I couldn’t have resumed my whole life in better three words than these, and what a pleasant surprise to discover that the 3 of them are not only closely linked (as I’ve always said, they are all branches of the same tree), but also now it’s been scientifically researched that having lucid dreams about singing or exercising can advance those very activities as if done in a conscious state, thus helping you burn more calories and execute the actions better in the waking reality!
I’ve always been saying it.
If you want to exercise, you don’t need any equipment. You just need your body and your mind. Your mind is the boss. If you ‘think’ you are carrying a 40 kg bag on your back, be sure you truly are! your body will respond to the same stimulus as if it were real, if you really, truly believe it with all your might. But don’t jump in excitement so quickly. This doesn’t mean you can skip your workout, but the good news is that you can actually control your dreams (learn how to lucid dream), and so ‘decide’ what you want to dream about. Creepy.
Before looking at the facts, it deserves a mention how when you practise a physical movement in your mind, you are also ‘doing it’. Many times I have been in situations where me and my band couldn’t rehearse because of noise restrictions and so we would run the songs in our heads, together, each musician playing his part/instrument in his head (or humming lightly) and the rehearsal would be equally or more effective than rehearsing playing loud. Because we were more concentrated. And because the body has muscle memory and so when playing/singing a tune with no sound, the muscles ‘position’ themselves in the same way as if singing/playing out loud. It has also been well established that athletes who mentally rehearse an activity can improve their performance. The heart and respiration rates are the same as if doing the exercise. Now, you probably won’t get killer abs by dreaming about doing crunches. BUT, research shows that envisioning yourself doing exercises can make specific muscles stronger, so you should get a stronger belly than if you didn’t dream about crunches. Imagery and Visualization techniques are also proven to work, but for the purposes of this article I will just focus on Lucid Dreaming.
Now to the facts. Scientists at the Heidelberg University in Germany believe that rehearsing your fitness movements in a lucid dream is a great way to prepare your mind and body for action. Lucid Dreaming is an elusive state in which you are asleep, yet consciously aware that you are dreaming, therefore have the ability to control the movements you make. The improvement comes from the fact your mind thinks you are practising for real. So, say for example that you are dreaming of running, the neural pathways in your brain that activate while running, are strengthened, not just imagined or visualized. So when you wake up in the morning you will find running easier. Lucid dreaming may sound a little gaga, but scientists are taking its potential for improving sports performance very seriously. Early studies in the 1980s by German psychologist Paul Tholey first noted a link between lucid dreaming and the improvement of an athlete’s performance in their waking life. The new research from Heidelberg University also backs up this theory and provides further evidence of a link between sports activity in lucid dreams and the impact this can have on real life.
‘All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.’ – Jack Kerouac
In lucid dreaming you can also train yourself to eat properly. You can virtually practice anything! In my experience, I very often ‘dream’ about my songs, my lyrics, my ideas, and I have developed the habit of ‘remembering’ those and writing them down first thing in the morning before I forget. I suggest you keep a dream diary and write down every single detail.
There are several techniques to learn how to lucid dream. A good author, researcher and teacher about this topic is Charlie Morley, whom I had the opportunity of meeting at one of his workshops at the College of Psychic Studies in London. In a lucid dream you’ve not woken up – in fact, you’re still sound asleep – but part of the brain has reactivated (the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), allowing you to experience the dream state consciously with self-reﬂective awareness. Once you know that you are dreaming while you are dreaming, you gain access to the most powerful virtual-reality generator in existence: the human mind.
The weird thing about lucid dreams is that they’re often not very dreamlike at all. Lucid dreams can seem so completely realistic that you might believe you have entered another dimension, and you have – but the dimension is not out in space somewhere, it’s in the space inside your mind. The sophisticated detail of the lucid dream is outstanding. Put your hand on your heart and often you’ll be able to feel it beating, even though both your heart and your hand are all simply the stuff that dreams are made of 🙂 A lucid dream can feel even realer than real life, and this hyper-reality comes from the fact that our senses are not limited to the constraints of the physical sense organs, as you should know by now if you have read my articles.
Some of the techniques to lucid-dream include:
- Waking a sleeping person up after six hours, keeping them awake for an hour, having them rehearse the dream, and then sending them back to sleep for three hours.
- Reflection technique: stopping what you’re doing 10 times a day and asking: “Am I dreaming, or am I awake?” That helps improve your critical facility so you become better at recognizing a dream in progress.
Controlling the dream.
Once you are lucid you can actually choose what to do in your dream. This can be anything, from going swimming to meditating with the dream or meeting a personification of your higher self, or even fly. You can control your speed and trajectory as you go, but you can’t control everything. Someone said “No sailor controls the sea”, in the same way no lucid dreamer controls the dream, although you can control parameters of it.
There is a wonderful thing called Neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to newly learned or repeated actions, and this can be engaged through lucid dreaming. Because our neurological system doesn’t differentiate between our waking experiences and our lucid dreams, which means that for our brain dreaming lucidly is not just imagination, it is like actually DOING. Ultimately, this means that you can learn, train and make lasting changes in your brain during your lucid dreams. Isn’t it blissful? 🙂
Links of interest: