Sunday, January 1, 2017

Quantum Dreaming

Often when I dream at night I encounter a world that is stranger and more wonderful than anything I might fathom during my waking hours. It is easy to get swept up in a dream as a passive observer. The challenge is to consciously become aware that you are dreaming while in the midst of it and take charge of the direction of the things, people, and places you are dreaming about. When you can successfully manipulate your own dreams as a participant, you are then said to be lucid dreaming.

It seems that lucid dreaming could be used like some magical theater where you can fly through walls like in a Harry Potter story. Approached with intelligence and sincerity, however, it holds more promise when practiced to make valid requests like "Show me something useful!" or "Let me feel unconditional love!" within the context of the dream. Lucid dreaming has been practiced since antiquity, but more and more people today are engaging a larger awareness and exploring their dreams consciously, with and without new technological help, with some remarkable personal results.

Studies have shown that lucid dreaming is quantifiably different from normal night or day dreaming. In looking closely at brain activity, lucid dreaming seems to be “a hybrid state of consciousness with definable and measurable differences from waking and REM sleep, particularly in the frontal areas” of the cerebral cortex, from one study by Ursala Voss. In a 2012 study, Michael Czisch told a Science Daily reporter that a lucid dreamer's cerebral cortex shows much increased activity in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the frontopolar regions and the precuneus. These portions of the brain are commonly associated with self-assessment, evaluating thoughts and feelings and self-perception (respectively, according to Czisch). The fact that they showed activity during a lucid dream supports lucid dreamers’ claims of being able to make choices, conduct experiments and explore the dream state when lucidly aware.

What if we could conduct experiments in the dream state? Physicist David Bohm, who admitted to doing experiments in his own dreams, felt that lucid dreaming likely held an important key to a deeper understanding of the connection between consciousness and the manifestation of our experience in the world. Bohm took it seriously that night dreams may have their own physics worthy of being studied. He thought physicists should carry on more physics experiments in their lucid dreams in order to compare how the physics of the dream-world compared to the physics of the waking state. He humorously pointed out that doing physics research within lucid dreams would solve the ongoing challenge of always having to secure funds for physics research, since in our lucid dreams we could potentially dream up our own laboratories, research assistants and any other kinds of support we needed.

The idea is to not just do physics experiments in our lucid dreams, but to recognize that life itself is potentially the dream within which we can become lucid. The more we recognize the dreamlike nature of our waking experience, the more our waking life will reflect back this realization and manifest itself in a dreamlike way, thereby increasing our lucidity even further. Practicing lucid dreaming could be a useful spiritual practice. Becoming lucid in our waking dream would change everything.

Every spiritual wisdom tradition going back to antiquity, as well as modern quantum physics, have pointed out the dreamlike nature of reality. What if we were to take seriously the dreamlike nature of our real world, and step more into the dream, take a more active role in directing the dream? What would happen if we continued our explorations into the nature of reality through physics experiments in this way? "How would it change our experience to interpret our world as if we really were in a dream? Could lucidity (a term which is related to the word “light”) be the missing evolutionary ingredient that our species has been dreaming about? Could the process of transforming passive, semi-conscious non-lucid quantum physics into a more lucid quantum physics be the very shift that our species desperately needs in order to make the critical evolutionary transition from “Homo Somnabulens” to “Homo Lucidus?” " (Levy)

Even more importantly, as asked by Paul Levy in his upcoming book The Quantum Revelation: A Modern-Day Spiritual Treasure: "Could this bridging and blending of science and spirit provide humanity with a more refined and integral map of reality which could lead us back—both individually and collectively—to living, sharing and having an enriched experience of the intrinsic wholeness that currently lies implicit, but yet unlived and largely unfulfilled within every human being? This is a real potential and a very realizable outcome of Lucid-Dreaming Quantum Physics—a human world that is able to collectively embrace its power of open-ended lucid dreaming so as to dream into physical reality the many as yet unrealized yearnings that lie deep within the most sacred visionary chambers of the human heart."

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