Here are 10 things you (probably) never knew about the wonderful phenomenon of lucid dreaming, the ability to have conscious awareness during dreams…
1. The first lucid dreams were recorded by Ancient Egyptians.
The Egyptians were an advanced civilization which coalesced around 3150 BC – more than 5,000 years ago. According to Jeremy Naydler, author of Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred, they believed in three bodies: Shat (the corpse body), Ka (the living physical body) and Ba (the soul). Ba was often represented in hieroglyphics as a human-headed bird floating above the sleeping body or corpse. Naydler notes that “…the Ba is the person but in another form. The Ba could be defined as an individual in an out-of-body state.” Was the Ba actually the lucid dreaming consciousness? Robert Waggoner, editor of The Lucid Dreaming Experience, believes so: “…I was struck by the concept of the Babeing the part of one that flies during sleep, trance and after-death states… Many of us have had that experience, whether we call it an OOBE or a lucid dream, of flying around our sleeping body.
“For lucid dreamers, trance journeyers and OOBE-ers, the Ba may represent in a historic sense, the first depiction of a ‘mobile awareness’ separated from the physical host. Interestingly, this mobile awareness, this Ba, seems naturally connected to flying – a common and seemingly universal part of lucid dreaming. Though thousands of years separate us from the Ancient Egyptians, perhaps some of their ancient knowledge remains in our collective unconscious…”
2. One in five people lucid dream every month or more.
In 1988, Snyder & Gackenback conducted a scientific survey which found that 20% of people claimed to lucid dream frequently (every month) while 50% of people had done it at least once in their lives. So lucidity is not so rare, even if most people don’t know the technical name or induce such dreams deliberately. It actually seems quite normal to have spontaneous dream control – especially as children.
One possible reason for this is that children are more prone to nightmares which can be highly vivid and emotionally intense. This awakens the part of the brain responsible for self-awareness, and gives the young dreamer a moment of clarity to realize “hey – I must be dreaming!” Some children use this knowledge to wake themselves up, while others transform the nightmare into a pleasant guided dream.