This is just a short guide how to enter the world of lucid dreaming. I am going to describe the methods that worked for me and add some of my personal observations. For further reading I’d love to recommend to you the Bible of lucid dreaming, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge which contains many techniques and tips along with some research notes from this man who devoted most of his life studying the dream world. If you are looking for some online resources and a place where you can ask some questions and discuss, then visitDream Views Forums which is really full of helpful people.
Lucid dreaming? What, why?
First a little background. I am one of those people who naturally have lucid dreams once in a while. I have had them even before I learned that they are called lucid dreams. It was like once a year and it was happening since my childhood as far as I remember. What exactly is this lucid dream? It’s really simple. You are dreaming and then you suddenly realize that “This is a dream!”. What is the cool thing about it is that you can then modify this dream and use this for a various reasons. People use lucid dreams mainly for fun (you can experience literally anything, from flying a dragon to having a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader), some to study their own mind (even some Buddhist monks practice ancient dream yoga teachings as a meditation technique) and some to avoid nightmares.
Some people have doubts about the benefits of lucid dreaming. Is it dangerous? What if I get into a state where I can’t tell what is a dream and what is a reality? From my experience, you can always tell. That is actually your goal, to tell them apart. In fact, when you dream a normal dream, that is the state where you can’t tell. Even if you start feeling somehow confused, scared or bad because of lucid dreaming (which never happened to me), you can stop it anytime. When you stop focusing on it, the ability of lucid dreaming usually turns off. But will my brain and body relax enough? Won’t I wake up tired? No! Quite the opposite! After having a lucid dream I always woke up excited and full of energy. You are having many dreams during the night. Most of them you don’t remember. Lucid dreaming is merely a way to consciously participate instead of this passive participating.
So how to start? I will focus on so called dream inducted lucid dream (DILD) which is the most common and easiest lucid dream. (check out the resources mentioned above for more tutorials and lucid dream types) The goal is to have a normal dream and when dreaming to realize that this is a dream. There is plenty of techniques but I am going to describe what worked for me. The following techniques were so effective that I was able to have multiple lucid dreams per night for a whole week when I was devoting a lot of time to practicing it.
- Mantras Repeat something (say it or just in your head), that will help you realize. The most common is “This is just a dream!”. You have to imagine you are dreaming and saying this in the dream. The most effective way to practice the mantras is when lying in the bed, falling asleep with the mantra resonating in your head.
- Visualizing Similar to mantras but without any sentences or talk. Just focus on for example your latest dream and imagine what would happen if you knew it’s a dream. Imagine the moment of realization, of becoming lucid. Also plan what you want to do in your lucid dream ahead. The best approach is to always set up one specific goal of what you want to do in the dream this night.
- Dream journal Write down every dream you can remember right after you wake up. (don’t postpone it since you’ll forget most of the dreams in a few minutes after waking up) Have your dream journal right next to your pillow. Later read it and analyze the dreams. You can find so called dream signs which are patterns that repeat in your dreams. Some strange elements that can help you realize that this is the situation I usually encounter while dreaming, so am I dreaming now?
- Reality checks The dream world has a different laws than the real one. Some people take an advantage of that and perform some checks that can reveal this. You can do them every time you have a feeling that something weird happened which might mean you are in a dream. The best way is to make a habit out of them, doing them during your daily life so there is a huge chance that you’ll perform them in a dream. Here are my favorite ones (please not that they might also fail sometimes):
- Nose plug Plug your nose with your fingers and try to breathe in with closed mouth. In reality, you obviously can’t but in dream the nose behaves usually like it’s still opened.
- Fingers Look at your fingers and count them. In dream world your hands usually look pretty creepy. Your fingers might have some branches growing out of them or you are missing some fingers or having too many of them.
- Thumb through palm Try to pierce your palm with your thumb. Just push the tip of your finger into your palm. In dream you can get through.
- Reading Try to read something. Best opportunity for that is when you are walking down the street, look at the billboards etc. In dreams one can encounter problems when trying to read something or the texts can contain some nonsense. Also try to read something, turn around and then read it again. In dreams the text often changes.
- Checking the time Very similar to reading. Check the time multiple times and it might be significantly different each time or somehow not making any sense, like being out of scope etc.
Some people get discouraged when they don’t see any results after the first tries. It takes some time to master lucid dreaming. Just keep going and don’t lose the hope. Important fact is that it’s all in your head! You have to keep a positive approach and positive expectations. Now, I would like to share with you some random tips and interesting observations of mine which you might find also helpful.
- You might encounter a state called sleep paralysis. You are waking up, seeing the room but you are unable to move. Sometimes even having hallucinations etc. It’s like your body is slowly waking up but the nerves are still not working, preventing you to actually move in your sleep (imagine if this haven’t worked and you started running in your dream :D) Don’t panic and stay calm, this is an opportunity to consciously get back into the dream world by imagining some dream scenario.
- Dream control needs practice. Don’t give up. You can make the fireball in your hand after a few night of trying, you can fly and use the force after some attempts, you can teleport when focusing enough. Always do it in the way you feel it might work. Do some sorcery gestures, ninja hand signs, shout some spell names.
- Always stay calm and relax to prevent the dream from breaking.
- Don’t pee in your dreams. Seriously, don’t...
- Look around you in the dream and you might find some imperfections like game bugs. Missing objects, weird textures...
- Talk to your dream characters and ask them some deep questions like “Why am I in this world?”, “What was I in my previous life?” etc. You’ll probably see how your mind loves trolling you.
- An interesting experience is trying to meditate in your dream. Empty your mind. I once witnessed how the dream was shattering slowly and a pure darkness appeared. It was simply nothing! And then when I started thinking of something, the dream started rebuilding again from a stranger unclear shapes to a real looking objects.
- I am working on a technique that I call Natural lucid dreaming. The principle is to feel the difference naturally without any signs. When having a lucid dream I just stop and focus on what feels different in the dream. More like how I feel inside my body. One thing I have noticed is that in dream I feel this strange pressure at the back of my head when the neck ends. (might be a pillow pressure but I usually sleep on the side)
As I wrote above, there are also different ways of getting into a lucid dream such as wake inducted lucid dream (WILD) which is a bit advanced technique. The goal is to get into a deep state of relaxation so you basically consciously fall asleep. One usually slowly enters the sleep paralysis and then by imagining something initiates the dream. The key is the perfect relaxation without any excitement that might cause the return into the physical body sensation. Anyway, this is pretty much everything I wanted to tell. This has been my own way of lucid dreaming that works for me. I hope it was helpful and I wish you all sweet dreams.
I have also made a video for the Dream Views community where I am showing some of the dream elements and reality checks. Here it is: