Issue - May 2008

May 2008

In this months issue interviewing Latti Ugrinovic about FUNACC, Ross Eventon brings us Lucid Dreams, Charlotte Mayhew visits our friends of CBA and tells us about English in Cochabamba, Walter Sanchez and the history of bullfighting in Cochabamba, Alejandra Kolbe facing global more...

May 2008

Lucid Dreams

It is possible to be awake in your dreams and have conscious control is this real? Ross Eventon describes more about this interesting phenomenon.

Ross Eventon
Cardif - United Kingdon

Having experienced a lucid dream recently, I’ve decided to do some research on the topic. For the uninitiated, a lucid dream is defined as a dream in which the “dreamer” can assert conscious control over the characters and the environment and, most importantly, has the ability to realise that he or she is dreaming. Take my dream for example, which started normally. I am in a taxi travelling back to my home city, but whilst admiring the familiar scenery I slowly come to realise that I am supposed to be in Bolivia. I try to remember the journey home or even my last few days in Cochabamba, but nothing comes to mind. At this point I realise the onlyway that such a space jump could occur is if I am dreaming.

Instantly, I have full awareness and consciousness of being in a dream. I am able to look around at will and, like a giftfrom my sub-conscious, am aware that I have the opportunity to do whatever I want. I can hear music playing in the taxi,so I tell the driver I like it and he turns around and says “It’syours, you have fallen asleep with your iPod on.” I think to myself “that makes sense,” it’s a common occurrence. Looking around and assessing my options, I decide that flying would be a nice time-killer whilst I wait to wake up. I open the sunroof and glide into the sky, slowly at first but becoming increasingly faster. This is when I encounter problems; as I get higher I am unable to imagine my home city from a birds eye view, the image below me starts to blur, the trees, fields and buildings merging into a messy collage, I fall and realise that I am going to wake up, which promptly occurs.

This dream raises a few questions for me, like why did it occur in the first place, what is the significance, why doesn’t this type of thing happen more often, and why, given the choice to do anything I wanted, did I choose to fly?

Turning to the internet for answers, it is clear I am not the first person to have experienced this phenomena; an early description of lucid dreaming was discovered in a letter by the incredibly named St. Augustine of Hippo as early as 415 AD. It is also apparent that a wealth of research has been conducted, and the results are surprising. One study foundthat eye movements during a Lucid Dream are mimicked by our real eyes. Using this information, scientists were able toexamine the rate that time passes in Lucid Dream. They didthis by studying subjects who had been given the instruction to count to 10 whilst Lucid Dreaming and signalling the passage of time with eye movements.

The result of this test was that time seems to move at roughly the same rate whilst Lucid Dreaming as it does in real life. This is a contrast to normal dreams, where real time is passing much quicker, and adds to the argument that the mind is fully conscious during this type of dream. Next I encounter a list of techniques, to various to mention, used to enhance the probability of having a Lucid Dream. There is also a list of actions to attempt to prove that you are in a dream; things like plugging yournose, closing your mouth and trying to breath (you still can when Lucid Dreaming), looking at your hands (which appeardistorted in dreams) and attempting super-human feats. Hence my desire to fly was either the fulfilment of a fantasy orthe definite proof I needed to convince me it was a dream, or a convenient mix of both.

Searching further, it seems that various cultures have embraced the experience as a positive one; Tibetan monks practice a form of Yoga which can help the mind retain consciousness into the dream state, whilst many artists have claimed Lucid Dreams as being the inspiration behind theirwork. Furthermore, scientists are taking advantage of the power of consciousnessin dreams to help people who are troubled by constant nightmares; if they are able to realise they are dreaming, they can acknowledge they have nothing to fear. Incredibly, there are even examples of people using Lucid Dreams to practice for events such as public speaking or sporting competitions, because the way the mind reacts to the situation is the same as in the real world. This is a fairly shocking discovery, which emphasises the power of the mind and has implications for the argument that reality is something perceived, and not necessarily what simply “is”.

However, it seems Lucid Dreaming is not without its critics. Many conceive the practice as a dark art, and the use of techniques to enhance the probability of Lucid Dreaming as a dangerous piece of escapism. Rivals counter that this is a chance to view the workings of the brain when it is unaffected by any external stimuli, giving a valuable insight into our minds.

Despite this information, the act itself remains an unexplained phenomenon and my search to find a cause or a solid explanation for why it exists proves fruitless. Many dream interpretation web sites suggest this symbolises a turning point in ones life, or is caused by a particularly striking or significant experience; none of this, however, is conclusive.

Finally, I am left to my own devices to extract some reason or meaning from the dream. Maybe it was my sub-conscious rewarding me with a few seconds of free play time inside my mind; a welcome break from my normal, everyday, flightless existence. Maybe it was my body remedying itself with a quick break from reality that it felt it needed, but couldn’t find in waking life. Perhaps it was just a fluke, a mix up in the chemical factory inside my brain, offering me an insight into an otherwise closed realm. Nevertheless, I am happy to be impressed by the brains ability to literally create a world of its own and allow me to inhabit it, even if only for a few brief seconds.

Bridging the Gap

"Our desire is for Bolivia and the US to cooperate in the development of education and culture in the community. We believe this is the key element that has made CBA the leading institution in teaching English and supporting and promoting fine arts since 1957.” CBA’s prospectus reads...

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