Refocusing and Changing Dreams
By Daniel Lawton,

Here are some thoughts about dreaming, from the point of view of changing dreams and what that entails.

The easiest way I found in the beginning to get dreaming to happen was to re-enter dreams in the morning just after I woke up from them. I'd concentrate on the last thing I saw and remain motionless in the bed, usually for about 5 minutes, until I found myself back in. That only worked about 10% of the time, but I typically woke up from dreams in the morning at least 5 times a day, so I got dreaming every other day using this method.

Consider that this method involves taking one's waking attention, and focusing it on anything at all you can remember from the dream you just had. It's really a technique for refocusing your attention on a dream element you can remember. It works well because you're already flexible, having just awakened.

The same technique can be used when you're practicing getting silent. If you happen to see a dream image while you're sitting there, you can focus your attention on it (watch it intently), and often you'll end up in the scene. In this case, the flexibility comes from practicing getting silent. That starts the dream images. You get in by picking one and focusing your attention on it.

When you're inside a dream and you run out of energy, the same technique can be used to prolong the dream. If the dream fades, you refocus your attention back on the elements of the dream. You can do that by dropping down suddenly and rubbing any surface you can find, thus changing the dreaming attention to something new within the same dream, namely touch. Or you can refuse to wake up, just let the image blank out, but continue pretending to be in the dream, visualizing anything you can remember. This is also a way to refocus your attention. The Nagual once said that when you first get into a dream scene, you should look at objects. By focusing your attention on at least 6 objects, you would anchor it there. Looking at your hands is also a technique for focusing your attention. You focus your attention on having a physical body present, and the dream environment is a sure extension of that.

The other alternative to prolong the dream is also a method of refocusing attention. Dreams seem to "wear out". If you change dreams, your attention is now on a new dream you haven't worn out. Maybe it's a matter of interest. If you stay somewhere too long, your mind doesn't grab on as hard because there's nothing exciting to hold your attention. By changing dreams you renew your interest, and thus you keep your attention focused.

I've noticed that dreams wear out more quickly if I get "cornered." For instance, I'm wandering around looking for scout objects as I usually do, and end up down in a canyon, with a steep cliff all around. If it's dimly lit, and I have a hard time climbing out, and can't find anything to focus my attention on to get out of there, I'm guaranteed that the dream will quickly wear out, I figure I usually have only 10 or 20 seconds at that point. The same thing can happen if the dream phantoms won't stop being interested in me and try to grab me. It doesn't matter how rational I've become and how determined I am to look at my hands and look around, if they phantoms grab and restrain me I'm doomed to wear out that dream.

So prolonging dreaming is a careful balance between staying in a new place long enough to investigate it (or else what's the point), and changing dreams often enough to insure you haven't worn out your attention. I never know how long I can go. Typically, 5 minutes at a local, moving around investigating, is a safe amount. 10 minutes is the top end. I typically try to change dreams every 5 minutes for safety.

Changing dreams is also a matter of refocusing attention. My favorite method is staring at a distant object. I prefer big rocks on mountains. Given a lack of those, I'll take the top of a tall building. I prefer distances of 1 to 2 miles. Shorter hops are possible, say about 200 feet, but really short distances don't work well for me.

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Recently I've figured out why the short distances don't work. I find that when you stare at a distant object and are pulled to it, there's an acceleration process that takes place. For me that means that I start out staring, I feel a little pull, I let go (by pretending I'm about to fly like superman), and then the object pulls me, slowly at first, the in an accelerated fashion.

I investigated why I start out slowly. That's been a problem for me, because if there's something in the way, like a wire fence I'm staring through or a glass window, I won't make it through those barriers unless I'm zooming at full speed. What I discovered is that it's totally a matter of focusing the attention. I start out slowly because a lot of my attention is still focused on my immediate environment. My awareness of my immediate environment in dreaming extends about 50 feet. So the pull of the distant object, on which my attention is focused, is counterbalanced by the pull of the immediate area, which I still have knowledge of. Once I pass that area, the zooming reaches full speed. My current idea is that it's because once I pass the area I know the content of I drop focusing my attention there, and all my attention is focused on the distant object.

Further proof that this might be the case comes when I stop to look at something else while zipping over to the distant object. If I just lightly glance down, my speed is reduced, but I'll still reach my destination. But if I look very intently at something below me, the travel will cease and I'll end up stopping there. I can also focus my attention on the distant object, but when I get there find something even further away. I've zoomed around for several minutes by refocusing my attention in this manner. I believe this is what the Nagual described in the Art of Dreaming when he zoomed away from the sign post.

My latest interest is in some dream phantoms that seem to be able to follow me between dream changes. I believe they are something different. Typical dream phantoms are just another element of the dreaming environment. If you focus you attention somewhere else, they cease to be particularly active. They never used to be able to follow me. In fact, I could even escape being grabbed if I focused my attention hard enough.

But lately there are 2 dreaming phantoms who can press on my back, and follow me, piggyback style to the new location. They used to bother me, until I realized that their presence changed the speed of the dream. My frantic pace of having to move around to preserve the dream goes away and I can slow down and observe things. As long as they are present the dream will be stable.

The most interesting thing about them is that during the act of switching dreams, when they are pressing on my back, I'm aware of having some of my attention focused on a place where I'm standing with them, having a conversation, in a different realm. It's as if I'm the only one that's really zooming in the dream. They're stationary somewhere else, and it's the electrical/physical contact on my shoulder blade that allows them to travel with me. They don't really travel, they just make sure we don't loose attention on each other.

My latest plan is to refocus all my attention on that other place, where we are stationary, when I find them clinging to my back during a dream change. I'm hoping that I'll end up changing dreams to the place where they are standing with me. Unfortunately, they only cling to my back like that a few times a month, and it's difficult to remember a task like that. So it will probably take me 6 months to succeed. But that's dreaming.