it's dark

Hi Nicole -

Welcome to the wonderful world of “lucid” dreaming. Lucid dreams are defined as dreams in which we know that we are dreaming while we still are dreaming. Lucid dreams are unusual, because most of the time we don’t recognize that we “must be dreaming” - even when we do some of the crazy things we often do in dreams - like breathe under water, or fly through the air just by “flapping our wings.” I also understand why occasionally you might get scared in a lucid dream. Even when we know that our dreams are “just a dream” - they still can be exceptionally real.

The experience of darkness in your lucid dreams most likely is explained by your lucidity (your awakeness in the dream, even though you are not really awake), occasionally causing you to move out of deep REM sleep into a lighter experience of dreaming. Put another way, your lucidity is causing you to wake up a bit, which in turn causes a decrease in the vividness of your dreams. This would explain the darkness you see in your dreams - you actually are beginning to wake up! At the same time though, your body still is paralyzed from having just been dreaming. (When we dream, our muscles are disconnected from our brains - to prevent us from acting out our dreams). This is what causes that “heavy” sensation when you try to force yourself to wake up. Even though your mind is awake - it can take a moment or two to get our muscles moving again.

My advice for lucid dreamers always is the same. Recognize that becoming lucid in a dream (occasionally) is normal - and try to relax and enjoy it! In fact, learning “how to relax” during a lucid dream is an essential first step for anyone who wishes to prolong and enhance their lucid experiences. For example, some lucid dreamers find it helpful to visualize themselves falling backwards in a dream - with their “dream eyes” closed - as a technique for deepening the dream state. Others recommend meditation immediately upon gaining awareness that they are dreaming. Whatever technique you choose, the key is to relax, because otherwise we get so excited that - as is happening to you - we soon “lose the dream” and actually awaken ourselves.

Lucid dreams are fabulous opportunities for learning and adventure. We can pray for guidance and insight into current problems or frustrations in our lives, and we can request confusing or threatening dream symbols to reveal themselves. We can fly without wings, dance on an ocean’s wave, and journey through time and space to leave a message on a friend’s heart that we have been thinking of them. We can write dream poetry, compose musical symphonies, and work on our next great painting. What a magical, mysterious gift we all carry in our minds: the ability to dream!

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