A Beginner's Guide to Lucid Dreaming

articles lifestyle Mar 02, 2020

Lucid dreaming is a mysterious experience in which you become aware that you are dreaming. During a lucid dream, many people report being able to manipulate and control their dreams as well, though to varying extents. Estimates show around 50% of people spontaneously experience a lucid dream during their lifetime. Many people desire to enter the lucid state while dreaming and yet find it elusive.

Why would anyone want to be aware they are dreaming? In a lucid dream, anything is theoretically possible for the dream-self. In waking life, we are subject to the laws of physics and space-time. In a dreamscape, we can conceivably travel to times long past or into the distant future. We can revisit lost loved ones or connect with other-dimensional beings and realms.  

Just imagine, what would you do if you could do anything?  Fly? Travel to the inner earth? Heal yourself? Dreams give profound access to the content of the subconscious mind. Whatever your reason for being interested in lucid dreaming, it is possible and, lucid dreaming steps aren't as complicated as you may guess. Here's an overview of Lucid Dreaming for Beginners.

Forming a Relationship with your Dreams

Are you one of those people who shrugs your shoulders every time dreaming comes into the conversation stating, "I don't dream."? Many people will assert that they don't dream, but this is not correct. All healthy adults dream each night. The truth is that most or many of us do not remember our dreams. You may think that dream recall is out of your control but think again.  

Dream recall is the first and most important prerequisite to lucid dreaming for beginners. If you have trouble remembering your dreams, there are plenty of simple methods to enhance your memory. To begin, start journaling your dreams. Keeping a dream journal beside your bed with a pen or pencil at the ready reminds you each morning to record your dreams.  

As soon as possible, after waking, write down any and everything you can remember. Do not dismiss small details or images as inconsequential. If all you can recognize if one or two words or sentences worth, write that down. If you remember nothing, still put the date and write that you recall no dreams. The critical part of this practice is to form a habit and stick with it. When you make a conscious effort to interact with your dreams each night, you can expect to remember them more often. Recall brings you one step closer to dream lucidity. 

Other tips that can help you get deeper into your dreams include giving each recalled dream a title, dream replay (going back over the dream in your mind), and exploring the meaning of your dreams.  

Dreaming and Awareness

You are attempting to gain awareness during the night journeys of your mind. It only makes sense that you will need to develop your general state of consciousness. As you go about your day-to-day activities, make it a point to maintain that lucid awareness all day long. 

Realize that awareness is a skill you can improve. Most people go about life in a semi-unaware sate. Self-awareness involves deliberately exploring your thought patterns, motivations, and emotional states. You may also practice becoming aware of your surroundings, other people, and sensory stimuli. Your strengthened awareness will spill over into your dream life. 

Lucid Dreaming and Sleep Cycles

Dreaming may occur during any phase of sleep, yet the most vivid dreams play out during REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep). It is during REM sleep that lucid dreaming is possible.  The Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry found that lucid dreaming occurs when a part of the conscious brain reactivates during a dream. This brain reactivation allows the dreamer to be aware.

Many recognized lucid dream induction techniques work with practices built around the sleep cycles, sometimes manipulating the timing of sleep. By breaking up sleeping hours into segments, many of these modalities attempt to hack into REM sleep to increase the chances of lucid dreaming.  

Such methods include, 

  • The wake back to bed (WBTB), 
  • The wake induced lucid dream (WILD), 
  • The dream induced lucid dream (DILD), 
  • The mnemonic induced lucid dream (MILD).  

It is the MILD technique that we will explore, step by step, at the end of this article.

Tips to Lucid Dream Faster

  • Perform reality checks throughout the day: A reality check is something you say or do to test whether you are in a dream or in waking reality. The most common reality check is to press your pointer finger into the palm of the opposite hand. Generally, if your finger cannot pass through, you are still subject to the laws of physics and can assume you are awake. In a dream state, the finger could pass through. By performing reality checks regularly each day, it becomes a habit, and you may find one day you are in a lucid dream.
  • Take Note of Dream Signals: Once you become accustomed to dream-recall and journaling, it is common to notice recurring themes and signals. For instance, you may frequently dream of being at the ocean or of being an age different than your real age. Tell yourself that when you recognize this element, you will do a reality check to see if you are dreaming. When you see it again, if you're able to bring awareness to it, you may be able to induce lucidity in your dream.
  • Optimize your sleep: Improve and optimize the quality of your sleep habits and environment. It can be especially useful to use colors, fabrics, and lighting that give your sleeping space dreamy sedating energy. Think blues, purples, or neutrals. Light-blocking curtains can be a big help as well as ambient light sources or well-chosen essential oils and incense.

Is lucid dreaming safe?

There are no reports of any significant adverse effects from lucid dreaming. It is generally safe to try, with a few considerations.

First, consider that full uninterrupted nights of sleep are necessary for your mental and physical health. Studies have shown that lack of sleep, particularly REM sleep, can lead to all sorts of disturbances like depression, anxiety, tension, difficulty concentrating, and hallucination.  

Dreaming, experts believe, may play an essential role in processing emotions, integrating memories, and exploring creative solutions to our problems. In other words, when attempting to lucid dream, many techniques will invite you to alter your natural sleep patterns to hack into REM sleep. 

Experimenting with your sleep may prevent the rest and mental restoration you are accustomed to, so take it easy. Start slow and monitor how you feel. It may be best to resolve major emotional issues before you try lucid dreaming.

Another consideration is that dreams can sometimes be disturbing and upsetting. Nightmares happen to all of us, and in a lucid dream, bizarre realities will be more vivid than ever. So prepare yourself for the possibility of a wild ride.

MILD Lucid Dreaming Steps

Dr. Stephen LaBerge of The Lucidity Institute created the Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream or MILD technique as a straightforward approach for beginners. Once you have the basics like dream journaling, dream signals, and reality checks down, follow these steps to induce a lucid dream:

  1. Set Your Intention: Set a clear intention to lucid dream before going to bed. You may use a simple mantra like "I will be aware of my dream the next time I'm having one."
  2. Repeat with Confidence:  Whatever mantra you chose, repeat it at least several times with conviction, allowing yourself to believe it.
  3. Recall a Dream: Identify a dream you recently remembered well. Recount the dream multiple times inside your head, going from beginning to end. Do this several times. 
  4. Go Within the Dream:  Attempt to become fully part of this dream. Tap into your senses and make a note of the details of the environment. Is anyone there with you? Are you wearing anything memorable? Use your imagination and sensory input to feel the climate, hear the voices, and make it as real as possible. Attune to the emotions you experienced in the dream. 
  5. Fall Asleep: Once you've repeated the mantra many times with conviction and replayed the dream in your mind to the point that the story feels real to you, go to sleep. Make sure you are in perfect comfort and let your slumber take you.

Your First Lucid Dream

It may take a few attempts to experience your first lucid dream, though many find that the MILD method is successful the very first time. The critical point is to stick to it. Continue doing your reality checks and dream journaling, and before you know it, you'll be surfing through your dreams in a whole new way.

Sources:

https://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/mnemonic-induction-of-lucid-dreams.html

https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/a-beginners-guide-to-lucid-dreaming/

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/dreaming-overview

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