Lucid dreaming is a particular state of consciousness in which you're aware
you're dreaming. The phenomenon has been known for a long time,
practiced in many esoteric traditions and for some decades it has been also studied by Western science,
with a considerable degree of knowledge about/around it.
In this article I talk about the possibility of studying or deepening music during a lucid dream, and I discuss the fascinating possibilities for those who play an instrument or for those who compose.
Lucid dreaming: what it is
Lucid dreaming is a particular condition in which
you are aware you are dreaming,
and this awareness allows you to influence
the "plot" of the dream; in some cases you can even control it.
Although many people can "dream lucid" spontaneously, it is usually not a natural condition. However, there are some techniques you can learn to acquire and perfect this ability.
Lucid dream in the movie Waking Life by R. Linklater.
These techniques are accessible to all and are not particularly complex. However, they require a lot of perseverance and a lot of determination. In this article I'll talk about one of these techniques, the one that has worked for me. At the end of the article I will report links, texts, books and documents with numerous other techniques for those who want to deepen the topic.
Why music and lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming combines the characteristics of
the wakeful state with those of the dream.
The features of wakefulness are attention, alertness, consciousness, memory and the possibility of remembering what has been lived and learning from experiences during what we consider reality.
What makes dream so interesting is the possibility of changing schemes and models or simulating events and situations fast and easily, much more than in reality. In addition, the dream gives access to that vast and unexplored territory of the unconscious.
Discussion about dreams in the movie Inception.
Neuroscience confirms that dream
activates the same brain areas which are active
during wakefulness in the presence of the same stimulus: for example, being frightened by a big dog in the dream
it's the same as feeling that fear in real life. This means that
from a neurological point of view
the perception during the dream and wake life are the same thing. In other words,
for the brain the dream is experienced as a real situation
as much as an awake experience.
For a musician it can be interesting to simulate a situation hardly accessible in reality. The possibilities in fact are several, and these here are just a few examples.
- Simulate a performance during an important concert;
- Be inspired by important musicians, discuss with them, receive lessons from great music masters;
- Live or relive situations significant and important cultural contexts;
- Explore different and distant musical periods.
Lucid dreaming and musical technique
The possibility of improving the technique during lucid dreaming is very interesting. In fact, in the dream state we are not subject to the wakefulness' biomechanical limits, and therefore it becomes possible to study a score at speeds normally not accessible, or to have a different perception of the score under psychophysical conditions free from the limits imposed by reality. Personally, I am not able to lucidly explore this possibility, I suppose it requires an incredible ability to control lucid dreaming.
My experience with lucid dreaming: two techniques
I'll talk about the two techniques that brought me
to the first results after about 60 days of constant practice.
The first is not a real technique, but a habit: you have to keep a dream journal in which to write down your dreams when you wake up.
Once you get into the habit of remembering and writing your dreams, you can start with the technique.
You have to choose a specific sensory stimulus, for example the vision of a red car. The stimulus can be anything: however, it should change frequently, for example a different stimulus for each day of practice. When you're awake, whenever you get that stimulus (in our example, every time you see a red car) you have to perform a reality test, that's to say a check on the possibility that you are dreaming.
To do a reality check you have to choose a simple action which confirms whether you're dreaming or not. Typical reality checks are: flipping an electric switch (in the dreams they almost never work as they should), using a mobile phone (in the dream the pressed keys do not correspond to the displayed numbers, or the numbers are "unstable") or spinning a top (this action was was immortalized by Christopher Nolan's Inception).
Having ascertained that it is not a dream, you must ask yourself: if it were a dream, what would I want to happen? Then you have to imagine how the story would continue if you were dreaming (at this point a musician would insert his musical imagination). The actions described must be repeated many times everyday for several days. Repeating these tests frequently generates a sort of chronic lucidity during the dream.
Conclusions (and 2 words about composition)
I'm aware that this is not an exhaustive article on the subject, but a short introduction. I conclude by saying that music and dreams are not distant planets, in fact many great musicians dreamed of their melodies and more sublime compositions, and probably it was this oneiric origin that made them timeless masterpieces.
Dreams, and lucid dreams in particular, have an impressive potential and like many other disciplines (yoga, meditation, nutrition, sports etc.) can participate in the musician's training and can bring music to new, unexplored horizons.
- Lucid dreams as a bridge between realities - Chongtul Rinpoche, TEDxFultonStreet;
- Lucid dreaming: Tim Post at TEDxTwenteU;
- The Lucidity Institute - Lucid Dreams Research and Training Center;
- Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner's Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams - a book by Charlie Morley;
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