As with any new skill, it takes practice and consistency to begin lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams generally occur in the middle of regular dreams, when the sleeper recognizes that he or she is dreaming. From there, control can be taken of the dream and it can go in whatever direction you choose to take it. The following are some directions on how to begin lucid dreaming and have it work for you in whatever way you choose.
During the Day
Throughout your day, ask yourself repeatedly, “Am I dreaming?” Practice some reality checks throughout the day. This may seem silly, but if you practice this awareness enough in waking life, eventually it will spill over into your dreaming life.
Perhaps the most important aspect of beginning your lucid dreaming is to keep a journal of whatever dreams you can remember, and be consistent about putting your dreams down immediately upon waking, when they are fresh in your mind (if it makes you more comfortable, keep a recording device near the bed and repeat your dreams into it upon waking). Keeping a record of your dreams will help you to see patterns in them, such as people from your past, specific places, etc.
Learn the Best Time to Lucid Dream
Studies show that there are particular times during your sleep schedule when lucid dreams are possible.
- A nap a few hours after waking has been shown to be the most common time to have a lucid dream.
- Lucid dreams are strongly associated with REM sleep, which is more abundant during the time period right before your final awakening in the morning. (Early onset REM is associated with a medical condition known as narcolepsy; if you find yourself having lucid dreams immediately after falling asleep, you might wish to seek medical advice.)
- Dreams generally occur in 60 minute cycles, as discussed in other articles. It is sometimes helpful, therefore, if you are working on dream recall, to wake yourself during one of these cycles (we tend to remember interrupted dreams more than others).
Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming (MLD) Technique
This technique, developed by Stephen La Berge, is a great way to help you with dream recall. Set your alarm to for 4 ½, 6, or 7 ½ hours after you fall asleep. When you wake, try to remember as much of your dream as possible, keeping details, such as people and places, in the front of your mind. Then, after you feel you have a firm grasp on the dream, return to your rest and imagine you are in the dream you just recalled. Repeatedly tell yourself that you will be aware that you are dreaming (until you feel that it has sunk in and made an impression), then return to sleep. If random thoughts try to break in when you’re trying to return to sleep, repeat the imagining and self-suggestion and try again. The longer it takes, the more likely it is to make the necessary impression.
The Wake-Back-to-Bed (WBTB) Method
To practice this method, set your alarm for 5 hours after you go to sleep. When you awaken, stay awake for one hour, focusing on lucidity and lucidity ONLY. Then, return to sleep, using the MILD technique (see below).
The Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD) Technique
This technique takes a little bit of practice, but it is worth the effort. To begin, try meditating in a calm and focused state. If you’re new to meditating, try counting breaths, imagine a set of descending stairs, or imagine being in a quiet, sound proof area. To get your body to the brink of sleep, lie in the bed and focus on the back of your head where it rests on the pillow. Keep focusing until your inner voice shuts off, then imagine yourself sinking into the pillow. When your body is just about asleep, shift the focus from your body while attempting to hold on to the awareness as tightly as possible. If you achieve this, your body will fall asleep and you will pass lucidly into your dreams. You can also try listening to Theta binaural beats for a period of time to easily put you into REM sleep.
The Diamond Method of Meditating
As you are meditating, try imagining your life as facets on a diamond (both awake and dream life). Some people choose to call this diamond the Universe, others call it God, still others call it “your spirit.” Whatever you choose to call it, the point is to start recognizing that everything in life is happening all at once. Our concept of time as linear is only our perception, how our brain arranges it to help us deal with it. So, just as you see the diamond’s facets all at once, despite which facet may be facing you, so you can visualize your life as happening all at once. This method requires only a small shift in awareness.
Make an A for Awake on Your Palm
Use a red marker to mark an A on your palm, and look at it throughout the day. Each time you see it, challenge yourself as to whether you are awake or asleep. In time, you will start to see the A in your sleep and be aware that you are lucid (the “A” can stand for “awareness” as well).
Do Reality Checks
Get into the habit of doing at least three reality checks every time a situation seems to be out of the ordinary, is strongly frustrating, or completely nonsensical. This habit will carry over into your dream life, and these reality checks will tell you that you are asleep, which will allow you to become lucid. To remember to do the reality checks in your dreams, you MUST establish a pattern of doing them in your waking hours. When reality checks become a habit, you will start to do them both in your waking life and in your dream life. When that happens, you will be able to come to the conclusion that you are dreaming, which is known as DILD (Dream Induced Lucid Dreams).
These are just some of the methods you can use to help you begin lucid dreaming. There are dozens more, which require a deep level of focus and the ability to block out outside “noises.” Try practicing these easier methods first, and you will undoubtedly be happy with the results. Remember, as with any activity, starting your lucid dreaming experiences requires commitment and motivation, but if you are willing to put in the time, the results will prove to be worth it.
*Featured photo by Colton Witt