Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?
--Lily Tomlin, Laugh-In
According to the lucid dream experts, I should be asking myself several-to-many times a day whether or not I'm dreaming. I find this task to be extremely annoying. Despite dogged determination to do the right thing whether I wanted to or not, it wasn't until I somehow slipped into the right mindset, during the first year of my unworlding practice, that I suddenly had three unworlding experiences in two weeks. All the drudgery of repeating reality checks did nothing for me until the mindset I needed somehow clicked into place.
I might be a beginner, but I'm no dummy, I've been studying this stuff forever. Forty-six years. Long ago I read Patricia Garfield's classic ground-breaking tome Creative Dreaming, and along with Robert Monroe's Journeys Out of the Body, it was my bible till LaBerge popularized lucid dreaming. His teachings were tantalizing for a while, but let's face it, science is not my religion. The notion of wearing electronic gadgets to signal my "brain"--whatever that is--anyway, LaBerge's work is excellent and I'm reading one of his books right now. He opened up a whole new world for people who needed something a little less on the mystical side than Castaneda or even Monroe.
While the classic OBE eluded me for decades, after my first spontaneous experience which only took ten years to work up to, I even managed to have a few dozen lucid-dream-type unworldings over the years, thanks to Stephen LaBerge's book. Once I got back into it in November of 2016, a little over a year ago, lucid dreams eluded me while OBEs finally found me! Due to what method? Of course my methods were many, but only when that magical mindset fell into place did anything happen at all.
Before I forget: don't ever get caught up in the argument of whether OBEs and lucid dreams are the same thing or not, and especially do not hurt your chances by developing a preference for one over the other. We need to honor the unworldings that come to us with love and gratitude. That is balanced 6ness, not obsessing over some interest that occupies every spare thought while never coming up for air. No beginner has any business trying to pick and choose. I've heard so many of my fellow beginners whining, "I can't get out of my body." I'll be reading along their pitiful chronicle, shedding crocodile tears in unison with them, when suddenly they happen to mention that, "I've had lucid dreams all my life..."
Whiner! I had to work hard for either type of experience, and either type of experience, to anyone but a daily unworlder, is fantastic news! Eat it up with gusto and appreciate the fruits of your efforts. Dissatisfaction with partial results is the recipe for a dry spell. When you get really, really good at unworlding, that is the time to pick and choose among choices that you will then actually have.
And while we're on that topic: axe the term "dry spell" from your vocabulary. Listen to Mr./Ms. Whiner above: "My dry spell so far has lasted 3 months, 1 week and two days..." Excuse me, sir or madam, while you count the minutes of your supposed failure, I have a path to follow, and I follow that path with passionate enjoyment, because I choose to believe, whether or not it's true, that all I do in any state of being is a dream experience of one sort or another. I believe this because it makes me feel good and I like to. I don't care who agrees or disagrees with me, and there are plenty of times I find myself withing that real life really was a dream... if it isn't. And I'm not so sure it's not.
Getting back to reality checks, the nasty little homework assignments which I and a few kajillion others simply don't enjoy doing, the problem is in the plural. It is the most boring and mundane experience in the world to sit around repeatedly saying, "Am I dreaming now, let me count my fingers, is the clock melting? Perhaps I should force myself out of my chair and leap half-heartedly up into the air to see if I can fly, hope nobody sees me..." Do I have to spell out exactly what's wrong with this approach? Mindset! If your mindset's right, you can spend your day picking up dog doo-doo at the dog park and stand at a freeway ramp trying to sell it as pot brownies to yuppies who drive by, never give unworlding a second thought, and when you lie down in your bed and close your eyes at night, you will be in a phantasmagoric unworlded state with awesome stories to tell your dream journal in the morning... if your mindset is right. You never have to ask yourself whether or not you're dreaming. Don't ever do something that bores you, and don't ever be bored with something you actually must do.
Here's a neat thing that happened to me once. I was reading one of Carlos Castaneda's novels when he happened to mention that "life is a long dream." It stopped me cold. Chills went up and down my back. Suddenly I knew why I bothered to read Carlos Castaneda's books. I wanted to turn cartwheels, jump up and down, leap out of windows to see if I could fly. (The latter is not recommended as a reality check, by the way, because it is sometimes impossible to tell whether or not you are unworlded. Especially in a false awakening, you can really be fooled.)
