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Life Is But A Dream

Paris Guffey

Using a potent method of guided imagery, you will conjure therapists, healers, and endless Utopias in your waking dreams.

LIFE IS BUT A DREAM

The dream Yogis of ancient Tibet were known for an extraordinary mental feat. Using a potent method of mental imagery, they retreated more and more deeply into themselves until they started to dream; and they did so without ever loosing conscious awareness. According to the Tibetan Book of The Dead, edited by Oxford scholar W. Y. Evens-Wentz, the dream Yogis had almost total control over broad apects of these "waking dreams." By consciously controling these dreamlike images, the Yogis created endless Edens, explored alternate realities, and came to terms with such issues as the nature of reality and the meaning of life. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the dream Yogis' exact methodology remains obscure. Now, however, we present "high lucidity," our version of the Tibetan Yogis' conscious dreams.

In line with our own research, we base our version of high lucidity on a technique known as alert relaxation, in which the body becomes increasingly relaxed while the mind remains alert. Athletes often enter this alerted state of consciousness to mentally rehearse their maneuvers. Cancer patients tap this realm, rallying their immune systems to fight the burgeoning cells that threaten their lives. And people interested in altered states of consciousness have even used the technique to experience the expansive feeling of sesation between body and mind.

In the exercises presented below, you will learn to use alert relaxation to intensify your spontaneous mental imagery until it evolves into a conscious dream. Because you will maintain conscious awareness through the entire experience, high lucidity should provide you with a greater degree of control than you would have even in a lucid dream - a dream in which you become aware that you are dreaming WHILE YOU ARE FAST ASLEEP. Once you have learned to induce high lucidity, you can learn to change dream weather, alter dream scenery, and gain greater insight into the range of symbols and feelings inhabiting your unconscious mind.

It would be most unusual for anyone to report problems as a result of the exercises below - especially since they do not attemp to replace psychotherapy in any way, shape, or form. If you have a history of emotional or psychiatric problems, however, or if you feel at all uncomfortable about any of the exercises, we suggest that you check with your therapist or psychiatrist before proceeding. In such cases, you might wish to carry out the high lucid exercises under his or her clinical guidance.

We also want to emphasize that our dream healer exercise in no way replaces conventional medical treatment. If you have cancer, AIDS, or some other very serious illness, we suggest that you practice these techniques only with the help of a guided-imagery professional referred to you by your personal physician or by a teaching hospital, and in conjection with all recommended medical procedures.

Please remember, the best way to master high lucid dreaming is one step at a time. Give yourself time to focus on each of the exercises, and don't rush any of them. Although the regimen described in the following pages is designed to be carried out in ten days, do not feel constrained if you prefer to take longer.

We do not recomend completing the exercises in less than ten days, however, or trying to squeeze an entire week's worth of exercises into one weekend. Although most of the exercises we present are conceptually simple, their combined impact could be profound.

We recommend that you allow your abilities to evolve gradually, giving yourself an opportunity to adjust. Moreover, since high lucid dreams, much like ordinary dreams, reflect your current mood, a balanced approach should increase your enjoyment and the overall scope of your adventures.

Finally, please do not be discouraged if you do not immediately have vivid waking dreams. Achieving this altered state takes considerable practice. We recomend that once you have learned the basic technique on days one, two, and three, you continue practicing on a nightly basis throughout the next two weeks. We have every expectation that by following these procedures, you will eventually learn to enter the intense state of high lucidity directly from waking consciousness, claiming ever more power over your life and your dreams.

A TEN-DAY JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF WAKING DREAMS

During the next three days you will decend through layers of consciousness until you have learned to generate images as rich and evocative as those in your nightly dreams.

DAY ONE: ALTERED STATES

On day one you will learn the technique of alert relaxation, in which the body enters a state of deep relaxation while the mind remains acutely alert. While in the aletered state of alert relaxation, you will remain mentally alert while slowly becoming so relaxed that, in a physical sense, you will virtually fall asleep. Through this process, you should be able to enter your dreams without ever loosing conscious awareness.

Before you proceed with this exercise, please read the rest of the instructions for day one in advance. If possible, ask a friend to guide you through the relaxation exercise that follows. If that is not possible, record your own voice reading the following instructions on a cassette tape before you begin. (If a friend does conduct the exercise the first time through, we still recommend that you tape the reading so that you will have it for the future.) Whether you or your friend records the instructions, remember to pause where indicated for a second or two.

To start, please find a private and comfortable place to lie down. Then play the tape you have made or have your friend slowly and quietly read the instructions aloud step-by-step, exactly as they're written below:

Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, strech your muscles, and relax. Now imagine that warm currents of mental energy are very slowly moving up from the sole of your feet toward your ankles.

