In my previous two blogs I discussed the phenomena of lucid euphoria and lucid ecstasy. Now, I’d like to explore what I call the lucid afterglow, a state in which many lucid dreamers find themselves upon waking from a lucid dream.
Like the natural afterglow of the sun that has already set but whose light still reflects off of high clouds and bathes the landscape in its diffused brilliance, the afterglow of lucid dreaming seems to impact us with a special feeling. Lucid dreamers often describe the afterglow as a feeling of increased energy, a positive feeling of radiant confidence or a sense of heightened awareness. Sometimes this relates back to an accomplishment in the lucid dream, but the afterglow often follows a simplistic lucid dream.
However expressed, the affect has been noted to linger for hours and even days in rare cases. The person feels a noticeable inner change, which, like the setting sun, gradually subsides and disappears.
The afterglow effect can be found in a number of human endeavors: emerging from a hot sauna, endorphins from a long distance run, a deep massage, etc. However, all of these are physical events. What is it about the mental event of lucid dreaming that creates a lucid afterglow? And why would a lucid afterglow lasts for hours, even days?
There may be as yet undiscovered chemical or hormonal releases activated by this unique state of conscious awareness in dreaming that persist in the body long after the lucid dream. In fact, it may be discovered that lucid dreaming’s similarity to waking activates those neurotransmitters and hormones associated with waking. This alone would explain how the afterglow effect persists long into the waking hours.
To develop this idea more deeply, think about the affect of a nightmare. Dreaming, we encounter something frightening and our fright multiplies as we run screaming and terrified. Once we awake, the physical and emotional affect quickly dissipate; the heart beat and breathing soon return to normal. Within five or ten minutes, we are fast asleep and headed back towards dreaming. Why is there no nightmare afterglow that persists for hours after waking? Why do many lucid dreams have a lengthy afterglow, but a regular dream does not? Does a regular dream’s influence become relatively limited to the dreaming brain, while a lucid dream influences both the dreaming and waking brain, and therefore persists long into the waking state?
The lucid afterglow may have a connection to the considerable power for healing in lucid dreams — a topic I devote a book chapter to, and which relies heavily on the work of lucid dreamer, Ed Kellogg, Ph.D. There, you can read approximately fifteen successful healing attempts in the lucid dream state, which carried over successfully to the lucid dreamer’s physical condition as an after-effect. Many of these seem quite dramatic and suggest the healing potential of lucid dreaming.
For most lucid dreamers, though, the lucid afterglow will be just that — a warm sense of joy, confidence and heightened awareness which lingers into their waking hours as an unseen gift from lucid dreaming.
Best wishes until next time,