When did you first learn about lucid dreaming? What did you think when you first heard about it?
When I was really little I had very vivid dreams that tended to occur in the same locations, or have the same scenery if that makes more sense. I can remember waking up from some of these in my crib wearing a diaper! When I was around nine years old I had a long conversation with my mother about my earliest memories, and by describing these locations I was able to sort out which ones were actual places we visited when I was a baby or toddler, and which ones were dreams. After that, when I found myself in one of these locations I knew to be dreams, I would realize I was dreaming. I began to play around with them and explore. This was in the 1970s before scientific papers were published about lucid dreaming, so I didn’t have that terminology for them. I just called them dreamscapes. Some years later a movie came out with the same name (Dreamscape, 1984).
In the early 1980’s I visited a psychologist and told her about these dreams. She told me they were called lucid dreams and that someone had just published a paper proving them to exist scientifically. But it wasn’t until I was in college that I found a book about them. I was excited to find Stephen LaBerge’s book, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, in the University of Pittsburgh bookstore.
Did you have immediate success with lucid dreaming, or did it take a while? What happened in your early lucid dreams?
At first I would just explore the other “worlds.” Then I went through a phase, in junior high school, where I felt the need to convince the dream characters it was a dream. I’d say to them, “This is a dream,” and they wouldn’t believe me! I was in a lucid dream in my parents’ kitchen having this argument with someone and there was a cake sitting on the counter. So I said “I’ll prove it! I’ll make that cake disappear!” And it did, but the dream became unstable. I discovered that it works better, when making things disappear, to close my eyes. Then announce that the thing will disappear and open my eyes, and it will be gone.
It was interesting to discover that once I could prove it was really a dream by making something disappear, the dream figures finally believed me and were amazed.
As you went along, did you have lucid dreams that surprised you? Or led to unexpected events? Tell us about those.
The most exciting and shocking thing that happened was getting evidence that I was communicating with people “on the other side.” I was having what we now call a false awakening the first time it happened. I was 13, lying in bed. I thought I was awake until my deceased grandmother walked in as if this were perfectly normal. That made me realize I was dreaming. I was not afraid of her. She motioned for me to follow her, so I did. She led me into my parent’s bedroom and opened the closet. Inside was a baby either asleep – or dead – in a small white coffin. The shock of this caused me to wake up.
I went downstairs and told my parents about the dream. I could tell I hit a nerve as they both got really quiet. The details of what followed are in my book, See the Light. My parents eventually admitted they had a stillborn baby between my next older brother and I (I am the youngest). My sister and brothers remember it but insist my parents never spoke of it again after it happened. My parents were not happy to have this family secret revealed, but started to pay much more close attention to my morning dream reports after that.
What was it about lucid dreaming that fascinated you?
When I was a child it seemed like these dreams were more real than so called reality, as if I were somehow living multiple lives. I noticed that when in one of these “dreamscapes” I could recall the other dreams that I’d had there far better than when I was awake. I used to wonder if they represented larger realities than what we perceive when awake, and I really do believe that is true. The fact that all of my big psychological break-throughs came as a result of one of these dreams seemed to demonstrate their power to influence my life in amazing, powerful ways. Sometimes “real life” seemed rather dull in comparison, especially in elementary school.
What techniques were you using to become lucid? Which did you find most helpful?
The earliest method I used, and the most frequent still, is recognizing the scenery of the dream as a “dreamscape.” I have often wondered what would happen if some of them are representations of real places on Earth, and what sort of crisis would happen if I someday found myself there while awake?
I have also had good results with dream signs. One odd but persistent one I have is looking up at the sky and seeing a laser light show. One time I was dreaming I was standing in line at an amusement park with my son, and I looked up at the sky and saw the lights. So, I pointed it out to him and told him, “When you see lights in the sky like that, it means you’re dreaming. We’re in a dream right now.” My son remembered the same dream and seeing the lights became a dream sign for him as well.
If I suspect I’m dreaming, I do a reality check. The best one by far is looking at either numbers or text, looking away, and looking back again. If you are dreaming, they will almost always change when you look away.
Did lucid dreaming seem to have rules? Or did it seem random and chaotic?
I think it has rules, or more of a native set of logic that determines how things work. Over time, I have tested some things I thought were rules and found they were more about my own fears and expectations. I have a dreamscape of a moonlit garden that my grandmother hangs out in. For many years I felt there was this unwritten rule that I couldn’t actually go inside of it. Then one day I did, and it was fine. I think it had more to do with my being afraid of it than an actual rule.
Part of the fun is experimenting to find out what the rules actually are! I have noticed that when you don’t focus on something, you tend to lose it. Like a dream character. If you really want to dialog or interact with that dream figure, don’t turn your back on them or allow yourself to get distracted by some other element in the dream. It seems to work the opposite way as well. I have found if I ask a deceased dream figure a question that causes them to self-reflect or think deeply, they will often disappear.
