Do you wonder why it's so hard to get into dreaming? Maybe your expectations are unrealistic.
After a lifetime in the social matrix, each of us has only so much energy left to work with. And chances are that energy is trapped in the concerns and toil of the everyday world. In order to do dreaming, we have to find a way to free up some of that energy.
The recapitulation is a way to get back the energy spent in the course of our lives and make it available for the tasks we are all pursuing. Still, in order to do dreaming that energy must be freed. That means it must be available to focus on something outside our ordinary arena of awareness. Some of this seems to take place naturally, as a result of the mechanics of the recapitulation. Even more can be accomplished by assessing our everyday activities and placing the proper emphasis on them in light of our impending death.
There are other philosophies and techniques which imply that simple "positive" thinking or "affirmations" are enough to overcome the barriers we all face in dreaming. My own personal experience suggests that this is not enough. Simply saying to yourself before sleep, "I want to do dreaming" produces very bad results. It takes much more than that to overcome a lifetime of obsessions.
There are also people out there selling information and devices designed to help you with dreaming. While I'd like nothing more than for someone to develop a dreaming shortcut, I feel that these groups do serious practitioners a disservice by trivializing the practice and exaggerating their own results. You shouldn't set your own expectations according to anything said by one of these groups. They are selling product and will make the same kind of claims that any seller of merchandise makes. Also, because these people are involved in the pursuit of the personal self, anything they say is suspect. When people involved in lucid dreaming enjoy a particular dream, they are likely to claim they had volition, when in fact they just had a good time. Even knowing that you are dreaming does not constitute volition. Only a dreamer truly understands the nature of volition.
Being at the center of the information flow to the newsletter, it's easy to see discouragement in reader submissions. As editor, I've had the unique chance to compare reader's dreaming expectations with my own experiences. As a result, I've come to the conclusion that many readers feel they have no talent for dreaming when in fact their results may be on target for the effort they are making.
For starters, according to the notes on Carlos' Phoenix Bookstore lecture in 1993, "Dreaming can take only a few minutes, the rest is normal sleep." I for one was relieved to see that. In my own case, it's a gross understatement. Sometimes, I'm lucky if dreaming lasts a few seconds. There are rare occasions where it lasts up to 10 minutes, but the results of these sessions do not seem to be any more fruitful than the shorter sessions. In fact, the shorter sessions cause me to hang on to every last second for dear life and I've learned some interesting things about holding dreams in my desperation. I suspect those lessons will come in handy someday when I need to hold onto a particular position of the assemblage point.
The frequency of one's dreaming is the real issue. In the course of selecting reader submission material for use in the newsletter, the frequency of dreaming, as stated by the reader, is often cut out. That's because it's usually imbedded in an entire paragraph "admitting" the reader's inadequacy and wouldn't fit in well with the newsletter format. The purpose of this column is to summarize this information so that readers can develop a better perspective on their own frequency of dreaming.
This column hasn't much to offer in the way of information from female readers. They just don't talk about it very much. I can only present my opinion on this. My opinion is that dreaming is not a black or white thing for women, and the statement "I dream twice a month" might not mean much in the female case. I suspect that the main barrier for women is interest.
The picture for men is much clearer. The frequency of dreaming is a direct result of several factors. One of them is age. Older age seems to reduce the frequency. With no experience, best starting results happen for those under 30. If you are much older, you'll have to work harder. Maybe the recapitulation will fix the problem.
Another factor is sexual activity. I haven't much info on this beyond reader statements that it is definitely a factor. For those of you without a sex partner and patting yourselves on the back, all forms of sex seem to count. I'd like to hear this from Carlos' group, but unfortunately I think those Playboy bunnies of the month are also a drain.
The recapitulation is also a major factor, but there is almost no point in discussing it, since all stats go out the window once a person has completed a recapitulation. One reader reported that before recapitulation he succeeded in dreaming less than 1 time per month. After 1.5 years of recapitulation, it was not uncommon for him to dream as many as 5 times per NIGHT.
The biggest factor you can influence (outside of recapitulation), is effort. You can increase your effort and improve. The biggest problem in this area is our lax upbringing. We haven't been reared to understand what a good effort is like. I've broken the frequency statistics down according to effort. If you make the most extreme effort as described in #5, you will absolutely, positively, get results. Anything less will likely have mixed results, depending on the individual. This summary is unscientific and is based on limited reader input, but I believe it's better than nothing:
1. No effort. You never tell yourself you want to do dreaming before sleep and you don't wake up frustrated after a dream because you forgot to do dreaming. Results: You'll probably accidentally slip into dreaming after reading one of Carlos' books for the first time or after a lively discussion with a friend about this topic. Beyond that, once a year would be above average. Chances are you'll exaggerate and count flying dreams, or anything else pleasant, as dreams.
2. Minimal effort. You want to do dreaming, but you don't remember to concern yourself with it every night. Some nights you remember to make an effort and you do whatever you do before sleep. The concerns of your everyday life keep you from putting too much attention on it, despite the fact that you would like to learn to do it. Maybe you buy a taped course from another source or read someone else's book on the topic. Results: You probably won't recall more than 1- 3 dreams a year.
3. Average effort. Nearly every night you tell yourself you want to do dreaming, you've read each of Carlos' books several times, you've tried shutting off the internal dialogue before sleep many times, you keep track of your sleeping position, you wake up frustrated after any dream you remember if it wasn't dreaming. You sincerely want to do dreaming, and maybe even own a few devices such as pebbles, a headband, or even an electronic device. Results: 2 - 5 times a year (this seems rather low, but is according to reader input and also matches my own experiences).
4. Good effort. You remember that you want to do dreaming every single night, you always start sleep by shutting off your internal dialogue, you sleep in different positions on the bed, in different beds or places, you watch what you eat before sleep, pay attention to any improvements and try to figure out what caused them. You also practice some techniques, such as trying to go back into an ordinary dream as soon as you wake up, or holding onto a dream by whatever method you have devised. Results: Once or twice a month. Sadly, perhaps even less.
5. Major effort. Dreaming is all you care about. You can actually feel your concern for the daily world drifting away as all you look forward to is another chance to dream. You don't just shut your internal dialogue off for a while before sleep, you shut it off all night long if you aren't sleeping, and are absolutely convinced that if you just get rid of the last traces you will slip into dreaming. Your bills are probably unopened and your sink filled with dirty dishes. You probably only have 1 pair of clean underwear left. You are hell bent on dreaming. Your obsession produces nightmares and tossing and turning in your sleep. You feel outside society. You never see your friends and you live alone. You keep up this level of obsession for at least 3 months. Results: You may remember as many dreams as 2 per week or better. The good news is that after doing this you will have learned the difference between energy and freed energy and will also have made a real effort, something most people never do. You will also have learned about Intent. Even if you back off on your effort, you will never have quite as hard a time doing dreaming.
I'd have to classify this column as highly speculative and based on information which is probably too limited. And possibly, there are lots of dreaming episodes we don't remember. I just don't know. But I believe, from reading all of the submission material, that people are thinking they aren't doing well when they're probably on target. As Carlos said, all of us can be A-1 dreamers. I'd like to add that making a special all out effort and then finding improvement as a result is a good feeling. If you can get a little better, you can get a lot better.