In 2013 I wrote a piece titled, “The effects of meditation: What if you could ask your nightmares why they haunt you?”. The post was inspired by lucid dreams that I began having as a result of meditation.
Imagine the personal growth men and women could attain if they could ask the symbolic representations in their dreams what, exactly, they mean. What if a individual spends his days trying to improve his body, mind and spirit — and his nights doing the same thing? What would happen if we could stop the elements of our nightmares in their tracks to ask them why they haunt us? How would the physical world transform if individuals made the conscious decision during sleeping hours to take the darkest corners of their minds and fill them with light?
It turns out that Charlie Morley said very much the same thing during a 2012 TedX talk in San Diego. He put this way while recounting the time he finally stood up to his inner demons:
“So there I am, face-to-face with this demon, fully lucid so I know I’m in my own head and I know there’s no real threat, but it’s still pretty scary. So instinctively I get ready to fight. And then it hits me. Hang on. This must be an aspect of my shadow. … I gotta integrate this thing. I gotta embrace this thing. How do I do that, exactly? I will give it a hug! So I run up to this thing in the lucid dream, and I bear hug it. This dream was so realistic I could feel it struggling against my embrace. I could feel it […] breathing down my neck.
You know, the shadow is the sum total of all your repressed capacity for violence and aggression, so as you can imagine it’s not much of a hugger. But there I am, and I’m hugging this thing that doesn’t want to be hugged, and it’s struggling to get away and I’m clinging on for deal life and then it does something really unexpected. It starts to shrink. Within my embrace, this three-headed shadow monster starts to shrink. And I keep holding on and it keeps shrinking and then it stops. And there’s a moment of stillness. I release my embrace and I realize I’m hugging myself.
This three-headed headed demon has transformed into me — a direct carbon copy of me. And there I am, face-to-face with myself — maybe for the first time in my life. We shared a smile, and I woke up in floods of tears. Not only am I in tears, but I’ve got this weird feeling in my belly like as if a knot had been untied. Some deep emotional knot that had been there for so long I had forgotten it was there at all.
I don’t know what part of my psyche that shadow-aspect represented. Maybe some denied childhood trauma. Maybe some disowned childhood complex. Who knows? But what I do know is that when I was embracing that demon I was embracing some deeper part of myself. And I was engaging the innate healing potential, which resides within us all. In a lucid dream you have the opportunity to engage psychological concepts immediately in a seemingly [physical] form. This is a unique opportunity to directly apply healing intent to mental embodiment and personifications of your own own psychology. This is deep healing territory. This is what thousands of people are paying thousands of therapists thousands of dollars to do. Now, I’m not saying you should all go and sack your therapists. But what I am saying is: if you can learn to lucid dream — not all of the time, but some of the time — you can make their job a heck of a lot easier. If you can learn to dream lucidly — and it is a [teachable] skill — you can begin to integrate your shadow and finally reclaim, as Jung said, ‘the seat of all human creativity.'”
Bravo, Mr. Morley. I could not agree more. We dream for a reason, and it isn’t just to have funny tales to tell our friends and coworkers once-in-awhile. It isn’t touchy-feeling mumbo-jumbo when someone says that dreams are powerful tools one can use for realizing his or her full potential — it’s a fact.
To show that I practice what I peach, I will now recount a lucid dream that I had early Tuesday morning around 6:00 a.m.
I’m in a large convention center for individuals whose employment concerns national security matters. I’m wearing a flak jacket while surrounded by military personnel, FBI agents, other members of Homeland Security, etc. The entire convention starts buzzing as if something is wrong, and people get out of their seats. I don’t know what is happening, so I get up and follow a stream of people heading out the door.
As I go through a doorway I think, “Did I bring an M16 and forget it in my chair? I can’t remember. How could I be so stupid!?” I double back to go into the convention hall and find myself in an airport hanger. Individuals are running around as if an air raid of some sort is about to take place and I think, “Now I know I must be dreaming,” and immediately ask my subconscious, “What is my biggest fault?” Immediately one of the men running around the hanger gets in my face and sticks out his tongue — so I punch him square in the nose, he recoils, and stumbles off. I then ask, “What is my best attribute?” and a man immediately trips in front of me — so I bend down on one knee, hold out my hand, and help him up. Shortly thereafter, I wake up.
Think about how amazing it is that you can ask your own subconscious deeply personal questions and, without missing a beat, it will supply honest answers. In my case, I am quick to anger. I can lash out mentally, spiritually, and physically at those who I perceive to be adversaries — and this is often the wrong thing to do. There is no denying it. Likewise, I am also quick to help those before me who stumble and fall mentally, spiritually, and physically.
It is easy for a man to ignore the advice of friends and family. It is easy for a man to lie to himself in his waking state. It is not so easy for a man to lie to himself when he consults the conduit to his own soul and receives an instant reply.
There is a wellspring of wisdom inside each and every one of us, and I firmly believe that lucid dreaming is one way of unlocking those stores of potential. If you have questions about lucid dreaming, then feel free to ask in the comments section. Otherwise, check out Mr. Morley’s TedX talk and see if it speaks to you.