As an example, I once found myself in a dream of my parent’s kitchen, long after they were both dead and the house had been sold. The kitchen was so real! It looked exactly like it did in the 1970s. My dad was there. We were wandering around looking at things, opening cabinets, amazed at how solid and real everything was. I asked him if the dream seemed as real to him as it did in the past, while we were living there, and if he could tell he was dead when experiencing one of these. He seemed surprised and said, “Actually it does seem very real…”, started to think about it, and then disappeared.
I also think dreams tend to abide by your beliefs. If you expect gravity, there will be gravity, but you can change the rules and fly if you are confident and take action. Water flows downhill and rain falls from the sky to the earth, but I suspect if you asked the dream to do it differently, it would.
Sometimes when we see a deceased dream figure, we become lucid. I recall that you shared a lucid dream in which some deceased family members helped you figure out a ‘family secret.’ Would you share the lucid dream?
This happened over several dreams. In the first dream, I was standing in a field by a split rail fence and it was very foggy and damp. I became aware that three grandmothers were arguing about a piece of property. One of them left the group and came over to talk to me. It was my great grandmother, Margaret Kelly. She told me there was a dispute in the family over this farm, and if I went to the Allegheny County Courthouse and looked up Mary Ann Kelly I would find the documentation about it. Then she gave me the volume and page number (which I didn’t remember upon waking) and began to quote a legal document.
After you woke, what did you do? Was the information accurate?
I did exactly as she directed – I went to the Allegheny County Courthouse and looked up Mary Ann Kelly in the index. Tons of documents! We had been researching this family for years, finding nothing because we were looking for the grandfathers in the index! I filled out a slip to get the paperwork and they handed me a stack almost a foot high. It took a long time to read through all of that and digest it, and a lot of quarters to photocopy it all. There was a dispute over this farm. Mary Ann Kelly’s two sons inherited it from her (she was a long time widow) but never bothered to file a partition to divide it between them. Later one son (my great great uncle) mortgaged the entire farm to his mother-in-law. When she died, his in-laws tried to collect the debt and take the farm off of the brothers. They fought this lawsuit by claiming his wife inherited the farm back from her mother, and were successful. After my great-grandfather died, his brother used this ruling to evict my great grandmother and her children from this farm.
This information explained part of my mother and her sisters’ childhoods. Why that side of the family was estranged. They had never been told any of this, and my grandmother had never been told why they had to leave the farm after her father died. It happened in 1898 and had been gone from living memory for at least seventy-five years.
In your new non-fiction novel, See the Light, how does lucid dreaming enter into the coming-of-age of your young protagonist, Laura?
In the novel, most of the important plot points as well as the climax of the story happen in lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming is central to the plot! It will be even more so in the second novel in the series, that I hope to release this fall in time for the holidays. In the story, deceased dream figures provide helpful advice, information, and support as the 11-14-year-old protagonist struggles with being socially ostracized and post-traumatic stress disorder. The final battle between Laura and the antagonist takes place in a multi-layered lucid dream, where she is finally able to confront this person and overcome the fear. This results in an amazing healing.
Since See the Light seems largely based on a true story, what other strange or precognitive lucid dreams have helped you along your path?
I can tell you that the events and dreams in See the Light are 100% true. The only things I had to adjust were some of the event timings and what I chose to highlight or ignore to create the feeling of a plotline. This shows the dreams in context of a life story and how they respond to conflict in the external world.
Although I have found it more challenging to recall dreams and induce lucid dreams now that I am older, I still rely on them for guidance and comfort.
I had a dream recently that meant a great deal to me, now that almost all of my family has passed on including my only child, Henry. It happened the morning before the annual family reunion for my mother’s family. My parents’ and grandparents’ generations are both completely gone, and my own generation is fast disappearing. The reunion is now my first cousins’ children and grandchildren, and although I really enjoy seeing them all, I can’t help feel a sense of loss over how many people are not there anymore.
In this dream, I found myself at the Aunt Farm – a nickname for my grandparents’ house as three of my mother’s sisters lived there for many years. They were all there – the aunts, my parents, uncles, grandparents. They had a party and were sitting outside on the big front porch, watching my two nieces’ children play in the front yard. One of my aunts went down and strung flowers all up and down the trees where they were playing, forming a bower that rained down flower petals on them. It felt like a blessing and the dream was so happy and light. A large bear showed up but nobody seemed worried about it. At this point I was semi-lucid and decided I should get my cell phone for some pictures.
I went into the house and my deceased son followed me inside. “I don’t think this house is strong enough to withstand an attack from a bear of that size,” he said. I realized he thought I was hiding in the house. “I’m just getting my phone so I can take some pictures,” I told him. “I’ll be right back.”
At that point I was fully lucid and I had a moment of choice: give into the mild fear of the bear and exit the dream, or go back and see what happens. I decided to go back. I went to the door and saw the bear’s head on the other side of the porch railing. I took a picture with my phone and told the bear, “thanks.” The bear said, “You’re welcome,” and came to sit on the porch with us. I saw then that my family knows this bear and already has a relationship with her (I also knew the bear was female). This scene continued on, and really felt like a blessing being passed on to the new generation of the family. The youngest of them, my great niece Eva, who I haven’t seen since she was about 18 months old, was singing and dancing, and loved performing.
