People who think dreams aren’t real are fooling themselves.
When you go to bed tonight try to think of two separate things: a memory of something you did last week at work + a memory of a dream you had.
Can you separate them both? Why is only one of them real? Are they the exact same? Does it matter?
In today’s interview you’re going to find out why they are the same thing, plus there are lots of other goodies too.
I’m here with Sean Oliver today and he hails from Arizona, USA. He has some great tips and tricks for you and he loves talking lucid dreaming. Check out his website, Lucidity Saga. If you’re also into some metaphorical music for your soul then check out his side project, But Vessels.
Hey Sean, let’s start with your favorite thing about lucid dreaming?
I think I’m most fascinated with our perception of it. It’s this whole other half to life and a lot of cultures don’t place a lot of value on it; it’s something you cannot avoid doing, every human has dreams when they close their eyes. So it’s interesting to me that in some way we’ve pushed it off to the side, almost like a little kid with broccoli, we don’t understand how healthy it could be for us so we just kind of ignore it.
Can you tell us about any struggles you’ve had since you got started?
I think everyone deals with dry spells from time to time. I always try to view it as coming and going in waves. I think everyone should talk about dreams and be engaged in their dreams, but to the same token I don’t think it’s healthy to obsess about getting lucid. I often find my most potent lucid experiences have come when I’m not trying to force it.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your time in the dream world?
That when you are “there” it’s not that different than being “here.” Meaning: usually you are in a body looking out into a reality. The only thing that allows us to call this reality ‘real’ and dreams ‘fake’ is our agreement. The experience itself is just an experience and I don’t know if there is a lot of value trying to parse out if what happened to you really happened, ’cause it just happened! I’m trying to summarize this, and it’s very difficult.
-For example, at the end of your life when you reflect back all you have are memories, the past is not physically there to verify itself. And there isn’t a difference between a memory from your childhood and a dream from you teenage years. That imprint is the same, both chemically and emotionally. Both are experiences that you remember. So basically what’s ‘real’ for me is everything I experience before I die, including everything that has happened to me in dreams.
Ultimately, the most important thing I learned was that we don’t really know a whole lot about dreams, and in turn we don’t know a lot about life.
Do you take anything from your lucid dreams and apply it to real life?
I’ve always been interested in dreams and discussed them with friends, but I wasn’t consciously aware of it until I fell into a lucid dream back in 2009. Since that intense out of body experience I’ve started a web series with heavy dream themes called “Lucidity”, presented dream research at IASD 29 on dream-to-dream communication via the Internet (check out below), and am now responding to this interview about dreams. It’s crazy for me to try and imagine where my life would be without that first vivid WILD. The course of my life has been profoundly guided by an event that most scientist would say didn’t happen.
On top of that I do sometimes use dreams as inspiration for scenes or dialogue for Lucidity and other creative projects. I also often reach out to people who show up in my dreams. For instance, if an old friend makes a cameo I make it a point to say hi to them that day.
What’s the best lucid dream you’ve ever had?
Very difficult to answer! There will always be a huge soft spot in my heart for my first WILD. This one wasn’t a lucid dream but I was still very aware and it’s one of the craziest dreams I’ve ever had:
I’m watching a young girl, pre-teen age, walk down a hallway. She is sad. I then witness her dead father begin to contact her. The hallway walls morph into beautiful memories between her and her Father. The girl knows what is happening and gets happier and happier. Eventually I realize that I am talking to the girl and that I am her Father. We exchange words and I assure her that everything will be alright. The girl keeps on talking and I’m listening happily, the scene slowly fades and the girl is no longer speaking to me, nor standing in a hallway of memories. She is spinning in circles in a living room holding a picture of her father and talking to it. Her older sister walks in and tells her to stop because their parents are dead and can’t hear her. The girl then asked, “What if they could.”
Did I visit my yet to be born daughter from beyond the grave? Maybe…maybe….
What is your favorite technique and why do you like it so much?
The Wake Back To Bed is the Holy Grail in my bible. I’ve had the most success with it and I think it is effective because your consciousness isn’t “tired” and is able to slip away while the body rests. I also strongly support external cues that manifest themselves as metaphors in the dream. A simple example is from a dream I had when I was a kid. In the dream I was walking across a room and every time I stepped, spikes came up out of the floor and hit my foot. After a few steps I woke up and stayed motionless for a moment, and then suddenly I felt the spikes again. I took off my blanket and discovered my sister’s cat batting at my feet. I guess I like the external cues (typically lights and sound, not cats) because it is so interactive with the waking world.
Do you have an ultimate lucid dream you’d like to have?
This is a bit of a Lucidity spoiler, but I would like to speak with a child version of myself. I don’t entirely understand why, but it’s something I’ve felt I could get a lot out of. I’d also really like to visit a memory from my past in a dream. At the moment my first choice is returning to 4th grade and witnessing myself and a good friend beat The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the first time. It was a truly religious experience and I would like to have it again. Perhaps it was so meaningful because at the time my future self was visiting from a dream.
What is the strangest land you’ve even wandered through in a lucid dream?
Funny enough, a lot of my dreamscapes are very stable and similar to the waking world. A lot of people always talk about how “out there” or crazy dreams can be, but it’s important to note how normal they can be too. In fact most people are being tricked into alternate realities every night without ever catching on.
One of my theories is that a dream is weird because it wants you to realize the truth of the situation; that the inconsistencies in dreams are clues left by you to enhance your awareness and control. A girl I know once gained lucidity after being trapped in a wooden elevator in the middle of a shopping mall. Now think about it a moment, the dream world can create an entire mall, have you walk through it, populate people, but for some reason forgets that wooden elevators have no place in a 21st century mall?
Furthermore, the wood was exactly what made my friend realize that she was in a dream and if her dream was created by an aspect of herself, should not that aspect be aware that she would know that a wood elevator would be out of place? Not to mention that the dream locked her inside of the elevator until she recognized it as a dream and only then did the doors open and let her out.
If you could go back to the start would you do anything differently?
I’d be a fool to fight against the synchronicity of my life.
Do you have any words of encouragement for all of us?
Dreams are still one of man’s most mysterious mysteries. We all do it, yet no one knows why. It’s as confusing as being alive and as perplexing as death. But dreams can be explored. In fact you already do every night.
You have the ability, simply by being alive. You don’t require a spaceship or a submarine, just the desire and the will. I don’t believe the key to dreams will come from strapping diodes and wires to brains, the answer is within and waiting for you. You need only search for it.
Hey Sean, thanks a bunch for the interview. I’ll post the trailer for your lucidity trailer below for people to check out. These guys write the music for the show.