Most people dream, typically four or five times per night. Memory of dreams differs according to the individual, with some people having excellent dream recall, many people remembering only partially, and some people being unable to recall any dreams at all. Have you ever had a dream where you mentally woke up inside the dream, and knew you were still dreaming? Many people have had this experience, yet few realize that this unique state of consciousness may hold the key as a valuable tool for a number of essential uses.
The Dutch psychiatrist Fredrik Van Eeden first used the term "Lucid Dreaming" in 1913 in order to describe when a person is in the dream world, and consciously knows that they are dreaming. This altered state of consciousness allows a person to be free of mortal restrictions, and to experience sensations with extreme vividness. Thee major difference is that the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming, and is able to consider choices, make decisions and effectively control the course of the dream.
Occasionally, these dreams can feel more genuine than real life itself. "This time I stop to notice the vividness of being awake in a dream. I stopped to feel the grass and rip up a few shreds and it feels real. I notice I'm barefoot as I walk through an icy cool puddle of water" (Trancewave). The imagery in lucid dreaming appears much more real than creative visualization or normal imagination, allowing us to experience highly realistic "simulations" of reality, without any of the associated risks.
Before going into details on how lucid dreams can help a person both mentally and physically, it must be established that this type of dreaming does exist. During the Rapid Eye Movement Stage (REM) of sleep,