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The Craze For Lucid Dreaming

Thursday, May 31, 2012 13:46
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 A slew of apps promise to encourage “lucid dreaming”. So why is there such enthusiasm around the idea of controlling dreams, asks Sam Judah.

“You’re only bound by gravity if you believe in it,” says Rory Mac Sweeney, impatiently.

He is explaining the logic of a dream world which he not only visits each night, but apparently has active control over, flying at will through lush forests or launching himself upward into the night sky.

It sounds implausible, but the phenomenon is known as lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming technically refers to any occasion when the sleeper is aware they are dreaming. But it is also used to describe the idea of being able to control those dreams.
Once confined to a handful of niche groups, interest in lucid dreaming has grown in recent years, spurred on by a spate of innovations from smartphone apps to specialist eye masks, all promising the ability to influence our dreams. ”A couple of years ago there were about four or five people organising meetings” says Mac Sweeney, a dentist and lucid dreaming expert from Islington, London. “Now there are closer to 50, and that’s in the capital alone.”
It’s not just lucid dreaming groups that are booming. Attendance at more traditional dream interpretation groups like the Academy of Dreams, in Euston, are up, and elsewhere people are paying up to £40 an hour for private interpretation sessions.
Michael Cave, who works at a bank in Marylebone, London, is one of the newcomers. As with many recent recruits, he was attracted by adverts for lucid dreaming meetings on social networking sites, one of the factors behind the trend.
“I’m quite a sceptical person and would only believe it if I experienced it for myself. Now, though, I’ve achieved lucidity a number of times.”
In addition to the group meetings, Michael has toyed with Dream:ON, the most popular of the many new smartphone apps now available.
Created by psychologist Richard Wiseman, the app has seen over half a million downloads in just six weeks.
“The new wave of interest is led by technology,” says Wiseman, whose app claims to allow users to choose their dream before bed, and plays sound cues once they have entered the right phase of sleep.
“When I selected birdsong, for example, I found myself dreaming that I was in a green and sunny field,” says Cave.
Whilst this isn’t strictly lucid dreaming, as it doesn’t offer users control from within a dream, there are many more which promise just that.
Singularity Experience, Dreamz, Sigmund and Lucid Dream Brainwave all work in a similar way, by playing subtle audio cues whilst the user is asleep. Not enough to wake them, but hopefully sufficient to trigger awareness inside a dream.

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