I was reading a post by Ben over at Dreaming Life about Robert Waggoner’s new book: “Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self,” and I was particularly struck by the idea about the true nature of control in a lucid dream. To quote:

No sailor controls the sea. Only a foolish sailor would say such a thing. Similarly, no lucid dreamer controls the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, we lucid dreamers direct our perceptual awareness within the larger state of dreaming.

Waggoner elaborates on his view in the interview, so I won’t go too much detail here. Instead, I’d like to go into depth on the idea of control based on my experiences. In order to help define control in general terms, let’s look at control in normal and lucid dreams.

Normal Dream Control
In a “normal” dream, one is unaware of the dream. Something in the dream happens, and you react. Sometimes you appear to have an agenda with things to do. This sort of dreaming is very reactionary, at least in my experience. It seems that I’ll have some goal at one point, and the changing surroundings in the dream distract me along my path to that goal. There is no direct “I’d like this to happen because I can make it happen,” it’s more along the lines of trying to effect the change through action. I’ve had many dreams when this has failed often to rather humorous consequences upon waking. For instance, I often experience weakness when trying to fight or punch things/people. I trained in martial arts for a few years, so this is particularly frustrating to me in dreams. I continue to attempt the same attack over and over again. This is a perfect example of how little control one can have in a normal dream. If one’s normal waking day method of doing things (physically altering them) fails, one is rather powerless. I would characterize “normal” dream control as direct and physical .

In between nights of writing this post, I had a dream in which I didn’t exist. I was simply watching some plot play out. This made me think more about how I was defining control. I would define no control as when you lack any sort of power to interact, as an observer. It was a very interesting idea to me, even though I’ve had similar dreams in the past, it came at a very opportune time to give me perspective.

Lucid Dream Control
A lucid dream is a different game entirely. Gone are the limitations of only physical control, and opened are the mental, desire based, and supernatural controls. When one wants something accomplished, one can physically try to do it, or more likely, simply make it happen with some supernatural power or simply by wishing it into existence. This is the more typical type of control I would imagine when I think of lucid dreaming and interacting with the dream. This control is less based in physical action and more in terms of simply “making it happen.”

I wonder if having a lucid dream would make the observer style of dream any different. Perhaps your “thoughts” would be clearer, but then again I don’t remember thinking either.

Dream Control as an Administrator

All of these Ideas I’ve presented so far agree with Waggoner’s assertion about control in dreams. The dreamer controls certain parts about the dream, but never the entirety of the dream. If the sheer amount of things going into the dream are considered, this must be accepted. Even when you create the landscape and the very surroundings and people in the dream, you’re only creating a higher level of the dream. You might create a tree, but did you decide how many leaves it has, how tall it is, how thick the trunk is? Perhaps if you make a rolling meadow. Did you decide how the grass looks on an individual level? Obviously you didn’t go through thousands of blades of grass. The brain seems to take general commands and fill in the details. I can also think of a few times when I meant to create one thing and got another, so perhaps the detail control is imprecise, or just likes toying with the dreamer . It’s almost as though you’re a boss handing instructions to an employee, who does what you ask, as they understand it. This might explain how you get a tree with all of the details without having to ask for them. The big question then, is who is carrying out these instructions?

So I pose a question to my readers: Who do you think carries out these instructions, or more generally, how do you think control in a dream is accomplished and how should it be defined?


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I went through another round of shared dreaming attempts recently, with my high level lucid dreaming friend I mentioned in my previous article. While success eludes us for now, our attempts did produce some rather interesting results. Before I get into that though, here’s our “techniques” for sharing dreams:
Both picture the same environment and try to meet there.
Try to meet in the dream counterpart of our real world place of residence.
Stepping through a mirror with the intention of being where the other person is
Googling where the other person was to locate them.

That last one was my friend’s idea, I thought it was rather funny. While I failed to become lucid during the week or so of attempts we did, she was lucid every night, so we got to see potential issues and troubleshoot rather quickly. Here’s a brief synopsis of the interesting events:

In one of my non-lucid dreams, I was trying to board a train to get to my friend’s apartment. I was at a different location then where my house should be, and I was waiting for the train. However, whenever a train got close, something stopped me from boarding it. Lacking a ticket, a last minute change of destination, and the most blatant dream-fighting-my-intention block: The platform spinning around when I would get to the end where the train was.

