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Name: Tyler
Location: Mountain View, California, United States

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Monday, April 02, 2007

how to tell if you're dreaming ?

I'm remember once having something really great happen in my life, and I wanted to check to see if I was dreaming or not. So, I did what I had always heard of doing as a young child, which is to pinch myself to check if that hurt. Indeed it did. You can imagine my consternation when I woke up. Pinching yourself is not a valid way to determine if you are awake or not!

I have also heard it recommended that one tries to read something written, such as the face of a digital clock or a sign. In a dream, you will often find it either very hard to read, or that the words change, or that they don't really make sense.

Discussing this idea with a few friends, these clues came up: it seems to be night dark during the daytime; you're in a place you've never been before; you're with people you haven't seen in a long time (including people who have died! that's a big clue); in general if you find yourself in a very strange situation.

For me, the biggest problem with noticing that you're dreaming is simply to think to ask yourself if you're dreaming or not. It seems to me that, while dreaming, things that would normally seem impossible or incredibly strange, seem perfectly normal whilst asleep. How many times during a normal waking day do you think to yourself: "hey, am I dreaming?" For most people, I guess it is not very often. So why would you expect to think of that question in an actual dream?

My guess is that certain parts of our brain are simply not operating normally during dreams. Suppose our brain contains a model of what we expect the world to be like. Perhaps it has two parts: a positive / constructive future expectation generator, and a negative / constraining naysayer to possibilities which we may think of yet are unrealistic. If that is how the brain works, then it seems that our negative / constraining part is inhibited during dreams. We are simply less prone to notice that something is wrong or impossible. Maybe in some way, inhibiting this part allows us to modify our world model by adding new possibilities to it, or deal with learned memes which we fit into our model in a round-about and symbolic manner.

Do you know of any excellent ways to check if you're dreaming? Any thoughts in reaction to the positive / negative world model idea?

Thanks for useful check-if-you're-dreaming clues from my friends Stacey and Becca


Blogger Rebecca said...

One of the things that i used to do is that any time I would see someone that had not been in my life for a long time, I would say, "hold on, what are you doing here?"
I think one of the best things to do is to try to recognize a pattern in your dreams and then to consciously focus on locating that pattern.
For example, there was a time when I was having frequent nightmares. I wanted to be able to wake up and so I would think about how I would handle a scary situation. I continuously told myself that I would be able to open my eyes if I could just remember to remind myself to do so when things became frightening. And this actually worked! I trained myself to a point that any time I was in any type of situation where I wanted to leave, I would remember to think, "open your eyes", and then I would open them.
This actually became a problem later because I began to do it for less scary dreams, and I guess I just got a little to good at recognizing dream stimuli and so it kind of got hard to sleep, but still, I think that if you focus on what patterns your dreams tend to follow, and consciously try to send yourself messages about those patterns, you will be able to recognize them in your subconscious.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Ezra D. Feldman said...

You can actually train yourself to ask, during your dreams, "Am I dreaming?"

All you have to do is get into the habit of asking yourself that question while you are awake. Asking yourself this question, or developing other habits (I've heard the suggestion, "Look at your hands.") can help you manipulate your own dreams, too. You can become what they call a "lucid dreamer."

Good luck.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Sylvian said...

I remember that when I was approximately eight years old I dreamed that my mother was gone. I chose not accept this fact and realized (do not ask how) that I was dreaming. I waited for myself to wake up.

Second time I escaped my dream was approximately a year ago. The dream was based on the video game WarCraft III and I was the player (cursor). As I played I noticed one thing about the units in "my game". I was getting suspicious so therefore I zoomed into a unit called a unit. The pattern of the clothes of the unit was not detailed and I realized I was dreaming. Again, I cannot find an explanation to this.

I have asked myself this question; does one feel pain in dreams? I know one can fear something in a dream but can one feel pain.

I dream a lot. During weekends the dreams are nightmare. Sometimes I get nightmares during business days. Statistics tell me that I usually get nightmares, when I am exposed to light over longer periods of time and when I sleep more than eight hours.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous David said...

How I tell if i'm dreaming is I ask people that was with me if they were with me that night.And ta da if they say no no if they say yes yes.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i once woke up one morning, barely awake, and my brother told me to mow the lawn. i was so convinced that it was a dream, that i didnt do it! :)

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Some Guy said...

An easy way is to look at a watch or clock. If you're dreaming, it's easy to will the seconds to go backwards. Although, as you mentioned, you won't usually notice you're dreaming, unless you develop the habit of checking, while awake.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is currently summer and i have had two lucid dreams in the past two weeks or so. It's because i have a dream where i'm in school and i think wait school is over. Then I'm free to do whatever!

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Faye said...

When you dream, you can feel totally nothing. [If I'm not wrong] . In my dreams, I usually realise that I'm in a dream. I dreamt about things that is in this world, and is totally the same. But somehow , it feels like it's impossible to happen. So I then realised its also another dream. Nightmares occurs when you ate too much before you sleep or when you are under pressure and your brains can't seems to operate the right way. Recently I'm asking myself , "Am I actually living in a dream?" Well, there's no answer to that. Cause' some things that is new was something I've seen before. But I'm sure that I'm worrying too much.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only once had i controlled my dreams... The stimulus that tipped me off is that i was pushed into a shallow swimming pool, but the temperature did not change at all. it was like a fell into some sort of anti-gravity zone, rather than water. I had promptly called security on the man who pushed me. Feeling happy with myself, I walked away, as the group ambushed me when i lost focus, and beat me with a bar of soap inside of a towel, as i woke up gasping for air.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

Well, one time I was in a dream and someone was hitting me, then I noticed that it didn't hurt! And realized I was in a dream, I remember that now from a while ago, before I found out about lucid dreams. I didn't even try to control it!

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had many "lucid dreams" and never thought it was actually a thing i could train . My way of telling if it was a dream is if i look in to my mind while dreaming my mind will tell me i'm dreaming the only reason I do this a lot is because i have a very strange and wandering mind and at many points in a day i will see whats not there ,like my teacher will turn in to a hockey stick but ill still be seeing every thing else for what it is i think its because i have a very good imagination or i have snapped and i cant see reality anymore. (please tell me what you think and why)

9:37 PM  

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