Have you ever been frustrated by the limitations of real life? Have you ever wondered what life could be like if anything you could imagine were possible?
The saying “follow your dreams” has inspired people for millennium as its taken to mean create that which you envision as possible. But what if you could truly follow your dreams to their source and experience any reality you could envision.
What if you were truly only limited by your imagination?
Amazingly it’s actually possible. You can dream while maintaining awareness. The same sort of awareness you have while you’re awake.
You can use your conscious mind control to imagine anything in the vivid dream realm. This practice has historically been known as conscious dreaming. But Western society has taken to calling the practice “lucid dreaming”.
Defined by the Western worlds lucid dreaming thought leader LaBerge as “dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming.” Its being awake but inside of your dream world.
Further it’s being awake in a place where you create the rules. Where the only limitation is what you can conceive.
This probably all seems a bit far fetched. To most, dreams are passive meaningless experiences that are seemingly random mental videos of things you’ve experienced or thought about jumbled together. Or in the case of nightmares, metaphorical representations of things you’re afraid of like being chased, alone or not having control.
There are numerous historical references to conscious dreaming dating back all the way to pre 100BC with a reference in the Hindu Upanishads. Which describes how best to direct consciousness within the dream and vision states of sleep.
Even Aristotle references it in his On Dreams treatise “when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which tells us that what presents itself is but a dream.”
Given the sheer number of historical references there must be some truth to the notion of maintaining awareness in the dream realm.
So the purpose of this article is to explore the mechanics of lucid dreaming and to figure out how one could go about having a lucid dream.
“To sleep, perchance to dream”
To dream we must sleep. So lets first understand the mechanics of sleeping.
We sleep in order to commit the significant events of the prior awake period to our long term memory and to flush out neurotoxins that built up during the waking period.
Our level of sleepiness depends on the amount of melatonin in our brains. We produce melatonin in amounts relative to the blue light levels our eyes perceive.
Blue light is produced by the sun and by most computer and phone screens. So if we want to get sleepy we’ve got to convince our bodies its night time.
This means no sunlight and no computer or phone for about an hour before bed. Or you can use this to limit the amount of blue light emitted by your device.
Our bodies have 12 hour sleep cycles, with peak sleepiness happening at noon and midnight. This energy cycle is called the circadian rhythm and even plants experience it. So to maximize sleep its best to go to bed around midnight or earlier.
We sleep in a cycle of 5 stages. As we sleep we go through this cycle in periods of about 90 minutes following the same pattern each cycle. The stages are defined by the brain waves we produce while experiencing them.
Stage 1 lasts the first 10 minutes of the cycle. In it we’re very easily awakened and sometimes experience the feeling of falling.
Stage 2 lasts about 45 minutes or half the length of one sleep cycle. In stage 2 our bodies stop moving almost completely and it’s much harder to wake us.
Stage 3 is where we really start to rest. It’s why it’s nicknamed the “deep sleep” stage. Stage 3 lasts about 15 minutes of the cycle. Our bodies are completely immobilized and if awoken we experience several minutes of grogginess. These 3 sleep stages are collectively called NREM or the Non Rapid Eye Movement stages.
Stage 4 is similar to stage 3 except the brain operates at a lower frequency.
Stage 5 is the REM or Rapid Eye Movement stage. REM sleep lasts for about 20 minutes. REM sleep is where we dream. In REM sleep are eyes rapidly twitch, our heart rate rises to waking levels and our brain waves resemble those from when we’re awake.
That’s because we are awake in REM sleep, we’re awake in our dreams.
Passive dreams are basically videos played by our minds as they sort though all the thoughts and sensory perceptions of the day.
Each of us has about 5 dreams per 8 hour sleep, but we rarely remember them. At most people remember 1 or 2 unless they’ve worked on their dream recall.
There are several different types of dreams we experience. Some of them are common, and some uncommon.
The first is daydreams, which are basically incredibly vivid visualizations that occur in a semi waking state.
Normal dreams, which are passive dreams in REM sleep that we usually don’t remember.
Nightmares, which are normal dreams but which are usually scary and are thought to represent our fears. They can be common for some, but most people rarely have them.
False awakenings, which are fairly uncommon. They’re dreams where you think you’re awake so you start to go through your normal waking routine until you realize you’re dreaming and wake up. However if you realize you’re dreaming and don’t wake up it can also trigger the final type of dream which is a lucid dream.
Lucid dreams are dreams where you are aware you’re dreaming and have the ability to manipulate the dream. It’s likely you’ve had one before but without a developed dream recall you just didn’t remember it. Some go their whole lives never realizing they’ve had a lucid dream.
Lets Get Lucid
There are several methods to trigger lucid dreams. But to ensure you remember that you’ve had one you have to improve your dream recall.
Dream recall is the number of dreams you remember having after waking up. Experts usually remember a few each night.
The first step to improve dream recall is to begin recording your dreams; I use a little notebook beside my bed.
Whenever you remember having a dream write any details you remember in your book. The idea is to train your brain to remember precise details of your dreams.
Next for a few minutes before bed each day softly repeat the mantra to yourself “I will remember my dreams.” It seems silly, but it’ll convince your subconscious to prioritize remembering dreams.
Occasionally you’ll even repeat the mantra in your dreams and pop into a lucid dream. This is known as a MILD or a Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dream.
You can use binaural beats to trick your brain into going into a meditative state, which is good practice for getting used to the feeling of lucid dreams. Binaural beats play two different Hz tones in each ear causing you’re brain to produce the difference to equalize them.
