Lucid dreaming and spirituality share a common goal for many. Both lucid dreaming and spirituality may be endeavours to explore and seek self understanding, as well as a method for spiritual transcendence.
A study published in 2022 by Tadas Stumbrys has delved into this relationship and found some fascinating associations.
- Stumbrys conducted a survey of 471 respondents
- Correlations found between lucid dreaming, spiritual transcendence and mystical experiences.
- More frequent lucid dreamers had higher spiritual transcendence scores
- Mystical lucid dream experience was a predictor of spiritual transcendence
Lucid dreaming may already be considered something of a spiritual exercise in itself, possibly as a precursor or more basic form of spiritual contemplation (McNamara and Bulkeley, 2015). Stumbrys notes, “while most dreams are retrospective experiences that can be pondered only after awakening from a different—ordinary waking— state of consciousness, in some dreams the dreamers can become aware that they are dreaming while they are dreaming, so they can consciously experience and volitionally act upon their dream experience”.
The study by Stumbrys assessed respondents according to a number of parameters, including their frequency of lucid dreaming, a spiritual transcendence scale (Piedmont, 1999), and an assessment of the respondent’s mystical lucid dream experience.
The respondents came from a wide range of locations and age groups, but most came from Europe and North America, and were disproportionately from the 18-35 years age group.
The respondents were recruited via social media such as Facebook and Reddit, as well as dedicated websites and forums. Further respondents were recruited from contact lists built during previous studies.
Most of the participants were ‘good dream recallers’, likely reflecting a bias toward those interested in, and practicing, lucid dreaming practices.
Frequent lucid dreamers scored higher on the Spiritual Transcendence Scale, and two of its subscales, namely Universality and Prayer Fulfilment.
Several limitations of the study are acknowledged by Stumbrys.
Firstly, the respondents to the study were self selected online via several networks relevant to lucid dreaming, which introduces a potential bias, if there is any relationship between the variables studied and the likelihood of responding to such a survey.
Secondly, as noted above, the respondents were disproportionately from Western countries and young, meaning the results may not be generalisable to those from different backgrounds.
Thirdly, the study is purely observational. No intervention is made, and therefore just because there is an association between, for example, frequent lucid dreaming and spiritual transcendence, it does not necessarily follow that frequent lucid dreaming causes spiritual transcendence.
Stumbry’s study has identified interesting associations between lucid dream and spirituality, but associations are not causations, and therefore further research is needed to elucidate whether these associations reflect whether lucid dreaming can actually enhance or support spirituality, or merely happens to occur in or be an interest of, spiritual inclined people.
McNamara, P., & Bulkeley, K. (2015). Dreams as a source of supernatural agent concepts. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 283. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00283
Piedmont, R. L. (1999). Does spirituality represent the sixth factor of personality? Spiritual transcendence and the five‐factor model. Journal of personality, 67(6), 985-1013.
Stumbrys, T. (2022). The Luminous Night of the Soul: The Relationship between Lucid Dreaming and Spirituality. https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/advance-archive/37/