By Ian Wilson (2010) Public Domain No Copyright.
Shared Dreaming or Mutual Dreaming mentioned by Stephen LaBerge and Lynda Lane Magallon is a type of dream where two or more people share the same dream content from the their own perspective. Upon waking the participants are able to recall the same details, settings and even conversations they had with each other during the mutual dream.
Stephen LaBerge writes in his book "Lucid Dreaming" that "Accounts of "mutual dreaming," (dreams apparently shared by two or more people) raise the possibility that the dream world may be in some cases just as objectively real as the physical world. This is because the primary criterion of "objectivity" is that an experience is shared by more than one person, which is supposedly true of mutual dreams. In that case, what would happen to the traditional dichotomy between dreams and reality?"
Tom Campbell who worked at The Monroe Institute in Virginia writes in his trilogy entitled "My Big Toe" that during their exploration phase at the Monroe Labs during sleep; himself and other participants practising the skill of being consciously awake when the body is asleep were able to verify a mutual meeting that would be recorded in a control room.
The Monroe Institute is a research centre founded by Robert A. Monroe for the purpose of researching a phenomena that occurs during sleep called the Out-Of-Body experience or OOBE and OBE. Robert A. Monroe has been one of the leading pioneers in consciousness research spanning over 40 years in the area of waking lucid awareness while the body slept.
Other research organizations have catalogued their own evidence of shared dreaming. The International Association for the Study of Dreams has had yearly dream telepathy contests which have yielded positive mutual dreaming accounts along with other phenomenological dream experiences. Many of the researchers have themselves had mutual dreams with each other. The IASD compiled a list of researchers to discuss the movie Inception where many of the researchers commented on the reality of mutual dreaming. Link
Lynda Lane Magallon published a book entitled "Mutual Dreaming" where she covers history of this phenomena and personal accounts with people involved with dream research. The president for the IASD, Robert Waggoner recently published "Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self" where he touches on mutual dreaming.
As the author of this article, I have also enjoyed the rare opportunity to have shared dreams with people in my 23 years of dream exploration. It is for this reason that I feel compelled to share some of my insights into the phenomena based on personal experience and what I have read in regards to theory.
In 1988 I would have my first confirmed shared dream with a friend during a time when I had no idea that such a phenomena was possible. This first hand experience with shared dreaming seemed incredible. This friend and I would have several shared dreams in the time that followed.
The journey to have these wilfully was met with a high level of uncertainty and challenges. I will share what I observed and learned from these explorations. For a more detail account, read the interview with Robert Waggoner as I discuss many of the expeirences with dreaming in greater detail for the Lucid Dream Exchange Magazine 55th June Edition. link
The first question you must have as a reader is how is this possible? Clearly the above list of researchers and investigators have made some very startling claims. It would be easy to dismiss this as fantasy and move on; however I encourage you to have open minded scepticism when moving forward into understanding the mechanics involved in sleep related phenomenology.
If mutual dreaming was common or easy; many more people would be reporting this with each other, however you may be a person who has told a friend or family member about a dream; to have it confirmed by them that they too remember the same dream if not something very similar.
Is the dreamstate objective? That is the first question you have to really ask when trying to discern if shared dreaming is possible at all. The evidence from personal experience is compelling indicating some type of objectivity within dreams. Carl Jung famously spoke about a collective unconscious that we were all accessing during sleep.
A collective unconsciousness suggests that in the sleeping state; we are all part of one collective unconscious system. Buddhist believe in Indra's Net or Web which describes that all phenomena is interconnected. Tom Campbell expands on this concept in his trilogy, "My-Big-Toe" where he describes a Reality Wide Web or RWW that we all access as consciousness and download experience in the form of data.
It is through this interconnectedness that we have the mechanics that surround the reality of Shared Dreaming. Another theory of interconnectedness stems from Quantum Mechanics through entanglement.
Quantum entanglement is when two or more objects are linked and affect each other in a non-localized way when separated. Considering the Big Bang theory and the existence of a singularity; it is theoretically plausible that everything coming from the singularity has varying degrees of entanglement affecting the entire system.
Consciousness functions at quantum states and itself may be subjective to the same quantum mechanics that affect photons. As a result of being part of this interconnected system, our consciousness may be linked through entanglement with all other systems at these finitely small levels.
Just recently scientists were able to teleport information through quantum entanglement range of 10 miles. This in itself is a remarkable feat of practical use of quantum states. The human brain already naturally use these quantum states as is evident in Pemrose-Hameroff Orch Or model. If science can teleport quantum information 10 miles; who is to say that the human brain is not already able to achieve this type of communication.
