The Catch-22 of Lucid Dreaming

I was just struck with an epiphany at the moment in regards to lucid dreaming:

Despite the raw awe-inspiring nature of lucid dreaming - the phenomenal, manifold emotional experience you get from drifting, cruising or rocketing through the cosmos among a seemingly infinite myriad of possibilities - the sheer emotion and feeling of such experiences can, in my own personal experience, (apparently validated by like experiences) not be left unrestrained without consequences… Unceremonious “falling from grace”. I.e.: ejection from the dream world.

Basically, one must take a monk-like, almost objective standpoint on their experiences in the dreamworld. A jaded, contrived reign on pure emotion. “Too much fun spoils the fun of lucid dreaming.” Emotional highs left unchecked become the Achilles’ heel of the dreamer; you’re orbiting the earth. You let go of the reigns of flight and pause. For just a moment in timelessness. And then, you enter freefall. Freefalling at tremendous speeds, shattering the sound barrier four times over, you feel extreme ecstasy in your abdomen. It jumps to your chest and it’s as if your heart is pounding. Fast, then faster to stay ahead of your rate of descent - and you’re nearing the ground below when - you wake up.


Why? Because you didn’t stay in control of your tremendous influx of feelings. The feeling is like nothing you could ever experience in waking life. Like 1,000,000 elephants and orangutans riding rainbow tsunamis and cyclones through your body. But all it seems to be is an invitation for the forces of the “dreamverse” to disconnect you from its omega presence. (Much like XBox Live does to players using “über-” upgrades or cheats in multiplayer forums.) I liken it much to a video game, actually. The level of emotion you are able to experience in the dream is limited, not necessarily to the amount of time you can stay in a dream.

Think of yourself dreaming in third-person, for example. The “you” in third-person in your avatar. Your emotion meter is on an unseen gauge, but we’ll make it visible in this case. (At the left, uppermost corner of your view. Whatever color you want. Mine is green.) The lucidity meter is just below the emotion gauge and measures your level of lucidity on a 0-5 scale - 0 equating to a normal dream with no lucidity at all, and a 5 equaling the high level of lucidity… Complete control. We’ll put our meter just between 2 and 3 because that’s the highest I believe I have gotten. We’ll call it “basic” or “novice” lucidity. The “in-dream” clock is just above the emotion gauge and keeps track of how long you have been in the dream verse, (hrs.min.sec.) but it’s irrelevant, really.


My theory is, your emotion affects you proportionately to your level of lucidity. So if you are not lucid at all, your emotion gauge fills at an extremely rapid pace, compared to that of a lucid level 5, where the gauge fills relatively slower - maybe even next to not at all. Next to… Next to. :roll:

Now, once your gauge fills, the dream ends. The GAME OVER - or rather, DREAM OVER - screen laughs at you with a face of haughty mockery. Going way back to the space freefalling example, that fills the emotion gauge almosy instantaneous. Another notorious dream killer: sex. This is most suredly a femme FATALITY for many lucid dreamers. You barely get a chance to watch your gauge burst from emotion-overfill. Blink and you’ve missed it. :eek:

What a crux… :cry:

Dreams are so anticlimactic. That includes lucid dreams. They are nonetheless exciting to experience, but they are so ephemeral. :neutral:

A little more confirmation from other lucid dreamers would be nice, though. When you wake from a lucid dream, is it really because you depleted your time? (No, no dreamtime rollover minutes, so don’t ask.) Or maybe you became a little too excited…?

Personally, that’s the only thing that irritates me about lucid dreaming; I can’t experience any feeling to its fullest without waking up immediately afterward as a result. (Well, that and how gosh darn hard it is to achieve lucidity in the first place…) So, while lucid dreams are all in good fun, they leave me with a bittersweet taste - I’m elated that I was able to dream lucidly, but maybe just a little in the realm of anticipatory-cliffhanger-disappointment that I did not experience it to its full potential. But I return, nonetheless. And maybe that’s what makes lucid dreams so fascinating. The “replay value” - if you don’t mind one more video game analogy. :wink:

So, a catch-22 in lucid dreaming - agree? Disagree? Any replies? Other dual-edged blades of lucid dreaming I may have missed? :smile:

I’m going to state your entire post was truth. Then I’m going to screw it up by saying that maybe it is possible to experiance these emotions in lucid dreams anyway, and not wake up. Complete control, including waking up. Maybe it is possible, and we don’t have to wake up. In video games, rules can be broken with cheats, glitches, or even secrets that the developers put in the game for the most ambitious players to find. Maybe this rule of Emotion=Time limit can be broken and replaced with Will=Time Limit. This means there is no set time limit, rather just a dream for absolute freedom. Maybe if we thought about it enough, and accepted the idea, then our dreams would change. We would no longer have dreams limited by emotion, but free dreams. What do you think?

600th post W00T!

