Sorry you got no replies for so long, I just noticed the thread now.
Yes it is possible to dream right from the moment you fall asleep. Though usually it's not really very vivid/lucid. If it was vivid then you
probably did get REM sleep which is possible (but rare) to have instantly upon falling asleep. This happens especially in the middle of the night
when you use what is called the Wake back to bed (WBTB) method, and you pick up on REM sleep moments after falling asleep. There is a method of
inducing lucid dreams called the WILD, that's a wake induced lucid dream. You mainain a level of conciousness while falling asleep and can even
watch the dream form from the start. But you can't do this with a snap of the fingers, you really need to either have been practicing for a good
bit, OR simply be lucky and get REM sleep as your are trying. The getting of REM sleep is made easier when you use the WBTB method, or have your
sleeping patterns figured out and are timing it to work that way.
There is VILD, which is closely related to WILD. Here you use your visualization to induce the dream (and sleep itself really). When anyone falls
asleep there are usually very subtle and light images coming into their mind's eye. If you know what to look for and with practice, you can pick
them out and focus on them. But don't focus on them too much, follow them lazily and they will get bigger. If you do this right you won't even
realize you fell asleep, you will just be in a dream.
This happened to me last night. I was exhausted and had messed up my sleep pattern, which is always likely to induce some of these visualizations and
possibly night terrors and sleep paralysis type stuff because the stress makes it so hard to go to sleep, the process is dragged out. I like to call
these visions sometimes because they aren't really like dreams. They are very weak. But what happened is I got a visualization of a waitress
offering me a plate of food, maybe a dessert. I wasn't feeling very well and not hungry at all. I physically shook my head no and ended the
drifting into sleep, probably because I really didn't want the food. Now it's not very vivid but it's enough to gain a response, it's enough to
feel real. But of course after that happens you might think, did I really see that? Well why was I shaking my head then?
I will say it again, if you had a vivid experience, then it's very likely that you somehow had REM going. It is rare to get it right from the start
but I would bet it happens to everyone whether they practice WILDs and VILDs, a couple times a year on average.
VILDs are not only a great way to induce lucid dreams, but they are very nice for falling asleep when your mind is just wired or you are really
stressed, or you are exhausted and having a hard time relaxing properly into sleep.
Last night I had a weak visualization sort of dream. My mind was fully active, but I knew that I was asleep. One way I like to get this going is by
moving my arms and swaying my body once I've gotten some serious visualizations going and I know I'm very close to falling asleep. It's your dream
arms and your dream body that moves. In this case the minute your dream body takes over and what you are moving is that and not your real body, then
voila, you are asleep and that was easy. And if you relax and realize you are getting sleep, then it's good sleep. The only way this can hinder
your rest is if you continually wake up because you tried to do too much at once. It is amazing how you can dream and still be refreshed by the
sleep. You could dream you ran a marathon and wake up in the morning feeling fine.
I believe as this relates to Astral Projection, when you are dreaming in this way you are in the Etheric Realm. Something between waking reality and
the Astral. But my experiences on it have never been vivid, but very interesting. I didn't read everything about your experience with the relatives
yet because I have no real experience on that side of things, but I have found at times that these experiences have a lot of people in them. Mine
last night did, my dream was a weak visualization of me walking around to different people I know. Often I could only make out an outline and have to
ask them who they were repeatedly to make sure. None of them were dead though... and it's probably "just a dream."