Lucid Dreaming and Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep Pages
WHAT IS A LUCID DREAM?
A lucid dream is a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming while the dream is happening. A lucid dreamer is both creating the dream and experiencing the dream at the same time so while part of the mind is engaged in dreaming sleep, another part of the mind has become lucidly aware and knows that it’s dreaming.
This awakening of awareness within the dream state is not accompanied by any physiological awakening meaning that you are still sound asleep and externally “unconscious” but internally, in your dreaming mind, you are fully aware and conscious. Lucid dreaming seems like a paradox: “to be both aware and asleep at the same time” and from a scientific point of view it’s seemingly paradoxical and neurologically indefinable nature meant that it wasn't until relatively recently (the late 1970’s) that it was verified by Western science.
It would take another 30 years after this original verification before we learnt the exact neurological correlates of a lucid dream. A study from Frankfurt University’s neurological clinic found that once a dreamer becomes lucid there are specific alterations to brain physiology. This means that the scientists can now pinpoint the actual “Aha! I’m dreaming!” moment of lucid awareness and its neuro-physiological correlates.
Using recordings from a 19 channel EEG machine (kind of like a brainwave scanner) the research team came to the conclusion that “lucid dreaming constitutes a hybrid state of consciousness with definable and measurable differences from the waking state and from the REM (dream) state” . They discovered that during a lucid dream the dreaming part of the brain is activated at the same time as the pre-frontal cortex, which is where rational though and self awareness arise. This means that there has never been any paradox to lucid dreaming, simply a failure to understand how two distinct brain regions could be activated simultaneously.