It is amazing to me how the terror of a nightmare can be quashed when it switches to a lucid dream. This doesn’t happen often but when it does, I think, “This is a dream.” That typically ends the dream pretty quickly. Sometimes, I am not fully lucid but I start thinking during the dream, “This can’t really happen. This is not a real threat.” At these times, rational thought enters the dream and it becomes much less scary. In both of these instances, it is as if I am observing the dream while also experiencing it.

It occurred to me this morning that when the most stressful and scary parts of my life seem most bearable, it is a similar experience to a lucid nightmare. I am able to observe the situation, mindfully, while still being connected with the experience. This is the main way, in my view, that mindfulness is different from coping strategies such as rationalizing, intellectualizing, or denial. There is still a connection to emotion, thought, and experience.

A most important advantage of this lucidity has been that it helps me step back from an all consuming chasm of pain and suffering to a larger view of reality, one that includes joy, happiness, and hope.