At a hotel in a tropical jungle, I stand on my balcony watching wild animals frolic and play. Then, out of the semi darkness, I see a huge tiger face looming right in front of me – how can this be possible? I’m right up on the third floor; it’s impossible for a tiger to float suspended in mid-air, right? I understand that I am dreaming. This is a magnificent dream tiger, and it has come to visit me! 

Its huge head is inches from my body, I can see each one of its whiskers and the glow of its wise amber eyes. I know it means me no harm. It’s as if it wants to offer me its power, strength, and protection. It wants to be my friend. Laughing in delight, I find myself floating up into the air. My beautiful dream tiger levitates with me and I get the strong feeling that we have known each other forever; it’s like meeting part of my own soul. Together we turn slow somersaults high above the jungle as the stars begin to come out one by one. 

Some of the most spine-tingling encounters I’ve had in lucid dreams involve animals. I’ve danced with elephants, lived in the jungle with a Bengal tiger, turned into a dolphin, discovered a baby bird napping on my bedside table, met the mother of all lizards in a luminous bardo zone, encountered a frozen stallion made of champagne, and had an ecstatic lucid kundalini awakening with a green serpent. Many of my dream animals are recurring figures in my dreams and they take on the role of guides, showing me when I need to pay attention to things in my life. 

Some dream figures simply aren’t too bright; they can lack awareness and seem puppet-like. Others seem super-conscious – we get a little shock when we look into their eyes because they are so present and alert. These are the best ones to go to with our questions. This next practice shows the four main levels of awareness of dream figures that I’ve come up with. There will be other levels for sure, and every dreamer is different, so you may like to customise these “types” as you explore more deeply. 

Practice #52: How Conscious Are Your Dream Figures?

Would you wander out onto the high street and ask a random stranger: “Where is my life going?” or: “Should I split up with my girlfriend?” True – for some, this sort of exchange can and does happen after pub closing time, but don’t we at least look people in the eye and exchange a few words first? In lucid dreams there’s sometimes the sense that we’ll wake up imminently, so we stress out, trying to squeeze in our goal. But when we become adept at stabilising the dream, we can chill out more.   

This guide is to help you to find the best dream person to spill out your heart to, while remembering one vital thing about lucid dreaming: Since the lucid dream itself hums with awareness, directing a question to the dream itself can be just as beneficial, if not more so, than seeking out a dream figure to ask. In many cases, the dream figure can be seen as a kind of prop – we’re used to talking to people in waking life, so we feel the need to find an image of a person to talk to in a lucid dream, to make it seem “real” for us. But we could just as easily direct our question to the underlying, thrumming awareness that lucid dream imagery emerges from. 

  • Zombies – these are the “film extras” of lucid dreaming. They have little more substance than a cardboard cut-out, and are non-responsive if you try to talk to them. The more lucid we are, the fewer zombies we meet.
  • Puppets – these are rather cute in their own way: they’ll talk to you, but you’ll have the distinct impression that you’re the one putting words into their mouths by expecting a particular response, or by telepathically supplying them with the words. If you imagine them laughing, then guess what? They laugh! Puppets do their best to keep up socially and maintain the illusion that they think their own thoughts, but their act is pretty easy to see through. 
  • Conscious equals – some dream figures seem able to talk to us on an equal level. They don’t seem to intuit our thoughts and spit them right back out at us like the puppets do; instead they respond with insight. They can surprise us and they can argue coherently. Often, they take on the role of guides or mentors and can be helpful at initiating us further into the mysteries of lucid dreaming.
  • Super-aware – you’ll know if you meet one of these. Super-aware dream figures seem even more conscious than we are! They seem to act autonomously and possess a higher awareness and deep knowledge. It is electrifying (and occasionally terrifying) to find ourselves in the presence of these super-aware figures, who often manifest in non-human form, such as a glowing globe of light. Keeping our cool and not giving in to fear can make or break this type of encounter. When we stay calm and curious, we can learn so much from this type of lucid dream figure. If things get too scary, you can always wake yourself up – but it can be immensely rewarding to hold onto your courage and stay in the dream. 

Whenever you ask lucid dream figures a question about your life situation, your future, the nature of reality, or any other pressing question you may have (“What are next week’s lottery numbers?” “Will I get laid this weekend?”), be alert for nonsensical or insanely cryptic responses, but it’s best never to dismiss anything in the dream, as sometimes we only understand the message (if there is one) once we’ve woken up.  

No matter who we ask, remember that just asking aloud – asking the dream itself – is really effective, because the lucid dream is conscious. Responses may manifest through a voice booming out from nowhere, or a stream of imagery showing us a particular sequence of events, or the appearance of a person or image. We might suddenly be awash with a strong emotion, or experience a flood of insight.  

When we ask profound questions in a lucid dream, such as “What happens after we die?” Or: “What is the meaning of life?” what often happens is that we get swept up by an invisible wind and transported at top speed into a vast sparkling lucid void, or we are pulled downward into a spiralling black hole. Don’t be afraid if this happens! Just hold onto your hat and go with that wind, because this sort of response from the lucid dream often ends in incredibly blissful states where we receive knowledge and experience pure interconnected oneness (more on that exciting state of affairs in chapter nine).

[Excerpt from the new release The Art of Lucid Dreaming by Clare R. Johnson, PhD. © 2020 by Clare R. Johnson, PhD. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.,]  Clare is the creator of where she shares advice on lucid dreams and nightmares.

This article was released in issue from

March 2020

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