For over a year now, I have been using galantamine––an extract of the snow drop lily––along with meditation as a catalyst for lucid dreaming. I have found that the combination of the two results in a lucid dream almost 100% of the time. Dreams have been long, visually stunning, and sometimes full of light and deep interpersonal connectedness. But not always. In the past three years, I’ve experienced darkness in most of my longer, more memorable dreams. Whether lucid or not, darkness has been a predominant quality of my dream life. I have wondered whether it was an existential element, signifying decline and the approaching end-of-life, or whether it was, from alchemical standpoint, the deepening of the mystery my journey. I often find myself groping through dreams of darkness trying to find my way, only to suddenly see a brilliant light that dwarfs the previous darkness. It may signify that I have come to a point in my life where there is no clear authority, no clear direction. I’m reminded of Dante’s opening statement to his Divine Comedy which goes something like: "In the middle of the road of my life, I awoke in a dark wood, and the true way was wholly lost." Here are a few other lucid dream highlights of the past month and a half. With all of these have followed ingestion of 8 mg of galantamine, usually in the latter half of the night.
In one dream that lasts a very long time, I find myself in a beautiful setting surrounded by old buildings that are exquisitely beautiful. As I have often thought of late during such lucid dreams, the texture of the visual imagery is so rich and complex that I reflect on how impossible it seems that my mind alone could be creating it. I seem to cross a threshold into an area where there is more of a gathering of people in some kind of deeply purposeful activity. I’ve since forgotten all that I experienced, but the experience seemed to last for an hour. I do recall being with some artists who were creating the most exquisitely beautiful jewelry and sculpture that was mounted on the wall and hanging from the ceiling. Some of it was constructed from precious jewels of bright and vibrant colors, and the light shone through it in a spellbinding way.
In another one, I become aware that I’m dreaming and I go and look for light or encounters with higher beings. I find a small village in the countryside, and walk-through the village for a while before concluding that what I’m looking for is not there. I turn and push off and begin flying up through the trees toward the south and come upon a old cathedral or castle. I find myself inside this huge stone enclosure, which has windows that are not rectangular, but more the shape of a keyhole or some curvilinear opening. However, I cannot pass through the windows nor do I find any doorway through which I can gain access to the outside again. I hear voices and look in through a window, and see people milling around below me. I’m up high as if on the second floor or near the ceiling of his stone building. I finally decided since I’m dreaming, I will simply go through the wall and so I do. As I passed through the southern wall I enter a dark wood, which only has a slight greenness to the darkness, and a slight mottled quality to the otherwise amorphous dark field. I grope through the darkness looking for the master. Suddenly I feel an arm and I’m shocked by the presence of another person. I can suddenly see, and see that there is a woman between me and Julie, who was sleeping. The woman is unknown to me, so I asked her who she is. She tells me her name which I’ve since forgotten. I asked her why she is there. She says that she’s come to make sure that robots do not take over the earth. She goes on to tell me that she’s from another star system and introduces me to a small group of people who have come from her star system to visit our world. When I expressed interest in visiting her world, I’m told that it’s best that I remain where I am because my work is here not there. In another experience, I am drifting off to sleep after meditation. I hear the energy, which I’ve heard all my life when I’m on the verge of leaving my body. The Tibetan Buddhists refer to it as the “gift waves,” and believe that it signifies the presence of a master. Robert Monroe, author of Journeys out of the Body said that he could not leave his body if the energy was not present. It’s been happening quite often lately as a byproduct of the meditation-plus-galantamine regimen that I’ve been doing about once or twice a week. Anyway, when the energy rises, it comes in waves as if a valve is opening and closing. But it responds to my state of mind, and if I meditate upon it, it becomes more intense and eventually flattens out into a constant stream of energy. I do this, and as the energy increases, I feel pressure on my back as if someone is clinging to my back. He or she seems to hold on more and more tightly, so I whisper to it, “I’m not afraid of you.” I feel absolutely no fear at all, a fact which I marvel at. The being says something to me, which I cannot understand through the sound of the energy. Then I reach up and grab it with my hand and pull it over my shoulder. It tumbles off the bed onto the floor and so do I. I see that it’s a small black cuddly animal of some sort, resembling a small bear or pig with fur. It seems startled that I have been so bold, and it scurries away before I can take it in hand. Julie is sleeping nearby, and the dream ends.
In last night’s dream, I was supposed to be speaking on dream work in front of an audience of about 100 people. The meeting room was very tastefully done, and part of a larger community center comprised of many such auditoriums. I leave the room for a few minutes for some reason, but when I try to return I cannot find the room that I’m supposed to be in. I open two doors, only to find that there are other classes or presentations underway. I am confused and lost in this rather rich interpersonal setting. People are everywhere, and I simply milled through the crowd looking for the place that I’m supposed to be in. At some point, I become aware that I’m dreaming. I continue walking about exploring and observing the interpersonal dynamics around me the buildings in the rooms. I go through several doors, only to find myself increasingly unattractive and tiny rooms. I finally decide simply to fly through the wall and leave the place, and so I do. As I pushed to the wall, I find myself up high as if I’m on the third floor of a building flying over a very attractive grassy open expanse. Below me I see many people who are visiting and enjoying each other in a kind of unorganized social setting. I go down to be with them, and I playfully show them that I can fly. I then go up in the air higher and higher looking for the light, which I do not see in this dream.
Would I recommend using galantamine? On one hand, all that it does is to increase acetylcholine, which is a necessary neurotransmitter that increases cognitive performance. It’s not a controlled substance, and has no serious side effects. You may experience headaches and indigestion if you're a sensitive type (like me), but that’s about it. It has been used effectively to treat mild to moderate dementia in Europe, so if you're forgetting things, hey, you might reap a double benefit. The prescription Alzheimer's drug Aricep accomplishes the same thing (i.e. it's a cholinesterase inhibitor, or impedes the breakdown of acetylcholine), and has been shown to induce lucid dreams in a very high percentage of people who take it, as reported recently in Stumbrys, Erlacher, Shadlich, and Shredl's important survey of lucid dream induction method (Consciousness and Cognition, 21 (2012)), which is available online at www.elsevier.com/locate/concog.
I believe that any artificial means for inducing lucid dreams needs to be paired with spiritual practice. My wife asked me just the other day, for instance, what was the purpose of becoming lucid? Good question!! I mean, what's wrong with ordinary life? Since the very beginning of my work with lucid dreaming back in the early 1970s, I have always been concerned about the wholesale promotion of lucid dreaming without regard for a higher purpose for the journey. So, if you’re going to use galantamine, I recommend pairing it with some form of spiritual practice so that whatever it stimulates or awakens in your dream life occurs in a context of seeking something above and beyond your own ego’s desires. If the ego is at the helm, all kinds of detractors will rise up to challenge you. But if the master is driving the ship, well, you're in much better hands whether on sunny beaches or in the midst of a cyclone. But once you feel satisfied that the endeavor is legitimate, you might want to try 8 mg of gulantamine in the middle of the night. I usually take it around 4:00 AM, meditate for 20 to 30 minutes, and then returned to sleep for a couple of hours. As I’ve said, it works almost 100% of the time for me. But then again, I don’t do it every night. It’s been found that the effect of gulantamine wears off if you use it too often. A good source is HealthSupplement Wholesalers.com. Let me know how you do!
By the way, please take advantage of my free course on learning to use the FiveStar Method of dream analysis--an approach to dreams based on my early research into lucid dreaming--at www.dreamanalysistraining.com/moodle2. I have just launched the Course Management System, which includes the Certificate of Dream Study training program.