I’d like to share an advanced lucid dreaming technique taught by Scott Sparrow, a psychotherapist who played a major role in the beginning of the modern lucid dreaming movement. Dreams often give us gifts, but sometimes as lucid dreamers we ironically lose our lucidity about the value of the dream’s spontaneous gift. This technique is a powerful way to re-enter a lucid dream that you feel you made a “bad choice,” and wish to have another opportunity to meet the dream as it comes.
By meeting the dream halfway, you can regain a lost opportunity for information, self-knowledge or healing.
But first, a little bit about Sparrow, who took part in the first wave of serious lucid dreaming research in the 1980s. In fact, his book Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light was published in 1976, making it the first book on lucid dreaming published in the United States.
Unlike most of the voices in the 1980s, Sparrow was not interested in lucid dreaming induction methods (how to “wake everyone up”) but rather how to work with the lucid dreams that do show up, including those that don’t go as well as we had hoped.
As the culture moved increasingly towards a focus on spreading the good news of lucid dreaming, without addressing its depths and its possible dangers, Sparrow withdrew from the community and quietly continued his own explorations, sharing them with only a few. In recent years, he has emerged again, publically sharing the wisdom of his last 30 years of working with lucid dreams therapeutically.
Facing Unfinished Business
In a nutshell, Sparrow’s approach towards working with lucid dreams involves a focus on “unfinished business” as a springboard to greater lucidity. Many lucid dreamers know that sometimes the dreams end poorly, or have nightmarish elements that are difficult or impossible to control. Sometimes, the more you try to control the dream, the more nightmarish your dreams become. This is a fact of the powerful psychodynamic forces that we, sometimes unwittingly, come into contact with in our lucid dreams.
Sparrow contends that when it comes to unpleasant lucid dreams, there are no BAD dreams per se, only unfortunate responses that perpetuate the roadblock to greater self-knowledge. Lucidity comes with a flux of resistance and openness to growth. We always have a choice presented to us: to move towards the unknown, or to resist that unknown. In lucid dreams, this awkward dance is often embarrassingly clear – personally I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve said “No way!” and walked away.Hundreds of missed opportunities, no doubt.
But it is only a delayed opportunity. By practicing dream re-entry, we have the opportunity to change our attitude or response to past dreams. The result, as Sparrow has seen in his own dreams as well his clients’, is often a dream that ushers in greater life courage, psychologically healing, and even ecstatic union.
Lucid Dream Reliving: Change Your Attitude, Not the Dream Content
Without further ado, here is Scott Sparrow’s lucid dream re-entry technique that he calls “Dream Reliving.”
- Recall a dream or nightmare, could be a chronic or repetitive dream, in which a changed action or attitude on the part of the dream ego (you) can be changed.
- Relive the dream in a closed eyed meditation and focus on changing your responses to the dream.The point is not to control the dream better, but to practice self-control and courage.
- Go to sleep and wake up in the middle of the night.This resembles the WBTB method of lucid dreaming induction, but again you have a specific focus here.Recall the dream you want to work with, and focus your intention on being brought to that world.
- Go to sleep with the strong intention to become lucid.When the dream emerges (and you may find its easier to incubate these dreams because they WANT to come), participate with openness, courage, and a willingness to be present to whatever emerges.
Sparrow recommends combining this practice with middle of the night meditation. This increases the chance of self-reflection in the dream. The way to integrate these two practices is to do some breathwork, prayer, or concentrative meditation after you wake up, and then recall the dream you want to work with as you settle back down to sleep.
The transformations of imagery Sparrow has seen from this advanced lucid dreaming practice includes heightened awareness, deep emotional cartharsis, and more refined and luminous archetypal imagery.
To learn more about Scott Sparrow, and to download a copy of his presentation on this method of dream re-entry, visit www.spiritualmentoring.com.