Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Art Of Lucid Dreaming: A first look inside the cloud from the most popular Lucid Dreaming app on Android

This post is about a free/popular/strange app, fresh new data from the cloud and the unique phenomenon of something called lucid dreaming. It's about proving that something as intangible as your own dreams, can be learned to be mastered in ways that most of us never knew were possible.

I suspect many people reading this blog post may have never heard about lucid dreaming. Maybe they don't think much about their dreams at all or forget them quickly after they wake up. Which is odd, considering you are on a subconscious ride through sleep one third of your existence, while interacting profoundly with mental mirror-images from your life:

artistic rendition by xkcd[1]

This is what the app I made set out to change. And this blogpost will hopefully convince you with its data, that a new frontier is absolutely available to those who seek to push the limits of their own minds potential.

If you already know about lucid dreaming, you can skip the short intro. Otherwise, read on and strap yourself in. This blog post is very literally for real.

What Is Lucid Dreaming - A Short Intro


Lucid Dreaming is, in short, being aware of yourself dreaming while being inside a dream. If you are still holding on after that sentence, you have learned the first and only rule of lucid dreaming!

In all seriousness though, lucid dreaming is a way to "wake up" inside your own dream, while still not waking up to the world outside of your own mind. It will not make you more tired in the morning, but instead of being the passenger of the dream, you get a chance to put your hands on the steering wheel. It is a way to explore your own consciousness inside the dream world, and travel to the outer limits of your imagination, without the dull constraints of psychical reality.

As strange as it may sound to some, you don't have to be uncritically bounced around by your impulses while being in a dream. Nightmares, feelings of fear and artificial barriers can be removed, let go and imagined away. With training, anyone can learn to master not just the world of their dreams, but through the same awareness, also the emotions and actions in their waking life. As this blogpost will try to prove, this odd clarity is also something anyone can learn. And I made an app to teach it.

The App And How To Learn Lucid Dreaming With It


On the Danish Easter holiday, in 2013, I released a small hobby project on to Google Play that grew by over 30.000 downloads in a few days, without any paid advertisement. It now has over 130.000 downloads and is still maintaining stable upwards growth just through word of mouth:


Because of the big and completely unexpected response, the project gained a life that I had just not imagined it would. Of my crazy side projects, this was not one of those I would ever expect to become the most popular in its category world wide. But dreaming was here to stay, and people where quickly buzzing about the app and the tools in it, while also throwing around a ton of good feedback. In a short time, it quickly became one of my most popular and stable success as far as personal projects goes. As such, it also geared me towards providing running updates when time permitted it. One of which just so happen to also provide the project with one of the most unique datasets in the world.

I would suggest you check out the app page yourself, and of course, give it a download. But to understand the bigger picture, one needs to understand briefly how learning lucid dreaming can be achieved. Just underneath this link to the app, is a short stew on the two main techniques it takes to normally achieve lucid dreaming. That the app just so happens to also be able to teach you:




The first exercise


The second exercise is the key to the new cloud data, but the first exercise is hardest to wrap ones head around. So to turn brains inside out, we'll start off with this: No matter how ridiculous this sounds, take a deep breath and ask yourself in the most serious mindset you can muster: "Am I in a dream right now?".

Look at the environment around you. Try to feel the texture of your sensations. Do you remember why you are where you are right now.  Try reading some small text, like on a clock, look away and then back to read it again. This is especially hard to do in a dream, because of the fluid nature of whatever manifests in a dream universe.

Doing what is called "Reality Checks" is an extremely important exercise to learning to wake yourself up inside a dream. Congratulations on what might have been your first one! Once your awareness gets tuned to distinguishing waking life and dreams, you can and should start to habitually determine when you are in one or the other.

Not only is it a bizarre exercise, but once you actually ask yourself that ultimate question inside your dream for the first time, and realize where you are, you may get so exited you wake up just after. Just look at how it went for a first timer, in the hit movie Inception:


The app allows you to receive simple Reality Check notifications, at random through the day. But it goes even further, and allows you to also set a custom notification sound, that plays when you are supposed to take a moment and establish the reality around you. This additional auditory clue will psychologically condition you over time, to remember to automatically do a Reality Check each time you hear it. Just like the famous experiment by Pavlov on associated actions to certain stimulus[2].

