Yes, dead relatives can visit you in your dreams

My day job requires me to be a voracious reader. Over the past few months I’ve read a spate of articles on why increasingly technological and science-minded societies cannot shake off spirituality. There are many reasons for that, but one is visitation dreams.

If you don’t believe your friendly neighborhood Catholic blogger, then perhaps you’ll listen to Patrick McNamara Ph.D., of Psychology Today.

Dr. McNamara wrote in October 2011.

My father and mother died over a decade ago and about one year apart. Approximately 6 months after each death, I had at least one vivid dream with one or both of them in it. In both cases the dream did not feel like the typical run of the mill dream.

Instead the dream had a kind of hyper-real intensity to it. I felt that I had been touched or visited or communicated with. I could not easily shake the conviction that my father and my mother had communicated with me from beyond the grave. Now if I, an individual who studied dreams with a skeptical scientific cast of mind, could not shake the conviction that I had just communicated with my dead parents, how much stronger must be the conviction of someone with a less skeptical approach to dreams than me?

The general rule of thumb about a visitation dream is that if you have to ask yourself if your were visited by a deceased relative, then you probably were not. Regardless, here are a few signs that someone was trying to communicate with you:

  1. Visitation dreams are like dreams in high-definition.
  2. The deceased relative does not look sickly or old. If they are old, they will have a glow to them.
  3. The deceased relative will be direct and to the point. They have a message to get across and a short amount of time to communicate.
  4. You will wake up with a sense of relief.
  5. You will wake up and know in your gut that you were visited.

Since it would be rather rude to say “This is real” and then not share an example from my own life, I will do so now.

My grandmother died four years ago. We were extremely close. When she was in the hospital with a blood clot, I remember staying with her and brushing her teeth. When she was sick in her late 90s, I remember sleeping on the floor next to her bed so I could be there to help her get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She moved in with our family when I was born and always said, “We came here together, Douglas!”

She was, for all intents and purposes, a second mother to me.

Prior to my grandmother’s death, my mom called and said I should buy a plane ticket as soon as possible. I secured a flight home that night, but sadly I did not make it from Washington, D.C. to Chicago in time. My grandmother visited me in a dream within a few days.

In my dream — my “high-definition dream” — I was standing over my grandmother’s bed. She was “dying” again in a way where I was allowed to be there, but she looked at peace. I told her I was sorry that I couldn’t be there in time. She told me not to worry and that she was okay. She said she had to leave and that she loved me. I told her I loved her and kissed her on the forehead and she disappeared. I woke up and my lips felt like electrical currents were running through them. I was crying tears of joy because I knew in my heart it wasn’t a dream — and my “official” grieving process ended. I knew she was at peace, and there is nothing anyone on earth can say to make me believe otherwise.

There are other ways the dead sometimes communicate with the living, which I am happy to talk about, but the five points above are tell-tale signs of a visitation dream.

If you’ve had a visitation dream, feel free to share it below. I’d love to hear about your experience. Or, if you just have questions about dreams in general, then I’m happy to talk about that. Regular readers know that I am a lucid dreamer.



Lucid dreaming: Charlie Morley is correct — it is possible to know your ‘oceanic unconscious’

Lucid Dreaming Robert WaggonerRegular readers of this blog know that I started to occasionally write on lucid dreaming in 2013. For some odd reason it took me until 2015 to run across an old TedX video by Charlie Morley, whose experiences with the practice mirrored my own. I was impressed by his ability to articulate just how useful lucid dreaming could be for, say, soldiers who suffer from PTSD or just the guy down the street who wants to confront his nightmares. I recently took Mr. Morley’s online course through Awake Academy to see what tricks he might know that I didn’t. I must say that I walked away (or should I say “slept away”?) impressed.

Here is one snippet from Week 2 of the seven-week course that I can vouch for through my own personal experiences:

To believe that your itsy-bitsy me, my, I sense of self that you bring in to the lucid dream state can in any way dominate, subjugate or control the power of the unconscious mind is to ascribe that sense of self and inflated degree of importance. The unconscious mind is awesome in power. As awesomely powerful as the ocean, perhaps. And to quote my friend Robert Waggoner: “Just as no sailor can control the sea, so to does no lucid dreamer control the dream.”

It would be an arrogant sailor to believe that they could control the awesome power of the ocean. And so too, I believe it is an arrogant lucid dreamer who believes that they can in any way control the powerful oceanic unconscious. So drop control. Don’t try it. Instead, turn your attention to making friends. Make an ally out of the unconscious. Be friendly towards it. Go into the dream with open arms saying, “I’m ready to meet the mystery.” If you do that, you’ll still be able to ‘control’ the dream and do whatever you want, but you won’t be doing it from a point of domination or subjugation — You’ll be doing it from a point of friendship.

Two years ago I was having lucid dreams that lasted 10-15 seconds. Over time that got up to perhaps a minute. These days when I have a lucid dream it feels like I’m lucid from 5-7 minutes. Like Mr. Morley says, the unconscious mind is incredibly powerful; the ocean analogy is spot-on. Likewise, it is possible to essentially become “friends” with your own subconscious. It may sound weird, but it is true.

