Lucid Dreaming

dream-dreaming-exhausted-lucid-dreaming-Favim.com-700793Those who taste, know. It is a bizarre concept for those who have never experienced a lucid dream to even imagine what it is like. So many things happen in dreams, but people usually do not realize that the only explanation is that they are dreaming. Imagine that you are in a world of your very own creation. You, by the standards of the physical and social reality, are fully capable of doing the impossible and consciously influence the outcome of your dreams. In this article, we will try and follow a few simple steps that can help you enter the world of lucid dreaming.

Many people think that they don’t dream at all, where in reality we all have 3 – 8 dreams every single night. The problem is, we tend to forget them. So what we would suggest is to keep a dream journal ready by your bed side to scribble down any details you may remember from your dream once you wake up. If you remember nothing, just write down you remember nothing. This will help train your brain to remember dreams and improve on their vividness.

The next thing you may want to do before jumping into the drivers seat is to perform reality checks. Pick up anything around you with writing on it; a digital watch, a coin, anything really. Look very closely at it, feel it, know how that is. Now read what’s written on it on both sides. The next time you pick it up, read what’s written on it again. Ideally, nothing has changed. Now to test if you are awake or not, stare at the words really hard. Nothing changes if you are awake, but if you are dreaming you will see that you are capable of altering the words. That is one way of checking whether you are dreaming or truly awake. The trick with those reality checks is that you may want to do them often when you are awake, this will then become second nature to you and carried over into your dream state. You are more than likely then to perform those reality checks in your dream. When you do perform those checks in your dream, you will figure out something is wrong and know that the physical reality around you has been altered.

Trying to remember the future sounds a bit odd, but that is what needs to be done next. The most powerful technique to induce a lucid dream rests on the simple idea of remembering to do something. Try to tell your mind to wake up from a dream before you go to bed and try to recall it as completely as possible when and if you do. Before returning back to bed, keep telling yourself with full intent that you are going to have a lucid dream. Imagine you are back in the dream you just woke up from as you are telling yourself you will have a lucid dream. You will see yourself slowly slipping into the dream while your brain is still awake. Try to look for any signs that may prove that you are dreaming and tell to yourself that you are indeed dreaming. Keep repeating that until you find yourself lucid in another dream. This exercise is called a Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming (MILD).

Give it a try and let us know what you think. In the next article, we will talk about other techniques to induce lucid dreaming and we will try and expand on the possibilities of things that can be accomplished in lucid dreaming. Until then, enjoy awakening in your dreams.

 

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Humans Have a Lot More Than Five Senses

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Today I found out humans have a lot more than five senses.  It turns out, there are at least nine senses and most researchers think there are more like twenty-one or so.
Just for reference, the commonly held definition of a “sense” is “any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.

The commonly held human senses are as follows:

  • Sight:  This technically is two senses given the two distinct types of receptors present, one for color (cones) and one for brightness (rods).
  • Taste:  This is sometimes argued to be five senses by itself due to the differing types of taste receptors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami), but generally is just referred to as one sense.  For those who don’t know, umami receptors detect the amino acid glutamate, which is a taste generally found in meat and some artificial flavoring.  The taste sense, unlike sight, is a sense based off of a chemical reaction
  • Touch:  This has been found to be distinct from pressure, temperature, pain, and even itch sensors.
  • Pressure: Obvious sense is obvious. ;-)
  • Itch:  Surprisingly, this is a distinct sensor system from other touch-related senses.
  • Thermoception:  Ability to sense heat and cold.  This also is thought of as more than one sense.  This is not just because of the two hot/cold receptors, but also because there is a completely different type of thermoceptor, in terms of the mechanism for detection, in the brain.  These thermoceptors in the brain are used for monitoring internal body temperature. Continue reading

How to improve your memory

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Are you the type who always forgets stuff? Can you remember the chemical formulas ontaining 1-methylethylidene? How about the date when you first had sex? Of course not. That’s because memory is selective; we usually remember certain things more easily because they’re important to us. But we all have the potential to remember anything we want; it’s just a matter of exercising the brain adequately. Read on to learn how you can improve your memory.

the problem

Instead of launching into a psychological dissertation on the intricacies of short-term memory and long-term memory, let’s just agree that certain important things slip our minds.

For example, everyone — except maybe your chemistry teacher — will forgive you for not remembering the composition of certain chemical formulas. However, you could get into a heap of trouble for forgetting your girlfriend’s name, especially when snuggling in bed. Here are a few things you should make an effort to remember:

  • Names
  • Phone numbers
  • Faces
  • Tasks
  • Appointments
  • Birthdays
  • Conversations
  • The truth (or lies)

For the most part, not recalling these things is a matter of not paying enough attention. As my girlfriend always says, “If you really cared, you wouldn’t forget.” Put some effort into it next time and see how much more you can remember. Also, determine whether you have an audio memory or a visual memory. Once you resolve this question, you’ll be in a better position to learn how to improve it.

the solution

Here are some concrete tips you can follow to develop your ability to remember pertinent information. Continue reading

Human brains are hardwired for empathy, friendship, study shows

Perhaps one of the most defining features of humanity is our capacity for empathy – the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes. A new University of Virginia study strongly suggests that we are hardwired to empathize because we closely associate people who are close to us – friends, spouses, lovers – with our very selves.

U.Va. psychologist James A. Coan conducted the study. "People close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real," he said. Credit: Dan Addison

U.Va. psychologist James A. Coan conducted the study. “People close to us become a part of ourselves, and that is not just metaphor or poetry, it’s very real,” he said. Credit: Dan Addison

“With , other people become part of ourselves,” said James Coan, a U.Va.  in the College of Arts & Sciences who used functional magnetic resonance imaging  scans to find that people closely correlate people to whom they are attached to themselves. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Continue reading

Brain-penetrating particle attacks deadly tumors

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Scientists have developed a new approach for treating a deadly brain cancer that strikes 15,000 in the United States annually and for which there is no effective long-term therapy. The researchers, from Yale and Johns Hopkins, have shown that the approach extends the lives of laboratory animals and are preparing to seek government approval for a human clinical trial.

“We wanted to make a system that would penetrate into the brain and deliver drugs to a greater volume of tissue,” said Mark Saltzman, a biomedical engineer at Yale and principal investigator of the research. “Drugs have to get to  in order to work, and they have to be the right drugs.” Continue reading

Adopt a Brain-Healthy Diet

According to the most current research, a brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function well. A brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.

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Manage your body weight

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for overall good health of brain and body. A long-term study of 1,500 adults found that those who were obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia in later life. Those who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure had six times the risk of dementia. Adopt an overall food lifestyle, rather than a short-term diet, and eat in moderation.

Reduce your intake of foods high in fat and cholesterol. Studies have shown that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol clogs the arteries and is associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. However, HDL (or “good”) cholesterol may help protect brain cells. Use mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, for example. Try baking or grilling food instead of frying.

Increase your intake of protective foods. Current research suggests that certain foods may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and appear to protect brain cells.

  • In general, dark-skinned fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of naturally occurring antioxidant levels. Such vegetables include: kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets, red bell pepper, onion, corn and eggplant. Fruits with high antioxidant levels include prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes and cherries.

Continue reading