A lucid dream is a dream during which one is aware that they are dreaming. But why would anyone care to do such a thing and how is it possible? There is much to explore, but here are a few reasons and tips to get started.
Why Lucid Dream?
FOR FUN! Dream land is a place where possibilities are limitless. You can fly, move through objects, make things appear and disappear, visit places, talk to people, and more! Use lucid dreaming as a way to get creative with your imagination.
AS A LEARNING TOOL: Dream interpretation can be used to introspect, self-reflect, learn new things, and can be used in divination practices. Learn from what you dreamt or even use this time to practice acting things out for your waking life.
BANISH NIGHTMARES: If you can lucid dream while you are having a nightmare, you can potentially change the situation, provide yourself with helpful tools, or leave the scene completely.
CURE REOCCURING DREAMS: Whether it is a nightmare or not, your reoccurring dream may be trying to tell you something. Learn the meaning behind your reoccurring dream so that when you are lucid dreaming, you have a plan on how to handle the situation. For instance, if these dreams make you feel scared, inadequate or inferior, think of things you can do in your dream (and real life) to feel more courageous, confident and prepared.
VISIT THE SPIRIT REALM: You can use your lucid dream to visit the spirit realm, call on spirit guides, ancestral spirits, spirit animals, etc. If you have a guide(s) you may want them with you while you lucid dream for protection, guidance or advice.
Pre-Lucid Dream Work
Before trying to lucid dream, make sure you have quality sleep and are able to remember your dreams.
REM SLEEP. The best time for dreaming is when we are in our REM state, which happens every 90 minutes in cycles. If you are not getting good sleep and you do not go into this REM state very often, you may need to work on your sleep quality first. Each REM period gets slightly longer and the period around the 6 hour mark is the longest and best time to have long dreams.
MEDITATION: The reason mediation is so often suggested with magical practices is that it clears the mind, welcomes imagination, and increases mindfulness and awareness – all important for lucid dreaming. Before bed, meditate for as long as you can or desire, 20 minutes is ideal, but even 5 minutes can be helpful.
MANIFESTING INTENTIONS. Before bed, practice putting yourself in the mental state to be open and accepting of the idea of dreaming and lucid dreaming. Literally, put it out into the universe that you want to work on this. It helps to feel strongly about the reason why you want to work on this. You can meditate if you have time, or you can take a moment to say a quick mantra like "I'm going to dream tonight. I'm going to lucid dream tonight."
WAKE UP, DON'T MOVE. The second you wake up, don't move, don't even open your eyes. Moving a little bit can shift your mind from the sleep state to an awake state, which can make it harder to remember your dreams. Lying still, reflect on the night and your thoughts. "Replay" your dreams in your mind to memorize what happened. It's ok if there are moments of fuzziness, lack of clarity.
DREAM JOURNAL. Keep your dream journal by your bed so you wont have to move. Dream journaling is not just for remembering dreams we've had, it is a way to remind us that we are dreaming, that we are working in this dream space, that we have a goal and intentions to remember our dreams.
SUBSTANCES. Certain medications as well as alcohol, herbs, food, caffeine, etc. can all affect your sleep and dreams. Be aware and take notes on your consumption throughout the day and effect on your sleep/dreams. (Please consult your doctor or health provider for help and advice before adjusting medications and supplements.)
PRACTICE. Dream work is like studying any subject, the more you practice, the more you will succeed. Keep meditating, manifesting intentions, journaling.
Methods to Trigger Lucidity
After working on your sleep quality and dream memories, it's time to create awareness in your dream. Since everyone is unique, there is no "one-size-fits-all" method. It may take some time to create your own personal "trigger" method. I would recommend trying many methods at once for greater success. Here are just a few things you can try:
Be mindful and aware of your surroundings, use your fives senses to really live in the moment. It's easy to live life on autopilot, but doing so will hinder your awareness. Go about your day with strong intentions and heightened awareness. Really read words, look at faces, listen to sounds, smell, touch, taste with acknowledgement and appreciation. You may find that your senses are different in the dream world. Maybe in the dream world, you can't feel textures or read words, focus on faces, smell anything, taste food. Things that seem different in your dream state may help you realize you are in one.
Reality checks. Test our your reality while you are awake. Examples:
Hold your nose and if you can still breathe, this is proof that you are in a dream state
Take one finger and try to poke it through your other hand, and if your finger goes through your hand, you are dreaming.
Point at a physical object or intensely focus on it and imagine it changing – like turning a lamp into a vase of flowers.
Often times, if we repeat motions or thought patterns, we take these routines into our dreams. While nothing happens when you are trying to change your environment in your conscious state, when you are sleeping, anything is possible – like changing lamps into flowers. Take your reality checks seriously and practice throughout the day.
Charge an object. No spoilers here, but in the movie "Inception" everyone is asked to choose a totem, like a spinning top. If you have a meaningful object, piece of jewelry, or tattoo, you can charge this with intentions and use it (in your own way) to trigger awareness in dream land.
REM Alarm. This method is for nights when you may NOT need a good night sleep but want to do some dream work. Set an alarm for your longest REM cycle, 6 hours from falling asleep. If you do not get 6 hours of sleep, choose another REM cycle to set your alarm (they happen every 90 minutes). A good sign that you have woken up in REM is that you just experienced a dream. Once the alarm goes off, stay in bed with your eyes closed and focus on your imagination - the colors, lights, shapes, any imagery you can see behind your eyelids. Eventually, images might appear as though you are watching something on TV. Choose something to focus on and experience it with your senses. Hopefully, you will be able to build within your dream and realize you are within it.
While lucid dreaming can take time, patience, and practice, it can be worth it to help sort out your subconscious thoughts, learn some new tricks, or just have some fun. Hopefully these tips can help you with your dream work and you get started on your path to lucid dreaming.