Once again I managed to leave the house even though every fiber of my being was fighting against it. I swear I look like Paul Rudd having to clean up his tray in Wet Hot American Summer anytime I’m forced to get off my couch, yet for the purposes of not dying without ever having done anything besides clock a Kardashian season in under twelve hours, I decided to break open my Time Out magazine once more and see what the world had in store for me. This month’s activity was visiting The Brooklyn Brainery.
I used to pass by this place when I would ride my bike to the pool in Red Hook and it always caught my interest because I love the idea of learning about lots of new and interesting things even if I never actually do it. The Brooklyn Brainery is perfect for that because they have the weirdest classes ever, as evidenced by the library above, that range from yo-yo workshops to how to live in NYC like a local. I decided to sign up for their course on lucid dreaming.
A couple of days later, I received an email from the class’ instructor asking me to begin keeping a dream journal because we would most likely be sharing ours during the session. True to form, I was regretting this already. I hate it when people tell me about their dreams. Honestly, is there anything more boring? Not to mention, as the time drew closer, I was stressing the fact that it was all the way in Brooklyn and I live in Queens. It was going to take me like three days to get there, so for hours leading up to the actual class, I was torturing myself with a back and forth debate over whether or not to go, but what can I say? I’m a trooper.
After an hour and a half on three different trains, I arrived at their Court Street location.
I was in love.
Just look at all of this cool stuff they have to make things with! I felt like I was back in kindergarten where you get to wear a smock and everything you do is fun. Right away I vowed to take every class they offered because going from one ridiculous extreme to another is pretty much just how I roll.
I found the class itself to be quite interesting. Eric, our instructor, asked us all to introduce ourselves and say why we wanted to learn about lucid dreaming. I was the very first one to go. I explained to my classmates that for years I had suffered from terrifying bouts of sleep paralysis and that my nightmares had become so intense, I wanted to figure out a way to interact with my dreams in a more positive manner.
You know how when you share something personal with a group of people and they all nod and smile warmly at you to indicate that they understand and it makes you feel like everything is going to be OK and that you’re in a safe place?
That didn’t happen.
Most likely because this wasn’t an AA meeting, rather a pleasant activity to unwind with after work. Needless to say, instead of a group hug, I was met with a bunch of looks that conveyed “Oh! So you’re a psychopath.” but ANYWAY.
Lucid dreaming is basically when you’re in a dream and you know it, thus giving you the ability to control your experience and do things that you can’t do in real life like breathe under water or only have one beer. What I loved was Eric’s reasoning for why we should put in the effort to develop our capabilities to lucid dream, which was that life is short. We spend twenty-five to fifty percent of it sleeping and by not lucid dreaming, we miss out on opportunities to be alive and awake. Totally!
In order to achieve lucidity you start by writing down your dreams every morning when you wake up and then identifying what your dreams signs are. Dream signs are basically when things are weird, like an overly intense emotion or when normal things take odd forms. Walking into a house shaped like a hamburger would be a dream sign. Last night I had a dream that I got into a really heated argument with my father. That never happens, read: dream sign.
Then you can start performing reality checks. If a dream sign shows up in real life, basically anything unusual, attempt to do something crazy, like fly. If you can’t, you know you’re not dreaming but if you do this enough you’ll trigger the desire to perform a reality check when you see something unusual in your dreams. Then if you’re able to do something unreal, like flying, you’ll realize that you’re dreaming and then you can do whatever you want. How cool is that?
Aside from getting the basics on lucid dreaming, I also learned that my sleep paralysis is caused from me waking up in the middle of REM sleep, when your body is in essence paralyzed, and not from a band of evil demons that I thought were chasing and attempting to suffocate me for the last fifteen years. So that was a plus.
Ah Time Out, you’ve done it again. I keep secretly hoping that these experiences are going to suck so that I when I’m lazy about life in the future, I won’t feel guilty about it, but this class was great. In fact, I have to keep reminding myself that rarely am I disappointed when I make the decision to not watch seven consecutive hours of television but instead, leave my apartment and try something new.