It’s getting late after a long day at work. After you had ordered takeout from your favorite place, you have spent the evening reading a couple of chapters of a book to wind down for the night.
The moment you get into bed, your body melts into the sheets, your eyelids become heavy, and the world begins to drift away…
Until suddenly, you are awake again! Your eyes fly open; you look around. You are lying in bed, but this is no longer your room. You are in the middle of an open field. You see castles shimmering in the distant mountains, colorful planets towering higher than the sun above your head, and you sit there and ask yourself: “Where am I?
The answer is you have entered a lucid dream.
What is lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreams are unconscious dream states in which you become aware that you are dreaming. Normally while you are in a dream, your consciousness is completely asleep; you cannot remember much or control anything because your consciousness is not involved. Your subconscious, on the other hand, is wide awake. Therefore, your dreams end up looking like a confusing jumble of random mental images.
But during a lucid dream, your consciousness awakens. Your mind realizes that you are dreaming while your body sleeps. Suddenly you can pay attention, build memories, and observe the crazy fantastic world unfolding around you.
Why feels lucid dreaming so real?
If you are in a lucid dream, you usually have some power over your dream – from the ability to fly or make an object to the ability to transform into animals and create a whole world! It’s like being a director of your own movie, and that’s why the lucid dream feels so real.
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What are the benefits of lucid dreaming?
There are plenty of reasons you might want to dream lucidly, some of which are
- Simply for fun! Just flying in a lucid dream is an exhilarating feeling. Lucid dreams are generally far more intense and vivid than most non-lucid dreams.
- You can use a lucid dream to wind down after a long day.
- Transforming into animals or getting superpowers is a unique experience that is hard to get any other way.
- A major part of “training” for lucid dreams is improving your dream recall, that is, how many dreams you can remember.
- If you are particularly interested in dreams — either in spirituality or in psychology — trying lucid dreaming could help you in your research.
- If you’re writing fiction or even creating a world for a computer game, lucid dreaming can help you visualize it. You could ask your characters how they think about something or what they think will happen.
- Some people compose music in their lucid dreams.
- Lucid dreams can be realistic enough to rehearse a speech or musical performance.
- They can revive past dreams or experiences.
- They can help with dream interpretation and communication with your subconscious.
How long will it take to learn to dream lucidly?
This depends entirely on the person and the circumstances. Some people may have a lucid dream just a few nights after learning about it (usually by chance), while for some people, it can take weeks or even months.
It’s also important to be relaxed. If you don’t get enough sleep or feel too stressed after work to try out techniques, it can take a long time, especially if you expect it. It will also depend on how much effort you put in. However, keep in mind that everybody has the ability to dream lucidly.
How do I know if a dream was lucid?
In general, a lucid dream is a dream in which you know that you are dreaming at some point. Even if you were lucid for a second but have lost your lucidity, it is still technically a lucid dream.
However, this can be a little misleading. Sometimes you dream that you fall asleep and have a lucid dream! This is often seen as a sign that you will soon have a real lucid dream, as your mind thinks a lot about lucid dreams.
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Signs you were lucid are
- Doing a reality check which gave a positive result
- Remarks to dream characters that you are dreaming
- Attempting to stabilize the dream (see the Using chapter)
- Trying to fly, walk through mirrors, etc. immediately after realizing you are dreaming
- Waking up as soon as you realize that you are dreaming
Signs you weren’t lucid are
- Dreaming that you dreamt
- Treating dream characters as you would real people
- Having an unusually poor recall for that dream after you became lucid
- Not recognizing illogical parts of the dream as a dream
What is dream recall?
Many people experience lucid dreams by accident. But if you want to learn how to induce a lucid dream, no matter what technique you’re using, there’s one skill you need to know – it’s called dream recall.
In simple terms, dream recall is your ability to remember the content of your dreams.” I never dream anyway,” you may say. But actually, you do, you simply don’t remember any of your dreams.
So before we dive into the lucid dream tips, it is crucial to improve your dream recall, because it is possible to have a lucid dream without remembering it. For this very reason, it is worthwhile to remember your dream up to a few dreams per night. As you become more familiar with your dreams, your chances of becoming lucid in a dream also increase.
How to improve your dream recall?
