When I ask you: Can you dream about anything? Then you would say ‘yes’, right?
Imagine you are dreaming about lucid dreaming. So you are not actually lucid, but you dream that you are lucid and that you are controlling things, but actually, you are not controlling anything, because it is all part of the ‘locked’ normal dream you are in. Is this even possible, or is this even logical? How would this even be?
I am saying this because I had a discussion with someone about lucid dreaming, and he didn’t believe in it, but thought I just dreamed about being lucid. One part of me would say, well, what is the difference anyway? But when I think about some almost-lucid dream experiences of my one, I suspect that it could play a role somehow. Any thoughts?
I’ve had a few experiences like this before (generally called “False Lucid Dreams”). One time I dreamt that a DC wanted to help me have a lucid dream, so he put me to sleep in the main dream and I entered a “deeper” FLD where I thought I was lucid but wasn’t. Another time, I realized I was dreaming as I was about to die in a dream, but it didn’t occur to me that I could alter the dream so I wouldn’t die and it would continue, instead letting the potential LD get cut short.
The thing about this is that consciousness doesn’t really exist in discrete “states” like unconscious, dreaming, awake, etc. – it’s more of a spectrum stretching from “out cold” at one end to “fully aware” at the other. In a ND, your mind lies close to the unconscious end of the spectrum, functioning only just enough for you to be able to experience the sensory and emotional components of the dream and maybe also think on a rudimentary level. In a FLD, the only difference is that you know that you’re dreaming – but since you still aren’t actually able to think, you don’t comprehend the significance of that fact in the moment.
In a true LD, you’re able to think at least well enough to fully understand that you’re in a dream and able to control at least some aspects of it; many people are actually even more “tuned in” to their surroundings in LDs than in WL. This is why you hear people talking about wanting to “increase lucidity” – lucidity isn’t a state, it’s a measurement of how close to “fully aware” you are.
I think this question raises some interesting philosophical points. As Lisez Lelui mentioned, I think immediately of FLDs with the idea you’re describing. At the same time, I think people have a variety of ideas about what FLDs actually are and how much they “count” as being lucid. To me, if you fall asleep in a dream, then have another dream in which you achieve lucidity, then wake back up into the first dream with no awareness of your waking life, I would call that an FLD, but I also think you might as well consider it a “true” LD. After all, the subjective experience you’ve had is that of lucid dreaming, and that’s really what you’re looking for, right? It doesn’t really matter what outside criteria it fulfills; if it feels like lucidity, you got what you came for, I think.
By the same tack, I don’t really think you can have an NLD where you think you’re lucid but aren’t; what else is lucidity but a state of mind? Others might disagree with me though. If I have a dream where I’m vaguely aware that I’m dreaming, but I’m still kind of caught up in the plot of the dream and don’t really think about what’s happening with a very deep kind of awareness, I would call that a low-level LD, as Lisez Lelui brought up. I would only call it an NLD if I have no awareness that I’m dreaming at all.
Of course, as you mention, there is also the class of experiences where you’re right on the cusp of lucidity but don’t quite make it, like when you see something “off” in a dream and almost figure it out but then you explain it away. I’d say that’s still in NLD territory but only just. If you figure out that you’re dreaming, I’d say it’s “true” lucidity, no matter what happens afterwards. But it all kind of depends on how you personally want to draw the lines.