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The Overview Effect

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

The overview effect is a phenomenon described as a feeling of awe, feeling of connectedness and even self transformation from viewing the earth from space.

Attempts have been made to replicate this using virtual reality. However, since I was a teenager, I have been attempting to fly in my dreams - almost obsessively. In practice, this has been a double edged sword.

One time in 1998, I was walking in nature in a dream and came across a rock crevice too wide to cross. At first, I thought how difficult it would be to climb down to the bottom then climb back up again.

I then realised I was in fact dreaming and thought it was much more efficient to fly over it.

Rather than simply crossing the crevice, I continued up and up, and up! This was the first time I had flown high into the sky in a dream since I was five. Awestruck, I looked up at the sky, where I seemed to be heading. The sun was so bright I was temporarily blinded. Shocked, I fell, stopping just short of the surface of the ocean. Within the dream I woke up.

After a recent Google search, I found out that being blinded by the sun in a dream means excessive intellect. However, this is not how I interpreted at the time. Ironically, I interpreted it as meaning I literally had to avoid looking up at the sun when flying in my dreams. Ironic because I was wrongfully applying intellect to a metaphor, or 'excessive intellect'.

Unwittingly, I stored this as a picture in my brain as something to fear. Not only did I fear the sun in later attempts at flying in dreams, I feared the sky. Often when flying high in dreams, everything would become unclear or not make sense. Sometimes I would get lost in a very thick cloud that was a strange colour. It became an unsatisfying and sometimes even scary experience.

I later found out this was because I was living inside false pictures I had taken, including of the sky.

There is some research on the effects lucid dreams have on us. Nightmares I was having since 2 years prior seemed to be related. As a matter of fact, over time I realised it became harder to enjoy things in waking life. I lacked confidence in things I was doing, including in my career, and I also became quite defensive in my relationships.

I tried various meditations and found one where I was actually able to discard the pictures I had taken. However, it was not until I discussed this issue with my partner that I felt like I was getting on top of it; I only thought of mentioning to her after some deep soul searching. I found out she had similar limiting experiences with flying in dreams in the past. This connection was enough to start a deep and profound shift in my entire mental state. I am now writing this blog article in the hope that it can somehow help others and also myself.

If you want to have a go at lucid dreams, there are 2 approaches:

  1. Write your dreams down over a period of time, straight after waking up if possible. This is something I did for many years, including before I was having lucid dreams. Slow but it works. These AI generated images from Canva's Text to Image are a great way to convey dreams, aren't they? 😎🔥👍 Use them to express your dreams in your blog! 😃 I tried hand drawing my dreams on paper in the past but was never good at it.

  2. Set your alarm to wake up at about 3 AM or so, meditate then go back to sleep. This approach even has an acronym - Wake Back To Bed (WBTB). Try it, but you may be tired the next day! As I often had insomnia, I didn't need to set an alarm and so this happened by itself, resulting in lucid dreams in many cases.

Hopefully you can use this approach for deep self reflection and have better experiences than I did.

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David Clouston
David Clouston
Dec 17, 2022

I enjoyed this article


Duyen Nguyen Thi Thuy
Duyen Nguyen Thi Thuy
Dec 08, 2022

Good 🥰

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