Lucid Dreaming – Studying a Maple Tree

December 23rd, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Last night during a 20-minute midnight nap, I had a lucid dream.  This is the fourth one I’ve experienced since starting polyphasic sleep 64 days ago.  It started off as a regular dream, and then at some point I realized I was carrying a gargoyle, which seemed odd to me.

I asked myself, “What the heck am I doing carrying this gargoyle around?  That’s unusual… even for me.  And it’s so light for its size.  Hmmm…  Is it possible I’m actually dreaming?  Nah.  Everything seems so real.  Look at those trees and that building.  And besides, I just had a chat with Gandhi in his tent a little while ago, and he seemed real enough.  But what about this gargoyle?  I don’t normally transport such things from place to place.  Maybe I should ask the gargoyle.  He doesn’t seem to speak English.  I wonder if there’s a way to ask him in gargoyle-tongue.  Something is definitely odd about this situation.  Am I absolutely certain this isn’t a dream?  Wait a minute…  I remember telling myself that if I ever had to ask that question, then I’m definitely dreaming.  So this must, in fact, be a dream.”

At that point I became lucid.  I had already gone through a fairly long dream up to that point, so I sensed I didn’t have much time left before waking up.  My alarm was set for 25 minutes — it would be nice if I could get an interface to see the countdown in my dreams.  Since it was nighttime in my dream world, it was dark, so I did my “let there be light” thing, and the sun came up.  Then I decided to try to run really fast like the Flash, and that was fun for a bit.  Finally I jumped into the air and did some flying, and for some reason I saw a tree that seemed unusually realistic looking, so I flew in for a closer look.

I identified it as a maple tree, and I spent a few minutes studying it to see if I could find any flaws that would differentiate this dream tree from a real one.  I floated up through the branches and studied their fractal patterns, which seemed just like a normal tree, not a fake computer-generated one.  I examined the leaves and noticed how vivid and real they seemed.  It looked like a tree, felt like a tree, and smelled like a tree.  The only difference I could discern was that the dream tree had an energy to it that made it feel slightly more alive than a real tree.  It seemed more real than reality.  As I studied the tree, I said to myself, “This is remarkable.  This looks so incredibly real.  Yet supposedly this tree doesn’t even exist.”  So even though I was looking at a tree that supposedly exists only within my imagination, I couldn’t see any evidence in the tree itself that would indicate it wasn’t just as real and solid as a waking world tree.

Now that I’m sitting in my office, supposedly wide awake, staring out the window at the trees in my backyard, I have to wonder whether those trees are real either.  What evidence do I have that all of reality isn’t simply an experience playing out in my own consciousness?  Really there’s no way to know.  I can’t escape my own consciousness (can I?), so any evidence of objective reality that comes to me is no different than the same type of evidence presented within my dream world.  I even have stable persistent locations in my dreams that seem to evolve over time across years of multiple dream visits, just like physical reality.

Partly because of this conundrum, I view my waking reality as similar to my dreams in the sense that everything is taking place within consciousness.  I’m not the characters (i.e. physical bodies) in those realities — I’m the conscious being that’s having those mental experiences.  Once I started thinking this way, I noticed that my dreams became much more vivid.  This coincided with my switch to polyphasic sleep as well.  My dreams are so realistic and complex now that it’s hard to tell them apart from waking reality.  I have to be triggered by something out of the ordinary, like noticing that I’m carrying a gargoyle.

The physical matter in my dreams seems so solid and real.  About the only difference is that it has a different energy feel to it… as if it’s vibrating at a different frequency.  I feel a sense of radiant energy coming off of dream matter that is different from that in the physical world.  Perhaps it’s an alternate reality where the laws of physics are a bit different.

One thing I should mention is that when I went to sleep for that midnight nap, I actually put out the intention to have a lucid dream.  I hadn’t done that in a while, but it was nice to see that it worked the first time.  I think I’ll try doing that more often, since lucid dreams are a very exciting way to explore alternate realities.  It’s pretty amazing being fully conscious in your dream world, knowing that your real body is actually sleeping.

If you want to learn more about lucid dreaming and try it for yourself, I recommend you read Dr. Stephen LaBerge’s Lucid Dreaming and Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.  They’re the best books I’ve read on lucid dreaming… and the ones that helped me get started more than 11 years ago.  Lucid dreaming is a completely learnable skill.


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