If you haven't fallen of your chair yet, it can be told about this exercise while wrapping it up, that the app takes the psychological mind-trick one clever step further. By having an extra option to also play the sound at random times when you are in deep sleep at night - so that the reality check can be triggered exactly where you are trying to make it occur! I hope it's possible to see how it all comes together, and that your mind is not too severely blown away to read on.


The second exercise


The reason the second exercise is the key to this blogposts science, is not only because it is vitally important to learn the useful art of lucid dreaming, but also because doing it can help grow the cloud data for the app.

The second exercise is to simply and consistently keep a Dream Journal. The comic at the top lightly pokes fun of quickly suffering amnesia about the mindbending adventures you take, but the truth is that this habitual forgetfulness can be very effectively deflected. If you write down the dream right after waking up, your dream memory can be trained and greatly enhanced each time. At first, it may seem futile and pointless to just write down five words from an disconnected and scattered mess. But that's the secret. That your ability to remember your own dreams will multiply many times over, once you start writing them down. And that exercising your dream memory will allow you to remember more from your dreams with time, make them stand more clear, as well as help you become more aware of yourself dreaming.

It is not a great mystery why writing something down helps you remember it better, but it may come as a surprise that even lucid dreams, which are often very vivid and profound, can be forgotten rather quickly if they aren't written down too. Even if you levitated and flew across the universe, breathed under water, seduced a super model and moved the heaven and earth with pure willpower, that memory might fade throughout the day, unless you make it a point to write down the key aspects. After which it is not only something you can look back on, but also something you can often remember very detailed again without looking back in your journal.

Luckily the app makes all this easy in several ways. Not only can you have a silent notification ready each morning when you wake up, which allows quick access to a new blank journal entry to fill out. There's also the premium option of having continuous speech-to-text, when you're just too dazed to type straight right out of bed. Keeping a dream journal doesn't have to be a great struggle, and over time, many have discovered the great benefit of keeping one.

The Dream Cloud And The Users


The dream journal feature in the app, comes with one final and very important addition that you may have guessed: The ability to voluntary have your entries backed up! I must stress that this feature is completely voluntary, that I (or anyone else for that matter) have never read any dreams in the cloud knowing which account they where linked to, and that the app can be used just as well without backing up your dreams online. If some people would never trust their dreams to a cloud service, although millions trust their emails to one with the same infrastructure[3], they are in their rights to do so. Nevertheless, more than 2000 users have chosen to create a cloud account at the current time of writing, and it is through these unique oneironauts[4] that we will take a first peak on what it takes to to learn lucid dreaming.

The data for this blogpost has been made from data collected up until 1st of October 2014, and I have discarded the dreamers whose number of journal entries pr week are zero as well as those whose only journal entry is the one auto-generated by the app at start, which explains the journal. This leaves us with 1684 serious oneioronauts! - Lets take a look at the demographics of the dreamers in the cloud:

Age

Let's start by looking at an age plot of the users:



It seems like an old truism about young people trying to take control of their dreams is not just a myth. Not shown on the graph is a single outlying sage of 103 years old. Statistics being statistics this may just be a fluke, but I like to hope that there's a guy as wise as the earth out there, dreaming his life into existence for the rest of us.

The age-data is quite close to the larger anonymized statistics, that I have access to through mobile analytics, which provides qualified guesses on the age groups who uses the app.

Gender

The gender distribution is 1315 males and 369 females. This could suggest that guys are more prone and adventurous to seeking this altered state of mind (or altered states of minds in general). But this ratio may also be influenced by the design appeal of the app towards certain genders or other factors, so while the results show a very heavy tendency, a deeper conclusion must be up to the reader[5].

Have they ever had a lucid dream before using the app?

A datapoint I thought would be interesting to test the effectiveness and appeal of the app, would be to know if people who tried it, had ever had a lucid dream before. All cards on the table, no skewed data, how effective is the app really?

The beauty of this datapoint is also that all users themselves define what a lucid dream is, and just the confirmation that users have tried it before strengthens the solidity of lucid dreaming existing as a common experience. I can reveal that 742 of the examined cloud users have NEVER tried lucid dreaming before downloading this app. These are in for a ride they can literally only imagine, and I sometimes wonder what seeds where planted to make them seek out the app. Not forgetting the other side though, 942 cloud users have tried lucid dreaming before. Which means the app is slightly more picked up by those who have broken through before, and are now looking for a gadget that can help keep the door open. I hope and believe my app can be that wedge, whether you've tried it before or not.


