by Saleena Nival
Lucid dreaming is the ability to be aware in the dream state. While the scientific community debates the existence of conscious awareness during sleep, advocates of lucid dreaming say the practice is real and can have benefits for practitioners.
The problem of frequent nightmares can be addressed through lucid dreaming, as the dreamer can control the dream landscape, changing and manipulating the setting and events to less threatening, calmer scenarios.
“I think that if you could wake yourself up from an unpleasant dream, that would be a really amazing benefit,” said English teacher Alisa Zonis.
Lucid dreamers claim they can put themselves into specific dream scenarios. For example, they can deliberately enter a dream in which they interact with a famous celebrity, perform extraordinary athletic feats, or fly through the air like Superman.
According to the website worldofluciddreaming, advocates of the practice say that engaging in lucid dreaming increases the possibility of interaction with the subconscious mind, leading to enhanced self-awareness, self-knowledge, and the potential discovery of hidden talents and insights. Some report long-term benefits in their emotional well-being, professional achievements, interaction with friends and family and other aspects of their waking lives.
While the website claims that lucid dreaming is scientifically proven, there have been very few peer-reviewed studies or articles in recognized academic journals in the past few decades.
Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., a psychophysiologist trained at Stanford University, is the founder of The Lucidity Institute, which promotes research on and the practice of lucid dreaming. LaBerge asserts that anyone can learn to dream lucidly, and that there are virtually no negative or dangerous aspects of the practice.
The institute (lucidity.com) offers practical information for those interested in learning about the topic. The site features an extensive FAQ page that gives the basics of lucid dreaming, as well as tips on how to be successful at it.