The most important part of improving your dream recall is keeping a dream journal (aka dream diary). You could use an office notebook, an online journal, a sheet of paper, or even a Dictaphone — whatever seems natural to you. Here are some general tips for keeping your journal:
Write all your dreams and only your dreams
Write down everything you remember about the dream – phrases, colors, feelings, everything. Write it down in the morning.
Sketch pictures into your notebook to help you remember symbols, places, faces, or whatever you think you will forget about your dream over time.
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Ritualize your diary – The use of a special pen in a unique color helps to make keeping your journal more of a ritual. Later in the day, you may want to write down rough notes in a more orderly dream diary. This will help to imprint the dream in your memory.
What to do in bed?
Go to bed early enough to ensure that you wake up before your alarm clock rings. In the extra time you get, think about your dreams and do a reality check (we’ll talk about the reality check below).
You may want to keep your eyes closed as long as possible, especially if you wake up just before sunrise. Try using a notebook that holds a pen and scribble whatever you can with your eyes still closed.
Stay in the same position and go over your dreams in your head a few times before jumping out of bed. After remembering your dream, change your position (with your eyes still closed) into how you normally sleep and try to remember other dreams. The position you are in can help your brain to remember what dream you had while you were sleeping in that position.
If you cannot remember anything, let your mind wander through events of yesterday or topics you have been thinking about. These can be a link to your dreams.
What to do throughout the day?
Keep a little dream journal with you at all times. It’s easy to remember a dream during the day and then forget it by the time you get home.
Even if you only have a fleeting feeling of a dream during the day, write down as much as possible about the dream and what triggered the memory.
Think about your dream or dreams all day long and ask yourself several times: “What did I dream?” Often you will not get a good answer until an hour after waking up.
You can try to remember your dream by “tracing” it – start from the moment you wake up and try to remember what you did before. You may even be able to reconstruct your dream back to the beginning.
Five steps how to lucid dream tonight
So now let’s get to actually how to lucid dream tonight. Even if this is your first-time lucid dreaming, there are some simple tricks you can use to bring your dreams to life. All you have to do is follow these steps.
Step 1 – Engage in daytime self-talk
Your preparation does not start just a few minutes before you go to sleep. It begins right now from this moment until the end of the day. Talking to yourself during the day plays a vital role in the process of lucid dreaming. Basically, you are tricking yourself into having a lucid dream.
It works similarly to affirmation; by telling yourself that you are confident and capable, your brain rises according to the situation. In other words: if you formulate something as truth, it is more likely to happen.
So keep an eye on the price all day long. If you talk for hours and think about lucid dreams, your subconscious will be much more cooperative.
Step 2 – Learn how to do reality checks
The most challenging part of lucid dreaming is knowing if you are really sleeping. This is because when you dream, your subconscious doesn’t notice anything wrong. You may see a train floating through the sky, but your subconscious doesn’t think twice about it; it doesn’t have the cognitive skills to give your dreams meaning. Attention and logic are all conscious responsibilities, so you need a way to trick your subconscious into awakening your consciousness.
Habitual behavior is a perfect way to achieve this. In the beginning, every new behavior starts as something you do consciously. But with time, it starts to feel automatic. This habit will eventually fade from your conscious and into your subconscious. Just think about brushing your teeth or something as simple as breathing. Now you no longer have to think through every breath you take; your body just does it for you.
To dream lucidly, you will generate an automatic behavior. But this is not like brushing your teeth. It is designed for an essential purpose – every time you practice this habit, you know with one hundred percent certainty whether you are dreaming or not. These habits are called reality checks because that is exactly what they do. They validate your reality; they tell you if you are awake or just having a lucid dream.
So what are good examples of a reality check?
Well, everybody makes them a little different. Some people like physical reality checks. It means that you use some kind of physical activity to distinguish dreams from reality. A good example is the attempt to put your fingers through your hand. In real life, your hand is a solid object. Your finger will hit your skin and stop.
But in the dream state, most surfaces are permeable. In other words, your finger will go right through the palm of your hand. When you see this, you will know that you are in a lucid dream.
Another popular reality test is the inhalation test. Just plug your nose and close your mouth. Now breathe in through your nose. Of course, you can’t do that as long as your fingers are in the way. In a dream, you will be able to breathe normally because the air flows directly through your fingers.
