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Taking Control Of My Nightmares

by Patrick
(Hephzibah, Ga., United States)

I am 34 years old, and I have experienced several different problems with sleep for the majority of my life. One of the worst problems is with extremely violent and terrifying nightmares. These are often accompanied by episodes of sleep paralysis or night terrors.

Recently I became aware of the possibility of lucid dreaming, and thought "this might be the answer that I am looking for." If I could learn to master lucid dreaming I would be able to effectively take control of my dreams and even defeat the "demons" (for lack of a better word) that torment me in my sleep. I am a man who is afraid of nothing in the real world. If I could take control of my dreams and face the fears in them it would make an unmeasurable difference in my life.

Is this feasible? Can I actually combat and even defeat my over active imagination in this manner? Can I confront the repressed memories that cause these horrible nocturnal images and feelings?

Kevin: Patrick, you are so right on the money with this it's incredible. You absolutely can use lucid dreams to not only curb your nightmares, but take control of them and use them to help you grow or delve deeper into what is behind them.

It's pretty awesomely easy to see how this can be achieved when we understand how lucid dreams operate. When you become lucid, or gain consciousness, in a dream, you are able to control what happens in that dream--everything from what you do, your surroundings, what laws (i.e. gravity) apply to you or not, you can alter. (Have you seen Inception yet, does this sound strikingly familiar or what?) It takes practice, definitely, and skills must be honed, but it is perfectly possible.

Dr. Stephen LaBerge, the world's foremost expert on lucid dreaming, comes to our Sleep and Dreams class each year to give a couple lectures on lucid dreaming, and he always reserves a large chunk of time for talking about them in relation to nightmares. Dr. LaBerge loves to emphasize the point that nightmares are almost always passive experiences. In the ordinary frame of things, we just try to get through them and we don't typically consider there is anything to be done. We just suffer through it. But how else can you see it? How else can you frame the situation? The nightmare is something you are constructing for yourself, so why can't you take hold of that construction process? Lucid dreaming can provide you that other frame, a new way of perceiving and responding to nightmares.

Imagine, for instance, that you're in the middle of experiencing a very real nightmare involving a giant, terrifying nightmare. You're a trained lucid dreamer and your skills induce lucidity during the course of the dream. What's stopping you from turning that big scary monster into a cute, cuddly bunny or somethin'? Better yet, why not confront it and ask it some questions. Realize that it can't hurt you and turn the tables on it. It's your dream, you're in control.

Lucid dreaming is such an empowering, awesome phenomenon, and nightmares are definitely one of the biggest things you can use your lucidity to affect. If you're aiming to teach yourself how to do it (or already know how), keep me posted on how it goes. I would love to hear about it.

You should also check out Rebecca Turner's article on escaping from nightmares on her World Of Lucid Dreaming site. Rebecca's an experienced lucid dreamer and I really admire the work and writing she does for this site. It's definitely worth reading.

Good luck! And feel free to let me know how it goes!


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The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

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