Using dream incubation, the focus of Step 2, you can deftly influence the subject matter of your dreams beforehand; nonetheless, once the dream has started, you lack active control. In Step 3, therefore, you will go one step further by practicing the skills you’ll need to truly wake up in your dreams.
The first step in this process is a detailed exploration of waking reality, which you must learn to differentiate from dreams. On the face of it, of course, waking reality seems vastly different from the world of dreams. But in many ways dream sleep and total wakefulness are just two of the states along the continuum of consciousness you experience every day. For instance, you might be fully awake in the morning, daydream in the afternoon, and enter a hypnagogic state, characterized by vivid but conscious imagery, in the late evening as you’re falling asleep. Then, throughout the night, you sleep and dream. Given all this, it’s our feeling that greater awareness of the waking world will enhance your sensitivity to the full spectrum of inner states, including your dreams.
To begin, choose a nearby location reminiscent of some of the scenes you’ve seen in your dreams, especially if they resemble the historic period you have in mind. Depending upon your chosen period in history, a beautiful cathedral, a peaceful suburban street, a busy train station, a sculpture garden, a cafe, or the roof of a building overlooking a neon sign at night might serve you well. If at all possible, the place you choose should be vibrant and evocative, capable of stimulating all your senses. Most important, it should present you with images that seem as dreamlike and surreal as possible.
Now, as you look around, ask yourself the following questions: What is it about this place that reminds me of my dreams?What is it that reminds me of my historical destination of choice? If you were dreaming about this place and time right now, what might you expect to happen next?
Consider the possibility that those around you have, at some point, also dreamed about this place and about the time period you are trying to invoke. Some of you have probably known this place and your longed-for dream destination in two separate realities: the waking world and the world of dreams. Indeed, how many of the buildings, products, and artifacts around you were inspired by unconscious images while some creative individuals were asleep and dreaming? Could your experience of waking reality, including everything from the street you live on to the music you love, be, on some level at least, a conscious expression of images from your own and other people’s dreams?
Now get up and walk around the area you have selected for ten or fifteen minutes. As you walk, notice possible dream and reminders of your longed-for era in images all around you.
If all goes well, Step Three will bring you to the edge of dream consciousness. To get there, you must learn to confront and explore the negative or unpleasant images that often appear in dreams. Such images, because they can be quite powerful, usually trigger a level of conscious arousal that results in the termination of a given dream. (You may have noticed, for example, that nightmares often trigger a sudden awakening.) However, by focusing upon these powerful dream images and learning to approach them with curiosity rather than fear, you can actually achieve a higher level of dream awareness without returning to full waking consciousness. An additional benefit, of course, is that understanding scary or just plain unpleasant dream images may help you resolve problems that have seemed particularly entrenched.
To achieve a greater level of wakefulness in your dreams, tell yourself that you’ll consciously confront and examine all negative images inhabiting your dreams. As you go about your day, think of negative images that have haunted your dreams in the past. As these images float by in your thoughts, tell them you intend to discover the secrets they conceal. After all, you might tell them, I created you to express something to my unconscious mind, and if you don’t cooperate with me, I can destroy and replace you with something else.
At night, before you go to bed, retire to your dream environment. Choose an object that reminds you of a hostile or negative image you’ve encountered in a past dream. Using your special pen, write these words in your dream journal: Tonight I will explore the meaning of hostile images in my dreams by confronting them and asking that they explain themselves. Tonight I will head toward my dean destination. Then turn off the light and go to sleep.
As you drift off to sleep, think back on some of the negative dream images you’ve encountered in the past. Think of the historic period you hope to visit. Commit yourself to confronting negative images and embracing your destination, and strive to become as consciously aware of this activity as possible within the dream.
When you do encounter a hostile dream image, do your best to remind yourself that the image is a creation of your own mind. Use your awareness of the image to consciously influence the dream journey, and head, within the dream, to the locale of your intended time trip.
Especially when first practicing this exercise, it is natural to find yourself returning to waking consciousness early in the dream. If you do begin to wake up you should, if possible, continue lying in bed while maintaining a state of semiconsciousness. In this state between wakefulness and sleep, concentrate on confronting and interrogating any negative dream images in your half waking thoughts and at the same time, allow dream images of your time trip to percolate though your mind.
In Step 4, you will learn how to follow this semiconscious state of dream awareness backward into sleep and a fully lucid dream.