Feel the muscles in your feet gradually warming and relaxing as you imagine the currents passing through them.

[Pause] Imagine that the currents continue moving up your calves [Pause], into your thighs [Pause], through your hips [Pause], and buttocks [Pause], and into your lower back and abdomen.

[Pause] Proceed very slowly, giving yourself time for each group of muscles to begin fully relaxing before allowing the imaginary currents to move on to the next area of your body. [Pause] Feel the muscles in your legs becoming heavy, warm, and relaxed and sinking into the chair beneath you. [Pause] When you feel your legs becoming deeply relaxed, imagine the currents moving in a clockwise motion around your abdomen [Pause], up along your spine [Pause], and through the front of your torso into your chest [Pause], and shoulders. Feel the muscles in your stomach and lower back releasing any tightness or tension as the current passes through them. [Pause] Allow a feeling of general well-being to begin flowing through your body with the imaginary currents as you continue to relax [Pause].

When the lower half of your body feels relaxed [Pause], imagine the currents flowing upward through your ribs and shoulders [Pause] - warming and relaxing the upper part of your body [Pause], and leaving your back and chest feeling warmand completely free of stress or tension [Pause]. Imagine the currents turning around to move downward through your arms and toward your fingertips [Pause], swirling around through your fingers and hands, and then moving upward once more [Pause], back through your arms and neck [Pause], toward the top of your head [Pause].

Now feel the muscles in your neck and face gradually becoming warm and relaxed as the imaginary currents pass through them [Pause]. Then imagine the currents flowing out through the top of your head [Pause], leaving your entire body feeling comfortably warm [Pause], heavy [Pause], and relaxed [Pause] and sinking down into the chair beneath you.

Once you gain experience, you should be able to enter the state of alert relaxation more and more quickly without needing anyone to read the instructions to you. For day one, however, it is sufficient simply to practice becoming deeply relaxed while maintaining a state of mental alertness, taking as much time and using as much assistance as you need to comfortably achieve this state.

Once you have entered the state of alert relaxation, maintain it for 20 to 30 minutes before gradually bringing yourself back to full waking consciousness. You may accomplish this simply by wiggling your fingers and toes, concentrating on your immediate surroundings, and opening your eyes.

DAY TWO: THE ADVENTURES OF GUMBY

On day two you will move a step closer to achieving the state of high lucidity. Today's session should be conducted at least three hours before you normally go to sleep. This will make you less likely to just fall off into sleep while following the instructions. Begin by selecting a private room where you can lie down and relax without being disturbed. The room should be one in which you can play a television set at low volume. It would be ideal if the television is connected to a videocassette recorder (VCR), though this is not absolutely essential.

What is essential is that the television or video recorder be set up to play a cartoon show or nature feature for at least an hour. As far as your choice of program material, public-television nature programs would work well for this exercise because they are broadcast without disturbing commercial interruptions. We especially recommend, however, playing a video cartoon or other animated feature rich in the kind of surrealistic imagery often found in dreams. Our own favorite choice for this exercise would be any adventure featuring the beloved Claymation character Gumby.

The Gumby character exists in a completely surrealistic and flexible reality that often succeeds in capturing the quality of dreams. Gumby, the master of this reality, also possesses the kind of creative imagination it takes to respond effectively and with good humor to his dreamlike experiences. Other appropriate cartoons include "The Real Ghostbusters," "Jim Henson's Muppet Babies," "Smurf's Adventures," and "Fantasia." We also recommend "Pee-wee's playhouse."

Once you have selected an appropriate video or television feature for this exercise, turn down the lights and turn on the program at a low but clearly audible volume. It would also be helpful to reduce the brightness on your television set as much as possible without obliterating the picture. Find a comfortable place to watch the TV without straining your neck. Get cozy and enjoy the show for at least half an hour. Imagine yourself existing in the reality of the television or video characters you're observing, and let yourself absorb the images as fuly as possible.

After roughly 30 minutes have passed, roll over on your back, close your eyes, and continue listening to the telvision or video program playing in the background. Allow your imagination to fill in the pictures to go along with the sounds you're hearing.

As you do this, take a deep breath, strech your muscles, and relax. While continuing to focus on the background sounds and any image they help to generate in your mind, imagine warm currents of mental energy very slowly moving up from the soles of your feet toward you ankles. Then enter a state of alert relaxation as you did on day one.

