Lucid dreaming is simply when you know you're dreaming. Once you know what's going on you can twist the dream around so you're in control.
Lucid dreams have always come naturally to me and I didn't realize how much trouble people actually have trying to get them. I'll try telling you some tricks of my own here plus some others I've found along the way.
I used to take a 10 minute nap on my work bench every day during lunch break at work for about 2 years. Taking myself into a lucid dream for those few minutes kept me happy and awake for the rest of the afternoon. I think the factory noises helped keep me half awake and it was during those times that I kind of perfected the technique - it'll never be perfect, but better.
Lucid dreams are easier in the morning
The best time to have a lucid dream is usually around 5:00-8:00am just as you're beginning to wake up. During this time, you may notice that your dream doesn't seem like real life. You might even realize you're dreaming. As soon as you're able to tell that it's a dream, you take control of it. If it's a nightmare, you turn around and face the monster and tell yourself that it's only a dream and nothing can hurt you. The nightmare usually ends just like that. If you can keep yourself from waking up, this is, according to Dr. Bruce Goldberg, "an excellent way for the novice to establish a lucid dream."
Learning to control your lucid dreams
In order to remain in a lucid dream, you have to be able to control the fine line between sleep and awake. This is the same with out-of-body experiences, and according to some people, lucid dreams are all OBE's. If you become too excited during a lucid dream - you will wake up. If you start to lose control - the dream state takes over and you're lost to sleep. Learning to keep this balance is crucial and can be hard to learn. I still have times where I'm enjoying something so much I wake up and ruin it. If you're lucky you can go back into the dream where you left off, but it doesn't always happen.
The trick is to know that you're dreaming - but leave it at that. If you start wondering which position your body is in or if you're talking and moving in your sleep, you get drawn back to the waking world. Just know you're dreaming and leave it at that. Sounds easy, but it can be hard sometimes.
Warming up in your waking hours
If you start asking yourself throughout the day, "Is this a dream?" eventually you will start to think the same thing in your dreams. This is one way to attain them.
Another way to easily convert a regular dream into a lucid one is to notice the strange, dream-like qualitiees. Wierd places, people, and actions can easily be noticed. As soon as you begin to question the reality of it all, you'll know you're dreaming. Again, it sounds so easy...
You can also keep telling yourself that you will remain lucid for your dreams. This technique works with many things - not just dreaming. The more you tell yourself you will do something, the more likely you are to do it. Before bed repeat over and over "I will know when I'm dreaming" or something else just as cheesey and eventually it will happen. It may happen that night or it could take weeks for it to work. If you keep at it and try everything, and you really want it to happen, it will work for you.
Inducing a lucid dream before sleeping
To induce lucid dreaming as you fall asleep is harder. I've found that, like stated above, trying to take a nap with noise around you is a good way but I'm one of the lucky people who can sleep during anything. I spent 11 years growing up in a house where my neighbour had a runway light on his lawn. The planes flew directly above my house! Remember that scene from Wayne's World??
Ok, Doug! Get on with it!
OK OK OK! Sorry, again.
Where was I? Oh yeah. As you're falling asleep, visualize a certain place or object. I use this technique for OBE's but have 2 different focuses. When I'm trying to induce a lucid dream, I picture myself going over a very hilly road. It's just hill after hill and nothing but grass on either side of the road. Sometimes I'm flying, other times I'm on some kind of single person roller coaster, but either way this is my technique. OBE's get the visual number countdown technique but I won't get into that here.
The main point is that I'm picturing something to keep my mind awake as my body falls asleep. Carlos Castaneda was instructed by his shaman mentor Don Juan to picture his hands. As soon as his hands appeared in his dream, he would know he was dreaming.
Use a method that works for you
I think using someone else's method is good only if you get it to work for yourself. If you're having no luck getting it to work, try imagining a made-up place of your own. This could be your favourite thinking place as a kid or just some deserted island you think would be a great place to be. As soon as you find yourself in there, you automatically know you're dreaming and can go from there.
If you're trying the flying technique, remember that this will usually fill you with a huge sense of joy. Flying is not normal in our physical lives (obviously) and there's a good chance that the excitement of it will cause you to wake. I love flying dreams so much that I think I'm used to it enough to remain lucid - it all takes practice. By learning to fly in your dreams, you will also learn to fly better in your OBE's.
Sleeping with the Stars??
As for the benefits of lucid dreaming, I will again refer to Dr. Bruce Goldberg. In his book, Dream Your Problems Away, he writes:
One of the great advantages of lucid dreaming is that anything is possible. You can design any scenario you please. Imagine the pleasure and enjoyment potential of the following possiblities:
- Make love with any celebrity or other desirable person anywhere in the world or from history.
- Communicate with departed loved ones.
- Solve any current or future problem.
- Brainstorm creative ideas.
- Fly anywhere in the universe.
- Experience any type of positive emotion or existential paradigm.
Difference between a lucid dream and an OBE
I find lucid dreams easier to accomplish than a deliberate OBE. Although many people consider them the same thing, I find them different. During a lucid dream you can feel, taste, smell, etc. Everything seems real. You can change things at will. You can conjure up a companion for the night and say, "I want his/her hair long and brown," and you can watch the hair change instantly (you can have a lot of fun doing that alone).
During an OBE, you walk through the walls. You can't usually feel or taste anything. You're in a different plane and you have to live by their rules, not yours. You'll know the difference after practising both for a while.
Books on lucid dreaming by Dr. Bruce Goldberg
I'm going to finish off this long article on lucid dreaming by recommending the books by Dr. Bruce Goldberg. He deals with a lot more than just lucid dreaming - that's just one little part of it. He writes short, to the point, and unlike most doctors - you can understand him.
Good luck with perfecting your lucid dreaming techniques. They're a lot of fun once you get them working right.
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