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Lucid Dreaming Is the Best Way to Probe the Unconscious Mind

In asking the mind for answers, Stanton demonstrates that lucid dreaming is the best way to probe his unconscious mind.

 I used to think I would stumble upon my lifelong interest through serendipity someday. I was waiting for the elusive AHA moment, and never thought to solicit my brain for the information. But now that I’ve asked and received an answer, I’m not sure what to do.

My quest began in May of 2015. Around this time, I was engrossed with the philosophy of Indian contemplative Jiddu Krishnamurti. “What is your primary interest, your deep, abiding intention?” he asks, “I think one should discover that for oneself. You must find that out and relate it to all the activities of daily life." I wondered - what was my most vital interest? How could I find this out? Who might I ask? My pet fish didn’t seem to know.

Lucid Dreaming

Then I remembered lucid dreaming, or being awake and aware in a dream. By this time, I had consciously explored my dreams for over a year. It had, despite its absence from my resume, become a sharpened skill. In my lucid dreams, I had soared through space, encountered beautiful women, and bathed in healing light - all with waking consciousness intact.

Dreams were my portal to an untapped repository of primordial knowledge. Perhaps, I reasoned, I could use a lucid dream to answer Krishnamurti’s question and discover my “deep, abiding intention.” And thus my dream goal was set. Fingers trembling, I readied my sleep mask and reached for fresh earplugs.

Exploring the Unconscious Mind

Within a few nights, I dreamed:

Swimming laps, I realize I hover several inches above the surface of the pool. This is too strange, and I conclude it’s a dream! Now lucid, I float from the water and drift past a gorgeous woman in a bikini. Somehow I ignore her. Pausing on a hilltop, I tilt my head to the sky and shout, “show me my most vital interest!” Suddenly a helicopter bristling with weapons emerges from the clouds. The engine blares as it rushes overhead. I wake.

A helicopter? I didn’t like helicopters. This was a perplexing retort from my personal dream factory, and my mind groped for explanations. Was this merely a random occurrence, apt to occur in lucid dreams? Was it, perhaps, a warning to stop my line of inquiry? After all, the helicopter was armed to the hilt. Or, I reflected, was it possible I designed a flawed experiment? Time to try something new.

I was itching to try a method I had read about. The Lucid Dreaming Information Technique (LDIT), devised by Ed Kellog, is presented as a potent way to glean answers to specific questions. “The essential principle behind this technique,” writes Kellog, “involves [in a dream] first finding a medium for the materialization of the answer (such as a bowl, or closed drawer) asking the question, waiting a few seconds, then waiting for the materialized answer (after turning over the bowl, or opening the drawer, etc)." I scrutinized these instructions, imagining how my dream might play out. I trembled at the prospect of finding an answer to the question we’ve been told to ask ourselves since pre-school.

Applying the Technique

Five nights after my brush with the helicopter, I dreamed:

Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I notice that my mouth is missing and one eye is all white. My skin appears frog-like. I need more sleep, I think. Then lucidity slaps me out of delusion. I ghost through a wall to prove I dream, appearing before another mirror with papers scattered on the vanity. I seize a page, ask about my interest, wait several seconds, and flip it over. In a jumble of faded words, I think I discern “philosophy.” Then I sense something behind me. Something big. In the mirror, I see a costumed bear towering over me, a snarl etched into his mask. I wake in fear.

I felt little closure. I loved philosophy, but I wasn’t convinced I got the entire message. After all, most of the text disappeared the moment I looked. And I puzzled over the 8' bear – was he another flunky from the Id? I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t have to see his hulking figure again.

A week into my experiment, my initial excitement had evaporated, replaced by a mixture of curiosity and primal fear. I wondered what my dreams would throw at me next. A psychotic butterfly? An admonition from an oak tree?

Unconscious Enlightenment 

I was not, however, about to give up. I would keep probing my unconscious, but I didn’t expect the answer that came three nights later:

After a series of false awakenings, I seem to wake in a room with wooden walls. Bizarre trinkets surround me and I notice a photo of a childhood friend hanging nearby. “This is a dream,” I declare, rising from bed. I carefully remove a framed cartoon from the wall – the scene resembles Dennis the Menace in black and white. I ask about my interest. I look away. When I return my gaze to the picture, one phrase stands out: “you haven’t found one.” I feel a surge of emotion and wake with a pounding heart.

I haven’t found one, a brilliant memo from someone or something within my skull. It made sense, and I was relieved. No more searching for a fundamental interest – at least, not in lucid dreams. I let myself bask in the glow of another mission accomplished.

Recently I related this dream to my close friend as we hiked through the woods. When I finished, he fell silent behind me on the trail. I stopped and turned to face him, waiting. The wind rustled through the trees. A bird cheeped in the distance. “Whoa…” he muttered.

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