Life in a Dream World

August 16th, 2010 by Steve Pavlina

Today is Day 24 of my 30-day inspiration experiment, which also includes viewing everything through the lens of subjective reality.

In this update I’ll share a number of observations on what it’s really been like to view life as a dream for more than three weeks straight.

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

Throughout this trial my emotions have been all over the place. Sometimes I’ve felt incredibly blissful, and other times I’ve felt very stressed.

When I feel stressed, itĀ isn’t related to events coming up or anything like that. My calendar is still essentially blank. So I’m not feeling anxious about anything I “have to” do. If I wanted to I could just be a couch potato for days on end.

I believe this stress has to do with the nature of this experiment. My whole conception of reality has been stretched to the point where I’m actually feeling a sense of loss or grieving with respect to my old life. I’m too far down the proverbial rabbit hole to be able to turn back, so part of me knows this is a permanent shift of some sort. That isn’t easy to accept, and I’m experiencing different waves of emotion as I try to understand the consequences.

“Loss” may be the wrong word. I’m not teary eyed about it. But it’s such a huge change that it sometimes feels like I’m floating through space with no solid ground beneath me.

I don’t have enough familiarity with this way of living to know what’s coming up, so I really can’t predict the long-term consequences. Life has become much less predictable, and the rate of change is extremely rapid.

The changes I’ve experienced as a result of this trial have been incredibly positive, even in the objective sense, but positive change can still be stressful. Events like moving to a nicer home, getting married, or winning the lottery can add a lot of stress to your life.

So that’s what it feels like for me. I love the positive changes, but collectively I’m feeling a lot of stress about it. Fortunately this stress seems to be gradually decreasing over time as I get used to living this way. In many ways I feel like a baby, having to relearn so many things from the ground up. It feels like I’ve torn apart my life, and I’m rebuilding it from fairly basic building blocks. That takes time.

On the other hand, sometimes I’ve been feeling totally blissful, happy, and excited too.

I believe I can handle the stress. I just need to pace myself and take steps to keep the stress manageable. I’m optimistic that the stress feelings will continue to diminish with time. I’m constantly out of my comfort zone, but I expect that given enough time, I’ll eventually become more comfortable with this way of perceiving reality.

Comfort and Grounding

For most of this trial, I haven’t bothered to stick to much of a routine. If this is a dream world, then what’s the point?

Well, I’m starting to realize there is a point to having a routine. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, some daily structure can have a soothing effect. It reduces stress and provides a sense of security and stability.

Feeling like you’re floating through a cosmic wonderland might be exciting for a while, but doing that for weeks at a time can be very unsettling.

Simple things like going for a walk, preparing and eating meals, and even breathing help me feel more grounded. I may know it’s not real, and in a dream world, much of what I do may not even be necessary, but I’m finding good reasons to do those things anyway.

Nighttime dreams are usually very brief, lasting only a matter of minutes. But when you have a dream that lasts for weeks, it really does feel nice to populate the dream world with some persistent structures in time and space, if only for emotional reasons.

During this experiment I’m feeling very appreciative of my home, long-term relationships, and other things that give me a sense of stability. Even eating an apple helps me feel grounded because it’s familiar.

I’m reminded of the scene from the first Matrix movie where Cypher is enjoying a steak dinner with Smith. He says he knows the stuff in the Matrix isn’t real, but he doesn’t care. I can relate to feeling much the same way. I know it’s all dream stuff, but for now I still need to connect with what’s familiar for a sense of stability and grounding.

Synchronicities

On the flip side, the more I embrace the belief that life is a dream, the more the dream world reveals itself as such.

For starters, the number of synchronicities I’m experiencing is way off the scale, and it’s not just with me. All my inboxes have been flooding with similar messages from others reporting a major increase in synchronicities lately. It feels as if the whole dream world is shifting.

I’d say that on average, I’m seeing about 3-5 striking synchronicities every day now. They’ve been coming in nonstop since this experiment started.

Have you seen an increase in syncs in your life this month? I wonder if it’s related to this experiment somehow.

For example, about a week ago, I had the strange inspiration to go rent the movie Alice in Wonderland (the recent version with Johnny Depp). An hour or two before I left my house, someone had just emailed me a quote from the Princess Bride, which is my favorite movie of all time. As I walked into the video store, I saw the Princess Bride playing on a TV there.

On my way home, I was listening to “When Tomorrow Comes” by Eurythmics, the first line of which is:

Underneath your dreamlit eyes, shades of sleep have driven you away.

The song before that one was “Sweet Dreams.” This is on their greatest hits album.

About a block from my house, I see a real rabbit sitting in the middle of the street. He stares at me as I drive within a few feet of him. Funny that I would see him while driving home with Alice.

