Lucid Dreaming – Your Starter Kit
1. What is dreaming and why lucid dreaming?
The majority of people are sleeping every night for an average duration of eight hours, so one third of their day. We currently still need this time to rest, restore and process our daily experiences. This period of “relaxation” has more potential than many might think. Our sleeping time is generally divided into four states, two of them are the REM (rapid eye movement) state and the deep sleep state which cycles throughout the night. The REM state is the only state where dreams occur and lucid dreaming can happen.
We all know normal dreams, it feels like you are watching a movie or are even totally immersed in it (but still guided) with the full spectrum of emotions until the point where you wake up and might remember a bit for a few seconds and minutes and then the whole thing is over. But what if you could recognise that you are in a dream and you could do whatever you want – yes whatever you want. It’s called a Lucid Dream, you are aware that you are dreaming and can control it however you like. From flying, teleporting to pyramids or into space to deep meditations and life changing insights. Everything is possible and usually just limited by your own imaginations.
Your subconscious mind generally produces a scenario for you to work through events from your waking life. Apart from that there are also special situations for your soul to growth faster without the need to have them occur in your ‘normal’ conscious state.
2. Do our Dreams have a meaning?
Yes they have. Our dreams are an important ‘tool’ of our subconscious mind and higher self (soul). They are used for processing all our experiences from the past and the present. They can also give us subtle insights about our past lives and our probable futures.
3. First Easy Methods for Lucid Dreaming
The first steps to start on your lucid dreaming journey is to have a proper dream recall. Your first thought might be “I don’t really have dreams”. This thought usually comes from the notion that you never remember your dreams. Everyone of us is dreaming several dreams every night but we only remember a few or even none of them.
So to increase your dream recall you can write into a daily dream journal. Every morning the first think you should do is to get your dream journal and write down first in bullet points what you dreamed of, all dreams separated into sections. After that fill all theses dreams with as many details as you can remember. Be very specific, even if it takes you a while – you will be amazed how detailed you will be after a while.
If you don’t remember anything at all just write down “I don’t not rememberer my dreams today” and set an intention “tomorrow morning I will remember my dream”. Don’t be discouraged if it might take a while to remember your dreams, you will definitely get there. In the beginning I did not remember my dreams for a few days and in general after I do the practices mentioned in this article regularly, I usually remember 3 to 7 dreams every morning.
The reality checks are the next method to increase your lucid dreaming abilities. So you start doing reality checks throughout the day as often as you want (preferably more than 10 times). Then comes the time when you are in a dream again and out of habit you are making your checks again. This time, you will notice certain patterns change and you will instantly know that you are in a dream and you are then lucid.
The following techniques are the ones I like the most:
– Check your surroundings and really I ask your self “Am I Dreaming now??”
– Look at both of your hands on both sides and count your fingers with your index fingers one by one. – Usually my hands look like out of a comic book while dreaming and Anais has usually 14 fingers :D.
– Poke your right hand into your left hand with certainty that you will go through it. – In dreams you usually easily can go through your hand.
– Close your nose and try to breath through it. – In a dream you can still breath with your nose closed.
– Search for a text nearby and read it. – You can not read in dreams properly, so you can easily see if you are sleeping or not.
Once you’ve started with the first check and noticed that you are dreaming, continue doing the other checks as well, every time. Make sure that you are really dreaming.
All our thoughts create the reality around us. We can utilise this important knowledge and use positive affirmations or mantras to help us with our lucid dreaming practice.
Say the following sentence throughout the day and especially before going to bed. “Next Time I’m dreaming, I remember that I’m dreaming.”
The state of lucid dreaming is quite fragile which you might already know if you tried it yourself. When you finally got to the point where you are lucid in a dream and are super excited and then wake up right the next second. This happens because the REM state is very close to being conscious so every excitement in your dreams (fear, pleasure, etc.) will wake you up in the beginning. Therefore mindfulness techniques can help you to have stable emotions and thoughts.
The most recommend practices I use are daily meditation and breath work.
The easiest lucid dreaming method:
If you start researching lucid dreaming, you will find a lot of different techniques with special names from MILD, WILD, FILD, WBTB and so on which all have their pro’s and con’s. It this article I will show you the easiest of them all, the WBTB (wake back to bed) method.