Shared dreaming is already demonstrating that some type of information sharing is possible and the more we understand this interconnectedness; the more we will be able to unravel how the mechanics of information exchange work between these quantum systems.
Quantum Mechanics proves that information can be teleported between entangled photons. The human brain uses photons in the alpha-beta tublin as part of the information processing (Penrose-Hameroff). The human brain is natures quantum super computer.
It seems based on shared dreaming evidence that some type of information exchange is possible during sleep. From a singularity to a massive expanding Universe one would at least expect that anything is possible. Interconnectedness is quantum fact; not just Buddhist belief. As to what scale or magnitude this represents is a matter for science to resolve. Shared dreaming is just the tip of the iceburg for how information has organized itself within the Universe.
If we can't accept Indra's Web, or Tom's Reality Wide Web; we can at least accept science fact that there is interconnectedness within quantum states; and to what degree of entanglement exists since the expansion of the singularity should intrigue the minds of people like Stephen Hawkins.
If we came from one; are we not all part of one? With the collapse of the Universe we inevitable become one again; or at least the quantum soup that we formed. Where consciousness begins and ends within quantum states may be completely entangled with what photons are. Photons after all; are the functioning energy driving the quantum computer called the human mind. We may not measure consciousness, but we know photons play a role in facilitating the existence of consciousness within the human brain.
Now that we have this theoretical muse done with let's get back on topic with the reality of shared dreaming.
Limitations in Mutual Dreaming
Let's first examine what obstacles affect the majority of the population in regards to dream related phenomena. The first obvious flaw in the Human Condition is we are not active dreamers en mass. The truth is we are passive dreamers with little or no development in this area of skill. The population of the planet for the most part is dream illiterate.
Dreaming is not a belief; it is an experience that has the potential for participation. It predominantly is the realm of the unconscious self; and our waking self tends to drift off into altered unconscious states affected by the random mindless direction of irrational right brain symbolism.
When we sleep; we enter into five stages of sleep ranging from 4 stages of NREM (Non-REM) and 1 stage of REM. Most of our dream recall occurs during the REM stage of sleep. Even though we are in unconscious states during NREM, evidence in sleep laboratories have confirmed that we are at least still dreaming. However, oblivious to what ever that information may be.
One would logically assume that two participants who are to share a dream; if such a possibility exists would then at least have to synchronize the REM stage of sleep with the intent to share a dream. If one participant is in NREM with no chance of dream recall and the other participant is in REM, then the chances of a mutual exchange would be greatly diminished by the causality of these two states.
When we sleep, there are changes in the physiology of the Human brain. The temporal frontal lobes, responsible for memory shuts down. This forces a condition called sleep induced amnesia. Although we may have unconscious dream experience during this shut-down; we will have no memory access to what ever information exists. Unless of course we are somehow able to override the function of a deactivated memory bank
On the other side of the RWW; there is a very good chance that I have seen what this results in with other people when attempting to share dreams with them. One of the interesting anomalies is a certain state that I have found my targets in during a lucid dream. This observation has also been said the same of me with another friend who has tried to connect with me via a mutual dream.
The state clearly demonstrates that the participant is in a catatonic zombie like state. The lively, alert and consciously aware aspect is inactive. When trying to ask questions or gain any eye contact, I have found the participant vegetative, if they respond they can respond fearfully and scream or roll their head and eyes slowly. How they act seems totally irrational and emotionally driven.
I admit it has always creeped me out when encountering a friend or family member in this particular state of mind during sleep. Having others confirm I have also been found in this state in their dreams furthers my desire to want to always maintain full consciousness during sleep.
Linked to the physiology of cognitive function in the brain; if there is a link... it makes sense that the logical left-brain intellect is deactivated and finding a person in this near zombie like state is not an illogical observation; it makes sense. As to what scope or scale people are and how often we wander the dream state and RWW in a catatonic state of unconscious awareness; is most likely measured by the number of people living on the planet.
When I have walked in a dream down town I find groups and gatherings of people all in this state. It seemed to suggest to me at least that everyone is potentially wandering aimlessly in this mutual state. They are devoid of the left-brain cognitive function to fully realize and participate in this state as we would in our waking life.
As a teenager my friend and I coined this state, "Sleeper's Grog" a drunken state we find each other in from time to time.
In attempts to force a mutual dream, I have successfully snapped my friend out of this state that once successful resulted in a shared dream. He gave me eye contact and said my name; we had full connectivity as he activated just enough cognitive function to start participating and remembering the dream.