As you become more and more deeply relaxed, however, allow your thoughts to drift off into the mental images generated by the television show you've been watching. These images may be generated by memories of the show and by the sounds continuing to play in the background. Before long you'll probably find these images taking on a kind of spontaneous life of their own, having less to do with the external sounds in the room than with your own evolving internal processes. Don't try to force this process; rather, allow it to emerge on its own. As much as possible, consciously observe your internal images without loosing awareness. You can accomplish this by deliberately directing your attention back toward the sounds coming from the television set whenever you notice yourself beginning to loose consciousness.

As you do this, tell yourself that you are consciously alert and observing the impact that these sounds have on your thoughts.

For now you should not be trying to fall asleep while practicing this exercise. Rather, you should attemp to sustain a deep state of alert relaxation. If you should find yourself accidentally losing conscious awareness while practicing this exercise, however, don't worry about it. The moment you feel yourself returning to consciousness, continue the exercise from wherever you left off.

After 30 to 45 minutes, complete the exercise by gradually focusing more and more of your attention on the television sounds playing in the background and on your physical presence in your immediate surroundings.

Just before you are ready to go to bed, spend some time quietly watching the same type of TV program you used for the first part of this exercise. Then once more enter the state of alert relaxation, but this time you let yourself drift off to sleep.

DAY THREE: HIGH LUCIDITY

On day three you will take the exercies of the past two days one step further and in the process reach the threshold of high lucidity. Your goal for today: generate what's known as hypnagogic imagery, vivid but conscious mental pictures that emerge as you hover between wakefulness and sleep. You should be able to follow your hypnagogic images directly into a high lucid dream.

Begin today's session an hour before you would normally go to bed. This will enable you to carry out the exercise completely and then follow it directly into your full night's sleep. As before, practice in a private room where you can relax and then sleep without being disturbed. Again, arrange to play an appropriate television or video program, at low volume and brightness, for at least an hour. Please make sure that the episodes you watch today are different from those you viewed the day before. We also recommend that, if at all possible, you arrange to have your TV turned off after you have fallen asleep. If you are using a video recorder, it should simply turn off automatically at the end of the tape. If you are watching a TV without a VCR, you might hook your set to a seperate timer so that it will automatically disconnect. Or, alternatively, you can ask someone to quietly slip in and trun off the television at a prearranged time.

After you have made the arrangements, lie back and absorb the images you've selected. After about 30 minutes, roll over on your back and close your eyes. Then continue listening to the program playing in the background while filling in the pictures with your own mental images. As you do this, gradually enter a state of alert relaxation.

As you become increasingly relaxed, focus on your mental images while also doing your best to maintain conscious awareness. Allow your images to become as spontaneous as possible, using the audio input from the television to help generate fresh images as earlier ones fade. As much as possible, allow all of your images to blend and interact with one another and to take on a life of their own. As the exercise continues, these images should become increasingly spontaneous, or hypnagogic, in nature. Whenever you feel yourself losing conscious awareness, focus your attention more intensely on the sound of the television and say to yourself, "I'm entering a dream." Once again, the more spontaneous and lifelike your mental images become, the more likely you will be able to move directly into a dream without losing conscious awareness.

Please be aware this is not a simple process for most people. In our experience, most people who successfully achieve the state of high lucidity do so only with continued practice. Even if you don't immediately find yourself moving directly into dream lucidity from a waking state, for now it is sufficient to simply learn and practice the basic technique.

If, by some chance, you do achieve a state of high lucidity tonight, we advise that you passively witness the dream without attempting to influence the images in any way. (You can handle only so much at once.)

DAY FOUR: WINDS OF CHANGE

You will learn to shift your moods by controlling the thunder and lightning in your waking dreams.

Today you will continue to explore your potential for high lucidity, in the process gaining contol over the details of your waking dreams. Begin by choosing a new video or television program to play for at least an hour. Once again, begin this exrcise about an hour before you normally go to bed, and use a room where you can follow it through directly into a full night's sleep without being disturbed. Watch the program that you have chosen for about 30 minutes, absorbing the images and enjoying the show. Then roll over, close your eyes, and enter a state of alert relaxation while concentrating on the sounds of the television in the background.

As you become increasingly relaxed, focus on remaining alert while the images in your mind become more and more spontaneous, eventually turning hypnagogic in nature. Then do your best to follow these images directly and consciously into a high lucid dream.

As soon as you notice that you're having a high lucid dream, study the immediate dream scenario. Remind yourself that every detail in your dream is the product of your unconsious creativity, memories, and imagination. Indeed, you have not only created the most general aspects of your dream setting but also the tiniest and most specific details, from the architechural design of a particular dream building to the number of books on a dream shelf.