I watch Alice while having dinner, and the movie is overflowing with subjective reality references like, “It’s just a dream” and “All I have to do is wake up” and “I make the path.” Alice even refers to the Mad Hatter as a figment. At the end of the movie, she leaves her old life behind and gets on a boat. In an objective sense, the movie is only so-so, but it’s a lot more interesting when viewed through a subjective lens.

Reality is practically beating me over the head with validation that yes, this is a dream world. At times I feel that life has been dropping me hints about this, but it took me a long time to see the big picture. The whole 11:11 phenomenon was one of many clues — it makes perfect sense that such events would occur in a dream world.

Dream People

One funny aspect of this experiment is that since I’m doing it publicly, most of the people in my life know about it (or so it seems). So when people email me or call me, they often address me as a character in their dream world or as a projection of mine. Same goes for phone calls.

Objectively I could say they’re just playing along. But subjectively it’s as if they’re finally acknowledging the truth.

I’ve been spending a LOT of time on communication lately. It’s sometimes a challenge to maintain the frame of a dream during an immersive conversation, but I’m gradually getting used to it. I’ve noticed that conversations take on a whole different flavor when I view them through the dream lens and when I address the other person as a dream character.

So far no one that I communicate with regularly has objected to being treated like a dream character. Actually it’s just the opposite. Most people seem intrigued and enjoy playing along, and we end up having some pretty deep conversations as a result. Even people that I thought were very left-brained are revealing different aspects of their personalities that I seldom see. They typically become much more playful, open, and light-hearted.

One day when I was spending time with my dream daughter Emily, I asked her to consider that life might actually be a dream. Then I began pointing things out to her that seemed dream-like. I showed her rooms in my house that have no furniture in them, asking her what kind of real house would have empty rooms like that. It must be a dream house.

Then it started pouring rain, and I took her outside and showed her that it was raining, but the sky was blue, and it was bright and sunny out. I asked her if that seemed at all like a dream. She seemed a bit suspicious while we pranced around in the rain. Was it real rain or dream rain?

On a different day, I took Emily out to dinner. As we were driving back, stopped at a crosswalk, a pedestrian crossed in front of us with an umbrella. I asked Emily why someone would be using an umbrella when it’s not even raining. Must be a dream!

Interacting with dream people is a lot of fun. In fact, I think I’ve been getting over-addicted to socializing during this time because the interactions are just so amazing. On many days I’ve spent hours on the phone.

Lucid Dreaming

Last week I had a lucid dream during a 20-minute nap. Within the dream world, I was in my own kitchen, and I knew that my body was asleep on the couch and that I was definitely dreaming.

I decided to try doing telekinesis in the dream world. I couldn’t make it work at all. At best I was able to possibly make some leaves on a tree rustle a little, but it could just as easily have been explained by a dream breeze. It didn’t really feel like I was controlling it.

In fact, I didn’t seem to wield any special abilities in the dream world at all. The whole experience could just as easily have happened in this reality.

Now this is a strange development indeed. Normally when I have a lucid dream, I’m able to do all kinds of cool things like flying. But not this time.

By believing that I’m dreaming while awake, is it possible that I somehow infected the next deeper level of dreaming with my limiting beliefs about this world?

So far this was the only lucid dream I’ve had during this experiment. I wonder what will happen as I have more.

Dream Food

Some dream characters asked if there was a risk of eating non-vegan food during this experiment.

I don’t see that as a serious possibility since I don’t regard non-vegan items as food. Even in my nighttime dreams, I still eat vegan, and if I ever dream that I eat something non-vegan by mistake, I actually get grossed out within the dream.

I’ve been vegan since 1997, so I’ve been eating this way for most of my adult life (or at least I dreamt it that way). Eating non-vegan dream food would be like eating dream sawdust or dream bugs. I simply have no appetite for such things, regardless of the true nature of reality.

That said, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with vegan dream food. Initially I figured I should be able to eat whatever the heck I wanted. How could it affect me if it’s just dream food? Would the awareness that I’m dreaming be enough to change how the food affected me?

So I consumed lots of complex foods like pasta, pizza, soy lattes, and even some wine.

I stopped exercising completely too. Haven’t been to the gym in weeks. About the only exercise I’ve done was going for some walks.

I also didn’t pay as much attention to hygiene. What does it matter in a dream world? Sometimes I wouldn’t shave for more than a week.

And guess what happened. I gained a few pounds. I started feeling sluggish. I didn’t get sick, but I definitely didn’t feel as good in my dream body.

After a few weeks of that, I began to feel somewhat disgusted with myself. I began having strong cravings for healthier, lighter foods like fresh fruit. I knew I’d feel much better on those foods, even if they weren’t real.

Then I realized that I could be seeing these results because I expected them. My subconscious was still filled with beliefs and memories about how certain foods would affect me, and the effects I experienced were all in line with those expectations.

