Mittwoch, 19. Dezember 2012

Lucid Aids: Free Lucid Dreaming Hypnosis Downloads

Neuralswarm, a user of the Dreamviews lucid dreaming community created three hypnosis MP3 files to induce lucid dreams. You may download them for free from his blog noliesplease.com.

At the moment he is studying hypnotherapy and has taken courses on hypnosis
around the world.

Currently there are only very few reports available how this files work. But Neuralswarm / NoLiesPlease is looking forward for reading experience reports and comments by people who tried the hypnosis files.

Update:

There are so many promising hypnosis videos for lucid dreaming on Youtube. I would love to try one every evening and document the results. If you had success with a certain hypnosis file, please comment.



Hypno-Files.com
You can also find free downloads for lucid dreaming hypnosis files at hypno-files.com.

Soundcloud
There are also hypnosis files available on soundcloud:

Self-Hypnosis: Connecting to Core Essence-Deep Sleep
07 01 astral projection hypnosis session binaural tones
Lucid Dream OBE Exploration. - Cycle while sleeping,or after 4 hours of sleep. Comfortable volume.

See also:
Thread at the Dreamviews-Forum
Free Download

Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2012

Volunteers needed for Lucid Dreaming research

The University of Heidelberg is looking for subjects for a study about lucid dreaming and sports.
Researcher Melanie Schädlich who works at the Institute of Sports and Sport Sciences needs participants for a data collection about "Movements in Lucid Dreams".

She writes:

I am searching for probands who want to participate in my study "Movement in Lucid Dreams". You may take part if you:
  • practiced a movement during a lucid dream at least once
  • want to do an interview via telephone or skype (of course the data will be published anonymized)
If you do a form of sport as a profession or as a hobby or if you play a music instrument and practiced at least once actively during a lucid dream you have the chance to contribute in lucid dreaming research!
It doesn't matter if you don't have lucid dreams very often.
It does not matter either if the dream / the dreams are dated back some time if you still are able to recall well. 

If you are interested or want further information you may write to:

Dipl.-Psych. Melanie Schädlich:
melanie.schaedlich[a]issw.uni-heidelberg.de

Thank you very much

Donnerstag, 15. November 2012

Hypnosis and Lucid Dreaming

The word Hypnosis derived from Greek and is named after Hypnos, the god of sleep. During an altered state of consciousness, the hypnotic trance the hypnotized person is open to accept different suggestions.
Hypnosis is applied for different purposes as overcoming tobacco addiction, improving mood during depression, improving the sex life or raising self esteem.

But does it really work? 
You may buy a lot of hypnosis CDs, MP3s or attend a session at a skilled hypnotist.
The CDs are often blatantly advertised and promise to cure everything. But are there valid proofs?

In his book 'Psychology: Core Concepts' Philip G. Zimbardo writes about hypnosis for pain reduction (page 229) and Michael Murphy writes in his book 'The Future of the Body' about further applications for hypnosis: diseases with a big emotional or psychical elements as herpes or warts (page 332), bodily changes like changing your skin temperature up to alterations of perception.

Hypnotizability
Hypnotizability means the ability to completely surrender the experience. It is a quite stable personality trait.
About 40% of all humans is little hypnotizable, 20% are highly hypnotizable and 10% even very highly. The hypnotic skill is of minor importance for inducting a hypnotic trance. More important is the hypnotizablility of the client. 
Hypnosis and (Lucid) Dreaming
Can you use hypnosis for lucid dreaming? May hypnosis create longer lucid dreams which occur more often?

Joseph H. Dane and Robert van der Castle investigated lucid dreaming frequency of 30 women who had no experience with lucid dreaming. All of them were highly hypnotizable.
All of them got an instruction about lucid dreams but the group who received posthypnotic suggestions to become lucid in a dream could signal a lucid dream with eye cues and report a lucid dream when in the sleep lab more often than the group who did not.
The group who solely had an instruction about lucid dreaming could signal 15 lucid dreams whereas the hypnosis group could signal 33 lucid dreams.
The lucid episodes were even longer in the hypnosis group.

It is also possible to change content of a person's dream via hypnosis. 
Charles Tart lists studies who proved that this is possible, whereas it depends on the single person how much this is possible.
Tart himself also conducted studies to show if hypnosis is suitable to influence the dream content of his experimentees.
Five out of ten subjects dreamt about the desired resp. suggested topic. Although he had only two sessions with each subject this is quite a remarkable result. Maybe he had succeeded with more of his subjects if there had been more trials. 


He also tried to change the way of sleeping of his subjects. He tried suggestions like 'Wake up at the end of a dream!" or "Wake up at the beginning of a dream!", which had good results. 
The suggestion "Do not dream at all!" did not show any result but "Dream all night long" showed an increase of REM time by 21% at one subject out of two.
Maybe his results can be reproduced in future experiments.
But in 1964 Rechtschaffen and Verdone tried to motivate their subjects prolonging their REM phases with money and reported similar success rates.

All of this experiments were performed with highly hypnotic people but only a few trials. Maybe even less hypnotizable subjects will get similarly good results if they  have the possibility to attend more hypnosis sessions.

See also:

A COMPARISON OF WAKING INSTRUCTION AND  POSTHYPNOTIC SUGGESTION FOR LUCID  DREAM INDUCTION
Hypnotic suggestion as a technique for the control of dreaming by Charles Tart
Paul Tholey: TECHNIQUES FOR INDUCING AND MANIPULATING LUCID DREAMS, Perceptual and Motor Skills: Volume 57, Issue , pp. 79-90. 
 
Reed, S.: Reporting biases in hypnosis: Suggestion of compliance? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, pp. 142-145, 1996
Rechtschaffen, A., & Verdone, P. (1964). Amount of dreaming: effect of incentive, adaptation to 
laboratory, and indivi-dual differences. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 19, 947-58.

Samstag, 10. November 2012

Using Mind Maps for dream recall

In the book 'Use Your Memory: Understand Your Mind to Improve Your Memory and Mental Power' by Tony Buzan beside interesting hints to improve your overall memory you find the tip for improving your dream recall via Mind Mapping.
Researching the internet and books about dreaming you usually get the advice to write a dream diary, but very few people try using a Mind-Map.