As you observe your dream, pay special attention to the weather. Chances are that in this dream, as in most dreams, the weather is something you would ordinarily take for granted. Consider, however, that the weather in your dream most certainly expresses something symbolic about your present state of mind. A bright, sunny sping day might signify a strong inner hopefulness, for instance, while a barrage of hail could indicate you feel you're being attacked.

Now that you've noticed the weather, focus all of your energies on deliberately changing it. If your experiencing a sweltering summer afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, for example, concentrate on making it snow. If you're lost in the middel of some desert, try invoking a heavy rain. Even if your dream takes place in a house, there's nothing except the boundaries of your imagination to prevent you from creating a thunderstorm within its walls. And even if your dream takes place underwater, you might still summon a gentle spring wind.

As you deliberately alter the weather in your high lucid dream, notice how the new climate both reflects and influences your underlying mood. By consciously influencing weather as suggested above, you will take an important step toward custom-designing broader aspects of your waking dreams. You will also have learned a simple method of assessing, in symbolic terms, the underlying atmosphere of your own phychological state. Perhaps most important, you may use this technique as a means of deliberately influencing your state of mind as you dream. You might invoke a thunderstorm, thus expressing anger, or calm yourself by creating a gentle dream rain. You might even stimulate your potential for self healing by envisioning yourself absorbing the nurturing rays of the sun or burning out a fever in an active volcano.

Please remember to record all your high lucid dreams, paying special attention to the weather. Take special note of the relationship between your dream weather and your mood.

Also remember that altering the details of a conscious dream takes practice. At frist, such efforts may even result in the termination of the dream. If this occurs, just continue to change the dream weather in your imagination. At the same time, allow yourself to fall back into your high lucid dream.

DAY FIVE: SHIFTING SANDS

Travesrse continents and centuries through a simple expression of conscious free will.

By now you should be ready to generate hypnagogic imagery on your own, without the assistance of a television playing in the background. Therefore begin by lying on your back in bed and enetering a state of alert relaxation. This time, however, leave the TV off. Because you'll once again be following this exercise directly into a night's sleep, you should begin about an hour before your usual bedtime. This time, instead of focusing on the television playing in the background, focus your attention on any hypnagogic images that emerge.

In most cases these images will emerge spontaneously, without conscious assistance. If this does not happen for you shortly after closing your eyes, the prcess may be helped along by pulling up random memory fragments from experiences you had earlier in the day. Think about some of the interesting things you've encountered during the course of your day, and imagine them interacting in some surrealistic fashion in your mind. For instance, you might imagine that a chicken wing you had for lunch sprouting a mouth and eyes and starting a conversation with your car radio.

As you fell yourself becoming increasingly relaxed, give yourself permission to have a high lucid dream. Then remain alert while observing your hypnagogic images, doing your best to follow them consciously into a high lucid dream.

Once you find yourself in a high lucid dream, observe your immediate dream surroundings, taking particaular note of the weather. Then imagine a comelling place completely different from the one represented in your current dream. If your dream opens up on a city street, for example, you might imagine a clearing in the forest. If you dream opens on a Tibetan mountain, you might conjure the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge.

When you've thought of a suitably compelling location, concentrate on transforming the original setting of your dream into the new dream environment. Just close your eyes while focusing on the new locale. With practice, you should be able to will your original dream setting to disolve while the new setting emerges from behind it. Continue practicing this exercise until you've managed to experience at least one recognizable change in your high lucid dream environment by a simple expression of conscious free will.

If your dream images halt when you shift the scene, continue the exercise in your semiconscious imagination. Please remember to record any high lucid dreams, taking special note of shifts in weather and locale. Consider the possible phychological and symbolic significance of your dream scenarios and record these as well.

DAY SIX: TRADING PLACES

From Wonder Woman to Barbara Bush to the Blob, you can be anyone you want in your high lucid dreams.

Tonight you will trade places wil your dream characters in hopes of gaining direct insight to the significance of their presence in your high lucid dreams.

Once again, begin by entering a state of alert relaxation and inducing a high lucid dream. When you find yourself in a waking dream, pay particular attention to the characters you encounter. If you happen to be alone at the start of your high lucid dream, go for a walk, swim, or fly around until you come across some other life form. Whatever the appearance of this life form - be it Wonder Woman, the Cheshire Cat, or the Blob - there can be no doubt that its presence is a function of your own unconscious creative processes. As dream researchers have long pointed out, every character who appears in your dreams - even those who play the part of familiar figures in your everyday life - express some aspect of your inner self. Put simply, YOU play the part of every character in your dreams. It is therefore within your power to consciously shift perspectives with any one of your dream characters.

