M2. The wake up call of life is always a shock to the system. It’s a discontinuity, a realization and a coming into consciousness. It’s often not comfortable, but it is the start of one’s journey towards one’s authentic life. It’s also been termed Lucid Waking by some experts, but here I want to relate the solution to Lucid Dreaming more directly.
The Inauthentic Life
Many people display symptoms of living lives that are not authentic, and oddly, this is especially common for high achievers. These people often feel that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.
Or maybe they fail to speak and act truly out of their own feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and desires. Instead they live mostly on auto-pilot, habitually doing the same kinds of things each day and enjoying the same entertainments each day.
They have high expectations for themselves and others despite the fact that they probably inherited those expectations and values too from their upbringing and environment.
Living inauthentic lives causes stress, insecurity, failed relationships, guilt, approval seeking, boredom, aimlessness, pessimism, and burn-out.
Instead of experiencing fear and insecurity in the inauthentic life, I recommend one follows in the spirit of Helen Keller, who was an incredible American woman who said,
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
There follows a method I have adapted from the methods of Lucid Dreaming that works well in taking one along the path to one’s own adventure.
The Solution Starts with Acknowledging Full Engagement
The first step is to acknowledge the truth, which also requires the adoption of a concurrent belief that a beneficial change is possible too. It requires the acceptance that one is fully absorbed in life and focused following “the pack”. This is often the hardest part since there is an inherent fear in knowing the truth because it usually means things will have to change, even to the extent of letting go of these old perceptions themselves. But a change for the better often comes with an initial, limited cost.
Just as In the dream world one is normally fully absorbed so in normal life things are usually no different.
Signs of Possibility
The second step is to change one’s habitual way of seeing the world. This may require a being creative to discover what kinds of changes would be beneficial. It may be a simple brainstorming exercise to consider what possibilities there are or it may require various forms of training to unlock one’s perceptions. This can be achieved by fostering one’s attention to be able to see or hear potential opportunities for change as they arise.
Here just as one needs to know what characteristics of one’s normal dreams indicate one is dreaming, so in life one needs to be able to differentiate and hear opportunities for authenticity.
The third step is to recognize which of these potential opportunities actually have merit. It helps to have a list of 10 to 15 things one can work with to have enough material to complete this step. Then decisions need to be made on the best ordering of this list to enable quick wins for authenticity growth.
To achieve lucid dreaming one must recognize an event happening that can only occur in dreams, so in life one must hear or see the potential opportunities for a Lucid Life.
Clarity of Purpose
The fourth step is acknowledgement, taking the above material into account, that one is not on the best path and there is a new path to follow where one is able to take control of one’s life and so navigate a path back to authenticity.
Again in order to achieve lucidity in dream one must say out loud, for example, “I am dreaming” and so in life one must experience with clarity that one is meandering through life and not on the best or true path.
Perform a Pre-Determined Action
The fifth step is to take action by following the appropriate opportunities on the list cited above. This action step requires one to break some of the habits built up and come off the auto-pilot to take some different steps. Here one is waking up to life and enacting the control.
In a Lucid Dream one would perform a pre-determined action that stabilizes the dream and gives further clarity of purpose to the dreamer. So in Lucid Life one must take specific actions to ensure the wake up occurs by taking control and achieving one’s potential in some aspect.
Remaining on the Journey to be Fully Authentic
The sixth and final step is to pay attention to one’s auto-pilot reactions. For change is never easy and it’s easy to kid oneself that change is happening when it is not. But as in any journey one will be off course much of the time and constant adjustments are required to stay on track. It’s also good to acknowledge that the skills of developing authenticity requires a deeper awareness of oneself. Only when one has been on the new path for a while can one realize the difference being made by following this method, so a periodic check up is important.
In a Lucid Dream it is easy to fall back into absorption in the dream and lose that precious lucidity so various techniques are advised, such as body spinning. Likewise in the Lucid Life one must keep pressing forward along the path and develop that deep awareness and motivation constantly. This means that one must go back to step one and iterate through the steps again and again in the light of one’s new perceptions and development requirements.
It seems that almost everyone is under the spell of some group consensus and they continue their habits of a lifetime without much thinking. As Arthur Schopenhauer said,
“how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize”
Unfortunately, this lack of attention enslaves people and ensures that they passively endure their assigned life paths.
It is interesting that the word Buddha means “The One Who Woke Up”, and in contrast to the above, he demonstrated that when one pays attention and is fully conscious, one can choose to control one’s life path and so become truly free.
Wake up… to the present moment, to the future and to your life.