If you have ever tried to practice meditation, especially without a teacher, you probably have asked yourself: am I doing it properly? Should I just sit right here, relax, and do nothing? I believe that Lucid Dreaming is a type of meditation skill. At the beginning of my practice, I read a lot of different sources (I’ll create a list of them and several review articles later), but I still questioned my technique. For example, some sources suggested rolling out from your body… How? When? Am I relaxed enough to try any of these suggestions?
Guided meditation or how to meditate
I also tried several guided meditations recorded as audio files. Unfortunately, some of them were too fast: the guiding voice would suggest that I extend my consciousness, but I was still relaxing my left leg. 🙂 Others were too slow: the guiding voice would suggest relaxing my muscles, but I was already in a deep sleep and didn’t care anymore about the voice prompts, either. 🙂 What was even worse was that my “speed” changed from time to time. So, I had to have a collection of such guides. Also, I somehow needed to predict my current “speed” in advance!
Idea of meditation feedback was born
What if the speed of guided meditation or the time intervals between voice prompts could be adjusted based on an individual’s mind state? All we would need would be a device to monitor the brain’s electrical activity, plus software to process the information from the brain and to play guided meditation prompts. In theory, we should be able to identify any of the sleep cycle stages.
An example of such a device is the Zeo Sleep Manager, which, unfortunately, has been discontinued. But for the proof of concept it should be enough.
Zeo created several APIs that allow the user to connect the Sleep Manager to a personal computer, a laptop, or smaller handheld devices, such as Android or iOS (not supported by Apple Store anymore) phones or tablets. In addition, Zeo created the ZeoScope and provided its source codes (program for Windows-based PCs), which use the DirectX and .NET frameworks. They are a little tricky to set up, so please let me know if you would like to try this and need some help. I believe I could create a guide on a separate page.
I modified the source code to give me a voice prompt when my current stage changes and to keep reminding me about the current stage at a certain time interval. This solved the problem of trying to induce Lucid Dreaming with one eye open to keep track of sleep cycles on a monitor. 🙂 The interval between voice prompts depended on the sleep cycle stage. In some stages, the interval between prompts was shorter to keep me focused.
I tried to remember how a sleep stage felt so that I could induce it later. Within several practices, I noticed weird things. For one, I could switch stages intentionally. For another, sometimes the Sleep Manager indicated that I was in the “light dream” or even “deep dream” stage for short periods when I was awake and quite tired.
Testing the Lucid Dreaming technique
The meditation session started at approximately 05:30 am, and as you can see from the graph, it started with the REM sleep cycle. Of course, I was not dreaming right away, but I was pretty close to it.
I believe this method gives accurate feedback and teaches people to achieve their desired stages almost immediately. You’re welcome to make any suggestions to improve this method or ask me for future clarifications. If Zeo doesn’t recover, we’ll try to recreate the experiment using some other hardware, which you’re also welcome to suggest!