is a state of being where that which we label thought is the wellspring of existence." (Monroe, Journeys out of the body, Broadway Books 2001 [1971], p. 74.)

I made some tests, which, in that barely-conscious state, felt worthwhile. Somehow I found myself in a grocery store. I picked up some kind of a jar and tried to read its label. At first, it was all blurred and unreadable, but I kept on concentrating, and suddenly the text became very clear. Too bad I can't remember what it said, but it was very short and totally absurd text that had nothing to do with, well, with anything at all.

One thing that I didn't realize in the dream but only after waking up was the peculiar nature of the dream-world related to the real world. There seems to be no sense of the "inner" world in that dream-world, apparently because that world is the inner world in itself. With this "inner world" I simply mean the sense of our own thoughts and imagination that we in waking state consider as accessible only for ourselves, whereas the "outer world" is that physical and social sphere of existence that is shared for all. The dream-world seems to be a state of being - like in a quote from Monroe above - where the mind is everything and there is no outer world at all.

Another thing I've been thinking about is the lack of capability to think clearly and analytically in the dream. In the realm of sleep, imagination reigns and reason is somewhat paralyzed. (But this is too narrow of a way to put this. We should consider the nature of "imagination" and "reason" without making too sharp distinctions.) Is this incapability only due to the fact that I haven't been practicing lucid dreaming? Does the ability to think analytically increase, and how close can it get to the waking state?

There was a lot of false awakenings in the dream. It was kind of a funny thing. In a dream I thought I was awake and tried to get back into the lucid dream. I had no contact to my physical body, it didn't even occur to me that I had a physical body. Even when I was aware that I was dreaming, I didn't compare that dream to the "real" reality but to the another dream world in which I was. So it was like a dream within a dream, and I thought that one of these dreams were "reality" and the other was the "dream". Only after I woke up, I realized how blurred my thinking and awareness had been.

OK, maybe this is enough for this time.
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby NOVA » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:50 pm

In my experience when in the phase, my thoughts and thinking are very clear as clear as in waking life. Dreaming and phase are the same, the phase state is just that you have been able to stabilize it. I am able to read in the phase very clearly and most times in my dreams. Yes sometimes when dreaming I forget what it read when I wake up, but in the moment it is legible. I also have a very clear sense of "inner world" when dreaming and at times find myself in more than one at a time. Such as the body of a certain person (say, male) but having "my" thoughts as this female, but also having thoughts of the male body. Weirdo stuff. lol lol.
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby a historian » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:04 pm

Hi, NOVA! All that is very interesting. It's hard for me to understand that kind of a realism in a world that is different to our waking environment, since I have always had only these brief, spontaneous lucid experiences, and they are always very unstable. It seems that I have much to see with this phenomenon, if I start working on it seriously.

By the way, how did you reach that realism? Did it emerge gradually during a long time of practicing, or was there some single strong experience or short time of experiences that triggered it? I should read the material that has been gathered here and elsewhere so that I could get to know this phenomenon better, but at this moment I'm kind of busy with my studies and other stuff, and, after all, it's always a nice way to get to know something by asking directly the people that know it from experience.
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby NOVA » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:19 am

If you follow Michael s instructions you will have realism.
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Re: a historian's blog

Postby Summerlander » Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:11 pm

a historian wrote:Spontaneous lucid dream this morning. After waking up, which happened about an hour ago, I have been thinking about it quite a lot. Because it's always useful to write thoughts down (or, more accurately, think while writing), I try to make some more or less significant remarks concerning this experience.


I have a tendency to write my thoughts post-phase state, too. It tends to turn me into a philosopher, and more so when there is a prominent buzzing in my head, like it's super-active or something.

a historian wrote:I don't know if my current state of mind and body had anything to do with the nature of the experience. I was drinking last night, and we also smoke some pot. Now I have a little hangover. Just mentioning this setting so that I can remember it later.


Hard to say without the means to obtain neuroscientific evidence. It may be that your experience would have been more intense if you hadn't inebriated yourself. Or perhaps the chemical cocktail had a (doubtful) favouring effect (on your lucidity at least). It certainly had some sort of influence on your brain chemistry.

a historian wrote:I also tried to fly and look down to this landscape, but as soon as I took off, everything disappeared and I could see only some lines and shapes. In a dream, I thought this might be so due to the fact that in reality we rarely see the world from this perspective, and so my mind couldn't create that kind of a sight.


This kind of bizarre thinking is not uncommon in the phase. This is something that Alan Worsley observed whilst experimenting with the phase state:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=15170

But, of course, it is possible to have clarity and bird's-eye view at the same time. Avoid giving power to mental barriers just because you had an inhibitory experience. In fact, the phase has the potential to sensorially outdo reality and to concoct forms that exist only in imagination. From the worldly information that it has already gathered, the mind can conjoin impressions and create its own art. Its abstractionism leads to surreal worlds that you can lucidly explore - and these awesome, mental worlds can influence new ideas for more wonder waiting to be born. That's the beauty of it!

a historian wrote:In dream-world there is no objective, stable world that I could see from this or that perspective. Everything is a creation of my mind, and as such, depends on the processes of this mind. It could be said that the dream-world is idealistic, in the sense of the philosophers like Berkeley. Monroe has also noticed this nature of this "world", although he considered it as objective. For example, he states that "Locale II [I think people here know something about Monroe's "Locales"] is a state of being where that which we label thought is the wellspring of existence." (Monroe, Journeys out of the body, Broadway Books 2001 [1971], p. 74.)