For tonight's exercise pick out an interesting dream character and imagine how your dream experience might appear from the other character's perspective. Imagine yourself actually trading places with this character and then looking back at the character you were previously playing in your high lucid dream. What would your new dream self say to the old dream self about the scenario you're presently experiencing? How do your feelings about yourself and your dream shift when you take on the viewpoint of the other character?

Continue to practice this exercise until you've managed to experience at least one role reversal in the course of your high lucid dreams. You may then either practice consciously changing persectives and taking on the roles of additional dream characters or just opt to complete the dream from the new character's perspective. You may even decide to return to your original character, tapping any insights you may have gained from your role-reversal experience.

If you feel yourself returning to normal consciousness in the middle of the exercise, complete at least one role reversal in your imagination.

Please remember to record your role reversal dream on a piece of paper, tsking special note of any insights you may have gained by trading places with various dream characters.

DAY SEVEN: DREAM SHRINKS

You will gain access to hidden stores of energy, wisdom, and experience from the psychotherapist of your dreams.

Some of us pay our psychotherapists thousands of dallars a year just to clarify our thoughts, putting into proper perspective things that, in the deepest recesses of our mind, we all ready know. On day seven you will learn to cll upon the higher wisdom of a therapist in your waking dreams. Invoking this personal dream guide, you should gain access to information hidden in the farthest reaches of your unconscious mind.

To prepare for this dream session on the analyst's couch, spend the day observing your relationship with the world. How do you interact with other people? How is your mood influenced by your surroundings? How do you react to different types of weather, traffic, music, conversation, and noise? How do you feel about your life and yourself? Can you chart the ebbs and flows of your moods as you go through the day?

Sometime during the day, find a quiet place where you can sit and reflect upon the condition of your personal life. Where are you at this point in your life, especially in relation to the fantasies you had as a child? Are there any recurrent themes or ideas that have motivated you as you've grown older? Are there any psychological blocks or other obstacles that have prevented you from achieving all you once dreamed of? Allow your thoughts to come and go easily.

Now imagine what it would be like to have a personal confidant and therapist who completely understands your inner-most thoughts and feelings and could also offer you remarkable insights on overcoming the difficulties you face. Imagine, in as much detail as possible, exactly what such an individual would look like. Would this person be a wise old woman with flowing gray hair, a middle-aged male psychiatrist in a three-piece suit, a hard-boiled detective from a Thirties movie, or a giant white rabbit named Binkey? Would he or she wear perfume, carry a briefcase, smoke fat cigars, or consume a constant supply of fresh carrots? Imagie yourself sitting with your "therapist" at this moment, sharing your most personal feelings with him or her. Continue with this part of the exercise at least half an hour before going about the rest of your day's activities.

Begin the next part of this exercise about an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Gather together a small number of objects that symbolize some significant aspects in your life. You might, for example, choose your baby shoes, a photograph of yourself as a child, a diploma, an old love letter, your Congressional Medal of Honor, and a religious or spiritual symbol. While you're at it, choose one additional object that expresses some recurrent concern in your personal life - a tattered valentine to represent seemingly constant troubles in romance, for instance, or an uncashed payroll check to symbolize your ongoing angst and confusion about where you're going in your career. Place these objects on a night table or chair beside your bed and quietly contemplate their individual significance. You can also enhance the atmosphere by burning incense and playing music in the background.

When you're ready, get in bed and take out your dream journal. Then create a phrase that expresses some overall concern you have about the current state of your life. For this exercise don't just focus on narrow concerns, such as your perpetually confusing relationship with your boyfriend, Melvin. Instead, direct your attention toward more global concerns, such as the generally troublesome ongoing history of all your sexual relationships with men or women. For example, instead of writing, "Do I really love Melvin at all?" write something like, "Why do I always seem to end up with shallow, egotistical, insensitive, ill-mannered, and unfaithful slobs like Melvin?" Then turn out the lights and enter the state of alert relaxation. Once you have done so, attempt to enter the state of high lucidity directly from waking consciousness.

We suggest that you allow your unconscious mind to provide you with a suitable dream scenario for exploring your concerns. Your main focus should be upon seeking out a dream therapist to assist you in gaining insight into your waking life.

Toward this end, as soon as you find yourself in the midst of a high lucid dream, look around for the therapist you envisioned earlier in the day. Don't worry, however, if you don't encounter this individual right away. Just explore your dream environment in any way that seems appropriate to the setting - by foot, by car, or even by flying. Continue to explore until you come across the individual you're seeking. And remember, once your unconscious mind has added its input, your dream therapist may not look exactly like the individual you consciously imagined.