Advantages of using MindMaps

Usually Mind Maps are used for structuring information, maybe to prepare speeches or lectures which works perfectly well. 
In early stages of the preparation or organizing your knowledge you may add some aspects with no problems and without interrupting your flow of ideas.

That is perfect for writing down dreams: Dream Recall often occurs not linearly, maybe you recall the end of a dream first and while writing your MindMap you remember details from earlier moments.
If you start writing your dream diary with continuous text you may get into some complication.

Writing a Mind-Map

I prefer writing a Mind Map by hand using a spiral-bound notepad which I turn horizontal. Immediately after waking up I start making notes.
I begin in the center of the notepad and write down the central topic of the dream. Creative people also may draw a little picture instead of using a 'headline'.

This central point is the origin for branches on which I write down the important key words of the dream. The more details I remember the more branches will be there in this MindMap.
Tony Buzan stresses the importance of finding good key words because this words will give structure to the whole MindMap.
I personally arrange my MindMaps by the different locations of my dreams.

In the following picture you see a scan of a casual MindMap.



The more time I have the more detailed my MindMaps become. At the weekend I write down my MindMap, which lasts about 2 or 3 minutes, turn the page and get an hour of extra sleep, wake up after a dream, write a MindMap and go to sleep again. During my working week I just have time to write the most important things down and make the fair-copy into my dream journal when I return home.

Further Applications

There are several books by Tony Buzan about the application of MindMaps. I have used the MindMaps for preparing speeches. In his book 'Use your head' he tells about students who managed to complete their examination paper in one third of the usual time and even got better marks than expected.
You can also use them as an efficient way for making notes in lectures or meetings.

See also:
The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan at Amazon.com

Mittwoch, 7. November 2012

Online Survey at the Lucidity Institute: Volunteers needed

At the moment there is an online survey at the Lucidity Institute of the Stanford University about sleeping postures, dream recall and dream lucidity.

The survey is running until December 31 2012.
Straight to the questionaire

See also:
The Best Sleep Posture for Lucid Dreaming: A Revised Experiment Testing a Method of Tibetan Dream Yoga

Mittwoch, 31. Oktober 2012

Free Binaural Stuff

1. The MetaMind Mindmachine
The MetaMindMachine is an open source brainwave entrainment software and runs on Java. There are some preset settings as well as the possibility to generate tracks on your own.
For visual brainwave entrainment you may either use the screen or use an USB goggle.

2. Healingbeats.com
You can find the possibility to stream 9 different binaural tracks on this page. The Tracks are named like Euphoria, Through the mind, out of body, and so on.

3. Thenaural Binaural Beat Generator
Gnaural, like the MetaMind Mindmachine, creates the beats at the moment you are listening to them. There also are presets and the possibility to create your own binaural tracks.

4. Boxed Nirvana
This Mp3-file sounds somehow esoteric: It is said to stimulate your energy body to make an out of body experience possible. Anyway: it's up to you if you believe in astral journeys or out of body experiences but in the lucid dreamers community there is a something like the minimum consensus: If you have something that facilitates astral journeys it will facilitate a WILD as well.
So you can skip fruitless arguments and just discuss your experiences. 
In the Astralpulse forum the Mp3 got good feedback. 
5. Lucidquest
Lucidquest offers brainwave entrainment tracks witch cost but there are two free samples: The 8-Minute-Brain-Stretch and the Mind-Meditation-Balance-Exercise.
 
I didn't find any study about isochronic tones. Supposedly isochronic tones work even better than binaural beats. 
The principle of Isochronic Tones is similar to a shamanic drum: frequent stimulation of certain frequencies.

Breaking down the wall

Chapter 23 in Thomas Yuschak's book 'Advanced Lucid Dreaming' tells about a variation of the WILD technique which he calls 'Breaking Down the Wall'. 
What impresses me is the fact that it is not only a method of entering a dream conciously but this method improves dream recall as well. He claims that practicing this technique is about ten times more useful for building a good dream recall than writing a dream journal. But he recommends writing a dream journal as well. 

The Wall

Between dream and waking reality there is, according to Yuschak, a wall. If you pass the barrier or wall you forget much details and information which are natural for you in waking reality. And vice-versa if you go back from the dream to waking reality you forget much of the information which is natural to you when you were still dreaming.

In a much smaller scale you may compare it to the fact that when you enter another room you forget why you came here. You just can't remember. But if you go back to the other room you will remember again.

There is the unsolved question if you are conscious the whole night long, even in the deepest moments of sleep and you just can't remember the next day or if your consciousness is just switched off when you are in deep sleep.
Yuschak presumes that consciousness remains the whole night long but you can't remember the following day.

But how can we increase the flow of memories between the different states?
And how how much easier will be recognizing the dream if you remember ten times more from waking life?

Breaking it down

But how to break down the wall between the different states of consciousness?

According to Yuschak there are two ways to remember things: Remembering facts and remembering events.
While passing into the dream it's quite easy to remember facts like your name, address and so on. But remembering events is quite more difficult.
And that's the key to this method.

Visualisation

One basic principle of 'breaking down the wall' is visualization.
Yuschak distinguishes between two ways of visualization:
Active visualization and passive visualization.
If you close your eyes and create internal images, that's active visualization. This way is quite familiar. But there is another kind of visualization when you just close your eyes and let the internal pictures stream, the passive one. 

Both ways have certain advantages and disadvantages when starting a lucid dream. He created a synthesis of this methods: the Seeded Visualization which combines the advantages of both methods:

If you are very relaxed and tired and you start seeing internal pictures (passive visualization). You seed this pictures from time to time leading them into a desired direction (active).
If the pictures develop a momentum of their own you will seed them again. 

The Transition 

To increase your event-based memory you choose an event from waking life you want to experience again.
You start your WILD attempt as usual: Go to bed and wait for hypnagogic imagery. When the first image appears you start with the seeded visualization:

The appearing pictures will be seeded with details and impressions of the specific event and then you let go again and let the pictures develop a momentum of their own again.
You go on like that for a short time. The hypnagogigc imagery becomes more and more vivid.