A few days later I talked to Eva’s mother and she confirmed that this does seem to be Eva’s bent in life, at least right now. She loves to sing in public and can carry a tune despite being only five years old. The dream was totally accurate about her personality and this made me feel even more strongly that I really was with my family, somewhere, sometime.
What is it that you hope a reader will learn about lucid dreaming and life by reading, See the Light?
I think one of the major themes of the story is how lucid dreaming can be a tool to find healing for situations that many people assume are totally unfixable. They can provide closure for issues with people who are dead or missing or just unsafe to be around. I think they also show us just how amazing life can really be, if you are willing to have an open mind about things and a somewhat flexible belief system.
Because of your interest in writing historical fiction, I wonder if you have had lucid dreams that involved historical events, figures or dress? I mention this because once I found myself walking down a dusty trail through a pine forest, and came to a river valley. Suddenly, I saw six men and women dressed in 15th century French clothing! Then I looked at myself, and I was wearing green leotards and a green and white silk shirt! Suddenly, I became lucid and had an extraordinary lucid dream where one of the women grabbed my wrist and took me flying! Has this kind of thing happened to you?
I have, and these are some of favorite kinds of dreams! I often suspect some of them are dreams of past lives. Right after my father died, I had a really interesting one. I was disembodied, floating. I floated above an ocean and up to a large wooden ship. I could see the barnacles on the hull and smell the damp wood. I went through the hull of the ship to the inside where people were traveling together in a large room with rope, barrels, crates, and straw. I saw a family and immediately knew their back story. The husband and wife were having a mild argument about a broach the wife had kept. She was supposed to sell off all their assets for coins, which they had with them wrapped in some sort of textile. The coins would then be used to buy everything they needed to set up housekeeping in their new home when they arrived. But she kept back a couple of pieces of jewelry, including this broach, so she had something to pass on to their two daughters. The ship was coming into a harbor in Ireland, and they were getting ready to disembark. The wife’s father had come with them and was lying on a pallet of straw nearby, very old and obviously ill. I recognized him right away as my father. Nobody else could see me hovering there, but he could. He broke out into a huge smile and pointed at me. “I see my mother!” He told them. They just looked at him like, well there the old man goes again. But I knew I’d come to take him to the other side.
When I woke up I realized a ship going TO Ireland, along with the clothing I’d seen meant I was looking at a ship bringing Scottish settlers to James I’s plantation of Ireland around 1600. So did I live a life as my dad’s mother in 16th century Scotland? There is no way to prove it, but it was an awesome dream regardless.
I often have what appear to be past life dreams, where I am someone else, in some other time, some other place. Sometimes I am the opposite gender! It is so interesting because whomever is inside my head has totally different beliefs, different life experiences, and different assumptions about things. It has given me a great deal of appreciation for how different our experiences can be living here, and has made me much more tolerant and understanding of other people who think and believe things that don’t make a lot of sense to me here and now.
What other areas of lucid dreaming do you explore?
I think it is pretty apparent from this interview that I do a lot of exploring life after death, and this has been a lifelong theme. More recently I have been exploring how to use the dream to heal grief. I sometimes ask for a healing dream, and it is interesting the varied results that I get. In one requested healing dream I found myself walking down the street in a town near where I grew up, and noticed it was being revitalized. I was lucid from the beginning of this dream. I noticed a metaphysical shop and went inside. A woman working there gave me a mandala, and then my mother appeared and started showing me how to draw shapes with my finger on top of it.
It has been very exciting over the last several decades since more books on lucid dreaming are being published! I have enjoyed reading your book and others which give such great ideas for new things to try! I have had a lot of great results with asking the intelligence behind the dream for things, from “give me a healing dream” to “I’d like to talk to my great-great grandfather.”
I also love Ed Kellogg’s suggestions for dealing with common obstacles like, clarity now!
What advice would you give to young lucid dreamers (especially ones with a writer's bent) about lucid dreaming? And where can people learn more about your books, or order one?
I am so happy we now live during a time when there are books, classes, and online communities of people who share lucid dreaming as an interest! Read about them, talk to others and share your experiences. This is the best way to get new ideas and overcome obstacles as nobody has all the answers. Don’t be afraid to be bold and try new things!
I have actually dreamed entire novels and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done this. Record interesting dreams that can be turned into writing or other types of artistic projects. Dream incubation can be helpful here, as well as getting lucid and asking the dream “Give me an idea of for a novel, painting, song, etc.” One thing I have been incubating is interviewing a historical character I’d like to write a novel about, possibly more than once, to get more information about them.
How can readers learn more about your book?
See the Light is available on Amazon as an eBook or paperback. More information and free supplementary material including an iTunes playlist from the time period and a photo album of the characters can be found on my website, www.lauramasonlockard.com. Join my mailing list for a free book! You will also be notified when the second book comes out and have a chance to get a copy for free.
Thanks for taking the time for this interview!
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