Once you encounter your dream therapist, you may use the opportunity to seek his or her advice and insights on your life in the waking world. Since your therapist is the embodiment of all the memories and experiences residing in your conscious and unconscious mind, he, she, or it should have access to the most intamate details of your life. Therefore your dream therapist should be able to offer you some surprisingly candid and straightforward input about how you're handling your personal existence. Put simply, your inner self may know more about what's good for you than your conscious self may be willing or able to admit. By meeting this inner self in the form of a personal therapist or guide in a high lucid dream, you may be able to consciously benefit from the hidden wisdom of your unconscious mind. The more often you practice this exercise, the more incisive your insights should become.

Please don't worry or feel pressured if you don't meet your dream therapist the first time you practice this exercise. Chances are that the dream you DO have will express your unconscious thoughts and feelings about the concerns you focused on during the day. With continued practice you may eventually learn to meet with your dream therapist on a regular basis. You may even establish a whole society of dream therapists from a variety of high lucid dreams. Remember, under no circumstances should you ever use this exercise to replace conventional psychiatric treatment.

DAY EIGHT: DREAM HEALER

Imagine a personal healer who monintors and enhances your physical health.

Today you will expand on the dream therapist technique by invoking the image of a personal dream healer to assist you in boosting your immune response.

When you first wake up in the morning, notice the way your body feels as you get out of bed. Do you feel full of energy, ready to jump in the shower and bound off to work like a powerful gazelle? Or do you feel more like a hunted deer, shot by a tranquilizer gun and fading fast? Does it take several gallons of strong, black coffee to get you moving? Or are the morning sunshine and a glass of chilled orange juice enough to make you feel alive and alert?

Notice the kind of relationship you have with your body as you go about your day. Do you purposely avoid even the slightest opportunity for exercise and gorge yourself with junk food? Do you smoke? Or do you maintain a macrobiotic diet and typically spend your evenings at the health club sipping tomato juice, taking aerobic classes, and lifting weights? In short, what is your attitude toward your body? How does this attitude reflect in your diet, dress, and general level of physical activity?

As you did during the last exercise, find a quiet place where you can relax for 30 minutes during the day and consider the current state of your health. Are there any chronic health problems that have troubled you for a long time? What about other health concerns that may have begun troubling you only recently? Do you think of yourself as generally robust or as a more or less sickly individual? Allow your thoughts about your physical health to come and go easily without holing on to them or analyzing them too closely.

Now imagine what it would be like to have a personal healer who constantly monitors your personal health and assists you in taking care of your body. What would such an individual look like? A primitive witch doctor in full regalia? Or an elderly surgeon with a white coat and stethoscope? Picture yourself sitting with your imaginary healer, describing your personal health history from childhood on. Continue with this part of the exercise for at least 30 minutes before going about the rest of your day.

Begin the next part of this exercise about an hour before you plan to go to bed. Choose an object that symbolizes some significant concern about the current state of your physical health. You might, for example, choose a giant bag of greasy potato chips to symbolize concern over your diet (don't make the problem worse by eating them!) or an old shoe to symbolize problems with your feet. Place the object near your bedside while quietly contemplating its symbolic significance. You might consider enhancing the atmosphere by burning incense and playing music in the background.

When you feel ready, get in bed and express your most pressing health concern on a sheet of paper. You might write, "How can I loose 50 pounds?" or "What can I do about my allergies?"

Then trun off the lights and use the alert relaxation technique to induce a high lucid dream. Once you've entered the state of alert relaxation, focus in your mind's eye on the image of the object that you have chosen and on the words in the phrase you have written down earlier. Also focus on your general thoughts about your body.

Once you are in the midst of a high lucid dream, focus on finding your dream healer as you focused on finding your dream therapist the night before. When you do finally encounter this individual, seek advice about your most pressing physical concerns.

Remember, your dream healer represents a symbolic bridge between your conscious and unconscious minds. He, she, or it may therefore help you communicate with yourself at a deep inner level about the steps you need to take to improve your physical condition.

If that were all this exercise is good for, however, the dream healer would be little more than a very specialized version of the dream therapist. In fact, the real potential of the dream healer exercise begins where the dream therapist technique leaves off.

To experience the greatest benefit from your dream healer, you might request a symbolic remedy for some physical problem. Your dream healer might lay his hands on some part of your dream body and offer you some "healing energy." Your healer might also offer you medicine or guide you to some healing environment - such as a warm salt sea, where you can envision yourself thriving in the healing rays of the afternoon sun.

