Remembering an unknown place in a semi-lucid dream

Last Updated on 27. February 2024 by Victor Karp

I’ve had a couple of lucid dreams in my life so far, but probably less than ten in total. This night I had an interesting lucid dream, but didn’t fully break through. This is the second time this has happened to me.

I’m in a large house with a couple of close friends. I feel fully immersed in the situation. I know this house, I know these people, I know about my own and their history there, despite not knowing anything about this place or these people in waking life.

I then become suspicious about the reality of the entire situation. I start to question if I’m really awake. I can’t remember what caused me to question this, but I do remember that the whole scene was very realistic and immersive to the point where having doubts about the reality of it should have been completely out of the question. Nevertheless, I want to perform reality checks, just to make sure.

I start walking through the house to look into all of its rooms. I figure that if I’m dreaming, the rooms should look different than I remember them in waking life, because dreams are full of small mistakes and oddities. For example, text oftentimes changes when you re-read it. Objects move around. Scenes change. Mind you, I don’t actually know these rooms in waking life, which didn’t occur to me in the dream. In the dream, I did remember them, despite not having dreamt about them before. But there is this deep feeling of familiarity.

No matter which room I enter, all of them look like I expect them to do. I can’t accept this, I know there is something off. I confront some of my friends about it and tell them that if this is a dream, I should be able to breathe through my nose while pinching it shut with my fingers.

A friend wants to try this out as well, but she just pushes her index finger against the tip of her nose. I comment about this and demonstrate how to do it by covering each nostril with the tip of a thumb. My nose is then fully closed off, but I can still breathe through it. Triumphantly I proclaim that I had been correct, and this actually is a dream.

And then, very anticlimactically, I don’t do anything useful with that information. I’m just happy about having solved the riddle, but I don’t take any control of the dream like you usually do once you become lucid. I then quickly lose the freshly gained semi-lucidity and the dream carries on like any regular dream.

I’ve had this happen in another dream some years ago, where a short burst of lucidity allowed me to take off and fly. But flying then became normal in the dream’s context, my attention slipped and I became a passive observer again.

What I find fascinating about tonight’s dream is the aspect of deep familiarity. I usually don’t question the details of characters or locations in my dreams, much like everyone else. You blindly accept whichever scenario happens to you. You sometimes recognize familiar people, they act like you expect them to based on what you know about them, but everything happens on a surface level. I can’t remember any other dream where I took the time to actually think about the location and people that deeply.

I wonder about the memories I could recollect inside the dream. Did I actually know this place and these people from another dream that I can’t remember in waking life? Did I make these memories up myself on the spot while I was dreaming? I don’t have any trouble creating photo-realistic scenes in realtime while dreaming, so why not create artificial memories myself as well?

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