Lucid dreaming is awareness of the fact that you are dreaming. This awareness can range from very faint recognition of the fact to something as momentous as a broadening of awareness beyond what has ever been experienced even in waking life. Lucid dreams usually occur while a person is in the middle of a regular dream and suddenly realizes that he or she is dreaming. However, you can elicit a lucid dream using the methods that follow.
During the day, repeatedly ask “Am I dreaming” and perform some reality checks whenever you remember. With practice, if it happens enough, you will automatically remember it during your dreams and do it.
- Keep a dream journal. This is perhaps the most important step towards lucid dreaming. Keep it close by your bed at night, and write in it immediately after waking. Or you can keep a recording device if you find it easier to repeat your dream out loud. This helps you recognize your common dream elements (people from your past, specific places, etc.), and also tells your brain that you are serious about remembering your dreams! It will also help you to recognize things that are unique to your dreams. You will be able to recognize your own “dream signs.” These will be recurring things or events that you may notice in your dreams.
Learn the best time to have a lucid dream. By being aware of your personal sleep schedule, you can arrange your sleep pattern to help induce lucid dreams.
- Studies strongly suggest that a nap a few hours after waking in the morning is the most common time to have a lucid dream.
- Lucid dreams are strongly associated with REM sleep. REM sleep is more abundant just before the final awakening. This means they most commonly occur right before waking up. (Sleep-onset REM is a symptom of narcolepsy. If you have lucid dreams right after falling asleep, you may wish to consider seeking medical advice from a sleep medicine specialist. However, there are studies which show people can recall dreams after being awakened during non-REM sleep).
- Dreams usually run in 60-minute (Weiten Psych book 2004) cycles during sleep. If you are working on dream recall, it may be helpful to try waking yourself up during one of these cycles (interrupted dreams are often the ones we remember).
Try Stephen Laberge’s mnemonic induction of lucid dreaming (MILD) technique.
- Set your alarm clock to wake you up 4 1/2, 6, or 7 1/2 hours after falling asleep.
- When you are awakened by your alarm clock, try to remember the dream as much as possible.
- When you think you have remembered as much as you can, return to your place of rest, imagining that you are in your previous dream, and becoming aware that you are dreaming. Say to yourself, “I will be aware that I’m dreaming,” or something similar. Do this until you think that it has “sunk in.” Then go to sleep.
- If random thoughts pop up when you are trying to fall asleep, repeat the imagining, self-suggestion part, and try again. Don’t worry if you think it’s taking a long time. The longer it takes, the more likely it will ‘sink in,’ and the more likely you will have a lucid dream.
Attempt the WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) Technique. This is the most successful technique.
- Set your alarm clock to 5 hours after you fall asleep.
- Fall asleep.
- After you wake up, stay up for an hour with your mind focused on lucidity and lucidity only.
- Go back to sleep using the MILD technique.
Try attempting the WILD (wake initiated lucid dream) technique. Basically what it means is that when you fall asleep you carry your awareness from when you were awake directly into REM sleep and you start out as a lucid dream.
- The easiest way to attempt this technique is if you take an afternoon nap or you have only slept for 3-7 hours.
- Try to meditate into a calm but focused state. You can try counting breaths, imaging ascending/descending stairs, dropping through the solar system, being in a quiet soundproof area, etc.
- Listening to Theta binaural beats for an amount time will easily put you into a REM sleep.
- See the warnings at the bottom, as these are very important.
Another technique for overall “dream awareness” is the Diamond Method of meditation, which can shortcut the overall learning curve, of Lucid Dreaming.
- When one meditates, try to visualize your life, both awake and dream-life as facets on a diamond. Some choose to call this “diamond” the Universe, others God, and even “your Spirit.” The point here is to begin to recognize that life is happening all at once. It is only our “Perception” that arranges our dramas into linear or “timed” order. So just as a diamond just is, each facet if viewed as an individual experience, still is going on at the same time the “Dream Body” experiences as well. This method is also known by Remote Viewers. Remember it is just a slight shift in awareness that this exercise calls for.
Try marking an “A” (which stands for “awake”) on your palm. Every time you notice the “A” during your waking hours challenge whether you are awake or asleep. Eventually you may see the “A” in your sleep and become lucid.
Get into the habit of doing reality checks. Do at least three reality checks every time something seems out of the ordinary, strongly frustrating, or nonsensical, and that habit will carry on into your dreams. In a dream, these will tell you that you are sleeping, allowing you to become lucid. In order to remember to do reality checks in dreams, you need to establish a habit of doing reality checks in real life. One way to do a reality check is to look for “dream signs” (elements that frequently occur during your dreams, look for these in your dream journal), or things that would not normally exist in real life, and then conduct the reality checks. When these actions become habit, a person will begin to do them in her or his dreams, and can come to the conclusion that he/she is dreaming. Frequently doing reality checks can stabilize dreams. This is also known as DILD (Dream Induced Lucid Dreams). Some tactics include:
- Looking at a digital clock to see if it stays constant;
- Looking at a body of text, looking away, and then looking back to see if it has changed;
- Flipping a light switch;
- Looking in a mirror (your image will most often appear blurry or not appear at all in a dream). However, your figure can be horribly disfigured in a mirror, frightening you into nightmare or a dream.
- Pinching your nose closed and trying to breathe;
- Glancing at your hands, and asking yourself, “am I dreaming?” (when dreaming, you will most often see greater or fewer than five fingers on your hand);
- Jumping in the air; you are usually able to fly during dreams
- Poking yourself; when dreaming, your “flesh” might be more elastic than in real life; a common reality check is pushing your finger through the palm of your hand;
- Try leaning against a wall. In dreams, you will often fall through walls.
Prolong lucid dreams by spinning your body or falling backwards in the dream (suspected of prolonging REM), and rubbing your hands (prevents you from feeling the sensation of lying in bed). Take care while spinning. Remind yourself even as you spin or fall that you are dreaming, as you will find yourself in a completely different location when you stop spinning or hit the ground and may lose lucidity otherwise. If you feel a dream ‘shakes’ or is about to fade out, look down to the ground and visualize your surroundings, reminding yourself you are dreaming.
Look through previous dreams in your Dream Journal. If you start to notice patterns in your dreams, you will notice dream-signs, or certain things that continue to reappear in your dreams. This may be as basic as all dreams are in your backyard, or all your dreams have fans in them. Get into the habit of doing dream checks every time you see your dream sign, and eventually you’ll see your dream sign IN a dream, do a check and realize you’re dreaming.
A Modified Version of Gritz’s “Looking At Your Hands”
- As you prepare for sleep each night, sit in your bed and take a minute to relax. look at the palms of your hands for 30 minutes, and repeat to yourself, “I will dream about”, “your own dream.”
Continue to repeat this phrase, “I will dream about”, “your own dream” as you look at your hands.
After the thirty minutes, or whenever you get tired turn off the light and go to sleep.
When you wake during the night, Look at your hand, and say the same phrase. If you did not see your hands, remind yourself of your intent to see your hands in the next dream.
With consistent practice of this phrase each night before sleep, you will suddenly see your hands pop up in front of you when dreaming, and consciously realize, “My hands!” Oh my gosh! This is a dream.