In an advanced version of this exercise, you may even serve as your own dream healer, directly incubating therapeutic dream scenarios. Indeed, a mounting body of scientific evidence strongly suggests that such creative visualization exerts a powerful influence over your immune system by assisting you in mobilizing your inner defenses and boosting your phychological response to disease. Nowhere has this concept been shown more clearly than in the work of radiation oncologist Paul Simonton and his wife, Stephanie, a psychotherapist. Using mental imagery along with traditional medicine, the Simontons have shown that attitudes and feelings can affect basic health: Patients coming to their Cancer Counseling and Research Center in Dallas, in fact, have a recovery rate of twice the national average.

To mobilize your body's immune system in this way, first find an appropriate symbol for the offending illness or disease and place it near your bed. If you suffer from migraine headaches, for instance, you might imagine the symptoms in the form of a twisted, overgrown weed. You could then envision digging up such a weed in a nearby lot or park. Before you induce a high lucid dream, just write, "I will now overcome my headaches in my dreams" on a sheet of paper, and focus on that idea as you enter the state of alert relaxation. Once you find yourself in a high lucid dream, seek out the weed and somehow destroy it: You might, for instance, kill it with poisonous gas, blow it up with dynamite, or chop it to pieces with an ax.

Alternatively, you might simply use this advanced method to try to boost your immunity to disease. For instance, envision your immune cells as tiny seeds. In your high lucid dream, you can generate imagery in which these seeds grow into lush, healthy plants.

Whether you invoke the image of a dream healer or use the straightforward guided imagery to boost your health, we caution you to evaluate the input of your dream healer in the light of common sense. Under no circumstances should you ever use this exercise to replace conventional medical or psychiatric treatment. Dream healing may, however, help you respond positively to such treatment, thereby providing an additional line of psychological defense against disease.

Please don't worry if you do not meet your dream healer the first time you practice this exercise. Any dream you do have will probably provide you with insights, drawn from your own unconscious, into the way you've been approaching your physical health.

DAYS NINE AND TEN: TOWARD HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS

Exploring the land of illusions, you will encounter reality beyond the phantasmagoric veil of the dream.

There is a moment, upon just waking up from a dream, when you experience a startling shift in perspective; in that moment, you realize that the life you were most recently leading - the life of your dream - was merely a product of your imagination. In this transition period, your return to the waking world often seems like the termination of an illusion. As you must realize by now, moreover, awakening from a high lucid dream can be just as startling. That's because the conscious realization that you are dreaming does not dilute the power of your dream identity at all.

In one of our all-time favorite dreams, the dreamer found himself in an amusement park, confronting a magnificent roller coaster with a sign that read, "LIFE." The dreamer took a seat in the front car of the coaster and handed his ticket to the operator. "Ready to go?" the operator asked the dreamer. "You know, it's a hell of an illusion!"

"I'm sure I can handle it," the dreamer said. "I've been on this ride before." With this, the roller coaster ride commenced. The scenario of the amusement park faded, and the dreamer found himself being born as an infant in another reality. Before long, the dreamer saw himself growing up, going to school, graduating, developing a career, getting married, having a family, growing old, and eventually dying. All of this seemed to cover a life span of roughly 70 or 80 years. As the dreamer finally felt his life fading away, he heard the sounds of the roller coaster slowing down in the background. In a moment, he found himself back in the amusement park, looking up at the ride operator from his seat in the roller coaster's front car.

"Well," the operator asked him, "how was it? Learn anything?"

"That was pretty increadible," the dreamer said, suddenly aware that he was experiencing this alternate reality in a dream. Now thoroughly lucid and hoping to take the dream further still, he handed the operator another ticket. "This time," he said, "I'd like to be someone else." The roller coaster started again, and the dreamer immediately woke up. Needless to say, upon waking from this dream, the dreamer could not help but wonder whether he was returning to an absolutely tangible reality or was merely experiencing yet another graphic, convincing illusion.

The dreamer came away from this dream somehow changed: The moment of awakening jogged something in his mind so that he experienced a sense of expanded consciousness. The illusory nature of his dream helped him understand something profound about the ilusory nature of his own waking life. Moreover, the dreamer felt more comfortable with the concept of death. Indeed, he viewed it more than ever as a part of the larger, cosmic scheme of things - something he could, in effect, trnscend. Perhaps most important, he recognized in his dream identity a deep and long hidden part of his inner self.

Indeed, high lucid dreamers who spend a great deal of time merely manipulating their dreams may eventually lose sight of their greater potential: to consciously explore the unconscious, thus getting a better grasp of what they want in life and who they are.

