By David F. Melbourne
'Lucid dreams have changed my life.' These are the words of former sceptic, Mark Creed. As an industrial chemist, 37-year-old Mark specialised in polymers, and like so many scientists, was schooled in the concept of behaviourism and thought that if anecdotal phenomena could not be physically measured, they probably did not exist.
This story begins during the summer of 1996 when, at a social gathering, I raised the subject of lucid dreams - I had met Mark only a few times previously. Although he considers himself to be open-minded, Mark could not accept the notion that an individual could be fully conscious, yet still be in dreaming REM sleep. Moreover, the idea that a lucid dream possibly constitutes another level of reality, proved too much for him swallow.
I am accustomed to this understandable reaction from people who, for the first time, learn about the phenomenon. However, unlike some who become openly scornful, Mark was polite enough - albeit wearing a doubtful smile - to hear me out. There then followed a friendly discussion, which covered everything from Newtonian laws of science to quantum physics. By the end, it was evident that I had not succeeded in creating the slightest chink in his steadfast ideas - or had I?
Mark's conscious way of thinking and his beliefs had not changed, but the ever vigilant subconscious had taken in everything I had said. Just a few days later, he experienced his first, brief lucid dream. The next time we met, he not only had the honesty to tell me this, but he was keen to know more about the strange world of lucid dreams.
Regular site visitors will know that I am in the fortunate position of having formed a partnership in dream research with Dr Keith Hearne. Dr Hearne is arguably the world's leading authority on the subject of dreams, specifically lucid dreams, having pioneered the earliest research into the phenomenon, and established the first structured communication from a lucid dreamer to the outside world.
After giving Mark a fairly in-depth explanation about the subject, I supplied him with Dr Hearne's book, The Dream Machine - Lucid dreams and how to control them, (Aquarian), which he took away and read with interest. Then, just a few days later, he had another, longer period of lucidity. From that moment, the way in which Mark viewed the world began to change. Since then, he has had many more lucid dreams, some of which he has found to be quite overwhelming.�
(Life and death have new meaning!)
Recalling his old behaviourist stance, Mark reported, 'I've always been a realist and interested in science.' He paused, then added, 'And I've always worked in a logical way and believed that everything had to be proved. I used to believe that dreams were an irrelevance and served no purpose. I simply didn't believe in lucid dreams.'
So how has this phenomenon changed his life? 'As far as life goes, it somehow seems less important,' he explained. 'I used to believe that it was incredibly important, something to be clung on to. Experiencing lucid dreams has diminished my sense of mortality. Life is no more the be-all and end-all of everything. I am now more relaxed in my approach to the future.'
As Mark continued talking, the reason for his comments became clear. 'I used to believe that death was the end of everything - nothing before, nothing after. But, as you and Dr Hearne point out, lucid dreams definitely raise the possibility that we all exist in a mentalistic universe.'
Mark's logical mind then reached the obvious conclusion. He went on, 'Therefore if we exist in a mental reality, what's to say that we don't have another life to look forward to after this existence?'
Mark acknowledged that experiencing such a powerful degree of lucidity has resulted in adding a spiritual dimension to his life, where none existed before. He concluded, 'My entire outlook on life and death has changed!'
Nowadays, Mark records all his lucid dreams and passes them on for Dr Hearne and myself to study and research. Mark's logical thought patterns and grounding in science make him an ideal subject for carrying out specific experiments during these dreams.
For example, Dr Hearne and I are interested to know what happens when a lucid dreamer attempts to pass through solid objects. In this sense, there already exist accounts of effects and events under these circumstances, and Mark's reports could help confirm these findings. Among other tests, we are keen to experiment with precognition, (foresight).
At this juncture, it is worth pointing out to you, the reader, that my own research into lucid dreams suggests that they vary in potency. Some people might become aware that they are dreaming for a fleeting moment, before lapsing into a conventional dream, (slight lucidity). This is sometimes reported during a nightmare.
Others can be aware that they have achieved full long and short term memory recall, (regained their identity), but take no active part in the dream. Instead, they observe in wonderment as the dream unfolds around them, (medium lucidity).
Mark, however, is fortunate in that his memory and identity are restored, and he enjoys taking an active part in the dream, even to the extent where he is learning to control the events, (high lucidity).
A small proportion of the population, however, experience something more powerful, in that they appear to be able to utilise the lucid dream state to initiate an out of body experience. I have coined the phrase, 'A full-blown lucid dream'.
It must be emphasised that the chart below is based on my estimation of the statistics accessed on dreams that are reported to me - more research has to be carried out in this field before these figures could be regarded as statistically significant. Nevertheless, they do provide an interesting grounding on which to begin such work.
