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Publications Book Reviews
Techniques for 24-Hour Lucid Dreaming
Reviewed by Laurie Simpkinson on March 1, 2004
In one of the many personal stories Arnold Mindell shares, he describes the difficulties of being cross-examined in a courtroom. The lawyer insisted Mindell only answer with “yes or no,” but Mindell apologized, saying the “yes or no” answers that were being demanded were not the “whole truth” he promised in his oath to tell. The “full truth telling” that followed resulted in the dropping of the court case and a friendship between the opposing party—and the lawyers!
Dreaming While Awake is a testament to this oath. “Something is asking me to tell the whole truth about dreaming,” Mindell admits. “The ‘yes-and-no answer’ to reality is that you and I are people. We come from the same or different nationalities, age groups, genders, sexual orientations, religions, mental and physical health, and so forth. . . . . But this is not the whole truth. These are just the yes-and-no answers, the ones that fit our legal systems and political realties worldwide. The whole truth includes the viewpoint of Aboriginal Australians, Zen Buddhists, and native peoples everywhere. That whole truth includes the Dreaming that created each of us.”
This “Dreaming” to which Mindell refers is the base of all reality and a three-tiered system from which dreamland (night-time dreaming) and consensus reality arise. The challenge is to become awake to and aware—to become lucid—of the Dreaming twenty-four hours a day. This lucidity is different from the “lucid dreaming” popularized by Stephen La Berge. “[O]ur goal will not be to interpret dreams, not to become lucid in dreams, but to know their significance before they occur,” Mindell says.
In order to achieve this lucidity, we must pay attention to “flirts,” and follow them to their source. For example, let’s say you are walking to the mailbox. Normally you are lost in your thoughts of the day’s agenda, but today you decide also to pay attention to your surroundings. Although the agenda is still running through your head, you also notice a car driving by, a flower growing from the crack in the sidewalk, a bird overhead—all things that you would have normally marginalized from your awareness.
You pause and look at the flower, investigating why it may have “flirted” with you and shown up in your broadened awareness. As you consider the flower, you may remember a dream you had, or simply be aware of the flower being aware of you. Did you notice the flower, or did the flower notice you? Whoever initiated this connection is lost in the Dreaming, for “lucid experience . . . occurs before it is broken up into parts, before you know whether it is coming from you or me. . . . Lucidity allows you to sense how observations co-arise from everything involved.”
Learning how to be lucid in your everyday life—how to pay attention to the little flirts and beeps of seeming insignificance—can be used to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy. For example, Mindell cites many stories where individuals who work on becoming lucid were able to “sense the onset of symptoms hours before they actually occurred,” and thus circumvented what would have developed into a headache, explosive anger, or even a disengaging speech. Circumventing the unproductive outcome included working with massage, dream images, communicating directly with the symptoms, “shapeshifting,” and “time-traveling.”
Although the ideas explored in this book stand on their own, Mindell’s frequent references to his previous works (Dreambody and Quantum Mind, in particular) provide avenues to explore further the sometimes generously metaphored theories in physics. Reading the book is much like taking a step into the Dreaming, stepping outside of time and rigid thought patterns in order to notice that we are truly not separate from “sentient reality,” but rather one expression of that same Dreaming reflecting back on itself.