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Due to stress, I had developed gut problems and had to carefully watch my diet. I believe that several closely spaced lucid dreams helped me considerably:
In the first, I entered an ornate temple with golden artifacts throughout. I started talking to a scientific colleague who transposed gut tissue over injured spinal cords to promote regeneration. I then found myself talking to a man in a wheelchair wearing elaborate rings and jewelry around his fingers and hands. He was sitting on his thronelike wheelchair, passing judgment on my disability-focused work. Soon after, I realized that I was dreaming.
The scene shifted, and I found myself walking around Washington, DC, where I had once worked for many years. After noticing that a statue of Teddy Roosevelt topped the Capitol dome instead of the Statue of Freedom, my almost faded lucidity heightened again. As I walked down the street, I decided to beam pink, healing light into my gut.
The next week, I dreamt that I was walking in front of a building with many other people and became lucid. I asked a man where I was, and he indicated some incomprehensible place. I then asked everyone to beam pink, healing light into my abdomen region. After these dreams, my gut problems diminished substantially.
Example Visualization: Spinal Cord Injury
For many years, I've been involved in researching and writing about therapies that expand the mind-body-spirit healing spectrum for spinal cord injury (SCI), historically one of humankind's most devastating disorders. The ancient Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus written in Egyptian hieroglyphics states that SCI is an ailment not to be cured, a view that has prevailed for 5000 years – until recently. For the first time in human history, there is beginning to be a shift in our consciousness about what is possible after injury. Patients once resigned to the defeating you-will-never-walk-again attitude that is deeply imprinted in consciousness after injury are becoming more and more convinced that some recovery truly may be possible. Lucid-dream visualizations have the potential to greatly accelerate this shift in consciousness.
Due to my professional interest, I'm including a lucid-dream visualization targeting SCI injury provided by Robert Bruce, author of Energy Work: The Secret of Healing and Spiritual Development. Bruce used it on himself to promote healing after sustaining such an injury. Although it is helpful in the waking state, he believes that this visualization (or components of it) will be much more beneficial in the lucid-dream state, consistent with the aforementioned Buddhist beliefs:
Focus body awareness on your tailbone. Imagine and feel an electric blue energy ball about the size of a tennis ball forming there. Move the ball up through your spine to the top of the back of your head, and then back to your tailbone. Bounce the energy ball up and down, keeping the action focused in your spine. Take about one-half to one second each way. Next focus the energy ball to bounce up and down through the injury site and several inches above and below. Next, use a side-to-side slicing action. Imagine a thin disk of shining metal about five inches across. Start just below the injury and slice side-to-side through your spine. Move the disk up or down a little after every few slicing actions. Work your way slowly and thoroughly up and down through the whole injured area, Finish with a wrapping action as if you were wrapping a wide bandage around your spine and this is covering and being absorbed into your spine. Continue each action for several minutes or more.
Although evidence in support of their use is often anecdotal, numerous substances have been used to enhance lucid dreaming.
By far, the one with the greatest potential is galantamine, a substance extracted from various plants, including the snowdrop (i.e., Galanthus) and red spider lily. Available as a prescription drug and an over-the-counter supplement, galantamine has been used to treat mild forms of Alzheimer's disease and other memory impairments. Galantamine inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This inhibition increases acetylcholine levels, which in turn is associated with improved memory, learning, and thinking, and prolonged dream or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. To enhance lucid dreaming, galantamine is commonly taken after 5 to 6 hours of sleep before entering the REM-concentrated phase near morning. Evidence suggests that galantamine increases the odds of having a lucid dream by over fivefold compared with placebo. Galantamine is often used in combination with other supplements, such as choline (often in the form of glycerophosphocholine), a precursor to the important acetylcholine neurotransmitter.
Because galantamine has some physical and psychological side effects, it should be used with discretion. Author Charlie Morley, an advocate for the use of lucid dreaming within a spiritual context (see Dreams of Awakening), believes, "Galantamine vandalizes the spiritual aspect of your unconscious."
A few of the many other substances used to facilitate lucid dreaming include:
1. 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), a serotonin precursor that suppresses REM sleep early in the night, creating a later REM-rebound effect;
2. sleep-promoting melatonin, which may increase dream vividness;
3. sublingual vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 for promoting dream recall;
4. fish oils, stimulating more intense, vivid dreams;
5. omega-3 fatty acids;
6. apple juice, theorized to increase acetylcholine levels; and
7. mugwort, an herb of folklore, enhancing dream remembrance and vividness.
Because everyone has very different physiology, how these substances affect lucid dreaming, if at all, will be highly variable.
For further information, search the Internet for the specific substance and the term lucid dreaming, or check out Advanced Lucid Dreaming: The Power of Supplements by Thomas Yuschak (Lulu Enterprises; 2006) or Are you Dreaming? Exploring Lucid Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide by Daniel Love (Enchanted Loom Publishing; 2013).
Bruce R. Energy Work: The Secret of Healing and Spiritual Development. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company; 2007.
Cohen K. Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing. New York: Ballantine Books; 2003.
Dalai Lama. The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. New York: Morgan Road Books; 2005.
Glide Wing teacher-guided online workshops for your well-being and spiritual awakening [website]. www.glidewing.com.
Klemp H. The Art of Spiritual Dreaming. Minneapolis, MN: Eckankar; 2009.
LaBerge S. Lucid Dreaming: A Concise Guide to Awakening in Your Dreams and in Your Life. Boulder, CO: Sounds True; 2009.
LaBerge S, Rheingold H. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. New York: Ballantine Books; 1990.
Morley C. Dreams of Awakening: Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream & Sleep. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House; 2013.
Norbu CN. Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light. Boston: Snow Lion; 2002.
Tick E. The Practice of Dream Healing: Bringing Ancient Greek Mysteries into Modern Medicine. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books; 2001.
Tuccillo D, Zeizel J, Peisel T. A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming: Mastering the Art of Oneironauics. New York: Workman Publishing; 2013.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead. New York: Penguin Books; 2005.
Waggoner R. Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. Needham, MA: Moment Point Press; 2009.
Wallace BA. Dreaming Yourself Awake: Lucid Dreaming and Tibetan Dream Yoga for Insight and Transformation. Boston: Shambhala Publications; 2012.
Wangyal T. The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications; 1998.
I am grateful for my many lucid-dream mentors, whose wisdom has guided me on this extraordinary journey, including Robert Waggoner, Robert Bruce, and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
Laurance Johnston, PhD, is a former National Institutes of Health division director, as well as former director, Spinal Cord Research & Education Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America. He has written many articles on therapies that expand the disability healing spectrum and is author of Alternative Medicine and Spinal Cord Injury: Beyond the Banks of the Mainstream.
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