lucid dream

Lucid dream is not a dream, but a mode of consciousness

by Marketa Juristova

Many people don’t really know what they are talking about when they talk about lucid dreams. It’s not that you wake up in the morning and you say, „Hmmm, I had an interesting and very vivid dream today, just like reality, I guess that was the lucid dream as it’s being written about now.“ In fact, the name lucid dream is a little misleading, because it is not really a kind of dream, but a description of a mode of consciousness.

We’re kind of used to being either awake or asleep. A lucid dream is neither one nor the other. This state occurs when you become absolutely clear in the dream that what you are experiencing is a dream. Suddenly you begin to perceive the dreamscape differently, you know it is only temporary, and you can even perform the small tasks you have planned.

So outwardly we see a sleeping person, but he is not actually asleep and he is moving in another reality that no one but him can see. That this person is not actually asleep and is actually in some other space can be safely detected. And this is thanks to the American psychologist and lucid dreamer Stephen LaBerge, who had the idea of taking advantage of the fact that the eye muscles are not paralysed in sleep. Test subjects are therefore asked to give eye signals upon lucid awakening: distinct and rapid movements to the right, left, up, down and centre in a different, pre-arranged order. These eye movements can be well registered and recorded by a device called an electrooculogram EOG (which records the potential difference between electrodes placed on the skin near the eyes). Of course, other values such as brain activity and muscle tension are checked at the same time to show that the subject’s body is in a physiological sleep state. So we cannot see another person’s lucid dream reality, but we can objectively determine that they are in it.

The Odes of Choline

According to recent neurological research on lucid dreaming, scientists believe that to achieve lucidity in dreams, training supplemented by substances acting on the cholinergic system in the brain, where the neurotransmitter acetylcholine plays a major role, is important. This brain transmitter is „transformed“ in the body from choline. A lack of acetylcholine has been linked by scientists to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other psychiatric diseases accompanied by memory disorders. Choline therefore has a beneficial effect on memory. We also know that it emulsifies fats, thus helping to prevent the development of arteriosclerosis (blockage of blood vessels by fat) and the associated development of cardiovascular disease.

„Some studies suggest that taking choline as a supplement to treat various liver diseases helps protect the liver from damage from various negative influences (alcohol, toxins, drugs, etc.). Inadequate dietary intake of choline can result in memory problems and impaired muscle coordination. Long-term deficiency can also cause increased lipid deposition in the liver. The first warning symptoms of deficiency may be impaired ability to concentrate, forgetfulness or headaches. However, on a normal diet, choline deficiency is unlikely. “ PharmDr. Tomas Arndt

Incidentally, back in 2004, American scientist Scott Swartzwelder of Duke University Medical Center claimed, based on an experiment with rats, that if expectant mothers increase their choline intake, their babies will be prize winners.

„Pregnant rats that were given large amounts of choline for six days at the end of pregnancy produced offspring that were better at learning new things and remembering things. This confirmed the results of similar experiments in the past. „We are the first to show that choline administered in this way changes the anatomy and physiology of the brain in the young,“ says Swartzwelder. „We did not observe any negative side effects in the experimental rats.“ In particular, the researchers scrutinised neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning new things. Neurons in the hippocampus of rats born to mothers „stuffed“ with choline have a significantly higher capacity to send electrical stimuli and send them without undue delay. These neurons were also larger than those of animals born to mothers who did not receive choline. The observed effect was around 20 to 25%. “ Prof. Ing. Jaroslav Petr,Dr.Sc, Czech biologist, bioethicist and science popularizer

Choline can be taken as a dietary supplement in tablets, the pharmaceutical industry has no limits, but I think it is better to increase the consumption of foods that contain it. These include egg yolks, beef liver, legumes, peanuts, salmon, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. But also bear in mind that choline does not benefit from cooking, so these foods are best raw or lightly steamed or boiled.

What is the use of being able to wake up and get into a state of lucid dreaming?

I think the answer to this question is twofold. The first is the subjective experience of being in another environment, another reality. In this reality, you can move around, you can talk to dream characters, you can break the laws of nature and maybe fly or walk through walls. The experience is usually brief but very powerful, it evokes positive (at least for me) emotions, and because you remember it, you think about it in waking reality. There is also a certain self-reflection, a harmony or dialogue with oneself. I even dare to say that in lucid dreams you communicate with the space of the unconscious and this opens up really great possibilities not only in the areas of personality development (especially spiritual), but also in healing.

The second level of lucid dreaming is neurological-psychological. In this state, the brain creates new neural connections – so to speak, it „flies a little differently“ in a person’s head. Psychological research has already shown that lucid dreamers are more creative than others, find new solutions quickly, and reshape rather than adapt to their surroundings. It has also been found that lucid dreamers find it easier to „pick out“ what is relevant and important in the flood of information. 

So it looks like being able to lucid dream could be an evolutionary advantage.


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