I have taught myself to enjoy lucid dreaming frequently. It is a full picture hand every person can acquire, but the last card of this deck always evades me; I have never been able to play the ace of spades—the final step from lucid dream to complete wakening out-of-body experience, the final step that can transport the consciousness to the astral planes. I wonder if this is because a part of me doesn’t want to—I wonder if this is because a part of me is concerned I could never come back.
The knowledge that the gun was hidden, cured my drought of sleep. I soon fell into slumber.
I dreamt I was in a warehouse. The door closed, all but for a silent slice of light piercing a slit to fresh air. This scene struck bolt familiar—it was not a hearth-warm, roast chestnut strain of comeliness, but a cold sharp edged Deja vu. Its origin wavered: a whimsical queen of Hearts, flimsy and evasive. A clinical white flicker paved the way to a high school-style desk and singular chair. The chair was set apart from the desk, and too heavy to lift. I had to drag it across the hard floor like nails down a chalkboard, quivering sore to my ears. The entire setup trembled, unarmed. I took the seat.
“Guilty!” a bass voice drummed in the vacant space, a formidable turbulence menacing all four walls.
My eyes paced the visible room. Nothing.
“Guilty,” it came again, lithe and sonorous and fresh as petrichor, bitter steady.
I turned, trying to find the source of the voice. Nothing. The limited light splintered its fingers flexing ribbon shades around the room, leaving me in a shallow black cup of my own conundrums. My coil cracked, the resonant corners chased, quickening my pace, and the voice sprinted circles. I willed my legs, but they were rapid as a slow-roasted ham.
Thunder harsh, the moment’s bindings snapped: this was one of my dream symbols.
I was dreaming.
For those of you interested, as far as I have found, there are three easy routes to lucid dreaming, the second two take place from within a typical dream state, the first you drive yourself:
- Concentrate awake: wake yourself 2 hours earlier than usual. Waken your mind entirely but keep your eyes light-sealed. Concentrate on the lucid dream you wish to experience. You will begin to hallucinate, seeing a parade of colours, hearing a disordered soundscape. Eventually, you will be able to move and look around inside the space you have created. This is a lucid dream, but I have always found this method to create a fragile state that you can easily wake from if you get too excited. Practice perfects. Have patience.
- Find a dream symbol: a dream symbol is a regular occurrence that takes place only in dreams. Learning to recognise these can unweave the knit of perceived subconscious reality and lead to a lucid dream state. They might include needing the toilet and not being able to find one, or teeth falling out, for example.
- Taking reality tests: these tests will filter reality from dream-reality, and inform your brain whether what you see is real. Realisation that you are dreaming is the hallelujah to triggering a lucid dream. If you wish to lucid dream on a regular basis, it is worth practicing these daily; if it becomes routine in waking life, it is more likely to take place in a dream state. There are three key tests I use: the foot test, the breathing test, and finger through palm test.
- I stared at my feet; they distorted beneath me,
- I held my nose and closed my mouth; I could still breathe,
- I pushed a finger against my palm, believing it would pass through, and it did.
I was dreaming. My conscious mind flared brazier against the darkness, and in the bright light of my conscious mind I realised how oddly familiar this all felt.
“Guilty!” I heard again, the voice was framed with a resounding note of rancour, a white lion temper lashing out in the black.
The beauty of most lucid dreams is its pliable fabric, which can be dismantled and re-woven. They are like webs with the mind. You could manipulate gravity and leap to the summit of Everest, or soar the turbulent thermals with golden eagles. You could plunge to the deepest depths of the great blue sea without need for oxygen, or train a pet unicorn, or become twenty-feet tall. It is your reality. It is your mind.
I have two pieces of additional advice for those wishing to learn to lucid dream. My first piece of advice is be careful what you wish for. I once summoned a recently departed family member, hoping to speak with them one last time. Grasping for closure. I asked for a touching of souls, a comforting final page, but I received the dream equivalent of a concussion. I woke up having soaked the pillow in tears. It was a traumatic experience. Your mind can be a staggeringly powerful sanctuary or a diabolical confinement of your own disquiet.
This dream was turning putrid; it was rotten at the core. I felt my way around the angles of the voice with my conscious mind, fumbling, and found it quaking and invulnerable. The elements would not remodel.
I could not control it.
I had never experienced a lucid dream I could not manipulate before. It was as though an element of my mind exercised free will. Had my mind finally snapped under duress?
Wooden still. The walls still spoke. The light still fingered the corners of the room, at will. The familiarity I felt was turgid. It was a power play, just like Andrew. Had I internalised a part of Him?
This was a living nightmare, but I recognised it immediately; this was the warehouse of The Abduction. Staggered abrupt, a flight or fight stampede stoked the chest. I was lace frail and frantic, grasping bars in a cage of my own making.