Now you are almost in a lucid dream. After the transition you direct your dream towards the event and you will experience it again instead of just remembering.

If you practice that regularly you will increase your dream recall as well the memory of you waking life when you are in a dream.

And this increased memory of your waking life increases your awareness in the dream which enables you to recognize that you are dreaming.

Samstag, 27. Oktober 2012

Dream Incubation

Dream Incubation means in the broadest sense influencing your dream content with actions done in waking life. 
Nowadays dream incubation resembles the 'enkoimesis', the sacred temple sleep which was practiced in ancient Greece. A person who was searching for advice or healing spent a night in a god's temple to get a piece of advice for his life or a certain remedy for his disease from his dreams. 
But one doesn't have to travel to Greece and sleep in temples. Incubating certain dreams works well in your home too.

Topics:

The topics of dream incubation are more wide-ranging nowadays. Some dreamers choose to incubate a hedonistic dream whereas other dreamers prefer dreams which lead to spiritual or psychological insights.
Whatever you want: you may ask your dream for advice about everything you want: Love and relationships, personal growth, career, even where to spend your next vacation... anything.
Or just entertaining purposes or to induce lucid dreams. 

Methods

1. The easiest way to induce a dream about a certain topic is auto suggestion. When going to bed you set your intention to dream about the topic you have chosen. This method can be combined with visualization and the WBTB technique.

2. The dream incubation routine by Michael Patrick Kepe:

2.1: Understanding how your dreams work

The first step is to understand how your dreams work, the mechanisms when you incorporate events of your daily life into your dreams. You may check your dream diary to find some rules or relationships with your daily life.

2.2 Your current topic

Choose the topic you want to dream about. If you have little experience choose the topic as specific as possible and choose a topic which has a certain importance to you.

2.3. Keep your waking mind busy with the topic

Think about your topic in waking life. Think about it, collect some ideas, daydream, try brainstorming or even a complete different method. Your decision to keep your mind busy with the topic is important.

2.4. Specification and verbalization while falling asleep

Specify your topic. When you are falling asleep you keep your specified topic in mind. Stephen LaBerge recommends to visualize the desired situation. Paul Tholey suggests to fall asleep with the intention to have a lucid dream tonight.

2.5. Patience and persistence for the next days and weeks

Kepe recommends to stay with one topic for at least one week. After that you may switch to an net topic. Psychologist Christoph Gassmann even recommends to dwell on a topic for several weeks.

2.6. Post-processing and execution (if possible)

Now it's about evaluating the dreams. If you asked for advice in dreams you may check if you can apply it.

See also:

Chapter about Dream Incubation in the Wikibook Lucid Dreaming

Dream incubation Tutorial by Michael Patrick Kepe (german)

'The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination' by Robert Moss at amazon.com

'Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming' by Stephen LaBerge at Amazon.com

Samstag, 20. Oktober 2012

DIY-Binaural Beats

Binaural Beats are the most familiar way of acoustic brainwave entrainment. Two slighty different tones are played via headphones into each ear which results in an interference beat. The human brain tries to adapt this frequency which may result in interesting states of mind like better sleep and concentration, relaxation and so on. 

If you want to do some personal research with Binaural and Isochronic Beats, it's easy to create your own via the freeware program Audacity.

Isochronic Beats:
You change your mental state with a monotonous beat. This idea is very old. Shamans used a drum for entering a numinous state which enables them to enter the spirit world even 9000 years ago. They mostly use a beat of 210 bpm which equals 3.5 Hz and entrains a low theta state in the human brain.

Monaural and binaural Beats
If two tones of similar frequency interfere there will be an effect in which the both tones extinguish or amplify their intensity which results in the sound of a beat of the difference of the tones. 
If you use stereo headphones the beat will originate in your head. That makes the binaural beats more effective than the monaural ones.

Strategy
My aim is to create a sound file which entrains the frequencies of 3,8 Hz, 9Hz and 16Hz in my brain. 
But why these frequencies?

Low theta waves are linked with journeys into inner worlds. 3.8 Hz results from my personal preferences. The usual 3.5 Hz which are used in shamanic techniques I considered a little too slow, 4 Hz too fast.

9 Hz, says Thomas Yuschak, are linked with lucidity in dreams. Further research supports this thesis.
The 16 Hz I just guessed to be linked with concentration.
In some lucid dreams beta and gamma waves are increased in the brain.

Isochronic sound:
I chose the isocronic track to have a frequency of 9 Hz. In Audacity I use the option of 'create' - 'click-track' with parameters of individual click duration = 80 msec, click sound: noise, and midi pitch strong/weak pitch of 100 or 99. Maximum frequency is 270 bpm as there is a limit for the maximum frequency. After creating I double the speed. You may play around with all those parameters just as it sounds good to you. Finally I use the equalizer to make the sound less monotonous. 

Binaural Portion:
You create a new soundtrack and create a single sine tone of a pleasant frequency. Most people like frequencies in the range of 100 to 400 Hz best.
Then you create another soundtrack and create a new Sine tone of the just created frequency plus the frequency you want to entrain.
You may start e.g. at one soundtrack with 150 Hz and on the next soundtrack you use 166 Hz which entrains a medium beta state.
You even have the possibility to create a dynamic tone which alters the frequency with time.
That is good if you want to start with the entrainment at a certain frequency and slightly change it to another. 

It is important to make sure that one of the track is completely on the left channel and the other one on the right to create the binaural effect.

Monaural Portion:
The monaural effect is a mix of isochronic and binaural beats: It is based on the effect of interference but not in stereo so the beat is not generated within one's head.  That makes this effect the weakest.

So I use the phaser or tremolo effect of 3.8 Hz on the sine waves of the binaural portion.

So we're done.

You may export this track as an MP3-file you should make sure that the conversion rate is bigger than 196 kbs.

Of course this article is purely for informational purposes and you experiment at your own risk.

