jared zeizel

The Strange Subconscious Fantasy Worlds of Lucid Dreamers

Recent studies have shown that the phenomenon, called lucid dreaming, has been experienced at least once by 47 to 82 percent of people. For most of those individuals, lucidity is rare and fleeting, but psychologist Dr. Joe Green insists it doesn’t have to be. Lucidity, the therapist claims, is a skill that can be learned and perfected. It’s a skill that Green has used successfully in his therapy practice for decades. “If people are motivated,” he told me in a recent interview, “almost anybody can have a lucid dream.”

Determined to see for myself, I bought the book A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming—a compendium of lucidity techniques. Within a week, I had the first real lucid dream of my life. It lasted for less than a minute, but it was intoxicating. I had a taste of what felt like an almost Buddhist enlightenment, a total transcendence of reality.

A month later, I found myself sitting in a Hollywood café across from Field Guide author, Jared Zeizel. I wanted to learn more about how to wield my new power. We began the interview, of course, by looking down and touching our own hands—a simple test to determine whether or not we were dreaming.

VICE: How can someone learn to lucid dream?
Jared Zeizel: Well, the first thing that I always tell people is, you have to start writing down your dreams every morning. After a while, you’ll start noticing patterns. Maybe you’re often dreaming of clocks, for instance. If that’s the case, what you want to do is, every time you see a clock in the waking world, just take a moment and ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” It’s called a reality check, and if you do that enough during the day, you’ll start to train your mind. Eventually, you’ll ask that question in the dream world and go lucid.

What reality checks do you do?
I’ve got a few different checks. In high school, I had a lot of dreams about zombies, so during the day, I’d just rehearse those dreams in my mind, and know that if I was seeing zombies, there was a pretty good chance that I was dreaming.