Lucid dreaming is an inspiring and rewarding process in which you are aware of your dream as you are dreaming it, and can control it, so that your abilities in your dream are literally limited only by your imagination. Lucid dreamers speak to their unconscious and subconscious minds, to their past and future selves, and even to people across the world. They experience inspiration and see the solutions to problems that have been worrying them.
Some people lucid dream spontaneously, discovering over years of dreaming how to tell when they are in a dream and how to control that dream. If you have never spontaneously lucid dreamed, don’t worry: there are easy techniques you can use to learn this incredible art. The following are some ideas that anyone can try to learn to lucid dream.
- Get the idea in your head. Intention may not matter as much as action in the waking world, but in the world of your subconscious, intention is everything. Thinking about lucid dreaming, researching, and reading about lucid dreaming all make you more likely to experience a lucid dream, just by implanting the idea in your subconscious mind. That’s right: just reading this article is the first step to learning to lucid dream and increases your chances of having a lucid dream soon. Many people are aware that sleeping after learning new information helps you retain what you learned, as your subconscious is able to process the information during sleep, and geniuses all over the world “sleep on problems” and wake up with answers. This is not magic; it is just the subconscious mind working through the problem unhampered by the confusions and distractions of the conscious mind. In the same way, simply holding the idea of lucid dreaming in your head in a sense turns your subconscious on to the idea of lucid dreaming, making it more likely to happen
- Write down your dreams. Not only should you pay attention to the idea of lucid dreaming and let it fill your head, but you should pay attention to the dreams you do have. Within the first few minutes of waking up, it is often possible to remember quite a bit of the dream, but the memory fades away quickly if you do not record it. Keep a dream diary by your bed and write your dreams down the minute you wake up. This will work to link your conscious memory to your unconscious, and the stronger that link is, the more likely you are to be able to enter your unconscious mind still fully conscious – in other words, to lucid dream. Also, when you write down your dreams, you can identify patterns, which not only can clue you in to aspects of life that you need to address, but also can help you tell in the future whether you are dreaming or not.
- Come up with a reality check. The old adage of saying “pinch me” to find out if you’re dreaming has its place in lucid dreams. Find something that is simply not the same between your dreams and waking life. Some people do not feel pain during their dreams, so they pinch themselves or dig their fingernails into their palms to find out. Some people try to recite poems or sing songs, and others try speaking another language. For still others, a memory check may be more passive – a pattern noticed through many dreams, also known as a dream sign. For instance, someone who has a recurring dream of being chased may realize that he or she is dreaming when this pattern occurs. In a regular dream, a reality check may help you calm down and realize that the dream danger is not real; it may even help you wake from a nightmare. In a lucid dream, the reality check serves a different purpose altogether: once you know you are dreaming, you can control the dream. Your dream journal will help you with these reality checks, as you may begin noticing patterns with your dream signs. For example, if you dream that you are driving a car and that placing your foot on the brake has no effect on the car’s speed, this is a dream sign. (For good measure, though, get your brakes checked in real life.) Or if in your dream you want to fly and all of a sudden find yourself flying, this is a strong indication that you are in a dream. Once you realize that you are in a dream, you may be able to change your actions and the direction of the dream entirely.
One of the things that makes reality checks difficult to do in dreams is that we are not accustomed to reality-checking our waking lives. We do not question that we are awake, when we are awake, so we also often do not question it when we are dreaming. When we’re dreaming, the things that happen often do not seem fake or strange. As part of your reality checking practice, while you are awake, practice active reality checks. Take off your glasses and notice – really notice – the way your vision changes. When watching a television show or doing something that involves imagination, take a moment to pinch yourself, eat a Popsicle, or look in the mirror, and pay close attention to what the waking reaction is. Then when you do your reality check during a dream, you will actually be able to tell the difference.
- Meditate during the day. Connect yourself to your subconscious mind while you are awake. Just sit there, letting the thoughts pass by, acknowledging them and then letting them go. Get to know yourself better. The effects when you sleep will be profound, especially the more accomplished you get at your meditation practice. At first you may find that your sleep becomes deeper and you do not remember your dreams. Do not get discouraged. Continue awakening your subconscious mind through meditation, and eventually your conscious mind will begin to awaken during your dreams.
- Wake up in the middle of the night. Many people find that they dream the most in the mornings, especially on their days off work when they get to sleep in. In fact, they’re dreaming all the time, but the morning dreams seem realer and are easier to remember. The reason for this is simple: they woke up, awakened their conscious mind, and then let their bodies fall back asleep. Even if you don’t remember waking up, chances are that you did and simply fell back asleep. Fortunately, you don’t have to limit this occurrence to mornings when you have the luxury of sleeping in till nine or ten. You can set your alarm for a couple of hours before you need to be up, get up, go to the bathroom, and go back to bed. The idea is to come fully awake, but not so awake that you can’t get back to sleep. Getting on your computer or phone may be too stimulating for this, and may make it difficult to go back to sleep. In addition, it is recommended to stay off your computer or phone because you do not want mental clutter affecting your dreams. Instead, leave your mind clear and free from news, worries of the day, online arguments, or the things your friends are doing on vacation.
- Imagine your desired lucid dream. During the day, imagine what you are going to do in your dream. Are you going to fly? Visit India? Sing an opera? Talk to George Washington? Jump through the looking glass? Imagine your dream in detail, especially as you are going to bed, and do so again if you wake up in the middle of the night. Repeat to yourself, “I am going to have a lucid dream tonight.” The lucid dream you have may or may not be exactly the way you imagined it, and if it is the way you imagined it, it may not have the spontaneous inspiration that you may expect from a lucid dream. This is fine. The purpose of this exercise is to gain the skill of lucid dreaming, and consciously putting yourself into a lucid dream is an extremely valuable skill for this task. The inspiration will come later.
- Listen to a meditation/hypnosis/binaural pulses audio. There are many tracks out there to listen to on headphones as you fall asleep, each of which helps you to lucid dream in a different way. A guided meditation will help you to relax, clearing your mind of your worries and mental clutter, and then will guide your consciousness to the awareness and desire for lucid dreaming, with the hope that when you fall asleep your subconscious will give you a lucid dream. A hypnosis audio, on the other hand, is meant to play while you sleep or as you are falling asleep, and to actually speak to your unconscious while your conscious mind is asleep. This can be a good way to achieve a lucid dream, though some people find that having the audio can wake them up entirely, which defeats the purpose. Binaural pulses, the third option, send two different tones into each ear, causing the brain to reconcile the two by with brainwaves at the intermediary frequency. Binaural pulses essentially force your brain to produce brainwaves at alpha, beta, delta, or theta brainwaves, and binaural pulses for lucid dreaming often focus on the theta range (between 4 and 7 Hz).