Point being, the notion that all of life is a dream spoke to me so deep in my being that I was thrilled and excited to think about it, and I still am, decades later. Using this and some other hints detected among all the blowhard BS that's available from experts on the internet, I have just recently designed a simple reality check that I actually like, and it worked for me last night, twice.
My answer to all this is that we should not be doing several-to-many reality checks each day. The problem is in the plural. We should be living in the reality check... singular. Don't check, just assume it, because it helps to; no apologies needed. If life is a long dream, then I am typing this diatribe in my dream. Since I'm an old fart in my dream, I just coughed in my dream due to an eroded esophagal condition that I have in my dream which I learned about when I went to an ear-nose-and throat specialist in my dream and, inconceivably enough, allowed him to shove a camera down my throat in my dream etc. I will leap into the air when I damn well feel like it, to see if I'm really dreaming, but it's really not my thing. However when I go to the kitchen and wash the dishes in my dream the mundane experience takes on a dreamlike tone, a lit-up cast, a quality of lucidity that is undeniable. That's because being in a long, lifelong dream is the reality check I enjoy, so because I resonate with it, it lights me up. Sure you can force yourself to do boring reality checks against your will, but that's the slow way to pummel your way into heaven. Better to make darn sure you are enjoying yourself, because mundanity and forcing walk hand in hand. Are we not trying to escape mundanity? So escape it already.
Another thing that seems non-productive about bad reality check practices is the whole notion of questioning yourself. Is questioning yourself really conducive to that magical mindset? Huh? Is it? Is it? Do you like being questioned? Huh? Do you? Do you? Heck, maybe you do. I don't. It makes me nervous to be interrogated, so why would I want to interrogate myself? Huh? Huh? And it makes me unsure of myself. This is not the state of mind we seek. We need squeaky clean, balanced, whiz-bang self-confidence, so if you're with me, then be my guest and try my new reality check, assume the sale, and let's just say you are dreaming right now and reading this diatribe in your dream. It's the mindset that counts. Quibbling about the facts is for the part of your conscious mind that you hope to leave behind in order to make it possible for you to unworld at all.
New topic. Lux. As I child I learned from the TV that "Lux Liquid is for dishes." Later I learned that the word had not always referred to a highly superior brand of dish soap that just happened to be the key to happiness for all housewives everywhere. The word is actually an old Latin word for "light". From this old word we get "lucid," "lucidity" etc. So the word existed and had more than one meaning already before Celia Green or Stephen LaBerge or whoever it was that created the term "lucid dream" made a new meaning for it. I'm not complaining, it was a stroke of genius. It's a great term, because the old dictionary meanings still hold true, and at times it seems they are a better description of the state than the usual "lucid means you know you're dreaming". But they all work. The dictionary meanings of lucid include "of clear mind" and "luminous," and it's a small stretch to "illumination" or "enlightenment," but let's not go down that road.
It's enough to know that becoming lucid in an unworlded state amounts to having a clear mind, that is, knowing what's going on for a change. So my favorite definition of lucidity is "remembering who you are," because one problem with a non-lucid dream seems to be that we lack access to the self-identifying memories of the 2-3-4 mind which is so insulted at having its title stripped from it at the onset of sleep that it goes into a sulking coma and won't come out till morning. In order to go to sleep at all, the conscious mind has to drop some focus on identity, attachments, and time, and as a former insomniac I can say this with confidence. Stripped of its majestic robes, 2-3-4 might take an unnecessary nose dive into deepest unknowing and uncaring, temporarily losing its give-a-shitter altogether. It requires some finesse to coax his majesty back before morning so that he/she can participate in some real teamwork for a change. We want to do more than remember our dreams when we wake up. We want to remember our life while we're dreaming. Both of these coveted experiences can be termed "lucidity" with equal accuracy: remember who you are; know what's going on; be lucid; wake up.
