Have you ever experienced a dream whose results you could determine, and where you could do anything at will? Then perhaps you were able to have a “lucid dream,” which occurs when you know that you are dreaming, and can thus manipulate your dream to suit your needs.
Lucid dreaming is a common phenomenon which has been used as the theme of movies and books, and which is the focus of interest of psychologists, New Age groups, and artists alike. Because they often feel real, lucid dreams can often be more memorable than any other kind of dream. Even the pain of nightmares can be offset by lucid dreaming, which is why some psychologists recommend that their patients intentionally have lucid dreams, so that the patients can rid themselves of any torment or inner strife that may impair them in the daytime.
Although lucid dreaming is relatively rare, it can be achieved with different techniques. Before lucid dreaming can be done, however, you have to recognize that you are dreaming. You can do this by looking for “dream signs,” which can be identified by performing the following “reality tests.”
- If you are confronted with text or a clock in a dream, read the text or the time, look away, and then look at the text or time again. In the real world, text and time will not change; in the dream world, however, text and time will alter drastically.
- Switch on electronic objects, or look at reflective objects. Electronic switches such as light switches will not usually work in the dream world. Mirrors will be blurred, or will show distorted images.
- Try to inflict pain on yourself, or keep yourself from breathing. If you feel your chest tighten, or if you feel little or no resistance or pain on your skin, then you may be in a dream state.
- Observe your environment: do you see talking animals? Are there purple dogs and green horses? Do buildings suddenly get up and dance? You may be dreaming. Not everyone can have lucid dreams. There are many factors that affect such ability, including meditation and age. If you do wish to have lucid dreams, and you can recognize that you are in the dream state, then you can get started with any of the following techniques.
- In Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming (MILD), all you need to do is to prepare yourself mentally for lucid dreaming. While you fall asleep, remind yourself, over and over, to watch out for dream signs, and to know that you are dreaming.
- The easiest way to start lucid dreaming is the Wake-back-to-bed Induction Technique (WBTB). This exploits the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycles, which indicate deep sleep and lucid dreaming, and which get longer in the latter parts of the night. To employ WBTB, go to sleep tired, then wake up in five hours’ time. As soon as you are awake, direct all your thoughts on the will to make yourself have lucid dreams while keeping yourself awake for an hour. When you are finished with the hour of focus, go back to sleep. Not only may you have lucid dreams, you will have them longer, and more vivid.
- A common technique is called Waking Induction of Lucid Dreaming (WILD). This involves going from the waking state directly to the lucid dream state. To use WILD, you have to recognize that you have reached the border between waking and sleeping, and you have to remain aware of your state. You may be able to enter a dream with complete awareness, and an ability to change events to suit your needs.
- Another effective method is the Cycle Adjustment Technique (CAT), which means adjusting your sleep hours so that you are more alert during the later portions of your sleep. To do so, try to wake up about an hour and a half before you normally do, and continue to do so until your cycles are completely adjusted. This heightened awareness of having to wake up; alternating with normal hours of waking at the usual time, actually makes the body more aware of the dreaming state, and can induce lucid dreaming.
- Don Juan’s Technique is also like MILD, except that it requires focus on your hands. All you have to do is to stare at your hands before going to sleep, then telling yourself (preferably aloud) that when you look at your hands later, you will realize that you are in a dream state. When you do reach the dream state, look at your hands again, repeat the words to yourself, and continue to do so to keep your awareness during the entire dream.
Lucid dreaming experts recommend three basic steps to induce a lucid dream. First, you have to relax as you go to sleep. Second, remain aware of your dream state. Last, enter your dream, and continue to remain aware of the state, all while enjoying what your dream can offer. In lucid dreaming, you can fly, run at impossible speeds, experience activities that you might not normally do while you are awake, get ideas for a novel or work of art, and even rehearse scenarios that you might encounter in real life!
Once you know that you are dreaming, remember every single detail of your dream. Try to manipulate the dream to suit your preferences. If you can, keep a dream journal, along with a pen, on your bedside table. As soon as you wake up from your dream, relax, keep your eyes closed to remember as many details as possible, then open your journal and write everything down.
Lucid dreaming can be done by everyone, and its benefits can be enjoyed by all. If lucid dreaming can rid us of our inner demons, then by all means, let the sleeping begin!