Friday 17 December 2010

Lucid Dreaming: reality construct flaws & useful reality check cues

A reality test is a method of determining if you are awake or dreaming by noticing differences between the dream world and the real world. Here is a brief guide to some reality tests I perform.

Dreams are generally pretty different to real life and lots of strange things happen and yet most of the time you wont notice. The main reason you don't notice is because your consciousness doesn't seem to operate too many critical thinking processes while you dream, making you very likely not to notice something unrealistic that is occurring. You might think something is a bit odd but you will either explain it away or not even think about it.

In a majority of my dreams I never become lucid but here are some reality checks I perform once I suspect that my current stream of consciousness might be processing 'dream' as opposed to 'real' stimuli.


Wrong things that sometimes occur. You can't do these things in every dream, some dreams seem to be more 'real' than others. Generally if you can do a bunch of these or none at all.

  • I can fly
  • I can will things to move
  • I can walk / float through walls / ceilings.
  • I can flick a light switch and the light level doesn't change (sometimes the light level does change, waking life got this wrong)
  • I can will things to disappear
  • I can will things to appear
  • I am walking / driving in a familiar area but roads, street signs are wrong / missing.

My dream construct has a big problems generating proper looking reflections in mirrors. If I 'glance' at a mirror for an instant it will probably look fine, but if I start moving around things start getting interesting:

  • My image becomes distorted, does not look like me.
  • My image isn't 'mirroring' me properly, if I wave my hand etc, although it generally does a good job at this
  • My image distorts and takes on a life of its own, suddenly it is another person.

The dream construct doesn't seem to have any idea that when you fall you should accelerate (I guess it's kinda counting on your inbuilt instinct to not jump off high things), when falling or even descending stairs things are sluggish. Falling is just floating at a moderate pace in a downwards direction. If you try in run down stairs quickly you will often start floating in a forward/downward motion, slowly.

Dream characters are a rather simple bunch. Crowds seem to act as a single entity, moving as a mob and exhibiting the same kinds of behaviour. Most people seem unable to interact with each other or me. Generally there is 1-3 'interactive' people that will change their behaviour based on what you do, talk to you etc. They generally can't interact with each other or even notice each other. Occasionally when the dream construct stuffs up you will get two people talking to you at the same time oblivious to the fact the other is talking. For a majority of other people in a crowd, they wont respond to you talking to them etc, unless you grab them and then some kind of behavioural pattern will kick in, which could involving them speaking gobbledygook, exhibiting a behaviour - eg hostility, happiness, or even flirting with you, but they wont hold a conversation.

People seem to be assigned roles which under normal circumstances you would never notice - if a person is programmed to just walk down a street past you and can't do much else, unless you realise you are dreaming you are unlikely to notice as you wouldn't normally approach a random person on the street and start trying to talk to them. I would say the AI in many modern computer games equals or exceeds my dream construct. A crowd can interact with you as a crowd - ie chase you run away from you, or most likely, ignore you.

Fight Flight Dream:
In saying all that, you could be able to do everything above and still not realise you're dreaming. Exactly how the critical reasoning processes get kicked off is still a mystery to me, but fight flight dreams trigger them regularly.

Fight / Flight is one of my common dream scenarios, common to many people, probably some kind of dream training programme, like a fire alarm drill. Either I am pursuing someone or being pursued, generally either on foot or in a car. Whenever some kind of monster / bad guy shows up I seem to immediately realise I'm dreaming. I haven't had a nightmare since I was a kid because whenever dreams are supposed to get scary I either realise it's a dream or I fly above them or will them to disappear etc without realising I am dreaming. A common situation is chasing / being chased up and down corridors, if I am chasing, gravity not working when I'm descending stairs generally gives the game away. If being chased quite interestingly bad guys often don't come within 1-2 meters of me even if I am motionless - they just kind of sit there looking menacing until you starting moving again.

Trade off between dream quality and lucidity:
I have noticed the more lucid I become, the harder it is to maintain the dream, perhaps there isn't enough brain processing power to go around, either your higher mind creates your environment, or it thinks rationally about things. I find I have to 'ride the wave' and try and stick to the 'dream script' in order to maintain the dream.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read coming off the back of a recent FB exchange. Cheers for pointing me to your blog.

    The first thing I notice is the high level of rational attention to detail in your dream. Maybe that speaks more for me than you when I say that I tend to miss a lot of that stuff.

    The General section, I can say I do not pick up on many, if any (thanks Scribe) of those things.
    Maybe that is because I tend to be a passenger more than a driver of my dreams?

    As someone from around the age 15 was taught to remember and log dreams, of which I did log approximately NEVER but always managed to remember,I have always found it interesting to recollect and analyse what was going on in my "defrag" state.

    One thing that I concentrated on was the emotion that was felt in the ebbs and flows of the state. It gave me a better tool to disseminate the dream with actual applicability. I can recall vividly a couple of recurring and not so recurring dreams that I used as a benchmark. My dreams are somewhat standard in the world of dream analysis. Most common emotions were were anxiety or overcoming / shame or pride. I am no psychologist, and am passed the stage of relying solely on other peoples works as have had enough experience to base my own opinions off of that.

    A couple of major ones I used to have:

    Multiplying anxiety
    1/ it always started out with a s0litary tennis ball bouncing. 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128,256,512,1024,2048.... etc. It would start out controllable and then get overwhelming when the noise of the balls and the sheer numbers were out of control.
    2/ when riding a friends motor bike, I had a big ditch I had to go through ( one that was an actual event at a young age to which I remember I thought I was going to crash but actually managed to make it. )
    I would have recurring dreams of making it through the ditch and then on the other side I would drive up the hill and make a jump. I would get airborne and then I would just keep on going up and up and up. I would wake up... scared of falling. What was the sub-conscience saying? Rhetorical, I worked it out once I didnt wake myself up and landed the huge jump, although it did take a few times at that one before I could.

    Propensity to an Anxiety Disorder in later life perhaps??? ;)

    Could talk about others such as no pants at school, teeth falling out or the amazing flying dreams but its all the same... it is the unconsciousness putting your things into order. What that unconscious is telling you is up to the individual to decipher. Only the dreamer has the brutal honesty of experiencing every emotion on their Hard drive.

    ON a side note- This could be a healthy debate.
    Shying away from the "google factor" these days - How often is it that when in a group of smartphone owners you are discussing the days gone by and the topic moves onto, lets say, Nirvana. Next thing it is Kurt Cobain and what year he passed away with no one trying to recollect the actual date by associated memories. Next thing you know everyone is booting up safari and wiki'ing it. Are we losing our long term memory and the art of face to face communication, trust and healthy debate? And does letting facts get in the way of a great story start to erode at someone's credibility now that we can prove someone wrong, within the same time it took them to tell the story no less, that it was in April 1999 not June 1999?


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