As a child I often suffered from nightmares, as do many other kids. My parents disregarded those experiences as something “not real” and thus not worth being bothered by. I’ve developed a way of dealing with them by myself and as I gradually adopted their point of view, years began to pass.
When I was around the age of fifteen, a memory arose in my mind of somewhat nightmarish childhood dream:
I’m running down the hill in the village I live at as a huge German shepherd is chasing me. My heart is pounding so hard I think it would explode; I know that if it caught me, I was done for. Thinking only about a way to escape the fearsome beast and saving my life, I‘m not paying attention to where I‘m going and I trip over a stone lying on the ground. I start falling head first but instead of hitting the ground something unusual happens – I stop in mid-air approximately 30 centimeters above the ground. I think the time had stopped; I’m floating like a bubble parallel with the ground for some time, then start gaining speed as I begin to move (fly) downhill. All of a sudden there is no more feeling of dread I felt moments before when the ferocious dog was chasing me; instead, there is this amazing feeling of being able to do whatever I want. Soon after I wake up in my bed and the dream is gone, leaving only a strange sensation in me that gradually fades away.
I don’t know why but I started to think about it again, though it was a long time since I’ve dreamed it in the first place. I wondered if I could “recreate” it, maybe even to dream it again and to my surprise the dream repeated itself to the minor detail the following night. Even though I was amazed at what had happened, the event soon sank into my subconscious and years have passed before I recalled this experience again.
My journey began almost a decade ago when I started asking questions that no one in my circle of family and friends was able to answer to. Among other things I felt the urge to understand what “real” actually means. Since no one was able to provide me with answers, I was left with no other option but to search for them myself. A thought-provoking idea was suggested in “The Matrix”:
“What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
The movie further suggested that we are actually asleep and that everything we perceive is not “real” per se, but rather a part of some kind of virtual reality. Keeping this in mind, it is of no surprise that my research soon brought dreams back into my attention.
When I first started to write them down, my primary intention was to interpret them to see if they actually hide some meaning, some directions I could use to navigate through my life with more ease and understanding. Soon, things took a different turn. I discovered the concept of Lucid Dreaming – the ability to become aware within a dream and take control over it which would lead one from being a “passive observer” to actively participate in it similarly to how things work in waking life. I was fascinated by the idea of being able to become aware within a dream and I put all my efforts to achieving this unusual goal. Although I was highly motivated to achieve this state it wasn’t an easy task; first, I had to face the problem with the ever-evasive dream recollection.
I searched the internet for advice on how to improve dream recall and even though there were countless reports from people who successfully crossed that bridge it was a challenge to implement things into my own practice. Eventually, I did it; with experimentation and persistent recording I was able to remember more and more.
Then, another obstacle appeared – I had to recognize that my surroundings weren’t those of waking reality but an environment, created by my mind, a dream. By that time I already familiarized myself with the concepts of consciousness, Astral Travel and Out-of-Body Experiences, dream yoga and shamanic dreaming as well as Castaneda’s teachings and even though there was some initial confusion caused by similarities and differences between them I managed to discover the techniques and procedures that suited me and started bringing first results.
My initial attempts were usually nothing more than brief moments of awareness within a dream that usually ended pretty quickly due to powerful emotional outbursts they caused, but at least I was reassured that it is possible to achieve this phenomenal experience and that was enough to keep me going. In time I was able to spend more time in dreaming and what pleased me even more – I was able to remember my experiences in great details not only after waking up in the morning but also throughout the following days.
This research has already taken many different twists and turns and I have absolutely no idea where it will take me next. What I do know is that it has gradually begun to change the way I’m thinking in the most profound ways imaginable. I’ve learned to question everything instead of taking things at face value. Instead of finding answers I feel as if I’m coming closer to understanding the Socratic paradox – Socrates’ famous quote: “I know that I know nothing.”
Until next time – happy dreaming!