It’s been such a long time since I’ve penned a blog post, I’m giddy.
This last year may have seemed quiet in terms of how much I published on this blog, but quite a lot happened for the Dream Studies empire in general. (So BTW if you want to get more timely dream-related updates from me, definitely follow me on Facebook and Twitter.)
Keep in mind, the dream work is heartwork, and it gets done at the margins of my time. Most of my energy in the first half of this year was spent stay-at-home dadding with baby Bash. Watching that little hominid during the day has been a joy, even though I was largely sleep-deprived. I don’t regret a moment of it.
Then, in July, I took a full-time job as Director of Spiritual Development at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, a UU church close to my home in Philadelphia. Interestingly, though, since taking the directorship job (in which I’m in charge of ecumenical and spiritually-focused educational programs spanning Pre-K to elderhood), I’ve been doing more heartwork too. I’ve given two dream workshops in the last season, and also delivered a sermon on ancestral remembrance. Plus there’s been drum circles, candlelit vigils, and labyrinth ceremonies out in the woods. It’s been a rich and full year psychospiritually and I’m feeling fed again.
2018: Dreams that became Realities
So, to sum up, when I haven’t been child-rearing with my wife or spiritually-directing at work, here’s the dreaming that’s gotten done this year:
I still teach seasonally at John F. Kennedy University as part of their online Masters degree in Consciousness and Transformative Studies. In January, I piloted a fresh take on “Psychology of Dreams,” which is a contender for the most up-to-date graduate level course on dreams in psychology currently offered anywhere in the world. I expanded the topic from Freud and Jung to current clinical models as well as existential, evolutionary, and cognitive psychology. Then we got into neuropsych, neurophenomenology, and transcultural psychiatry, and ended with transpersonal and anomalous psych (ie extraordinary experience and psi). If this sounds interesting to you, check out JFK University, as there’s a lot more switched-on online courses offered there.
I also offered my Lucid Ignition course in May, perhaps for the last time in its present form. I wish I had more time to teach about lucid dreaming but it’s not in the cards these days. However, Dream Studies Academy is not dead; it’s merely napping.
New Dream Research
2018 was a year of fruition for me when it comes to my own research.
This past summer, the latest chapter of my galantamine research for lucid dreaming was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, co-authored by G. Scott Sparrow, Ralph Carlton, and Anna Molina. This is the first peer-reviewed, double-blind and placebo-controlled research into the effects of galantamine on dreams. Although we had only 35 subjects, our results were clear: galantamine greatly increases the chance of lucid dreaming if taken at the right time, and especially when combined with some mental practices in the middle of the night.
I’m excited that Stephen Laberge, Kristen LaMarca and Ben Baird also published a fabulous paper on galantamine and lucid dreaming this past summer with 121 subjects in PLoS One — their findings are also positive. This is great news for the dream research community, as it means the case for galantamine as a lucid dreaming supplement now has a foundation after so many years of resting on unsubstantiated claims.
In June, I gave a presentation on lucid dreaming education at the annual conference for the International Association for the Study of Dreams in Scottsdale, AZ. First I presented on effective online teaching skills and the pros and cons of teaching dreamwork in online environments. Then, using Kelly Bulkeley’s Sleep and Dream Database, I presented a pilot study on the dreams of online students.
Using a digital content analysis system based on Hall and Van de Castle, Kelly Bulkeley and I compared dream reports from students of Lucid Ignition, to determine if their pre-class and post-class dreams had any objective differences in dream content.
I was especially interested in their meta-cognition: Did they have more “pre-lucid” thoughts in their dreams after taking a four week class on lucid dreaming? The answer was no. However, post-class dreams had some interesting features, including more references to sex, aggression and death. Tantalizing stuff, but clearly, I need to repeat this research with larger datasets and expanded methods.
In September, my personal lucid nightmare research was used by Tadas Stumbrys as a baseline for a large scale (n=634) study on the frequency and characteristics of lucid nightmares. I’m so pleased to see someone take lucid nightmares seriously as a real phenomena in its own right (and I was shocked to discover that Stumbrys credits me as the first researcher to use the term “lucid nightmare”–which just goes to show how little we have focused on this topic seriously!)
Stumbrys illustrates the diversity of lucid nightmare experiences, and hones in on characteristics that bind the phenomenon together. He also boldly questions if a nightmare needs to end in awakening to be classified as a nightmare. This is a big step for expanding the concept of what it means to “be lucid,” including its undesirable, and sometimes unhealthy, aspects. Because lucid dreaming has such potential for healing, recognizing the power of lucid nightmares clearly moves the conversation forward.
