Comparison of dreams with waking consciousness has traditionally focused on claims that the dreaming mind maintains only a simple awareness of perception and emotion, but lacks the self-reflective awareness and metacognition, that is, awareness of one`s current state of consciousness, which is assumed in wake. Lucid dreams are distinct in that the dreamer does have insight into the present state of consciousness, and is able to maintain some awareness of the fact that they are dreaming, along with a varying degree of control over their thoughts, actions, and dream qualities. While this distinction is tied to the dream state, the truth is that even in waking we often wander around in a state of semi-consciousness, simply perceiving and experiencing emotions as they arise without affording much reflective awareness or attention to the present moment.
The practice of mindfulness is aimed at improving an individual`s capacity to maintain awareness of the present moment, with an open and non-judgemental mind, and to diminish automatic habits of mind-wandering and other auto-pilot behaviors. Evidence shows that increased mindfulness is associated with enhanced well-being and decreased negative rumination. Relating to dreams, mindfulness has been shown to be inversely related to dream anxiety and negative dream quality (Simor, Koteles, Sandor, Petke, & Bodizs, 2011). Taken together, by improving attention to the present moment`s consciousness while cultivating an accepting attitude, mindfulness may similarly increase the likelihood and frequency of lucid dream experiences, a dream state characterized by both awareness and positivity. The authors, Stumbrys, Erlacher, and Malinowski (2015), recently set out to test this relationship.
The main measure for assessing mindfulness was the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI; Walach, Buchheld, Buttenmuller, Kleinknecht, & Schmidt, 2004), which measures two interrelated factors of Acceptance and Presence, using 14 items on a 4 point scale. Acceptance refers to the accepting and appreciative attitude towards experience, while Presence refers to sustaining full awareness of experience as it is happening. Presence has been linked to improvements in a wide range of cognitive abilities, perhaps due to the role of cognitive control in maintaining focused attention and continuously monitoring the stream of consciousness. While mindfulness training does not explicitly aim to enhance awareness in the dreaming state, there are many traditions which have linked cultivating awareness in wake with lucid dreaming at night; lucid dreaming itself has even been considered an ideal state for meditative awareness (particularly in Tibetan and Toaist Dream Yoga traditions). Further, while many meditation practices do not specifically define mindfulness, they often have similar aims of promoting awareness and acceptance. Thus, the authors investigated a potential influence of prior meditation practice, even those not explicitly defined as mindfulness practices, on lucid dream frequency. ...[Continue reading on Psychology Today]