Yes, it does have a tendency to be idealistic, and this may be tied to its subjective nature. In fact, I'd even go as far as saying that even when it turns nightmarish, it is ideal in this way. Despite the phase state, there are times when we get scared, when there is doubt that it is all in our heads. "What if that demonic figure is another sentient being?" we might ask. And if such figure comes for us in a terrifying manner, there may be a masochistic side to us that will allow the lucid nightmare to thrive. The awesomeness of how terrifying the bogeyman could look, something that special effects artists could take inspiration from whilst working in a horror film set.

a historian wrote:I made some tests, which, in that barely-conscious state, felt worthwhile. Somehow I found myself in a grocery store. I picked up some kind of a jar and tried to read its label. At first, it was all blurred and unreadable, but I kept on concentrating, and suddenly the text became very clear. Too bad I can't remember what it said, but it was very short and totally absurd text that had nothing to do with, well, with anything at all.


Practice and explore. Large text is easier. It tends to be gibberish but can be coherent on occasion. To remember, I tend to repeat it several times in the phase while on my way to another room or scenery. Remind yourself if it helps. It is also easier to remember that which you think is worth remembering! Have fun.

a historian wrote:the mind is everything and there is no outer world at all.


It's true only in the sense that all perception happens in the mind. There are other profound materialistic predications to be found in the scientific and philosophical works of intellectuals like Susan Blackmore and Daniel Dennett. The latter, as a cognitive scientist, has suggested that the self is an illusion. Note that this does not imply that the self doesn't exist, just that it may not be what it seems. The observer could be illusory, like the centre of gravity of objects in space, just a necessary or convenient abstraction.

Such ideas of no real self go back to the days of David Hume, who put forth bundle theory, although some may argue that the Buddha was the first bundle theorist. In "Guide to the Middle Way," Chandrakirti says: 'The self is like a cart, which is not other than its parts, not non-other, and does not possess them. It is not within its parts, and its parts are not within it. It is not the mere collection, and it is not the shape.'

a historian wrote:Another thing I've been thinking about is the lack of capability to think clearly and analytically in the dream. In the realm of sleep, imagination reigns and reason is somewhat paralyzed. (But this is too narrow of a way to put this. We should consider the nature of "imagination" and "reason" without making too sharp distinctions.) Is this incapability only due to the fact that I haven't been practicing lucid dreaming? Does the ability to think analytically increase, and how close can it get to the waking state?


You may refer to my Alan Worsley link above. There is certainly a natural force weighing against consciousness in the phase state as this one tends to fluctuate. This is why Raduga promotes the weapons of deepening, maintaining, and managing the phase. There is a struggle to stay on top of things in that realm, so to speak, but with practice one can attain more familiarity and success. You may still get the odd bizarre thinking even if you feel super-lucid, but irrationality can certainly be reduced - but do not get complacent (maintain your practice). A plan of action can also keep you focused as well as making it easier to remember the experience afterwards. I would also add that allowing abstract thought once in a while may also work in your favour in waking life as it can promote new perspectives for new ideas - but then again you can get this from ordinary dreaming.

a historian wrote:There was a lot of false awakenings in the dream. It was kind of a funny thing. In a dream I thought I was awake and tried to get back into the lucid dream. I had no contact to my physical body, it didn't even occur to me that I had a physical body. Even when I was aware that I was dreaming, I didn't compare that dream to the "real" reality but to the another dream world in which I was. So it was like a dream within a dream, and I thought that one of these dreams were "reality" and the other was the "dream". Only after I woke up, I realized how blurred my thinking and awareness had been.


False awakenings can occur often when one undertakes this practice. They are sometimes called pre-lucid dreams, although I think possible post-lucids seems to be more appropriate. They are also part of the phase state but the difference is that you don't know that you are in it as you mistaken the environment for reality. You may say, "well, don't we do this in ordinary dreaming, too?" Indeed we do, but in a false awakening your mental faculties are superior and you are more there as it were. Just the wrong interpretation.

In a way, out-of-body experiences interpreted as objective experiences - like Monroe with his Locale I - have something in common with false awakenings: the environment is believed to be the real world. Most scientists will say this view is erroneous and I agree. It is all subjective, in the mind, and since our sensory input from the external world is constrained during sleep, the phase world is completely made up from accumulated mental information. Because of this, lucid dreaming is the supreme form of the phase state simply because the practitioner correctly interprets his/her experience for what it really is while it's happening, hence: "I am dreaming!"
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Techniques:
How to Lucid Dream Tonight: the Easiest Technique to Start Now
Free Lucid Dreaming Books and Guides. Download and Enjoy
How to Induce Sleep Paralysis - Step-by-Step Instruction
How to Have an Out-of-Body Experience - A Simple Way
Astral Projection Guide - A Collection of 50 Techniques
How to Control Your Dreams - 5 Simplest Techniques
Lucid Dreaming Guide: All Methods and Techniques
Astral Projection Techniques - How to Do It Tonight
Lucid Dreaming and Out-of-Body Travel Videos

Theory:
What is lucid dreaming? Let's make it very simple
Sleep Paralysis - What It Is and How to Stop It
10 Best Astral Projection Books and Authors
Lucid Dreaming Predisposition Self-Test
Lucid Dreaming and OBE Applications

In History:
Near-Death Experience: Is There Life after Death, Afterlife?
God, Christianity, the Bible - Caused by Lucid Dreams?
NEWS: Alien Abductions and UFO Sightings Explained!
Human Evolution - The Next Step

Other:
Out-of-Body Travel and Lucid Dreaming Training
Quantum Physics in 5 Minutes - for Dummies
Michael Raduga - Biography
Lucid Dreaming for Kids
App “The Phase”