Don’t get me wrong. There are many traditions that include lucid dreaming as part of a spiritual and psychological practice. There are many dreamers, in fact, who have had experiences with lucid dreaming that have profoundly changed their lives.

I do not have some idea or believe that lucid dreaming is “bad”. But, I do not lucid dream.

I am a dream activist which means, for me, that I actively advocate for the remembrance of the deepest intention of dreaming. To bring dreaming into our conscious conversation in the way, I believe, that dreams want and beg to be heard.

Dreams are radical and revolutionary. They work as all true radical and revolutionaries work, against the grain of our conscious mind, our conscious egos. They work against stories that are embedded in our beings about who we are/are not as well as the world. They come to disrupt our stories, our paradigms that we have settled into. They come to bring us into what is true inside of us.

In our outer world, revolutionaries work against what oppresses them. We have all been witness to or know through history the many ways that our world has been changed by such acts. For those of us in the US, this country is founded on revolution, on disrupting a paradigm that did not work and trying to establish something that would. We have had many revolutions in the history of this country: the abolition of slavery and the continuing struggle of the civil rights movement through leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. to those in the Black Lives Matter movement, to unwind the hidden and ongoing violent repercussions of prejudice; the revolution, too, also ongoing, of equal rights for women.


Recently, several members of Black Lives Matter, have been interrupting presidential candidates as they campaign and give speeches. There has been both an uproar of indignation and an upswell of support. There has been attacks on those who have disrupted the speeches and defensiveness for some of the candidates. One question that has been pilfering all of this is, “Why can’t people just be polite and respectful?”


Revolution does not always work through being polite or respectful. It does not have to be violent, either. Sometimes, revolution works through action, works through the disruption of the norm or set patterns.


Our dreams want to bring this kind of revolution to each and every one of us. Your dreams want to disrupt your patterns, your norm, your paradigm that is not true to the deepest part of your truest self, your soul self.


What is radical and revolutionary about being with dreams in this way is that your dreams want to bring you into your soul journey, which for many, is also a spiritual journey. It wants to bring upheaval to what is not true inside of you so that what is true can be made clear and explored.


This is why I do not lucid dream.


My dreams come to revolutionize the old paradigms I have lived my entire life. Whether this paradigm is a comfortable, easy way or an uncomfortable, uneasy way, does not matter to the dream. What matters is that the dreams want to expose what I cling to, what is not real, what is self-destructive to my soul.


I do not lucid dream because I do not want to approach my dreams saying, “Why can’t you just be polite and respectful? Why can’t you not bring what is scary, painful or both?”


The paradigms we live that the dreams want to uproot are often rooted for a very good reason. We learn to live lives in response/reaction to what has been difficult. Personal trauma, cultural trauma and the trauma we all, at some level, suffer which is the trauma of being separate from our deepest soul selves.


We live lives of survival. Doing the best we can with what we have and our experiences. Some of us do incredibly well in the outer world and have love, have our spiritual journeys, have made a life of passion or sweetness. Some of us do not fare so well and struggle with basic functioning. It is a wide spectrum, survival.


Our dreams comes to upset our survival mentality.


Our dreams work to get to the root of our survival paradigm because at the root is the trauma that created the paradigm. At that root, is the place where we learned to armor our hearts and souls. Where our soul began to retreat in order to survive.


Your dream wants to break through that armor in order to free your heart, your soul, your mind. To bring you into a new paradigm from the dream’s point of view.

I do not lucid dream because I want the unadulterated version of the dream. I do not want to bring my conscious “understanding” to a moment in a dream because that understanding may be in fact based on my survival paradigm.



An example. Here’s a moment of a dream I had a few years back:

“I am in simple room. I think I am in prison, though I notice there are no doors in any of the doorways. I think it is my first day in prison, so I am going to have to fight like mad to prove myself. I wait for the guards to come, crouched on the floor. I feel like a soldier or a fighter, poised, scared and also steely-cold, getting ready to fight.”

From the dream’s point of view, there is no prison. I, the dreamer, am simply in a room with a doorway that has no door and certainly no prison bars. In fact, there are not even any other people in the dream.

From my point of view, in the dream, however, I am utterly convinced that I am in a prison. That I will have to fight to survive this, my first day, to prove that I am not someone to mess with. I am poised, armored, ready to fight.

The dream confronts me with one of my survival strategies – one of vigilance, one of steeling my heart against being hurt, one of being ready and assuming that I will have to fight.


It is radical to be with the experience of the dream.


How familiar it felt to be in that posture, how familiar in my body, the way I held myself. How this defensive and aggressive stance had been in every relationship I had had, both romantically as well as friendship and family.


The dream gave me the experience of the violent belief of how I felt I had to life my life.


I am not a violent person – I have never been in a fist fight, never hit anyone, never raised my hand. I have been emotionally defensive, however. I have held people away from me, even when they were not “coming at me.” I could not, back then, distinguish between people who wanted to be in a loving relationship with me and those who did not. I took everything and everyone from this stance.


In this dream, I could have brought lucid dreaming in, but it would have been from the viewpoint of being “the prisoner” or “the fighter”. Perhaps I would have gone fighting out the door, perhaps, I would have escaped, like a spy or a fugitive. I could have brought in some idea of “freedom” to leaving the “prison.”


But I would not have been free.


I would not have been free of a core feeling of needing to fight for my life. I would not have been free from facing into the horror, pain and tenderness of how I lived this with the people I love in my life and how it was from them to live with me in this way. I would not have been free of facing into how I had projected “prison guard” onto many people in my life and how I had to “fight them” to prove myself.


Most importantly, I would have lost the invitation to open to the trauma that taught me to live like this inside of myself. To open to the healing that came from opening to the trauma.


I would have stayed in the paradigm of survival, of fight/flight, of being utterly alone. This way of living, in fact, was the prison.



This is why I do not lucid dream, because I learn from the dreams from their deep wisdom, not from my still opening and learning and healing consciousness.


I do not lucid dream – and what is radical about integrative dreamwork (and why I am so crazy passionate about it) is that dreams are particular and personal to each dreamer. I do not lucid dream because I know that it would not serve me in my own journey with dreams.


That does not mean that lucid dreaming is bad. It means that it is not part of my practice with dreams.


Integrative dreamwork, this revolutionary way of dreaming, works with each dreamer – works with you – in discovering your path with your dreams.


There is no general “right” way or “wrong” way in this way of dreaming. The dreams bring us to what is “right” and/or “wrong” for us at any given moment. We each have our own spiritual path, through dreams as well as other practices – from religious beliefs, spiritual practices, healing modalities, the practice of being human. Including lucid dreaming.


We work with dreams the way the dreams work with the dreamer – honoring each dreamer’s personal path and practices. We also respect the radical dreams that question and challenge us, even when it challenges said practices in order to hone the ones that serve our true selves and to question and uproot the ones that do not.


The question of lucid dreaming, then, becomes – what is lucid dreaming in your practice? How are you using it?


From Sue Scavo


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