New Book Chapters
I published several chapters in peer-reviewed anthologies this year. Interestingly, they all involve a thread of my research around the topic of dreams, sacred sites and archaeology.
“Prayer and resonance in Paleolithic painted caves of Southern France: an Indigenous Science approach,” co-authored with Apela Colorado and Matthew Tucker, in Archaeoacoustics III: The Archaeology of sound, Publication of the 2017 conference in Portugal, edited by Linda C. Eeix and Michael Ragussa.
“To re-enact is to remember: Envisioning a shamanic research protocol in archaeology,” co-authored with Apela Colorado, in Lands of the shamans: Archaeology, cosmology & landscape, edited by Dragos Gheorghiu, George Nash, Herman Bender and Emilia Pasztor.
“Drugs, dreams and engines of creativity,” in Ecology, cosmos and consciousness: Myths, comic book lore, dreams and inquiries into various other radical transpersonal ecosophical states, edited by Mark Schroll.
I only gave one interview this year, but it was a fun one. Check out Raw Talk with Sheena for a boisterous talk about lucid dreaming and related states of consciousness.
Lucid Talisman is Back
Last month, the Lucid Talisman launched anew. I have loved creating these unique and somewhat esoteric coins that actually induce lucid dreams.
This time my partner Lee Adams from Cosmic Echo and I added the Lucid Talisman necklace and some other fun ways to bring lucidity into everyday life. The Talisman has a small but enthusiastic cult following thanks to early adopters such as paranormal investigator Bill Murphy of the SyFy Network and psychedelic journalist David Jay Brown, who featured the talisman in his book Dreaming wide awake: Lucid dreaming, shamanic healing and psychedelics. We’ve been rocking Etsy too. Next stop — Amazon!
What’s Next for 2019?
I realize I’ve become a terrible blogger. But I’ve got plans to keep going anyways! Unbelievably, this site gets over a million visitors a year, and over 80% are on mobile. How things have changed in the last decade. I just deleted thousands of subscribers so I could focus on those of you who actively engage with my work. If you’re reading this article still — 800 words in — you’re a warrior for dreams and I thank you!
Translations and updates:
Next, my book Sleep Paralysis has just been translated into Spanish and will be available hopefully this coming Spring. I also updated the text so my publisher will most likely be releasing the update in English as well later next year.
Online courses: I am now working on a recorded version of both my sleep paralysis course and lucid dreaming course that you can take at your own pace, and for a fraction of the cost. If you want to sign up for announcements, check out Dream Studies Academy and “enroll.”
Books in print: Once these courses are launched, I’ll be focusing on (finally) updating and getting my other ebooks into print. Perhaps a handsome three book set? I’ve really been dazzled by what’s possible in Indie printing these days — finally authors in micro-niches like myself can create amazing artful works without having to secure big contracts.
More workshops! If you happen to live in Philadelphia, be sure to follow my updates locally on Twitter because I am doing dream workshops on a monthly basis these days in My Airy/Germantown.
New Horizons. I am thankful for my affiliation with the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network which has provided some powerful opportunities to share my dreamwork around the world. Next stop: Chartres Cathedral in July 2019 for the Cosmic Dance of Astronomica.
Happy New year to you! Are you building new passion projects this year? — let me know what you’re up to in a comment below!
As Akilnathan Logeswaran says,
Stephen Amara says
How about a Lucid Talisman Necktie, next?
Ryan Hurd says
whoa. you just blew my mind!
Glad to see you’re still blogging despite the busyness of the year! This site has been of great benefit to me and I always recommend it to new or interested lucid dreamers. Funny coincidence, but I recently purchased from Amazon a copy of Charles Laughlin’s ‘Communing with the Gods’ and saw that you had left one of the few reviews for it. At least I know it’s been properly vetted.
Ryan Hurd says
Happy New year Steve! Yes Communing with the Gods is one of my all-time favorite books on the BIG picture of dreaming. It’s so good on so many levels. I also wrote a longer review here.
Sonia Estima says
Glad to see you are active again with the blog. Thank you for the update.
Regarding your comments on the use of Galantamine, here is my report for 2018:
And here is my report for the year:
Total LDs for 2018 = 103
Total failed attempts = 4
Success rate = 96%
(All WBTB with Galantamine + Lucid practice. )
So, I can state that Galantamine works!!
But, it’s not a magic pill. Still need to do the Lucid immersion as we practiced in your workshop.
Ryan Hurd says
amazing Sonia! thanks for the inspiring stats.