I rarely have trouble falling asleep, but the other night I found myself caught in this disturbing loop where I’d drift off, plummet instantly into a nightmare, and wake up with a racing heart and a film of sweat on my face.
I’ve read a fair amount about lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming occurs when you become aware that you’re dreaming, and you suddenly have a loose grip on their contents. Want to fly? Open a window and soar into the atmosphere. It gives you a level of control people assume isn’t possible.
I used lucid dreaming as a kid to wake myself up from bad dreams, but more recently I’ve been trying to develop my ability to recognize my dreaming state and see what else I might do.
The few times I’ve attained lucidity as an adult, I tested my state by making myself float. Inevitably, the moment my feet lifted off the floor, I got too excited and woke up. Rather than continue launching myself into nightmares the other night, I thought I might be in a good place to do some experimenting. I’ve been thinking a lot about the novel I’m working on, so I considered how lucid dreaming might influence my understanding of the world I’m building.
I envisioned my characters as I fell back to sleep, and the coolest thing happened. For a split second, I stood in a sun-dappled forest with two of my characters. I wanted so badly to ask them questions. What are their desires, hopes, fears? It was a chance to have a face-to-face conversation with my subconscious. Like floating, though, I woke up the moment I realized I was dreaming.
Meeting my characters, brief as the encounter was, felt like meeting myself from the future. I knew my characters, but there were experiences they’d had that I couldn’t possibly know. Things I haven’t yet dreamed onto the page. That element of mystery was both thrilling and terrifying. I’m not sure how to interpret that moment, but I’m going to continue experimenting. I hope to meet them again soon and see what they say.