In some shared dreams; I have watched my friend slip back into this state. During that segment of the shared dream recall; we find out that the person dreamed something completely different then what I had observed until their attention was restored focusing on me.
I feel this information is important that is why I share it. It would be nice to have further confirmation from other mutual dream researchers as to finding people in a non-responsive state during attempts to share dreams with them.
When a person seems to react negatively to the dream stimuli; they do retract and slip into this state creating a type of personification of the dream that overlaps the mutual potential with a totally subjective experience. The observation of this in action is immensely fascinating to me.
It seems to me that the following challenges prevent everyday mutual dreaming:
- Both participants need to be synchronized in REM sleep; any NREM and REM mix between the participants will negate the cognitive qualities required for memory, awareness and perception.
- Participants need to have at least enough memory, awareness and perception to focus and maintain a coherent experience in the dream.
- Participants need to have developed enough skill with dreaming to invoke these cognitive qualities to increase the probability of shared dreaming.
- Most people are not active dreamers; they are passive. Shared dreams are possible but may prove more difficult between active and passive dreamers.
- People can personalize the dream to fulfill fantasies, desires and fears; this subjective projection will override any mutual exchange.
- Upon waking people often forget their dreams; this could be a form of waking induced amnesia. There is clearly amnesiac states that occur with sleeping.
Clearly conscious awareness and left-brain cognitive function is a requirement of quality dream awareness, perception and recall. It is in these three attributes that we find a good skill set that mutual dreamers can work towards to improve the potential to share a dream.
- Dreams are thought-reactive so negative beliefs and disbelief can override mutual exchange in favour of personification of the dream state.
How to improve Shared Dreaming Potential
What can we do to improve dream sharing?
If you want to share dreams with your friends, you need to find friends that share this same passion and desire as you. Having a lucid dreaming skill set and a fellow lucid dreamer is the optimal condition to increase the probability of sharing a dream. Here is a link to a tutorial I wrote on Lucid Dreaming which covers some proven techniques. link
Writing down your dreams in a journal and talking with those you feel you might have had a connection with is the only way to start to gain real world feedback and confirmation of a shared dream.
There is no question this is going to be a lot harder then having a lucid dream, or precognitive dream; however the rewards of success are rich indeed. Having first hand experience and knowledge of this reality of shared dreaming far out weighs having only an idea or belief that it could possibly exist.
Shared dreaming should not be a belief; it should be an experience that you invoke and create by actively participating in your dream rather then passively letting this opportunity slip by.
You direct the experience with your belief and intent. The outcome of success lies completely at your disposal.
Hopefully this has helped encourage your explorative and pioneer spirit. The more that people can become aware of this reality; the greater the chances are that more shared dreaming will occur.
I personally feel that this is an evolutionary potential that requires participation. Everything dream related is one of active participation and exploration. We are still pioneering this great frontier of inner-space. When you graduate from belief with first hand knowledge and experience? What will you do to help others with this gift?
Know that organizations and research centres already exist like the IASD and the Monroe Institute. Research and learn from these scientists, physicists and explorers of conscious space. You can get involved on their forums and attend classes.
Form a dream group with your friends and family. Share material such as this article and educate people that more and more knowledge and verification of this potential exists. Most of all; find out through first hand personal experience the potential you have as a dreamer. Don't let a gift this great go to waste.
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- Stephen LaBerge (1985) "Lucid Dreaming: The power of being aware and awake in your dreams"
- Linda Lane Magallón (1997) "Mutual Dreaming"
- Tom Campbell (2005) "My Big Toe"
- The Monroe Institute (1970s) (wiki) | Homepage
- Robert A. Monroe (1915-1995) (wiki)
- Out-Of-Body experience (1943) (wiki)
- The International Association for the Study of Dreams IASD Homepage
- IASD (2010) "Dream Telepath Contest"
- IASD (2010) "Inception Review"
- Robert Waggoner (2010) "Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self"
- Robert Waggoner (2010) "Lucid Dream Exchange Magazine 55th June Edition."
- Carl Jung (1959) Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious"
- Buddhism (3rd Century) "Indra's Net"
- Big Bang theory (wiki)
- Discovery News (2010) "Beam Me Up, Scotty! Scientists Teleport Info 10 Miles"
- Penrose-Hameroff (1998) "Quantum Computation In Brain Microtubules?"
- Stephen Hawkins (wiki"
- Kendra Cherry "Stages of Sleep"