Have you ever given your unconscious workings conscious thought? Have you ever extended the realm of physical performance into mental performance?
If you haven’t (and you probably haven’t), you’re missing out. Lets start with a simple, yet incredible fun, domain: dreams. We dream every night. So why not have a little fun with them?
How much fun can you have toying with your dreams? I’ll leave it up to you to answer that question. But I suggest saving your answer until you learn how to control your dreams…and fly like Goku.
Lightning bolts dismantled the Colosseum as I weaved through its arches. Each bolt sparked further wonder. How was I narrowly escaping a certain electroculatory death? It was a rather illogical thought at the time, as I was simultaneously flying through the sky like Goku, watching the spandrels being sent every which direction. But then it hit me. I was fighting it, but it was too strong. Before long, I was beaten.
On my computer, in a folder named “MISC,” there’s a Word document that contains every single dream I had during the summer of 2006. (It’s a .doc file, not .docx. We’re talkin’ old school here.)
It was a joint venture. My friend and I make a pact. We’d send each other our dreams every morning. It retrospect, it sounds a bit weird. But it was one of most interesting self-experiments I’ve ever done. The whole gig was under my friend’s direction. He wanted to get into lucid dreaming. That is, recognizing that you’re dreaming within a dream itself.
Dream recollection—the conscious process of remembering your dream—is an important part of lucid dreaming. By writing down a dream, you’re apt to remember the both the dream and dream consistencies (seeing the same people, objects, events, etc.). This creates triggers—things that tip you off that you’re dreaming. And that’s the magic sauce.
Trigger or no trigger, lucid dreaming isn’t easy. Even under the slim chance that you do recognize that you’re dreaming, you’ll probably wake up soon after.
The idea of lucid dreaming may seem out of place here. But it’s very much in place. As this site continues to expand and full encompass my ethos, more and more psychological-mental-philosophical content will appear. Exploring the limits of the human body is more than questing for a six pack. And let’s face it: if you can lucid dream, you can fly around like Goku. Need I say more?
This is where I differ from meatheads — and I this is where you differ too. (At least, I hope.) My physical capacity is a vehicle for personal growth. It isn’t the totality of my being. There’s little difference (t0 me) between tricking, training, or lucid dreaming. It’s all in the name of exploring the limits of your capabilities.
The mind so underrated in all of this. Jujimufu and I once talked about how we approached new tricks and maximal effort lifts with the same process. The energy, the hype, the ritual—one in the same. Both have times of of rigorous visualizations—seeing your body perform in your mind—followed by times of near mental blankness, as over thinking (among the experienced) tends to paralyze.
Your psychological-emotional condition is sister to peak performance. And this is a huge part of The Skinny-Fat Solution. Skinny-fat syndrome isn’t just physical, it’s also mental-perceptual. In this field of “fitness” (you’ll fully understand the air quotes soon enough), people often reduce things to their simplest parts in an attempt to better understand them. But I tend to take a step back and appreciate the whole as a complex, intertwining, dynamic system.
So say, for instance, that you injured your shoulder throwing.
You can play the reduction game. Niche your way down to a specific muscle that might have been “imbalanced” or “weak” or “dysfunctional.”
Or you can look at it and say…
- Was there any circumstance that might have encouraged injury on this specific day?
- Was there an emotional trigger?
- What’s the mileage/stress over time? Did it poop out from lack of recovery as opposed to lack of strength?
- Is there anything that would have prevented normal recovery?
- Is the injury an inherent risk to the movement? (Yes, I believe that a lot of injuries are simply “made up.”)
The more we play the reduction game, the stupider we become. And that brings us to this: the more you separate your mind from your body, the stupider (worse) you become. Thinking, pondering, philosophizing, and expanding your mind is just as important as expanding the physical body.
So with something like lucid dreaming, the biggest perk is being aware of every day experiences (that have the potential to be fun, complex, interesting, and entertaining — dreams are your own novels) that the majority of people routinely ignore.
- What do dreams mean?
- What kind of effect would they have if you can control them?
- How would taking an interest in dreams effect your sleep?
- Would you want to go the sleep then?
- Is there some kind of psychological or mental power to be gained from this?
