If You Love Something, Set It Free

I haven’t posted anything for over a year, and I think I’ve figured out why. I don’t see myself posting here in the foreseeable future either, so this is goodbye for now unless you are interested in transformational developmental work done in waking life. If that’s the case, I’m at www.mlcoaching.ca and @integralcoachML.

Thank you to anyone I’ve had the chance to interact with through a shared interest in lucid dreaming over the last 4 years, especially those of you I met on retreats, got to know through the cyber, attended a Lucid Scheming workshop, or tried to make gross comments about that failed penis-Kickstarter thing. When my regular-ass, workaday life went to shit 4 years ago, I could never have imagined the joy and community I would find through trying to pull the pieces back together through lucid dreaming.

I am kind of done with lucid dreaming, for the time being at least. I still have them; I had a great one Monday morning, but I have lost all motivation to read or research any further on the phenomenon or try and induce a lucid dream. What the hell’s happened?

Some background: through a series of highly unfortunate (inevitable and necessary) events around fall 2013, I found myself too stressed and heartbroken to get more than 2 hours of sleep a night. I was a fucking zombie, finally desperate enough to buckle down and try this lucid dreaming thing I’d read about as a way to get my mind right.

So, almost 4 years later, did it work? Yeah, sort of. I’m in a great place now and I’m confident I’m a hell of a lot more resilient the next time the winds of shit inevitably come a blowin’. I’m just not all that sure how much having lucid dreams actually has to do with it.

You know what a shit-barometer is, Bubs? Measures the shit-pressure in the air. You can feel it. Listen, Bubs. Hear that? The sounds of the whispering winds of shit. Can you hear it?… Oh, but you will, my sorry little friend, when the old shit-barometer rises, and you’ll feel it too. Your ears will implode from the shit-pressure… beware my friend. Shit-winds are a comin’.”

-Jim Lahey

It’s really hard to say, I was so desperate and driven I threw myself into anything I could at the time: yoga, meditation (some of it highly fucking questionable), dream interpretation, flotation tanks, coaching… too many variables to clearly and cleanly assess what worked and what didn’t.

My subjective sense is that the biggest benefits I got from lucid dreaming were the development of the discipline to meditate, the balls to reach out to the people I thought could help me, and the hope that I was engaged in practices that would get to the root of my misery and attend to fundamental core issues in my psyche. There’s a way in which the actual lucid dreams themselves seem a bit superfluous in hindsight. Definitely not completely superfluous: I stand by everything I wrote here, for example.

Believe me, it’s not that I’ve become a skeptic in the Sam Harris/Richard Dawkins sense. I am semi-openly involved in more woo’d out shit than ever. One of those things I’ve taken a shine to without much concern about a lack of academic scrutiny is the enneagram, a mapping of the ways in which we develop our personalities in order to adapt to our early childhood environment. These early adaptations then cause significant challenges for us later in life, but the personality structure is so deeply ingrained, we mistake it for fate and who we are.

I bring this up because I’m quite certain I’m a Type 4 on the enneagram: sensitive, introspective, expressive, self-absorbed, and temperamental. Hell, the type 4 tendency and willingness “to reveal highly personal and potentially shameful things about themselves because they are determined to understand the truth of their experience” permeates this very blog post.

One key facet of the Type 4 personality structure is that “Fours often report that they feel they are missing something in themselves, although they may have difficulty identifying exactly what that “something” is. Is it will power? Social ease? Self-confidence? Emotional tranquility?—all of which they see in others, seemingly in abundance.” I had lucid dreams where I confronted deep seated fears, had near-religious peak experiences, and permanently addressed sources of stress. However, when it came to this fundamental sense of lack, I think a dogged focus on lucid dreaming actually made the problem worse.

I just never felt ready to do the things I wanted to do and pursue the life I wanted to be living. There was always one more internal issue to resolve through lucid dreaming; one more shadow figure to integrate in the dream state before I’d feel ready to fucking live. I thought you had to be confident before you did stuff. Now, I think it’s the other way around. One of my dear teachers and mentors, Chela Davison, once described confidence to me as “a dynamic emergent experience through enacting and expressing and engaging with other.” Put simply, you can’t sit around waiting for it.

Now, is any of this lucid dreaming’s fault? Abso-fucking-lutley not! By no means does lucid dreaming put you at risk of becoming a morose, 80s music-obsessed, wallflower. My point is that there seems to be a deeper structure of the psyche (or my psyche at least) that I was unable to penetrate through lucid dreaming and insidiously used my lucid dreaming practice to further it’s own belief that something in me was off and I needed to put everything on hold until I fixed it.

I would never try and talk someone out of lucid dreaming or a dedicated lucid dreaming practice. I just feel the pull to put my energy and attention elsewhere to get at the things lucid dreaming did not get at for me. I would encourage those of you serious about lucid dreaming (perhaps especially those of you fundamentally turned off and rubbed the wrong way by this post) to close your eyes, take some deep breaths and reflect on the painful areas of your life that lucid dreaming hasn’t made a dent in. Maybe there aren’t any. Fantastic! Go ahead and ignore this. But maybe those same issues, be they perfectionism, or people pleasing, pain avoidance, or whatever the case may be, make themselves felt in the very induction methods you use and the shape and structure of your lucid dreams.

Might I have been able to get to those deep, structural enneagram 4 issues if I stuck with lucid dreaming? Maybe. Might I one day come back to lucid dreaming? Sure. Might I one day smash my head against the limitation of something like the enneagram just as I did with lucid dreaming? There’s probably a better than 50% chance of that. But this is where I’m at right now and I felt you all deserved a farewell and an explanation.

May you be well, all the beautiful and ugly parts of you.

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