So I had the thought that if I wanted to have a healthier dream body, I should consume foods that I believed were the healthiest and avoid those that I believed were unhealthy.

So several days ago, I shifted to doing that. I went to a local farmer’s market. I bought the foods I considered the healthiest stuff I could put in my body — celery, cucumber, dark leafy greens, fresh berries, grapes, etc. I hit a sync there too: As I walked up to the farmer’s market, a friend from Toastmasters was just walking out, so we hugged hello right at the entrance.

I began eating foods I believed would make me feel good without negative side effects. And lo and behold, I started feeling much better within a couple days, and the excess weight began to drop off. Presently I’m really craving raw foods, and I know I feel best when I eat mostly fresh produce, so I’m doing 95-100% raw for now. I’m eating mostly fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and greens in various combos. The only cooked item I ate was a stir fry of fresh zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers.

Now I’m starting to feel a stronger urge to exercise since I know it will make my dream body feel even better. What kinds of dream exercise might I do to put my dream body into optimal condition?

These may seem like subtle distinctions as compared to the objective perspective, perhaps almost circular in nature, but for whatever reason, everything is different on the subjective side. Even things that were working for me objectively, I have to rebuild them on the subjective side with a new mindset. Eating based on my beliefs doesn’t feel quite the same as eating based on objective nutritional science. The same goes with exercising.

Instead of having to objectively figure out an optimal diet by learning the science behind different foods and doing lots of trial and error, I can now simply eat whatever I presently believe is the healthiest and avoid what I believe to be unhealthy.

This introduces a new level of self-honesty, since it’s harder to delude myself about my own beliefs.

For example, on the objective side I may drink some coffee. The chemistry of coffee is so complex that apparently many scientists still don’t know what to make of it. So it’s easy to justify drinking it. It can mentally place it into the gray area of health by focusing on the potential benefits. Or I can simply enjoy the indulgence.

But on the subjective side, it’s a lot harder to do this. When I ask myself how I honestly believe coffee will affect me, I can’t pretend it’s a health food. I have too much history with it and too many memories of how addictive it is for me and how it messes with my thinking. So for the moment, I must deal with my subconscious expectation that coffee will negatively impact my health.

Subjective Rebuilding

It takes a while to rebuild my life from the subjective side. I feel very fortunate that I have the time to do so because it looks like it’s going to take many more weeks. I’ve made major progress in the area of relationships, and this week I seem to be focusing on health a lot. But I have yet to dive into the career and financial aspects of my life. I sense that’s coming up though, perhaps within the next few weeks. It’s hard to say because I’m just going with the flow of inspiration. Apparently this flow is taking me through a process of recoding my whole life part by part. As I mentioned earlier, this has been somewhat stressful due to all the changes, but it’s also pretty exciting to see it unfold. I’m certainly pleased with the results thus far.

Even in areas where my life may look relatively unchanged, my inner experience has shifted massively. I may be eating similar foods once again, but it feels so different to buy, prepare, and eat foods with a dream world perspective. I know that I have so much more to explore from this perspective.

Right now I mainly want to get the basics right. I don’t want to attempt anything too fancy. I want to see what it’s like to get my overall life working subjectively and to maintain that for a while. Right now I feel like I’m only 30% of the way through this initial process of subjectively refactoring my life. I can see that there’s still a lot more to go.

The Power of Belief

As I move forward with my subjective life, I have a few options when it comes to dealing with beliefs.

The first option is that I can work within the framework of my existing beliefs. This suggests that if I do what I subconsciously believe will work, I can expect a positive outcome. So I have to get clearer about my existing beliefs and stay true to them.

The second option is to condition new beliefs to replace the old ones, and see how those new beliefs affect me. There are a number of different methods for this, but it’s tricky work because beliefs interact with each other. It can also be pretty time consuming because we have a lot of subconscious beliefs.

A third option is to reduce my reliance on beliefs altogether. I can realize that they’re simply experiential filters, and I don’t necessarily need them. There are methods to do this as well, such as Ho’oponopono.

Right now I’m mainly shifting into the first option. I feel intuitively drawn to explore that space first. That’s the space I understand best, and the results I can expect there seem the most stable, grounded, and predictable. That should give me a stable base for exploring other options.

Then I suspect I’ll explore the third option more intently, working to reduce my conditioning and seeing what effect it has. I want to build up more experience living subjectively before I attempt anything like that in earnest though. What I’ve already done so far is enough of a shift to process. I wouldn’t want to add more change to my life just yet. I’m barely able to handle the current pacing.

Beliefs essentially act as experiential filters. They constrain the dream world. I don’t feel ready to release too many of those constraints just yet, but I suspect that with enough experience living this way, I’ll eventually feel ready to explore that part of dream life.

