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For Healing and Health, Dream On

In Your Dreams

Lucid Dreaming continued...

"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.

"I was in Canyonlands, Utah, when I had a lucid dream about falling. Inside the dream, I decided since I was falling, I might as well fly. First I flew through London. Then I realized I'd like to be at the canyon, and I was. After waking in the morning, when I hiked out to the canyon rim, it exactly matched what I'd already seen in my dream," says Lowenthal, director of the Dedicated Life Institute in Newton, Mass.

While lucid dreaming can be a valuable tool for self-exploration, Tart estimates less than 5% of psychologists use it in their practice. One who does is Cheryl Pappas, PhD. She's always been interested in dreams, and can remember dreams she had as a 3-year-old.

"I've always listened very carefully to dreams because they are a pathway to deeper regions of myself. Dreaming will unlock any mysteries about who you are and answer any questions you have. They are the language of your intuition. You don't need to run to dream books to interpret what a dream is about. There is no expert outside yourself. Once you turn on the equipment to listen, you usually find the dream is talking loudly."

She advises her clients to mentally invite the dream they'd like to have. While falling asleep, say to yourself, "I will have a lucid dream tonight and I will remember it," she advises. Put a notepad next to the bed and when you wake, don't speak to anyone until you jot down what you remember.

"To some extent we create our own experience through our imagination," says Pappas, a therapist and social psychologist who practices in Beverly Hills, Calif. "Our habitual thoughts are the gas in the tank of life. Unfortunately, most people affirm their worst nightmares over and over again, until they come true. They constantly think, 'I can never have this, I can never have that, everything will go wrong,' and those thoughts affect their actual experiences."

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