Imagine experiencing your ultimate fantasy without undesirable risks or consequences.
Think about communicating with your own unconscious mind, spiritual beings, or God for valuable clues to your most sought after question. Enlightenment itself. For those who have an unrelenting quest for understanding dreams - and especially lucid dreaming - a phychophysiological model is a welcome approach.
But first, let me define what a lucid dream is:
Lucid dreams are experienced by approximately 20 percent of the population, the majority are spontaneous occurrences.
Fewer people practice lucid dreaming at will on a consistent basis. The percentage of lucid dreamers may be greater in various cultures and groups who practice spiritual traditions such as shamanism - a form of American Indian Medicine, Taoism, Buddhism, Tibetan dream yoga and specific disciplines aimed at developing the 'witnessing consciousness' of enlightenment.
During the seventies, however, Stanford University Lucid Dream Researcher Stephen La Berge, Ph.D. proved under laboratory conditions that lucid dreams are not only possible, but repeatable occurrences in certain individuals.
La Berge and his lucid dream associates developed mental techniques and exercises to enhance dream recall and activate lucid dreams, which were demonstrated to be successful. The team determined that with sufficient intent and mental discipline anyone can learn to lucid dream.
Sleepwalking and night terrors do not occur in REM sleep, instead they occur in stages 3 and 4.
Both sleepwalking and night terrors are considered a sleep arousal problem occurring mostly in young children. They run in families, suggesting an heredity factor.
As each sleep cycle progresses, REM time increases and stages 3 and 4 decrease. In some cases, the sleeper alternates between stage 2 and REM, omitting stages 3 and 4.
In rare cases of narcoleptic sleep paralysis (and even sleep deprivation), the sleeper may enter REM sleep almost immediately, often consciously and with hallucinations. Some lucid dreamers can enter the REM state consciously, usually right after an awakening while still very relaxed, or during a daytime nap.
This, however, is different from narcoleptic sleep paralysis. (A similar state occurs in some alien encounters, and may be a deliberate neurological state the aliens externally impose on their "experiencers.") The last two hours of sleep contain the largest amounts of REM dream-time, and it is usually these dreams that we can recall most readily upon awakening.
An interesting observation is also the inordinate amount of time spent in the REM cycle of sleep in newborns and very young children, suggesting that dreaming is intimately connected to learning and memory storage.
It is characterized by a higher amount of CNS (central nervous system) activity than normal, non-lucid REM sleep. Normally in REM sleep the critical faculty of the brain is switched off. More specifically, the aminergic neurons in the brainstem are at their lowest levels in REM sleep.
The neurotransmitters responsible for activating the aminergic neurons in the brainstem are somehow inhibited, or more accurately, being conserved for the following day. These neurotransmitters are specifically related to the critical attentional and learning tasks.
The absence, rest, or inhibition of their function perfectly fits the pattern one finds in non-lucid dreams of a non-critical consciousness, which blindly accepts bizarre events, and loss of contextual and referencing faculties.
Only when, for some mysterious, accidental, or evolutionary reason, the self referencing faculty suddenly awakens, do we find ourselves in a lucid dream.
Seen in this light, lucid dreaming does not appear at all to be a mere abnormality, but perhaps represents a highly adaptive function, the most advanced product of millions of years of biological evolution.