History of Lucid Dreaming

There is a state of consciousness in which any human being could
experience anything imaginable. Each of us holds within us
infinite possibilities. How many of us ever have the opportunity
to taste even a hint of them? If we speak of our fantasies of wider
vistas of life, we talk of our "dreams." In our dreams, we are free.

Lucid Dreaming is not a modern discovery. Even though it has only come to the attention of the
general public in the last few decades, even as early as the fifth century people were having
lucid dreams. In fact, it is in the fifth century that we have the earliest written evidence of a
lucid dream - in a letter written by St. Augustine in 415 A.D.

"Your body is asleep but in your brain your mind is bright and awake and awareness is now in your brains own created dream world."

And even as early as the eighth century, the tibetan buddhists were practising a form of yoga
designed to maintain full waking consciousness while in the dream state. These ancient dream
yogis possessed an unequivocal understanding of dreams, which is equal to, if not more
advanced, than the knowledge we now possess today.

The dream yogis retreated more and more deeply into themselves until they started to dream,
and they did so without ever losing conscious awareness. According to the Tibetan Book of the
Dead, the yogis had almost total control over broad aspects of these "waking dreams."

In the latter part of the twentieth century, the exact methodology of the the dream yogis remains
obscure, but the concept used by them seems to be at the level of our most scientific and
psychological findings. In many ways, the dream masters seem to have gone beyond anything
known to us today. They seemed to have complete control over their dream worlds, and
everything in them, and could conjure up endless Edens, explore alternate realities, and come to
terms with such issues as the nature of reality and the meaning of life.

At about the same time in India, similiar practises were being carried out. There are various
tantric texts that describe methods of retaining consciousness while falling asleep, though it is to
obscurely described to be of any use to the uninitiated today.

There were various other references to lucid dreaming in history in the next few decades,
including one in the twelfth century by the spanish sufi, Ibn El-Arabi, and another a century after
that, where St. Thomas Aquinas mentions the subject briefly. Neither of them were that detailed
though, and the next significant mention comes in the 1800's.

In the nineteenth century, dreams were no longer seen as deriving from the underworld of the
dead or the work of the gods. People now accepted that dreams took place in the unconscious
underworld of the human mind, and this set the scene for scientific research into lucid dreams to

A significant figure in lucid dreaming history is the Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys. He was
one of the greatest nineteenth century pioneers of lucid dreaming, an industrious and dedicated
experimenter who recorded his dreams from the age of thirteen years old.

Can Lucid dreaming be proved? ~ Yes, it was first scientifically proved by the scientist Stephen LaBerge and his team. When you sleep your bodies main muscles are in paralysis to stop you hurting yourself. One of the few muscles not to be effected are the eyes, the REM (rapid eye movement).
To prove lucidity LeBerge used himself as the first subject. Whilst in a lucid dream he signaled with a set pattern of eye movements the moment when he had achieved the lucid state. When he was lucid they recorded his brain waves and conducted various experiments

In 1867, he first published his book Dreams and how to Guide Them, in which he documented
more than twenty years of his own research into dreams. In the book, the Marquis describes the
sequential development of his ability to control his dreams, first increasing his dream recall,
then becoming aware that he was dreaming. Lastly, he tells us how he became able to awaken
from his dreams at will. The Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys was probably the first person to
demonstrate that it is possible for anyone to learn to dream consciously.

Then in 1900 one of the most well known figures in the history of psychology, Sigmund Freud,
published the now renowned Interpretation of Dreams. Surprising as it may seem, Freud did
not even mention lucid dreaming at all, but several years later he did add a paragraph about
people who claimed they could be conscious during their dreams, and decide upon the outcome
of their dreams in some cases. In 1914, he also added a small note based on the work of the
Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys, saying that "claimed to have accelerated the course of his
dreams just as he pleased, and could give them any direction he chose."