Congratulations on your 600th post! :smile:

“Screw it up?” On the contrary, I believe that broadens the understanding of this aspect into lucid dreaming. (Your third-to-last sentence, though, is eerily reminiscent of The Secret “law of attraction” mode of thought…) And actually, just after I finished my post, I thought about the concept more and how false awakenings may be, in some manner, “glitches” within the dream world that partially bypass the “emotion-time law”.

Then secrets must be serendipitous findings within the dreamverse that enable the knowledge of how to prolong lucid dreaming while simultaneously eliminating emotion-time. Or secrets can be accessed as easily as asking a DC. Albeit, the right DC…

I would guess the “cheats” to be external “stimuli”. I.e.: psychadelic/hypnogogic/hallucinogenic/etc. drugs, “lucid” foods, sensory deprivation tanks or even simple sleep deprivation.


I just don’t think it’s as simple as, high emotion = wake up. Indeed I have had very high emotional states in Lucid and non lucid dreams that did not end the dream. Yes, excitement does put you at risk of awakening, but it doesn’t have to. I think alot of the awakenings come from a fear of awakening. We expect to wake up.
As for the emotion- and lucidity bars. People always say that dreams are so emotional. Mine aren’t so much. But lucid dreams are different, they are very emotional. I’d say my emotion bar goes up with the lucidity one, and usually rides pretty high.
There are many factors that contribute to our waking up. Emotion is just one.
I think that experience will allow the dreamer to experience higher emotional states without waking up. Actually. I know so.

Perhaps it’s not the high emotion itself that causes a lucid dreamer to wake up, but instead the confusion of logic those emotions cause. That’s more semantics than anything though.

LDing is all about becoming conscious during a dream. How that seems to occur [most of the time] is the dreamer recognizes that something they are seeing or encountering is out of place, it can’t be real. This realization jolts the consciousness to the forefront. With the consciousness comes it’s logic which first recognized the impossible nature of what was being viewed.

So keeping that in mind, how is the logical conscious mind supposed to interpret you riding around on a magic carpet? Like you mentioned, if you keep your enthusiasm and emotions in check you have a better chance of staying in the dream. The whole time you have to keep in mind that what you’re experiencing isn’t real - it’s a dream.

You’re asking your mind to maintain a logic-based consciousness in the same space as your fantasy-based subconscious, but all the while you’re consciously interacting with the impossible. Luckily, the way you are interacting with the dream (emotions in check, knowing it’s a dream) confirms what the logical mind is telling you.

However… how can your mind make sense of it all if you’re experiencing an emotional response to something your mind knows is impossible? I think that’s what breaks the dream, not the emotions themselves.

Riding around on that magic carpet you may be telling yourself “This is a dream”, but your emotional response is saying “I’m riding a freakin’ magic carpet!!” :woo:
That reaction cannot co-exist with logic, and since you are consciously maintaining the realization you’re dreaming, you can’t slip back into the subconscious. There’s only one possible outcome in that case, and that’s to deactivate the subconscious, thus shutting down the dream.

It’s the same reason people can lose lucidity during a dream and have it turn back into a ND. It could also explain why during a ND if you are falling, you usually wake up. Your subconscious isn’t bound by the rules that falling off a cliff is a bad thing, that’s your conscious mind chiming in. With the subconscious’ illusion now shattered, but your consciousness not stepping to the forefront to take the lead (lucidity), you’re left with one alternative: to wake up.

With all that in mind, I think strong emotions should be possible in a LD, but only when surrounding events which are possible. Getting excited from seeing dinosaurs wouldn’t be possible because we know they no longer exist, but feeling intense love or anger at the sight or thought of someone you know personally should be viable, I’d think.

But then again, what do I know? I haven’t had an LD in years :smile:

Okay, Krakatoa. But, in my third lucid dream I didn’t wake up because of fear of awakening. In fact, the very thought had been pushed far from my conscious mind. But alas, when I attempted to fly, I woke up, nonetheless. I believe it would go without mentioning that I was brimming with excitement, prior.

Actually, when I truly think about it, none of the four LDs I awoke from resulted from a fear of waking. My emotions got the best of me.

See, the first time I can recall becoming lucid - like Trobber mentioned - the sudden realization that I was dreaming jolted me awake. (Although I was able to re-enter the LD, the stay was brief, as my subconscious had been completely shattered by the resounding presence of conscious mind.) Nothing special occurred, other than the fact that I entered a DILD, twice. And I only once really feared waking up when I had already reached the threshold, which is near impossible to escape. Fear of waking as a factor could be called plausible here, I suppose… I still think it may have been the jolt of conscious.

The second time, I flew - on a broom, if it matters at all - and experienced an emotional high, like euphoria. The dream dimmed. I woke up, holding only a shadowy image of it in my mind.

