Thursday, January 29, 2015

I've Always Said It.... And Now This Study Proves It!

Let's keep with the science theme shall we? Because I just love this study. Turns out, as I've been telling people that I am particularly self-aware, science backs me up! New evidence out: Lucid dreamers are more self-aware. Woop!

Now everyone calm down, I know this doesn't prove that every single lucid dreamer is an awesome self-awareness machine and everyone else sucks, take a breath, and allow me to take the tiniest victory lap for every time I've heard "Yeah, well, everyone thinks they're self-aware, but nobody actually knows they are, if you weren't you'd still think you were!"

OK, I'm done now, and a little back story for those who are interested (If you're not, skip ahead to the end).

It is very common for people to find it hard to escape their own context. For me, this was lucid dreaming and self-awareness. For a long time I thought that people who were not self-aware were simply being intellectually lazy, they were just not thinking about their own behaviors the way I would endlessly ponder my own, but if they just tried (perhaps with a little outside guidance) they could do it. I also didn't know until I went to college that most people could not, at the very least, notice they were dreaming and wake themselves up, if not change the landscape of the dream entirely.

The more I looked into it though, the more I discovered that I am actually particularly awesome at lucid dreaming.

One of my first memories of controlling my dreams was when I was no older than five, since I had not yet changed primary school at the time. I was often plagued by recurring nightmares, many of which I still remember in vivid detail. As they were recurring however I recognized them as dreams, though that didn't make them any less scary at the time. I then realized that I could wake myself up from them quite easily. It took me a couple of tries at first, squeezing my eyes shut and opening them again, until I managed to pop my real eyes open. 

This, however, did not solve the problem of falling back asleep into the same nightmare, so as I got older my skills developed. I started confronting the monsters in my nightmare and telling them to piss off when I finally understood that they were not real, just in my head (though I also found out the hard way that lucid dreamers can feel pain in their dreams). When I was having one of those "oh no I'm late I have to get to this place now and I can't manage it" dreams and I recognized it I would stop trying to get to wherever it was and start opening up random doors along the street, knowing my brain had just put them there as backdrop, just for the amusement of seeing what my brain would put behind them when given such short notice to come up with something. I then realized that I could put whatever I wanted behind those doors and just step into a whole new dream if the one that I was in got boring. I also perfected my ability to fly, which I have been able to do for as long as I could remember and was astonished when I discovered I was in the minority. I can now flit through different dreams at will, fly like superman and even erase entire characters from my dreams by simply snapping my fingers at them.

OK, after that little window into the depths of my psyche, how about the actual science?

Recently, the Max Plank Institute published a study which correlated Metacognition, or "thinking about thinking", with lucid dreaming abilities. 

Well, this makes sense, to an extent. Usually people are not aware they are dreaming when they are doing so, but if you are capable of lucid dreaming perhaps the part of the brain responsible for self-awareness is more developed, as it has had "more practice". This study simply gives evidence to that effect.

If you find the original article a little difficult to digest, IFLS sums it up very nicely

Ahh science, always interesting and, once in a while, hits particularly close to home. I do love it :)

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