Charlie MorleyDuring a recent lucid dream I asked my unconscious mind to impart wisdom. I was given an answer about certain unchanging elements of man’s nature, and when the tutorial was over and I found myself still lucid I casually asked, “So, I was just wondering, what the heck was that earlier dream I had tonight supposed to symbolize?” Again, my unconscious mind answered. I may not always get the answer I want, and some replies are downright mysterious, but I always wake up having learned something about myself.

There is no way I could fit the knowledge from all seven weeks of Mr. Morley’s course into a single blog post. Besides, that would be incredibly unfair to him and all the hard work he put into the project.

I will say this, however: If you want to start lucid dreaming, then a dream journal is a must. If you have the intention to lucid dream and you write down what you can remember at least five days a week, then you will probably be half-way to obtaining your goal. I would be happy to give you some pointers in the comments section below, but if you really want an assortment of tools for your “dream toolbox,” then I suggest checking out Mr. Morley’s course.

Note: If you regularly read and comment on this blog and you want to take the course — but you find it is too expensive — let me know and I will deposit $60 into a PayPal account for you. That is roughly half the course fee. I will do this for the first TWO “regulars” who make such a request. For those of you who are waiting for me to make contact about T-shirts, just know that I have not forgotten about you. I got a little sidetracked and haven’t been able to finish the design to my liking.

Lucid dreaming, the meaning of life, and flying through space like a ballistic missile

As regular readers know, I occasionally have lucid dreams. Sometimes I share the memory of those dreams so that others can discuss their own experiences — or perhaps just see the weirdness floating around in my subconscious. For all those political posts that have made you ask: “What the heck is going on inside that man’s head?” you now have an answer:

Oct. 23, 2013: 5:00 a.m.

I’m in an office building. I’m following a young girl who is guiding me on a tour that involves a high-ranking military official. As I follow her I think: “I am lucid dreaming right … now.”

I break off from the girl, put my fist in the air, look up, and fly right through the ceiling and up, up, up. I don’t seem to be leaving the dream behind so I think: “Clarity now. Clarity now. Clarity now.” The dream dissipates around me and I find myself in a black void.

I feel as though wherever I am it’s at an incredible height. There’s a part of me that can’t believe I haven’t woken up. I think: “What is the meaning in life?” and I start falling.

During my decent I pass through all sorts of rainbows, fireworks, glittering ice particles (that don’t sting when you fly through them) … and then what I can only describe as childhood cereal boxes with cartoonish characters on the covers. There are words on the boxes, but everything is going so fast that it is hard to read them. Perhaps I pick up the word ‘linked.’

The entire time it sounds like I am in a casino and people are talking all around me. The voices are slightly high pitched in tone. I think: “Interesting. I must be doing something right. There is nothing negative here. Then I get slightly nervous, wondering if the act of pondering the existence of negativity would manifest something negative. That doesn’t happen, but I stop falling and realize that I’m still high above earth.

Still surprised that I’m conscious within my dream I think: “I want to see Yizhou,” [followed by my wife’s maiden name]. I am propelled through space, too fast to really even see what’s going on around me. I’m being hurled to some location. I look behind me and see an infinite blue cord stretching out and realize that it’s attached to me. I’m kind of taken aback by how long it is.

Finally I land, but I’m on some sort of puzzle board of the United States, and I’m in California. I’m on a map and it says my wife’s name. Underneath is a little red dot that is glowing and it says: “disconnected.” I get scared that something has happened to my wife and then realize that I said her maiden name. I shake my head and say: “No, I want to see Yizhou — my wife — in Arlington, Virginia.”

Immediately I am flying through space again like a ballistic missile. As I’m traveling I again think of the blue cord and can’t get over how long it is. When I land I’m on another map, this time with little cardboard houses. I get frustrated and start trying to read the lettering on the ground. I’m floating and can’t just walk like I normally do. When I try and stay still I levitate and sort of wobble around. All I can make out is “Lane.”

I start to float upward, but this time it’s out of my control. I grab a tiny cardboard house that was on the map and pick it up. I try to read lettering on the house and it says, “flick the white tab.” There is, indeed, a white tab on the piece of cardboard. I flick it, and then I wake up.

After waking I realize a.) I should not have said my wife’s maiden name because I ended up where we used to live in college, and b.) in my confusion I screwed up my wife’s location — again — because we used to live in Arlington, but she is now bouncing around due to medical school.

On some level I’m annoyed that I would screw up such a direct request, but on another I’m actually impressed that I was able to keep it as mentally together as I did, given how surreal the experience was. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if I had I kept enough composure to get my wife’s actual address right.

Any armchair psychologists out there? If so, have at it.

Related: Thoughts on lucid dreaming and the floating purple orb

Related: The effects of meditation: What if you could ask your nightmares why they haunt you?