So a theta binaural beat would be say a 130Hz and a 137Hz tone to get your brain to work at a 7Hz frequency. Which is the same brain wave frequency as a state of deep meditation.
Next begin practicing the wake-recall method. Basically you sleep for 4.5 to get to the end of an REM sleep cycle. Then you wake yourself up with an alarm and record whatever dreams you remember.
Every subsequent 90 minutes you wake yourself again and record your dreams until you’re waking up for the day.
If you practice all these steps nightly you’ll immediately improve your dream recall. Which is essential to remembering the lucid dreams you’ll be having.
Once you’ve adopted these habits you’re ready to trigger a lucid dream.
Begin doing reality checks. Basically you get into the habit of confirming you’re in the waking world. I like to put my hands together and see if one goes through the other. If it goes through I’m dreaming.
The idea is to make the activity so habitual that you’ll do it in a dream, it’ll fail and then you’ll trigger the realization you’re in a dream and gain lucidity.
Reality checks form the basis of all the following methods and if you combine one of these named methods with habitual reality checks you’ll greatly increase your likelihood of having a lucid dream.
Performing a reality check within your dream and popping into lucidity is known as a DILD or a Dream Induced Lucid Dream.
Another method is the WILD or Wake Induced Lucid Dream method. To WILD you get into bed and relax into a flat still pose called the corpse pose. Usually this is done after waking a few hours into sleep.
Relax and loosen your body. Breathe slowly and deeply. Empty your mind of thoughts. Begin to focus on any sleep induced stimuli present, usually flowing colorful patterns behind your eyelids.
You’ll begin to drift into sleep. Hold onto your conscious awareness, if you lose your lucidity you won’t have a lucid dream.
During this phase you need absolute stillness and peace. No petting your cat or going to the bathroom.
A way of maintaining awareness is to repeat the mantra “I’m dreaming” to yourself.
As the dream takes you, begin to construct your dream scene. A visualized place where you can make the transition from awake to dreaming.
If you don’t construct a dream scene usually you’ll just dream about your bedroom.
With luck and practice you’ll be able to disassociate from your body completely while staying aware and then voila you’re lucid dreaming. Congrats.
To confirm do a reality check within the dream, if it fails you know you’re in a lucid dream.
In stage 1 the dreamer tries to maintain their lucidity and understand the weird place they’re in. Most find it sort of weird in their first few dreams. So the first stage is getting used to the waking dream world.
In stage 2 the dreamer begins to manipulate the dream by defying physical laws by flying or moving through matter and by creating things. The dreams are pretty short at this point lasting under 6 minutes usually, as maintaining lucidities hard.
In stage 3 dreamers can manipulate not just things but everything. They can warp around to different locations and create massive structures. The dreamer is learning the rules of the dream. In this stage the dreamer also begins to experience agents inside their dream that they can’t control. Think of these agents as being people except they’re in the dream world.
In stage 4 the dreamer becomes completely comfortable manipulating their dream realm. They also become somewhat more familiar with the agents, being able to interact with them.
In stage 5 the dreamer can visit the source of the dream, which is thought to be the subconscious. In this stage it becomes apparent that the agents are really subconscious influences on the dream that have been anthropomorphized.
The capacity for expanding your self awareness through lucid dreaming is astounding and the chance to interact with your subconscious so deeply is very tantalizing.
These 5 stages are very fluid and the measure of your lucidity in the dream can determine the stage you dream at. With experience you’ll usually dream at a higher stage.
Most, if not all of us, believe we could know ourselves better. We move through our lives only somewhat aware of the extent to which others opinions influence our thoughts and desires.
Lucid dreaming is a way of taking back control. It’s a personal, spiritual practice free of the monotony, and pressure of waking life.
In a lucid dream there are no rules, no one to tell you that you can’t do something. There’s nothing you can’t do.
In a lucid dream you can finally allow your repressed self to flourish as it can only in absolute freedom. A freedom that is impossible to experience in the physically and socially limiting world we inhabit.
The whole concept probably seems strange and the idea that people actively pursue and study it even stranger. But these people have discovered an amazing way to explore themselves and the possibilities of exploring your imagination and subconscious seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.
I know it seems challenging to being having them but its not. Keep a dream journal, do a few reality checks a day and once in a while try waking yourself up after a few hours sleep and then going back to bed.
With just those simple steps you can begin to dream deeper, and more often. And as you become more adept you can start to add in some of the more complicated techniques or supplements.
If this article didn’t convince you to immediately begin pursuing the practice, at least do some further reading and discover from the experts more about what this skill is, or failing that at least pay more attention to your dreams.
Keep the dream journal, I bet like when I first started you’ll discover how weird and interesting your dreams really are and how much more about them you want to know.
From a fellow dreamer,
Lucid dreaming appears genuine, but why not find out for yourself.
The practice in various forms has been around for millennium.
To dream we must sleep.
We sleep in 5 stages.
REM sleep or stage 5 is where we dream.
Our brain waves in REM sleep resemble those of when we’re awake.
There are 5 types of dreams, including lucid dreams.
Use dream recording, mantras, binaural beats, the wake-recall method and supplements to improve your recall.
Start doing reality checks.
Use the MILD, WILD, or DILD methods to induce lucid dreams.
There are 5 stages of lucid dreams.
In stages 1-3 the dreamer can imagine any sort of reality and interact with it and its imagined inhabitants in any way they choose.
In stages 4-5 the dreamer interacts with the anthropomorphized subconscious, which inhabits the dream world.
Lucid dreams give us a unique opportunity to explore true freedom and our deeper selves.
With practice and perseverance anyone can become adept at lucid dreaming.