When my daughter was younger, we watched a lot of children’s television programs together. One of our mutual favorites was Blue’s Clues. I mostly liked it because of Steve Burns — and no, I wasn’t one of those fans; I just enjoyed his gentle charm and his subtle, sly humor.
As I recall, the show covered a number of preschool-friendly topics — colors, shapes, and numbers, sharing, friendship. There was one episode, however, that introduced viewers to a more abstract and very useful concept: lucid dreaming.
A character was shown being troubled by an unpleasant dream. Steve and Blue entered her dream and offered encouragement: “If you don’t like this dream, change it!”
Now, I don’t know how many preschoolers (or, for that matter, adults) are really capable of altering a dream’s direction in their sleep. What can be done, more easily, is to introduce changes after waking up.
“I was falling and I was going to crash and I was so scared!”
“Can you change that part of the dream? Can you grow some wings, ride on a friendly dragon, land in a Jell-O lake and just start bouncing and bouncing?”
I have one memory of being able to shift one of my dreams in this way. In my dream, I was a secret agent, and my cover was blown. My enemies were chasing me, and they had guns. Down hallways, in and out of motel rooms, until I found myself cornered, trapped, doomed.
Then I woke up just a little — just enough to think, “Wait! This is a dream! I can do anything I want!“
And I dove back into that dream, fists a-blazing, and stepped straight into my superpowers. Pow! No one could hurt me. I was invincible.
Now, here’s the question that recently popped gently into my head: If we can do that in our dreams, can’t we try it in our waking lives?
I mean, half the time lately, I feel as if I’m sleepwalking through my days anyway.
What if I can stop, take a breath, take a look at the dreams that I’m living — at the stories I tell myself daily — and simply ask, “Does it need to be this way? What would I like to be different? What can change?“
Quite a bit, I suspect. I’ll keep you posted.