Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple

Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple

by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready

Today I'm reviewing Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple by Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready. The subtitle is Tips and Techniques for Insight, Creativity, and Personal Growth.

Normally I confine my reviews to books about astral projection or out-of-body experiences. However, in February, 2014, I did a review of Robert Waggoner's book, Lucid Dreaming, which I loved. It was very insightful. So insightful that I decided to buy and read Waggoner's next book, Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple, co-authored with Caroline McCready. I liked this one too. I apologize if I spend too much time comparing this book to that one.

The thing I liked most about this book? It provides several powerful lucid dreaming techniques (with a bit of crossover from OBE techniques like Wake Back To Bed). Waggoner's first book was a little lacking in that regard. The authors share techniques from a number of sources; even unconventional techniques. For example, the Carlos Castaneda technique of looking at your hands (and accompanying suggestions that you will see your hands the next time you're dreaming, and remember that you're dreaming).
  • Carlos Castaneda's technique
  • Stephen LaBerge's WILD technique
  • CRAM (Constant Repetition and affirmation method)
  • WBTB (Wake Back To Bed)
  • Count Down to Lucidity
  • Many more.

The authors also talk about reality checks: a common practice of many lucid dreamers who do checks throughout the day: "Am I dreaming?" This practice can carry forward into our dreams, which can then trigger lucidity. These are things like (1) pulling your finger to see if it elongates or pushing it through the palm of your other hand, (2) trying to breathe with your fingers pinching your nose shut, and (3) trying to read the same sentence twice to see if it changes.

There's also a section on enhancing your awareness, maintaining dream stability and focus, establishing goals, and so forth.

As usual, I flagged some interesting points. First:
"Lucid dreamers do not control their lucid dreams. When you read most lucid dreams carefully, they show that lucid dreamers rather influence their dreams. Although they may control their personal actions and focus, just as in waking life, they do not control the dreams--any more than you control waking life or the highway on which you drive." (pg. 29)
Waggoner said similar things in his first book, and I found that fascinating. Although I haven't had nearly as many lucid dreams (LDs) as Waggoner, I've always felt in control of the dream. But this makes me wonder: was it just influence? For example, I remember one LD in which I found myself in a hospital, and deliberately created a hallway to fly down. To me it felt like a conscious act of creation; more than a mere "influence." But who knows?

Later in the book, they talk about how LDs are more influenced by expectations and beliefs. So, for example, you can close a door and say to the dream, "When I reopen this door, I expect to see a bunch of naked women on the other side" and poof--they're there. It seems that "something" or "someone" has a more powerful influence over the dream content than the dreamer, whether that's the subconscious, "higher self" or whatever you want to call it, because those women will all have very detailed, unique faces, hair styles, eyes, bodies, attitudes, poses, and so forth, even though none of that was specified as part of the "expectation."

The book has a professional feel to it, and gets a little dry in some places. I suspect Waggoner keeps the book fun and entertaining, but McCready brings it down to earth, provides structure, practical information, and exercises. That means it's a well rounded book.

If I had to sum up Waggoner's first book in one sentence, it would be "Lucid dreaming is not only powerful and fun, it's useful, and here's how far I've pushed the boundaries." It was entertaining and informative; he explores the boundaries of the experience and where it can take us.

If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, it would be "Lucid dreaming is a genuine scientific breakthrough, and here are the keys to the DeLorean." Maybe not as fascinating and entertaining, but definitely more useful.

I'd say this book is more written for the educated; psychologists and therapists, but it's also good for the layperson. Just when you think it's getting dry, it pushes the boundaries, subtly nudging that professional to the next level: the level of the new age practitioner. The authors subtly build bridges between the scientist (study) and the experiencer (practice). For example:
'The famous hypnotherapist Milton Erickson reminds us of a powerful idea when he says: "The unconscious is always listening.'" (pg. 36)
(That's why it's so important to monitor and/or modify your internal dialog: the thought-messages we constantly give ourselves when we're awake.)

The authors carry this thought further, subtly pushing the boundaries of conventional psychology. Psychology has shown that what we "experience" consciously is actually a "construct" of our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, based on our experiences. This becomes more clear when you start lucid dreaming: You can see, hear, taste, smell and feel the crystal clear constructs of your own making, without that sensory input. You can actually start to understand that new-age teachings, like Jane Roberts / Seth's adage "You create your own reality" are true not only in dreaming life, but in waking life as well. If you change your thoughts, beliefs, expectations, you can actually change your reality.

So the subconscious and the conscious work together to build your experience, whether waking or dreaming. Tools like lucid dreaming bring the two together: you bring your conscious mind into the realm of the subconscious and, working together, you can radically transform your life.
"I developed the habit of seeing the world as a kind of mental co-creation of the conscious and unconscious mind. When something happens, I ask myself, 'Why did this happen to me? What beliefs do I have that attracted this event into my life?' Later, when something strange happens in a dream, I think, 'Why did that happen? How did I attract it into my life?' Then I realize: 'This seems too strange. This must be a dream!'" (pg. 46)
The same thing could be said for learning to speak to your inner voice, as I taught in my fourth book, Answers Within, which is essentially the reverse: bringing your subconscious mind into the realm of the conscious. Both are steps toward integrating your total self.

My favorite chapter was the last one, chapter 14, "Living Lucidly" which brings it all together. Here are a few quotes from it:
"Lucid dreaming is another discovery with profound potential. Aware in the subconscious, you can maneuver your conscious intent toward almost any goal or endeavor." (pg. 184)
"Although research has brought us glimmers of insight, we remain largely ignorant of dreaming, the dream state, and the unconscious. Yet this long-ignored area of dreaming and the unconscious may be where the next real advance in science emerges." (pg. 184)
"As Jung paradoxically puts it, 'Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside wakes." (pg. 192)
Good stuff.

The book is about 200 pages long, with decent size, font, margins and a good amount of content. The writing and grammar are professional. The editing is professional. I didn't find a single typo, misspelling, or grammar problem. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5. (I save 5 stars only for exemplary books.)

Bob Peterson
07 June 2016