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If the physical reality check does not work for you, you can try something non-physical. Reading written texts works for many lucid dreamers. Typically, written text is stationary, so it is easy to understand. But in a dream, it’s difficult for text to remain still. The words vibrate, they bend, and they fold into themselves. If it feels impossible to follow a single line of text, then you have entered a lucid dream.
No matter which reality check you choose, you will train yourself in the same way. Repeat your reality check throughout the day at least once an hour. The more habitual it feels, the more likely you are to try it during a dream. And if your reality check fails, your consciousness will wake up immediately.
Step 3 – Implement the right wind-down process
Now let’s jump ahead and think about how you set the proper stage for a lucid dream. It’s about the last hour before you plan on going to sleep.
The goal is to put your brain into a vivid dream state, right? To achieve this, your mind must feel calm and relaxed. You might think that watching a movie or playing a game before bedtime would help you relax, but it does exactly the opposite.
The lights on your computer screen suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Without melatonin, it takes much longer for your brain to fall into a deep sleep. This means you delay your REM cycle and reduce your chances of having a lucid dream.
Therefore, minimize your screen time as much as possible before you go to sleep. An hour is usually a fairly healthy buffer that gives your brain enough time to produce enough melatonin.
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But putting away the screens is not the only way to enable lucid dreams. Relaxation exercises such as yoga and deep breathing help reduce stress and slow down your heart rate. They also improve your mood and make you feel good before you dive into a lucid dream.
Meditation can also work wonders on your sleep quality. Just 15 minutes will gently guide you into the perfect state of mind for lucid dreaming.
Step 4 – Visualize your dream
When you fall asleep, there’s one more thing you have to do. Try to visualize your lucid dream while you’re still awake. Don’t worry about what you’re going to dream about. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about inspiring your mind to think freely and creatively. It’s like getting the engine of a car running. You need to give your brain a chance to warm up so that it can work better when you are unconscious.
Visualizing is not nearly as challenging as it sounds. Even if you are not the most creative person, you can use this trick to create amazingly lucid dreams. Just start by imagining an environment. It could be a beach or the mountains; maybe you see yourself standing in the middle of dense rainforest.
You can choose any place you like as long as it is a place that you can recreate in detail. If you find it difficult, choose a place you have been before. Think back to your favorite holidays or the home of your childhood.
When you have created your environment, now concentrate on the details. When you are at the beach, how big are the waves? When you are in the rainforest, what do the trees look like?
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Develop this dream world until you fall asleep. Ideally, you will be able to turn your daydream into a real dream. If you can do this, it is almost guaranteed that you will become lucid, as you have already created your dream landscape. You know exactly what it looks like, so it is much more likely that you will wake up in it.
Step 5 – Make us of sleep paralysis
This last step actually starts earlier in the day. If you want to wake up at nine o’clock the next morning, set the alarm clock to 7:00 am. Assuming you get a full eight hours, then you have exactly six hours of sleep, and you wake up precisely at the very beginning of your last REM cycle at 7 am. You will feel exhausted and groggy when you wake up, but you must resist the urge to go back to sleep. Instead, you will let your body drift back into bed while your consciousness remains awake.
This puts you in a strange state called sleep paralysis, which is the perfect opportunity for a lucid dream. Sleep paralysis is when you’re conscious but can’t move. It occurs between the transition stages of waking and sleeping, where you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds to a few minutes.
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Your subconscious mind will begin to dream as it usually does without realizing that your mind is still awake and aware. You will start to experience a loosely formed version of a dream landscape; it is almost like an out-of-body experience. You will feel your mind drifting into the empty space as your subconscious slowly begins to put together a lucid dream.
Keep practicing and be patient
Everybody can dream lucidly, but it may take some training and patience to enter the world of lucid dreams. The key is not to get too excited at the beginning. Many people ruin their first lucid dream because they can’t control their enthusiasm.
But with a bit of practice, your brain can construct a complete dream environment allowing you to experience mind-blowing adventures and to discover the fantastic mysteries of your subconscious mind.
If you want to learn more about how to lucid dream, download your FREE copy of the Beginners Guide To Lucid Dreaming Techniques.