How long does it take to learn Lucid Dreaming and what does it take?


One detail about the journal, that I have left out until now, can help answer the most immediate relevant question anyone could have about lucid dreaming. Namely; "How long does it take to learn?".

For the first time in human history, this question can be empirically answered and analysed, through the awesome documented progress made by real explorers of the dream world. Whenever you make an entry into your journal, you have the option of marking whether or not you experienced lucidity. So by pinpointing the number of days between peoples first entry and the entry they first become lucid, we can very effectively measure how long it takes to learn!        

Below is the scatter-plot, showing the number of days until users have their first lucid dream, and the amount of journal entries they make pr. week to get there (maximum is 7 pr week, more than one entry a day is just concatenated). The user must make more than one entry to be on the graph.




I hope we can all agree that this data is very exiting, considering it is the first graph in the world showing how long it takes to learn lucid dreaming! As it can be seen, there is a tendency-line showing that the more entries you make per week, the quicker the awareness of your dream state can be developed. The data even shows that if you make journal entries 4 times a week or more, it only takes an average of 11.7 days to learn!

The complete average time it takes to learn lucid dreaming, from the first dream entry to the first one with lucidity, is 31.53 days. Out of the 1684 total oneironauts, 431 have documented that they have learned lucid dreaming, so of course those still in training cannot be counted, as well as those who have abandoned their training all together. Considering normal app retention rates across the Play Store, this still means that an impressive 25.5% of people who just made a single entry into their journal, followed through and achieved the new state of mind they where seeking. I am immensely proud of these people and what the app has been able to help them with. On top of that 37.3% of them had never even tried lucid dreaming before (the ones that had never had a lucid dream before this app)!

I think it is quite the breakthrough result to show that control over your dreams can not only be learned, but learned within a very reasonable time frame. It shows that lucid dreaming is far from something unachievable for ordinary people, and that all it takes is a slight determination. Just reflecting on dreams a few times a week can change locked behavior in your sleep into consciously controllable events.


Conclusion and perspective


Do you want to experience the completely unbounded potential of your own mind? Do you have 12 days left of your life and just a small amount of dedication? You then qualify to learn lucid dreaming!

It is my personal hope that the experience of lucid dreaming becomes more mainstream, and that the role of dreaming becomes even more transparent over the coming years. I envision a future where peoples dreams are both in their own control and used as a tool to gain deeper understanding about their actions and desires. There is much to be learned from a dream, and the raw reactions a dreams path force out of us. Each reaction serves as the seed to the next point in the dream, and as our mind catapults itself through the night or is being consciously guided, the account of what transpired should not be left to be forgotten. When it is analysed, a greater understanding of our waking life is as much a benefit as a greater understanding of our dreams.

My dataset is far from exhausted, and the next analysis I'm working on will try to examine the very core of our dreams through general word analysis and distinctive words. In fact, the dataset is unsurprisingly still growing, and I hope to have even more people tuning in and illuminating the collective consiousness of our shared experience of dreaming. I can already say now, that the 34th most distinctive word-chain of a lucid dream is: "Decided to fly".

To round off, I will finish with a quote from one of the smarter men in history, who while making his incredible visions real, gave a great insight on how our conscious efforts could help take mankind to the future:

"The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence." - Nikola Tesla

Dream big.




----

Footnotes:
[1] http://xkcd.com/203/ 
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning 
[3] The app is using the Google App Engine, which is the same infrastructure used for many of Google's own projects.
[4] Oneironauts are the explores of the dream space. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneirology
[5]  Further experiments in real life (no pun intended), with a broader range of mindfulness techniques/tools available to subjects, could be carried out to determine if there's certain preferences or bias in certain demographics.

21 comments:

  1. I'm going to download it! LDs are rare as I need BWE help, + am a terrible insomniac. One night my dream was so realistic it was almost creepy. I decided to "visit" an internet buddy who lives on a different continent, who I haven't met face to face or seen a photo. Afterward I told her of the dream, some specific details of her hair & how her room furniture was arranged - which she hadn't mentioned - which checked out. (She's rather intuitive as well.) Though I need brainwave frequency sounds for help, it would be nice to do so naturally. Thank you for the info!

