Put it on the big screen, Scottie.
December 29, 2007 6:46 PM   Subscribe

What was this cool visualization ability I had for a while?

Normally my visualization/memory/dreaming is dark and indistinct. Last year during a period of a few weeks I had brief episodes that were dramatically different. Here's what happened:

During the process of falling asleep I would hold my eyes completely steady and look through them at my closed eyelids (as opposed to seeing with the mind's eye). After several minutes I would suddenly 'pop' into a completely imaginary scene.

To say that it was vivid does no justice; it was absolutely like being there. If I moved my eyes at all, I would 'pop out' and be present in bed -- this was terribly difficult to avoid because of all the visual activity in the scenes. I could usually pop back to the scene fairly quickly, though.

1. Is there a name for this phenomenon?
2. Where can I get more info on it?
3. If I can visualize like this during these conditions, why don't I visualize like that all the time?
4. Is there a way to develop wide-awake visualization to that degree?

I haven't been able to do this since then and would like to experience it some more and experiement with it. I don't think this is lucid dreaming since I haven't fallen asleep yet.
posted by trinity8-director to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This has happened to me, too, so you're not the only one. It hasn't happened since I was a child, though. I look forward to reading the answers...
posted by bubukaba at 6:50 PM on December 29, 2007

This happens to me too, but I can 'look around' in the scene without losing focus. Sometimes I think I am dreaming, but then I hear a noise in the real world and realize I am just spacing out in technicolor.

I don't know what it is or why it happens, but I love it when it happens.
posted by foobario at 7:08 PM on December 29, 2007

Best answer: It sounds like you _could_ be jumping straight into a "lucid dreaming" state. It's not quite the same as the more typical descriptions of lucid dreaming, where you start dreaming, and then become aware of the fact that you're in a dream, but it seems pretty close.
posted by LairBob at 7:22 PM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perhaps this?
posted by moonbird at 7:25 PM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

This sort of thing happened to me when I was a child too. Quite frequently, as I enjoyed and fostered it. No idea if there's a name though.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:28 PM on December 29, 2007

I feel like there is a phase after Sleep Paralysis where you can do something similar to this. Although I may be totally off.

Also, (in response to number four) perhaps you'd be interested in a Dreamachine.
posted by Corduroy at 7:29 PM on December 29, 2007

Best answer: Wake Initiation of Lucid Dreams (WILD)
posted by ScarletPumpernickel at 7:38 PM on December 29, 2007

Oh, I guess I was referring to Hypnagogia, as moonbird linked to.
posted by Corduroy at 7:39 PM on December 29, 2007

Response by poster: Moonbird's link led me to this discussion of Wake-initiation of lucid dreams which is more like my experience than hypnagogia as I don't ever feel anything like paralysis. So, LairBob was right: there is a way to go straight into lucid dreaming.

posted by trinity8-director at 7:40 PM on December 29, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. This has been fun.

Follow-up for those of you who experienced this: were you able to reach a point where you could gain some level of control over the dreams?
posted by trinity8-director at 7:46 PM on December 29, 2007

Yes, I do have lucid dreams sometimes. I just decide, as I fall asleep, that I'm going to dream lucidly. Sometimes, though, realizing that I'm having a lucid dream is enough to wake me up.

Once, I dreamed that I was talking to God. "Hey," I thought, "this isn't normal. I bet I'm dreaming." I was just about to ask God to go to lunch sometime later in the week when everything faded to grey and I woke up. Dagnabbit!
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:53 PM on December 29, 2007

I get this on occasion too. For trying to reproduce it, for me I find that naps during the day are more likely to cause it than sleeptime at night.

For me it is not like a dream at all - I am present in dreams, while this is just an image in my head while I am present, though perhaps only half-awake, in the real world, so there's nothing to gain control of beyond choosing scenes and objects to visualize. In fact, while I'm seeing the imagery in my mind I am also seeing the black/noise of my closed eyelids. I still think of it as a visualization because the experience is clearly closer to how I see with my eyes than to how I normally remember or imagine images.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:03 PM on December 29, 2007

were you able to reach a point where you could gain some level of control over the dreams?

Yes. It was hard to do and only happened twice for me, but it it was emotionally filling in a way that it is almost indescribable. Imagine being pleasantly full after a great meal which you ate after waking from a peaceful nap and sitting around and having the best conversations with the best people in your life. Everything was perfect.

One time was in a dream where I was reliving being part of a robbery attempt from a few years earlier and began freaking out. It the space of about 2 seconds, I woke up in the dream, realized it was a dream, instantly knew I could change the situation and did, literally. The physical environment around completely changed from that dark, creepy night to a brilliant, color filled city street. I laughed, realizing what I had done and realizing I could do ANYTHING. I continued changing the physical surroundings to places I loved, one after the other and felt such bliss over being able to change the situation in place I normally couldn't. Then I laughed too much and it broke my concentration and I woke up, still feeling blissful.

The other time was during a dream of flying and I woke up and continued flying that movie set type skyscapes at slow cruising speed and felt incredibly peaceful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 PM on December 29, 2007

something kind of like this happens to me when I am very tired and trying to fall asleep....whatever I think of appears visible to my shut eyes, but it's all fuzzy and lasts quite shortly.
posted by spacefire at 8:32 PM on December 29, 2007

Experimenting with ketamine is the most surefire way to recreate these closed eye visuals.

By the way, Brandon Blatcher, I've had nearly the same experience - dictating my surroundings within a lucid dream - and 'perfect' and 'blissful' are exactly how I would describe it as well =)
posted by infinityjinx at 10:44 PM on December 29, 2007

funny thing, I've had one of these visions this morning (I tried last night after seeing this post but I couldn't stay focused on my eyelids)

The recipe for me seems to be the following: go to bed late, wake up early, then try to fall asleep again. Just before I fall asleep again, I get these pictures in my head, while I am not yet completely asleep.
This morning I got a couple, both looked like they were taken from video games from the 90s (figures :P).
posted by spacefire at 11:24 AM on December 30, 2007

Response by poster: I told Mrs. director about this and she tried it last night. She got it, too, but was so startled that it worked (and seeing her dead sister so clearly) that she bounced out. Then she fell asleep.

Brandon, did changing your dream make any change in how you feel about the real robbery event when you think about it now?
posted by trinity8-director at 12:38 PM on December 30, 2007

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