„Often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream“ ~ Aristotle
Have you ever been immersed within a dream, when you realise that you’re dreaming? Have you ever felt able to control your actions or the events within a dream? Many people will have experienced this on the odd occasion at random, but it is also possible to learn to do this on a regular basis.
Why Lucid Dreaming?
The phenomenon of being aware that you are dreaming whilst having a dream is referred to as lucid dreaming.
A lucid dream will allow you to explore your own mind and gain insight into your psyche. Additionally, the ability to control a dream will open up a new world of possibilities, allowing you to achieve the impossible in your dreams; flying being a good example.
Below is a list of the benefits individuals have reported from experimenting with lucid dreaming:
1. Face your fears
Most of us will have experienced a nightmare or two, often revolving around our deepest fears. Unaware that we are dreaming, these nightmares can be absolutely terrifying, leaving a lasting and unwelcome impact.
Unlike a nightmare, within a lucid dream you are aware that you are dreaming. This allows you to recognize that you are completely safe, and are therefore able to face your fears in a controlled environment.
Whether you’re afraid of public speaking, spiders, flying or heights, you can explore this fear within a lucid dream, which may help you to ultimately overcome it.
2. Unlock your creativity
Have you ever awoken from a dream and thought, „where on earth did that come from?“
A lucid dream allows you to explore the inner workings of your subconscious, unlocking ideas that you might never have known were in there. James Cameron, the director of Avatar, has stated that much of his inspiration for the movie came from lucid dreams. Additionally, many inventors, such as Nikola Tesla, have cited lucid dreams as influencing their creative mind.
3. Realise your dreams
Many of us have dreams that may never be realized, such as flying or visiting outer space.
Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by space, and have dreamt of visiting the Sun and the Stars. I’m aware that this isn’t going to happen in my lifetime, but it’s something that I can experience in my lucid dreams.
If you’re lucky, then lucid dreams will allow you to act out your dreams and fantasies.
My Experiences with Lucid Dreaming
I came across the topic of lucid dreaming a few years ago, whilst searching for coping techniques for anxiety.
The techniques that I found to be the most beneficial to me were deep relaxation and meditation, both of which are closely linked to lucid dreaming. Intrigued by the information I had discovered, I began following some ‘How to Lucid Dream’ strategies.
To be honest, nothing happened for me at first, but I persevered and within a few months I experienced my first lucid dream. From the dream, I remember the ability to take in my surroundings – I was able to consciously analyze the dream whilst it was happening!
Since then I have had a couple more and they are gradually becoming clearer. So far, I have found lucid dreaming to be a fun adventure, and one that has given me an insight into my own mind. I don’t feel that it has had any particular impact on my anxiety as yet, but it’s definitely been an eye-opening and worthwhile experience.
3 Lucid Dreaming Techniques
Below I have explained some simple and effective lucid dreaming techniques.
Technique 1. Reality Checks
This may seem like a very simple method, but it is something very few of us will do on a regular basis.
Firstly ask yourself „Am I dreaming?“
Don’t just say it, think about it. Look around yourself and notice everything about your environment. Feel the objects around you, such as the chair you are sitting on.
You will then come to the conclusion „I am awake!“
However, by practicing this whilst awake you are more likely to perform it during sleep. Often people dream about things that regularly happen in real life and if you practice reality checks regularly throughout the day then you will eventually experience them during sleep. When you perform this in a dream, you will realize that you are dreaming and you’re dream will become lucid.
Here’s an example of somebody who found reality checks to work wonders:
„It was all down to the effort, and I suppose the excitement too. I very badly wanted to Lucid Dream, so the fact it was constantly on my mind helped a lot.
It was a short time of lucidity, but it was amazing. I was in my room, I realized it was a dream after looking at my light switch and remembering that there was a Reality Check related to a light switch.
Anyways, I just jumped around the room a bit (jumping in a way that verges on flying), then I went to climb out my window, and the excitement just woke me up.“ (Source)
Technique 2. Memory/Recall
Did you have a lucid dream last night, or the night before?
You may say no…but how do you know for sure?
The problem is we often don’t remember our dreams and they become harder to remember as the day draws on. Remembering your dreams more clearly can be learnt if practiced regularly.
The first thing that can be done is to keep a dream journal. Write in it every morning (immediately upon waking), even if you can only remember a feeling or a place. As you practice this regularly you will start to remember your dreams in greater detail.
Technique 3. Immersion
It is likely that you will dream about the experiences you have had during the day. Your dreams will be influenced by the movies you watch, books you read and the conversations you have!
If you are thinking about lucid dreaming, reading about it and talking about it, then it is much more likely that it will transfer into your dreams.
By practicing these techniques regularly, you should find that having lucid dreams becomes a common fixture in your life.
@Adam Palmer: Hey Adam, that’s cool to hear! I think most people would benefit from experimenting with strategies like these to see if it helps for inspiration.
@Ludvig – the creativity technique is an excellent one. I’ve also had much success with it!
@Myrko Thum: You tell your brain to find the solution to a problem you’re working on as you take a power nap or sleep. Nothing complicated in theory, but it takes some practice. Some people, like Edison and Tesla were incredible at it. I’ve done it for a few months and have got some positive effects. I would recommend that you try it.
Ludvig, what kind of creativity trick is that?
Hey Myrko & Emma.
Interesting post. I used to practice lucid dreaming a few years back. I am not very good at it now, but I still do employ the creativity trick that stems from being in the hypnagogic gap (between sleep and wakefulness).
Very cool that you mention Tesla. For anyone reading this comment I would really recommend you download and read his free autobiography. It’s only about 50 pages.
Thanks for this interesting guest-post Emma!