Next came the man to who we owe the term "lucid dreaming", a dutch psychiatrist and dream
researcher by the name of Frederik Willems Van Eeden. He coined the term "lucid dreams" to
those dreams where the dreamer knows that they are dreaming. Though he was interested in all
aspects of dreaming, he found that these lucid dreams aroused his keenest interest. At first he
presented his ideas in a fictional book entitled The Bride of Dreams, because the fictional guise
allowed him to freely deal with delicate matters. Then, in 1913, he presented a paper on lucid
dreams to the Society for Psychical Research reporting on 352 of his lucid dreams collected
between 1898 and 1912.

What is a lucid dream? The short answer is any dream in which you become aware that you are actually having a dream You don't "have" to be dreaming or even asleep but lucidity its most commonly experienced in REM dream sleep. As we all know in regular sleep your conscious mind is no longer in control of your body and major muscles are paralyzed to prevent you acting out your dreams.

How real does it feel? It can seem indistinguishable from waking reality. False awakening can be a common instance of a lucid dream, this is where you "think" you've woken up and got out of bed. Many people get ready for the day and leave for work or school before, shockingly waking up in their beds. Look about you when you read this. Looks real doesn't it? Feel the objects around you, lift some you can feel the weight and texture can't you. You could do this in a "high" lucid dream and you'd never be able to tell the difference!

In the paper, he describes the 8 classifications of dream, including wrong waking-ups (more
commonly known today as false awakenings) and demon-dreams. It is in this work that he first
uses the term "lucid" to describe those dreams where the dreamer is conscious of them
happening. Although many of his conclusions contradict the findings of modern researchers, the
paper remains a classic.

Several others did research into lucid dreaming in the early-mid twentieth century, as can be
read in Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. Moving onto the modern scientific studies
of sleep and dreaming, one of the significant figures in modern lucid dreaming research,
Professor Stephen LaBerge.

The technological advances made in the past few decades have been phenomenal, and our
knowledge of how the mind and body work has been increased as a result. The invention of a
machine that could amplify and record electircal activity in the brain was a great breakthrough
in science, especially for aiding research into sleep and dreaming. Up until the 1950's, scientists
regarded sleep as a passive withdrawal from the world, a state of physical rest. But in 1952,
intensive research into sleep and dreaming began. It did not take long to realise that sleep was
not a uniform state as people suspected, but was classified into stages, each having different
physiological markers. It was then recognised that when people were woken up from the active,
or REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, they nearly always remembered what they were
dreaming about. When they were woken from the other 4 stages of sleep (collectively known as
NREM, or non-rapid eye movement sleep) they rarely reported dreaming. Although this
discovery was a great breakthrough, questions still remained unanswered, such as "How long
do dreams last for ?" and "Does everyone dreams ?". The answers to these questions were yet
to come.

This early psychophysiological dream research was important in the investigation of lucid
dreams, but it only prepared the ground for what was to come. Celia Green, a parapsychologist,
published a book entitled Lucid Dreams in 1968, which was based mainly upon the work of
those I mentioned earlier, as well as information she herself had collected on the subject. But
because parapsychologists were interested in the subject, psychologists dismissed it as a subject
worth investigating, saying that to be consicous in your dreams is a contradiction in terms.

Then in 1974, Patricia Garfield published a book entitled Lucid Dreaming which is still today
regarded as one of the best general works on dreaming and lucid dreaming around.

And it was this book that inspired Stephen LaBerge to approach the subject of lucid dreaming,
and study it in a way no-one ever had before - scientifically. But the path to scientific lucid
dreaming study was not always a steady one.

In September of 1977, Stephen LaBerge applied to Stanford University, wanting to study lucid
dreaming as part of a Ph.D program in psychophysiology. This was approved, and so he started
his work on lucid dreams. Quickly gaining access to the Stanford sleep lab, he began his
research into lucid dreaming with the help of Dr. Lynn Nagel, a researcher who shared the same
keen interest in lucid dreams as LaBerge did.