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Health & Balance

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For Healing and Health, Dream On

In Your Dreams

Lucid Dreaming

Today many Westerners are exploring similar mental territory through the practice of "lucid dreaming." The term was first coined in 1913 by a Dutch physician who spontaneously experienced alert dreams.

In a lucid dream your ordinary sense of self wakes up inside the dream, explains Steve Whiteman, DCH. One way to train for lucid dreaming is to look at something light, like a paper clip, and ask whether it's floating.

"Do this many times a day; make a habit of it. Sometime during the night the paper clip really will float, and you'll recognize you are now in a dream."

When people first experience a lucid dream they may experience a powerful energy and sense of freedom, Whiteman says. "Lucid dreams are more fluid. You have a nightmare, you may see a monster or a bear. When you realize you're awake inside the dream, you can ask that bear, Why are you here? The response will always be relevant. The bear may say, 'I've been trying to get your attention for years.'" Whiteman is a hypnotherapist in private practice in Atlanta and Clarksville, Ga., and teaches a class in lucid dreaming.

"Lucid dreams surprise you. Our habitual view of ourselves and our world is far too narrow," says Charles T. Tart, PhD, author of Mind Science: Meditation Training for Practical People.

Suppose you're having a conflict with someone. If you're able to dream lucidly, you can invite them into your dream and talk with them in a way you couldn't do in real life. "You get a different take on things," Tart says. "This isn't an instant cure. There are no guarantees. But so many of our problems persist because we see them in only one way and keep beating our head against the same wall. Lucid dreaming can be a way to open to new insights." Tart is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Martin Lowenthal, PhD, has personally experienced the way lucid dreaming can transform a nightmare into a joyous experience.

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