Consciously aware in the dream state, we have direct access to the enormous freedom of imagination’s source. Space, time, ideas, perspectives, emotions can be thrown together, smashed apart, reshaped in a million different ways in the laboratory of the dreaming mind. Some casual observers label this as “chaos” or “dreaming as psychosis”—but experienced lucid dreamers know it as something else: the perceiver in the principled infinity of the subconscious mind.
Aware in the dream state, lucid dreamers begin to learn the deeper principles of dreaming that serve to structure apparent chaos. Lucid, you quickly realize that your ever-changing thoughts, beliefs, focus, and emotion matter immensely, since they act as building blocks of your dream experience.
In my book, I call the “most likely to be discovered” principle of lucid manipulation, the Expectation Effect. The Expectation Effect suggests that you experience what you expect to experience to the degree that you expect at that moment. So “if” you expect in a lucid dream to fly through a wall, then you will fly through the wall according to your expectation. Expect it to be easy, and you fly right through with ease. Expect trouble, and you hit the wall and bounce off. Or like me, expect it to be a little bit problematic and suddenly find yourself stuck half in and half out of the wall! The Expectation Effect mirrors your (conscious and often subconscious) expectations at that instant, and to the appropriate degree.
In your next lucid dream, try it for yourself. Expect trouble from a lucid dream figure, and suddenly you will discover your expectation acts to create hassles. Expect compliance from a dream figure, and you will discover compliance. Expect compliance but then doubt that your expectation will influence the dream figure, and see the results of conflicted expectations.
Needless to say, by changing your expectations you can change your experience mightily. In fact, if you pay attention to your thinking during a lucid dream, you can “watch” those expectations adjust the ever changing experienced reality. You can lucidly flip expectations from “possible” to “impossible” and from “desired” to “disgusted” and experience the active reality of the dreaming mind. This immediate feedback teaches lucid dreamers the importance of the Expectation Effect, which explains its widespread acceptance as a commonly recognized “principle” of the dream realm.
So, you have to wonder—does the course of regular dreaming simply follow the dreamer’s “non-lucid” subconscious expectations? Does the apparent “chaos,” the seeming “psychosis” simply reflect the twists and turns of unrealized, subliminal expectations bouncing off the non-lucid, focus shifting, association connecting, dreaming mind? To some degree, I believe it does; however, more principles exist than the Expectation Effect.
While one could argue that lucid awareness simply overlays the discipline of the waking mind and its belief/expectation system on the chaos of dreaming, many regular dreams have those moments where an expectation emerges. And, at that moment, normally the regular dream follows the expectation. The Expectation Effect, if you watch closely, even exists in regular dreams to some degree.
Now that I have suggested the Expectation Effect as one primary principle of your lucid “castle-building” mind, I will return next time to scale the castle walls and breach the Expectation Effect. Oh yes, any experienced lucid dreamer can test the apparent principles, probe their many sides and discover their weaknesses. So in the next blog, watch as the White Knight transforms into the Dark Knight and teaches you how to conquer the castle of the Expectation Effect, as we move more deeply into the peculiar and wonderful territory of the seemingly infinite, yet principled, dreaming mind.