Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lucid Dreaming Project Is Dead. Long Live the Lucid Dreaming Project.

I’ve been obsessed with lucid dreaming for nine months and have immersed myself very thoroughly in the subject, reading several books and making near daily visits to a particular LD website, where I have received many excellent ideas.

And then, a few days ago, I was like, you know what? Screw it. This project is over.

This came shortly after recording approximately this dream for what seemed like the 500th time:

It’s night. I’m riding my bike. An unseen person says something about niacin.

I was lately telling my friend Angela that I’d had a dream about her. We were close when we were eight and have recently reconnected on you know what. Now we take turns calling each other on the phone every two or three weeks, and send the occasional email in between.

She wondered how I knew it was a dream about her, since it’s been 40 years since we saw each other in waking life, and I can’t have a good idea what she looks like now, despite recent photos.

I said it wasn’t a case of seeing an approximation of her. As in most of my dreams, I didn’t see her at all, I just knew it was her. That was confounding to waking-life Angela, but in probably 80 percent of my dreams, other characters are completely invisible, though it’s perfectly clear to me whether the person is unknown, a certain friend, or my mother.

In another 10 percent, other characters are sort of seen; in eight percent, they are pretty much but not really seen, and in two percent, they are crystal clear, or at least part of them is.

Also, darn near every dream I have takes place either at night, underground, inside, or on a dimly lit day. I virtually never have a really well lit dream.

I reflected that I had missed X amount of sleep getting up to record these kind of boring dreams, plus X amount of sleep lying abed in the morning in hopes of a lucid dream, plus X amount of sleep practicing various techniques and making dream notes during the night, not to mention X amount of waking time reading and obsessing about lucid dreaming.

The result? Hundreds and hundreds of pages of printouts of dimly lit dreams full of hardly seen people, and about 15 total minutes of lucidity.

Which is great! But screw it.

I decided not to record my dreams anymore, and when I went to bed the past couple of nights, I had a couple of new affirmations: “I probably won’t remember my dreams, and I probably won’t have a lucid dream.”

But it has been months since I went a day without remembering at least something of my dreams, so I do still wake up during the night and know what I was dreaming, and I do of course remember dreams in the morning.

For what it’s worth, when I wake several times during the night and thus remember many dreams, there is a very high likelihood of a lucid dream on that night. It’s just that there aren’t very many nights like that.

This project has turned my ideas about sleep upside down: Getting in bed, falling asleep right away and remaining so until the alarm goes off? Bad. Getting in bed, falling asleep after completing pre-sleep protocol, and waking up nine times during the night? Good!

The latter doesn’t happen that often, but if one could get the hang of waking after every dream, one could probably have great success with lucid dreaming.

Anyway, last night I stayed up late reading The New Yorker and watching a terrible movie on DVD—I can stay up late now that I don’t need an hour in the morning for writing down dreams—and this morning, while thinking over some dreams I’d had, I realized I’d had a relatively long lucid dream. Yeah!

Which I am certainly going to write down, plus I retrieved my pencils and little dream note notepads from the place I’d stowed them and put them back under my pillows. Just in case.

In this dream, I told two friendly young women, “I’m dreaming! This is my 18th lucid dream. Do you know I’m dreaming right now?” They said in a very pleasant manner, “Sure, we know that. We’re dreaming, too.” [It was actually my 19th.]

New plan: I will practice no technique whatsoever and I will not make dream notes or record dreams unless the dream was lucid and/or particularly interesting or delightful. And if I have a lucid dream, I will be very happy about it, as I am right now.


rootlesscosmo said...

Wandered over from IBTP and completely agree that "Ecaroh" is terrific--it's a great album altogether, I'm a particular admirer of the way Donald Byrd sounds on "The End of a Love Affair." What's this horn you mention in an earlier post?

Linda Atkins said...

Cool! Thanks for coming over from IBTP. I just got down the CD so I can listen to "The End of a Love Affair" and try to appreciate it more fully. As for the horn, was I talking about myself being a (lapsed at the moment) trumpet player? Not sure. Anyway, thank you very much for coming by!

rootlesscosmo said...

