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LOC = Level of Consciousness

Tibetan Buddhists see the dream as the middle world between life and death, and our waking lives flickering shadows in Plato's cave (to mix our philosophies). The aboriginal Senoi of West Malaysia actively practiced lucid dreaming; their dream control and utilization mostly freed them from mental illness and violence. For those interested, below's a quick and dirty manual for lucid dreaming.
A simplified architecture of dreaming uses the model of The Tibetan Book of the Dead:
I. Chikhai Bardo: complete transcendence--beyond words, space-time, self--non-rapid-eye-movement descent into deep slumber.
II. Chonvid Bardo: the self, or external game reality, in the form of dream visions.
III. Sidpa Bardo: the return to consciousness through awakening.

I. During the first period, observation and self-remembering increase the likelihood of a lucid dream. Using critical thinking and observation, make a habit of noticing when things simply don't make sense. As you drift off to sleep, hold onto your consciousness, a thought, maybe an image of someone you'd like to see, a place you'd like to visit. Remember your desire to be aware and active as you drift off.

II. Once a dream is under way, lucidity can begin in a number of ways: stress of a nightmare, an incongruous or irrational element, the recognition of the quality of experience as different from waking life. The moment of realizing or suspecting you are in a dream makes you lucid, just like that. Now--try out your new powers. Move. Run, or even better, fly. Ride a dragon (if you can conjure one up--that's advanced.) If you can't do something, the only thing stopping you is your own disbelief. You can walk through walls and fly through ceilings. Will someone into appearing. You are the architect of the dream; perceive something and it will appear. This takes practice; you have to want it.

IIa. One perk to adult-themed lucid dreaming is sexual gratification without cardiovascular (and other) risk(s). Men and women who report orgasms in lucid dreams (and who have been covered with electrodes everywhere that matters) experienced all the electrical activity of a real-life orgasm without an ejaculation (for the male) and barely increased heart rate (both genders). No need for Viagra, Nitro (please don't mix those), or cleanup. No fall risk for the elderly--always a plus.

III. However, if things aren't going well and you're in a nightmare and wish to leave, open your eyes--forcefully, physically. There's a dream state the Chinese call kuai ya chuan, ghost descending on bed, often accompanied by ghastly visions--some attribute it to a ghost sitting on the subject, refusing to let him/her move. Scientists call it sleep paralysis, explained by the brain waking up before the body does. Again, open your eyes. Fighting against the ghost only makes it worse.

Sometimes false awakenings occur, where you think you're awake but it turns out you're not, and this can happen ad nauseum (Inception, anyone?), but keep checking those light switches, discrepancies, open your eyes if necessary, and most of all--enjoy!

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