To give you a better idea of the amazing potential of the lucid dream, Mark has kindly agreed to allow us to publish one of his experiences of this miraculous phenomenon. His detailed observations provide valuable research material. I have selected the following dream, because it raises many questions of how the perception of time itself can be affected.
MARK CREED'S ACCOUNT
I was looking through the back door of a car at its interior. I then moved from the car to look at my surroundings. I was on the pavement in a town street. When I looked up, the sky was blue and it was very bright and sunny. I felt euphoric. The street was wide and I don't recall any people. I gazed at the shops and the skyline - everything was bathed in sunshine. It felt Mediterranean.
I ran down the middle of the street. I felt great. I remember thinking about experiments that Dave and Dr Hearne wanted me to do, and recalled the one about jumping off a chair, but I couldn't see one. I needed to concentrate hard to conjure one up, but I was loath to do so in case I woke up; besides which, it was such a fantastic day, I couldn't care less about the chair.
I carried on running, looking up at the flags and bunting. I felt that I wanted to fly. Then I thought, 'I can fly!' Concentrating, I ran and flew up, but I couldn't sustain the concentration and came down again.
I carried on running towards another street. As I ran, I thought that I must take off in order to clear the buildings, but I couldn't get off the ground. I fell over on the pavement and rolled on the ground. As I fell, I kept my eyes open and watched the shops and buildings. They went from in front of me, to being above. The reality and perspective were astonishingly real.
As I lay gazing, I thought clearly that this stunning experience was a creation of my brain. During the fall, I felt no pain. I got up and ran along the road into a huge circular centre, rather like a roundabout without streets leading from it. I stopped and wondered how long I had been dreaming lucidly. I considered it and concluded that it felt like between ten and fifteen minutes.
The place was a bit like Coleford town centre, but without the clock-tower in the middle. Still bright and sunny, it felt even more Mediterranean.
I saw a red car parked, and decided to try and lift it up. Without effort, I lifted it over my head. I felt like Superman. Then, I wanted to see if I could stop a moving car. I ran to the middle of the centre to wait for cars, at which point, people began to appear walking by. I wanted some cars to come out of adjoining streets, but didn't conjure them up consciously.
Low and behold, cars started to appear, driving by. They were all old cars, and I'm sure one was a Triumph Herald. I wanted to run in front of them to see if I had the power to stop them. I still felt like Superman, and didn't think that I could be harmed. The cars stopped coming, so I consciously conjured up some more. Three light olive green cars from the mid-seventies drove by in front of me. They were shiny like new, all in excellent condition and very real.
The cars and people dispersed. I ran down the middle of the street. I felt great. I very much wanted to be by the sea. I ran round a corner, and there was the sea and a beach. I continued running, across the sand and into the sea. Before I saw the sea, I just knew it would be there.
I stopped in about six inches of crystal clear water and began to study things. The sea was so clear and blue, with gentle ripples, as one would expect on a calm day. However, something strange was happening. The motion of the sea was in quick time - sort of fast forward. Carefully, I scanned it from the horizon to my immediate vicinity. It was like watching a video being played on fast forward.
Except for the sea moving so fast, the perspective and colours were totally convincing and real. But the strangest thing was that, in complete contrast, I was moving at normal speed. Bizarre! Astonishing! I woke up, glanced at the clock. It was 8.30 a.m. I felt euphoric, charged up, fantastic.
* * *
Readers will be interested to note that, despite Mark's grounding in science, in this instance, even he was unable to overcome the exhilaration of the experience, in order to carry out the set tests. Also worth noting, is the fact that much of the dream has been cut to avoid this article running out of space - no ordinary dream could be recalled with so much clarity and detail.
Finally, Dr Hearne and I are always interested to receive accounts of lucid dreams, particularly those which contain unusual sequences. Perhaps 'lucid' dreams have changed your life? Would you like to help us in our research, by joining our network of lucid dreamers, who carry out tests and report back to us?
DAVID F. MELBOURNE, who lives on a remote Scottish island, has been studying dreams for 25 years and is known all over the world for his accurate dream interpretations. Apart from the general public, he has analysed dreams for celebrities and famous authors, all of whom have admitted a high degree of accuracy.
David was the first person to discover the 'trigger mechanism' in sleep, which identifies message-bearing dreams, thus disproving Freud's idea that dreams are the guardian of sleep. He was also the first to establish a link between neurological visions, caused by trauma, and the subconscious. He has written a fantasy novel, and has had about 40 short stories (nearly all inspired by dreams) published by various imprints.
More about David F. Melbourne can be found at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dreamthemes