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Direct your dreams in a positive way


“The cultural bias toward the waking state as ‘real’ and any other state as ‘unreal’ – and therefore unworthy of attention or study – exists as a mental block for many. Yet if we assume that little can be learned from any state other than waking, we largely ignore any state other than waking and thus perpetuate the bias.”
Robert Waggoner: Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self

Do you ever have a recurring dream that seems to prey upon your greatest fears? I do. If those dreams are real and vivid enough – and if I let them – they can cast a shadow over the entire next waking day. Here’s one that is particularly anxiety-provoking. I give a hundred or so speeches every year. So you can imagine how disconcerting it is for me to wake from a dream where I have showed up late for a presentation where I have no idea of what I’m supposed to be speaking about or what I’m going to say – not that it would matter much because no one in the hall has the slightest interest anyway.

Now when I have this dream in any of its many variations I practice what I think of as Directed Dreaming, my own version of lucid dreaming (technically, some lucid dreaming experts would say that it is not possible to “direct” dreams, but this works for me). When I realize that I’ve been playing a part in this subconscious drama in one act, before I get out of bed I’ll reimagine that dream, only in a way that lets me play the hero instead of playing the buffoon. For example, I’ll visualize the group’s leader coming up to the podium and demanding attention, then saying “I regret that our featured speaker Anthony Robbins has been unavoidably detained and will not be with us today.” Groans of disappointment from the audience. “However,” the man at the podium continues with a flourish in my direction, “it is our vast good fortune that Joe Tye just happened to be staying at our convention hotel, and he has agreed to share a few words with us.” Thunderous applause, cheers, and hurrahs. Once more motioning for silence the emcee says, “Mr. Tye warned me that he knows nothing about our conference topic of bovine genetics, but I assured him that we’d much rather hear him speak about values and culture – am I right?” Fade to a rapturous standing ovation as I walk onstage.

Grandiose and ridiculous? Guilty on all charges. But tell me, how would you rather start your day: having awoken from a dream where you’ve showed up in your underwear to give a speech you don’t know to people who don’t care, or to a standing ovation for having been at the right place at the right time with the right message?

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