Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Harnessing The Power of Awake Dreaming | 5.19.24

Harnessing The Power of Awake Dreaming | 5.19.24

Awake But Asleep - The Sunday Edition

I can do a magic thing I am sure many can, though as of yet I’ve not yet met one that claims to do so. I’ve long been able to control my dreams, lucid dreaming apparently they call it, but this is not that, this is not that at all. Lucid dreaming, according to the experts, is “the experience of achieving conscious awareness of dreaming while still asleep,” and 55% of adults have reported having at least one in their lifetime. 23% of people say they have one once a month. I would say, if honest, probably 75% of my dreams are lucid, in which I am fully aware of the fact that I am dreaming, and as such can alter effortlessly the environment, the circumstance, the people, the abilities, at will. This is magic too, and I will never call it anything but, but this is not the magic I speak of today. Today, I am talking about awake dreaming, which might not be a real term and that’s ok, and the power of creativity I truly believe it lends me.

Doubters and naysayers might claim what I am describing as a form of hypnagogia or hypnopompia, those transitional states between wakefulness and sleep, or between sleep and re-waking up, but it is not this and never has been. I even wrote a poem, and for fun I’ll include it today for you all to read, about how it’s definitively NOT hypnagogia, so I named it that for irony sake. Anyway, that’s coming later in this weird essay, so stick around. Now, I shall attempt to describe it as best as I can, and I am crossing my fingers, toes, and all other cross-able appendages that someone else out there hearing this can do the same thing, or has even if by accident, experienced it. Until then, here is how I describe awake dreaming:

I call it the third place, a world I can go when I am not asleep, but I am not out of bed, not fully awake and walking, not yet. I call this the place of total loss of a filter I already struggle to have, I call it empty mind, I call it some land of absolute freedom, some mountaintop meditators strive all their years and all their Oms and all their mantras to reach. I call it pure meditation, or at least ask myself if it is this. I call it halfway, I call it the untethered place, awake but asleep, asleep but still wide awake. It’s here I can plant seeds that blossom on their own. It’s here I can call out silently in my mind for the face of someone I love, and then let a story be invented around them, watch it often with eyes only half closed, and worry not of controlling the direction it takes. I can hear all around me, I can feel the sheets on my legs, the pillow beneath my head, I can hear Sarah rustling or snoring or shifting beside me, I can feel the light peek in from between the curtains. The boundaries have gone, the once rigid distinction between the dreamland and the reality we all wrestle with together. This is not the same as when I dream lucidly, this is not the awareness of my dream and the understanding of my body at rest. This is wide awake and relinquishing control of my own mind, while transforming myself to observer of all things at once. All sounds, all smells, all thoughts, one thing in one swirl, and I am at the center of it, watching it as though broadcast on some hidden screen deep within me. This, to me, is awake dreaming, and so much of my creativity is born there.

I was awake dreaming this morning, picking up from my dream, writing down the notes from what happened, then allowing it to continue whilst awake. I would occasionally pinch my own arm lightly to confirm I was still awake, I would hold Sarah’s hand, lightly squeeze her sleeping fingers, and all the while the dream that was put on pause when I fully woke up, played out, and I would add elements to it. I am positive others can do this, I am positive others do it probably even more frequently than I do, and I am so hopeful one of you reading this will respond to confirm it. This is where so many of my ideas, so many of my poems, so many of my thoughts are born.


Perhaps if we could all harness this power, if we could allow ourselves to dip into this pool more often, to stir our feet around and see what rises to the surface, we’d all be more creative, we’d find more of those hard-to-reach ideas that we can feel, but just cannot fully hold on to, holding on to us.

I think it starts with lucid dreaming, and I think it builds from there. If we can become more proficient at this step, of recognizing our own dreamscapes and then beginning to slowly interact with them, we can transition this to that strange third space between sleep and wakefulness. Here are a few tips to get you started with lucid dreaming, and with doing it much more often:

  1. Keep a dream journal - By your bed keep something you can write down, as swiftly as possible before the images fade like ink in water, all the details you can remember about your dream you just had. The more you observe, the more you pay attention, the more you’ll dream for.

  2. Set up reality checks through the day - These are little silly things you’ll do whilst you “know” you’re awake, to prove to yourself that you are. It sounds funny, but it helps your brain begin training to recognize the difference between sleep and awake. Look at your hands, look at the light, pinch yourself.

  3. Plant the seed - Before sleep each night, speak to yourself in your mind and tell yourself you’ll be lucid dreaming, tell yourself you’ll be awake inside your dream, and fully able to move through the space. Begin to imagine the things you want to dream of, like little seeds you hope to see blossom. Focus on the details, the faces you wish to see.

  4. If you wake, don’t move - If you wake up during the dream, or before the dream happens, breathe, and do not move at all. Stay all cocooned where you are, and focus more on the dream details you’re wanting, the things you’re trying to see or interact with, the things you want to control in the dream. Ask yourself to stay right there and wait for the dream to come.

  5. Don’t get discouraged - It can take AWHILE to get better at this, so when dawn breaks if you find you’ve not had the lucid dream, don’t lose hope. Write down anything you can remember, and repeat all the steps. It might take awhile, it might not come right away, but eventually it will.

Once you’ve done this awhile, you can focus on step #4 over and again, even by setting an alarm for 30-45 minutes before you’re supposed to awake to just lay there, still, and practice continuing the dreams that came before. You can use it as a meditative state to focus on breath, on the images you most want to see again, and you can let your mind go empty and blank. This is where I find so much creativity born, this is where I think we can learn so much about being the empty vessels that we’re capable of being.

IF you can harness this power, if you can practice it, I promise, the benefits extend so far beyond just creative. You’ll find yourself calmer, more connected to the great pulse of things, you’ll find yourself more in awe of the world around you, be that reality, or that beautiful liminal space between.

Try it, and put my face in your thoughts sometime, who knows, maybe we’ll meet up there, there beyond sleep, beyond dream, and maybe, we’ll say hello.

Here is the poem, no one has ever read, about this space. I hope you love it.

by Tyler Knott Gregson

I lived there for a time, told myself it was home, 
I loved there, too, for a time,
told myself it was enough.  I fumbled 
through this bardo, this borderland between
wake and some slowly lumbering slumber,
decorated myself with the ash
of the day that came before.  It burned
to let sprout all that will come,
but first, 

Am I split, am I splintered, am I cut in two?
Wrapped up in a hollow place, do I have to dream
just to find you?  Fragments of a man, 
of a mind, half asleep and fighting to stay
awake.  Sometimes, I don’t know which
are stars, and which are sparks;
one warms, both shine.

Find me here, I called it home once, I can again,
Find me, now, and brush the fire from my skin.
I have spent a lifetime wondering why,
I can hear the crackling of flames, 
just before I fall

-Tyler Knott Gregson-

Halfway between them

I roam the world untethered.

Awake but asleep.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

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Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson and his weekly "Sunday Edition" of his Signal Fire newsletter. Diving into life, poetry, relationships, sex, human nature, the universe, and all things beautiful.