Samstag, 13. Oktober 2012

The Ganzfeld Effect

[1]



Using the Ganzfeld effect is a quite cheap way to enter inner realms. 
You cover your eyes with bisected ping pong balls which are illuminated with a red light. If you open your eyes you will see a plain white or red area with no contrasts or patterns (Ganzfeld means whole field in German). You use headphones and listen to a continuous sound like white, pink or brown noise, which drowns out every external sound. After a certain period of time you will get used to this sound. 

This leads to a state of sensory deprivation. If you are deprived from external stimuli your brain enters unusual states. 
Brain levels of Noradrenaline, Endorphines and Dopamine in your brain are increased. 

Due to the lack of external stimuli your brain will start to focus on your inner world and internal pictures will start. Open eye visuals will rise from your unconscious mind within five and thirty minutes.

You may buy ping pong balls in every big supermarket for about $1. Use a sharp knife to halve one and a pair of scissors to optimize the form as you may see
here.
The white noise you may download at www.iso-tones.com or if you prefer other sounds you may create them via Audacity. Or maybe the easiest way: just turn a radio out of tune.
To get a red light shining on the ganzfeld glasses I use a color changing lamp from Ikea. I can switch to different colors in the whole spectrum.

Parapsycholgists use this kind of effect to do research about telepathy. [2],[3].
But I am more interested in the psychonautic effects of this method.

Personal experience:
Open eye visuals differ if you are tired or rested. If I start a ganzfeld experiment tired, I see geometric patterns very quickly which morph into pictures and scenes. If I start rested, this will be delayed but more intense. 

The body sensations impress me as well. Internal feelings of flowing, feeling that head and body are one, feeling one with the ganzfeld. 

I was able to hear music in the white noise. I really liked it.

See also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganzfeld_effect 
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/graphics/011109_hacking_your_brain/

Montag, 8. Oktober 2012

Binaural Beats

Binaural Beats are a possibility to influence the state of your brain via sounds. 
They consist of two tones of a slightly different frequency which are played via stereo headphones in each ear. Due to interference effects in your brain you can hear a beat of the difference of the two frequencies if the tones do not differ more than 30Hz.
If you hear a tone with a frequency of 220 Hz in your right ear and one with a frequency of 232 Hz in your left ear you will hear a beat of 12 Hz in your head.

Your brain tries to adapt this frequency and produces more brainwaves of this frequency difference.

That's the theory.
Practice unfortunately is a little more difficult.
Robert Monroe and Kelley Howell who provide a wide range of binaural beat brainwave entrainment spent much time and money for the development of their tracks.
In his book 'Far Journeys' Monroe writes that he did more than 60 000 sessions of research with his volunteers to find the optimal sounds to entrain the brains of his clients to get the wanted effects.
Kelley Howell even managed to weave the binaural sounds into music which makes it much more pleasant to listen.

Requirements

The effectiveness of binaural beats depends on further parameters:
The ability to let go, the feeling and the faith one has towards this method and the current mood. [1], [7]
You may support the process of entraining certain frequencies in your brain with relaxation techniques, visualization and affirmations. If you darken the room and deprive your senses you may amplify the effect even more.

Research

Listening to binaural beats in a high beta range improves concentration and awareness as well as mood [3] and memory performance [6], [7].
Binaural Beats in low frequency ranges improve anesthesia: The state of people under anesthesia is permanently controlled. If the anesthesy becomes unstable they get a dose of Fentanyl. With the aid of binaural beats the dosage of Fentanyl can be significantly reduced. [4] What impresses me is the fact that it is not necessary that the patients do not have to be awake to make the binaural beats work. 

One study about panic disorders had positive yet not significant results [5].

My personal experience

Does this work for me?
Good question. I have spent a lot of money on binaural stuff so far. Something around $400.
And yes, I can feel an effect, for example hypnagogic states, falling asleep faster, getting more and more relaxed, whole body vibrations, sexual arousal. (Kinda weird what stuff I spent money for)

One problem I had was a lack of sleep due to my work and family situation. Most time I apply somehow relaxing binaural beats I immediately fall asleep. That gave me some problems testing my CDs.
Except the times I drank to much caffeine but wanted to fall asleep with sleeping aids. That worked wonderful.

But in times I had enough of sleep and listening to the tones and sounds I could let go and ride the wave of relaxation and good feelings. It took me somewhat of 20 sessions to learn to just let go and feel the effect.

But up to now I didnot have a lucid dream or an OOBE which was definitely caused by one of my CDs.

Literature:

[1]  Inducing Altered States of Consciousness with Binaural Beat Technology
[2] Binaural-Beat Induced Theta EEG Activity and Hypnotic Susceptibility

[3] Binaural Auditory Beats Affect Vigilance Performance and Mood
[4] Hemispheric-synchronisation during anaesthesia: a double-blind randomised trial using audiotapes for intra-operative nociception control
[5] Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes.
[6] An Empirical Investigation Into the Effect of Beta Frequency Binaural-beat Audio Signals on Four Measures of Human Memory
[7] Accessing Anomalous States of Consciousness with a Binaural Beat Technology


Books:

Nur in deinem Kopf - Das Update für Geist und Gehirn von Arvid Leyh - German Edition

Far Journeys by Robert Monroe

Dienstag, 2. Oktober 2012

Mirror Neurons and Vera Birkenbihl

A short time ago I started researching about the topic of mirror neurons. Mirror Neurons are neurons that fire when you perform a certain action as well as when you see someone performing this action.
The function of these neurons is not exactly clear. One theory is that they are important for learning new skills by imitation.

The mirror neurons were discovered in 1995 by an Italian research team working with macaque monkeys.

Vera Birkenbihl, a German coach and inventor of brain-friendly learning, writes how to consciously apply the mirror neurons for learning a new skill.
Mirror neurons, she claims, are active when: 
  • you watch someone performing a certain task
  • you perform this task by your own
  • you think about performing a the certain task
  • someone reminds you of this certain task
If you want to learn any skill, e.g. dancing, martial arts or meditation, you can improve just by watching experts performing the skill and keep thinking about that skill.
Maybe this theory can explain the success of the Satsang movement. Satsang means just sitting in a room together with a guru or enlightened person. Some people feel very meditative after that. Maybe seeing the skilled meditator activates similar brain regions in people who look at them.

