These two photos illustrate a technique which empowers you to become conscious within your dream. The concept is called Lucid Dreaming. To quote Wikipedia, “A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. The term was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik (Willem) van Eeden (1860–1932). In a lucid dream, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over their participation within the dream or be able to manipulate their imaginary experiences in the dream environment.”
I first became aware of lucid dreaming through Carlos Castaneda’s books of the 1970’s. These books deal with Don Juan, a Mexican Indian sorcerer. In Castaneda’s 1977 book, The Second Ring of Power, Don Juan teaches a technique to transform a dream into a lucid dream by looking for your hands during your dream.
I had personally tried Don Juan’s technique with some success back in the late 70’s, and then forgot about it until around 1991. At that time, I started to experiment with the practice again and attempted to illustrate it in some photographs.
My photos start with an out-of-focus shot of my hand. This illustrates the moment in your dream when you’re starting to make the effort to see your hand and take control. Then in the second photo, your hand comes into focus and you are in control of your dream!
Obviously I wasn’t dreaming when I made these photos, but while creating them I was brought into an unexpected and unforeseen state of awareness. There was something about the synergy of seeing my hand live in the camera’s reflex viewfinder as I composed the photo, while simultaneously knowing that I was at a specific location-time on Earth, that I was present and alive in the environment I was photographing, and that I could look at this present moment later in the future. I know it sounds like bullpucky, but it felt profound. This feeling even induced me to generate my own variation on Descartes’ logical assertion: “Je vois, donc, je suis.”
I see, therefore, I am.
Examine a few more of my lucid dreaming photos in the Lucid Dreaming Photo Gallery.