Of my own making—and therefore could be controlled.
I had to calm myself. Confidence techniques, where are you?
Take stock of the situation and answer accordingly.
My pulse softened and heeded its owner. Deep breath.
Perhaps I could not alter the contents, but I could change the fabric beneath. I imagined the voice originated from the innocence of a floundering eight-week old kitten, pudding softly at the walls of the warehouse. It should be wearing one of those hilarious pirate outfits where the cat appears to be walking on two legs, about to unsheathe a chucklesome fabric sword. Adorable.
“Hey, little kitty, where are you? Show yourself, little dear.” I paced myself.
Within the smooth sidewall, a wooden door appeared, fingered by ivy. I walked through. The setting morphed. It was a bright sunshine garden. A swing chair creaked beneath a bed of tulips. I pulled my pieces together. Deep breath.
The sunlight drove down onto the swinging chair, but on it sat—
“Hello, Little Miss.”
“Andrew,” I creaked through a bricked jaw. There He sat, invasive in dream quality, immediately seeping the sunlight into Himself. He drove the scene back to darkness. He is a grey-matter symbiotic virus, an evasive contradiction. This dream had a rock heart will of its own. He was a perfect silhouette, topless, His scars burned fervent, wringing guilt; I saw Him completely but I wore my least revealing pyjamas—an awkward disorder. I gathered the bouquet of His essence and shuddered with hollow stamina to rid Him. He was a fort of my dream. Why would my mind choose to place Him in here, in my sleep, of all places.
He was unwelcome, and I could not rid Him, even with kitten softness.
My centre paled, all my straight lines were tangled.
“You know how to lucid dream. Impressive, but it will only make my task harder.”
What was His task?
“I can smell your guilt. Why are you guilty? I can feel it leeching from you, like worms devouring an apple.” His face had turned a pale page I had never seen: slaughterous. I was staggered between brick facades, to the loony tunes, creaky-hinge pulse of the swing seat He inhabited.
I promised two pieces of advice about lucid dreaming, the second piece of advice: I have always found the filter between your mind and your voice is woollen thick when in a lucid dream. There is not the vice-stiff fort of waking voice. Expression techniques are less effective.
But, the dream was mine. Perhaps the tendrils of my burden carried so far it was materialising in my sub-conscious. If I rid myself of the guilt, perhaps I will be able to control my dream again?
Did I feel guilty? Honestly, yes, but where did my guilt originate? I needed to end this dream. Perhaps excavating the core of my guilt was the method.
In my suitcase, I held a card from Ruby Red. I had taken the money. I had said nothing in response to her offer; it was a standoff lurking in my pocket. A white conundrum between two poorly lain paths. Did I feel guilty? No, that is a joker I feel I need to keep handy, for now.
The gun. The gun I hid in the cistern. Did I feel guilty? Yes. I do not know why He needed it. I do not know what He feels He has to protect Himself from. I do not know His reasons. Realistically, His target was not me.
It was the gun.
“Why are you guilty?” the voice spasmed interrogation again, strident in a silent space. It reverberated around the dark of the garden as though all four walls of warehouse were present.
“I hid your gun.” My voice volleyed forth without thought, altered by the woollen filter; an arrow I hadn’t known when to fire.
Cloying fragility pierced the dream. It fractured, glinting fragments sideward. I was needle fine and oak plank all in one streamline moment, thrown back into the bed I slept upon. Eyes sheering to the slash of light wounding the curtains. It was a jarring halt back into wakening that I was not accustomed to. Was I awake?
Andrew was sitting up in His bed, His pinched eyes targeting me. I began to check my reality techniques. I pinched my nose and closed my mouth. I could not breathe.
I was awake.
He stepped out of bed and came to kneel before me. His face a knotted fist. The gashes of a former life thrusted from His bare torso, but He was the Namib desert. Desolate. Empty. His hands reached out, holding my head ever so gently, ever so incongruently to the anguished creases of his face. His ‘Medical Condition’ rose empress powerful around us, His anguished signpost.
I fluttered unease, winching tightrope fast through the middle. Still drifting in the mindless lethargy of post-slumber, I clenched a blind consciousness to locate my Expression Techniques.
“You do not understand what you are doing. I need to know. Where did you put the gun?” His voice was feather soft but lit with concrete need.
I set my mind ceramic in a place of comfort. The white beach. The palm trees. The calm heave of the ocean.
Had He searched for His gun already? I thought He had only just woken. Deep breath.
“Why would you think I hid it—“
The hold on my skull tightened. My temples throbbed. His words were sharpened, razor tipped, “Because you told me you hid it.”
“You must be mistaken—”
The grip threatened its strength again. I felt every digit of His need.
“In your dream—you told me. I know you remember because you are a lucid dreamer.”
It was Him in my dream?