I’m sure many of you have heard of learning through osmosis: listening to a tape of material related to your desired skill, even sometimes while asleep, to intake and retain information about the topic. It’s been sworn upon by language-learning gurus around the world–and I’ve even dabbled in it myself (it’s certainly more productive than listening to white noise)–the method of using your free time to learn while putting in relatively little effort. The theory is generally that your subconscious takes in the information even if your conscious mind isn’t paying attention, and this is the concept behind learning while asleep: the fact that your subconscious is active while your conscious mind is shut down. In theory, you could learn endlessly in your sleep.

There are flaws in that theory, but that’s not what I’ve come to talk about today.

I’ve come to talk about learning or cultivating skills in your sleep through dream activity.

Let’s use drawing for our example skill. It takes knowledge as well as practice to master, and the amount of time spent practicing is generally partially proportionate to the level of skill.

Say you go to sleep one night, dream, and become lucid. In theory, you could practice drawing until you woke up. Whether you would retain the information your mind gathered by practicing in that dream could be debated, especially given how little of dreams is actually remembered upon waking, but it’s an interesting proposition.

And for an artist, and invaluable one. Imagine having several more hours each day to practice drawing or painting whatever you wish. For a busy artist with little time in his waking life, this could be an incredible opportunity. It could even double the amount of time the artist actually gets to practice his practical skill, depending on the case.

Now think about applying that to any other skill in your life–math, a language, reading, sports… and imagine the experience you can add to your life by adding intention to your dreams.

I actually experienced this phenomenon last night in a dream where I was instructed to speed-paint. While there is an amount of breathing room to be had in any dream circumstance, where logic may be thrown to the curb, in this instance the movement of the brush and the finished product were quite realistic. I would even go as far as to count it as my first experience with painting portraits.

Think about how you can apply this concept to your life and your dreams. Leave a comment telling me what you plan to do to become more adept in skills you consider most important.

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For the past few months, I’ve been partaking in something I’ve come to call “The Dream Challenge.”

The background behind this is basically the curiosity of a friend and I regarding just how powerful conscious intent is in creating and affecting dreamscapes. We decided one night that we would pick something, an object or a topic, to dream about for the night, and keep track of who would have a dream including the topic first, at which point we would come up with a new topic.

This has trained me to the extent that I actually consciously ask myself in dreams “What was the dream challenge tonight?” Sometimes this brings me toward lucidity, sometimes lucidity precedes it, either way I become lucid. And though sometimes I get excited and distracted, I usually have the power to complete the dream challenge once I become lucid.

Sometimes the challenge is completed unconsciously; this typically happens the-night-of, when there is the most hype regarding the topic. The seeminly increased probability that I will dream about a given thing on a given night I don’t believe to be chance. It’s likely because each time I start a new dream challenge, I give my unconscious the instructions for my dreams for the night. Whether consciously or not, the content we intake during the day affects our dream output.

And thus, I have increased the purpose to each night of sleep I indulge in. I implore you to try and do this yourself. For one night, choose something to see or experience in your dreams. Keep track of it, surround yourself with it, leave a conscious intent to dream about that thing. Record your results each time you succeed, and form a new goal. See if this leads to any changes in dreaming patterns. You might be surprised what you come up with.

I should probably stop using words like “implore” when I’m trying to persuade people.

I’ll make it a point.

Dreaming is Delicious?

March 23, 2010

A few days past I had an interesting dream filled with numerous wonderful things, but the one portion I enjoyed most was when I found myself becoming lucid and decided to conjure myself a box of chocolates. I had gotten a late Valentine’s Day treat from my mother the week before, which was probably an influence.

Anyway, the most interesting part of this dream is that taste is a theme I come to regularly in lucid dreams. It seems to be the only thing I can think about some nights. “Oh, I’m lucid, poof up something yummy!” And it’s one of few things I can do with almost precise control while dreaming. But one thing is for sure: I taste in all the colors of the rainbow in dreams. I don’t mean that literally, of course, while that would be interesting (note to self: look into cross-sensory dreams!), but I did taste with all the luxury that I do in waking life. And those chocolates were delicious.

I wonder if this is some sort of landmark. The fact that I can taste in dreams: an achievement? Well, nevertheless, I’ll keep exploring it. Try arousing your sense of taste next time you become lucid, with whatever fits the bill. Clam chowder, cupcakes, even truffles that make you shrink.

Maybe I’ll post one day on how much fun that mousehole was.

Adriana D.

What Bandsaws Taught Me

March 4, 2010

Now that I’ve added a first formal post,  I’ll try and provide information in a little less stale a way. Initially I didn’t want to make posts about personal dreams, but if there’s a lesson to be learned from one I want to teach it. Comment and tell me if you like this style post!

Last night I confirmed a hypothesis I had yet to actually test: in-dream intent can cause sleepwalking, or other sleep-movement.

I’d woken up and tried to go back to sleep, so my sleep was a little spotty. I was drifting in and out of consciousness and started having a dreadful dream. One ‘bad habit’ of my dreams is that light sources typically don’t work. I was in my bedroom with a friend, totally dark of course, and after trying several light switches gave up. A realization set in that a villain of some sort was coming down the hall (think Pyramid Head with a bandsaw) ready to make a bloody mess of the both of us and in my effort to search out another light switch I ended up moving my waking arm. Of course, that woke me up. I was foolish enough (as we often are when extremely tired) to not get out of bed and fell asleep to the same dream several more times, but after experimenting was able to consciously move my arm and jerk myself into wakefulness.

Sleepwalkers often report dreams related to the action they took in waking time, but being able to sleepwalk or sleeptalk at will would be a pretty interesting skill.

Comment and tell me your thoughts! Ever roused yourself through conscious movement? Tell me about it!

Thanks for reading,

Adriana D.