But advertisement uses the mirror neurons for manipulating us. Every time I watch TV and see someone having a pizza in this stupid pizza ad, I become hungry. I even feel my saliva flow.
Maybe food ads make us fat? Anyway I skipped watching TV for reasons other that this.

But what about lucid dreaming?
In the German lucid dreamers community, there was a discussion about learning how to lucid dream. A very skilled lucid dreamer told about a friend of him who never practices reality checks or any LD technique but he has a lucid dream every night after they met.
Strange effect. I think about mirror neurons.
Maybe you can use this effect if you attend a lucid dreaming gatherings or watch lucid dreamers tell about their experiences on video or youtube.

But now for something completely different:
Vera Birkenbihl reports in her book  'Das neue Stroh im Kopf', unfortunately not published in english language, about a study of mental training and muscle development:
She quotes a study on leg fracture patients. They were separated into two groups. Group 1 just had their leg in plaster, group 2 had their legs in plaster as well, but they had the task to do a mental walkaway for ten minutes a day.

The results:
  1. group 2 had significantly less muscle atrophy
  2. group 2 needed 2 weeks less to recover
  3. group 2 had less impairments in their ability to move the legs after the plaster was removed.
Wow.

Again something completely different:

What I really consider a strange capability of our mind is this and this.

Mittwoch, 26. September 2012

increasing acetylcholine levels

High levels of acetylcholine are linked with increased REM sleep. That may be the reason that the most potent lucid dreaming supplements either increase acetylcholine levels in the brain or stimulate the acetylchonic receptors.

But there are ways to increase the levels of this substance in the brain without the use of substances.

The german physican Dr. Joseph Zehentbauer investigated other ways of raising the brain levels of acetylcholine.

He lists following methods:

Active Imagining
Producing vivid internal images, he claims, will increase brain levels of Noradrenaline, Dopamine and Acetylcholine.
Active Imagining was invented by C.G. Jung as a form of therapy.
Zehentbauer uses this term as a generic name for every method which stimulates ones phantasy.

Mindful Awareness
Where you guide your awareness in your body influences your brain. If you guide your attention to your brain your acetylcholine and noradrenaline levels increase whereas attention to your body raises your endorphine levels.

Brainstorming
Just get into the flow of new ideas. The delicate state your brain is in when creating new ideas rises the acetylcholine levels as well.

Studying 
Of course: Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter of memory. According to Dr. Zehentbauer the claim is true that intense learing makes your memory transmitter levels rise.

Some of this methods like active imagining suit better in the evening whereas studying or brainstorming are ideal for doing during a WBTB.

So there is an interesting field for new experiments.

See also:
Slow-wave sleep, acetylcholine, and memory consolidation
Basal forebrain acetylcholine release during REM sleep is significantly greater than during waking
 

Samstag, 22. September 2012

Meditation and Lucid Dreaming

In a Study of 1992 by Jane Gackenbach discovered that regular practice of Meditation increases the frequency of Lucid Dreaming. In her Publication
Interhemispheric EEG coherence in REM sleep and meditation: The lucid dreaming connection she discovered that

[...]The emergence of consciousness in sleep (lucidity) is enhanced by the practice of meditation and is most likely to occur during the stage of sleep that shows interhemispheric balance in the alpha/theta range, REM
According to my experience I have more lucid dreams when I meditate often. Before I knew that lucid dreaming is a learnable skill I had occasionally had some lucid dreams in periods when I did a lot of meditation.

Unfortunately I don't know which kind of meditation increases the lucid dreaming frequency most. It would be also interesting to know what exactly causes the lucidity. Is it the increased alertness during the day which remains up to the REM-Phases? Or the relaxation like increased alpha waves?
There are a lot of different forms of meditation.
Osho introduced in his 'Book of secrets' on 1152 pages about 112 different forms of ancient indian meditation. There is a big chance that you will find one that fits.

The most popular techniques can be found in his book 'Meditation - the first and last freedom' which is much cheaper and shorter.

Montag, 27. August 2012

Improving the efficiency of writing the dream diary

How can I write my dream diary more quickly

Some lucid dreamers consider painstakingly writing your dream diary as essential for having a good dream recall.
After a short time of writing down your dreams every night you will perceive a steady improvement of your ability to recall dreams. That is definitely a good thing but unfortunately consumes time.
Is there any possibility to use the time more efficiently?

Learning a shorthand

There are several shorthand systems which make note taking easier and quicker. If I write conventional longhand, I can do 50 words per minute (wpm), a regular speaker has about 150 to 180 wpm.
You find a complete list of all shorthand systems at the Wikipedia.

I had a look at a few of them and Boyd's Syllabic Shorthand looks pretty cool. Here you find an online coursebook to study for free.
According to the author of the online course above you need about one month of practice to attain a speed of 100 wpm and after further practice you may reach even 200 wpm. I find this quite astonishing.

The quickest shorthand system I have found so far was the Gregg Shorthand which makes writing speeds up to 280 wpm possible.

What I dislike about both systems is the fact that you don't really have orthography. You just write everything phonetically which may be confusing to read. Maybe one can get used to it with further experience.

Dutton Speedwords
Ron Hale-Evans introduces in his book 'Mind Performance Hacks' a way of speeding up taking notes with the Dutton Speedwords.
Similar to other shorthand systems important words will be replaced by shorthand symbols: 'the' becomes 'l', 'and' becomes '&'.
The dutton speedword language has a grammar of its own like conjugation of verbs. Within certain limits you can use this system as a constructed language like Esperanto. 

Yublin Shorthand
Jon Aquino developed the Yublin Shorthand System, which is similar to the system invented by Dutton. The 600 most frequend words in english language were replaced by abbreviations and symbols which are based on english language.

Freitag, 24. August 2012

The quick and dirty way to lucid dreams (short tutorial)

I want to give a short overview how to learn lucid dreaming.

A lucid dream is a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming.

How can you realize that you are dreaming while you are dreaming?

Short speaking there are two ways: Either you recognize the dream during the dream (DILD) or you consciously fall asleep (WILD).

The DILD technique/ critical awareness technique

Why don't you usually ask yourself during a dream if this might be a dream?
Because in dreams you do things you usually do when you are awake. And that's the key in this technique:
During your waking day you start asking yourself if you are dreaming or not. 

