I've been interested in dreams and dream states recently, because I really do want to be able to remember my dreams. A lot of crazy shit goes on in them, and having a degree of lucidity within the dream would be nice. For example, the other day, I dreamed that I was running with two others around a strange neighborhood. Nearing our destination, we realized that we had to pass a sleeping dog in order to get to safety. This dog woke up immediately after we passed it. Between the loping pace and the ravenous look in the eye I was pretty sure that it intended to kill us all. Although leading the group I immediately began to experience the sort of slow motion running you find in nightmares, feet seeming to barely leave the ground, completely bare of anything resembling a weapon- the others pass me and the dog catches up. Dread terror strikes my heart, I redouble my effort and attempt to fairly leap forward, pressing my foot against the dirt inches away from the dog that was now mirroring my move, going for my throat-
-and as I pushed off the ball of my foot, it broke through the dream and my foot twitched. I came awake, frozen to the bed. That was all I needed. Falling asleep again in an instant, never really communicating to myself a need for anything except a weapon, I spun around in midair, a blaster pistol gripped in my hand as if it had been there all along, and I fired a bolt into the monster's throat, sending it spinning out of the way as I landed. That's where my recollection stops, but I know the dream continued.
Point is, we have a kind of dream state that we slip into at night under deep REM, that locks down our muscles and prevents us from acting out our dreams and flailing all over the place in our sleep. We wake up out of a cold sweat in the night sometimes when we break this barrier through nightmares and the like. Some people sleepwalk, their body taking over for a routine activity. Before I did any research about dreaming- hell, as a little kid- I'd have made up my own routines to put myself to sleep, the most effective of which involved tensing up every muscle in the body and then relaxing them one by one. I just came across that other day as an effective technique for sleep assistance, and I invented the bloody thing years ago. I could manually put myself into a dream state as a child.
As a kid, I'd have this thing I'd do at night. No, shut up, pedo, it was different than that- I would lay perfectly still, entirely motionless, and concentrate. Maybe on my arm, or my leg, or just my finger. I would focus on moving that part over my body- without actually moving it. If I was tired enough, or in a state near to sleep, I would be able to create a "ghost image", a mental impression of my arm's presence in a space where it was not, without moving a muscle.
Hell, you can try it too.
-Stand a few feet away from the wall, pressing your fist against it at an angle leading down.
-Focus on moving your hand upwards, against the wall, while not looking at it. You will not be able to move it, but you should be pushing against the wall.
-After a moment, step away from the wall, without moving your arm or hand.
You should feel what I am attempting to describe- a sensation of your arm moving up, away from where it actually is. Congratulations, you've just hacked your brain. If you move a muscle, though, the illusion is overridden. I did a lot of this crazy stuff as a kid, figuring it out by myself, even.
That doesn't really say anything about consciousness though, just dreaming and dreamstates. But it does say that I was a bit of a psychonaut as a kid... hmm...