I recently finished writing a scientific paper with the neuroscientist Jordan Quaglia, exploring the topic of lucidity within the context of lucid dreaming and virtual reality.
The Research for the Paper Started at One of My Lucid Dreaming/Dream Yoga Retreats
In 2017, Jordon reached out to me because I was teaching a dream yoga workshop at the Shambhala Mountain Center. He explained that he was doing research on lucid dreaming and virtual reality, and wanted to see if he could bring his VR set-up to the workshop and have some of the attendees participate in the study.
I was captivated by the potential of virtual reality, and agreed to dive in deeper. There are interesting similarities between the cyberspace of virtual reality (VR) and the cognitive space of lucid dreaming. Virtual Reality and lucid dreaming can both be used to explore the nature of mind and reality.
Lamas Come to the Virtual Reality Lab
Over the past year I brought a number of Lamas and Rinpoches into Jordan’s lab, and they all came out impressed with the potential of VR. We hope to design programs someday that can be used for spiritual practice, especially a number of Vajrayana meditations.
Our paper explores how the lucidity principle can be used to work with challenging emotional states, like the fear of walking out on a plank hanging out over a skyscraper. Some of the Lamas that “walked the plank” elected to come back again – to work with fear in that controlled environment.
The Potential of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality is in its germinative phase, a powerful technology that can be used to wake us up, or pull us further into sleep. It’s like a stem cell. Depending on the environment in which it is placed, VR will either grow into a tumor (think pornography), or healthy tissue. The technology itself is neutral. It’s how we use it that matters. Along with lucid dreaming, VR has the potential to become the pedagogy of the future.
You can read the entire paper, or just the abstract, by clicking on the link below (it’s the first paper on the list). We hope this is just the first in a series of studies exploring lucidity and virtual reality. In the world of VR and lucid dreaming, the sky is the limit.
About Jordon: Dr. Quaglia is Assistant Professor and the director of the Cognitive and Affective Science Lab (CASL) at Naropa University. His academic research focuses on emotion regulation, meditative cognition, and social functioning using diverse methods, including the use of VR.