How did you get here? Do you have any gaps in your memory? Is there anything really strange, maybe out of context?
Additionally you may do a reality check: You check if you are in waking reality or in a dream. In waking reality you have 5 fingers and you are not able to breath if you shut your nose with your hand.
When you are dreaming you mostly have either more or less than 5 fingers or you miscount often and mostly you are able to breathe through a shut nose.

After a period of adaption or familiarization checking the reality becomes a habit, even in your dreams.


If you have your first lucid dream: have fun and rub your hands to prolong it.



The WILD

You also may enter the dream consciously which is the second possibility.

The technique of WILD (waking induced lucid dream) is often combined with the WBTB technique: Wake up and go Back To Bed.
After sleeping for about 4 to 6 hours you get up for a period of 15 to 90 minutes and afterwards you go back to bed for another 2 to 4 hours.
You have to try and experiment to get the parameters which work for you.
How often you try the WILD is up to you and your daily schedule: If you have time enough you may start an attempt to WILD every day or every other day. If you have less time it's perfectly ok to do it once or twice a week at the weekends.

Nevertheless: After your waking period you lie down and relax. You focus on your body and your mind.
Now your body starts falling asleep and your brain also. You may get funny sensations. For example you may feel a rocking or turning motion in your bed or you may see hypnagogic imagery like dancing fireflies in front of your closed eyes.
Just relax and perceive this. Do not try to influence this, just enjoy.

Your hypnagogic imagery may become more and more intense to geometric figures, pictures and finally whole movie scenes.
That's the time you may slowly start acting in your dream. 

Good Luck! I wish you many lucid dreams!

Recommended Reading:

Exploring the world of lucid dreaming
Very good book by Dr. Stephen LaBerge, a pioneer in lucid dreaming

Conversation between Paul Tholey and Stephen LaBerge
Interesting discussion, gives further information.

Dienstag, 31. Juli 2012

Lucid Dreamer

A few days ago I had a little fun with the GIMP and created a lucid dreaming logo. If you like it you may use it for any purpose. 

Donnerstag, 26. Juli 2012

The WILD - Inducing Hypnagogic Imagery

Is it possible to induce or to intensify hypnagogic imagery?


There are some variations of the WILD technique which require the ability to see and to quietly observe hypnagogic images. If you are able to watch them with a calm mind you may conciously enter a dream.
Some dreamers have almost no problem entering hypnagogia, other dreamers need a few hours of practice.
I want to list some tips that worked well for me.

Optimizing the WBTB

If you are a beginner at lucid dreaming it will be a good advice to start your WILD attempts early in the morning after a short time of being awake (WBTB) instead of WILDing in the evening.
After a few hours of sleep your REM phases increase in length and your dreams get more vivid. It also becomes easier to trick your brain entering the REM sleep directly instead of having a phase of deep sleep first. 

So you leave the bed after 4 to 6 hours of sleep and remain awake for 20 to 90 minutes. After that period you go to bed again and try to consciously enter a dream.
Ideally you will be able to see or feel hypnagogic effects quite quickly. If not there is a lot of potential for optimizing your WBTB. If you have trouble falling asleep again you may shorten the period of being awake as well as the time of your core sleep.
If you fall asleep to quickly you may prolong your core sleep or the time of being awake. 
After a short period of experimenting with the WBTB you will have found the optimal combination for hypnagogic imagery and entering the dream.

Stretching and Yawning

After a while of excessive stretching and yawning your body will be wonderfully relaxed.
To induce yawning for some people it is sufficient just to think about yawning and they can get started.
If you have problems starting to yawn making chewing motion with your jaws while inhaling through your nose may help. On the exhale you may continue chewing and start humming a tone.
You may amplify this process and start stretching, writhing and lolling. After 5 to 10 minutes you will be as relaxed as a sleeping baby.

Sex

There is a relaxed, slightly tired and joyous state of mind after having sex. In this state I regularly have very intense hypnagogic imagery.
Robert Bruce writes in 'Astral Dynamics' about a technique of inducing OOBEs called 'remote eye projection' which resembles the WILD technique.
One of the best times to attempt a remote-eye projection is after a lengthy period of lovemaking, when a couple finds them selves deeply relaxed, maybe even exhausted, but still awake enough to be talking together in the early hours of the morning, when everything is quiet and there are no distractions.
Kundalini Meditation

When I experimented with Osho's Kundalini Meditation at younger age I accidentally had a WILD.
This meditation consists of tree different phases of each 15 minutes. In phase one you shake your body quickly, in phase two you jump and dance and explode. After this exhausting phase of katharsis you just sit down and feel your body.
Sitting there I saw pictures rising before my closed eyes which became more and more intense. I simultaneously became very tired and so I lay down and finally I started dreaming and realized after about 10 seconds that I am dreaming.

Impressive movies and experiences


Souce: Wikipedia
Visually stunning experiences or movies give me quite vivid hypnagogic pictures the following evening e.g. walking the whole day around Berlin's sights or hiking in the forest.

After watching the movie 'The Cell' at the cinema I had tons of hypnagogic imagery the following two or three nights.
The plot of the movie is quite interesting: A female psychotherapist has the possibility of entering their clients' subconscious mind with the aid of a certain device. There she can find a solution for their problems.
After a girl was kidnapped she has to enter the kidnapper's mind to find the place where the girl is locked.
Their client's subconscious consists of very surreal but impressive landscapes.
After going to sleep I saw similar pictures which appeared before my closed eyes and watched them while drifting into sleep.

Mantras und Visualization

If you practice mantra meditation or a form of internal images when you are tired there may appear very interesting effects.
What kind internal images you use does not matter. If you have not tried this before you may start creating geometric structures with your eyes closed. Maybe you can start with a green triangle or the Tibetan 'A' you see on the right. 
A different way is watching a random object quite intensively for a short time like 20 seconds and after that closing your eyes. You will see a afterimage for a few seconds. With a short period of practice you will be able to sustain this picture for as long as you want. 
If you do this when you are tired the internal pictures will start to get a life of their own which indicates that you start dreaming.