These are all important questions—questions you’ve probably ignored, or never thought of. Questions that impact your performance and progress. Consider lucid dreaming a good way to start expanding your mind. It’s time to discover the other half of yourself — the half that you’ve been missing.
The Steps to Lucid Dreaming
Before getting into this, it’s important I tell you that I’m no expert. I’m just a goonie (as I am with most things I write about). I was actually the third man in the chain of information. Books and websites being first, my friend being second, and myself being the third. I’m simply regurgitating what I remember, and what worked for me.
Step 1: Get in the right mood pre-sleep
Translation: what should you be thinking about when you’re trying to fall asleep? I’m sure there’s a “best practice” for this, but I think experimentation is best.
My friend and I started out visualizing ourselves in a Duke Nukem, first person shotter-esque mode. We’d play through some sort of scenario in the first person, in hopes that — fingers crossed — it continues as you fall asleep.
We eventually progressed into the complete opposite — a blank, black, and bereft mind. This seemed to work better. (It also helps you fall asleep better, in my experiences. You can see other sleep tactics I use here.)
Step 2: The recall
I know, I know. You never remember your dreams. At least, that’s what you tell yourself. But it’s likelier that you simply don’t make a concerted effort.
You won’t remember every dream you have. It’s a tough process at first. But as you grow the habit, you’ll recall like crazy. Waking up becomes an adventure. You’ll probe your mind’s walls for the latest unconscious story that unraveled. It’s like waking up to a new movie every morning. With every recall, detail recollection increases, as does vividness.
All it takes is one. So anytime you wake up, search your mind for a minute. If you recall anything, write it down. If you wake up in the middle of the night (as I usually do from terrible habit of drinking too much water in the immediate pre-sleep hours), jot down details. Keep a small pen and pad at your bedside. Be as detailed as possible. If you aren’t, here’s what happens: you recall a killer dream — the dream even a fantasy would be jealous of — and tell yourself, “There’s now way I can forget this!,” only to forget it when you wake up in the morning. And it will happen even with your notes. Don’t get too frustrated. The mind is a complex thing.
What it all comes down to is recognizing you’re in a dream. And to do this, you have to create triggers that hint of your conscious state.
Say you jotted down ten dreams. Say, in every one of those dreams, you’re somehow walking on the same sidewalk. Get in the mindset of, “If I ever see this sidewalk again, I know that I’m dreaming.” So find similarities—people, places, things—across dreams, and then create triggers. And do that by spending five to ten minutes every morning barfing your dreams into a Word document.
Step 3: Body graffiti trigger
Scouring your dreams for triggers is tough. Dream recollection is sporadic. It might not happen nightly. And even if you do catch a few here and there, you might end up with ten dreams and no similarities between them.
Create your own trigger.
We used to write the letter “C” on the palm of our hands every morning, and we’d make sure to peak at it frequently.
When you see the “C,” you know you’re awake. But if you ever look down and the “C” is gone, you know you’re dreaming.
Step 4: Controlling the freak out
After some weeks (probably more like months), you’re going to recognize you’re in a dream…only to take up milliseconds after said recognition. It’s like a vacuum pulls you out of your dream and into reality — probably because you’ll legitimately freak out about it.
“OH EM GEEEEEE I’M DREAMMINNGG.”
So stop doing that. Breathe slowly. Don’t make a big scene about it. Act like you’ve been there.
This is called “stabilization,” and there are smart people out there that can tell you how to do it better than I can.
Step 5: Creating your own movie
Once you stabilize, the unconsciously conscious world is yours to command. I flew through a lightning storm during my first lucid dream. It won’t be a clean process. You’ll fight stabilization the entire way, so don’t think that it just “clicks.”
There’s little reason not to lucid dream. It doesn’t take much effort, and the journey is really fun. My dream book brings back many memories, and I’m glad for having done it. (It’s even compelling me to start another one.)
But the best part?
The feeling when you lucid dream for the first time.
You’ll never forget it. You’ll wake up just like you did for Christmas when you were six years old. How awesome is that? You’ll always remember it. So get out there. Start working on the “other side” of performance.
Have you ever had a lucid dream? Or tried to lucid dream? Drop a comment below with more tips or experiences. I’d love to hear ’em.