Recoding the Dream

Even though I don’t want to make major changes in this area, I can’t resist the temptation to play around with some dream reprogramming work. It’s too much fun to avoid it altogether.

For starters, I’ve been recoding the dream characters in my life to experience greater financial abundance.

Secondly, I’ve been working to inject more peace and harmony into the dream world, such as by imagining the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as ended. I started doing this a couple weeks ago. I’m curious to see if it has any noticeable effect.

As for what technique to use, in a dream world the specific technique doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe and expect it will work. A method is meaningless unless you create the belief in it, and that belief would be pretty hard to manufacture on the objective side. On the subjective side, however, such a belief arises as a natural consequence of being in a dream world.

I believe I have the ability to make changes in the dream world through the application of thought and intention. I’ve seen this in the past with my own life, and I’ve seen how it’s possible to reprogram other dream characters at times.

One specific method I use is to “remember” a dream character differently and to stop validating a less desirable reality for them. So if they’re currently broke, I refuse to feed any more energy to their brokeness. In my mind’s eye, I remember them as already abundant. And then when I interact with them, I affirm them as enjoying financial abundance right now. If they disagree with me initially (some are ornery), I point out that they must be crazy or blind not to see all the money that’s flowing through their life. Or I imagine them as more flexible and more grateful.

Objectively speaking you could say this is a form of hypnosis. However, I find that it works even if I don’t tell the dream characters what I’m doing on their behalf.

Now maybe you think this is crazy (or I’m just imagining that a dream character might react in that way), but it seems to be working — and in a manner that’s so over the top, I’d have to be blind not to notice that something has shifted. Since I started doing this, and even before I told anyone what I was doing, various dream characters started reporting windfalls of extra money coming to them, often in unexpected ways. That’s been really cool to see. If you haven’t seen this happening in your own life yet this month, you’re about to see it soon. When the money shows up, be sure to receive it with gratitude; say yes to it.

So if you don’t mind, I’m going to remember you as a financially abundant dream character and treat you as such. I’m no longer interested in feeding any energy to your financial struggles. Financial scarcity is so last dimension. I’d rather enjoy a dream world where every dream character can enjoy plenty of abundance.

The subjective mindset takes responsibility to a whole new level. I have to feel a sense of responsibility for everyone in my dream world. I do my best to focus on affirming the positive for them. However, I haven’t practiced this enough to make it an ingrained habit yet, so I still flop into the habit of affirming what’s already present at times. I’ll get better with time.

Does this mean I see myself as some kind of god? No, it just means I’m a dream character with some degree of programming skill. I know how to implant suggestions into the dreamer’s subconscious, and then they manifest in the dream world. I can’t say who the dreamer is, and I don’t always know what the effect will be or if the new commands will be accepted. But I can see that there are effects being created, and they can be pretty intense and dramatic at times.

I’m reminded of these lines from the Depeche Mode song “Lie to Me”:

Experiences have a lasting impression
But words once spoken
Don’t mean a lot now

So lie to me
But do it with sincerity
Make me listen
Just for a minute
Make me think
There’s some truth in it

In other words, you don’t have to be loyal to a present reality you don’t want. You can creatively “lie” your way into a new reality. I wouldn’t call this a fake it till you make it approach. Faking it implies you don’t believe it. In this case, you have to know that you have the power to implant commands into the dreamer’s subconscious and that they’re going to manifest in the dream world at some point. When you believe you can do this, the process of implanting a command is as simple as declaring it.

If you don’t believe you can do this, you’re right. If you believe you can do it, you’re also right.

A Special Challenge for Our Forum Community

Since this experiment began, our forum community has exploded with activity. This is the most active month we’ve ever seen, and we’re currently averaging more than 1,000 new posts per day.

I think it would be really cool if in the forums, for at least the rest of the month, we could all focus our energy on creating what we desire. Let’s collectively stop feeding energy to what we don’t want. Let’s stop validating any negativity we see in others. No more pity parties or group griping sessions about what isn’t working. That has never worked. Let us instead affirm the potential we see in each other instead of the lack thereof.

Even if we must creatively lie to each other, I’d love to see what kind of effect that would have. I think it warrants at least a couple weeks of experimentation.

For those who want better relationships, treat them as if they’re already attracting the relationship of their dreams. For those who want more abundance, interact with them as if they’re already rich; even ask them for financial advice. For those who want a new career, affirm that they’re already doing what they love and that they’re inspiring others as well. Treat everyone as the best version of themselves that you can imagine.

We only need a certain number of active members to hold the energy of this experiment. Once critical mass is achieved, the experiment will become infectious. It might even spread to other forums as well.

If you don’t like the results, you can always go back to complaining about what isn’t working in September.

What do you think would happen if we did this as a group? Let’s find out. :)


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