On days nine and ten you will embark upon a journey toward higher consciousness. Your goal will be to explore the shift in perspective you undergo as you wake up, turning from an imaginary character in dreamland to your everyday self. By doing so, you can literally carry the lessons of your dreams into your everyday life, becoming a more fulfilled and self-aware version of the person you truly are. In the process, you may also gain insights into philosophical dilemmas ranging from the nature of reality to the meaning of death to the concept of God.

You can start on day nine by choosing a 30-minute period during some quiet part of the day; spend the time considering the things that make you uniquely you. Do you wear big, floppy hats? Blue mascara and aquamarine contact lenses? A giant fur coat you bought from the Salvation Army in 1966? Do you make love at midday in the office rest room or have a penchant for mayonnaise on your salami sandwich for lunch? Do you give ten-dollar bills to the homeless or hang posters of John Travolta on your wall? Whatever your quirks, whatever your specialties, review them now. When the period has ended, drop this line of thought and go about the rest of your day.

Just before you go to bed, write these words on a piece of paper: "Let my deepest self find expression in my dreams." Then turn off the light, enter a state of alert relaxation, and induce a high lucid dream. Whenever you recognize that you are dreaming, pay particular attention to the way you feel toward the identity you have assumed within the dream. Ask yourself, "Who do I seem to be now?" and notice the way your sense of yourself subtly shifts when you loose focus on this question. Instead of attempting to change elements in your dream just for fun, allow your dream personality to explore the rich and varied environment your subconscious has seen fit to create. See that dirt road down there? Instead of changing it to a superhighway, just follow it. If, allong the way, you see a mountain range, climb or fly over it to see what lies beyond. And if you pass a house by the side of the road, take this opportunity to go inside. If the house harbors a witch, listen to her incantation - and, if you can, tell her the details of your life as an entity in a dream.

Remember, dream control is best approached only as an aid to greater discovery. One particularly effective - and very advanced - way to accomplish this is not to deliberately change a particular dream prop, scene, or character but to call upon your dreams to alter themselves. In this way their symbolic meaning may become especially clear.

You might, for example, turn toward the image of Godzilla chasing you through the dream ruins of Tokyo and ask, "Who or what are you, and where the hell am I?" As you express this thought, your dream images mights actually "weave" themselves into a form that makes their meaning clear. Does Godzilla ravaging Tokyo turn into an image of your mother kicking over your blocks in your room when you were three? Or does the famous Japanese monster turn into a fleet of shiny new Toyotas devastating your Chevy dealership? As your dream symbols become increasingly clear, you will realize they represent yourself, your job, and your family, as well as death and reality and God.

As you navigate the dream terrain, remind yourself that you are in the midst of your own, self-induced illusion and that a much broader reality exists beyond the veil of the dream. Do not be concerned if turning your attention toward such thoughts has the effect of terminating a particular high lucid dream, since the next part of this exercise is meant to be practiced immediately upon awakening from such an experience.

In the moment that you notice yourself returning to waking consciousness, repeat the question that you asked yourself in the dream: "Who do I seem to be now?" Remember the way you felt about yourself in your most recent dream and compare that experience with your sense of yourself in this moment. Look around at the everyday world and ask yourself if there may be a broader reality - in whatever way you wish to define this concept for yourself - beyond the limits of your ordinary perceptions. Is this other reality a deeper, more vibrant realm that you simply cannot perceive from the waking state, just as you cannot perceive waking reality while in a dream?

Continue asking yourself these questions from time to time throughout day ten: "Who exactly do I seem to be now? Is there a broader reality beyond my everyday perceptions?" Also think about the dream exploration you conducted the night before; focus especially on the precise moment of transition between sleep and wakefulness.

You will bring this exercise to its conclusion on day ten, when, if you are fortunate, you will attain a sense of transcendence and deeper understanding of the waking world. Before you go to bed, consider what the experience of transcendence might include for you: a sense of connectedness with something greater than your individual identity; a feeling of timelessness that blurs the distinction between past, present, and future; a feeling of profound meaningfulness in which you experience insights into the nature of reality and existence; a sense of religious reverie; or simply a sense of objectivity toward mundane concerns. Also remember the last time you felt such feelings in a deep and profound way.

Then, right before you go to sleep, draw a picture - any related picture that comes to mind - on a sheet of paper. Finally, focus on that drawing as you induce a high lucid dream. Then remember to seek those special feelings of transcendence as you explore the rich dream terrain. In this way you can call upon the wisdom of your inner self to provide you with a transcendent waking dream. Remember, the moment you wake up, note how your sense of reality shifts. In that moment, also consider the universe that might be beckoning from beyond the limits of your senses - if the veil of ordinary reality could only be swept away.