The definition of lucid dreaming is when you’re conscious during a dream. This happens during the REM stage of sleep, or the rapid eye movement - the dream stage of sleep. Professionals estimate that round 55% of people have had one or more lucid dreams in their lifetime. When you have one, you are aware of your consciousness. To put it simply it’s like an awareness of your awareness. You can actually control what happens in your dream. I do this every single time I dream and sometimes wake up just as tired as I am when I go to bed. It’s like when I fall asleep I’m transferred somewhere else just as real, live out that day and come back here to live out this day and so on. It’s a lot more vivid than the waking world to be honest. You can do whatever you want to.
For example, in my dreams if I want to move something with my mind I do it. If I want to conjure a fireball or a tornado I can do it. Sometimes I can’t wait to go to ‘sleep’ because many times that world is a lot more interesting than this one yet it’s a powerful ability that is actually kind of rare. Lucid dreaming in clinical settings has been used to treat things like PTSD, recurring nightmares, anxiety and afraid of the dark to name a few. It’s very real and in this article today I want to go over different techniques to accomplish it yourself.
These techniques for lucid dreaming actually train your mind to notice your own consciousness. They are designed to help you not only regain consciousness, but also retain it as you’re dreaming.
The first technique is reality testing or also known as reality checking - this is a form of mental training. It increases your cognition by training your mind to notice your own awareness. I was never taught this, it is something I was born with and I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. After a lot of research and self practice, I’ve come up with the techniques in this article, and have found that this reality testing is the most effective. Reality checking while you’re awake leads to a higher cognition while you’re dreaming, so it’s best to start checking while you’re awake to set the tone for knowing what to do while you’re sleeping. It’s a self training that truly helps. To reality check, ask yourself several times a day while you’re awake, am I dreaming? Check your environment to confirm whether or not you are or aren’t. Notice your own consciousness and how you relate to your surroundings. Some like to set an alarm every few hours to remind to do a reality check. Some common reality checks that people use to lucid dream are listed below:
Mirrors to check your reflection and whether it is normal or not.
Solid objects are used because you can put your hand for example on a table or up against a wall. Does it go through the wall?
People look at their hands in dreams and see if they are regular or not. This sounds lame yet it’s actually quite useful.
If you are dreaming, the time on a clock will constantly change, yet when you’re awake the time will barely change.
A popular reality check is to pinch your nose and see if you can breathe. If you can still breathe then you’re dreaming.
From personal experience I recommend picking one of these reality checks to do multiple times a day. This trains the mind to repeat the reality checks while you’re dreaming which can induce lucid dreaming.
The second technique for lucid dreaming is called the Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) method. This involved entering REM or dream sleep while you are still conscious. There are many versions of this of course, yet mine is to set an alarm for four to five hours after I go to sleep - then I actually go to sleep. When the alarm goes off I stay up for about 30 minutes and enjoy something quiet like meditation or reading. Then I fall back to sleep. When you go back to sleep after this you are most likely to lucid dream. When you are awake, choose any activity that requires full alertness. Chances of lucid dreaming depend on the level of alertness and not the specific activity.
The third technique for lucid dreaming is technically called Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD). This is based on a behavior called prospective memory which involves setting an intention to do something later. You make the intention to remember that you’re dreaming. To do this, as you fall asleep you think of a recent dream you’ve had. Identify a dream sign, or something that is irregular or strange in the dream. One example is the ability to fly. Then think about returning to the dream knowing that the dream sign only happens when you dream. You have to tell yourself, the next time I dream I want to remember that I am dreaming. You have to recite that in your head. You can also practice this after waking up in the middle of a dream which is usually recommended, as the dream is always fresher on your mind.
The fourth technique for lucid dreaming is keeping a dream journal as discussed in another article. This is a dream diary - a method for initiating lucid dreaming. When you write down your dreams you are forced to remember what happens during each one. It helps you to recognize dream signs and enhance your own awareness of your dreams. Write your dreams down in the dream journal as soon as you wake up, and read your dream diary often.
The fifth technique for lucid dreaming is called Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming (WILD). This happens when you directly enter a dream from your waking life. This helps your mind stay conscious while your body goes to sleep. To do this, you’ll have to lay down and fully relax until you experience a hallucination - the kind you get right before you go to sleep. This is simple, yet difficult to learn. Doing this alongside other techniques will greatly enhance your lucid dreaming experience.
Now that you know how to induce lucid dreaming, I want to teach you how to wake up as sometimes it can be hard to wake up. There are different techniques I try. I call out for help. They say that yelling in your dreams tells your brain that it is time to wake up. Also if you manage to speak out loud, you might wake yourself up too so either way it helps. Another way is to simply blink. Blinking over and over again helps your mind get ready to wake up. Fall asleep in your dream. If you are already in a lucid dream aware that you are dreaming, go to sleep in that dream. That usually wakes you up in real life. Another effective method to wake you up is to read. Try to read a sign or book in your dream. This activates the parts of your brain that aren’t used in REM sleep.
Lucid dreaming is said to have therapeutic effects such as overcoming nightmares, relieving anxiety, improving motor skills and so on. There are some dangers to it though - yet these are usually caused by the induction techniques used. These might include sleeping problems, derealization, depression and sleep paralysis. The bottom line is it happens more often than you realize.
If you want to experience lucid dreaming for yourself, try the techniques mentioned above. They can train your mind to be conscious of your consciousness while you sleep which is an amazing feeling.
If you wish to dive deeper into the world of lucid dreaming, I highly recommend a book written by a good friend named PhD Kristen LaMarca called Learn to Lucid Dream: Powerful Techniques for Awakening. It does much deeper into amazing methods to lucid dream. You can get a copy of that here:
This article was written by Demetri Welsh of the RVP Platform.