I recently had the pleasure of interviewing well known blogger Erin Pavlina about her highly creative explorations of dreaming. If you find yourself intrigued by this interview, please go read the Erin Pavlina blog for further writing on the subject of dreams.
Erin, you are an experiential expert on dreaming in general and lucid dreaming in particular. After reading your descriptions of how lucid dreaming evolved for you, it sounds as though it began in the spirit of creative play. For the benefit of any readers not already familiar with your work, could you please describe lucid dreaming and how you create with it?
I learned lucid dreaming after doing my science fair project in junior high on the subject of dreams. It sounded so interesting to be able to control dreams so I experimented with it while still in my teens. It didn’t take long before I was able to become lucid while having a dream, then I learned how to change the plot of a dream while it was happening, and eventually I learned to program in advance exactly the dream I wanted to have. My favorite dreams were the ones where I could don my cape and play superhero, careening around the sky, shooting lasers from my hands, and vanquishing the bad guys. And since I was a teen at the time and quite boy crazy, I could easily arrange dates with my favorite actors.
Sometimes we receive warning dreams, others show our own emotional processing, and some can be chalked up to indigestion, etc. Can you outline the main categories of dreams and how lucid dreaming is or is not appropriate to use in each of them?
Like you mentioned there are several types of dreams. Sometimes I call them dreamscapes because while I’m in each type I can identify the dream “landscape” and know what to expect. The dreams I like least are the ones where my subconscious is trying to process buried emotions. Necessary, but usually they are jumbled and fear-based and not at all fun. I also have precognitive dreams where I dream of a future event. Those often come out sort of hazy or with a gray halo around them. I also have dreams where I am in conscious contact with my higher self, spirit guides, angels, or other celestial beings. Those seem more like direct communication to me where I basically find myself chatting with them and there’s no dream symbolism around at all.
I think it’s inappropriate to try to make every dream a lucid dream. You’ve got to give your subconscious mind it’s share of the night. Important work is being done in those dreams. But since you have 4-6 dreams every night, on average, there’s plenty of time for a lucid dream or two. Lucid dreaming provides good practice for staying conscious whether you are in a dream or in life.
Dreams, even for those who do not remember them, usually set the emotional tone for the day following the dreams. How is your waking life affected by your lucid dreams?
Like everyone else, I sometimes have dreams that are unnerving, like when I dream one of my kids is injured, or if I dream my husband is cheating on me, or if I dream someone has died. It can wreak havoc on my emotions and take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours to shake off the effects of a bad dream experience.
What is the optimum balance between lucid dreaming and other dreaming?
That is likely going to be different for each individual. I can handle a lot of lucid dreaming. Some nights I will program a dream situation and it carries me through until morning so that I’m having one long continuous experience. Even if I wake up in between I can usually get right back in where I left off. Can’t leave Magneto running around unchecked now can I? 😉
I think the more conscious you are and the more you tackle the problems of your life and the happier you are, the more lucid dreaming you could be safely doing.
Your posts on your blog share some quite interesting adventures in dreaming. What are the most creative applications of lucid dreaming in your experience so far?
In high school when I was studying for a biology test on the Kreb’s cycle I remember being very tired and wanting to go to sleep. I programmed myself to dream about studying and sure enough, I did! I think I got an extra hour of studying in while sleeping. On the test, I had that Kreb’s cycle down pat! Just don’t ask me anything about it today.
I also use lucid dreaming to practice anything from making a speech to parenting to cooking. It’s like a virtual school in there.
Are you developing anything new in lucid dreaming at this time?
I’m always on the lookout for new and richer dream experiences. Right now I’m finding myself doing psychic readings for people while I’m dreaming. Sometimes, if I know the person, I’ll call them the next day and see if the information I got fits them. It’s been amazing. So I guess I’m practicing my psychic skills while dreaming as well.
Do you deliberately gather information during dreaming for use in your waking life, or does it simply come spontaneously, such as described in your post A Visit from Grandpa?
I don’t do it deliberately, no. If it wants to come, it knows how to find me.
In what ways are your dreams a creative component of your spiritual growth?
I credit my experiences with lucid dreaming for opening many doors to me and helping me with my psychic development. Being able to retain your consciousness while your body is unconscious is extremely empowering. You can retain that sense of power during your waking life as well. Treating my life like a lucid dream helps me control and determine the course of my life. Just snap my fingers (practically) and whatever I want comes to pass. We truly do create our reality. When you practice inside your dreams you get better at manifesting in life.
What are your recommendations for those who wish to use their dreams as a creative component of their spiritual growth?
Explore! There’s so much you can do in a lucid dream. I talk about lucid dreaming in my blog a lot, sharing experiences and giving tips and advice for achieving them. Listen to my podcast on lucid dreaming for more information.
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