Glad to be here.

Part of what I like about "Love Affair" is the feel that the rhythm section gets, especially Art Blakey. But Byrd is in a group of trumpet players I think of as having kind of a "liquid" sound--Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan (listen to his solo on "I'm Old Fashioned" on the "Blue Train" album), or (going further back in the bebop era) Fats Navarro. Definitely not Miles Davis who is always (for me) too intense to give that sense of ease and suppleness. Not to say one approach is better or more valid, just that they strike me as very different categories.

What kind of music did/do you play?

J at said...

That's pretty funny. I have a friend who is convinced that if we all talk about our dreams, together, we'll find some deeper meaning that is lost in the individual, but present in the collective. He also things there is great power in hearing womens' first menstrual stories, so take it for what it's worth. ;)

Linda Atkins said...

Yeah, J., I think the jury is really out on whether dreams mean anything or not. (And now I'll resist the temptation to tell my first menstrual story.)

Hi, rootlesscosmo. It sounds like we may have opposite tastes in trumpet players. There is much Lee Morgan that I love dearly, but if I had to be stranded on a desert island with Clifford Brown's body of work or Miles Davis's, I would have to take the latter.

Are you a musician?

I have the closest thing San Francisco State University had at the time to a jazz degree (it was called "Popular Styles," so I like to say I have a degree in pop music--I do).

I played jazz (small group and big band) and classical music, and performed with a variety of groups in all sorts of styles over the course of a decade or so, including a hard rock band called The Peeps. (I also did some composing, mainly amounting, so far, to about 20 pounds of unfinished pieces.)

My very favorite jazz composer is Wayne Shorter, and I found that the horn players I liked to listen to most tended to be saxophonists rather than trumpet players.

(Which reminds me of a joke: What is the definition of a gentleman? Answer: Someone who knows how to play the trumpet but refrains.)

rootlesscosmo said...

Yes, I'm a piano player. I played bebop when I was younger; now I play the other kind of chamber music, with scores. Long story.
As for a total body of work, I agree with you, Miles Davis over Clifford Brown. But some of the Brown-Roach Quintet dates (especially with Harold Land on tenor) still knock me out.
And yes also on Wayne Shorter. I've spent a little time trying to learn "Very Early" for a dear friend who plays tenor when not in the UC Santa Cruz molecular biology lab. Gorgeous tune.
It's an odd experience to have lived long enough (I'm 67) to watch an avant-garde style turn into a classicism with a canon and a literature etc. They tell me the Sarabande was once considered scandalous. Go figure.

Linda Atkins said...

It sounds like you have a marvelous life in music!

rootlesscosmo said...

It's pretty marvelous. Did you give up playing completely? Do you do something else in music?

Another gorgeous "liquid" trumpet solo: Lee Morgan, "I'm Old Fashioned" on the "Blue Train" album by John Coltrane. It's one of my favorite standards, by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Young for an Astaire-Ava Gardner musical, and I think Morgan's solo is a good illustration of what classical composers mean when they mark a passage grazioso.

Linda Atkins said...

Yes, I gave up playing completely, for the time being. All I do in music now is listen, and mainly to heavy metal, but you're making me want to polish off some of my jazz recordings.

(Actually, when you happened along and responded to my link to "Ecaroh," that very CD was in the CD player, a bit of a coincidence.)

rootlesscosmo said...

I just listened to Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Richie Powell, and George Morrow (I had to look him up). One track in particular, "The Scene is Clean," has a very busy set of chord progressions, like "Ecaroh." Gorgeous playing, too.
A jazz blogger opined that "Giant Steps" was a breakthrough album. Nt to take anything away from it, but I believe "My Favorite Things"
was more innovative--changes had got about as complex as possible ("Moment's Notice," "Nica's Dream") so the next, divergent path was extended melodic work above an almost stationary bass line. Miles Davis' soundtrack album for that Louis Malle movie took the same direction. (Monk, as always, went his own way.)