Third time’s the charm. The LD was longer and my emotions, level. I felt completely comfortable that I would not wake up. As I ventured out, I decided I would try to fly. I attempted take-off from a standstill. It didn’t work. I decided I would need a running start. As I ran and took a leap toward the sky, the dream immediately cut and I was awake.

The fourth lucid dream I had was probably my highest, or next to the highest - along with the second. I asked a dream character the best ways to maintain lucidity and he gave me two answers. As he rambled on with anecdotes, another DC entered the room and eventually I lost lucidity and woke up soon afterward. I may have subconsciously willed myself out of this dream because one of the DCs was becoming somewhat violent…

I say that NDs evoke emotion quicker than LDs because in the case of, say, love, you may be experiencing love with someone in an ND and because you are oblivious to the reality - that it is all a dream - you, predictably, mistaken the dream’s events as happening in the waking world. So when you kiss your beau, the sheer passion of it overwhelms you, it has some shifty affect on your conscious and subconscious minds maybe… But it does work on your body. You release a vast amount of endorphins, which works on your heart, abdomen and genitalia - tying you to the physical world - thus waking you up.

In a lucid dream, it could be the same case - but it could also be different, in that, you can kiss someone passionately and still know it’s a dream, so the feeling isn’t too intense and you remain in the dream. The problem is that you don’t get to experience that moment to its fullest… Unless you want to risk waking up. And sometimes we do want to experience things that are too intense. Otherwise the lucid dream becomes shallow, and you’re just a hollow shell of yourself. The dream becomes nothing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, I believe. Somehow, a balance must be found between logical consciousness and suspension-of-disbelief. An indefinite, complete letting go of the external-physical world - WL - and an embracing of all internal thoughts, emotions, logic, creativity and conscious. Easier said than done. But I agree, Krakatoa, that experience is a key to such.

Troober, I agree with your semantics-theory, also. I mostly find myself waking up from a dream upon realization that it is just that. It effectively keeps me from attaining lucidity. Keeping your emotions under control requires and experiencing the dream you to split your attention in many different directions, depending on what you are doing in the dream. If you’re, for example, flying, you must:

  • Mentally control your flight patterns and speed.
  • Scan the scenery before and below you.
  • Mentally maintain lucidity via a mantra or whatever.
  • Keep your emotions at a reasonable level.

And that’s just flying… (And the taming of emotions must be an instantaneous reaction almost, as, for many, once the realization of the surroundings come to conscious, the dreamverse is shattered and falling away fast. So realization and control must work simultaneously, really. Not an easy thing to do.)

You speak of the impossible and possible a lot. That’s why I think dreams should be treated as if they really are happening in another world. Like when one reads a book. The reader is in a suspension of disbelief so long as they allow themselves to be. The same must be done for dreams. Allow yourself to believe anything and everything is possible. Because in a dream, such is the case always. Know that, logically, in the waking world, it’s not possible for cartoon characters to walk amongst a three-dimensional universe such as ours, but in the dreamverse, it can happen. So you must distinguish between the waking world and the dreaming world, find yourself in the dreaming world, accept it as your temporary reality and stay conscious, above all else.

It almost seems like, to experience emotion to the same level of WL in an LD, you must take time to develop your dream body and consciousness, and distinguish it from you waking body and mind. Like creating a carbon copy/clone of yourself in an ethereal form. Something like Ghost in the Shell. Think of waking life and the dream world in terms of different radio stations. To tune into one station - say, the dreamverse - you have to change the frequence of the radio - your conscious body and mind. So it’s all about shifting different frequencies. In theory, a lucid dreamer could stay in the dream world indefinitely. And experience full-blown emotion without waking.

Any other thoughts? :eh:

yeah.Like this one time I dreamed I was going to shout so loud it would crack the world and I woke up making a tiny pathetic whimper.
Lucid dreaming is still sort of in its infancy as a skill practiced by “the civilized world”.I think that’s because the civilized world hasn’t embraced it because it would be like cutting it’s own throat.So many moneyed interests would evaporate practically overnight if we as a society were to embrace lucid dreaming.
Once lucid dreaming is embraced you would get lots of coverage and you could talk to people and basically plan your whole day around it.Every time some one sneezed we might yell “reality check!”.The point is that lucid dreaming would become a developing skill like greco-roman wrestling .In wrestling you have a group of boys who all think it’s cool to wrestle.So they think about it voluntarily.One of them goes on to become a really accomplished college wrestler.He learns some new tricks.He develops some new insights.He teaches those to the students he later winds up teaching.Their wrestling is now more competent, stronger than the generation before them.The lesser wrestlers of the teachers youth want their kids to grow up and be great wrestlers so they teach their kids.Those kids will make better students for the retired college wrestler/teacher.
Anyway when a society adopts a skill the skill’s “envelope” of what can be done with it expands.Expand that envelope enough and your catch-22 is a thing of the past.