Lucid dreaming is the art of becoming more self-aware in our dreams.  Often when we realize we’re dreaming, the dream becomes clearer, and colors more vibrant. We’re aware, alert, and we know that ours is a dreaming landscape. The sheer joy of it often lifts us off our feet and we float into the sky, looking down at all of the dream’s creation.

The rules are different here.

This ecstatic state is known as the lucidity effect; it’s been documented by countless beginning lucid dreamers.

Unfortunately, holding onto that feeling can be difficult. As soon as we try to control the dream, to bend it to our will, the feeling may be dashed altogether.

But dream control is not the only way to go.

For many, lucid dreaming is a spiritual practice. This looks different for everyone, as we have wide range of personal dreaming styles. Some seek experience with the highest powers; others commune in the underworld with earth spirits. Still others have learned that flying can result in information that is later verified in consensual reality. Some brave souls find themselves in conversation with the deceased.

Finally, this state allows for intensely real encounters with other creatures, leading us to wonder if dreams are more than “our own stuff” but a forgotten communication tool.

These dreams of landscape include communing with non-human voices. An example of ecodreaming that is reverberating strongly for us at the DreamTribe right how includes dreams of whales, who seem to be telling us of their perilous state and asking for our help. While forgotten to us as Westerners, this practice has been known for much longer as whale dreaming by the Australian Aborigines.

Going deeper with lucidity

It takes time, perhaps a lifetime, to balance self-control with the dream’s own energy. I am by no means as master of this, even after 20 years of lucid dreaming.

Lucidity is flighty by nature. What all lucid dreaming spiritual practices have in common is that no matter how high they fly, they touch the ground of compassion.

Right action can only be felt in the particulars of the dream, and only the dreamer has the authority to know what that feels like. There’s no final, better, or ultimate goal here.

The Lucid Dance of Balance

But this much is true: lucidity emerges in maturity not as total dream control but as a conscious dance with the energy flows of the autonomous dream figures. The dance shifts between active and receptive postures, which we embody by asking questions and making space for an answer. This lucid dance is also about shifting from abstract ways of knowing to more emotional involvement in the dream, and vice versa.

Ultimately, this flow allows for a conversation between the dream ego and the self-rising currents of the moment.

If you’re interested in moving beyond your comfort zone in lucid dreaming, it’s good to know that many have gone before us on this path. Interestingly, when lucid dream psychologist Fariba Bogzaran researched how people approach the divine in lucid dreams, she discovered that those who take an active, seeking stance in the dream often find lucid outcomes that largely mirror their own expectations.

However, when the dreamers took receptive postures, not seeking but opening up to mystery, a different pattern revealed itself. They found themselves in new situations, encountering aspects of the divine that surprised, delighted, and sometimes challenged them.

Seeking the Divine

Sometimes the way a question is framed in the dream makes all the difference. Rather than demanding, “I want to find God!”, try asking an open-ended question such as, “What is beyond my senses?”

So perhaps it’s better to say: do not seek. Rather: wait and see…

Psychotherapist Mary Ziemer is another researcher who has studied receptivity in lucid dreams. Her website LucidAlchemy.com outlines a new way of adapting lucid dreaming to the goals of alchemy, in which we throw images before us to enter into, and are forever changed by the transformational process.

The receptive posture in lucid dreaming has been much maligned in Western lucid dreaming culture. Many fear emotions in their lucid dreams because they may “lose control,” and others are more interested in testing willpower than learning from the dreaming imagination.

Luckily, the dreaming mind is patient, and when we become open to new possibilities, the dream responds.

In this time of ecological crisis, lucid dreaming emerges not as a narcissistic fantasy realm, as it is often portrayed in mass culture, but as a valuable method of engagement with the repressed and forgotten voices of the land, our own ancestors, and the cosmos we inhabit.

You may not find what you’re looking for, but you’ll find something better: the threshold to the unknown, where information, knowledge—and possibly even wisdom—await.

*photos by eschipul and arno arno