My friend tried to google me. She said that it kept changing and she eventually lost me before she could leave to get me. I guess I was having a particularly turbulent dream that night. She also tried stepping through a mirror, but that she said that had the same result. She would lose me.

The closest we got to success was a dream in which I remembered getting up in my friends apartment. The physical place was unaltered, except there were two cots in the kitchen, one of which I was sleeping on, the other was also occupied. I remembered doing a few things in the apartment. My friend had a dream that night of me and another person waking in her apartment, and then walking to campus. It was a very interesting coincidence, the disappointing (or perhaps not, depending) problem was that our descriptions of the third person weren’t very similar.

I won’t go into the different conclusions you could draw about the person showing up differently to each of us. Your view on the source and reality of dreams will influence the various interpretations you draw. There are many, many, interpretations. The simplest, which is what I’m sticking with, is that we weren’t sharing a dream, and that it was coincidence. If I err on the side of failure, any success will stand out all the more.

The most interesting effect of these attempts was that my friend found that the more she tried to find me and to connect to my dream, the less and less control she had. This effect continued to increase over the week of our attempts, until she decided to quit after we both decided the experiment was having a negative impact on her own personal dreams as well as our shared attempts.

This result has big ramifications! It suggest that if you were to mix the dream consciousness of two people, you would get a kind of average of their awarenesses, instead of two separate consciousnesses in a shared environment. It also helps to outline what might be necessary for two people to share a dream: a like mind and a sort of connection (to avoid a jarringly different joined conscious) as well as relatively equal and high levels of lucidity.

I am looking forward to our next experiment.


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A little while ago I had a long conversation with one of my friends about lucid dreaming. She has what I termed “Transcendent Lucidity,” or complete awareness in every dream, as well as high levels of control. Enough lucidity to essentially life your life in dreams, and abandon waking reality. Upon my discussion with her however, I noticed a completely different point of view then the one I held and still somewhat hold. She thought it was selfish and sad to live your life in dreams. I argued that there’s nothing selfish nor sad about it, you can still live your normal life, as a normal person, or that even if you didn’t really function in daily life, who cares? It’s an intermission in between a lifetime of unlimited potential and another lifetime of the same.

How would being able to be completely lucid every night for as long as you want change the way you lived your life? Here’s a few that came up in that conversation:


-It would give you anything you wanted every night
-it lasts as long as you want
-You wouldn’t have to worry about the normal waking life.
-You wouldn’t want expensive luxuries nearly as much, because you already have everything every night.


-Daily life becomes a drag after having achieved everything you ever wanted.
-You would be dysfunctional in waking life, as it would just be an interruption to dreams.
-It may feel like however long, but in reality it’s just like normal memory when you wake up. (The only thing is, there’s nobody to remind you of it, so it fades away until something does, or unless you write it down. I doubt anybody is going to write a lifetime down in a day)

Questions to ponder and discuss:

When you’re spending more conscious time in your dreams then your waking conscious, which one is your reality?
Is it selfish to spend your life dreaming?
Could you somehow spend that time in the dream with another person from waking reality? (effectively achieving a lifetime with another person)
(This sharing would allow you to discuss what happened with another person, improving your recall)

What’s your opinion on Transcendent Lucidity? I’d like to have a discussion with my readers on this topic, as more points of view will bring new avenues of thought and discussion. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


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I was mulling over my dreams last night, and I was doing my routine check with a friend to see if it might have been a shared dream. As usual, no connection whatsoever. At least literally speaking. That’s when an idea hit me.

If dreams could be considered symbolic, what’s to say that all dreams aren’t shared, but with different symbols?

Maybe that sounds impossible, but think about it. If every person has a different perception of the same thing, it’s feasible in most ways. I was just thinking about it and I can’t really think of anything that might disprove it. (Not saying that this makes it true, as that’s a logical fallacy, just that it remains a possibility in my mind right now.) Something that is necessary for this idea is another idea: That we all dream together in something akin to the collective unconscious or a world of dreams. But the first idea begs the question:

What are actual shared dreams?

Under this concept, a dream in which people successfully communicated and experienced the same thing would be when they aligned their mechanism of perception. This way, they perceived the same things in the dream and could communicate as well as remember something similar.

This is just an idea that struck me, not based on experience or something I’ve read or anything like that, just an idea. What do you think of it?


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