Internal images do not have to be visual. Robert Bruce developed a system of tactile imaging which he calls NEW Energy Ways.

To recite mantras or any affirmation helps you keeping a part of your mind awake while you are falling asleep.
You may start using an affirmation as 'I will realize that I am dreaming' or a classical mantra as 'Om Mani Padme Hum'.

Siehe auch:
Astral Dynamics at Amazon.com
Energy Work by Robert Bruce bei Amazon.com

Montag, 23. Juli 2012

Lucid Aids: Isolated Soy Protein

There are many articles and advertisements for so-called lucid aids and dreaming aids in the internet. I have tested a few so far. Some were quite useless or even counter-productive.
What has worked best for me so far is isolated soy protein.

This product caught my attention when there was a thread about it in the german lucid dreamers community Klartraumforum.de.

Isolated soy protein is full of amino acids which are precursors for diverse neurotransmitters.
I use one special brand of protein shakes: US-2 Xten Pro by US product line. This protein powder consists of pure protein with more or less no carbohydrates. I have tried several other powders by other brands so far (e.g. body attack) but I didn't like the taste and the consistency of the other powders so I stick to my brand.

Soy protein shakes have several advantages in comparison to common protein shakes based on casein, the milk protein:
Primary soy protein is absorbed much more quickly than casein, which remains a long time in the stomach.
A further advantage is the low carbohydrate content of the powder. Protein gives your brain REM sleep whereas carbohydrates open the blood brain barrier for Tryptophane, which makes you fall asleep quickly but facilitates deep non-REM-sleep.

When do I have to drink it?
According to my experience the optimal effect takes part after 4 to 5 hours after consuming. Ideal is drinking about 30 g during a short WBTB after 3 to 4 hours sleep.
I also had good results having a shake before bedtime. But you should not spend much time awake after having the shake as the big amount of some amino acids e.g. tyrosine will give you energy and you may have trouble falling asleep. Waiting to long may also delay your long REM phases to a time when the effect of the protein shake is already over.

See also:
Matcha: Green Tea
US Product Line Soja-Protein-Isolat at Amazon.de

Montag, 16. Juli 2012

Matcha - green tea for lucid dreamers

In read recently in the biggest German lucid dreaming community about the positive effects of a special green tea, the Matcha. The tea is drunk before bedtime or during a WBTB and is said to cause vivid dreams with an increased level of lucidity.
 
Matcha Tea Powder (source: Wikipedia)
Also Sleepwarrior.com reports about many positive effects of regularly drinking matcha tea. He tells about preventive effects against Alzheimer disease and cancer as well as improving the quality of ones skin. But he reports drinking his Matcha tea every morning. Apparently he has not read about the lucid dreaming effects of his favourite tea...
But he offers a lot of interesting recipes, e.g. Matcha ice cream, Matcha smoothies and Matcha milk shakes.

What makes Matcha special in comparison to other green teas: You get Matcha as powder which is consumed completely. And the special way of producing this special tea enables to ingest 137 times more of the healthy substances than casual green tea.

You can buy the Matcha in well-assorted tea shops or at Amazon.com. If you try to buy Matcha in badly-assorted tea shops, the clerks may look strangely at you, as if you are not able to pronounce Bancha correctly.  

If you buy cheap Matcha, it sometimes tastes like fish. I heard it's because in Japan it is not allowed to use artificial fertilizer for the Matcha tea plants. So the farmes use fish flour, which causes the strange taste.

Active agents:

Green Tea contains Teanine and Epigallocatechingallate (ECGC) which are interesting for lucid dreamers. Teanine increases the portion of alpha waves in the human brain and ECGC causes many of the good health effects of the green tea.


Preparation and Consumption

You should drink your green tea before bedtime or during your WBTB. One cup with 1/4 to 1/2 tea spoon should suffice.

Something that does not work:

One night I made a test what will happen if I dramatically increase the dosage of the green tea powder.  The more the merrier was not exactly true in this case.
I think I took 5 tea spoons of tea powder and 1 liter of water, lemon juice and ice cubes.

The following night I didn't have as intended tons of lucid dreams. Instead of this I spent the whole night in a semi-asleep state with a lot of stomach-ache the following day. 

Siehe auch:
Matcha tea at Amazon.com

Dienstag, 10. Juli 2012

Lucid Dreaming FAQ: Is Lucid dreaming dangerous?

Good question...

If you consider something as dangerous is of course a matter of definition.
In a certain way everything in this world is dangerous: Driving a car, travelling by train, leaving the house...

Maybe we should ask:
What's the most dangerous thing that might happen when you are trying lucid dreaming?
And how many people actually experience it?

I was searching literature about this topic and I found some information about this topic. Paul Tholey writes in his very readable book 'Schöpferisch Träumen' (which has unfortunately not been published in English) as follows:

  • As a guide of lucid dreaming groups with students and interested volunteers he accompanied a lot of people having lucid dreams. None of them had long lasting problems. Also the lucid dreamers known from history (e.g. Ann Faraday) got benefits from learning lucid dreaming. The dreamers became more courageous, creative and got interesting insights into their own psyche.
  • Usually lucid dreams go together with very pleasant feelings.

    Sometimes dreamers have unpleasant experiences in lucid as well as in nonlucid dreams. But according to my own experience the most unpleasant thing in a lucid dream is hearing facts about myself which I simply don't want to hear.
    Becoming lucid in a nightmare usually turns the experience from a frightening to an interesting and joyful one. Paul Tholey reports about a dreamer who dreamt being chased by a tiger. After becoming lucid he decided to face the beast and finally it transformed into his father. 
     
  • Spontaneous lucid dreamers experience the fact of knowing that they are dreaming as a feeling of being locked into a state, not knowing how to get out.
    But if you know about the phenomenon of being aware that you are dreaming, there is no need to worry about not waking up any more:
    Lucid dreams at beginners level take part at the REM-state which is limited in time. After 10 to 40 minutes REM-sleep is over and the dreamer either wakes up or enters a state of deep sleep.

