Lucid dreaming: what is this phenomenon?

The dream is a complex and exciting field. In general, it intrigues because the scenarios that are built in our mind are suggested by the unconscious. The images, the characters and the situations come to us without our having our say. However, there is another type of dream, the lucid dream. Tristan Moir, psychoanalyst and specialist in the language of dreams defines it as follows: “it is the fact of becoming aware of your dream. The dreamer takes a step back, and does not lose his critical sense.

The lucid dream appears during REM sleep, the last stage of the cycle and therefore close to awakening. During this phase, the difference between dream and reality can become unsettling. “The end of the cycle is the most important phase of the dream, those that we remember the best come from this moment” explains the psychoanalyst.

Most of the time, lucid dreaming manifests itself spontaneously, but varies from person to person. For Tiphaine, 20, a communication student, it’s an innate faculty: “I’ve had lucid dreams since childhood, I didn’t know what it was at the time, then I understood later in researching”. Fanny, 22, a law student, has also always had the ability to know she was dreaming. In his case, it is his mental state at the time that influences his way of dreaming: “I noticed that it often happened to me in times of stress because my sleep is very light in these moments”.

The triggers

How do these dreamers realize that they are not in reality but in a dream? According to Tristan Moir, it is the “content of the dream” or “its recurrence, if it is anxiety-provoking”, which puts them on the alert. Camille, a 22-year-old journalism student, notices this when the contrast between her waking life and her dream is too great: “If my personal situation – awake – is scary but everything is going perfectly well in my dream, I find that it is too good to be true. As a result, she realizes it is a dream.

The critical sense of the person is preserved during a lucid dream. Tiphaine understands that she is dreaming by observing her environment: “I notice that the way I see the people and the images around me seems false. “ As a child, a method made her realize that she was dreaming: “When I was little, I pinched myself but I felt nothing, that’s when I understood that I was in a lucid dream. »

induce lucid dreaming

While it occurs naturally for most dreamers, it can be induced by the use of techniques such as “induction” before sleep. A concept mentioned in the book by Carlos CastanedaThe Art of Dreaming: The Four Gates of Perceiving the Universe, which consists of suggesting images to our brain. If you want to dream of a particular person, it is better to “think of their face rather than associating it with their first name” explains Tristan Moir. This method can be practiced for one to two weeks for it to be effective. It is better to add “deep breaths to relax the mind” before sleeping.

In addition, it is possible to switch to lucid dreaming “after a return to REM sleep following a brief awakening” according to the analysis of Stephen LaBerge, founder of the Lucidity Institute, a sleep research center at Stanford University. – relayed by the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center. Simply, it would suffice to cause us to wake up, using an alarm, and to suddenly go back to sleep in order to voluntarily plunge back into paradoxical sleep.

“Memorizing an object before going to bed in order to find it in the dream” or “looking at your hands” once immersed in the dream, are also possible techniques. And it works ! Many people use it to fuel their fantasies… of all kinds: erotic or even professional. Tristan Moir confirms it: lucid dreaming is currently “trendy” but it is above all a kind of “escape from reality”…

Passive or active awareness depending on the individual

If the individual is aware that he is in a dream, he remains more or less passive in the face of the situation. He can, in some cases, observe the images unfold without trying to intervene. Esther, 21, explains: “If I like what happens, then I let things happen. In another case, the notion of “control” of the dream comes into play. The young woman adds: “If the dream becomes disturbing, I modify it to my taste by rewinding the scenes.” »

For these followers of lucid dreaming, controlling their dream is natural. It’s not about thinking, it’s innate. Camille says: “When I really want something, it happens. I understand that I have power over myself and I do what I want. She qualifies: “If I happen to be able to read minds in a lucid dream, I can only very rarely create an unrealistic situation, it must be achievable acts”.

The feeling of being able to accomplish what one wants without worry seems to be the reason why dreamers appreciate this lucidity of sleep. During her childhood, Tiphaine was the perfect student, wise, never going beyond the limits. The lucid dream then allowed him to free himself from orders: “I remember this dream where I was in primary school; I got up, left the classroom, I heckled because I was not afraid of punishment, while remaining aware that in reality I was sleeping”.

Innate or brought about by training, lucid dreaming is accessible to everyone and can take us on a journey through the situations we wish. It can also allow us to learn more about ourselves. Dreams, in general, allow a certain introspection if we analyze them thanks to a dictionary of dreams.

So, ready to daydream?

References :

Tristan Moir, psychoanalyst and dream language specialist

Carlos Castaneda, The art of dreaming: the four doors to the perception of the universe (Editions du Rocher)

The art of directing your dreams, Stephen LaBerge Science and Avenir Hors-Série Le Rêve Dec. 96


Do you know how to listen to your dreams?

The royal road to the unconscious according to Jungian theories, dreams can turn out to be a real tool for self-knowledge. Our dreamlike journeys say a lot about our identity, our fears, like our desires. However, we are not always inclined to listen to their language, which may even seem strange to us, or even childish. Find out what relationship you have with this realm of dreams.

To find out which is your dominant profile, answer as sincerely as possible the questions of the test developed with psychotherapist and Jungian analyst Mireille Rosselet-Capt, author of dreams and intuition (Ed Youth).

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Lucid dreaming: what is this phenomenon?

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