Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been having lucid dreams. It just happens a lot that while dreaming, I’ll come to a realization that I’m dreaming, and then I can do whatever I want. Usually this happens a few minutes before I wake up, which makes it a very short experience. If I get lucky sometimes it’s a longer lucid experience, but often times I’m lucid for a perceived 30 minutes or so, and then I get sucked back into the dream and forget that I was ever aware that I was dreaming.
Anyways, I’m very into figuring out how the brain works. I love listening to NPR’s Science Friday, and I’m always excited when they have a neuroscientist as a guest and they talk about the brain. Here’s a few links to some great talks concerning consciousness and how the brain works:
NPR Link: David Eagleman Gets Inside Our Heads
Science Friday Link: Decoding ‘the Most Complex Object in the Universe’
My Dream, 06-28-13
I was in a large outdoor shopping center, It kind of reminded me of when I was in downtown Frankfurt, Germany for vacation. I became lucid and I remembered that I always wanted to interact with the characters in my dream world and see if they could tell me about themselves, what they are, or what they represent. This is only the second chance I’ve had at this opportunity, mostly because when I become lucid forget that I want to do this, and end up just doing random things for fun, like driving tanks around or blasting Kamehamehas at buildings.
See, I’ve always been curious when you’re in a dream and you’re interacting with a person, who are they really? Are they a construct generated by your subconscious? Do they represent a region in your brain, do they represent an idea, or an emotion? Or are they just meaningless characters generated by your brain in an effort at faux entertainment.
My first experience questioning dream characters
The first time I thought to interact with a dream character in this was way about a year ago. I took the kind approach. I was walking through a stairway corridor and I met a guy headed somewhere. He had a backpack on. I approached him carefully, and said to him very directly, “Excuse me sir, I need your help. I need you to tell me exactly who you are. What are you, really?” He looked terrified and said, “I’m sorry, I have to go, and started to run away from me.” I chased after him and grabbed him, looked him in the eyes, and said in as calm a voice as possible, “Please, I really need to know. You’re in my head, so you must be kind to me and answer my question.” He wrestled free from my grip and bolted. I tried to find another dream character to interrogate, but all the dream characters had mysteriously disappeared. When I woke up from that, I decided that maybe I’d been too nice about it. I thought about it for a while, and I hypothesized that maybe a character represents a region of my brain, or even a network of say, 20,000 brain cells. Something tells me that they might want to exist as these dream characters, the same way a beetle or a dog wants to exist, if only for 4 hours during your REM cycle. As far as I know it’s only your prefrontal cortex that gets to express itself in any meaningful way during the daytime, but it gets shut off at night to allow you to sleep.
Having had that first experience a year ago, I was a little less patient and decided to take a more violent approach in this morning’s lucid dream. I immediately ran to the closest person to me in the shopping center and said to him in a stern voice, “You have to tell me who you are. What do you represent? I need answers!” This time he said to me, “Someone’s been sent to meet with you later and tell you, I promise.” I said, “No, you will tell me now. Who are you, what do you represent?” He tried to get away, so I grabbed him by the neck and started choking him. I said in a plain voice, “If you don’t tell me, I will kill you.” He kept trying to get away, so I snapped his neck.
Now at this point, you must be thinking, “What the hell am I reading?! Is this guy for real?”. Please keep in mind that this is a lucid dream, I know these characters aren’t real in any meaningful sense, and I was performing a scientific experiment to see if my brain actually knows data about it’s own internal structure.
At this moment, all the dream characters in the shopping center had disappeared. I ran every which way to try and find one to interrogate, but they had all vanished, like the rapture had taken place. I actually said a small prayer in the dream, asking Jesus for forgiveness for killing the dream character, because I was a little worried I was venturing into some uncharted territory here.
Since all the dream characters were scared off, I decided to have a little fun. I tried to fly. Now this is hit or miss in the dream world, some days are good days and you can have fun with it and go for miles, and some days are bad ones and you can’t even get off the ground, no matter how hard you will yourself into the air.
Fun Fact: I used to play basketball as a kid, and whenever I’d have a dream where I was trying to dunk or shoot a jump shot, I’d start floating off the ground, which immediately alerted me that I was in a dream. Once It happened and I woke up in the middle of it, and I swear I was floating 3 feet off my bed. Now I don’t actually believe I was floating three feet off my bed. I think what happened was a coincidental and elaborate illusion caused by me waking up while floating in my dream. I think because I woke up while floating, my inner ear muscle reflex created the feeling that I was falling right when I woke up. Also, your body muscles paralyze while you’re in REM sleep. So the combination of the sensation of falling mixed with my muscles regaining movement made it feel like I fell 3 feet and landed in my bed.
Anyways, today was a bad day and I was only able to float maybe 10 feet off the ground before falling and not being able to fly the rest of my lucid dream. I literally tried for about 10 minutes, and nothing. It’s actually more interesting to me when I can’t fly than when I can. It tells me that it’s a learned skill, and your brain is doing something very interesting when it happens. Anyways, I woke up, used the bathroom, went back to sleep, and had a normal non-lucid dream. That was that.
Since I’ve tried communicating with these characters twice to no avail, scaring them all way both times, whether I was kind or violent… I think my next approach will be to be initially stern, but then agree to a meeting with that someone, whoever they are. Maybe it’s a dude like the Architect, from the Matrix. Oh man, that would be hilarious if your brain has a guy like that just waiting to answer your questions!
Though I’m totally into this investigation, the skeptic part of me thinks the only reason my brain generates that kind of reaction is because it doesn’t know anything about itself, and can’t answer my question. So if I don’t get an answer, it’s because it doesn’t know, and if I do get an answer, it’ll be bullshit.