– Set your alarm clock before going to bed for 6 hours
– Wake up after 6 hours
– Use this affirmation for 16 times: “Next Time I am dreaming, I remember that I am dreaming”
– Go to bed again
– Get lucid!
There is a high chance that you will have a lucid dream a few times in the first week.
We are using the six hours because the REM cycle occurs every 90 minutes and the last one, before you normally wake up, is the longest. The affirmation is used because our thoughts greatly affect our reality and our dream state, especially before going to bed. These are some of the thoughts and emotions your sub conscious mind will ‘work’ on during your sleeping period. So always remember, only go to bed with positive emotions and thoughts.
Side note: If you can not sleep don’t count fluffy animals, rather try to list all the things you are grateful for. This will lead to positive emotions and its an easy way to fall asleep faster.
4. Once you get regular Lucid Dreams
So we are now at the point where you can recall you dreams on a regular basis and have the occasional lucid dream. These might last for a few seconds or minutes but are sometimes quite blurry and dull. No worries, we have been there. To increase the duration and the intensity of the dream here are some tips.
Stabilise your dreams:
Apart from mindfulness techniques, there are also approaches which help you to stabilise dreams. One would be to say in your mind “stabilise, stabilise”. The other would be to use all your sensory informations. Try to touch the first things you see in your dreams – get immersed in the smell, sight, touch and sounds. Some people try to whirl on the spot in their dreams which can result in a stable dream. Try them out for yourself and see what works for you.
You are now inside a stable lucid dream, everything is fascinating – what comes next? Start to create whatever scenario you want or just follow the preplanned dream which was chosen for you. You can control the dream the way you like, use doors to go to different locations or meet certain people. Create specific animals or creatures (like dragons) and fly on them.
And after you had all the fun you want, also think about all the potential you can use lucid dreaming for (e.g. for improve certain skills, like playing instruments, drawing, martial arts and a lot more, you can improve them while sleeping).
And since certain scenarios in our dreams are created by your sub conscious mind or our soul to grow, you can use them to accelerate your development while lucid dreaming. Play through them, talk with your dream characters and ask them specific questions. After all you are talking with your own sub conscious mind as well as other beings which can enlighten you. A lot of people use these techniques to work through phobias, trauma and other special occasions and to also rapidly increase their spiritual growth.
5. Dangers of Lucid Dreaming?
In general Lucid Dreaming is safe when you are in a healthy mental state.
Sleep paralysis / hypnagogic state:
Usually every night when you go to bed your body tries to move for a while to find the perfect comfortable position to rest. The moment when you stop moving and drift into sleep your body does some small tests (itching, etc.) to check if you are still awake or not. If you don’t react to them it goes into the sleep paralysis or also known as hypnagogic state. At this point you are usually already sleeping or dreaming so you don’t bother about it. Some people are still conscious in this state on purpose or not. This can lead to quiet an anxiety boost because your whole body is paralysed (frozen) in that moment and visions can occur (colours, shapes, etc.). But don’t be afraid, after some time you will leave this state and can move your body again. You might end up in this state right before drifting into sleep or right after waking up. This situation can happen, but doesn’t have to occur. I myself haven’t experienced it yet.
How to leave sleep paralysis faster:
Because you can move no muscle in that state, the only thing you can still regulate is your breath, so do some deep breathing and usually in 10 to 30 seconds the paralysis stops. Some people can move certain parts of their bodies a bit, if that’s the case try to move this part intensely.
If you are for example delusional, schizophrenic or something similar, these lucid dreaming states can make you loose sense of reality even more. So be cautious and make your own decisions on pursuing the active lucid dreaming training. If any of these mild risks scare you, it may not be the right thing for you at this moment.
6. Out of body experience / Astral Travelling
A lot of people start to talk about Astral Traveling or out of body experiences when they talk about lucid dreaming. In my current understanding astral traveling and an out of body experience are the same but a lucid dream is something different. The specific moment where your brain waves are in the theta state and your sleep paralysis starts to occur is the moment where people can either drift into a lucid dreaming or are having an astral travel experience. Some people, with certain techniques, can even induce an astral experience on command.
More about this topic in another post.
Enjoy your journey!
Chris Hammond: https://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com
Tibetan Dream Yoga by Tenzin Wangyal