Alexis Jacobs | Multicultural Writer
From as far back as I can remember, I have been a lucid dreamer. As a writer, these dreams have become my best source of creative inspiration. But my mother once told me that having a lot of strange dreams could be a sign of a brain tumor. After a brain scan or two, she realized that wasn’t true in my case. Still, when I told an ex-coworker about these dreams, he asked if I was on drugs. He couldn’t understand how someone could be mentally awake, while physically asleep. Neither do I!
Lucid dreams are those vivid, sharp-edged night visions that blur the border between dreams and reality. In them, I know I'm asleep and only visiting a very detailed dreamscape created by my own imagination. But once in a while, I have the type of lucid dream that shakes all my preconceptions about who I am, on a deeper level.
In those dreams, I’m always someone else - a poor, barefoot, orphaned 14-year-old girl living alone with her twin in the early 1900s; a middle-aged Russian man working on a secret project for Karl Marx; or a brown-haired 8-year-old boy living with his single mother in a bedroom town. And at those times, I have no concept of my waking self, as I do in my regular dreams. These ones are the most mysterious and disturbing - especially if I die at the end. A few people have insisted that these lucid dreams are actually past-life experiences. Others have said I’ve somehow jumped into a moment from another soul’s life - because all of our experiences are recorded out there in the universe. Although I question these beliefs, it does remind me that there’s more to our existence than I understand. And there’s more to dreams than I can fathom.
All dreams bubble up from the depths of our subconscious mind. That’s why for a while now, I’ve been paying more attention when I’m in a lucid dream. As soon as I realize I’m dreaming, I start asking myself, “Why am I in this place?” “Is there something I’m supposed to see or learn?” It could be an empty office building at night, or I could be flying through a dark countryside, or over a strange city. I used to deliberately wake myself up if I found myself in a scary setting. Now it doesn’t matter. I just try to explore the setting, talk to anyone there, and read whatever signs I see.
One night, I found myself at a crowded event. When I heard a woman announcing two names, I suddenly realized I was dreaming. And so I started running around, asking if someone had a pen and paper. I finally got them, but then realized I wouldn’t be able to take the paper with me out of the dream. So I told myself to wake up in three seconds, jump out of bed and run straight to the living room for a pen and paper. And that’s exactly what I did. Woke up, sprang out of bed and ran and wrote down the names from my dream. I still don’t know what was significant about those names, but I’m determined to glean as much information as possible from these strange dreams. If nothing else, I’m learning more about what’s really hidden in that secret part of my mind where we house our deepest fears and desires. But I’m also looking for a pattern - something that points to a bigger picture, a bigger purpose than I can see as yet.
Then if you’re a lucid dreamer like me, I would suggest that you do the same. When you know you’re dreaming, start paying as much attention as possible. Don’t try to escape - and don’t try to control the dream, as some people claim you should do. Because then you may go off-track and miss what your dream is actually trying to show you. Just drop your defenses. It’s hard, especially if the dreamscape is a nightmarish one. But you may learn something that can help you overcome a major fear, once and for all. And, if you’re diligent enough, you may even get to know yourself better than ever, and even learn a thing or two about your own purpose.