    Experienced lucid dreamers probably developed their own methods for waking up. But most probably they don't want to.
Some sources claim that entering the lucid dream from the waking state (WILD) furthers experiencing the sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is a state of half sleeping, being half awake in which your body is sleeping and paralysed and your mind is fully awake, sometimes starting to dream.

People who experience this state with no knowledge about it feel fear and start to panic, which even stabilizes this state. 
According to some non-representative polls in Germany's biggest lucid dreamers community (Klartraumforum.de) the opposite of this claim might be true:

Lucid dreaming doesn't further unintentional sleep paralysis but makes it less likely to occur.
First: Knowing about the nature of sleep paralysis makes it appear less threatening. Most dreamers who struggled with sleep paralysis had less problems after learning lucid dreaming. 

See also:
Schöpferisch Träumen by Paul Tholey (German Edition) at Amazon.com

Montag, 18. Juni 2012

Interesting Documentary about Dreams

There is a very interesting Documentary by BBC Horizon on Youtube. At minute 50 the docu is about lucid dreaming.
Nevertheless the whole video is worth while watching. 





Montag, 11. Juni 2012

Dreams of absent-minded transgression


Almost two years ago I fortunately I stopped smoking with the help of Allen Carr's book 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking'. During this two years I have been dreaming from time to time that I started smoking again. Usually I was with my workmates, having a chat and lighting a cigarette.
I usually stood there and wondered: "Hey! When did I start smoking? I think I quit smoking?" 
Every time I became angry that I didn't manage to abstain the cigarettes and worried if there will be an addiction again. Finally I thought that it would have been so much better if I had never started to smoke again. 

This phenomenon occurs with some quitters and is named: 'Dreams of absent-minded transgression' (DAMT). 
 
Wikipedia quotes a study from 1991 which states a positive correlation between DAMT and successfully quitting the tobacco addiction. [1]

[1] Dream of absent-minded transgression: An empirical study of a cognitive withdrawal symptom. Hajek, Peter; Belcher, Michael; Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 100(4), Nov 1991

Dienstag, 5. Juni 2012

Chili Peppers

I don't know why hot chili peppers are so famous in the German lucid dreamers community. I even don't know if they have any effect on dreaming. Some dreamers say they have because of the endorphine rush after the pain fades. Other dreamers say that they don't feel any effect. 
Anyway it's fun to grow chilis peppers in the garden or at the balcony. This year I have some Equador purple plants on my balcony and they grow well.  

I'm looking forward to the harvest in late summer.



Freitag, 4. Mai 2012

Lucid Dreaming FAQ: Are lucid dreams scientifically proved?


1.1. Are lucid dreams real?
Yes.
1.2 Really?
YEEHHES!
1.3. Isn‘t it scientifically proven that you cannot influence your dreams while dreaming?
No. According to my experience most people who are using words like ‚scientifically proven‘ or something like that have neither an idea about scientific work nor the topical state of research. (That does not mean that I have)
Of course it is a good question how a psychological amateur as I am can consider any fact as scientifically proven. I would say: It’s reasonable to consider an information as reliable if it is quoted in a specialist book or in a scientific journal. If I remember correctly there is a chapter or small passage about lucid dreaming in Philip G. Zimbardo’s book Psychology: Core Concepts. (but I’m not absolutely sure)
The publication in a big journal, e.g. ‘Journal of Consulting Psychology’ is a good hint for scientific background as well. Most journals publish peer-reviewed, which means that if an author wants to publish an article, it will be read by specialist of the same field of research. Insufficient publications will be sorted out this way.
If you want to find very good peer reviewed papers, you may search Pubmed. If you enter ‘lucid dreaming' you will find 51 articles, for example 'lucid dreaming as a treatment for recurrent nightmares', which leads to the next FAQ:
 1.4. If lucid dreams are proved, why don’t psychologist use them for fighting nightmares?
They do. But to be honest, I don’t really know how much consultants use lucid dreams and lucid dreaming for overcoming nightmares. But it works, as you may see here:
  • Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: a pilot study.[1]Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: a pilot study,Spoormaker VI, van den Bout J. ,Psychother Psychosom. 2006;75(6):389-94.
  • Multimodal behavioral treatment of nonrepetitive, treatment-resistant nightmares: a case report.[2]Tanner BA.,Percept Mot Skills. 2004 Dec;99(3 Pt 2):1139-46.
  • Lucid dreaming as a treatment for recurrent nightmares[3]Zadra AL, Pihl RO.,Psychother Psychosom. 1997;66(1):50-5.
  • The nightmare of returning home: a case of acute onset nightmare disorder treated by lucid dreaming.[4] Abramovitch H.,Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 1995;32(2):140-5.
  • Nightmares in crisis: clinical applications of lucid dreaming techniques.[5] Brylowski A.,Psychiatr J Univ Ott. 1990 Jun;15(2):79-84.

Montag, 30. April 2012

Dream Lucidity Questionnaire: Volunteers needed

The University of Heidelberg, Germany runs a questionnaire about lucidity in dreams. 
Thank you very much for your interest in our study about lucid dreams. In this study we are exploring different aspects of dream lucidity. You will be asked to provide a lucid dream from the last night and answer a few questions. It will take about 10-15 minutes to fill out the questionnaire. All data will be kept strictly confidential and will be used solely for scientific purposes. Please answer all questions. If you are not completely sure what to answer, please choose the option that best applies to you.
http://lucid.lt/limesurvey/index.php?sid=32976&lang=en

Sonntag, 22. April 2012

Lucid Dreaming - A short introduction





The DILD
How can I become aware in my dreams?
There is one easy way to become concious during your dreams. Most people never ask themselves during dreams: “Am I dreaming?“ as they do while awake.
So the trick is: Start asking: “Am I dreaming?“ in your waking hours. If this was a dream, how could you know?
  • How many fingers do I have?
  • Am I able to breathe with my nose closed?
  • How did I get here?
If you get used to asking all this questions ten or even better up to twenty times per day, sooner or later you will take this habit to your dreams.
And while dreaming, you will answer this questions sligthly different.
Then... a whole new universe with astonishing possibilities lays in front of you...




www.ld4all.com       www.dreamviews.org        www.luciddreamingpygar.blogspot.com

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