So the frightening prospect exists that some of us might be prone to seeking enlightenment as a sort of abstract panacea for life as it really is, when we could instead be satisfied with knowing what's going on. There is always that balance to consider. Knowing is 7ness, the 6th chakra or brow chakra or 3rd eye, the color blue, and in its balanced state it is a little mouse that lives inside the walls and floors of our house (or our mindset) and quietly leaves signs around that house to enlighten us when we behave ignorantly and fill Mouse's house with evil bloodsucking vermin. And like anything, wisdom (7ness) can be taken to an extreme. This gives us the know-it-all who knows nothing, the preacher with nothing of importance to discuss, the positive thinker who is compelled to deny the dark half of the universe, the seeker who seeks to perfect himself, his surroundings, or his society in lieu of noticing with due gratitude that the universe is not broken. Taken to the other extreme, extreme ignorance and well-established status-quo idiocy hardly need to be described by me, just take a look around.
What does this have to do with the chapter you're reading right now in your dream?
I recently heard about a method being touted by some lucid dream gurus called ADA (give me a break with all these acronyms already) which means "Awareness All Day". The idea is to force yourself to be aware of everything going on around you all the time, and if you do this, no other reality check is needed.
Well, different strokes for different folks. I'd call this "going off the deep end for JEEE-zzzusss," but if obsessive extremism is your bag, you might enjoy the ADA technique. If you don't enjoy it, it won't work. To me, it sounds like a matter of forcing the basic building block of our whole entire universe--awareness--to exist. Playing god, in other words. It starts out as a good idea--live in your reality check--but extremism pretty much ruins everything it touches. If it ain't achievable, it's a lousy goal.
To bring the notion down to earth a bit, there is a saner version afloat, whose acronyms I have purposely forgotten since I have renamed it "What Just Happened". In this version, while you take note of the fact that a bird is singing in your dream, you ask yourself what happened right before that. I can't say that I have tried this reality check at odd times of the day, but it sounds like a good one because if you ask yourself What Just Happened while you're in an unworlded condition, you might remember who you are (become lucid), because what did just happen is that you put your head on your pillow, so what they heck are you doing in this castle? Where I do use this technique all the time is upon returning from an unworlding experience of any duration, each and every time I wake up on my pillow. The shorter the lapse of 2-3-4 consciousness, the greater the likelihood that I have just had a direct and literal encounter with one of my dream bodies. Often we have swapped the focus of attention or first person perspective back and forth, which is a matter of merging and unmerging with each other. Sometimes an observed dream body will move a body part of its own as a means of returning 2-3-4 to its throne, causing me to awaken on my pillow with a hypnagogic twitch.
Experiencing several-to-many awakenings from little sleeps every day is one of the best ways I know to develop a confident mindset that is conducive to unworlding at greater length during the night or more likely early in the morning. If you ask yourself What Just Happened immediately upon awakening, you will often be pleasantly surprised with a memory that would have become inaccessible only seconds later. The easiest way to experience very short lapses into sleep is not to lay down when you're sleepy, hoping you'll take only a short nap, but rather to lie down when you're not sleepy, and breathe like your life depended on it. Since we normally don't breathe very much, this is likely to change your blood chemistry enough to put you out like a light, but just for a second, over and over. I have more to say about this method in the last chapter of my book Unworlding. Of course it is not to be tried standing up or doing anything but lying down in a comfortable place at a comfortable temperature in a sober condition of fairly decent mental stability.
And then there's the BAD or "breathing-all-day" meditation, which seems to go hand in hand with developing a more consistent ability to remember who you are while awake. In other words, to experience waking reality lucidly, instead of being lost in so-called thought, emotion, and other mental debris that is trying to exit your being without your cooperation. In this regard, breathing continuously without stopping to hold your breath is pretty much the opposite of our typical ass-clenching refusal to let go of anything, a form of resistance that most of us call "caring". If you have a hard time letting go of thoughts and emotions directly, and especially if you also can't or don't want to do any kind of sitting meditation, then breathing as a lifestyle might be for you. Especially when you find yourself crying over spilled milk or coffee, you'd be surprised, if you had been breathing, how little "caring" from you is required to make the world keep going 'round.
Based on the information in this chapter, which I have recently been putting to good use, I had two outbreaks of true lucidity last night in my unworldings. They were short and unfortunately I couldn't remember what to do with the state once I was in it, but due to a recent buildup in confidence and a mindset increasingly well-lubricated by that same confidence, the thing I refuse to call a "dry spell" has finally ended so the next one can begin. See why I won't use that term? It's a terrible disservice to your practice to give less than no credit to all the between times when you are accumulating the joy of discovery which will eventually catapult you into your next unworlding.