I had the pleasure of hosting Stephen LaBerge, one fo the worlds foremost experts on Lucid Dreaming, this past week at Google. We had an excellent turnout, which comes as no surprise given the curiosity that abounds at Google in techies and non-techies alike. I’ll share a brief recap and wrap-up with some thoughts of how it has inspired me.
He first discussed the ground-breaking research for his PhD at Stanford. His thesis was that lucid dreaming could be scientifically proven by having the lucid dreamer signal to the outside world when a lucid dream was occurring. This was made possible by dreamers using eye-movements to signal lucidity (for example, two large left-right, left-right eye movements in the dream showed up perfectly on the monitors). Once this was established, they could do additional research like measure the physiological response to dream activities. He shared some research about how the physiological response to dream sex for one of the female subjects was nearly identical to the real thing.
After building creditability for lucid dreaming (and himself, since Google is a very data driven culture) he moved on to applications of lucid dream. He mentioned dancers for example are able to practice and get the feel for a move in their dreams. He discussed the value for overcome shyness and other social anxieties by having a safe environment to practice (you could imagine giving a lecture to a 1000 person audience in a lucid dream and building your confidence).
One thing I hadn’t seen before in his lectures that he showcased this time was how real lucid dreaming is to the mind. As a lucid dreamer myself, I have experienced this directly, but how do you convey this to someone who has not? He showed the results of 3 tests involving following the tip of ones finger in a circle. The first showed how the brain sees the patter in a waking state with the eyes open. In this case, the result was a very neatly drawn circle of brain activity. The second case was a subject doing the same activity but only from imagination, eyes closed. The result was something that did not even look like a circle in brain activity. The final was a lucid dreamer following the finger in a lucid dream. It looked like the first example, of course. This was one way to prove that lucid dreaming is much more similar to actual perception than imagination.
After the talk, I have been inspired to redouble my efforts for lucid dreaming. It is interesting because with all the benefits of lucid dreaming it is still hard for me (and others I know) to stay motivated to practice it. It is a hard skill to master. At my best, I was up to 2 LDs/night for over 6 months. Right now, my last LD was at the end of March. Last night I tried with lots of motivation to no success. However, I woke multiple times in the night and wrote down some interesting dreams. But even that can be tiring. However, I am encouraged the reward is worth the effort. Stay tuned to more experiments in the nocturnal realm.