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  2. About 25 years ago I had a dream I was in a bingo hall playing bingo obviously. Some people started dancing in the middle of a game. I thought to myself this was not right and kind of knew I might be dreaming. I thought if I am dreaming then maybe I could control it. I did. I made everyone dance naked ha. That was the only lucid dream I have ever had. Found this app so will give it a go. Hopefully no more bingo though

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  3. Closest I ever came to lucid dreaming was a dream I had that I could fly all by myself.
    It felt so real as if I was awake; I loved it.

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  4. Having first LD in 7-10 days is great, but what is the frequency of LDs of people using Awoken? My is 90+ days :-/

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  5. I wonder what are the most common things or situations that appear in peoples dreams. Is it related with the issues We see on Tv, or big disasters, or something about política? Could the dream of a thousand people somehow visualize the future? I think your app can answer this big question.

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    Replies
    1. What they see throughout the day that they don't realize they actually seen it

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  6. I wonder what are the most common things or situations that appear in peoples dreams. Is it related with the issues We see on Tv, or big disasters, or something about política? Could the dream of a thousand people somehow visualize the future? I think your app can answer this big question.

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  7. I've been using this software for about a year and a half and only had two lucid dreams in that time, but the biggest thing that this has helped accomplish is being able to remember my dreams. It had been almost 20 years since I had remembered dreams, it felt like I never dreamed. Now i log dreams at least 4 nights a week and about one night a week I log more than one. My only complaint for the app itself is that even though it says it backs up, it really doesn't... Everytime I've changed phones I've lost everything. So I normally just only log it in the phone when don't have a note book by my bed

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the good words!

      About the issue - are you sure you are using the same email account as when you started / logged in?

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  8. Bolches yarboclos pa todos.

    Paok

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. I hadn't realised that I have been dreaming lucidly until reading this blog. I have just downloaded the app but not used it as yet. Am looking forward to documenting my dreams regularly and hopefully being more in control of them so I can decide where I go and what happens whilst I am sleeping!!

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  11. Hello, very nice website, I have written articles about lucid dreams in particular from their origins in Plato's Hyperuranium, which develops through the Sephirot (tree of life), are quite complex articles, and I understand that someone may find it difficult to read them, but if you are interested i give you the link: http://hokmaph-iperuranio.blogspot.it/2017/05/articles-iperuranio-world-of-ideas.html

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  12. An analysis of the frequency of lucid dreaming would be great!

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  13. Just a point on dreaming I've noticed over the years; smoking marijuana regularly has a tendency to stunt your (my) ability to dream. So if your a weed smoker and not dreaming, try cutting it out.
    My dreams have been far more vivid when not smoking.
    As for lucid dreams, years ago, a few months after my father passed away, I had a dream and my father was in it. The dream was of just a typical family gathering. I remembered thinking 'Dad, you can't be here, you're not with us' I remember the feeling of my stomach dropping as I realized I was dreaming. I didn't say anything about my realisation in my dream, and enjoyed the time I could spend with my father for the remainder of the dream. It was a good experience, one I'd like to be able to have again.
    Male 37

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  14. Discover many more tips and tricks for having lucid dreams. lucid dreaming

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  15. I've had what I think are lucid dreams before. I can remember some, that happened years ago. Most of the time though, once I realise I'm in a dream, it destabilizes and I wake up or I end up being grounded and can no longer manipulate the dream. Like I had one where I was flying, realized I was dreamimg, and could no longer fly. Other times, if it's a recurring dream, I realize that I've had that dream before, and remember details of how it went last time, I then end up changing the outcome. I've never really done any training it's just something that's always fascinated me.

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  16. I enjoyed reading your article. Please make more interesting topics like this on.
    I'll come back for more :)

    From Japs a researcher from Beddingstock gel memory foam mattress

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  17. I haved a lucid dream and is
    All fuckers of my school enter my home
    A monton of suffering
    Lucid enter
    I make all of them go to the moon and die
    Xd
    Is real srusly

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  18. This is real now where are the woman

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  19. Thank for all you do and all you did and all you will do. Lucid dreaming is amazing and always more people are fashinated by it. But I have a question I don't know who to question to. Dreaming is a particular state of mind in which our subconsciousnessubconsciousness is the key, in which our mind tries to express herself by letting us feel something we need yo feek and by showing us something we need to watch. Now the question is, it is really good to "fight back" our mind and decide that we don't need her messages anymore? Is it healty to block our "natural" dreams and substitute they with "artificial" one? Wouldn't our mind lose the ability to communicate with us?

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