This is a response to a post by Xanth on Unlimitedboundaries.ca which you can read here.
Through a dream related revelation, Xanth felt that using “conscious awareness” in varying degrees was an inappropriate designation for the state of one’s awareness in nonphysical environments. Not only is it cumbersome to try and “guesstimate” a proper degree of awareness (which is really arbitrary anyway) for your experience in the nonphsyical, it’s not just accurate. So, Xanth broke this awareness down into 3 distinct categories, “Dream Awareness”, “Lucid Awareness” and “Astral Awareness”. I have created my own designations over time and I feel that they may be more helpful to some people because they are more descriptive of the experience without relying on foreknowledge of Dreams, LDs and APs.
For normal dream awareness I have chosen the designation Vague Awareness. In a normal dream state, if you are aware of the dream at all while it’s happening, your awareness is as best, vague. Xanth described this experience very well, so I’ll quote him:
Basically, I’m living the dream life as if I was awake and not realizing it’s a dream. I am the actor not realizing he’s in a play.
The next distinguishable level of awareness would then be that of a Lucid Dream. I have chosen to call this level of awareness Content Awareness. At this point, a dream is progressing and you have somehow gained awareness of being in a dream. Now, you awareness is probably not entirely clear. You experience the dream and you know it’s a dream, but you are still confined by the content of the dream. While you are acting in this Lucid Dream you have assumed a first person perspective and will feel as if it is actually you who is experiencing the dream. But it stops there.
The final level of awareness that I have designated is an Astral Projection. I call this level of awareness Contextual Awareness. Once you have reached this level you are fully aware of the context of your experience. You know it’s a dream and you know that it’s taking place in your nonphysical environment. Now you have the ability to manipulate the content and context of the dream, meaning you can now leave the dream and morph the experience to whatever you choose. This contextual awareness is essentially what you might call waking awareness (thought it may feel slightly different from waking awareness because the modes of perception are different, ie, no sensory data). You have total volitional control; you intend and it happens.
I need to make this note, levels of awareness aren’t as cut and dry as I make it sound. We’re talking about an infinite continuum of awareness. These designations aren’t easily defined in experience. You will have to feel out the “boundaries” of each level on your own.